What exactly is globalization? Is globalisation a cure to the woes of the world?
Simply defined, globalization is the increased international or inter-societal interaction.
Above all, it is an idea that no entity in the world, be it a state, nation, society, people or tribe, may exist in complete isolation without interaction and discourse with other world elements. Thus an important political or social event happening in one state would also affect other states and societies, and therefore likely elicit a state response. A global free market, international non state organizations like the United Nations, or International Monetary Fund, can be classified as features of globalization. Globalization can be regarded as a process, a concept or an existing feature of history such as a war or revolution.
Suddenly, the world seems to have become a smaller place, as a person can read and know about events happening even in a distant corner of the globe. The optimistic term, “global village” coined in the 1990s refer to the world as becoming more and more integrated and hence becoming much more akin to the village system, where everyone interacts and depends on each other for survival, and increased co-operation towards mutual interests.
Alongside with globalization however, ethno-nationalist and politico-religious issues have also become more highlighted. The impact of the Internet, and also the media, meant that news reporting of events cannot be so easily manipulated by politicians, state governments and powerful societal entities. Instead, public opinion can be more easily voiced and have a larger say in influencing social and political matters.
Globalization is a by product brought about through the introduction of two important technological innovations – the Internet and the cell-phone. The appearance of the Internet and cellphones undoubtedly contributed much to the process of globalization. Both innovations stemmed mainly out of the need to improve communications for military purposes. By their release into the commercial market, the irrevocable process of bringing nations, organizations and individuals into increased and closer contact with each other, and the formation of online networks, becomes inevitable.
The spreading of information and ideas are not new in concept. However, the totalitarian nature of certain prior political governing systems, such as fascism and communism, attempts to restrict and control the information flow as their leaders realize the social and political effects and impact on their governed populations. By the inevitability of history, such ideologies are now considered defunct because of the defeats of their centres of power. Information flow inevitably gives rise to a better informed individual and helps promote free trade.
But only in the late 1990s, with the onset technological advance, could this information theory be fulfilled in practice. The Information Age not only changed the political and economic landscape of the new world order, it also revolutionalized the nature of modern warfare and security issues. From the Gulf War in 1991 onwards, the world has seen the decline of conventional wars and a marked increase in low intensity conflicts involving non state actors like terrorist or militant groups. The latter also made use of the benefits of globalization to pursue their own agendas through armed conflict and terrorist acts. The Internet and the cell-phone are used for communication purposes and also in internationalizing and publicizing the terrorists’ cause.
The onset of globalization had not only brought about economic and social benefits, but also heightened the security threat to states and societies. Through the use of the Internet, the pervasive and regressive religious ideology of Islamic radicalism is spread to the masses. In the late 1990s, unrest and social violence in Indonesia was partially attributed to Islamic radicalism taking root among the masses, and partly because of a greater awareness of concurrent events happening elsewhere in the world. Terrorism, insurgencies, and militancy have replaced large scale interstate wars to become the foremost security threat in the world today.