I started to take interest in Globalization for the first time in the 1990’s while I was a young academic. I wondered how this process would affect Turkey and other developing countries? What kind of a position we could have taken regarding Globalization? To what extent we should have supported and to what extent we should have opposed it?
This one and similar inquisitions resulted in my doctorate on this topic later on. As a matter of fact, initially I was closer to a liberal and a useful for mankind Globalization. However the title of my book published after the completion of my doctorate manifested my approach: “Force and Consent, Turkey Between Globalizations” (Küre Publications). Globalization was not one dimensional but a multi-dimentional series of interwined processes having a difficult and coercive dimension alongwith a dimension of opportunity and consent also.
The yester view of Globalization
The West used to champion Globalization in the beginning of my career. It used to defend free movement of commodities and capital, uselessness and meaninglessness of political borders. Competition, cooperation, abolition of customs and quotas were the most prominent concepts. International institutions were striving for a more open, competitive, transparent and a free of protectionism World.
On the other hand, criticism against Globalization was rising from the underdeveloped or developing countries. It was said that this process was in the interest of the Western countries and protectionism, abolition of customs, open, free and competitive cooperation would be more beneficial for the Western countries and firms. It was claimed that these policies would weaken them further and they would become more incapable of competing.
On the ideological level it was claimed that Globalization was a new version of capitalism that would increase exploitation and the nation states were being weakened for this purpose. It was being expressed that it was necessary to defend nation states as a last resort against imperialist Globalization without any compromises.
The repercussions were not forward looking but backward looking, defensive and reactive. If Globalization was a new version of capitalism it was not being asked how nation state, the old version of capitalism could oppose this new version.
As the year 2020 is getting closer and about 30 years later today we can easily see how approaches and fears of the 1990’s have been actualized.
At the point we have reached today the West does not champion Globalization anymore. The Western countries are not the ones who gained from Globalization the most. The United States of America and Western countries who could not gain enough from Globalization are defending almost the thesis of the developing countries that they used to defend in the 1990’s. They do not talk about abolition of political borders, competitiveness, free movement and openness anymore. Especially US recalling of its investments abroad, raising of its tariff walls with almost all of the countries and imposition of quotas is a concrete demonstration of its opposition to Globalization. Who could even imagine in the 1990’s that the European Union would wish to establish a 10 thousand strong army to defend its political borders against rising migrations? The United States of America and European Union are virtually returning to nationalist policies today.
On the other hand developing countries of the 1990’s got the best of the Globalization processes. The countries like China, India, Brazil anf Turkey came more into prominence during this process. Today China defends more pro-Globalization policies as compared to the West. Turkey played the game quite fairly during the Globalization process after the 2000’s. It integrated with the World. It raised its bar of democratization and freedoms. As country’s guardianship regime was overcome and freedom areas were widened the economy of the country flourished. The national income of $2000 increased by a few times. One of the reasons for Turkey’s strained relations with the West is western indigestion of Turkey’s developing economic level and its self confidence to say no.
Our intellectuals have to go beyond the ordinary
However some of the intellectuals in Turkey and the World are still unaware of how 30 year long Globalization processes in the West and non-Western societies ended up. They continue to read their memorization of the 1990’s. Since the West could not gain enough from Globalization, it became more combative, returned to its introverted and protective policies and it either does not see or does not want to see that it has been attributing more meaning to its political borders today. It is not the Western countries who want the open borders, openness policies and free movement but the countries we have mentioned above who gained the most from Globalization.
Undoubtedly all of the developing could not equally benefit from the Globalization processes. There could be countries who have probably ended up as losers in these processes. Because these processes do not offer equal opportunities to everyone. I mean to say that as long as they do not act as it is necessary, these processes do not always automatically make a Western country or any other country a winner or a loser. Therefore an analytical rather than a wholesaler, with a commonsense rather than a rejective and submissive and interrogative rather than an uncomprehendingly approach is needed.
There is a beautiful saying, “what worked yesterday doesn’t always work today”. Especially the luminaries, intellectuals and statesmen of the non-Western societies must closely study developments of the last 30 years. They must be aware of the fact that the information of the past may not be sufficient to explain today in the current period when knowledge is rapidly diminishing. In a rapidly changing Globalization era defined by “expansion, intensity, speed and effect” concepts static and inert approaches are not only insufficient to explain tomorrow but also they are unable to understand even today.
Prof. Dr. Kudret Bulbul, Dean Faculty of Political Sciences at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University