IS DEGLOBALIZATION POSSIBLE?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Globalization has traversed a historic track that is considerably long and expansive in impact at this juncture. Curiously, certain forces are working hard to de-globalize the world, so let me raise the question: is deglobalization possible?
Before anything else, a reflection on the meaning of the ‘globalization’ term. Globalization is delimited to the integration of national economies into a seamless planet-wide borderless economy, as this was the original meaning of the term.
There are so many insurgent voices around the globe today that are agitated by their own painful experiences in the aftermath of the official effectuation of the 1994-signed treaty called the GATT-UR. That fiat was largely binding on the states that forged and signed it, binding thereof on the economic life of member nations of the World Trade Organization that the treaty created.
The core principle behind globalization is free trade which in turn is based on laissez faire doctrine. Already rotting in the dustbins of archives for some time, as an obsolete stinking doctrine, laissez faire was suddenly revived and revved up globally to forge free trade. Largely British in origin (recall the Scottish physiocrats), free trade soon caught the obsessive attention of predatory financiers and technocratic subalterns who then transformed it into a global phenomenon.
Japanese technocrats then picked up the free trade resonance and concocted the term globalization. Kenichi Ohmae is the topgun Japanese thinker of globalization, which was then copycat by other Japanese thinkers. By the 1980s, the Japanese economic diplomacy corps then convinced their Americans and Western counterparts to accept the term and build up on the core principles of global free trade in order to forge a seamless, borderless planetary economy.
I’ve writ too many articles already about the subject, and spoke in many occasions about globalization and free trade from the 1990s to the past decade. I was among the insurgent voices then, being among nationalist ideological blocs in Manila that opposed the PH Senate’s signing of the GATT-Uruguay Rounds. I kept on drumming up the threat side of globalization till last decade.
Beginning this decade though, I shifted mode to a silent observer. I witnessed the win/win impact of globalization on developing economies. Fact is, the very world powers that arm-twisted small countries to sign open up their economic borders to free trade, and later to arm-twist small nations to sign the globalization treaty, were hit so badly by depression (i.e. Great Recession), which I did forecast to happen using a long-wave Kondratieff model.
Now my very own country, the “sick man of Asia” in the years ’83 through ’86, is the ‘economic wellness’ model of Asia today. Should I still care to yield to the herd trend of insurgent voices and declare “down with globalization?”… Philippine economy had developed a ‘firewall’ against globalization’s harsh effects, and so had our neighbors in Asia, amazing grace! See how we in Ph swim along the globalization ocean?
Not only that, my very own country’s domestic economy had forged a ‘firewall’ against the damaging effects of political crises and fall-outs. I remember well, in my studies on international political economy, that Italy was among the first to build such a firewall, if my analysis serves me right, whereby its economy kept on running amidst the perpetual political squabbles in the legislature and constant changes of prime minister and cabinet composition. So the Philippines has become the “Italy of Asia” (smile!).
Well, folks out there, I am not going to advance my own answers to the ‘deglobalization thesis’ or challenge. What I can say is this: I am getting more at home with globalization today. It had even spread to other areas of life: culture, society, civil society, and so on, such as the ‘globalization of Christmas’ which I find as a very positive event.
[Manila, 14 October 2013]