Cheong En Min / Writer
The notion that the world is metamorphosing into a single global milieu of interconnected and mutually-dependent constituents is as popular as it is biased.
Taken from the perspective of benefactors of globalisation, the theory’s premise clearly favours affluent entities and nations, implicitly emphasising the advantages of joining the international country club of established and emerging markets, and partaking in technological transfer and cultural fusion.
The propensity to believe that globalisation engenders a shared sense of stability is true; insofar as developed hegemons and their weaker but willing national partners are concerned.
Unfortunately, globalisation has elicited a far less favourable response from countries that have already been politically disenfranchised, resulting in pariah governments that respond by attempting to shield their citizens from a force perceived to embody the nefarious ideologies of a world hostile towards the sovereignty of these states. The apprehension and unease that is associated with globalisation is based on the premise that distinctive cultural nuances would be transposed by universal norms and values.
Within the borders of these nations, isolationism is extremely prevalent. In order to limit the effects of globalisation on society, governments ultimately have to put in place censorship mechanisms which prevent information from freely crossing borders and infiltrating the lives of citizens, resulting in an impediment to the existence of social debate essential in fuelling progress vis-a-vis the exchange of ideas both internally and multilaterally.
However, all this does not necessarily translate into instability for these states. It is precisely because of the meticulous rejection of external influences from sovereign agendas that countries such as North Korea and Cuba manage to sustain their domestic institutions.
These countries’ collective stability is maintained by the adherence to status quo. As those with a protectionist stance start to allow foreign exposure to infiltrate society, volatility intensifies. For example, implementing fair elections and voting within China would see the entire state ideology challenged because of this shift in policy.
This explains why the ruling elite of these countries are fighting so valiantly to buffer society from globalisation, which arguably encompasses all the evils of imperialism, modernisation and pressured progress – advancing in a direction states lose control over dictating to a significant extent.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has articulated the fact that his government tightly regulates news and entertainment programmes originating from other countries in favour of promoting propaganda propagated by state-managed media outlets to preserve its national identity and power over the socio-political arena within Iran.
Nevertheless, globalisation is penetrating the armour of nationalism cloaking the societies and government practices of many such countries that regard the former with suspicion. North Korean citizens are discovering ways to exploit signals generated from cellular relay facilities constructed along the Chinese border to contact family and communicate with the media. This is sending waves of panic into North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, who subscribes to a neo-Stalinist political doctrine and is well-aware of the chaos which could result from North Koreans finding out the truth about their plight.
It would seem reasonable, given this development, for western nations – which have received the most perks from globalisation and are also considered bastions of freedom – to ride on this bandwagon by engaging these pariah states.
Contrary to that, the governments of these developed countries instead have applied punitive measures on these nations, such as economic sanctions, to combat the perpetration of non-compliance of internationally accepted standards and norms of operation. This antagonistic approach had the effect of disenfranchising the latter, providing their governments with increased impetus to shut the rest of the world out.
Many believe that just as sanctions aided Saddam Hussein’s autocratic control of the inflow of cash to Iraq, and the US embargo on Cuba fuelled domestic support for Fidel Castro, attempts to further sequester Iran and North Korea augment their totalitarian leaders’ jurisdiction on power and legitimacy.
Iran’s government educes support from the mandate it obtains by venerating nationalistic sentiment, propelled by fervent opposition to the detriments of the core-periphery model of globalisation.
The younger, more educated strata of Iranian society generally dissents against governmental efforts to segregate them from the international community and global development, and out of fear, the state has responded by implementing additional apparatus to repress the potential social movement towards the embracement of globalisation.
Essentially, globalisation can only destabilise pariah states to the extent that the governments of those nations allow it to influence socio-politics within its borders. However, because of this realisation as a reaction to globalisation, rogue states are likely to cultivate extremist policies out of a rational interest to protect sovereign autonomy and domestic ideologies, which only exacerbates the ease of their assimilation into the international community.
About the author:
Cheong En Min holds a diploma in Mass Communication, a Certificate in Applied Psychology and is now a Social Sciences undergraduate at SingaporeManagement University, majoring in Political Science. The Vice President of the Society for Associated Inter-tertiary Debaters (SAID), she has competed in numerous international tournaments and coached high school and university students around the world. En Min is also part of a team which develops courses for schools under the United Nations volunteer programme and is committed to improving the quality of education in societies everywhere. To unwind, En Min enjoys reading, writing, teaching and debating. Oh dear, she had better get herself a real hobby. She's not all that boring though; caffeine gives her a rather amusingly inappropriate personality.