What is the purpose of globalization


Hanns W. Maull

To person

Dr. phil. habil., born 1947; Professor em. for international relations and foreign policy at the University of Trier; Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Science and Politics Foundation, Ludwigkirchplatz 3–4, 10719 Berlin. [email protected]

According to the apocryphal definition of a US diplomat, globalization means "that everything is connected with everything, just more than it used to be". More precisely, but less memorable, globalization can be defined as cross-border interaction processes of all kinds (from goods, services and money to ideas and information to people) that spread with ever greater reach, higher speed and increasing effects and thus all areas penetrate more and more of human life and connect them with one another. Of course, these processes do not run uniformly, their expansion affects societies in entirely different ways and intensities. But they are fundamentally irreversible and continue to gain momentum and impact: Nobody can escape the effects of globalization any longer.

Globalization is therefore the most important megatrend of our time, and not just ours: It is a core phenomenon of modernity and has been driving modernization processes for around two hundred years. Globalization draws its tremendous impact from progressive technological change, in other words: from the advances in knowledge of the sciences and their implementation in practical problem solutions.

The following is about the effects of globalization on politics. We understand this as a continuum, a spectrum that extends from the community to the world organization. It is about politics wherever collectives or societies decide how they want to live and then try to implement these decisions. It is always about the distribution of available resources and life opportunities within one's own society and how they deal with other societies. In this continuum of politics, which includes each and every individual in world politics, at least five levels can of course be distinguished: the local level (municipalities, cities), the sub-state regional level (provinces, federal states), the national level, the regional level beyond the nation-state (e.g. the European Union) and finally the global level (represented by the institutional structure of the United Nations).

Across the entire spectrum of politics, according to the thesis advocated here, a megatrend for about a quarter of a century (i.e. since about 1990) has tended to widen the gap between the need for political control on the one hand and the ability of politics to provide these control services to provide, on the other hand to determine. This megatrend, hereinafter referred to as the "supply-demand dilemma of politics", arises in the context of globalization and is triggered by it.

How did this structural overburdening of politics come about? And why is the beginning of this dilemma plausible in 1990? In very general terms, the processes of globalization brought about and bring about at the same time increasing networking (integration) of individuals and societies in tendentially ever wider, often global contexts as well as an opposing trend of fragmentation and fragmentation. These two tendencies seem to be dialectically linked to one another and to advance one another: the more integration and networking, the more fragmentation. The result is that longer and more diverse chains of effects emerge and at the same time more and more actors appear who are able to influence the course of global developments. [1]

Networking and fragmentation: global warming, world trade, demographic change

The described developments towards greater networking and fragmentation can be illustrated with a few examples. A particularly good example of the growing global interdependencies is the warming of the earth's atmosphere, which is already causing global changes in the climate and weather conditions and will do so even more in the future. [2]

Every inhabitant of the world is an energy consumer and many are also involved in this change in climate as producers of greenhouse gases. In order to control the associated risks, individual and collective behavior must be changed on a global scale. Politics alone can do this. Without a globally coordinated political change of direction - no matter what kind - the consequences could be catastrophic, especially in the metropolitan areas of the southern hemisphere.

It cannot be overlooked that the previous climate policy efforts, which incidentally are being promoted in a vast number of intergovernmental and transnational cooperation networks (fragmentation of climate policy regulations), are completely inadequate to achieve the self-imposed goal of limiting global warming by two degrees Celsius. In fact, the CO2- Global emissions increased from around 22.7 billion tons in 1990 to around 35.5 billion in 2014; the concentration of CO2-Particles in the earth's atmosphere, which are responsible for the heating, rose in the same period of 354ppm (parts per million) to 397ppm. [3]

Another area in which the interaction of global integration and fragmentation, but also the effects on political control in the sense of the supply-demand dilemma, is the global trade in goods. Its value increased by 339 percent from 1990 to 2010, and its dynamic expansion thus clearly exceeded the growth rate of the world economy (59 percent). [4] This means that in most countries, but especially in most of the major economies, the share of trade in goods in national economic activity has increased. [5] For the German economy, which has always been strongly export-oriented, the share of foreign trade in gross domestic product rose from 44 percent (1990) to 70.8 percent (2013), for the USA from 15.2 to 23.3 percent and for the People's Republic of China from 32, 3 to 45 percent (high in 2006: 64.9 percent). [6] In other words: an ever larger part of social prosperity in most countries is based on exchange processes with other economies.

With the World Trade Organization (WTO), international trade in goods has a global set of rules and a kind of world government with a legislature (the assembly of member states), a (weak) executive (the WTO Director General and the Secretariat in Geneva) and a (strong) judiciary (the dispute settlement bodies and their appellate body). This set of rules has worked remarkably well so far: it currently represents perhaps the most effective aspect of world governance. Even the largest trading powers USA, China and the European Union have always accepted decisions of the independent dispute resolution bodies in trade disputes. However, it cannot be overlooked that the efforts to further broaden and deepen the set of rules within the framework of the so-called Doha Development Round have only delivered very modest results. [7] While the negotiations in the Doha framework appear blocked, in recent years a large number of bilateral and regional free trade agreements [8] have resulted in a significant fragmentation of the regulations and thus an increasing burden on the world trade order. [9]

A third example of the increasing interdependencies and interdependencies on a global scale is provided by demographic change. While population growth in many western and east Asian industrialized countries has declined rapidly since 1990 and the societies there have aged rapidly and in some cases even began to shrink, the populations in other parts of the world, especially in Africa, the Arab world and South and Southeast Asia, grew largely unchecked away. The demographic imbalances result in migratory movements between regions; the high birth rates in connection with stagnating economies and insufficient employment prospects turned into the explosive cocktail of the "youth overhang" (youth bulge): a large number of well-educated young men and women who are economically but often lacking prospects. The world is experiencing the consequences of the widespread lack of prospects, for example in the "Arabellion" and its extensions, in the spread of Islamist terror and in massive transnational refugee migrations.