There are very few places, if any, that are completely untouched by the rapid modernization that has come to overwhelm much of the globe.
North American culture, for example, is largely based on a capitalist system that reinforces the spread of globalization. We’ve become not only fully immersed within a globalized, cultural context but we’ve also grown numb to the ramifications of capitalist ventures and the intrusiveness of globalization. For us, living in Canada, we’re exposed and all too familiar with the consistent influx of McDonalds or Starbucks.
Speaking for the general population at McMaster, I can say that all of us have access to a modern form of communication. Most of us lay claim to a cell phone or laptop, both of which can access various media and communication outlets.
We have, practically, instant and constant access to the Internet. Google has made it possible to see a street level view of a German city while sitting in a lecture hall here at McMaster. Although I’m still astounded at the speed in which technology is accelerating our ability to connect with the rest of the world, I have certainly taken for granted some of the benefits that come along side of globalization.
Globalization discourages cultural and national ignorance. With the world literally at our fingertips we, as global citizens living in Canada, have the ability to discover diverse perspectives while enjoying the comforts of home. Although I can’t speak for everyone, I certainly can’t claim ignorance when I can easily research something on the Internet. Borders have become less tangible as we move fluidly through the globe’s nations and cultures portrayed on our computer screens.
In a more literal sense, globalization encourages travel. As I learn about these fascinating places in the world I begin to yearn for the physical experience. Traveling puts your world, your culture, and your experiences into a different perspective. Taking yourself out of what is subjectively normal and placing yourself into a whirlwind of new customs, cultural practices, and ideologies can be overwhelming, challenging, yet eminently enriching.
Globalization has also walked hand-in-hand with industrialization and modernization. Although I cringe to see yet another corporate conglomerate plant its roots in our already capitalist weeded soil, there are benefits to bringing industrialization and modernization into the metaphorical garden. Influencing economic stability, national capital, and employment, industrialization maintains a level of prosperity.
And, I’m sure we’d be reluctant to give up our vehicles, cell-phones, and central heating in return for a “simpler” lifestyle. Globalization has encouraged industrialization and modernization across the globe, which has, in some ways, beneficially impacted national economic, political and social standing. However, what is to be said against globalization, industrialization, and modernization?
As globalizations encourages a surge of eager travellers, typically the wealthy and middle-class populations of the world, the more traditional areas of the world and the predominantly poverty stricken global citizens are vulnerable in that they become fetisized by world travellers and exploited by money hungry industrial ventures. The land and the people of these un-familiar areas of the world are worked down and forcibly pushed into the path of globalization.
Being sucked into the vortex of capitalism in the name of modernization, we are to assume that this development is natural—an unexplainable, self governing force that simply exists. However, it was Karl Marx who pointed out that our fixation with commodities, and all of the elements that are attributed with consumerism, is a product of our society that we, the global citizens, perpetuated. The spread of industrialization and capitalist ideologies in a country such as Cambodia, for example, creates a social constructed hierarchy of the oppressed worker and the commodity consumer.
There’s something romantically simplistic about the areas of the world that seem to have withheld from aspects of globalization. When I was travelling through Croatia this past June I was surprised to see that the country did not have the typical western icons of globalization.
There were no franchises of McDonalds or Burger King, there were no large western corporations, and although Croatia is a modernized, industrialized country, I couldn’t help but feel pleasure in the fact that this small country, in relation to the rest of Europe, was able to fight off a metaphorical, iconic representation of globalization. On the contrary, Croatia recently joined the European Union and no doubt will this membership into the EU bring beneficial national growth, however with such improvements must come the inescapable spread of globalization.
Switching my focus to Southeast Asia, I fear for the beautiful yet still mysterious country of Laos. Nestled in between Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia the country, from what I have seen on television and in research, is left for the most part untouched by industrialization. The country remains frozen in time, unchanged from a century ago.
Yet, it seems globalization is inevitable. Industrialization and modernization will eventually make its way to Laos. Tourists will choose Laos as their next exotic travel destination, the country and her people will imminently change as outside influence becomes more prevalent and capitalist ideologies flourish.
The pessimism I have for the globalized world is troubling although I hold little faith in the world`s ability to alter our chosen path. If the spread of modernization and industrialization is inevitable all I can do is explore and understand these untouched areas of the world before they become generic viagra soft consumed.
We tend to take the good in globalization and seem to forget about the bad and at the end of the day we are left wondering, do the ends really justify the means?