Globalization Is Making the World a Better Place
Globalization Is Making the World a Better Place
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  • 승인 2007.10.23 18:20
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The YU 60th Anniversary Guest Lecture Series

Globalization Is Making the World a Better Place
- Guy Sorman -




"Globalization" is one of the most powerful and positive forces ever to have arisen in the history of mankind and is redefining civilization as we know it. This is one of my hypotheses. To be more specific, I will try to describe what globalization is, its impact on world peace, and the freedom it brings from want, fear, and misery.

Globalization has six major characteristics: economic development, democracy, cultural enrichment, political and cultural norms, information, and the internationalization of the rule of law. Some of them may be described as follows.




Tipically, globalization is described in terms of intensified commercial and trade exchanges, but it is about more than just trade, stock exchanges, and currencies. It is about people. What is significant today is that through globalization many nations are converging toward enhanced welfare.

This convergence is exemplified by the 800 million people who, in the past 30 years, have left poverty and misery behind. They have greater access to health care, schooling, and information. They have more choices; their children will have even more choices. The absolutely remarkable part is that this has happened not by accident but through a combination of good economic policy, technology, and management.

Of course, not all nations are following this path, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall, more and more are coming closer. Only the nations of Africa have yet to join, but who would have hoped or predicted 30 years ago that China and India would pull their people out of misery with such rapidity and efficiency? There is no reason why Africa, when its turn comes, should not do the same. Convergence should be a source of hope for us all.




Cultural Enrichment

Critics of globalization frequently charge that it results in an "Americanization of culture" and concomitant losses of identity and local cultural values. I would propose the more optimistic view that globalization leads to a never-ending exchange of ideas, especially through popular culture, which effects the greatest number of people.

Through popular culture, people from different backgrounds and nations discover one another, and their "otherness" suddenly disappears. For example, a popular Korean television sitcom, now popular in Japan, has shown its Japanese viewers that, like them, Koreans fall in love, feel despair, and harbor the same hopes and fears for themselves and their children. The sitcom has transformed the image Japanese had of the Korean nation more profoundly than any number of diplomatic efforts could have done and demonstrates that globalization can erode prejudices that have existed between neighboring countries for centuries.

Furthermore, this process of better-understanding allows us to keep our own identity and add new identities. The Koreans absorb a bit of the American culture, a bit of the French, and a bit of other European societies. Perhaps they have become a different sort of Korean, but they remain Korean nonetheless. It is an illusion to think that you can lose your identity. And it goes both ways. When you look at the success of Korea's cultural exports the so-called 'new wave' of music, television, movies, and art, Korea becomes part of the identity of other people.

Now, as a Frenchman, I am a bit Korean myself. This is how globalization works. We do not lose our identities. We, rather, enter into the world that I call the world of multi-identity; this is progress, not loss.


Today, through legacy media and, more and more, through the Internet and cellular phones, everyone, even in authoritarian countries, is better informed. For a year, I lived in the poorest part of China, and I remember well how a farmer, in the most remote village, knew exactly what was happening not only in the next village but also in Beijing and New York because of the Internet and his cellular phone. No government can stop the flow of information now. People know today that, as they say, "Knowledge is power."

Now let us imagine if the genocide in Darfur had happened 20 or 30 years ago. The Darfur population would have been annihilated by the Sudanese government, and no one would have known. Today we all know about the genocide. The reason why the international community has been forced to intervene is because of the flood of information. Knowledge is proving to be the best protection for oppressed minorities and, thus, one of the most vital aspects of globalization.

Invented by Entrepreneurs

We also need to remember that globalization is not some historical accident but it has been devised and built by those who wanted it. Diplomats did not invent it; entrepreneurs did.

Let us look at Europe. After World War II, the Europeans discovered that they had been their own worst enemies. For 1,000 years, they had been fighting each other. Why? When you try to explain this history to your children, they do not understand. Diplomats and politicians from the 18th century onward unsuccessfully made plans to avoid this kind of civil war within Europe.

Then, in the 1940s, a businessman, named Jean Monnet, came along. His business was to sell cognac in the United States, and he was very good at it. The idea Jean Monnet had was that perhaps the process of the unification of Europe should not be started by diplomats but by business people. He proceeded to build the European Union on a foundation of commerce. He started with coal and steel in 1950, and it was through the liberation of that trade that he conceived of the unification of Europe, which has played a crucial role in the globalization process.

Monnet's guiding principle was that commercial and financial ties would lead to political unification. In the case of Europe, it was made easier because all of the governments were democratic. It is much more complicated to build free trade with non-democratic governments, but because globalization starts with the construction of this materialistic solidarity; ideals must come afterwards.

Two Threats to Globalization

Perhaps what I have presented so far is too optimistic a picture of globalization, but I believe we have good reason to be upbeat. However, there are two threats to globalization that are being taken too lightly today.

Global epidemics: In terms of health care, we are more and more able to cope with the current illnesses of the world. Though Africa still poses a problem, through global efforts it will be possible in the years to come to reduce the major epidemics there -AIDS and malaria.

But new epidemics are threatening the world. If we remember what happened in China some years ago with the SARS epidemic, which was very short-lived, and then the Avian-flu threat in 2005, you understand that there are potential threats out there and that the modern world is not really prepared. One of the consequences of globalization is that people travel more, which means that viruses travel more and adapt more.

Therefore, I think that globalization should require the international community to develop ever more sophisticated systems to detect and cure the new epidemics that have been a negative consequence of globalization.

Terrorism: Although wars these days are more limited, new forms of warfare have emerged, which we call terrorism. Terrorism today can seem like a distant menace happening somewhere between the United States and the Middle East. Because of the global progress of the rule of law, however, violent groups know that it is no longer possible to wage war in the traditional way; therefore, people driven by ideological passions are increasingly tempted to adopt terrorist methods as a way of implementing their agenda.

Those are the trully negative aspects of globalization: epidemics and terrorism. Regretfully, we are too focused on traditional problems like free trade. We are not focused enough on future threats.

I wish globalization were more popular, but it is our fault if it is not. Perhaps we should use different words. The word "Globalization" is ugly. We should find a better word, and we should try to explain to the media and to students that we are entering into a new civilization of welfare, progress, and happiness. If they do not understand the beauty of globalization, they will not stand up for it when it is threatened.

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