What Should We Do About Globalisation?


The original post in this blog on Globalisation explained the arguments for and against it. Since then political and economic turbulence in the world have led to increasing discussion of how perceived weaknesses in globalisation can be reduced. Economic difficulties in the European community and market fluctuations, particularly in the price of oil, have focussed attention on the role of nation states in an increasingly integrated world.  The power of huge companies versus nations has also been considered in this discussion and the increasing extremes of wealth and poverty. These issues are the focus of this post.

Globalisation has emerged as a political issue in the public consciousness. The Rowntree Foundation produced this video of citizens of the UK:

Concerns exist then, about the further progression of globalisation. The KOF Index of Globalisation shows that economic turbulence has caused globalisation to slow in recent years but expectations are that it will continue apace as economic conditions improve.

KOF Index

We can also see that the gap between countries’ levels of globalisation, to some extent, reflects levels of national prosperity. As the following chart shows, Somalia is the least globalised country.

kof2

This evidence suggests that economic benefits accrue to countries that engage with others globally, politically, economically and socially.

Cultural globalisation continues to be the subject of much discussion – the extent to which local cultures will be subsumed in a single global culture, whether this matters and what should be done about it. The topic is introduced in this video:

In the following video Globalisation and the Question of Local Culture is considered by Melissa Chiu. The debate on global culture continues to attract considerable interest.

Policy discussions on globalisation have intensified. Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor makes his contribution in the next video. He argues that government action is needed to offset the negative effects:

Concerns are also increasing about the role that some countries’ large companies are playing in relation to broader political policy. Gazprom’s role in Russia’s dispute with Ukraine is highlighted as an example of this:

As the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries’ economies grow their influence in a globalised world increases, causing questions of sovereignty in smaller, less powerful nations to emerge. China’s role in Africa illustrates:

Concerns about disparities in wealth have also grown. In many developed countries the gap between the poorest and richest people has widened and this has been facilitated by the growth of huge transnational companies. French economist Thomas Piketty studied the consequences of this and argues that governments need to do more to redistribute wealth, for the economic benefit of their nations. His book on this topic became an international bestseller:

While Piketty’s ideas generated a lot of interest it is important to note that support was not universal as can be seen in this exchange with Amanda Lang:

Issues in globalisation appear to be attracting increasing political concern. Countries and electorates are struggling with how to deal with forces that affect their lives that they seem unable to control. In good economic times these concerns are more muted but in the economically stressful conditions that exist in many countries today, concerns are more strident. This situation is explained and potential political responses are reviewed in this speech in Edinburgh by Michael Ignatieff:

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