In class we unpacked the “ization” of globalization. Globalization must be understood, on its own terms, as a process of becoming global. For market globalists, globalization points to a point in the imaginary future with total market integration across the entire world. This barrier-free, global economy is the utopian future wherein economic theory promises the maximum possible welfare for everyone on Earth.
The utopian logic of market globalism is based on the economic concept of comparative advantage. The concept holds that different actors, or people, or countries, have different capabilities of production. Some people are better at making guns, and other people are better at raising cows. It turns out that if these people exclusively produce what they’re best at producing, and then trade with each other, they will end up with more guns and butter than if they had both been raising their own cows and building their own guns.
This welfare-increasing effect of specialization and trade increases the more actors there are participating in an economy. This means that economic trade between countries should always benefit both countries, and that the more countries involved in international trade, the more wealthy everyone is.
Unfortunately, comparative advantage works off of idealized assumptions that are not at work in the real world: people can’t travel freely across borders, people can’t trade freely without tariffs (taxes and subsidies). The US and EU practice more labor immobility and government intervention in tariffs than weaker countries are even allowed. This means that their markets are actually less integrated (read: globalized) than the developing nations who are forced into liberalization programs under IMF contracts or by the digital herd. The injustice at work is that they profit far more from access to “third world” markets than occurs in reverse.
The utopian ambitions of neoliberalism are not limited to economic doctrine. The neocolonial expansion of markets is tied up with a militant imposition of Western democracy. The use of military violence to enforce capitalism complicates the mythos of globalization that implies universal consent and benefit, and so requires its own mythological nuances. One form this takes is called democratic peace theory in political science, which holds that the world will be at peace once all non-democratic forms of government are eliminated. This is based on a statistical tendency for democracies to not wage war on each other. This Orwellian approach to peace through war is part of the geopolitical discourse of neoliberal globalization.
A solider of peace.
Neoliberal discourses espouse an egalitarian ideal wherein human actors in a globalized economy operate on a universally level playing field. Sachs pointed out that this rhetoric erases the neocolonial reality of globalization: economic profits centralize in the global North while ecologically harmful industry centralizes in the global South.
Here are the huddled and tired masses, hungry to be globalized.
Doyle (1983) wrote an influential paper on democratic peace, a popular theory in liberal circles for over a hundred years. Citing the statistic that an astonishingly low percentage of wars are fought by democracies, Doyle argues that there is something inherent about democracies that causes this phenomenon. Thankfully he doesn’t outright claim to know why, but he postulates that it could be their inherent mechanism of giving power to the people, or that “collected peoples” are much less likely to go to war with each other than monarchs, as they feel the pain of war most.
Doyle may be right that there is something inherent about democracies that stops them going to war with each other, and has just not explored the amount of possibilities, the number of things today’s democracies have in common. A prominent commonality in most democracies, for instance, is their attachment to the US and in general the World Economic Order. Furthermore, to fully understand this one must properly examine peace. People only go to war if they can get something out of winning. War implies conflict, a clash, and equal to some extent or it would be over in a week. Why would a capitalist superpower go to war with a country that has opened its markets and stabilized its politics? They can just send The Herd in. Whether peace is good is a heavily context-reliant question. Peace can be utopia or an exercise of power by the status quo. The question is, which of these better describe democratic peace?