Proyecto Visión 21

The weak globalization countercurrent will gain strength

Francisco Miraval

To talk about globalization, planetary technologization, and culture homogenization seems almost irrelevant, because this is a daily topic of conversation and because there are many books, articles, and papers about this issue. However, those publications seldom pay attention to the globalization countercurrent flowing from south to north.

It is true that during many centuries Europe and later the United States imposed their culture and their military power from north to south. It is also true that the struggle between the East and the West during the Cold War of the 20th century was at the same time a struggle to see which superpower would dominate the southern hemisphere.

For those reasons, there is no doubt there is a strong globalization current flowing with its ideologies and technologies from north to south. However, at the same time, there is a globalization countercurrent, weaker than the first one, flowing with its people and its traditions from south to north, and reaching both Europe and the United States. This countercurrent gains strength and presence day after day.

In 2004, 2004, Seán Ó. Siochrú presented a paper analyzing these two currents to the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, part of the International Labor Office (Geneva).

According to Siochrú, the strong globalization current promotes the commercialization of “products” in “new markets.” The weak globalization countercurrent, on the contrary, focuses on “fulfilling human needs and reinforcing human rights.”

We can see indication of the countercurrent in almost every aspect of our daily life. For example, a significant percentage of membership growth among religious groups in the United States is due to the arrival of Latino immigrants. Also, it is well documented that the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States usually enjoys an audience larger than the audience of some of the big three American networks.

However, few times the globalized and commercialized media talks about the globalization countercurrent and, if that happens, it is usually using negative words, such as “invasion,” “problem,” and “crisis.” At the same time, the strong globalization current is presented as “helping those less fortunate” and as “defending the values of freedom.”

In fact, neither globalized current is totally good or absolutely bad, as unfortunately they are presented almost every day in a simplistic and superficial way in most media outlets. Each current is highly complex, and their mutual interaction is also a highly complex phenomenon.

The excessive simplification of reality prevents us from seeing the globalization countercurrent for what it is, that is, not as a movement against globalization, but as a natural process, as the currents and countercurrents in the oceans.

In this column, I just wanted to bring attention to the fact that both currents are real and both should be properly analyzed. So, will the globalization current continue its current paradigm of commercialization flowing from north to south, or will a new pattern of cooperation flow from south to north?

This is not an “either/or” question. Both paradigms are already overlapping and colliding.

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