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Globalization (technology) and Cultural Impact

What exactly is globalization? As described by the Levin Institute, “Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology.”  (Globalization101) Many people in the world, especially those in power see globalization as a way to spread “freedom” to the more unfortunate peoples of the world. But with such thinking, people never come to realize the detrimental effects of globalization. Attempting to entrench one’s own ideals onto another with force and pressure destroys a society that cannot adapt to such changing circumstances. Take for example, the Mayans and the Aztecs. The Spanish originally came to South America hunting for gold and other treasure, but unfortunately, they at the same time killed off a complete civilization that had no chance of adapting to steel weapons and gun powder. Such a mysterious culture vanished off the face of the planet, and many cultures today are also at risk of having the same thing happen to them. The immense western ideals of freedom and free speech are at the moment trampling on cultures around the world. Why do the people of Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda rebel against America and the rest of the western world? Simply because Afghanistan cannot handle the internalization of western influence. (Al Qaeda’s Hypocrisy: The Globalization of Terrorism) Many cultures and countries wish to expand and evolve at their own rate, with their own ideals and their own consequences. Yet, the western world does not allow them to do this, and so they rebel and consequently, have their own culture die at a fast pace because the western culture takes over.

This same force of globalization is spreading rapidly throughout the world. This sort of globalization is not the same archaic movement of conquering countries and their people. This force of globalization is more technologically based. Through the media with news outlets and television shows, movies and music, popular brands of sodas such as Pepsi or Coca Cola, and even through clothing. (The Globalization Website – Issues) Though many argue that globalization is very beneficial to the world, they do not look at their claims often enough to realize the loopholes in their arguments. It is true that globalization can create ties between treacherous countries and create greater pathways to proper communication. And communication is something that is not used that greatly between foreign countries, unlike violence, as it has been for thousands of years.

Globalization is not new to the world. It is merely expanded over the past many centuries. One such moment of globalization was the Silk Road across the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Merchants have been buying and selling merchandise for many years that has created prosperity and friendly relations for many people. Merchants today are big CEO’s of multi-million dollar companies that trade internationally. Unfortunately, these modern merchants are more forceful and apathetic to economic and environmental concerns around the world; they pave their way with force in order to further expand their reach of power and trade. Such globalization creates detrimental affects at the places it reaches. For example, if a simple country is attempting to boost their own economy from a downtrodden state, they will try to get out of the situation creating their own companies. But when a market giant like Wal-Mart steps in, the economic condition turns for the worst. Jobs are then used to support Wal-Mart, at minimum wage, rather than supporting companies that are created, led, and based in their own country. Corporate giants like Wal-Mart increase in size every year, and this is at the expense of valuable cultures, local enterprises, and the common people. This is the way I see it and henceforth, it provides me enough evidence to say that globalization is indeed, not for the best.

Because of globalization, developed nations such as Canada have outsourced white collar jobs almost completely to developing nations such as China. Well recognized and high paying jobs such as scientists, computer engineers and programmers, and accountants have lost their jobs due to outsourcing to places where the cost is much cheaper. The Canadian people see this happening everyday; with a change in government policy and economic demand and supply, proper jobs where decent education and hard work is required are being sold off to places like China or India where governments and businesses find that they can save tremendous money by doing so (Nelson 7). By doing this, it is only stealing away jobs from people who deserve them. Hence, many companies such as local GM car manufacturing companies are being shut down and many small businesses that are trying to compete with corporate giants find that they cannot due to outsourcing; which they are unable to do. Another detrimental effect caused by globalization that is very well known throughout the world is child and POW (prisoners of war) labour. Manufacturing jobs such as the making of cars, furniture, clothing, sports equipment, computers, and imported foods are being taken are being thrust upon children and POW. They are being forced to work for less than $11 a month, where hours can range from 12 to 16 hours of work a day, with not one day of rest. (Edmonds 1) This is especially horrible for children, where their childhood is being corrupted in order to manufacture good materials and work with machines where there is absolutely no safety standards set in order to protect them. Children from the ages of 5 to 15 are exploited in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and many other countries around the world. (Edmonds 1) Because of no instruction on how to produce goods properly and to protect themselves from the harm of factory machines, children and POW end up losing limbs and are exposed to toxic chemicals that are extremely harmful to the respiratory system. If such a thing happens, they are simply thrown out of the factories because their productivity has decreased substantially, and the factory owners simply hire new workers; which are never low in supply.

The world is a tough environment and competition is practically everywhere. Now, in terms of evolution, competition between people is good for the survival of the species. But with technology nowadays and human reliance on it, evolution within mankind is practically non-existent. When globalization was just starting out and before it became what it is today, jobs were very secure and competition for those jobs was very rare. This is not the case today. Because of globalization and technological advancements in the information age, competition has exponentially increased. Most people cannot go a single day of their lives without feeling insecure about their jobs and how they would feed, clothe, and shelter themselves and their family if they lost their jobs. As said above, jobs are being outsourced and hard working men and women are being laid off in order for corporate companies to reduce their costs. Good sums of salaries and wages are being cut because of outsourcing. (Nelson 7) At the same time, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are becoming poorer. (Kentor 435-46) Unlike the story of Robin Hood, such a case is practically impossible in this day and age. Corporate companies are ruling with an iron fist, stronger than that of the government and countries like the United States of America are speedily introducing capitalism to the rest of the world. A political system such as capitalism is allowing corporations to take more from the people and give them less back. These same corporations are now using their power to influence political decisions from elections to governing laws. (Nelson 7) Hence, not only can they choose who deserves the right to govern, they can now even dictate where and what people buy. This can be seen by carefully inspecting companies and brands such as Sony and Samsung. These same companies deploy new brands that make people think that they are made by small independent companies from the common man and woman, when in actuality, they are a smaller brand from a larger brand; meant to force the consumer to unknowingly buy from the major brand in the end.

Fast food restaurants (or so they still call themselves) are shipping away from North America to developing nations in order to increase business. Companies such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut are setting up all over the world and are forcing bad diet habits onto them as well. (The Globalization Website – Issues) We have seen the detrimental effects of bad diet through fast food in North America, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Obesity is greatly prevalent from fast food restaurants and many developing nations are now relying on such food as part of their daily caloric intake. By creating bad eating habits and diets, globalization is certainly shortening the lifespan of many human beings around the world. Corporations are destroying the environment by setting up factories and other industries that release toxic pollutants into the air. These pollutants are much more easily handled in North America, but in developing countries, it is much harder to do so. Places like China and India have the worst pollution regulation with practically no laws setting the standard of how to not release pollutants into the air and destroy the global environment. Arguably, the greatest cause of globalization has to be the media and very recently, the Internet. Bad influences from North America with violence and sexual activity are being spread to countries where cultures tend to avoid these taboos. Cultures around the world are being hammered with propaganda and conflicting images through television and movies. The Internet has allowed hate groups and terrorist groups to openly communicate with each other and recruit individuals for their causes with hate speeches and other ways. The media is a vice that is destroying valuable cultures and traditions in the world in order for them to only bow down to the public western society. (The Globalization Website – Issues)

The purpose of this essay is not to say that globalization should be stopped in its tracks completely. I only exclaim that globalization should not nose its way into the rest of the world and force cultures that are vulnerable to change to try and adapt in cases where they cannot. Globalization is very beneficial to the world, as it allows communication between people from different races and countries to mingle between each other and learn about each other. This is a method that creates peace, because from communication, people can learn to understand each other and get along. But western ideology should not trample on people’s thoughts and sacred beliefs, as that is the opposite of peace. The environment is currently suffering due to corporate giants wasting away fossil fuels and destroying important natural landmarks in the world. Cultures such as the Inuit who live on seals as their main diet, are now being threatened due to the polar ice caps melting and seal hunters hunting hundreds of thousands of baby seals a year. (About the Canadian Seal Hunt) If the world was simply to ask cultures and nations if they would like to participate in the phenomenon that is globalization, rebels who take a violent stance against globalization may not do so. Another terrorist act such as 9/11 may never happen again. To reduce the detrimental effects of globalization, the world must retain manners and coincidentally, look before it leaps. If globalization grows at the rapid rate it is now, valuable cultures and history will be lost just as the Aztecs and Mayans once did.

  1. September 2, 2009 at 9:19 PM

    It’s too bad we don’t adhere to non-interference guidelines similar to those practiced by the United Federation of Planets on Star Trek. The time for a ‘Prime Directive’ is long overdue.

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