What is the justification for globalism

Rule beyond the nation state

Michael Zürn

Prof. Dr. Michael Zürn is Director of the Global Governance Department and Professor for Transnational Conflicts and International Institutions at the Free University of Berlin. He is also co-director of the WZB Rule of Law Center and has been a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences since 2006. Contact: [email protected]

In today's globalized world, people are connected to one another in a variety of ways, and not just economically, national borders play less and less a role. In order to solve global problems, complex forms of global governance have developed over the past few decades, known in the professional world as global governance.

Integration of world trade (& copy Bergmoser + Höller Verlag AG, number picture, 681 133; source: WTO)

The term "globalization"

"Globalization" is a relatively new term. It first appeared in 1983 in the title of an English-language book, and only in 1988 in a German-language one. The term "globalization" is now ubiquitous. It is used, for example, when global trade increases, international financial markets are discussed, global climate negotiations are pending or contributions from all over the world are shown at film festivals. The term refers - sociologically speaking - to the emergence of new global social contexts of action.

Globalization thus goes beyond the older and related concept of "interdependence". A situation of mutual dependence between social collectives, such as the relationship between the German and French economies in the 1960s, is known as interdependence. In contrast, economic globalization means a process in the direction of an integrated market, in which for many purposes it no longer makes sense to separate the French from the German economy, or rather just as sensible as the separate presentation of the Hessian one and the Rhineland-Palatinate economy. The distinction between an internationalized and interdependent economy and the global integration of markets can be used for all forms of social relationships. Globalization describes the emergence of a world, the members of which are connected to one another through the most varied of contexts, whereby the importance of national borders is decreasing.

This notion of globalization relates to a measurable process of social change that can have an impact on political developments, but does not necessarily include the development of a world state, a world society with common norms or cross-national identities.

To the development of globalization

For the nationalism researcher Karl Deutsch, a nation is a political community supported by condensed contexts of action. Its limits can be seen from a significant decrease in the frequency of social transactions. Until well into the 1960s in all western countries, at best, one to two percent of telephone calls were made abroad; today, cross-border communication is much more pronounced, particularly because of the Internet. This applies to many areas: everywhere, the proportion of cross-border transactions in relation to transactions within national borders has grown considerably. Of course, the corresponding exchange relationships are not always global. Trade in industrial goods, for example, is falling significantly at the EU border. Therefore it seems more appropriate to refer to the aforementioned concept of nationalism to speak of social denationalization instead of globalization.

Empirical studies show that the increase in cross-border exchange processes accelerated, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. This applies, among other things, to the areas of trade and foreign direct investment, but also to migration, information and communication and the import and export of cultural goods. The 1990s then brought a real boost, especially in the economic sector. In this decade, economic denationalization definitely and significantly exceeded the level before the beginning of the First World War in 1914, which was unmatched until the 1970s. The decisive factor here is the expansion of the regions that have been affected by denationalization: Today, large parts of Asia, Latin America and even certain regions in Africa are an essential and independent component of development - China, India and Brazil are only the best-known cases. However, the scope of cross-border transactions still varies considerably between the areas and also with regard to different countries and regions.

Source text

The long journey of a pair of jeans

[…] By the time […] [jeans] are on German shelves, they usually have had a very long journey. Because cotton only grows in warm countries, it is processed where the labor force is cheapest, and jeans are bought in the rich industrialized countries.
In order to trace the travel stations of a pair of jeans, we have to start in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan: Here the cotton grows in large plantations. It is harvested by hand or by machine and then sent to Turkey.
Turkey: Here the cotton is spun into yarn in spinning mills.
Taiwan: Denim is made from this cotton yarn in the weaving mills.
Poland: This is where the chemical indigo dye (blue) is produced to dye the denim.
Tunisia: Here the yarn from Turkey and the denim from Taiwan are dyed with the indigo dye from Poland.
Bulgaria: Now the finished denim is refined, i. H. made soft and crease resistant.
China: Here the jeans are sewn together, made with buttons and rivets Italy and lining from the Switzerland.
France: Now the jeans are getting the finishing touches. It is washed, e.g. B. with pumice stone Greecewhich gives it the "stone-washed effect".
Germany: Here the company label is sewn into the jeans and they are labeled "Made in Germany"! [...]

Africa terminus
After jeans have been bought, worn and become old-fashioned in Germany, they usually end up in the used clothing collection.
Now the worn jeans go on a journey a second time. Mostly it is transported to a Dutch company that sorts the arriving clothing. It is then brought to Africa by ship and transported further inland by truck. In this way, the jeans can travel another 8,000 km.
When it arrives at its destination, it is sold to the local population in markets. [...]

Who earns money on a pair of jeans
The many kilometers of transport come about because the cheapest option is always preferred in jeans production, even if it is at the expense of employees and the environment. If you take a closer look at the jeans price, you will come across the following [...] result:
  • Only 1% of the jeans price goes to all workers as wages.
  • The material costs amount to 13%.
  • Transport costs and other fees (e.g. customs) account for 11%.
  • The brand company takes 25% of the jeans price for advertising, research, development and design.
  • The remaining 50% is collected by retailers. This also has costs, such as sales staff, shop rent and administration, but it also includes a very large profit margin for itself.
Since the profit margin for the trade is greater the lower the production costs are, he saves a lot on wages. That is why most of the clothing is produced in the so-called low-wage countries [...] for wages that are usually barely enough to survive.

http://www.praxis-umweltbildung.de/bekleidung_kldg_ Background_projektbeschr.php «



A completely new development is the cross-border production of goods and problems (goods and bads), which has been increasing since the early 1990s. These phenomena - internet, financial markets, global climate changes - represent something qualitatively new because they are truly de-territorialized. In these areas, a good or a problem is no longer produced in one place and then exported across borders; the production of these fields is itself already independent of location and de-territorial. This is pure globalization.

Networked world: figures in millions worldwide (& copy picture alliance / dpa-infografik, Globus 6736; source: ITU)
About the causes

There are different theories about the causes of globalization. Essentially, four hypotheses can be distinguished:
  • The capitalist world economy rewards division of labor and specialization and thus strives towards globalization from the start.
  • With the introduction of digital communication technologies and the significant changes in logistics (e.g. container transport), globalization was made possible.
  • Under the leadership of the USA, economic institutions were established after the Second World War, laying the ideal and political foundations for liberalization. These liberalization processes are the starting point for globalization. The international trade agreement (GATT) should be mentioned as a priority.
  • The interests of a transnational functional elite were served by the governments of Ronald Reagan (USA, 1981–1990) and Margaret Thatcher (Great Britain, 1979–1990), which enabled a worldwide deregulation of the economy, especially in the financial sector, and thus globalization.
It makes sense not to see these factors as alternative causes, but rather as mutually reinforcing reasons for denationalization. It is doubtful whether a uniform bundle of causes for the various denationalization processes can be identified at all. While the intensification of transnational communication is hardly conceivable without the new information and communication technologies, the development of global environmental risks can have completely different reasons.