Our world is connected, and this is largely just a natural consequence of human technological development. Through trade, through the internet, through transportation and on and on. It is now easier than ever for people to share ideas, customs and products. This is why globalization has become an increasingly important issue in our time, one that has proven to be very divisive.
The link between this topic and public/private relations should be obvious. This has historical merit, too. Consider the Cold War, a decades-long ideological conflict between capitalist United States and communist Soviet Union. Both sides understood the power of asserting one system as the new world order, and the ripple effect of that turmoil is still present today. Even as the particulars of the tension fade, the debate still remains.
So with that, we consider why globalization matters for economic and governmental systems, and vice versa.
At its core, globalization asserts that we should not look at solutions to problems at the national or even international level—even conflicts between countries affect third parties. Instead, we should as a planet think about issues globally and their impact on groups of people, not countries. Whether you agree or disagree that this is how things should work, it is how they currently do. Trade negotiations are often through coalitions of countries, and foreign countries and people take inspiration from each other all the time. Global (or at least regional powers) have also emerged, like the European Union or the extension of the United Nations.
There is clearly a want to make the world work this way more and more. On some level, this makes complete sense: When we consider working cooperatively as a whole planetary organism, things can get done a lot more efficiently. Others are not so happy about this, though. President Trump last year rejected globalism at the United Nations General Assembly, and Brexit is a clear move against globalization. The argument from skeptics is that globalization undermines sovereignty of nations, and this also has a fair point. Smaller groups can run the risk of getting ignored if there is only one governing body.
This dispute represents the public side of the debate, but private groups have already long since decided how they feel about our interconnected world: They love it! Why would a company want to limit its business to a single country when there is a whole world of customers out there? But, herein lies the problem. Companies generally care about money over all, including the wellbeing of people. So, if companies act as though they don’t have to listen to single governments, and the nations of the world are too busy squabbling to form an effective global force, we all lose.
This is not just theory, either. Consider the role of private groups in climate change and how there is no effective way at regulating them when production is done overseas. Consider tax evasion, where people based in countries like the United States avoid paying their fair share of taxes by hiding streams in places like Panama. As a counterexample, consider how good the European Union has been for protecting consumers, even if they overstep their bounds at times. A lack of global public pressure lets companies do bad things on a global scale.
All of this ignores the ties between anti-globalism and nationalism and xenophobia. I’m not saying that countries retaining sovereignty isn’t valid, but in terms of building up actual culture, it is important to realize who the real enemies are. Other countries are not the enemy; private groups trying to pit people against each other and commodify culture are. Not all companies are evil, but it is important to work as a group to keep the bad eggs away. In this way, global cooperation from all people is necessary.
Peter Fenteany is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.