GLOBALISATION An Imperialist Strategy of Domination

PROF. JAMIL FAROOQUI argues that globalisation is the old wine in the new bottle as it is aimed at perpetuating the hegemony of rich countries on poor countries and emerging economies.

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PROF. JAMIL FAROOQUI argues that globalisation is the old wine in the new bottle as it is aimed at perpetuating the hegemony of rich countries on poor countries and emerging economies.

The west, since the dawn of the modern era, has achieved tremendous success in producing knowledge, particularly scientific and technological. It has used this knowledge to provide better facilities and amenities for its masses to lead a materially comfortable life in this world. In this attempt it has also developed adequate and sophisticated ways and means of producing goods, including military equipment and weapons as well as generating income. It has undoubtedly achieved affluence but the problem was how to maintain it and, at the same time, how to make more and more additions to it.
For this purpose it sought out markets to sell its goods and looked towards other societies. It, thus, extended its trade to other parts of the world and during the interaction it came to know that the other societies had plenty of rich resources but they did not use their resources in a proper way to generate income due to their lack of scientific and technological knowledge. These societies had their own ways of producing goods that were sufficient and sometimes excellent to meet the day-to-day needs of their people. The people were used to the indigenous goods and considered them appropriate in their socio-cultural milieu. The west introduced their cultural traits and goods, propagated their supremacy and efficacy and tried to convince the indigenous people that its way of life was far superior and could give the people maximum comfort and they could enjoy their stay in this world. The indigenous people were reluctant to adopt the western way of life as it was against their culture and value system.
The west, due to its superior weaponry and warfare, captured the lands, took over the reigns of power and colonised them. The west took the raw materials at low prices, imported them to its own places, produced the required goods using its machinery and sold them in its colonies at high prices. Thus, it destroyed the indigenous economy, damaged the socio-cultural system, subjugated and exploited the people and dominated these societies economically, socially and politically. Consequently, the domination of weaker states by more developed countries began and gave birth to imperialism that was, in historical perspective, considered the expansion of European control after 1870 over African and Asian countries. It is regarded as a synonym for colonialism.
Schumpeter viewed imperial polices as unnecessary and counter-productive. According to him, they were a ‘reflection of the existence of a pre-industrial and pre-capitalist social stratum within the imperial countries’. Marxists viewed them as a ‘necessary product of capitalist industrialisation’. It, thus, represented either ‘the search of markets for pre-capitalist societies to subjugate or for low wages or higher investment returns’. Political theorists found it ‘the expansion of 1870s in which more powerful states, for a variety of reasons and through different mechanisms sought to subject weaker states to their control’. In the 19th century, the control of power was centred in Europe particularly in Great Britain and later on, in the 20th century, it was shifted to the United States of America.
The imperialists ruled these societies for quite a long time during which they introduced their socio-cultural and political system, established the western pattern of administrative set-up and educational institutions, imparted western oriented knowledge and produced a group of educated persons, who were influenced by the western way of life and used to carry on the western mission of intellectual and material domination.
However, the imperialists established the ascendancy of their culture, way of life and worldview. At the intellectual level, the imperialists produced such knowledge and literature so as to rule the mind of indigenous people and convince them that their socio- cultural system, their value system, the ideological and philosophical bases of their lives were all outdated and did not suit the contemporary situation. According to them, the greatest setback was their religion that made them irrational, lethargic and forced them to cling and stick to the orthodox view of life. The result was that they lagged far behind developed western societies that granted maximum comfort and freedom to their members. They were, in fact, the victims of their own psyche and faced high degree of backwardness. If they wanted to experience the charm and comfort of modern life, they had to break the shackles of traditional way of life, change their mindset, modernise their intellectual ethos and value system, follow in the footsteps of western societies and adopt the processes of development.
Thus, the colonial masters suggested from time to time certain remedies, ways out of the so-called backwardness and distress of indigenous societies so that they would consume western knowledge, the western outlook and, of course, western goods. Famous among those remedies were urbanisation, industrialisation, westernisation and modernisation. It was thought that if these processes took place, the other societies would overhaul and modernise their socio-cultural system according to the western pattern, absorb its cultural traits and western domination would take roots. The other societies initiated these processes but unfortunately they could not produce the results anticipated by the imperialist masters because they could not change and modify the ideological and philosophical bases or the religious ethos of those societies. Now the imperialists came up with another strategy in terms of globalisation in the most sophisticated form to establish and strengthen the roots of their domination in the soil of other societies. Hence, globalisation is nothing but old wine in a new bottle.
Globalisation is generally viewed as the emergence of a ‘global cultural system’ characterised by increasing interconnection and interdependence. It is said that the advancement in ‘transport’, ‘communication’, ‘information technology particularly the existence of a world-satellite system’, the high degree of exposure to, and interaction with nations and societies, ‘the global pattern of consumption and consumerism’, and ‘the cultivation of cosmopolitan lifestyles’ demolished the boundaries of nation-states and led them to mingle with each other and, consequently fuse in the global melting pot of socio-economic, political and cultural systems. As a matter of fact, a new global system emerges that produces higher levels of material wealth in the form of capitalism and political freedom in the form of democracy. It is beneficial to humanity particularly to the underdeveloped and developing nations because it removes poverty and emancipates them from the fetters of backwardness.
In 1990 and onward the concept gained popularity because it was mostly applied to economic activities and was expected that when it took place, it would lead to other forms of globalisation: social, cultural, political as well as religious. The IMF viewed that ‘economic interdependence through increasing variety of cross-border transaction in goods and services’, ‘international capital flows’ and ‘widespread diffusion of technology’ will create a new world-order based on justice, freedom, economic prosperity and the overall betterment of humanity. World organisations, international forums and corporations were working in this direction, promoting this ideal and in due course to achieve the target of a peaceful and prosperous world.
A perusal of the socio-economic and political scenario of the new emerging world-order reveals the bitter truth that the multinational economic organisations and world powers are the major gainers in the game of globalisation and the weak, poor and developing societies are at the receiving end. The fact is that the super powers are the producers of goods and systems and the weak nations are the consumers. This is obvious in the process of interaction and mingling between big and small, strong and weak where the former overwhelm and overpower the latter. The general fact that humanity has been witnessing from time immemorial is that the big fish always swallows the small one. This is apparent in every period of history particularly when the strong is not considerate to the needs and demands of the small but only uses the latter for its own gain and interest. It takes different forms and shapes in different periods.
The true sense of the welfare of humanity, the true spirit of the economic world-order as well as globalisation is that small enterprises and weak societies should be given a full chance and adequate opportunity to survive, flourish and develop but it only remains a dream to fulfil. Thus, the homogenisation of cultures and systems, as claimed by the architects of globalisation, does not take place. In fact, the process promotes domination of the powerful nations over the weak ones. Muslim thinkers equate it with centralisation and hegemonisation. Taha Jabir al ‘Alwani views it as centralisation where the system-traits of big powers constitute the centre and system-traits of the other world are at the periphery. In competition the centre uses all means, wealth, high-tech culture and power, to subdue the periphery. Similarly, A. Mazrui finds that cultural traits and ideological systems of the other world are taking shape in the western pattern and, thus, connoting the idea of hegemonisation rather than homogenisation.
The concepts of the global market and the global culture are illusions. They are the scenarios which are dominated by the western and imperialist socio-economic and ideological milieu where the ethos and system-traits of the other world are apt to get lost. Once, the American culture was identified as ‘melting pot’.  Immigrants entered the land with different socio-cultural traits but were gradually absorbed and assimilated into the main stream. Others were not comfortable with the term and coined ‘orchesterisation’ to denote the contribution of each culture to produce a cultural mosaic of the country as we find in the orchestra where different instruments play music and their combination produces an impressive new one.
The same principle should be applied to the concept of global culture if we have the least respect to and sympathy with humanity. Humanity cannot be limited to the western world or one segment of the world population which is affluent. The weak, the poor, and the downtrodden are as vital a part of humanity as the affluent are. They, in fact, require more attention, more care and consideration from the world community to live a dignified life.  The unfortunate element is that the big powers, particularly America, think that only their worldview is authentic and relevant to the progress and development of humankind. They are materially advanced nations, have superior and efficient socio-economic and political systems, have high-tech culture, and thus, are super powers. As such, how they view freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy and systems of political control is right and just. They are the protectors and guardians of the world. They can emancipate the world from distress and desolation. They have to use their affluence and power to shape the world according to their own ethos and worldview as well as in their interests. This is beneficial to them and also others because others’ benefit lies in their benefit. They have to play the role of master, keeping a tight rein on world affairs, controlling and changing them in such a way as to operate according to their own plan, will and dictate. In a nutshell, they have to implant their own system in others’ soil.
The other nations (weak ones) should follow the orders and dictates of the super power and modify their views and systems accordingly. If other nations hesitate to act upon that strategy, they are forced to do that and dance to the tune of the super power. Similarly, the world organisations and forums, including the UN and IMF should also work as the big powers want. These organisations should help, in one or the other way, in implementing the policy and work-plan of the big powers, particularly of America, to mould world affairs. They should play the role of a ‘rationalising agency’ of the acts and policies of the powerful nations. If these organisations fail to sanction the policies and acts of the dominant nations, the dominant ones are free to act according to their own whims and are not subject to any restriction or punishment. In contrast, if weak nations fail to act according to the direction of international organisations, they must be subjected to restrictions and punishment. Hence, there are two sets of policies: one applicable to the dominant nations and the other to the weak nations. This is what we witness on the international scene. If the dominant nations develop nuclear capability and possess weapons of mass destruction, it is good but if the weak nations, particularly third-world nations, do the same, it is bad and amounts to terrorism.
The United States of America, in spite of projecting a horrible and disgusting picture of Saddam Hussein and Iraq as well as of its failure of getting the sanction of the international organisation, boldly ignored world opinion, and invaded Iraq and killed thousands of innocent persons. The other example of the imperialist domination and hegemony is that the dominant nations have veto power in the decision making process of the UN while weak nations are deprived of that. This means that no decision can be taken without the consent and will of the big powers. The weak nations are at the mercy of the big powers and are only puppets in their hands. This is the dependency and interconnectedness which imperialists appreciate and want to promote in different processes of change as well as in the emergence of the new world order.  It is considered fair, decent, appropriate, judicious and democratic in modern doctrines and ideologies because they are the products of the imperialist powers.
In the present hegemonised world, justice, human rights, freedom, democracy, peace, prosperity and all other soothing words are considered good and practised till they benefit the big powers and their allies and promote their domination and affluence. They are not implemented if they challenge the supremacy of big powers and adversely affect their hegemonies. Thus, dislodging a weak community from its homeland and forcing its people to keep mum and not to agitate is human howsoever disastrous, dangerous and inhuman it may be; interference in the internal affairs of the weak nations is fair howsoever it damages and violates the spirit and charter of the UN; thrusting their own yes-men into the power structure of poor nations and establishing the puppet governments is democratic howsoever it is against the general will and invites public anger; exploiting the resources of poor nations is just howsoever it damages the economies of those nations and supporting their allies to generate terrorism for cleansing communities is desirable howsoever it is against humanity. These and other similar incidents occur day in and day out in the world under the very noses of the big powers which are the champions of human rights, freedom, liberalism, democracy and the new world order and the magnitude of suffering, exploitation, suppression, violation of human rights, crimes against humanity and so called terrorism is increasing day by day.
The point to ponder over is whether the global culture and the new world order succeed in restraining the imperialists’ ambition to dominate the world and change it according to their perspective and ideology or whether they provide weak and poor nations with adequate opportunity and create conducive conditions in which they can coexist along with their ideological and philosophical bases and in their own ways with other nations. This is the fundamental basis of a dignified way of living together without which a just, free, peaceful and prosperous world order is not at all possible.
Globalisation, in fact, promotes the prevalence and perseverance of the western world order in an innovative and attractive form in the name of modern perspectives associated with human dignity and welfare. These perspectives are ignored or interpreted in different ways when they have to be implemented and granted to the people of other nations and of third world countries. The destruction of Palestine and massacre of its people, the intrusions into Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon are not at all considered violations of human rights and the UN charters, the suppression of human freedom and an attack on human dignity. Globalisation, when it takes place, erodes local traditions and forces indigenous people to adopt the western way of life which in another way creates an imbalance and contradiction in the social pattern and generates tension in society. In this process, Muslim societies suffer a lot. The global traits which are forced to be implanted in these societies damage their social systems and create an anomic situation where norms gradually lose their control on people and place them in the doldrums. Thus, globalisation is disastrous to these societies rather than being of any benefit.
The other anomaly of globalisation is that its traits, when penetrate the boundaries of indigenous societies and try to be accommodated in local conditions, are reshaped. They are, in fact, localised and take an abnormal form which neither suit the local conditions nor the so-called global system. They create contradictions as they come into conflict with local traditions which seldom undergo change according to the new traits. Industrialisation could not change work ethics; bureaucracy could not develop efficiency in governance; modernity could not bring about rationality (in the western pattern) and change in people’s psyche in developing societies.
Moreover, globalisation creates a reaction among the indigenous population and makes them more conscious of their intellectual heritage, ideology and way of life. They consider them important and want, in one way or other, to maintain and retain the ascendancy of their tradition and system. Hence, the people resist the traits of the alien culture and also exert pressure to raise their own traits to the global level.
Citing the Japanese example,Erik Swyngedouw, Professor of Geography at the University of Manchester, observes that in the process of accommodation, localisation of global traits takes place and it can be explained in terms of globalisation. Hence, according to him, globalisation is identified as globalisation.