Globalization. As an American, that word often carries a magnanimous connotation that is associated with America’s rise to global prominence. Globalization is an ongoing process that is continually bringing the world closer together on an economic and societal level.
Historiography is defined by Merriam Webster as, the writing of history; especially :the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods. We started with Globalization and then threw a fancy scholarly term in there, so what can be established through the connection of these two ideas?
The point of doing history is to paint a complete narrative about a given person, event, ideology, etc… In order to do this in a complete and fulfilling way, multiple view points must be analyzed. We opened this post with the generic view of globalization, followed up by a brilliant video that does a very good job at broaching the topic of globalization (part 2 here for those interested). As is the case with most broad concepts, there are many ways to view it. Growing up in a capitalist country that has greatly benefited from many aspects of globalization, scholars and students of history are not often presented with a narrative that discusses the potential drawbacks of globalization.
Henri Houben published an article in 2006 titled A Marxist Analysis of Present-Day Globalization. His article concludes that globalization is nothing more than modern day imperialism and easily parallels the themes that Vladimir Lenin wrote about in 1916. Houben believes that monopolized corporations have taken the place of dominant imperialistic powers in the 21st century. Houben states in his article, “On the economic level, the development of financial markets cannot exceed for long developments in the real economy. An adjustment is necessary, and it risks being a brutal one.” It is interesting he makes this assessment because just barely a year-and-a-half after his article was published, the recession of 2008 hit the United States. While the parallel between the growth of an unstable housing and financial market and Houben’s proposed thesis may be vague, the reality is that the economic well-being of the capitalist juggernaut crashed. It can be related to the wars that Lenin warns and Houben discusses will be the result of capitalist tendencies in that the recession of 2008 represented millions of lost jobs, uprooted families, and general distress. All of these characteristics can be associated with large-scale war.
Houben’s article provides a unique perspective on globalization. He goes into great depth regarding the numbers that show the growth of globalized, capitalist monopolies and then discusses their subsequent consequences not only for the nations that have embraced capitalism as a way of life, but also the repercussions for those people and nations who do no necessarily buy into the norm. While the article can be reaching at times, and, as many marxist writings that air on the side of socialized communism tend to do, ends with a call for action from the proletariat. The reason this article is important to understanding globalism and modern world economics is that it provides a different aspect to an idea that is otherwise accepted as commonplace in a largely capitalistic society.
Houben, Henri. “A Marxist Analysis of Present-Day Globalization.” Nature, Society & Thought 19, no. 4 (October 2006): 447-471. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 9, 2017).