Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Communist Manifesto and John Gray

February 10th, 2011 · 3 Comments
Reading Response Memos

The “Communist Manifesto” written by Karl Marx in 1848 is one of the most well known pieces advocating social change. Though it was written to promote communism, it can be used as a launching pad to discuss countless ideas, especially those involving globalization.
Marx claims that the discovery of America “paved the way” for modern industry, out of which grew the world market. This world market has led to the spread of commerce and communication, and the middle class. This bourgeoisie has led to revolutionary ideas, including the one that states that the differences between man will no longer be cultural, political, etc…but rather the focus will primarily  be monetary worth. In turn, free trade was established which helped expand not only the market globally,  but the middle class as well.
“In place of old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands…” This desire which has been fueled by the bourgeosie, leads to globalization as we know it and to the process of civilizing even the most “barbaric” societies. However, as Marx continues, he claims that there will eventually be a crisis based on the OVER-production and civilizing done to said societies.
Marx describes the harm that can be caused by globalization, the robotic way humans will interact. They will focus simply on monetary values and live according to one, Western culture which will eventually be consumed by the obsession with profit.

John’s Gray’s work, “From the Great Transformation to the Global Free Market,” looks at globalization completely differently, though its views are not necessarily more positive.  He claims that the goal of creating the free market was to do away with social cohesion in the economic world. The essence of a global free market does NOT mean America taking over all economic systems and the entire world becoming Westernized. This view is tremendously different than that of Marx. Rather, claims Gray, promotes new ideas (political, social, economic, etc…) to be spread and shared all over the world.
Gray, like  Marx, says that personal freedom is robbed by the free market. A  paradox is created as the single global market now led by American organizations is threatened by globalization. Moreover, the division of labor (which was formed in part by the help of technology) is unstable and with globalization this instability is spreading.

Though globalization means a spreading or sharing of culture, the ideas regarding this concept are far from shared which can clearly be depicted by the different arguments in Marx and Gray’s writings.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1    anthonymunozjr // Feb 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    “However, as Marx continues, he claims that there will eventually be a crisis based on the OVER-production and civilizing done to said societies.”

    I find it amazing that Marx’s insight stands true to this day. Just by viewing the quality of life across the globe versus the one in “Post-Industrialized Nations” cannot make this more clear. What I do find interesting is the influence new technologies have on “barbaric” nations, the warlords in Africa, Afghanistan and so on, which are prime examples of the said inequalities.

  • 2    Prof. Hala // Feb 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Nice work, especially your comparative analysis of Marx and Gray. The point about how Marx saw — and was impressed by — the “revolutionary” role of the middle class in the rise of capitalism is very important and often neglected. And compared with the previous economic system of feudalism, even Marx would agree that there was more freedom in capitalist society.

    On Gray, you put your finger on the key concepts: “He claims that the goal of creating the free market was to do away with social cohesion in the economic world. ” However, this is misstated somewhat. Those whose goal is the expansion of the global market simply did not factor in social consequences at all. It was not their intention to destroy social cohesion; it’s just an unfortunate by-product. This neoliberal economic framework simply does not factor in the social costs, and it assumes that any social costs will be worth it in the long run, which promises greater wealth. But as Keynes memorably said, “In the long run we’re all dead.”

  • 3    peterjun // Feb 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I believe that Marx’s statement about “the robotic way humans will interact. They will focus simply on monetary values and live according to one, Western culture which will eventually be consumed by the obsession with profit.” is still unseen. I believe human beings are too unique to develop into a global society of mono-characteristics and lack of ideals separated from monetary gain. It is easy to be blinded on how the bottom line is the most effective and powerful tool any individual uses to net self worth but i believe compassion in others is the ultimate satisfaction that would lead to any unity. Unfortunately this world is a global proof of how evil it can be when parties go for personal gain and monetary worth.

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