Globalization - the Debate that isn't

Abstract: Should differences in implementation of the concept optionality be presented as a debate? Ben Mettes, Quintessence's Managing Director, poses this question, in particular regarding any debate about the impact of globalization, to conclude that there is no debate.

A. The Territorial Debate

The article Optionality: beyond Law and Order mentioned differences between DonParagon's Vision of the Future and what has been referred to in this magazine as the Action Man-approach. The above article Optionality: beyond Law and Order speaks of a "territorial debate", referring to a perceived conflict between the inclination of the Action Man-approach to establish a separate "State without government" and DonParagon's trust in globalization as the result of several trends that will eventually cause the Government to lose its relevance everywhere around the world.

Differences between these two visions have been analyzed before, but what was perceived as fundamental conflicts in philosophy often turned out to be mere differences in approach; therefore, it makes sense to analyze whether there is indeed such a "territorial debate".

B. DonParagon's Vision

DonParagon's Vision of the Future describes how the Government as an institution that rules society will eventually collapse in the Mobile Revolution, which will be followed by a Post-Government Era.

What is often regarded as a contributing factor to the fall of the Government that DonParagon foresees, is globalization. The Government derives its power from control over territorial borders, but, by nature, globalization transcends local borders. The question is therefore how the Government, as an institution that rules society, will be affected by such globalization.

C.The Action Man-Approach

Previously, it seemed that debates were developing between what was referred to in this magazine as the Action Man-approach on the one hand and DonParagon on the other hand, on topics such as home-schooling and the Information Society.

The Action Man-approach was expressed as follows in the article The Information Conundrum:
The promise that the 'Information Society' will get rid of dictatorship sounds great. But the Government has no problems with services and information. In fact, the Government portrays itself more as a service provider than as a landlord. Social security, education, health care, diplomatic representation, police andmilitary protection, community services, financial services, legal services, the Government thrives on services. And look at what all these servants are doing in their offces: they are moving files of paper from one cabinet to the other, they are busy with information all the time. The Government still is the biggest user of computers and office equipment. So how valid is this claim that the Government will perish under the weight of information being generated in the 'Information Society'? If anything, it looks like the Government loves it, it devours information and thrives on it.

The shift from an agricultural and industrial society to a society that is more oriented on professional services is a development thatfew people will question. But the question is will it bring down the Government? If anything, it has made it more important for children to submit to the education system to getqualificatioras needed to enter certain occupations.

D.Is there an Argument?

The Action Man approach does not share DonParagon's trust in computers, technology, globalization and cultural shifts, and instead suggests to seek local solutions to obtain more optionality.

Central to the argument of the Action Man-approach is that globalization does not endanger the Government as an institution. Globalization may affect the way the Government rules over a given local territory, but any decrease in local power for the Government may be replaced by supranational government, international treaties or even the unthinkable: a single, global government. The Action Man-approach argues that globalization is not explicitely anti-government and argues that globalization may in fact encourage the establishment of one global government.

This issue has been discussed before in this magazine. The Government's response to the globalization trend is to redefine its laws around services (i.e. the areas that are most obviously affected by globalization) and to harmonize legislation that applies to such services between nations (see Appendix).

DonParagon regards neither the Information Society nor globalization as objectives that should be aimed at as end-goals, as the end-destination of a trend; rather, Don sees globalization as one of a number of processes that are the result of the on-going drive for improvements in efficiency and on-going technological progress and innovation; these processes are more and more forcing the Government to abandon its lust for absolute control over its citizens from its capital city offices; these processes are now forcing the Government to embrace competition policy and capitalism within the framework of multi-party democracy.

In DonParagon's Vision, such changes are global in nature. These changes will eventually take place everywhere in the world as they are irreversible; they will eventually culminate in the Mobile Revolution which will lead to a Post-Government Era characterized by concepts such as creativity, optionality, appreciation, improvisation, versatility and virtuality. In this way and by implication, globalization helps to achieve the ultimate goal of establishing more optionality.

E.Why there is no Debate

Previously, DonParagon said that there was no question of a fierce debate, at most there was a difference in approach, in implementation of the concept optionality.

These differences may also come down to a mere difference in attitude; Don takes an optimistic look at progress in computers and technology in general. The Action Man-approach is less optimistic about such 'progress'.

Also important is the question whether such differences should be perceived as a debate. A debate presumes insurmountable differences in view that rule each other out, that are in conflict with each other; a debate is a fight in which one side is eventually declared the winner and the other side the loser. Such a debate may be an interesting spectacle for some, but any victory is only fabricated by, say, majority vote or a panel of experts.

Two different views should not be put next to each other with the intention to eliminate one of them; the very concept optionality rejects such ranking and selection for the purpose of creating one single winner.

There is nothing wrong with the fact that there are differences between DonParagon's Vision and the Action Man-approach; this magazine loves to present a number of visions to readers; after all, it takes more than one view, before one can express any preferences. More important than convincing others of such preferences is to emphasize the desirability of optionality.


Can Internationalization end Nationalism?

Internationalization increasingly puts the concept of national borders under pressure, but if we leave it up to the Government to define an alternative, the likely result is supra-nationalism that is based on regional trade blocs or - even worse - a single world government.

The Government's response to internationalization is to 'harmonise the law' between nations to preserve its power. As national borders are opening up in areas such as manufacturing, travel, tourism, banking, education, trade and other services, the 'law' is being 'harmonized' within regional trade blocs as well as through organizations such as the WIPO, the OECD and the GATT (now the WTO; ed.), all claiming to open up trade. But stimulation of trade is not the main motivation behind such harmonization. Harmonization does not break down barriers, it merely extends the reach of national law beyond its borders. National borders may be questioned by logic, defied by technology and ignored by economic sense, but it takes optionality to reject them.

[The paragraphs in this appendix are extracted from: Can Internationalization end Nationalism?]


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