Globalization (2007)

Editor’s Introduction

Dennis M. Ray

This is my first issue as editor of Globalization. The issue itself does not reflect any real change in editorial policy. That will take some time and effort. Let me describe a few things that will remain unchanged about Globalization. First, we will maintain our eclectic, interdisciplinary nature of the journal. No one field or discipline should dominate the journal. Second, we will remain open to diverse traditions of scholarship.

New Directions

There are, however, some new directions that I will pursue. First, we will increase the editorial board to make it more international in scope and even more representative in terms of disciplines. Second, we will work to make Globalization more visible to potential contributors, students, and various interest groups involved with globalization. Third, we will seek to make it a forum for the engage of ideas. With so many groups “talking past” and writing for narrow audiences of the converted, there may actually be a need for a forum where ideas are joined and argued rationally and with reference of case studies and other forms of empirical data. Fourth, we want to nurture scholarship in the area of globalization. As an electronic journal, we might be able to accomplish this in several ways. For example, we will position ourselves as an interim step between an in-house “working paper” and a traditional peer reviewed journal. The peer review process of Globalization will assure the rigor and, hopefully, the status of our journal and its contributions. That blind peer review process will ideally add value to authors seeking to develop and improve their work. We will also serve as a development tool for scholars by becoming a platform for authors who are working to develop a book and need early and incremental feedback on your project. Fifth, we would like to see more case studies submitted. One of the articles published in this issue is organized around a case study. The case study is much more pertinent and powerful than the accompanying conceptual framework. Rhetoric is easy but rarely powerful; case studies have great potential power.

Semantics, Jargon and Specialized Language

Not a few of the submissions for this issue, including one that will be published seem to have been written as if for a secret cult of a few dozen adherents. This was particularly true for the Marxist-oriented manuscripts. This is not a good time for the upswing in Marxist philosophy. But incomprehensible prose is not an effective strategy for reaching out to non-Marxist audiences. Making a cogent Marxist critique of contemporary neo-liberal global economy should not be a contest about who can be the most arcane and esoteric. There is a cogent Marxist critique to be made and any such critique would be stronger, in my view, if supported by empirical evidence.

Every field and every philosophical orientation has its own language. However, if Globalization is to work as an interdisciplinary journal, authors need to leave their specialized vocabulary at the office and not submit pieces that read like a foreign language. Manuscripts should be written for a general audience and if I cannot understand the first page of a manuscript, the review process will go no further.

Blind Review Process

Since Globalization is an interdisciplinary and eclectic journal, standards of blind peer evaluation might vary widely. Wide variation in blind review occurs even within narrow subfields, so this is especially a problem with an interdisciplinary and open ideology journal. We invite all contributors to nominate reviewers for their work, two who might be predisposed to view it favorably and two who might view it critically and with skepticism. As editor, I may or may not use those reviewers, but this will increase my pool of reviewers of different disciplinary, ideological, and methodological orientation who I can match with similar contributions in the future.

When appropriate, I will publish, with the permission of the reviewer in question, any provocative debate that evolves between authors and one or more reviewers. Some of the most interesting academic dialogue that I’ve seen or had might be described as debate “behind the veil of the blind review process.” If we can occasionally remove that veil and make the debate more transparent and open, perhaps it will serve an important function.

Student Contributions

We will create opportunities for students to become not just consumers of scholarship but contributors. We invite graduate and undergraduate students alike to contribute analysis, essays, and multimedia presentations on globalization. As an online journal, we should make more effective use of multimedia and, indeed, my graduate and undergraduate students over the last few years have produced some remarkable multimedia works relating to globalization. There will be annual awards of best research paper, best essay, and best multimedia presentation for undergraduate and graduate students alike. I shall work to find sponsors of these best research paper, best essay and best multimedia presentations. Those of you who teach are encouraged to submit some of the best work on globalization by your students or encourage them to directly submit their work.

Multimedia works are especially welcomed.

Special Issues

We’d like to publish some special issues. A preliminary list of possible special issues is provided below. For a special issue to be developed, one or two other scholars must commit to work with myself, as editor, to create a special issue. Those interested in developing one of the special issues described below or something very different should contact the editor with a proposal of not more than 1,000 words. These issues should be addressed:

Tentative List of Special Issues

The Dark Side of Globalization

Globalization is “sold” in terms of lower consumer prices and the virtues of free markets. What about the dark side of globalization: the free international trade in women and children, trade in drugs, trade in rare and near extinct animals and animal parts, the global spread of disease, the global spread of fanatical Islam and Christianity, and the spread of state-sanctioned terror and the nihilistic terror of radical Islamic groups? The line sometimes blurs between legitimate free trade and international trafficking. For example, several huge U.S. tobacco firms have been indicted for using drug cartels to smuggle cigarettes into Europe to avoid taxes, which constitutes the perfect storm for global money laundering. What are the international and institutional foundations for addressing the dark side of globalization?

Globalization and Corporate Power

As industries consolidate on a global scale fierce competition will be replaced by the domination of a handful of firms exercising monopolistic or oligopolistic power on a global scale. While national industry consolidation has often been associated with at least a show a regulation and control in the public interest, international regulatory regimes seem far from ready to meet the challenge of global monopoly and the consequent impact on consumers, workers, communities, nation-states, and a sustainable environment. What is the impact of global corporate power and global industries on various constituencies and stakeholders at the individual, corporate, local, provincial, national, regional, and global level? What are the implications for economic policy, political sovereignty, civil liberties, political participation, political efficacy, and cultural autonomy? If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, what reason do we have not to expect that the consolidation of corporate power within industries on a global scale will not bring with it pervasive abuses of power?

China, Global Economic Restructuring and Globalization

Globalization may be both the cause and consequence of a process of global economic restructuring symbolized by deflation in rich countries and rapid economic growth in China, India, and a few select other emerging markets. It is driven by the shift of manufacturing, research & development, software development, market and financial power from the United States and other OECD countries to places like China. The indications of this global economic restructuring can be found in aggregate data, case studies, and critical incidents. A company like Lincoln Electric is closing plants in the United States and even Mexico to shift it production to China. A top executive at Motorola tells an audience at an IC2 Institute conference at the University of Texas at Austin in 1999 that his firm will never open another new facility in the United States because the cost and quality of labor just doesn’t measure up to what it can find in China and elsewhere. The CEO of Wal-Mart observes that his firm will someday be predominantly a Chinese firm. China largely finances the trade and budgetary deficits of the Unites States. The U.S. consumes so that Chinese factors can continue to produce; it’s a tough job but someday has to do it.

What is all the more remarkable is that less than 30 year ago, China was still a “basket case” when it came to economic or industrial policy. The Great Leap Forward and the commune movement of the late 1950s were widely acknowledged to have set the Chinese economy back. The cultural revolution of 1965 had set the stage for a decade of chaos not an extraordinary economic, industrial, and technological revolution. So here is a country with huge problems a few decades ago that is now the engine of industrial production for the world. What are the implications of this remarkable turn of events? What does it mean for individuals, firms, communities, provinces, and nation-states?

The Impact of Globalization on Eastern and Central Europe

What does globalization mean for Eastern and Central Europe? The economic and political transition of the nation-states formerly part of the Soviet sphere of influence reflects many of the forces of globalization. Nowhere are the changes in public and economic policy, ideological orientation, and social life greater than the integration of Eastern Europe into the European Union and the global economic system. The approach of countries in the region is far from uniform. Hungary and Poland has been fast to embrace the new opportunities of aligning with the West and its version of globalization.

Belarus, a rogue nation in U.S. eyes, has sought a more independent path. It is widely assumed that the path of integration is best. This special issue is designed to call for a critical rethinking and evaluation of this.

Exploitation and Globalization

Exploitation is a frequently used term in the context of globalization. Its use is highly predictive of how an individual or group will respond to exploitation. I have business friends who absolutely deny that anything like exploitation exists in our increasingly globalized world. There are others, including some of the first manuscripts I’ve read as editor of this journal that see exploitation, neo-colonialism, economic imperialism, core-periphery relations as a “magic wand” that eliminates all responsibility to make an empirical argument or reason rationally. The mere mention of these terms is sufficient proof of how globalization works. A definition of exploitation might focus on two key indicators, (1) a hierarchical relationship wherein power is distributed in a highly uneven fashion, and (2) the discontinuity between risks and contribution, on one hand, and rewards and benefits, on the other. Contrary to classical economic theory that posits that those who reap the greatest rewards have taken the greatest risks, an examination of the contemporary world suggest that those who work the hardest, in the most tedious and dangerous jobs reap the lowest rewards and whose who work in comfort and need to get their physical exercise at the upscale fitness center, reap the greatest rewards. This special issue calls for empirically based exploration of exploitation and globalization. Empirically means, in the context of this special issue, grounded case studies, time series data, comparative analysis, statistical analysis of datasets, and model testing.

Exploitation can include studies on the changes in income and wealth distribution on a global level among nation-states, within nation-states, and across classes. Does globalization, for example, leave countries, rich and poor alike, with more skewed distribution of income and wealth? What is happening to the gap between top corporate compensation and wages paid to workers and the workers of subcontractors? Does globalization increase the percentage of a population between a national poverty line or subsistence income? What is happening to definitions of poverty and subsistence income?