The Issue of the Nature of Globalisation Processes

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So, one of the many ideological disputes is deeply rooted in the question whether globalisation is a deliberate, intentional, programmed process, or rather one that would correspond to the vision of Friedrich von Hayek, the critic of totalitarianism of any kind – that is, a spontaneous process. In other worlds and an adequate diction: will the ‘new world order’, dubbed ‘new world un-order’ by an American diplomat and journalist, be a spontaneous order or rather one imposed on the world by a minute few of mostly anonymous banking, industrial, military and political tycoons and bosses?

The Polish-British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who – like Robertson (1992), Featherstone, and others – links the issue of globalisation with postmodernity, speaks clearly: ‘Nowadays, the fashionable term globalisation, in its deep and indeed the deepest sense, stands for an undetermined, indefinite, self-propelling process of world events. It stands for the absence of a centre, a governing panel, and a management central. Globalisation is Jowitz’s new world of un-order, only under a new name. That is how globalisation differs from universalisation, a notion once so fundamental for the fashionable discourse on global events all but forgotten today… Universalisation was optimistic. It offered equal living conditions to everyone everywhere; that is, really equal chances distributed geographically evenly… Today’s globalisation is not an intention, but primarily a set of global effects, notoriously unexpected and incidental… In globalisation, it is not what we all, or at least most of us rich and go-ahead, want or wish to do; it is what is happening to us all.’ (Bauman 1998:54)

Ulrich Beck, the famous coiner of the expression and theory of risk society, points out that globalisation is defined primarily by unintended outcomes; that unintended outcomes are the defining mark of what he calls using his peculiar term reflexive modernity. Ulrich Beck, as if wanting to take us “in medias res” (in the centre of the issues) to conclude our contemplation on globalisation in a dignified and unexpected manner, says, ‘Expressions of local nationalism and articulation of local identities may be seen as consequences of globalisation, however that is a contradiction in terms; but Russia is an observable and tragic example.’ (Beck:ibid)