On the article of ‘Does Globalization Diminish the Importance of Nationalism?’ the author, Tammam O. Abdulsattar, try to explain the effect of globalization to the nationalism in modern world. The article aims to defend the thesis that globalization’s effect is a double-edged sword or Janus-faced and it fortified the rise of nationalism movement. Though it has influenced the nationalism in three fundamental ways, but I argued that globalization lead to hegemony of national identity by western culture in most of developing countries where primordialism is still strong and national identity is weak. In this review, I would first explain briefly the three core points about relationship between globalization and nationalism, and I wish to deploy the structuralist view of imperialism of capitalist interest to support my argument then precsribe the critique of the thesis of the article. As my final attempt, I would draw a conclusion.
Globalization is the phenomena in modern world caused by the revolution of technology and science. It is a process to free the communication, cultural and trade interaction by eliminating territorial barriers. As many scholars of structuralist view that globalization is the monopoly of western culture in non-western world, this article view that it is not only a single process regarding to the nationalism. Basically, there are three main relations between globalization and nationalism. First, it views globalization as variable that shrinks the nationalism through the removal of national barrier which allows people from different ethnicity to interact intensively. In this process, national differences considered to be less important. It is a de-culturation, process when a culture try to diminish the locality or identity of another culture. In here, globalization as the product of modernity tries to reduce the national identity. In cultural point of view, pop culture is dominated by the product of western world. From I-phone to cosmetic product, all are haunted by the middle class particularly young people to satisfy their social identity. To Marx, in class theory, this cultural imperialism would turn the middle class into a burgeouis class that serve the interest of capitalist group.
Second, the notion that globalization increased awareness of nationalism. Rather reductive, it is mutually beneficial, (Natalie: 2010). This process is valuable as what happened in Japan and China. Nationalism is not only depeened and fortified but also expanded by globalization. Foreign values position itself at the heart of nationalism and thus originate the inculturation to increase the sense of uniqueness and difference in a nation. The idea of liberalism from Kant to Rosseau is western product which able to both raises the consciousness about imperialism and national identity built long before the colonialism. And how these ideas influenced the independence of nation-state after the post-cold war, particularly from the colonialized countries in South Africa, Soviet Union and non-block alliance, appeared to justify the good side of globalization.
Third, idea that believes globalization stirs up national extremism. As the barriers of territorial are removed, it leads to eruption of cultural expression from religion and ethnic group. Rather fertilized, it destroyed the foundation of social stability. Globalization has conjured the face of culture to be fiercer. Culture has thus become a new source of conflict and an important dimension of struggle between the global and the local (Godfrey: 2008). It seemed that Huntington provocative thesis about the clash of civilization found its correlation in the radicalization and fundamentalism movement. In the developing countries such as Indonesia, this social movement blossomed through social media; thank to Facebook that ISIS, NII and other fundamental movements gained favor from these sites. In this ex-culturation process, nationalism movement perceives globalization as a threat thus disassociates itself from mainstream culture, aimed to separate the ‘authentic’ from the ‘inauthentic’ or the ‘sacred’ from ‘profane’ (Agamben: 2007). This is interesting, because it is the fundamentalism logic of purification that is very politics in meaning. Carl Schmitt defines it very well about this politics as the degree of association and disassociation to decide friend and foe (Schmitt: 1932). Globalization influence is noticed as a ‘foe’, or a ‘threat’ to its existence. Anihilation of anything or anyone perceived as enemy become a tragic consequence of such logic.
The idea that globalization has paradoxical effect on nationalism has strong side in explaining the conflictual relationship between local and global generally. The article analyses the struggle between the dominance of modernity of the west and the resistance of local values as it quoted Giddens. It also supports the notion that there has been a ‘marked rise of nationalism under globalization’. Instead of withering it, globalization with its auspicious universalization nature has stimulated the awareness of the threat it posed to cultures, nationalities and traditions and has ignited responsibility to protect them. The author believes that fear of withering nationalism is caused by globalization effect, termed with Xenophobia. The author also mention about the economic nationalism, right wing radicalism and religious fundamentalism as responses to this fear. Even though, globalization has contradiction effect that leads to the perseverance of nationalism as the article argued, but it has limitation in explaining the phenomena of political economy particularly the hegemony of capital that waning state’s sovereignty through the global trade regime that forcefully paralyzed the state’s sovereignty. I would explore these ideas using Marxist approach and its exponents to describe my argument. First I would describe the idea about imperialism and nationalism and I wish to explain the features that made capitalism possible to subside the fundamental part of nationalism, the sovereignty.
As the purpose of this article attempt to defend the notion that globalization doesn’t diminish the importance of nationalism, I argued that globalization is one of the features in modern development that expands the imperialism of capitalist interest (Luxemburg & Bukharin 1972:143 quoted in Chilcote: 1981) and thus wane the relevance of nationalism. In Marxist views imperialism is about “the reflex of interests of the capitalist upper structure, at a given stage of capitalist development” (Schumpeter: 1955:7). George Lichtheim defined imperialism as “the relationship of a ruling or controlling power to those under its domination” (1970:1:42 quoted in Chilcote: 1981). Different from old imperialism appeared in sixteenth and seventeenth century, modern imperialism has distinct form of control mechanism and influence. Lenin agreed with Hilferding that imperialism is the highest form of capitalism characterized with finance capital. “Capital becomes the conqueror of the world, and with every new land conquered sets a new border which must be overstepped” (Hilferding: 1910: 376).
The end of communism and the winning of liberal-capitalism successfully dominated the political economy of modern state. Claims that liberal democracy is the end of political order by Fukuyama (Fukuyama: 1992: xi-xii & 48) and that peace could be maintained through free trade (Paine in Howard: 1978: 29) are proven to be problematic particularly for developing country. This new system of domination successfully erode sovereignty (Gilpin: 1987: 183) as part of state nationalism, and drag it to the ceaselessly exploitation which is hard to be retained. Free trade affect and alter the relation and social traditional institution (Burchill & Linklater: 2009: 68) as the element in nationalism. Nationalism to Riggs is the “sense of solidarity based on shared values and customs” (Riggs: 2002). Shared values perceived as the common values which are most important and significant to society in a territory of a state. Something that particularly affect the existence of the society. This harmony of interest could be identified from the response of a group to a threat or competition from other group. Not only in the conflict, but in a state of cooperation such value could be established because of the mutual advantage both party gain (Roger Masters: 1989). Free trade in this context reconstructed the social relations in the logic of market (Polanyi: 1968: 70) that it is human nature to seek for individual material-profit thus in turn subjugated the social relations as a commodity for market. This principle become dominan in social relations. This economic liberal principle is an ‘accepted’ norm in international system which believed by its proponents such as David Ricardo, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine and Cobden could resolve even terminate the war (Burchill & Linklater: 2009: 46-48).
In post-cold war era, there are two significant ruling power of contemporary imperialism which constructs the free trade regime, hegemonic states and MNC. This can be traced back in the establishment of multilateral agreement on free trade and international finance institution such as Breton Woods, NAFTA, APEC, IMF, WTO and World Bank in the post-cold war by hegemonic state. It is a conscious effort that relfected in the state policy in order to maintain its domination (Leffler: 1992: 16) particularly in political economic aspect. These auspicious features release the capital from industrial to underdeveloped countries and animated the regime of international finance under the control of liberal-capitalist narration. Long before, Bukharin had predicted this development of capitalism as he saw imperialism as the policy of finance capital (Bukharin, 1929:114) that would consolidate its interest with underdeveloped countries (Bukhrain, 1929:74). By imposing the finance regulation, these institutions have turned economic policy into more liberal one and thus expose the economic nationalism to the monopoly of finance capital of the developed countries and MNC. Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the downfall of Soeharto Regime in Indonesia had ruined the political economic stability of the country. Indonesia then received financial assistance –a loan– from IMF to stabilize its political economic condition (Lane, Ghosh, Hamman, Phillips, Ghattas, Tsikata: 1999: 1-19). As we know well that there is no free lunch, this loan wouldn’t be given if the government didn’t sign up the structural adjustment program of IMF. Failure to structurally adjust leads to cancellation of the loan. The prime goal of this program is to open Indonesian market as the target of domination by foreign big firms by re-structuring its economic policy to be more open and liberal. We could examine whether this IMF program successfully reduced the poverty of Indonesia since its enforcement.
Another pugnacious player is the MNCs with its international nature. For some of developing countries, they are the mesiah of domestic development. And most of the ruling government agrees that foreign direct investment (FDI) could catalyst even accelerate the development. Regardless of the economic advantages MNC promotes through FDI to host country such as sharing technology and managerial know-how (Feinberg and Keane 2005: 245-277), but some studies had shown that the characteristic of MNC which is essentially profit-driven, time sensitive and incredibly adaptive (Perlmutter 1972: 139-152) has made them more independent from state. It gives MNC considerable amount of autonomy and power (Walter: 1972: 127-138) to conduct business for the holy sake of profit. With the power it has, MNC existence would be a threat to state’s sovereignty particularly its political leverage in arrange public and foreign policy agenda. For Indonesia with its oil resources, this means a monopoly of giant foreign oil company, the oil imperialism (Syeirazi: 2009: 104-216). Indonesia signing up for structural adjustment program of IMF is an open door for MNC to enter domestic market more free. The more operation given to MNC, the lesser power state has in order to win contract that pro people. Even more, with the elite class who seek financial profit and political agenda in the next election, this severely cut down sovereignty that belongs to the people.
In some aspects, globalization gave a promising development for the developing countries particularly to construct solid foundation for the nationalism of a state with its features in modern age. Free flow of culture, goods, idea and service among countries has rendered a consciousness about significant role of local wisdom of a state to protect itself from and resist the wave of threats globalization might imposed, as the article argued. But in the other hand, globalization with its features have opened the door for hegemonic power which hold the capital to push back the resistance of state and gain larger control. With its imperialistic nature through global free trade regime, the hegemonic power has undermined the sovereignty as essential base for nationalism and therefore open wider access to overstep the autonomy of the individual of the state.
- Abdulsattar, O. Tammam, Does Globalization Diminish the Importance of Nationalism?, November, 14 2013, accessed from http://www.e-ir.info/2013/11/14/does-globalization-diminish-the-importance-of-nationalism/.
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