Globalization is a common phenomenon that refers to the integration and interconnection between communities around the world. Oxford dictionary describes globalization as “the fact that different cultures and economic systems around the world are becoming connected and similar to each other because of the influence of large multinational companies and of improved communications”. Simply, the term globalization is marked by opening one’s boundaries to increase the facilitated flow of goods, people, and services bringing with them the culture, politics, ideology, and economy of the other nation. Globalization is mainly seen as a state’s action because a state is a primary actor in international politics where it forms domestic and foreign policies facilitating the free flow of trade and people in the international arena. State, due to this role is considered to be the most powerful actor in international relations but is the state still the supreme and sovereign after the advent of globalization in the world order?
The concept of globalization started after WWII particularly in the 1960s when the process of economic globalization started to gain popularity. Globalization is a complex phenomenon and it impacts the states, and communities as much as it impacts individual lives. Globalization is not only a tool for state-to-state interaction, rather most of the interconnection and communication among the people is carried out by non-state actors essentially the ones with economic interests attached with themselves. Hence globalization transcends and enhances with the help of Multinational Corporations, International Organizations, NGOs, media and the internet. There are certain ways of aiding globalization like economic globalization which includes the free flow of trade and capital between the states. Likewise, cultural and political globalization refers to the spread of the culture, political system, and ideology of one community to another. Furthermore, the transfer of information and perspective through mainstream as well as social media has largely contributed to the globalization process.
Globalization with its emphasis on integration has given a severe blow to the concept of state sovereignty. The role MNCs play in communication, economics and politics challenged the sovereignty of a state. With the presence of mighty cross-border MNCs, NGOs and IGOs, the state is losing its supremacy and control over social, economic, and cultural activities. A state has to keep many interests in the frame while making its decisions. For instance, the organizations which were formed under the pretext of the Bretton Wood Conference like WTO, IMF, and World Bank, impose strict restrictions on the state that deals with them. When a state receives a bailout package from them, the latter imposed harsh conditions dictating the use of money and the amount of taxes. A state may have a right to oppose or reject the decisions of these international organizations but for that, there are some prerequisites. A state must be economically and politically strong. These organizations serve the interest of the hands that feed them. Any state that fails to do so has to follow its conditions.
Globalization has also imposed many security threats on the state. The long-range ballistic missiles installed in a far-off continent that can strike targets with precision and accuracy across the border are the major menace related to the security of the state in this era of technological advancement. The alliances and cooperation among different states have increased to the most complex level where a single decision can make or break an entire nation’s future. Furthermore, terrorism and extremism against the state are also the propagated through globalization. With greater ease of movement and communication and with poor administration and laws, extremism and terrorism are prone to achieve their goals very easily. The results are already visible in the form of growing hate on the basis of gender identities, color, creed, and even occupations. The gravest of all is religious extremism. The impact can be seen in the form of islamophobia that has surged after 9/11. Muslims in any part of the non-Islamic world have to encounter every kind of abuse just because of their belonging to a certain kind of belief system.
Despite these threats, states cannot survive alone in the existing world order. A state needs to follow international political, economic, social, and cultural norms for its survival. The state’s sovereignty may have been minimized due to globalization but it is still intact and strong in many aspects. Strong and interest-based laws against any potential threat to a state’s interest can be the first and the most effective tool in preventing the impacts of globalization. Globalization has cast many threats and even more opportunities for states. It cannot be diminished but the regulations and administration of people, goods, and information in all the fields would create resistance to negativity which is necessary for a state to flourish. Although international laws and regulations are already in place the individual actions of a state against negativity coming along the globalization is imperative for the perseverance of its own sovereignty.
Author: Bisma Fatima is a student of Strategic Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad.