GLOBALIZATION AND HUMAN SECURITY:
A NEO-GRAMSCIAN PERSPECTIVE
The end of the 20th Century and the transition to the
21st is characterized by two simultaneous trends: global political and
economic integration processes and national disintegration with broad
(in)security implications. Accordingly, the international relations
of the new millennium is impelling many analysts to broaden their conception
of security to include issues of human security broadly defined. In
other words, while internationalization is producing positive effects
in some states, it is also generating many negative results in others.
The well-documented and publicized ideological resistance towards globalization-Seattle,
Prague, the May Day Protests in London, Davos, and the recent World
Economic Forum in New York-demonstrate that the benefits of neoliberal
internationalism are not equally distributed among individuals, groups,
or states that make up the international system. The widening scope
and intensification of a global free market is beneficial to some states,
but in others it has eliminated a "social contract" between
state and society, accompanied by a strong perception that economic
globalization is largely a process of "disorganized capitalism."
The pervasive nature of these transnational and global forces generate
dissatisfaction and multilevel (individual, group, and national) insecurity.
In this paper, I utilize the neo-Gramscian framework to transnational
historical materialism to examine this process and provide evidence
of specific instances of negative globalization, insecurity, and dissatisfaction
within nations. A theory of international relations based on the Gramscian
conceptualization of hegemony is useful for a better understanding of
the inherently problematic nature of internationalization (Cox, 1981;
Robinson, 1996). Stated differently, the aim of this analysis is to
explore the relationship between the processes of globalization and
the changing nature of human security. Accordingly, the paper will proceed
in the following manner: 1) a brief discussion of the relevance of a
neo-Gramscian framework in an examination of the relationship between
globalization and human (in)security, 2) an analysis of the concept
of globalization and its uneven effects on societies in relation to
human security, and 3) identify specific instances of human insecurity
related to globalization processes. In other words, the analysis will
focus on the following questions: What, so far, is the impact of globalization
processes on income and poverty in developing countries?; What is human
security and how is it affected by the new economics among nations?;
and Where and what are some of the specific instances of human insecurity?
Globalization is the widening scope and intensification of socio-economic,
political, and cultural activities and their worldwide effects (positive
and negative) on individuals, groups, and entire societies. The rapidity
and profundity of this interconnectedness is manifested in the expansion
and internationalization of financial markets, global corporate management,
worldwide epistemic and interpretive communities, newly emerging power
relationships derived from changing global investment patterns, and
new social constructions of cognition, identity and meaning built upon
postmodern global conditions.
Liberalization Policies as Power Relations: the Neo-Gramscian Perspective
This paper utilized a neo-Gramscian perspective and interpretation
of International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy
(IPE) to critically examine the role of globalization in the human security
problematic, especially the increase in economic insecurity in many
states. Gramsci uses hegemony as a key concept to underscore the power
of material capabilities, ideas, institutions, and other socio-economic
and cultural forces in ensuring legitimacy for the ruling class vis-à-vis
the subordinate class. When a consensus, or form of consent between
the two is fully fashioned, a hegemonic order is said to be in existence.
When this hegemonic order is firmly in place, it develops into a "historic
bloc" which is the solid structure that is produced by an existing
hegemonic order (Gramsci, 1971). Its role is to cement or bind together
all the other segments of society into a relationship characterized
by common political, economic, and cultural practices.
The works of Gramsci have been especially applied by the "Italian
School" to analyze global politics through an emphasis on concepts
like hegemony and historic bloc which are viewed as corresponding to
political and economic internationalization. Both concepts are equally
manifested in global 'norms' and expectations about political-economic
interactions, which constitute a kind of global 'common sense,' or popular
beliefs, institutions, and assumptions. In particular, Robert Cox (1993)
argues that the global community is subject to impositions about how
the global and/or national political economy should operate . These
global hegemonic impositions often originate from forces within a powerful
state or from a crisis/challenge within the previous hegemonic order.
Once a hegemonic order is consolidated, its dominant mode of production
coalesces with other subordinate modes of production. The outcome is
the establishment of an international civil society characterized by
adherence to homogenous rules and regulations as well as the strengthening
of links between the social classes of the countries that comprise the
A Gramscian framework is relevant in the analysis of globalization's
impact on human security because the benefits, or lack thereof, of international
economic liberalization is a question of power relations among states
in the international system. Moreover, while a Gramscian analysis underscores
the analytical relevance of power relations, it also emphasizes the
pertinence of culture to hegemonic contestations. In other words, for
a hegemony to be consolidated, religious and political values which
include institutions must be entrenched within an ideology or reflect
both elite and mass values in order for the institutions produced by
that ideology to be successful. Ideology is defined in Gramscian analysis
as organic cement or social glue that integrates institutions as well
as societal and state apparatuses, as opposed to a system of ideas.
From a neo-Gramscian or transnational historical materialist perspective,
globalization and its human security impact on developing countries
reflects the cultural and moral as well as economic dominance of the
hegemonic states which constitute a ruling class within international
society made up of developed and developing states. The ongoing process
of globalization, especially its economic component, reflects a particular
set of class interests (those of the advanced industrial states) as
the general interest.
In Gramscian analysis, hegemony is viewed as a negotiated process because
dominant groups must secure the consent of subordinate social forces
in order to guarantee the legitimate rule of the former. When challenges
to the hegemonic order erupt from the subordinate groups, the dominant
groups attempt to accommodate such challenges through material concessions,
co-opting the discourse of challengers, and integrating moderate groups
into the coalition of the hegemonic bloc while marginalizing more radical
elements. All these methods ensure that no fundamental changes in social
relations occur between the dominant and subordinate groups.
In addition to hegemony being negotiated and therefore not completely
stable, it is also characterized by dynamism in the sense that changes
in markets, technologies, relative power positions, or ideologies can
undermine the stability of an historic bloc by introducing crisis triggered
by challenges to the existing alliances and arrangements. The organizational
competence and political will of subordinates determine whether the
historic bloc maintains hegemony through "passive revolution"
(granting concessions, co-optation) or undergoes a more profound social
change from below in which subordinate groups replace existing cultural
expressions and social institutions with new ones which eventually undermine
the historic bloc (Gramsci, 1971). The Gramscian concept of hegemony
thus suggests that globalization does not translate into an unchallenged
drive toward economic and political internationalization where the nation
state becomes a mere vehicle for the transmission of global capital,
but rather a highly contested process in which nation states may experience
disintegration due to the lack of a "social contract" or increasing
insecurity/misery on the part of individuals, groups, and entire societies.
Transnational historical materialism underscores the role and functions
of international institutions such as the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Economic Forum, the Trilateral
Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank,
among others, as constituting a transnational hegemonic bloc which binds
together both developed and developing states and both elite and masses.
In combination, they constitute a global alliance of capitalists, state
managers and intellectuals characterized by common material and ideological
structures. Their goal is unrestricted internationalization of markets
and trade interactions in general. While the role of transnational capital
is central in the construction of this transnational hegemonic bloc,
the national state is seen as playing a major mediating role. The dominance
of the transnational hegemonic bloc is ensured because the nation-state
is willing to or "coerced" into adopting the fiscal and monetary
policy necessary to maintain economic stability and social control.
It is only through the successful integration of the international and
national realms can capitalist internationalization be effected. However,
in the alliance between the national and the supranational, the national
state clearly assumes and plays a subordinate role.
Robert Cox (1987) describes the role of the state in the internationalization
of global capital this way:
First, there is a process of interstate formation regarding
the need or requirements of the world economy that takes place within
a common ideological framework - Second, participation in this consensus
formation is hierarchically structured. Third, the internal structures
of states are adjusted so that each can best transform the global consensus
into national policy and practice.
However, where the "weak" developing state is
concerned, its role could more accurately be described as "coerced
consent" rather than willing participation. Whether willing or
coerced, the nation state is more or less an appendage or instrument
of the global economic consensus to implement the goals of dominant
capital. In this era of globalization, the nation state is, in varying
degrees, being bypassed by the hegemonic class through an array of international
financial institutions and a web of economic relationships. All are
utilized in the process of imposing and implementing the national agenda.
The weak, developing state especially acts on behalf of international
financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, who supply the
funds that guarantee the legitimacy of or ensure the neopatrimonial
ties of state leaders. The consequence is an emerging world culture
glued together by a common rhetoric focused on issues of economic liberalization,
democratization, the environment, human rights, and the like.
Globalization and Human Security
The transition to the 21st Century is characterized by
glaring differences in the levels of development among states along
with the widening scope and intensification of economic, political,
and cultural interdependence. This internationalization of politico-economic
and socio-cultural processes designated by the term "globalization"
has two effects: positive and negative (Heredia, 1997). In particular,
the level of economic globalization is moving at such a rapid pace that
it is, in many states, adversely affecting the status quo. The leading
role in this transnational flow of goods, services, and capital is played
by an elite group of countries (known as the G-7), who are in league
with international financial organizations and corporations. Under their
hegemony, the vast majority of the other states must acquiesce to politico-economic
prescriptions shaped almost entirely without their input.
Human insecurity (broadly defined as existential anxiety/ontological
insecurity) whether at the individual, group, or national level is a
consequence of rapid socio-economic and political changes inherent in
globalization and accompanied, in varying degrees, by a deepening of
unequal power structures both at the national and international levels.
The eruption of violent conflicts is, at times, an attempt to address
human economic existential anxiety caused by globalization's destruction
of the "social contract" between state and society resulting
in loss of economic support systems. According to the 1994 Human Development
Human security is people-centered. It is concerned with
how people live and breathe in a society, how freely they exercise their
many choices, how much access they have to market and social opportunities-and
whether they live in conflict or in peace (United Nations Development
Programme, 1994: 24).
In other words, human insecurity broadly conceived affects
not just economic security but other areas of existence as well. This
is why the first major reference to human security in 1994 identified
seven areas of concern. These are the following (United Nations Development
1. economic security (e.g., assurance of a basic income),
2. food security (e.g., access to food),
3. health security (e.g., access to health care and protection from
4. environmental security (e.g., protection from harmful effects of
5. personal security (e.g., freedom from threats by the state, groups,
6. community security (e.g., freedom from harmful community practices,
7. political security (e.g., enjoyment of human rights, and freedom
from political oppression).
As globalization increases the level of prosperity, so
also is poverty becoming globalized.
The developing nations are perennially at the receiving end of economic
models emanating from industrialized states and international financial
institutions. The transmitted models (classical and neo-classical development
models) and their elements of profit maximization, the invisible hand,
rugged individualism, and the like have often destabilized and confused
many developing states (Williams, 1997). In other words, the impact
of economic globalization on many developing economies has often resulted
in limited benefits to the majority of individuals, groups, or society.
For the developing world, transnational capital as well as the acquiescence
and/or "coerced consent" to adopt Western economic models
has exacerbated deeply-rooted structural problems. The outcome is very
slow or negative growth rates, markedly skewed distribution of income,
and widespread poverty.
However, while the economies of the developing nations are adversely
affected by hegemonic economic impositions, those of the G-7 nations
and their advanced states have institutionalized important social welfare
measures (homestead acts, a common agricultural policy, price support
mechanisms, tax holiday, social security, and subsidies) to offset or
forestall the most painful effects of globalization. In addition to
the absence of human security measures within developing states, they
are also constrained by several limitations such as the institutionalized
patron-client networks based on parochial and selfish inclination, and
the socio-cultural and political dilemmas that stem from the transnational
imposition of values inherent in economic liberalization. For example,
while the reduction in government expenditure, devaluation, and liberalization
of the national economy and international trade that accompany structural
adjustment programs are expected to tackle the problems of inflation
and the balance of payments deficit by changing the incentive structure,
they also have a wider impact on society, especially its immediate impact
on the poor (Messkoub, 2001). A reduction or elimination in food subsidies
affect the nutritional intake of children in poor households, in addition
to destabilizing the opportunity structure for the varied individuals,
groups, and classes in society.
As a result of economic liberalization policies, in the general area
of basic needs (education, health, social security, and housing). The
United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 1990
reported that in Tanzania real public expenditures in 1986 were less
than half of 1975 expenditures. In particular, economic adjustment programs
affected, in varying degrees, individuals and groups in relation to
income distribution and basic needs. In the area of education, a UNICEF
(1990) report said:
The number of children seen on the main roads and the
streets of Dar es Salaam and in other towns has increased dramatically.
Until recently, the phenomenon of street children was unknown in Tanzania.
many of the children are selling bread and other commodities to make
money for themselves and for their families.
In other words, the once respectable Tanzanian educational
system has been adversely affected by the economic crisis and adjustment
policies prescribed by the hegemonic state and non-state actors.
The human security experience of poor countries associated with economic
globalization underscores the limitations of the new historic bloc and
its hegemonic order, which seem, so far, to be meaningless to many individuals
and groups in poor countries. This experience in the developing world
is pertinent with Warren Robinson's observation that:
The relaxation of social controls over markets, the presence
of even a handful of sharp, ruthless, essentially amoral operators,
and normal competitive processes will inevitably lead to the worst,
most unscrupulous practices becoming the norm (West Africa, 1997:671).
While liberalization policies are being diffused globally,
they are at the same time producing dissimilar effects depending on
the socio-economic and cultural context. The interactions of the local
and the global are having serious economic, food, health, community,
and other security concerns in many developing societies.
The decreasing involvement of government in citizens' welfare is not
being replaced by other safeguards or means of alleviating insecurity
in developing countries. The vacuum created by the forces of liberalization
contributes to a process of atomization manifested in psychological
uncertainty or a loss of security attachment to government. This process
in turn produces a resurgence of primordial sentiments because of the
ideological absence fostered by an authoritarian vacuum. The consequence
is inter-group tensions along ethnolinguistic, ethnoreligious, ethnoregional,
or class lines. Uncertainty/anxiety is produced because the norms of
privatization and personal responsibility for welfare destroy old ways
that, at least, guarantee a modicum of social welfare. In the process,
communal values are eliminated in favor of individualistic, impersonal
The intensification of group rivalries translates into competition even
within families, where before there was cooperation and community. The
previous values of free sharing are replaced by an emphasis on individuality
and putting a monetary value to everything, including relationships.
In the end, the family relationships are weakened. While the transition
from primary allegiance to the family unit, community, ethnic, or tribal
group to primary allegiance to the state may be beneficial in the long-run,
in the short-run it causes a great deal of psychological uncertainty,
problems of material deprivation, and general social dislocation.
Human security broadly defined is adversely affected when economic marginalization
of the general population is fueled by the rising militancy of local
strongmen who have forfeited an economically advantageous patron-client
infrastructure due to economic and political liberalization measures.
Often armed warlords or bandits fight against the government for control
of natural resources. Such control provides a substantial political
base for these local strongmen as various economically disadvantaged
groups begin to regard them as better able to support their economic
needs (Foreign Systems Research Center, 1998). The eruption of resource
wars within a country severely destroys community security because traditional
practices are disrupted, ethnic groups are targeted, and individual
physical security is affected.
Most significant, direct control of the revenue producing natural resources
also gives local strongmen the financial assets to buy weapons and build
paramilitary forces to protect their economic territory against government
forces and other warlords. Resource struggles which breed warlordism
have produced conflicts and established the basis for the irregular
nature of subsequent warfare in developing countries. In irregular warfare,
combatants often perpetuate violence and cruelty against not only each
other but the civilian population as well (White, 1996). Motivations
of the combatants (most of whom have experienced years of either political,
economic and other deprivations) were often based on factors other than
politics. For them, instant economic gratification is seen in their
ability to pillage and loot the countryside. At times, in these conflicts,
the distinction between professional soldier and rebel fighter becomes
blurred. In the Sierra Leone conflict, for example, close to 50 per
cent of some 14,000 soldiers became soldier-rebels ("sobels")
who operated on both sides of the conflict, motivated by their own economic
self-interest or personal gratification. Warlordism produces more misery
because governments are forced to spend an overwhelming amount of resources
to contain warlords, leaving insufficient amounts to provide government
services to its constituents (Reno, 1998). Second, by controlling substantial
components of the country's economic resources, these groups deprive
the government of significant sources of revenue necessary to conduct
The globalization of democracy in developing countries has equally contributed
to human insecurity in some countries. While political rights and freedom
from political oppression, is desirable, the spread of democratic values
has simultaneously and quite ironically produced societal instability.
As some states experience an improvement in political or civil liberties,
they shortly thereafter experience civil strife (e.g. the former Yugoslavia
and the conflict between Russia and the ethnic separatist Chechens).
In Burundi, a candidate from the long oppressed Hutu majority won presidential
elections in 1993, only to be overthrown in a bloody Tutsi-led military
coup that left some 50,000 dead. The increasing press freedom in neighboring
Rwanda preceded the 1994 Rwandan genocide that left roughly 800,000
Tutsi dead along with some moderate Hutus (Steering Committee on Rwanda,
As the old patterns of behavior are undermined by the new hegemony based
on liberalization of power relations, emotional anxieties at the personal,
group, or community levels increase. The transition from the previous
political status quo to the new one is often the initiative of the power
elite who acquiesce to the new hegemonic order and impose it on their
citizens with little direct and substantial participation from them.
In situations where violence does not occur as a result of political
liberalization, the state may respond to liberal political behavior
by strengthening its internal security apparatus and may resort to indiscriminate
political repression. This behavior of the state is likely to directly
impact personal security because it may produce state violence and terror
in the form of torture, arrests, incarceration, and even executions.
The spread of economic and political liberalization policies and their
human security implications are producing a new form of social alienation.
Societies that were once traditional, community-oriented, informal,
and personal are now suddenly exposed to the formal, abstract character
of modern institutions, the economic detachment of the state, and a
more competitive political economy. According to Peter L. Berger (1998:3-11),
this generates "homelessness".
The de-modernizing impulse, whether it looks backwards
into the past or forward into the future, seeks a reversal of the modern
trends that have left the individual 'alienated' and beset with the
threats of meaninglessness. For developing countries in particular, the new hegemony,
because of its scope and intensity, has produced emotional stress in
individuals, groups, and entire societies related to the breakdown of
hierarchical structures that guaranteed a modicum of social welfare
before the introduction of macrostructural changes associated with globalization.
The psychological effect on individuals and groups is described thus
by Anthony Giddens (1991:33)
Modernity, it might be said, breaks down the protective
framework of the small community and of tradition replacing these with
many larger, impersonal organizations. The individual feels bereft and
alone in a world in which she or he lacks the psychological supports
and the sense of security provided by more traditional settings.
In other words, globalization is in a way synonymous with
Westernization or modernization which generates economic, psychological,
or cultural deprivations in varying degrees. The effects of globalization are oppressive to many individuals, groups,
or communities because of the steady increase in poverty, hunger (food
insecurity), disease (health insecurity), and violent conflicts (community
insecurity), among others. The developing state with its limited sovereignty
has been further reduced to a mere conformative politico-economic and
cultural entity, since it is merely a weak link in the new hegemonic
structure. The new order is so pervasive in its effect that there is
no place for a different ideology.
Implications of Globalization as Westernization
Some researchers may disagree with the argument that
globalization has not improved human security for most of the developing
world. They would instead contend that it is misrule, inefficiency or
misdirected state policies that prevent the positive effects of glocalization
to reach most segments of the population in developing states. However,
in terms of globalization effects, it makes more sense to argue that
the human security failures linked to corruption and inefficiency in
poor nations are due more to the detrimental aspects of the cultural-attitudinal
lag between the introduction of globalization (westernization) models
and changes in elite and mass attitudes. For example, Westernization
(formerly colonization), and now globalization with its neo-colonial
overtones, contributes to clientele networks in developing countries
based on ethnicity and corruption. The cultural values associated with
globalization are seen as foreign to many developing nations which are
deeply attached to more traditional cultural values (Seligson, 1998).
While hard work is an attribute in many developing nations, the values
of punctuality, achievement-orientation, and other "industrial"
characteristics are ingredients to ensure the effective results of economic
liberalization in poor countries.
Many analysts equally argue that "modern" values will emerge
naturally as the result of a global process of diffusion of values conducive
for holistic development. The question is how long do developing societies
have to wait before these value changes occur? In the meantime, their
populations are being inundated by globalization processes from the
advanced industrial countries. Attitudes and value changes that underlie
collective and individual modernity correspond to behavioral changes
at the institutional and general societal levels. The problem of institutionalized
clientele networks linked to rampant corruption and misrule, for example,
are a symptom of the existence of psychic, mental, and other barriers
to effective modernization in many countries (Inkeles and Smith, 1974).
Transplanted institutions, models, and strategies take time to be internalized,
if ever. The development literature is replete with examples of the
failure of such transplantation, such as import-substitution industrialization.
The external introduction of globalization trends by the international
power elite with the support of internal elites will be tantamount to
wasted efforts unless there are "modernized," active and informed
citizens to ensure a close correspondence between societal values and
new processes. The realization of such a modern situation often involves
freedom based on the absence of constraints from external actors and
forces. Freedom from constraining external models plus attitudes and
values conducive to globalization (westernization/modernization) are
necessary conditions to growth in (GNP) Gross National Product (economic
efficiency) and good governance (distributional efficiency and political
Furthermore, apart from the cultural lag between globalization and attitudinal
change in developing countries, there is also the relations produced
by the global market that are at the expense of the poor markets. This
institutionalized economic and political inequality that is part of
the international political economy reinforces dependence, limits the
development of poor markets, and constrains their cultural and technical
capacity, which then affects the overall human security dimension of
their societies. The limitations imposed on the markets of poor countries
is particularly reflected in the transfer of their resources to the
advanced and dominant countries. The consequence is deepening inequality,
institutionalized inefficiency, and at times violence in developing
Global inequality produced by globalization processes have had a long-term
effect starting with colonial dependence which permanently relegated
developing countries to a subordinate status in the global economy.
What began as colonial dependence has now expanded to include financial-industrial
dependence characterized by ever deepening foreign-oriented development
and technological-industrial dependence (Dos Santos, 1970). Both the
international relations and the internal structures of developing countries
have been conditioned to serve the markets of the dominant nations in
the areas of production, capital accumulation, the reproduction of the
economy, and in social and political behavior.
Globalization and Human Insecurity: Some Evidence
The rapid pace of globalization has not alleviated the
scope and rate of poverty in developing regions. If anything, poverty
and its adverse human security effects is becoming more pervasive. According
to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), approximately 1
billion go hungry every day, and about 1 billion are illiterate. Well
over a billion people lack access to safe water, and nearly a third
of people in least developed countries are not expected to live to the
age of 40. Women constitute 70 percent of the world's poor (United Nations
Development Programme, 1997).
In other words, almost one-third of the developing world's population
(about 1.3 billion people) lives in a state of what the UNDP describes
as a state of income poverty, or subsisting on the equivalent of less
than one U.S. dollar a day. One-fourth lives in human poverty, lacking
the basics for a decent life. Asia and Africa have most of the people
who are either income poor or characterized by human poverty, or both.
In Latin America, income poverty is growing at a rapid pace. According
to 1997 data, in the transition economies of Eastern Europe and the
Commonwealth of Independent States, the number of people living below
the poverty line (estimated at four U.S. dollars per day) increased
from four million to 120 million-or one-fourth of the total population-in
less than 10 years. The intense globalization of the late 20th Century
and early 21st Century is characterized by growing income disparity
and rising poverty. Even in industrialized countries, in 1994 more than
100 million people were estimated to live in poverty, with an estimated
37 million jobless.
Globalization has serious human security implications for some members
of the world community. While it creates opportunities for some, it
exposes others to the detrimental effects of its liberalization policies.
In the last two decades of the 20th century gaps in economic development
among countries has widened. While the 20 percent of the earth's population
who live in advanced industrial countries account for 86 percent of
the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the 20 percent who live in
the poor countries account for a mere one percent (Bogomolov, 2000).
Even in the so-called Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs), designated
as such because of their rapid economic growth in the 1980s, globalization
is not enhancing human security for most. In Thailand, for example,
according to the Human Development Report (United Nations Development
Programme, 1996), the income gap is getting wider. In 1960, the average
income of agricultural households was about one-sixth the average income
of other sectors. By the 1990s, the difference had grown to one twelfth.
In 1988, the top 20 percent of the population enjoyed 54.2 percent of
national income while the bottom 20% owned 4.6 percent. In 1996, the
gap had further widened (Ekachai, 2000a).
Even in the environmental security area, in 1994 a study of water resources
in Thailand found 81 percent of all reservoir water to be contaminated
by DDT (Bangkok Post, October 8, p. 5). This is because the country
was engaged in the green revolution to increase farm productivity, and
this entailed the extensive use of farm chemicals. The heavy reliance
on pesticides in Thailand and other countries is linked to globalization
and its emphasis on free trade. The consequence is that MNCs have been
given carte blanche in the fragile economies of developing countries.
Most of the 40 major pesticide and herbicide producers in Thailand are
In many countries, the majority of workers employed by multinationals
as a result of globalization processes are low paid and have little
job security. Whilst the multinationals gain in terms of profits, locals
are overworked, tainted with pesticides, and have produced fruits full
of pesticide residue. According to the Public Health Ministry in Thailand,
pesticide-related illnesses increased seventeen-fold in the period 1988-1993
Developing countries lose a great deal of revenue from tax exemptions
for multinationals. The loss of revenue from tax exemptions grew from
an estimated $45.4 million in 1991 to $340 million in 1995(Kolko, 2001).
While the world GNP may be increasing, it is not being equitably distributed.
The former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Michael Camdessus,
emphasized in the keynote address to the 10th United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that:
The greatest concern of our time is poverty... It is the
ultimate systematic threat facing humanity. The widening gaps between
rich and poor within nations... is morally outrageous, economically
wasteful, and potentially socially explosive. If the poor are left hopeless,
poverty will undermine the fabric of our societies through confrontation,
violence, and civil disorders (Bangkok Post, 2000).
In other words, globalization and its adverse effects
on individuals, groups, and entire societies threaten human security
in all its ramifications, since any outbreak of civil strife affects
not just physical security but environmental, political, and other securities
Ethnopolitical conflicts and other types of organized violence by rebel
groups could often be interpreted as efforts by, and an alliance of,
the deprived, dissatisfied, and other groups supportive of revolutionary
change. Such struggles for hegemonic control underscores the relationship
of civil society to the state and the relationship of politics, ethics,
and ideology to production. In neo-Gramscian terms, the developing society
is today an internationalized entity in the sense that the administrative,
executive, and coercive apparatus of developing state governments are
in effect constrained by the hegemony of advanced industrial countries,
and the leading classes (beneficiaries of globalization) within them.
Most of the human insecurity that continues to affect developing countries
is, in fact, related to the dual nature of power (consent and coercion)
in both national and international politics. Hegemony is prevalent to
the extent that the consensual aspect of power binds together both state
and external actors. Coercion as an aspect of power is often used as
a last resort and is often applied only to deviant entities, or rogue
states. Relations of dominance an subordination thus persist because
hegemony is often sufficient to ensure political, economic, and social
conformity of behavior in most nation-states and population groups,
most of the time. Hegemony thus cements unequal actors at all levels:
local, national, and global.
Human insecurity is likely to continue in most developing countries
because of the lack of any effective civil society that, in Gramscian
military analogies, can initiate wars of movement and of position. In
many developing states a weak civil society, coupled with a lack of
bourgeois hegemony, results in incapacity for meaningful adaptation
and effective resolution of human security problems. In many developing
countries, in other words, the state and its external sponsors, are
still very powerful vis-à-vis a weak civil society. In the West,
where globalization processes and developments emanate, the state often
confronts a sturdy and powerful civil society. The many civil wars that
erupt in the developing world end up causing more misery and disrupting
entire societies. These wars (Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Angola, and Democratic
Republic of Congo) are often ethnic based and premature attacks on the
state and the new historic bloc, and therefore end up being defeated
and entrenching state hegemony vis-à-vis weak civil society.
The developing nations are societies which have either imposed on themselves
and/or had a new order thrust on them from abroad, without the old order
having been displaced. These societies are at times caught up in a dialectic
of revolution-restoration which tend to become blocked as neither the
new forces nor the old could triumph. The introduction and effect of
globalization as changes have had a passive effect on developing societies.
The consequence is an historic bloc characterized by more individualism
and competition, less government, existential insecurity and anxiety
on the part of individuals, groups and entire societies.
The equality, exclusion, and rampant globalization unfolding in developing
societies is a result of the political and economic acquiescence of
developing state governments to external impositions. In the maquiladoras
of Mexico, many of the impoverished workers blame their economic and
health struggles on the Mexican state which has crushed union movements
and allowed companies to violate national and international laws (Stackhouse,
1999). The state thus becomes an instrument of transnational capital
and the local implementation of the new hegemonic order. In Ciudad Juarez
the adverse effects of globalization are seen in the dusty and smog-shrouded
shantytowns, and people living in squalor and abject poverty. The standard
of living is progressively degenerating as poverty increases. For example,
in 1995 one day's minimum wage in Mexico could purchase 44.9 pounds
of tortillas or 2.24 gallons of milk. In 1999 the new minimum wage could
buy only 16.9 pounds of tortillas or 1.4 gallons of milk (Stackhouse,
In sum, the evidence from other regions and countries of the developing
world indicates that globalization is associated with a serious maldistribution
of wealth generated by global markets. So far, the evidence shows increasing
inequality and growing poverty and a widespread lack in the basics for
a decent life.
The indicators of poverty and inequality reveal that
the neoliberal theory of globalization is aggravating issues of food,
health, personal, and other insecurities in developing nations. The
adverse effects produced by the end of the "social welfare contract"
between state and society sharply reduced the controlling role of government
institutions and thereby produced individual and group insecurities
that in turn degenerate into ethnoregional, class, and other tensions.
The consequence in some states has been civil strife, state collapse,
or multiple sovereignties. The new hegemonic order (with its structure
and ideology) primarily benefits the interests of developed countries
and the profit motive of multinationals. What is therefore needed is
"responsible globalization" and "inclusion," or
the political and economic will to bring into the globalization order
and the new international political economy those now excluded. The
new economics is causing misery even in industrialized countries where
income inequality and job insecurity are increasing at a steady pace.
While the developing state is increasingly being integrated into the
world economy through the policies of external hegemony, it is at the
same time being marginalized in terms of the benefits of globalization.
The economic marginalization of the developing state may be responsible
for the assertion of ethnic, religious, and other identities that produce
civil strife in some countries.
The nature of the global political economy and the relative power of
actors that compete within it must be significant components of any
judgements concerning the efficacy of any globalization processes, or
distortions engendered by them. Inegalitarian economies yield inegalitarian
social structures and human security dilemmas. Hegemonic interests control
the globalization-related growth centric approaches that are very resistant
to redistribution. Such tendency creates greater long-term inequalities
and at the same time the lack of political and economic will to reduce
them. The consequence is resistance in developing countries that further
affect human security.
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