In his Glance at today's world (1931), French poet Paul ValÃ©ry wrote "Le temps du monde fini commence" (1). By "monde fini", he meant that the world now had well-established geographical limits, implying there was no more Terra incognita or utopia where to transpose our dreams, either in reality or mentally, and that countries were to become increasingly interdependent. Problems were to become world-scale ones, which should only be dealt with on the international level, through an increased cooperation between states. At the eve of this new century, the first part of ValÃ©ry's prediction has come true. For a number of technological and political reasons, the world has come through a process of cultural and economic "globalisation" which has not yet come to an end. By "globalisation", I mean the increasing economic interdependence and the multiplication of trade and cultural relations between regions of the world that barely had any contacts a century ago. Now, trying to know if the 21st century be less conflictual than the 20th makes it necessary to examine the long-term trends of world politics, such as globalisation. Globalisation will certainly go on in the 21st century, and we need to know if it will be more a factor of peace or a factor of trouble. Many politicians, economists and IR theorists argue that globalisation is a factor of peace, arguing that increased economic interdependence cannot but lead countries to cooperate.
[...] International integration organisations as a way to civilise globalisation and international relations As the nation-state is doubtlessly not the right unit to tackle economic problems nowadays (national economic and financial self-help have proved themselves counterproductive : if everyone takes protectionist measures, then everyone loses), the most probable alternative apart from a World Trade Organisation unable to take in account the diversity of its member-states and applying the same measures to all lies in regional organisations, such as the North American Free Trade Association or the European Union. [...]
[...] Now these policies, although legitimate from a purely “accountant” point of view, often have disruptive effects on states : - Civil servants, whose wages are frozen or who do not get paid for a number of months, may turn to corruption (especially in countries where there is no real transparency of public administrations.) - The state may have to dismantle its welfare system, or neglect infrastructures, which undermines its development and breeds resentment among its population, especially if economic problems are intertwined with ethnic strife and dictatorship thus making international (especially intrastate ones) more likely. [...]
[...] Yet, a whole range of counter-theories and political movements have emerged that question the ability of free trade to tame war, which can somewhat arbitrarily be divided in two categories : the idea that international trade liberalisation and interdependence leads to political chaos both domestically and internationally this type of critique is often linked to a Marxist (or Neomarxist) view of the international system as a world society that promotes the interests of a few nations (the so- called by allowing them to exploit other nations (the so-called or “Third thus sowing the seeds of violence. [...]
[...] I The potentially disruptive trends of globalisation Globalisation manifests itself in a way that may be a cause both for peace and for conflict. For instance, the development of free trade and the multiplication of cultural exchanges, depending on the circumstances, can either make it less likely for international conflicts to occur, or have unexpected social consequences that may increase the risk of war. A The issue of trade Trade and war : the lessons of History. The most obvious aspect of globalisation is the increase of international trade relations from the nineteenth century to nowadays. [...]
[...] In other words, the widening our freedom of choice in terms of norms and beliefs is proportional with the intensity of the fundamentalist reaction.” II) Civilising globalisation Globalisation has many defects; yet, a return to the “good old days” of economic protectionism would be both undoable and dangerous. If globalisation is no force of peace, we need to acknowledge that the countries that have stepped aside from it (voluntarily or not) generally suffered more from poverty and war than those who did. [...]
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