Globalization, Literally Speaking

What is this thing called “globalization?”

To be absolutely precise, it’s the word that took over discourse about the global economy and pretty much everything else for what seemed like an eternity but, in fact, labelled a phenomenon that lasted only for a single decade, that of the 1990s, from the end of the Cold War to 9/11.

It’s the sound of Capitalism Triumphant, the voice heard round the world. Communism, it was implied, had bit the dust – except for China, an oversight that has now come to haunt us. The West, it was proclaimed, had no enemies worth worrying about – until 9/11 starkly demonstrated otherwise, splitting the world again and threatening to return us to the distant days of the Crusades.

Meanwhile, mounting global warming aka climate change gave a whole new and ominous meaning to “global” and hence to “globalization,” while the financial crisis of the first decade of the new millenium took the bloom off the finest rose in the garden of globalization.”

Unfortunately, the word lingers on in the acadamy as if it described something of lasting interest.


  • OK Mel,

    But what if the word “globalisation” was just a stand in for “modernization.” An equally nebulous term describing everything and thus nothing, but, nonetheless providing plenty of cover for a myriad of restructurings of the socio-economic fabric.

    Interestingly at least under the banner of modernisation there were a number of currents from socialist modernisation on out. Globalisation then is the cosmopolitan lipstick put on neoliberalism’s pet pig.

  • A great last sentence!

  • It is strange to see such a comment from a former (current?) Canadian nationalist, who so often in the past has inveighed against the “dominance of the American Empire”. How did it come about, in the Canadian context, this globalization? Well, even before the collapse of Soviet communism, but on its eve, under Brian Mulroney, there was a drive in PCO and at DFAIT for “going global” in trade and financial policy. At the time, some old hands asked how this was really different from Trudeau’s “third option”. How different, then, is Harper’s current courting of China from the “third option”? Would it be fair to say that the dominance of the American Empire, with its downsides for “colonized” Canada, was better for Canada than the starkly-defined international class war that we now have?

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