Globalization and cultural identity

1. GLOBALIZATION AND CULTURAL IDENTITYFernando Alcoforado *1. IntroductionThe process of globalization is not a recent phenomenon. He began in the fifteenth andsixteenth…
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  • 1. GLOBALIZATION AND CULTURAL IDENTITYFernando Alcoforado *1. IntroductionThe process of globalization is not a recent phenomenon. He began in the fifteenth andsixteenth centuries with the discovery of America and the sea route to the Indies.Throughout human history, the process of globalization has produced a growingintegration in the whole planet, not just economic, but also political, social and cultural.This integration between nations and people did not always so idyllic. Many peopleworldwide were integrated through the subjugation economic, political, social andcultural, when they were not decimated by force of arms by the great powers of thetime.One of the main impacts produced by the process of globalization occurred in culturalterms, given that the dominant powers have always sought to impose at all times theirideology on countries and peoples dominated. This ideology, which is, according toBobbio (1986), a set of ideas and values relating to public order and having the functionguide collective political behavior, need to express themselves in cultural terms.Throughout history, the dominant powers sought to impose their culture at the expenseof local cultures. Many of these cultures were annihilated and others who survived,adjusted to the culture of the dominant powers.In the contemporary era, the process of globalization is to make the globalization ofcapital to take root in all corners of the Earth. Every nation of the world faces today, notjust with the threat of social exclusion of the fruits of economic progress and loss ofnational sovereignty of their countries, but also with the possibility of missing theircultural traditions as a result of the spread of globalized culture. To understand howcontemporary globalization threatens national cultures, we need to know its origins andits consequences.* *Fernando Alcoforado, 73, engenheiro e doutor em Planejamento Territorial e DesenvolvimentoRegional pela Universidade de Barcelona, professor universitário e consultor nas áreas de planejamentoestratégico, planejamento empresarial, planejamento regional e planejamento de sistemas energéticos, éautor dos livros Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova(Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, SãoPaulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado.Universidade de Barcelona,, 2003), Globalização eDesenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XXe Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions ofthe Economic and Social Development- The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. MüllerAktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e CatástrofePlanetária (P&A Gráfica e Editora, Salvador, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil ecombate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011) eOs Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), entreoutros. 1
  • 2. 2. Origins and consequences of contemporary globalizationThe process of globalization or global economic integration that is recorded today is theresult of the occurrence of five major events. The first one concerns the end of the ColdWar resulting dismantling of the socialist system in Eastern Europe led by the formerSoviet Union, a fact that led to the end of the bipolar world opened after World War II.This event led to the expansion of the world capitalist system with the incorporation ofthe countries of the former socialist bloc in Eastern Europe. Some remaining socialistcountries such as China and Cuba, have also opened their economies to foreign capitalin order to attract investment.The second major event that contributed to globalization was the exhaustion ofindustrial growth model based on the production of consumer durables, with highlycapital intensive technologies, the demanding high energy consumption and pollutingthe environment. The exhaustion of the capitalist model of industrial growth isdemonstrated by the decline in growth rates as well as the productivity of capital andprofit margins of industrialized countries over the past three decades. This situationmade it to become a requirement on the one hand, the changing technological paradigmsand business management aimed at raising levels of capital productivity and profitmargins and on the other, to promote the integration of the economies of developedcountries with the developing countries in order to promote their growth.The third major event determinant of globalization concerns the rapid expansion ofglobal financial markets in the late 1970s, stimulated by their deregulation and theadvent of new information technologies. According to Oman (1994), with exchangetransactions exceeding $ 600 billion per day to the end of the 1980s and a trillion dollarsper day in 1993, financial globalization has considerably reduced the power of thecentral banks control over the amount of currency, exacerbated financial instability andfluctuations in exchange rates due to speculation and decreased the autonomy ofmonetary and fiscal policy of governments.The fourth major event that decisively contributed to the process of globalizationconcerns the globalization of multinational enterprises both in manufacturing and inservices. The expansion of the financial markets and the "real" economy was stimulatedby deregulation and new information technologies. The globalization of multinationalenterprises has resulted, according assertion Oman (1994), the spectacular growth offoreign direct investment especially in the second half of the 1980s.The fifth major event determinant of globalization concerns the ecological threats suchas population growth, thinning of the ozone and global warming due to the greenhouseeffect which now deserve a comprehensive approach to global character especially inthe late 1980s. The prospect that the Earths population, which will reach 10 billionpeople by the year 2050 impact negatively on the resources of the planet and theunsustainability of the current development model, which is responsible for the 2
  • 3. depletion of forests, animal and plant species and soil that sustain life, the pace ofdeterioration in drinking water and oceans, the destruction of the ozone layer and thegreenhouse effect, are demanding a comprehensive global treatment in the formulationand implementation of solutions.Petrella (1995), professor at the University of Louvain in Belgium, says that thedevelopment of capitalism in the current historical moment as demand puts the need for: Globalize finance, capital markets, companies and strategies; Adapt production systems to the scientific and technological revolution underway in the fields of energy, materials, biotechnology and especially information and communication; Make each individual, each social group, each territorial community work from the perspective of becoming better, stronger, winning. The principle of cooperation between individuals, social groups and communities is replaced by the competition; Liberalize domestic markets to build a single world market where goods circulate freely, capital, services and people. In this context, it should be condemned all forms of national protection, should not exist nor the interest of society and the sovereign will of the people; Deregulate the mechanisms of direction and orientation of the economy. In this case, cease to be citizens, ie the democratic state, through elected or designated representative institutions, the power to set standards and principles of operation and yes of the market. State to settle compete to create the overall environment more conducive to business and action; and, Privatize entire sectors of the economy such as urban transport, railways, health, hospitals, education, banking, insurance, culture, water supply, electricity, gas, administrative services, etc..These six points above reflect the fundamentals of the development model that theprocess of globalization intends to carry out worldwide. The implementation of thismodel will engender, however, the following scenario: Mass unemployment resulting from the modernization of the productive sectors required to raise their levels of productivity and competitiveness in world markets. Loss of control of the national economy by the nation-state in the face of the high power of international economic groups. Transfer out of the nation-states power to decide on investments and production of broad economic sectors, especially the more modern, denationalized with the privatization process. Loss of national sovereignty with the subordination of the nation-state to the WTO - World Trade Organization, the decisions of industrial companies and multinational financial and economic blocs. 3
  • 4. Social exclusion of much of the worlds population will be on the sidelines of the fruits of economic and social progress. Commitment of the global environment in the face of overwhelming power of capital and weakening of the nation-state.This scenario tends to sharpen the social contradictions in every nation and deepeninternational conflicts in an environment characterized by economic war betweencompanies, nations and economic blocs. Alongside the centripetal forces that contributetowards global economic integration, the centrifugal forces also work generatingfractures and fragmentations between social classes, races, nations and economic blocs,many of them excluded from the fruits of economic progress. In this scenario, theprevailing logic of competition and not the logic of cooperation between nations,peoples, ethnic groups and social classes.The Cold War, a product of World War II gave way to the War Economy dominanttoday. It seems that in the future, the prevailing logic of competition, may resurfacesocial revolutions, ethnic strife, regional wars and localized, even a new conflagrationof world of serious consequences for humanity. It is therefore important to search for anew development model, even within the framework of capitalism, based on the logicof cooperation, to avoid the catastrophe that unfolds into the future.3. Cultural globalization and its impacts and consequencesThe big change produced around the world in the twentieth century is, without a doubt,that contemporary globalization, according Defarges (1993), is characterized by theexplosion and acceleration of all order flows: goods, services, information, images,fashions , ideas, values, everything that man invents and produces, at the moment thisis rooted in a land even if it is taken also by the frenzy of travel (business trips, tourism,migration, temporary or permanent).According to Naisbitt and Aburdene (1990), the world is becoming increasinglycosmopolitan and were all influencing each other. Trade, travel, film and televisionestablish the foundations of global lifestyle. It should be noted that cinema andtelevision broadcast the same images throughout the global village.This whole process of transformation was due largely to the scientific andtechnological revolution in progress, especially in transport and communications,which enabled an unprecedented thrust of finance and international trade under theauspices of multinational companies. To Defarges (1993), the movement of everythingthat man thinks and does today reaches an intensity, density, unprecedented speed.Several factors accumulate to impose economic globalization that causes deepimbalances both international and national.Defarges (1993) argues that the globalization of trade results from three phenomena: 1) 4
  • 5. the power and refinement of technical skills, 2) the ocean and finance, 3) theglobalization of business. In this flow of globalization, the nation-state maintains itstraditional functions. Its borders, fully recognized or foreclosed by old disputes, aretroubled by differences between the right, which claims sovereignty over the state, andthe new reality imposed by the globalization process. In the twentieth century, thepolitical-juridical concept of sovereignty was in crisis in the theoretical and practicalangles.For Ianni (1992), capitalism produces both global interdependence as produces andreproduces located and general contradictions, national and global. Simultaneouslyforces operating in the direction of cooperation, division of labor, interdependence,integration and complicity, divergent forces operate, fragmentary and contradictory.According Ianni (1992), the forces of fragmentation include nationalism, tribalism,fundamentalism, Islam, defense of the Third World and other.According to Huntington (1996), culture and cultural identities, which at the broadestlevel, civilizations are identities, are shaping the patterns of cohesion, disintegrationand conflict in the post-Cold War World. He also states that in the post-Cold WarWorld, culture is both a divisive and unifying force and that societies united byideology or historical circumstances, but divided by civilization, or bursts, as happenedin the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Bosnia, or are subject to severe stress, such asUkraine, Nigeria, Sudan, India, Sri Lanka and many others.Among the contradictions generated by globalization stands out that among theglobalized culture and local cultures or national. According to Waters (1995), theglobalized culture is more chaotic than well structured. It is integrated and connected sothat the meanings of its components are made relative to each other, but are not unifiedor centralized. The globalization of culture involves the creation of a common buthyper differentiated field values, tastes and style opportunities accessible to everyindividual irrespective of whether in self-expression purposes or consumption.For Waters (1995), a globalized culture admits a continuous flow of ideas, information,responsibility, values and tastes mediated through mobile individuals, symbols, signsand electronic simulations. These flows give a particular form of globalized culture.First, it connects primitive and homogeneous cultural niches closed forcing them torelate to others. This relationship may take the form of a reflective self-examination inwhich the principles are again assumed facing absorbing elements of other cultures.Second, globalized culture allows the development of genuine transnational culturesnot linked to a nation-state-society which may be new or syncretic.According to Waters (1995), based on argument of Appadurai, flows mentioned aboveinclude: etnoscapes, the distribution of mobile individuals (tourists, migration,refugees, etc.), tecnoscapes, distribution technology; finanscapes, the distribution of 5
  • 6. capital; mediascapes, information distribution; and, ideoscapes, the distribution ofpolitical ideas and values (freedom, democracy, human rights).Waters (1995) underscores the argument of Lechner that a direct effect caused byglobalization has independent characteristics of modernity. They include: The universalization of Western culture; The globalization of the nation-state-society; The abstraction and the secularization of law as the basis of social order; and, The establishing the fact that the world is pluralistic and that there is a unique and superior culture.The indirect effect of globalization lies in the fact that it can promote the peripheralcapitalist countries, an imitation of the culture of the great powers or syncretism of acommon set of elements from different traditions, but in fact provoke discontent arisingfrom the threat that modernization and post-modernization represent against culturaltraditions. It is worth noting that globalization has also contributed both directly andindirectly, to the broader development of fundamentalism.Morin (1993) emphasizes that the crisis of modernity, ie the loss of the certainty ofprogress and faith in tomorrow elicited two types of responses. The first is that newfundamentalism constitutes re rooting and will return to the source of the very principleof Tradition lost and the second, is that postmodernism is the awareness that new is notnecessarily superior to the foregoing. The new fundamentalism adopt forms sometimesreligious, sometimes national, sometimes ethnic, and reach maximum virulence whichare both ethnic, national and religious, while postmodernism is blind judge when all issaid, that everything repeats itself, that anything goes, that there is no history orbecoming.According to Waters (1995), fundamentalism is not the only possible religiousresponse against globalization and pressures post-modernizing. One such response wasthe emergence of ecumenical movements related to Christianity that sought to build inthe decades of 1960 and 1970, the unification of several Christian religious currents.However, there is no better example of the impact of globalization than the resurgenceof Islamic fundamentalism in the 1970s. Islamic fundamentalists, especially thoselinked to the Iranian clergy, mark their rejection of modernization and Westernsecularism.According to Hall (1997), in the modern world, national cultures within which we areborn are a major source of cultural identity. Hall (1997) argues Ernest Gellnersargument that without a sense of national identity, the modern subjects experience adeep sense of loss subjective. He reinforces this argument explaining the thoughtSchwarcz that a nation is not only a political entity but something which producesmeanings-a system of cultural representation. People are not only legal citizens of a 6
  • 7. nation, they are part of the idea of the nation as represented in their national culture. Anation is a symbolic community and this is what explains its power to generate a senseof identity and loyalty.Hall (1997) states that the identification, which was in a pre-modern or traditionalsociety, was given to the tribe, people, religion and region was gradually transferred, inWestern societies, to the national culture. The ethnic and regional differences weregradually subsumed under what Gellner calls "ceiling" of the state national policy,which thus became a powerful source of meaning for modern cultural identities.However, the full power of the national state is in its twilight. This is due to theglobalization process by the movement gestated by an international collaboration evercloser in many areas, especially in matters relating to finance, international peace andsecurity, the environment, the integration of the world market, as well as the formationof a world public opinion provided by the new means of mass communication.The independence of the Nation-States, large and small, is now compromised by theprocess of globalization. Three of the functions of the state as, for example, to ensureinternal security, legislate and build national solidarity are threatened. The defense ofthe national territory is central to the idea of nation. The imperative of the idea ofnational defense is associated with a threat from abroad. In the environment of the XXIcentury, the threats do not disappear but become multiform.The state lies between two contradictory concerns in the vision of Defarges (1993):save, preserve their territory which is responsible without distorting all movements ofgoods, money, tourists, images, ideas, essential sources of prosperity and vitality whosedevelopment demands its connection to global networks. Globalization undermines, inturn, the ability of states to legislate independently because the laws tend to be tailoredto the requirements not only domestic but also overseas. Likewise, globalization wavesto the prospect of building pacts supranational rather than focusing on exclusive pactsnational interest.According Defarges (1993), the f
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