Thoughts on Globalization


Les Conférence du Programme Savoirs, Innovations et Politiques du Développement Human – Edgar Morin

After having watched a video interview by UNOPS (United Nations Organization for Project Service) with an interview to Edgar Morin on the topic of globalization, I feel like sharing my views here.

He first speaks about the elements that a society needs in order to exist as such. He lists four elements: a common economy, a common land, a common authority and a common awareness. On this basis, he concluded, there no such global society. There is certainly a foundation of a global society but too many elements, such as a common authority, are lacking.

One of the key points he makes, in my opinion, is that globalization is like a plane without a pilot: there is no regulation or control over this process. For this reasons, he states, a local crisis becomes a global crisis, a global catastrophe.
On this point, I believe that it needs to be pointed out that the issue here is that there is indeed some regulation, however due to the scale of involvement in the process of globalization, it is virtually impossible to find an agreement on which path is the best for the global future. The institutions, such as the WTO (World Trade Organization), which work towards clearer trade regulations and harmonization of international trade standards, are constantly reminded that they need to step back and allow state sovereignty to prevail. This is clearly legitimate from the political point of view: a state sovereignty derives from the state’s political status chosen (only in some cases) by the electorate. Thus it seems clear that the WTO, as in this example, has no right to superimpose itself over the nations’ will. However, this also shows how a ‘global’ authority – if anything as such can exist – will never be functional due to the heavily political element necessarily involved in its nature and status.

Another interesting statement by E. Morin, despite lacking originality, is that globalization has removed prejudices but also solidarity networks or what French call ‘art de vivre’. The material well being does not correspond to personal happiness. This, according to him, derives from the problematic notion of development in our current world: on the one hand, it represents Western prosperity, yet on the other hand, it is identified with obsession for consumption and for money. He commented that if China and India were to have as many cars per person as in Western countries, we would need five planets like the Earth to satisfy all of our needs. This is clearly unsustainable.

Morin focused on reminding us that development ought to be not merely quantitative but also qualitative. For something to qualify as ‘change’ or ‘metamorphosis’ it must introduce something new into the system. This element of novelty, according to him, should come from reforms. These reforms are not new plans without any foundations: they already find roots within society and we need to identify such trends towards change that can serve as a platform for change.

I believe that Morin’s view is at the same time disarmingly optimistic yet also powerful in giving some hope for change.
As he states, the most encouraging recent event showing radical and unpredictable change is Obama‘s election.

If it happened once, why could something so unpredictable not occur again to give a new vibe to our society?

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