On Globalization and Sovereignty

7 July 2016

While some people may argue that the rise of modern technology brings about a global market, which subsequently compromises the necessity of sovereign states, this is not the case. Indeed, the perpetual development of superior technology facilitates international trade and communication. However, there is no evidence that the phenomenon called globalization necessarily leads to the dissolution of sovereignty. Globalization may make the state more difficult to manage, but the sovereignty nevertheless still remains.

If globalization eradicated state borders, and united the world through its super effective forms of communications and electronic business transactions, then the result would be a singular body of people that has no evident leader to enforce law and order. Therefore, although globalization may create an image of borderless countries, the state still remains to prevent mass chaos and disorder. What is the actual effect of globalization? To say that the rise of technology creates an international trade system would be rather superficial.

On Globalization and Sovereignty Essay Example

What globalization ultimately inclines towards is a “potential market place with common technology, factor endowment, and prices” (Adams 167). The result is a levelled playing field across the globe. Competition can start in one place, and have the same potential for success as a business on the other side of the world. The implications of this equilibrium of states, where all states basically provide the same opportunities to its citizens, are multifarious. For example, once the world reaches this equilibrium, do state borders really hold any value?

It’s as if the world comes together under the umbrella of international economy and trade, becoming a single entity, encompassing all of humanity. However, some countries will not enjoy the full benefits of globalization: “… the increased reliance on trade, external funds, and DFI [direct foreign investment] may constrain the ability of individual nation-states to pursue social agendas” (Hadenius 273). In order to satisfy the global community, individual states face difficulty in dealing with local, national inquiries. Such extremities of international conformities become evident

when countries abide to policies that must be made to ensure the stability of the global market. Influential NGOs that have “active international agendas” (276) will not be so kind as to consider state borders when it comes to fulfilling their goals. While these NGOs, such as the WTO, may have genuinely good intentions in creating a balanced economy and trade, some countries will be negatively affected by such changes. As Hadenius claims, “politically weaker nations may find themselves unable to pursue more egalitarian agendas …

without serious consequences such as outflows of capital” (273). When states comply to the demands of the global market, their individual strength weakens, for they must sacrifice sums of money for the sake of supporting globalization and its policies. Subsequently, with less funding to ensure power and authority in their own states, sovereignty is found to be in a dire situation of lack of control. In result, “the country is simply a victim of autonomous, ‘structural’ developments in the world economy” (275).

What power they had had to be exchanged for the satisfaction of the population, to keep up with the ever-changing trend of the world. Yet globalization does not hold any influence over the borders of a strong nation. Hadenius’s point specifies and focuses more on the weaker, poorer states. He claims so because poorer nations are much more reliant on DFI and external funds, while stronger nations are the ones that provide these funds and dictate the flow of the global market. However, the notion of rich and poor is irrelevant and trivial on the effects of globalization on sovereignty.

What remains essential to understand is that in spite of the influences of globalization, states will linger and remain in existence. John Agnew proposes an idea that “globalization has merely further complicated an already complex relationship between sovereignty and territory” (Agnew 2). Agnew’s view on globalization is not solely on its economic implications; rather, globalization entails other sophisticated state affairs, such as immigration and national currency (Lentner 136).

These complexities of globalization can be extended to Hadenius’s argument; although foreign aid and DFI may be a temporal solution for poorer states, these international interactions weaken state’s authoritative power and are complexities brought about by the rise of globalization. While complexities may weaken a state’s ability to govern itself, these exterior influences do not discredit the role of a state. Agnew claims states “have never exercised either total political or economic-regulatory monopolies over their territories” (Agnew 2). Expanding on his claim, states always have exterior powers that affect decision-making.

However, the increase of these exterior influences by globalization does not imply the total loss of control of a state. Other authors, including David Smith, argue the same point: “… states, especially weaker states, have never been able to guarantee their control over activities within or across their borders” (Smith et al. 34). Complexities, complementary with globalization, make state control difficult, but not impossible. Smith also lays out the fundamental types of sovereignty: interdependence, domestic, Westphalian, and international legal sovereignty.

He argues that states may enjoy many combinations of these four types of sovereignty. The example he gives is of Taiwan: it may have Westphalian sovereignty (exclusion of external authority in governing), but lack international legal sovereignty (recognition of one state by another) (Smith et al. 35). In any case, globalization may occur, disregarding state borders, but the concept of sovereignty lives on, hardly affected by it. The existence of sovereignty is not eroded by the growth of globalization. However, is sovereignty still necessary?

Can the world function solely on the concept of globalization, and without the notion of sovereign states? In addition to Smith stating that “sovereignty is not being fundamentally transformed by globalization” (34), the notion of sovereignty is absolutely essential in the process of maintaining order throughout the world. When globalization pushes the world into an equilibrium of egalitarian states by producing an equal opportunity for business, “there is no authority structure that can definitely choose among competing normative prescriptions” (34).

NGOs may push states around, influencing decisions here and there, but nevertheless there remains no master organization that holds absolute authority over every state. Therefore, if by globalization a single body of people were to arise, the world would simultaneously plummet into anarchy, causing chaos and disorder ubiquitously. It is for this reason that individual state control is still necessary, even for the sake of globalization itself. Perhaps, one may propose that groups, such as the United Nation, act as a leader for globalization.

However, the UN is not a singular entity that is comprised of the population of the world. Rather, the UN contains smaller segments of sovereignty, which subsequently is responsible for a smaller portion of the world population. Unless the world can come as one, under a single ruling group, the concept of sovereignty will stand firm. However, ironically, if the world does unite, and an authoritative figure holds power over the population, then globalization effectively becomes a state-instituted phenomenon. This contradiction hints at the necessity of sovereignty in order for globalization to occur.

Globalization is without doubt a compelling phenomenon that allows interaction between peoples across the entire planet. Yet, it would be rash and illogical to assume that such heightened global communication and trade infers the dissolution of sovereignty. Globalization can create more complexities to state affairs and make border control more difficult, but the sovereign state nevertheless remains to maintain order. Anarchy would arise if globalization were to rise without sovereignty. However, the individual is free to utilize globalization to their own benefit.

As Hadenius artistically says, “Modern technology was supposed to make Big Brother omnipotent, watching you into submission; instead, it enabled us to watch Big Brother into impotence” (Hadenius 263-4), we ought to manipulate the implications of globalization to better our corrupt political system. With mass communication and media, we have the option to be aware of political issues throughout the globe, and more importantly, to correct critical issues in society. It is within the individual’s volition to make use of globalization as an opportunity to better their own lives, but also the lives of others throughout the world as well.

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