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The Angles of Globalization

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Globalization is a political, economic and social force that involves greater interaction between countries, integration of economies of the world and access to international culture. There are different opinions on the effects of globalization and whether or not they are beneficial. It can be seen as a force, a resource and a tool, and it can be considered commercial, accommodating or enlightening. In general, globalization means the world getting smaller, figuratively speaking.

Singer’s cartoon expresses one perspective on globalization. There are numerous motifs used, the main being the instantly recognizable caricature of the Disney character, Mickey Mouse, in the foreground. Mickey Mouse has been used to represent the spread of American culture, commerce and values across the world. Here, his smile is static as ever as he propels the natives of the island using gun control. Other motifs include the logos that are everywhere, to show the increase in brand naming through the world. Mickey’s fellow friends—soldiers bearing a strong resemblance to another Disney character, Goofy—are seen planting a flag in conquest, and the flag bears the logo of Windows, a transnational corporation. Similarly, Mickey’s army jacket has a Nike logo, the ships have logos for Texaco and Shell, and the flag of a distant ship shows the iconic McDonald’s “M”. Symbolism is behind all parts of the cartoon. Planes bearing the logo of Motorola drop televisions from the sky like bombs; symbolizing perhaps that the invasion of globalization can be very sudden. Cans of Coca Cola, an internationally-consumed beverage, are being shot from a ship like cannons, hinting that the force penetrates from all directions. Also, Daffy Duck, another Disney character, is commanding drone-like soldiers as if to symbolize how a couple of big-time international leaders of the economy, whether they be individuals or major corporations, can dictate to small businesses. Race is not left out of the equation; Mickey Mouse is drawn much paler than the usual character, and the natives of the island appear Hispanic. This seems to indicate that racial minorities will be assimilated by globalization. The most ironic part of the cartoon and perhaps the part that sums up the whole idea that the artist was trying to portray, is that this is an idyllic island with blue sea, blue sky, golden sand and palm trees, and without the force of globalization, might just be paradise. Overall, the artist is trying to say that globalization is an unstoppable force that affects the lives of individuals negatively by using fear politics to enforce capitalist and consumerist values on defenceless people.

My own perspective of the role of globalization is very different from Singer’s. Being part of the global community is a personal choice for countries and individuals. Globalization, especially economically speaking, can be too corporate-based and its effects can be detrimental. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything, and I believe the benefits arising from globalization outweigh the drawbacks. For example, a banana farmer in St. Lucia is able to take care of her two children because of the income she gets from fair trade with Sainsbury’s, a UK supermarket. They pay more for the bananas than they would for non-fair trade ones and the extra money is used in the local community. The fair trade money from the bananas funded a school, the Aux-Lyons Combined School. A pupil from the school said: “The computer makes it very easy for us to learn about so many subjects and to find out about other children’s lives, too.” Globalization meant the banana farmer could trade with other countries for fair prices, and that money from a global initiative—Fairtrade—could help a local community. The pupils at the school funded by money from overseas could use the computer to explore other countries and expand their worldview, leading them to grow into citizens with a global collective identity and an appreciation for all different cultures. This sort of globalization encourages interdependence and peace, and this is the role globalization should play in society. If it is understood that globalization can be adapted and applied where necessary and beneficial, I think it can take a more subtle role that is culturally, environmentally, socially, technologically, economically and medically advantageous.

There are downsides to globalization, and I believe that some people see globalization as a negative force because the disadvantages are ones based on issues they feel strongly about. One issue that stands out is outsourcing; companies manufacturing products abroad might be doing so to reduce costs. There are different laws about wages and working conditions in different countries, so human rights are a concern. There is also the fact that some companies continue to outsource even when there are local job shortages, which takes its toll on the economy of the company’s country. Probably the second most talked-about issue of globalization is homogenization; the loss of individuality of culture, language, politics, religion and more due to an increased level of interaction with other countries. An inner problem is the acculturation, whether it be voluntary or not, which could lead to assimilation. This would be when one culture was trying to integrate into the global society and changed to fit in better, or was forced to change. Another aspect of this would be specific minorities being marginalized because of their cultural identity and a bias in society; basically when one culture does not change, and is disliked for not doing so. There are other potential problems with globalization that may not be thought about so much as they do not always directly affect average global citizens. These would be things like how disease could spread more easily and to a greater population when countries interact more, or how non-native species brought from other areas of the world could disrupt local ecosystems. So, there are many possible disadvantages to globalization, although they can be prevented or solved and some may not be affected by these potential problems. I believe that, mostly, globalization is flexible and can therefore be adapted to fit around these issues.

Humanity will always be curious and globalization is about learning and exploring other cultures and countries. It can affect individuals and nations in all types of ways. It can be moulded to suit different societies and it can be moderated if necessary. It can be used to make big changes and big improvements. Globalization is indeed shrinking the world but it is broadening worldviews and, most importantly, the horizon.


References

Sayid, Ruki. (2012). Go bananas for Fairtrade: How UK trade is lifeline for Caribbean workers. Retrieved Feb. 29, 2012, from, http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/personal-finance/go-bananas-for-fairtrade-how-uk-746470



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