Locating Onself in Global Learning 1 /DUNKLIN AND PUTZEL

Locating Oneself In Global Learning 1

Dunklin and Puzel

Putzel, J. (2004). The political impact of globalisation and liberalisation: evidence emerging from crisis states research [online] London: LSE research Online. Available at: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/archive/00000843 Available online: July 2006

Dunklin, A.L. (2005) Globalisation: A Portrait of Exploitation, Inequality, and Limits. Available at: http://globalization.icaap.org/content/v5.2/dunklin.html

Critique

September 1, 2008

In this brief essay I will critique the articles above.

I will address the following assertions made by the authors and compare their thoughts.

Firstly, Dunkin’s position on globalization includes the argument that “globalization necessarily serves as a significant limiter of the dominance of any single nation-state and reduces the significance of military superiority.”

Secondly, in his article Putzel affirms instead that “the role of states remains crucial,” and that “nothing demonstrates more clearly the continued pertinence of the modern state than the particularly powerful role played by the world’s largest state, the United States.”

The two positions appear to me to be in striking contrast. I tend to agree with Putzel and will now proceed to explain why I feel that way.

Both scholars seem to agree that states are part of today’s constellation of actors on the world stage. However, the role that states should play and how states may be limited in their power is different in the two articles.

I believe that in a globalized world, there is a need for a variety of actors that have the capacity and willingness to engage in meaningful interaction on shaping constructive and workable relationships among the many and diverse realities found on our planet. Nation-states, however, should not be the preferred choice over other forms of state. The intrinsic dangers typical of nation-states make me very skeptical about Dunkin’s suggestion to allow them to play a vital role in our interrelated and globalized world. Many nation-states have proved their destructive nature, and their nationalistic ideals are found at the roots of two world wars. Of course, in some specific geographic and social realities, a nation-state makes a lot of sense and can be a viable form of governance for the establishment of a civil society. In many other cases, however, a nation-state can act as a pernicious and oppressive agent against those minorities that happen to exist inside the national borders. Those same ideas can then be turned against neighboring countries. History provides many examples of such aggressive nationalistic dynamics.

By using the term nation-state Dunkin reduces the argument to a simple dichotomy between the world order established over the last few centuries and a newly created global and supranational arena. I instead suggest that globalization processes would be best understood and coped with if we could move beyond the idea of nation-states by transforming states into entities based on sound democratic and inclusive principles, first but not last the principle of participatory citizenship to replace the less effective notion of passive nationality. This is not to say that issues of national identity do not exist and should not be addressed, but I believe that they should not be necessarily paired with issues of statehood and a country’s role on the world stage. Furthermore, Dunkin is not entirely consistent in his article. While saying that the establishment of a globalized society limits the power and action of single states, he goes on describing the United States’ relentless economic and military influence on the rest of the world.

Putzel’s argument is by far more convincing. First, he does not mention nation-states. Instead he prefers to talk about the role of states, and more specifically of modern states. He provides many examples of the power currently exerted by core-states within the international organizations that have been created to manage global processes. For Putzel, contrarily to Dunkin’s assertions on the issue, core-states, i.e. those who are basically running the show, have certainly not relinquished their power. I would say that through a-democratic international agencies that were not established by popular vote, core-states such as the United States and the other G-7 countries have gained access to territories previously too marginal to be of any economic interest to them.  Those international organizations created to monitor and influence globalization have allowed core-states to spread their hegemonic activities to the furthest reaches of the planet without having to engage in direct coercive negotiations with weaker countries. Core-states dominate “the international decision-making process that governs the world economy,” as cited in Puzel’s examination of Milanovic’s work. Core-states take full advantage of having distant international organizations act as their proxies in their attempt to expand both their economic and military influence on a planetary scale.

Putzel also suggests that, although states may be corrupt and inefficient at several levels, in cases of crisis they can still play a vital role in helping the establishment of civil societies within their respective territories. The state option appears to be a better compromise than supranational entities that would eventually undermine the necessary efforts needed in crisis areas. This is however another issue that I will not discuss in this essay.

My conclusions are as follows.

Although both Dunkin and Putzel refer to states as players in a new globalized world, their ideas on this issue are very different.

First, Dunkin uses the term nation-state, whereas Putzel prefers talking about modern states.

Secondly, whereas Dunkin believes that a global network of international agencies may indeed limit the power of individual states, Putzel strongly supports the institutional presence of modern states, especially in the crisis areas of the developing world. He also does not believe that core-states are relinquishing power in favor of current international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank. Instead, core-states’ role remains crucial, as they act behind the scene within said supranational network.

In my opinion, Dunkin’s analysis look to the re-alignment of current globalization processes along the previously existing premises of nation-state geography, aided by the dialectical interaction with supranational organization that will eventually diminish individual states’ power and influence.

Putzel’s ideas instead may serve as a platform for discussion and action based on the evolving dynamics of the third millennium. He advocates the creation of new state entities that can promote and sustain processes of global civil society, and suggests the adoption of crisis intervention measures based on the specificity of each regional reality.

POST FOR THE FORUM

Hi everyone! It’s difficult to summarize in few lines my thoughts on the last two articles. To help me with that, I first wrote a longer synopsis of my thoughts. What you’ll read next is a condensed version of it.

Although both Dunkin and Putzel refer to states as players in a new globalized world, their ideas on this issue are very different.

First, Dunkin uses the term nation-state, whereas Putzel prefers talking about modern states.

Secondly, whereas Dunkin believes that a global network of international agencies may indeed limit the power of individual states, Putzel strongly supports the institutional presence of modern states, especially in the crisis areas of the developing world. He also does not believe that core-states are relinquishing power in favor of current international organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank. Instead, core-states’ role remains crucial. They continue to dominate “the international decision-making process that governs the world economy,” as cited in Puzel’s examination of Milanovic’s work.  I would suggest that core-states take full advantage of having distant international organizations act as their proxies in their attempt to expand both their economic and military influence on a planetary scale.

Conclusions:

In my opinion, Dunklin’s analysis look to the re-alignment of current globalization processes along the previously existing premises of nation-state geography, aided by the dialectical interaction with supranational organizations that will eventually diminish individual states’ power and influence.

Putzel’s ideas instead may serve as a platform for discussion and action based on the evolving dynamics of the third millennium. He advocates the creation of new state entities that can promote and sustain processes of global civil society, and suggests the adoption of crisis intervention measures based on the specificity of each regional reality

POSTS – Locating Oneself 1 –  Block 2

GLOBALIZATION and DE-LOCALIZATION  – Green Group –

Point #1: Definition of Globalization

Anthony Giddens entertains the notion that we can speak of globalization as a new phenomenon when “distant localities are affected by events occurring miles and miles away”. I disagree with that, as history is full of examples of events that have sooner or later affected remote parts of the world. That alone is nothing new. The 1914 assassination of the Heir to the Habsburg throne deflagrated in such a way that a month later the whole planet was in a state of war. The loss of the British colonies in the U.S. was felt in Australia by people who had apparently little to share with the ideals of the American Revolution. Nevertheless it meant the start of convicts deportations to the newly created penal colony of NSW. I could continue. To me, what matters is not a scholarly definition of globalization, but instead our understanding of processes that are undoubtedly affecting planet Earth’s chances for survival that would also include humans. I believe that what’s at stake are the quality of our life, our vision for a future society, our institutions, and not the academic discussion on the semantics of the term globalization.

Point # 2: Cultural shift

In these first readings I detected the idea that, contrarily to whatever internationalization processes happened in the past, nowadays we are facing a paradigmatic change. Nowhere in the articles – however – is this somehow dramatic change defined as a civilization shift, as suggested for example by systems thinker Ervin Lazlo. He proposed the term “Macroshift” to describe the kind of all-encompassing change that occurs at certain points in human history. The readings carefully describe the workings of our globalized economy and of the de-localization of production and information, but fail to see these phenomena as signs of a much larger paradigmatic shift that is currently taking place. The analysis that transpires from the readings does not question the very nature of the system that has implanted and grafted globalization onto itself.  The theme in these first readings sounds like this: If we can understand and manage globalization processes by making them less exploitative and more compassionate, we will be just fine, and will continue our march into an ever brighter future. I am afraid that it won’t be that simple. The readings, however, do adopt a systemic approach to problem solving, which I believe is needed.

INNOVATION AND RISKS  – Green Group –

Point # 1: Alienation

The reading on Globalization and Education quotes Erich Fromm’s definition of alienation. I was happy to see how – in spite of all the changes we have lived through over the past 20 years – Fromm’s original analysis still makes sense. They knew that then, we know that today. That brings to the fore the fundamental question of what Education should be, and to what degree it should subserve a country’s economics and political hegemony. The readings clearly show how educational institutions have learned to be global players while establishing themselves as just another market component that provides courses and knowledge “a la carte.”  Students have become consumers of educational products that entice their participation in the same system that they may be critical about when they are in class. The reading talks about “ teacher-turned-classroom-manager”, “learners as customers”, and “learning as commodity or investment”. These are all signs of how alienated the education system has become from its original mission. Nevertheless, as Tom Bentley said, “the learner is an intelligent agent with the potential to learn from any and all of her encounters with the world.” The question is: Do we still retain the ability to recognize our alienation, or have we all succumbed to the traps of globalization as described in the readings?

Point # 2: Risks and System Instability

A good point in the readings is the realization that the spread of a globalized society has in itself the seeds for its own demise. This is, however, an old argument that was made many times over whenever there was a discussion on how progress would affect civil society. Like the say goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. In our inability to let go of any of the perceived advantages of globalization, we contribute to a system that is infested with risks. Those are found in virtually every aspect of our system. I believe that when a system moves above an acceptable risk threshold, it becomes unstable and will eventually collapse. The system breaking point sometimes heralds the start of a paradigmatic macroshift. How many risks are we willing to accept before we take a critical and active role in the shaping of our society? That’s a question that I ask myself very often, one that is also sensibly implied in the articles we read.
If you are interested in learning more about Dr Laszlo’s Macroshift , check out the suggested links:

MULTINATIONALS AND BRANDIGS– Green Group –

Point # 1: Corporations and Social Responsibility

In the article Globalization, it becomes clear that multinational corporations have begun to replace public agencies and states in their role of social equalizers and care takers. It is also apparent that corporations want the power and the profits that derive from such newly found role without however the burden of sharing the social responsibilities of sovereign states. They definitely got a very good deal. Thus we are witnessing the scaling down of the role of democratic institutions and of their commitment to social responsibility, concurrently to the increase of the power of private corporations and corporation-like forms of states. This dramatic change in the fundamental role of democratic governments is summed up in a very effective quote cited in the article, which I am pasting in here for your reference:
In reality, they are often weak and amorphous organizations. They display the loss of authority and erosion of common values that afflicts practically all late modern social institutions. The global market is not spawning corporations which assume the past functions of sovereign states. Rather, it has weakened and hollowed out both institutions. (Gray 1999: 63)

Point # 2: Brandings and Logos

The articles contain very interesting points with regards to brands and logos. It appears – and I certainly agree on that – that what matters nowadays is all in the name. Products themselves, their quality and reliability are secondary. What a striking difference from how things were when I was a kid, when the durability of a product was highly valued by consumers!
Damage to the brand can do disproportionate harm to sales and profitability,” one of the articles reads.  Consequently, we have adjusted to living in a society where marketing strategies rule our thinking patterns, where we have finally converted to keep our interest focused not on substance (product durability and sound qualities), but on the elusive and enticing glitters of brands. I remember when I was in elementary school and we were all wearing a black apron/jacket with a blue ribbon. That way status differences among pupils were leveled to the same common denominator of being all each other’s classmates. Of course, that rational could be questioned. However, today we notice instead the opposite trend, i.e. everyone wants to be different. In my opinion, that has little to do with the affirmation of one’s western-style individualism, and unfortunately a lot to do with the attempt by ever expanding globalized corporations to reach deeper into the once sheltered halls of public education by making young people more and more receptive of their elusive marketing messages.

GLOBALISATION AND EDUCATION– Green Group –

Point # 1:  Karl Polanyi and his view of globalization on education

I believe that the opening paragraph in Globalization and the incorporation of education is a tell-it-all story. It mirrors my own feelings about how far things have gone (wrong) with the corporate expansion into our education systems all over the world.
His quote allows me to parallel such perceived loss with the ones often described by native peoples in their recollections of what happened after the arrival of the colonists. First the disruption, then the dislocation, then the obliteration of local ways of life and cultures allowed the establishment of superimposed, foreign-born so-called civilizations that have eventually led to the current phenomenon of modern day globalization. Polanyi describes the effects of globalization on education in the same terms as Native Peoples talk about the effects of enforced progress and “manifest destiny” policies on their organic autochthonous communities.
I believe it was the German playwright Bertold Brecht who wrote that once a dark chapter in history has passed, future generation tend to forget those lessons and to repeat the same mistakes. If history teaches us something, what is the lesson we should have learned from our fellows Native friends, a lesson that could help us re-shape the future of education?

Point # 2:   National States vs. Corporations

The article on Education explains how corporations have relentlessly come to replace states in their institutional role of overseers of their respective education system. It’s a good point that helps me understand the increasing intrusion of “extracurricular” values into our syllabi. However, I do not subscribe to the idea that nation-states are the depository of good education. Having grown up and indoctrinated in a highly nationalistic-structured education system, I have become a strong supporter of a-national state entities such as the E.U and to an extent Canada, basically those forms of state that promote citizenship over nationality. A state’s influence on education is powerful and its effects far reaching. Too much damage ( how about two world wars!) have ensued from state-run education plans. It’s time for a change that will promote cultural and international interaction, thereby helping each other overcoming what I perceive as the narrowmindedness of an education built on the myths of  each single national-state’s achievements.
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