Globalisation has significantly reduced the ability of governments to govern. Do you agree? Discuss.
Globalisation, according to Van Acker and Curran (2004), is the process of increasingly international integration and global interchange of trade, markets, products, ideas and other aspects of culture, which is triggered by technological innovations and “underpinned by shifting power relations that sees finance capital as relatively dominant and transnational corporations as very powerful vis-à-vis the nation state” (p.3). It is obvious that globalisation has changed the world dramatically and its profound impacts can be seen in every aspect in our society. It brings about numerous positive influences including creating greater access to goods from all over the world; extending international and intercontinental exchanges, and improving economic development (Baines & Ursah, 2009). However, great opportunities come with great threats. Many studies show that there is a clear connection between globalisation and unemployment and financial crisis; as well as with environmental problems and inequity (Madeley, 2009). Thousands of studies have been done by worldwide experts to analyse its influences upon economy, politics and sociology, yet the results are still highly diversified and paradoxical. Regarding globalisation’s impacts on politics, several scholars have claimed that, besides a number of advantages, it also results in various negative consequences for many countries’ governments (Daalder & Lindsay, 2003; Van der Westhuizen, 2009). This paper strongly argues that globalisation notably weakens the ability of government to govern, especially in terms of the eruption of the internet, and the growth of terrorism – which are considered as by-products of globalisation. The essay also includes an opportunistic effect of globalisation in reducing corruption in certain governments.
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As a product, as well as a catalyst of globalisation, internet is a global system of many independent networks containing unlimited resources of information and services that can be accessed almost everywhere all around the world (Horner, 1997). With nearly three billion users worldwide, however, the rapid expansion of the internet has led to a global crisis of governance (Morozov, 2010). This happens due to the fact that the internet is operated without a central governing authority, as well as the borderless nature of itself (Rose, 2005). Additionally, many scholars argue that the management of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – a private non-profit organisation headquartered in the USA, over the domain name system – a crucial element for the function of the internet, has significantly reduced the power and governing ability of national governments, especially towards communication and information policy (Palfrey, 2004). Obvious examples are misinformation, illegal transaction, online piracy, copyright infringement, espionage, and cyber hacking that occur every second on the internet in which the government is not able to have a full control of (Galicki, Havens, & Pelker, 2014), thus in this case, the government’s ability to govern is lessened and limited so remarkably that it is put on a high risk situation of being attacked.
Another significant example relates to the Titan Rain cyber attack in 2004 in which several United States defence contractor computer systems, including those at NASA, the Lockheed Martin, Redstone Arsenal, and Sandia National Laboratories, were attacked and infiltrated in order to gain illegal access to military intelligence and classified data. This attack is believed to have its origin from Chinese government and is considered as one of the biggest cyber raids in the internet era (Miles, 2011). Another interesting case is the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa since 2010. This massive event, which was triggered partly by the online diplomatic cable leak in November 2010, includes a series of politic activities such as protests, demonstrations, riots, and civil war that led to mass government overthrown and changes throughout the countries of the Arab League and surroundings (Jones, 2012). These activities were extremely well-organised and wildly spread by the effective use of social media and the internet (Jones, 2012). These evidences illustrate how vulnerable national governance can become when confronting with the eruption of the internet and globalisation.
Another challenge of globalisation that reduces government’s governing ability is terrorism. According to Zimmermann (2011), there is a close connection between globalisation and the rapid growth of terrorism globally. The technological revolution and mass media, the interconnectedness between individuals and organisations, migration, all of which are associated with globalisation, play an important role for terror networks to strengthen and enlarge their power internationally. In particular, a globalised trade makes the arms trade more globalised, thus weapons can easily get into the wrong hands (Stohl & Grillot, 2013). Moreover, thanks to technological advancement, the internet, and the high availability of inexpensive hi-tech devices and softwares, many terrorists and terror groups can easily spread fears and improve their impacts worldwide by creating their online existence, popularising videos and footages of terrorist acts such as roadside bombs, beheading, or executions. The use of these means also significantly enhances their communication potential more than ever. The most recent example of this is a series of beheading videos circulated online by a terror group named Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2014 (Porter, 2014). Using these videos with wide coverage, this group were successful in stretching fears and showing to those opposing them, especially the USA and other Western countries, how violent and powerful they are. Another famous case is Mustafa Setmarian Nasar – a first generation terrorist who attempted to accomplish everlasting influences by uploading his terrorist videos on the internet before being arrested in Pakistan in 2006 (Shlapentokh, 2012). These proofs have demonstrated how considerably globalisation can promote terrorism. The question needs to be answered now is how terrorism can negatively affect the capability of governments to govern.
According to Kampf (2014), terrorism is defined as political violence involving political aims and motives from an illicit identifiable organisation, which is designed to generate terror and psychic fear by conducting acts of violence, such as brutal victimisation, and exploitation or non-combatant target massacre, in order to achieve certain desired goals. Such activities, with their intense political consequences, extremely reduce governments’ governing ability in different ways, and at different levels. Numerous recent studies have shown that terrorism can actively affect and shape the course of domestic politics by modifying the preferences of voters and voting behaviour during an electoral campaign. Terrorist activities also have strong impacts on government formation as well as its survival (Indridason, 2008). A salient example for this case is the unexpected victory of the Socialist party over the People’s party – the incumbent governing party, during the Spanish legislative elections in 2004. This surprised outcome is believed due to three terrorist bomb attacks on the Madrid train line that killed and injured hundreds of people, which happened just three days before the Election Day (Indridason, 2008). In addition to those hypotheses, William, Koach and Smith (2012) asserted that terrorist activities also harmfully impact the stability of parliamentary governments. Furthermore, some governments might become too sensitive and their duration could be shortened due to the effects of terror attacks. It is obvious that by contributing to the growth of terrorism, transitively, globalisation with all of its advanced products and components can seriously weaken the governing ability of certain governments, or even make them overthrown.
Nevertheless, one can argue that globalisation can also bring opportunities for stronger governing abilities among certain governments. An important example of such positive impacts relates to reduced corruption, since corruption can threaten the legitimacy of the incumbent government and lead to public dissatisfaction (Seligson, 2002). Many studies have been done to analyse the relations between globalisation and corruption to find out either they are directly or inversely proportional to each other. Interestingly, most of them conclude the latter. By examining data from 127 countries, a research in 2011 claimed that globalisation is a powerful weapon to oppose corruption, especially for those countries with middle and high income (Lalountas, Manolas & Vavouras, 2011). Similar results and findings have been made by Asongu in a recent research in 2014. Additionally, another study conducted in 2001, evaluating information from several countries during a twenty-year long period, demonstrated that the casual connection from openness to corruption is persistent and strong, and that openness can indeed lead to a reduction in corruption (Bussolo, Bonaglia & Braga de Macedo, 2011).
In conclusion, this paper has demonstrated that globalisation has significantly reduced the ability of governments to govern via its by-products such as the internet and by contributing to the growth of domestic and transnational terrorism in different ways. It also mentioned that globalisation can bring opportunities for countries to effectively reduce corruption. However, it cannot be denied that globalisation is an inevitable phenomenon and plays an important role in the development of every country in the world. Thus, it is crucial for governments to learn how to strengthen opportunities created by globalisation and view its many challenges as excellent opportunities to better cooperate with governments on a global scale to produce solutions for global problems, such as terrorism, internet security, sustainability, and global peace. These important areas suggest excellent topic areas for further research.
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