On globalisation and new visions of our world

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Reading the conclusion to Manfred Steger’s (2009, third edition) Globalisms, I couldn’t help but think of the many dystopian fictions being published at the moment – and the way they might be taught in the classroom… Steger writes:Globalisms

“…in the face of towering global problems like terrorism, nuclear weapons, climate change, poverty, and inequality, it seems that the world desperately needs fundamental change expressed in a fundamentally different vision of what our planet could look like. We have reached perhaps the most critical juncture in the history of our species. Lest we are willing to jeopardize our collective future, we must link the future course of globalization to a global new deal agenda. As we have emphasized throughout this book, there is nothing wrong with greater manifestations of social interdependence that emerge as a result of globalization as long as these transformative social processes address our global problems before it is too late. And we may have less time to act than we think.

The United States of America and rising powers like China, India, and Brazil carry a special responsibility to put their collective weight behind a form of globalization that is not defined by economic self-interest alone but, rather, is deeply infused with ethical concerns for humanity and out natural environment. In order to tackles our global problems, the people of the world need to pressure their political leaders for a global new deal that, in the cosmopolitan vision of British economist George Monbiot, would be sustained by novel global political and economic institutions such as a World Parliament, a Fair Trade Organization, and an International Clearing Union. Monbiot’s plea for the reconsideration of the role of ethics in global politics and economics has been echoed by many prominent spiritual and religious leaders, some of whom have explicitly called for a ‘global ethic’ that would serve as the normative framework for a democratic society. For the Swiss theologian Hans Küng, for example, a global ethic contains four commitments: to a culture of nonviolence and respect for life, to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order, to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness, and to a culture of equal rights, particularly racial and gender equality. The Dalai Lama concurs, adding that imparting [-p.167] a critical mind and a sense of universal responsibility to the young is especially important. Ideals consititute the engine of progress; hence, it is imperative to introduce new generations to an ethical vision for a global society.

For academics and educators, the most obvious step in this effort consists of developing a critical theory of globalization that contests both the script of market globalism and jihadist globalism while subjecting the claims of justice globalism to sustained scrutiny. Indeed, education and the media are key dimensions in any progressive strategy built around the idea that ‘another world is possible.’ Once harmful articulations of the global imaginary and their corresponding power bases in society begin to lose their grip on the construction of meaning, alternative interpretations of globalization can circulate more freely in public discourse. As a result, more and more people will realize that they have a stake in shaping the world they want to live in.

Thus, the three future scenarios laid out in this conclusion remain inextricably intertwined with matters of ideology: the kinds of ideas, values, and beliefs about globalization that shape our communities. It would be imprudent to expect that the great ideological struggle of the twenty-first century will end anytime soon, but it would be equally foolish to bank on humanity’s inability to arrive at general principles that govern the world in a more peaceful, sustainable, and just manner.” (pp.166-167)

Ref: (emphases in blue bold mine) Manfred B Steger (2009)Globalisms: The Great Ideological Struggle of the Twenty-First Century. Third Edition. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Plymouth UK.

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