ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Dimensions of Globalisation

Globalisation has a profound impact on political institutions and discourse nationally and internationally. In the process of changing the nature of the state and the interstate system, a new political order is being fashioned.

The 1997 Copenhagen Seminar forSocial Progress makes a usefuldistinction between globalisationas a stage in the historical evolution ofhumanity and globalisation as a politicalproject steering the world economy in aparticular direction. “Calling the first a‘trend’ is to suggest that the narrowing ofphysical distances between peoples andthe growing interdependence of countriesrepresent both an unstoppable course ofhistory, moved essentially by the applicationof human reason to the developmentof science and technology, and a generaldirection of change that can be navigatedby human decision. The ‘project’ is globalcapitalism, or the application of the ideasand institutions of the market economy tothe world as a whole. It is actively pursuedby the US and a number of other governments,from large and small countries, bythe most powerful internationalorganisations and by the economic andfinancial elites of the world” (1997Copenhagen Seminar, Ministry of ForeignAffairs, Denmark, 1998).

The distinction between the trend andthe project is difficult because judgmentsas to what is determined by the evolutionof humanity and what is subject to deliberatechoices differ enormously, on bothobjective and subjective grounds. Quitenaturally, a proponent of global capitalismwill tend to blur the distinction, presentingthe free circulation of goods, services, andcapital as a natural stage of historicalevolution. On the other hand, an opponentof global capitalism will be inclined toplay down the force of the trend and toemphasise the decisions taken by transnationalcorporations and governmentsfavourable to global markets. As the reportsays “This distinction, however, isnecessary to create space for human thinkingand action. Without it the ‘end ofhistory’ would be accompanied by the‘end of politics’. There would be only onepolity, one form of political organisationbest serving the interests of global capitalism,and leaving governments withlittle room for manoeuvre” (ibid). Itmust however be added that the processis directed by the project and made subservientto it.

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