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Earl Conteh-Morgan


The end of the 20th Century and the transition to the 21st is characterized by two simultaneous trends: global political and economic integration processes and national disintegration with broad (in)security implications. Accordingly, the international relations of the new millennium is impelling many analysts to broaden their conception of security to include issues of human security broadly defined. In other words, while internationalization is producing positive effects in some states, it is also generating many negative results in others. The well-documented and publicized ideological resistance towards globalization-Seattle, Prague, the May Day Protests in London, Davos, and the recent World Economic Forum in New York-demonstrate that the benefits of neoliberal internationalism are not equally distributed among individuals, groups, or states that make up the international system. The widening scope and intensification of a global free market is beneficial to some states, but in others it has eliminated a "social contract" between state and society, accompanied by a strong perception that economic globalization is largely a process of "disorganized capitalism." The pervasive nature of these transnational and global forces generate dissatisfaction and multilevel (individual, group, and national) insecurity.

In this paper, I utilize the neo-Gramscian framework to transnational historical materialism to examine this process and provide evidence of specific instances of negative globalization, insecurity, and dissatisfaction within nations. A theory of international relations based on the Gramscian conceptualization of hegemony is useful for a better understanding of the inherently problematic nature of internationalization (Cox, 1981; Robinson, 1996). Stated differently, the aim of this analysis is to explore the relationship between the processes of globalization and the changing nature of human security. Accordingly, the paper will proceed in the following manner: 1) a brief discussion of the relevance of a neo-Gramscian framework in an examination of the relationship between globalization and human (in)security, 2) an analysis of the concept of globalization and its uneven effects on societies in relation to human security, and 3) identify specific instances of human insecurity related to globalization processes. In other words, the analysis will focus on the following questions: What, so far, is the impact of globalization processes on income and poverty in developing countries?; What is human security and how is it affected by the new economics among nations?; and Where and what are some of the specific instances of human insecurity?

Globalization is the widening scope and intensification of socio-economic, political, and cultural activities and their worldwide effects (positive and negative) on individuals, groups, and entire societies. The rapidity and profundity of this interconnectedness is manifested in the expansion and internationalization of financial markets, global corporate management, worldwide epistemic and interpretive communities, newly emerging power relationships derived from changing global investment patterns, and new social constructions of cognition, identity and meaning built upon postmodern global conditions.

Liberalization Policies as Power Relations: the Neo-Gramscian Perspective

This paper utilized a neo-Gramscian perspective and interpretation of International Relations (IR) and International Political Economy (IPE) to critically examine the role of globalization in the human security problematic, especially the increase in economic insecurity in many states. Gramsci uses hegemony as a key concept to underscore the power of material capabilities, ideas, institutions, and other socio-economic and cultural forces in ensuring legitimacy for the ruling class vis-à-vis the subordinate class. When a consensus, or form of consent between the two is fully fashioned, a hegemonic order is said to be in existence. When this hegemonic order is firmly in place, it develops into a "historic bloc" which is the solid structure that is produced by an existing hegemonic order (Gramsci, 1971). Its role is to cement or bind together all the other segments of society into a relationship characterized by common political, economic, and cultural practices.

The works of Gramsci have been especially applied by the "Italian School" to analyze global politics through an emphasis on concepts like hegemony and historic bloc which are viewed as corresponding to political and economic internationalization. Both concepts are equally manifested in global 'norms' and expectations about political-economic interactions, which constitute a kind of global 'common sense,' or popular beliefs, institutions, and assumptions. In particular, Robert Cox (1993) argues that the global community is subject to impositions about how the global and/or national political economy should operate . These global hegemonic impositions often originate from forces within a powerful state or from a crisis/challenge within the previous hegemonic order. Once a hegemonic order is consolidated, its dominant mode of production coalesces with other subordinate modes of production. The outcome is the establishment of an international civil society characterized by adherence to homogenous rules and regulations as well as the strengthening of links between the social classes of the countries that comprise the historic bloc.

A Gramscian framework is relevant in the analysis of globalization's impact on human security because the benefits, or lack thereof, of international economic liberalization is a question of power relations among states in the international system. Moreover, while a Gramscian analysis underscores the analytical relevance of power relations, it also emphasizes the pertinence of culture to hegemonic contestations. In other words, for a hegemony to be consolidated, religious and political values which include institutions must be entrenched within an ideology or reflect both elite and mass values in order for the institutions produced by that ideology to be successful. Ideology is defined in Gramscian analysis as organic cement or social glue that integrates institutions as well as societal and state apparatuses, as opposed to a system of ideas. From a neo-Gramscian or transnational historical materialist perspective, globalization and its human security impact on developing countries reflects the cultural and moral as well as economic dominance of the hegemonic states which constitute a ruling class within international society made up of developed and developing states. The ongoing process of globalization, especially its economic component, reflects a particular set of class interests (those of the advanced industrial states) as the general interest.

In Gramscian analysis, hegemony is viewed as a negotiated process because dominant groups must secure the consent of subordinate social forces in order to guarantee the legitimate rule of the former. When challenges to the hegemonic order erupt from the subordinate groups, the dominant groups attempt to accommodate such challenges through material concessions, co-opting the discourse of challengers, and integrating moderate groups into the coalition of the hegemonic bloc while marginalizing more radical elements. All these methods ensure that no fundamental changes in social relations occur between the dominant and subordinate groups.

In addition to hegemony being negotiated and therefore not completely stable, it is also characterized by dynamism in the sense that changes in markets, technologies, relative power positions, or ideologies can undermine the stability of an historic bloc by introducing crisis triggered by challenges to the existing alliances and arrangements. The organizational competence and political will of subordinates determine whether the historic bloc maintains hegemony through "passive revolution" (granting concessions, co-optation) or undergoes a more profound social change from below in which subordinate groups replace existing cultural expressions and social institutions with new ones which eventually undermine the historic bloc (Gramsci, 1971). The Gramscian concept of hegemony thus suggests that globalization does not translate into an unchallenged drive toward economic and political internationalization where the nation state becomes a mere vehicle for the transmission of global capital, but rather a highly contested process in which nation states may experience disintegration due to the lack of a "social contract" or increasing insecurity/misery on the part of individuals, groups, and entire societies.

Transnational historical materialism underscores the role and functions of international institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Economic Forum, the Trilateral Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank, among others, as constituting a transnational hegemonic bloc which binds together both developed and developing states and both elite and masses. In combination, they constitute a global alliance of capitalists, state managers and intellectuals characterized by common material and ideological structures. Their goal is unrestricted internationalization of markets and trade interactions in general. While the role of transnational capital is central in the construction of this transnational hegemonic bloc, the national state is seen as playing a major mediating role. The dominance of the transnational hegemonic bloc is ensured because the nation-state is willing to or "coerced" into adopting the fiscal and monetary policy necessary to maintain economic stability and social control. It is only through the successful integration of the international and national realms can capitalist internationalization be effected. However, in the alliance between the national and the supranational, the national state clearly assumes and plays a subordinate role.

Robert Cox (1987) describes the role of the state in the internationalization of global capital this way:

First, there is a process of interstate formation regarding the need or requirements of the world economy that takes place within a common ideological framework - Second, participation in this consensus formation is hierarchically structured. Third, the internal structures of states are adjusted so that each can best transform the global consensus into national policy and practice.

However, where the "weak" developing state is concerned, its role could more accurately be described as "coerced consent" rather than willing participation. Whether willing or coerced, the nation state is more or less an appendage or instrument of the global economic consensus to implement the goals of dominant capital. In this era of globalization, the nation state is, in varying degrees, being bypassed by the hegemonic class through an array of international financial institutions and a web of economic relationships. All are utilized in the process of imposing and implementing the national agenda. The weak, developing state especially acts on behalf of international financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, who supply the funds that guarantee the legitimacy of or ensure the neopatrimonial ties of state leaders. The consequence is an emerging world culture glued together by a common rhetoric focused on issues of economic liberalization, democratization, the environment, human rights, and the like.

Globalization and Human Security

The transition to the 21st Century is characterized by glaring differences in the levels of development among states along with the widening scope and intensification of economic, political, and cultural interdependence. This internationalization of politico-economic and socio-cultural processes designated by the term "globalization" has two effects: positive and negative (Heredia, 1997). In particular, the level of economic globalization is moving at such a rapid pace that it is, in many states, adversely affecting the status quo. The leading role in this transnational flow of goods, services, and capital is played by an elite group of countries (known as the G-7), who are in league with international financial organizations and corporations. Under their hegemony, the vast majority of the other states must acquiesce to politico-economic prescriptions shaped almost entirely without their input.

Human insecurity (broadly defined as existential anxiety/ontological insecurity) whether at the individual, group, or national level is a consequence of rapid socio-economic and political changes inherent in globalization and accompanied, in varying degrees, by a deepening of unequal power structures both at the national and international levels. The eruption of violent conflicts is, at times, an attempt to address human economic existential anxiety caused by globalization's destruction of the "social contract" between state and society resulting in loss of economic support systems. According to the 1994 Human Development Report

Human security is people-centered. It is concerned with how people live and breathe in a society, how freely they exercise their many choices, how much access they have to market and social opportunities-and whether they live in conflict or in peace (United Nations Development Programme, 1994: 24).

In other words, human insecurity broadly conceived affects not just economic security but other areas of existence as well. This is why the first major reference to human security in 1994 identified seven areas of concern. These are the following (United Nations Development Programme, 1994:32):

1. economic security (e.g., assurance of a basic income),
2. food security (e.g., access to food),
3. health security (e.g., access to health care and protection from diseases),
4. environmental security (e.g., protection from harmful effects of environmental degradation,
5. personal security (e.g., freedom from threats by the state, groups, or individuals),
6. community security (e.g., freedom from harmful community practices, ),
7. political security (e.g., enjoyment of human rights, and freedom from political oppression).

As globalization increases the level of prosperity, so also is poverty becoming globalized.
The developing nations are perennially at the receiving end of economic models emanating from industrialized states and international financial institutions. The transmitted models (classical and neo-classical development models) and their elements of profit maximization, the invisible hand, rugged individualism, and the like have often destabilized and confused many developing states (Williams, 1997). In other words, the impact of economic globalization on many developing economies has often resulted in limited benefits to the majority of individuals, groups, or society. For the developing world, transnational capital as well as the acquiescence and/or "coerced consent" to adopt Western economic models has exacerbated deeply-rooted structural problems. The outcome is very slow or negative growth rates, markedly skewed distribution of income, and widespread poverty.

However, while the economies of the developing nations are adversely affected by hegemonic economic impositions, those of the G-7 nations and their advanced states have institutionalized important social welfare measures (homestead acts, a common agricultural policy, price support mechanisms, tax holiday, social security, and subsidies) to offset or forestall the most painful effects of globalization. In addition to the absence of human security measures within developing states, they are also constrained by several limitations such as the institutionalized patron-client networks based on parochial and selfish inclination, and the socio-cultural and political dilemmas that stem from the transnational imposition of values inherent in economic liberalization. For example, while the reduction in government expenditure, devaluation, and liberalization of the national economy and international trade that accompany structural adjustment programs are expected to tackle the problems of inflation and the balance of payments deficit by changing the incentive structure, they also have a wider impact on society, especially its immediate impact on the poor (Messkoub, 2001). A reduction or elimination in food subsidies affect the nutritional intake of children in poor households, in addition to destabilizing the opportunity structure for the varied individuals, groups, and classes in society.

As a result of economic liberalization policies, in the general area of basic needs (education, health, social security, and housing). The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 1990 reported that in Tanzania real public expenditures in 1986 were less than half of 1975 expenditures. In particular, economic adjustment programs affected, in varying degrees, individuals and groups in relation to income distribution and basic needs. In the area of education, a UNICEF (1990) report said:

The number of children seen on the main roads and the streets of Dar es Salaam and in other towns has increased dramatically. Until recently, the phenomenon of street children was unknown in Tanzania. many of the children are selling bread and other commodities to make money for themselves and for their families.

In other words, the once respectable Tanzanian educational system has been adversely affected by the economic crisis and adjustment policies prescribed by the hegemonic state and non-state actors.

The human security experience of poor countries associated with economic globalization underscores the limitations of the new historic bloc and its hegemonic order, which seem, so far, to be meaningless to many individuals and groups in poor countries. This experience in the developing world is pertinent with Warren Robinson's observation that:

The relaxation of social controls over markets, the presence of even a handful of sharp, ruthless, essentially amoral operators, and normal competitive processes will inevitably lead to the worst, most unscrupulous practices becoming the norm (West Africa, 1997:671).

While liberalization policies are being diffused globally, they are at the same time producing dissimilar effects depending on the socio-economic and cultural context. The interactions of the local and the global are having serious economic, food, health, community, and other security concerns in many developing societies.

The decreasing involvement of government in citizens' welfare is not being replaced by other safeguards or means of alleviating insecurity in developing countries. The vacuum created by the forces of liberalization contributes to a process of atomization manifested in psychological uncertainty or a loss of security attachment to government. This process in turn produces a resurgence of primordial sentiments because of the ideological absence fostered by an authoritarian vacuum. The consequence is inter-group tensions along ethnolinguistic, ethnoreligious, ethnoregional, or class lines. Uncertainty/anxiety is produced because the norms of privatization and personal responsibility for welfare destroy old ways that, at least, guarantee a modicum of social welfare. In the process, communal values are eliminated in favor of individualistic, impersonal behavior patterns.

The intensification of group rivalries translates into competition even within families, where before there was cooperation and community. The previous values of free sharing are replaced by an emphasis on individuality and putting a monetary value to everything, including relationships. In the end, the family relationships are weakened. While the transition from primary allegiance to the family unit, community, ethnic, or tribal group to primary allegiance to the state may be beneficial in the long-run, in the short-run it causes a great deal of psychological uncertainty, problems of material deprivation, and general social dislocation.

Human security broadly defined is adversely affected when economic marginalization of the general population is fueled by the rising militancy of local strongmen who have forfeited an economically advantageous patron-client infrastructure due to economic and political liberalization measures. Often armed warlords or bandits fight against the government for control of natural resources. Such control provides a substantial political base for these local strongmen as various economically disadvantaged groups begin to regard them as better able to support their economic needs (Foreign Systems Research Center, 1998). The eruption of resource wars within a country severely destroys community security because traditional practices are disrupted, ethnic groups are targeted, and individual physical security is affected.

Most significant, direct control of the revenue producing natural resources also gives local strongmen the financial assets to buy weapons and build paramilitary forces to protect their economic territory against government forces and other warlords. Resource struggles which breed warlordism have produced conflicts and established the basis for the irregular nature of subsequent warfare in developing countries. In irregular warfare, combatants often perpetuate violence and cruelty against not only each other but the civilian population as well (White, 1996). Motivations of the combatants (most of whom have experienced years of either political, economic and other deprivations) were often based on factors other than politics. For them, instant economic gratification is seen in their ability to pillage and loot the countryside. At times, in these conflicts, the distinction between professional soldier and rebel fighter becomes blurred. In the Sierra Leone conflict, for example, close to 50 per cent of some 14,000 soldiers became soldier-rebels ("sobels") who operated on both sides of the conflict, motivated by their own economic self-interest or personal gratification. Warlordism produces more misery because governments are forced to spend an overwhelming amount of resources to contain warlords, leaving insufficient amounts to provide government services to its constituents (Reno, 1998). Second, by controlling substantial components of the country's economic resources, these groups deprive the government of significant sources of revenue necessary to conduct counterinsurgency.

The globalization of democracy in developing countries has equally contributed to human insecurity in some countries. While political rights and freedom from political oppression, is desirable, the spread of democratic values has simultaneously and quite ironically produced societal instability. As some states experience an improvement in political or civil liberties, they shortly thereafter experience civil strife (e.g. the former Yugoslavia and the conflict between Russia and the ethnic separatist Chechens). In Burundi, a candidate from the long oppressed Hutu majority won presidential elections in 1993, only to be overthrown in a bloody Tutsi-led military coup that left some 50,000 dead. The increasing press freedom in neighboring Rwanda preceded the 1994 Rwandan genocide that left roughly 800,000 Tutsi dead along with some moderate Hutus (Steering Committee on Rwanda, 1996).

As the old patterns of behavior are undermined by the new hegemony based on liberalization of power relations, emotional anxieties at the personal, group, or community levels increase. The transition from the previous political status quo to the new one is often the initiative of the power elite who acquiesce to the new hegemonic order and impose it on their citizens with little direct and substantial participation from them.

In situations where violence does not occur as a result of political liberalization, the state may respond to liberal political behavior by strengthening its internal security apparatus and may resort to indiscriminate political repression. This behavior of the state is likely to directly impact personal security because it may produce state violence and terror in the form of torture, arrests, incarceration, and even executions.

The spread of economic and political liberalization policies and their human security implications are producing a new form of social alienation. Societies that were once traditional, community-oriented, informal, and personal are now suddenly exposed to the formal, abstract character of modern institutions, the economic detachment of the state, and a more competitive political economy. According to Peter L. Berger (1998:3-11), this generates "homelessness".

The de-modernizing impulse, whether it looks backwards into the past or forward into the future, seeks a reversal of the modern trends that have left the individual 'alienated' and beset with the threats of meaninglessness. For developing countries in particular, the new hegemony, because of its scope and intensity, has produced emotional stress in individuals, groups, and entire societies related to the breakdown of hierarchical structures that guaranteed a modicum of social welfare before the introduction of macrostructural changes associated with globalization. The psychological effect on individuals and groups is described thus by Anthony Giddens (1991:33)

Modernity, it might be said, breaks down the protective framework of the small community and of tradition replacing these with many larger, impersonal organizations. The individual feels bereft and alone in a world in which she or he lacks the psychological supports and the sense of security provided by more traditional settings.

In other words, globalization is in a way synonymous with Westernization or modernization which generates economic, psychological, or cultural deprivations in varying degrees. The effects of globalization are oppressive to many individuals, groups, or communities because of the steady increase in poverty, hunger (food insecurity), disease (health insecurity), and violent conflicts (community insecurity), among others. The developing state with its limited sovereignty has been further reduced to a mere conformative politico-economic and cultural entity, since it is merely a weak link in the new hegemonic structure. The new order is so pervasive in its effect that there is no place for a different ideology.

Implications of Globalization as Westernization

Some researchers may disagree with the argument that globalization has not improved human security for most of the developing world. They would instead contend that it is misrule, inefficiency or misdirected state policies that prevent the positive effects of glocalization to reach most segments of the population in developing states. However, in terms of globalization effects, it makes more sense to argue that the human security failures linked to corruption and inefficiency in poor nations are due more to the detrimental aspects of the cultural-attitudinal lag between the introduction of globalization (westernization) models and changes in elite and mass attitudes. For example, Westernization (formerly colonization), and now globalization with its neo-colonial overtones, contributes to clientele networks in developing countries based on ethnicity and corruption. The cultural values associated with globalization are seen as foreign to many developing nations which are deeply attached to more traditional cultural values (Seligson, 1998). While hard work is an attribute in many developing nations, the values of punctuality, achievement-orientation, and other "industrial" characteristics are ingredients to ensure the effective results of economic liberalization in poor countries.

Many analysts equally argue that "modern" values will emerge naturally as the result of a global process of diffusion of values conducive for holistic development. The question is how long do developing societies have to wait before these value changes occur? In the meantime, their populations are being inundated by globalization processes from the advanced industrial countries. Attitudes and value changes that underlie collective and individual modernity correspond to behavioral changes at the institutional and general societal levels. The problem of institutionalized clientele networks linked to rampant corruption and misrule, for example, are a symptom of the existence of psychic, mental, and other barriers to effective modernization in many countries (Inkeles and Smith, 1974). Transplanted institutions, models, and strategies take time to be internalized, if ever. The development literature is replete with examples of the failure of such transplantation, such as import-substitution industrialization.

The external introduction of globalization trends by the international power elite with the support of internal elites will be tantamount to wasted efforts unless there are "modernized," active and informed citizens to ensure a close correspondence between societal values and new processes. The realization of such a modern situation often involves freedom based on the absence of constraints from external actors and forces. Freedom from constraining external models plus attitudes and values conducive to globalization (westernization/modernization) are necessary conditions to growth in (GNP) Gross National Product (economic efficiency) and good governance (distributional efficiency and political liberalization).

Furthermore, apart from the cultural lag between globalization and attitudinal change in developing countries, there is also the relations produced by the global market that are at the expense of the poor markets. This institutionalized economic and political inequality that is part of the international political economy reinforces dependence, limits the development of poor markets, and constrains their cultural and technical capacity, which then affects the overall human security dimension of their societies. The limitations imposed on the markets of poor countries is particularly reflected in the transfer of their resources to the advanced and dominant countries. The consequence is deepening inequality, institutionalized inefficiency, and at times violence in developing countries.

Global inequality produced by globalization processes have had a long-term effect starting with colonial dependence which permanently relegated developing countries to a subordinate status in the global economy. What began as colonial dependence has now expanded to include financial-industrial dependence characterized by ever deepening foreign-oriented development and technological-industrial dependence (Dos Santos, 1970). Both the international relations and the internal structures of developing countries have been conditioned to serve the markets of the dominant nations in the areas of production, capital accumulation, the reproduction of the economy, and in social and political behavior.

Globalization and Human Insecurity: Some Evidence

The rapid pace of globalization has not alleviated the scope and rate of poverty in developing regions. If anything, poverty and its adverse human security effects is becoming more pervasive. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), approximately 1 billion go hungry every day, and about 1 billion are illiterate. Well over a billion people lack access to safe water, and nearly a third of people in least developed countries are not expected to live to the age of 40. Women constitute 70 percent of the world's poor (United Nations Development Programme, 1997).

In other words, almost one-third of the developing world's population (about 1.3 billion people) lives in a state of what the UNDP describes as a state of income poverty, or subsisting on the equivalent of less than one U.S. dollar a day. One-fourth lives in human poverty, lacking the basics for a decent life. Asia and Africa have most of the people who are either income poor or characterized by human poverty, or both. In Latin America, income poverty is growing at a rapid pace. According to 1997 data, in the transition economies of Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the number of people living below the poverty line (estimated at four U.S. dollars per day) increased from four million to 120 million-or one-fourth of the total population-in less than 10 years. The intense globalization of the late 20th Century and early 21st Century is characterized by growing income disparity and rising poverty. Even in industrialized countries, in 1994 more than 100 million people were estimated to live in poverty, with an estimated 37 million jobless.

Globalization has serious human security implications for some members of the world community. While it creates opportunities for some, it exposes others to the detrimental effects of its liberalization policies. In the last two decades of the 20th century gaps in economic development among countries has widened. While the 20 percent of the earth's population who live in advanced industrial countries account for 86 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the 20 percent who live in the poor countries account for a mere one percent (Bogomolov, 2000). Even in the so-called Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs), designated as such because of their rapid economic growth in the 1980s, globalization is not enhancing human security for most. In Thailand, for example, according to the Human Development Report (United Nations Development Programme, 1996), the income gap is getting wider. In 1960, the average income of agricultural households was about one-sixth the average income of other sectors. By the 1990s, the difference had grown to one twelfth. In 1988, the top 20 percent of the population enjoyed 54.2 percent of national income while the bottom 20% owned 4.6 percent. In 1996, the gap had further widened (Ekachai, 2000a).

Even in the environmental security area, in 1994 a study of water resources in Thailand found 81 percent of all reservoir water to be contaminated by DDT (Bangkok Post, October 8, p. 5). This is because the country was engaged in the green revolution to increase farm productivity, and this entailed the extensive use of farm chemicals. The heavy reliance on pesticides in Thailand and other countries is linked to globalization and its emphasis on free trade. The consequence is that MNCs have been given carte blanche in the fragile economies of developing countries. Most of the 40 major pesticide and herbicide producers in Thailand are multinationals.

In many countries, the majority of workers employed by multinationals as a result of globalization processes are low paid and have little job security. Whilst the multinationals gain in terms of profits, locals are overworked, tainted with pesticides, and have produced fruits full of pesticide residue. According to the Public Health Ministry in Thailand, pesticide-related illnesses increased seventeen-fold in the period 1988-1993 (Ekachai, 2000b).
Developing countries lose a great deal of revenue from tax exemptions for multinationals. The loss of revenue from tax exemptions grew from an estimated $45.4 million in 1991 to $340 million in 1995(Kolko, 2001). While the world GNP may be increasing, it is not being equitably distributed. The former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Michael Camdessus, emphasized in the keynote address to the 10th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that:

The greatest concern of our time is poverty... It is the ultimate systematic threat facing humanity. The widening gaps between rich and poor within nations... is morally outrageous, economically wasteful, and potentially socially explosive. If the poor are left hopeless, poverty will undermine the fabric of our societies through confrontation, violence, and civil disorders (Bangkok Post, 2000).

In other words, globalization and its adverse effects on individuals, groups, and entire societies threaten human security in all its ramifications, since any outbreak of civil strife affects not just physical security but environmental, political, and other securities as well.

Ethnopolitical conflicts and other types of organized violence by rebel groups could often be interpreted as efforts by, and an alliance of, the deprived, dissatisfied, and other groups supportive of revolutionary change. Such struggles for hegemonic control underscores the relationship of civil society to the state and the relationship of politics, ethics, and ideology to production. In neo-Gramscian terms, the developing society is today an internationalized entity in the sense that the administrative, executive, and coercive apparatus of developing state governments are in effect constrained by the hegemony of advanced industrial countries, and the leading classes (beneficiaries of globalization) within them.

Most of the human insecurity that continues to affect developing countries is, in fact, related to the dual nature of power (consent and coercion) in both national and international politics. Hegemony is prevalent to the extent that the consensual aspect of power binds together both state and external actors. Coercion as an aspect of power is often used as a last resort and is often applied only to deviant entities, or rogue states. Relations of dominance an subordination thus persist because hegemony is often sufficient to ensure political, economic, and social conformity of behavior in most nation-states and population groups, most of the time. Hegemony thus cements unequal actors at all levels: local, national, and global.

Human insecurity is likely to continue in most developing countries because of the lack of any effective civil society that, in Gramscian military analogies, can initiate wars of movement and of position. In many developing states a weak civil society, coupled with a lack of bourgeois hegemony, results in incapacity for meaningful adaptation and effective resolution of human security problems. In many developing countries, in other words, the state and its external sponsors, are still very powerful vis-à-vis a weak civil society. In the West, where globalization processes and developments emanate, the state often confronts a sturdy and powerful civil society. The many civil wars that erupt in the developing world end up causing more misery and disrupting entire societies. These wars (Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Angola, and Democratic Republic of Congo) are often ethnic based and premature attacks on the state and the new historic bloc, and therefore end up being defeated and entrenching state hegemony vis-à-vis weak civil society.

The developing nations are societies which have either imposed on themselves and/or had a new order thrust on them from abroad, without the old order having been displaced. These societies are at times caught up in a dialectic of revolution-restoration which tend to become blocked as neither the new forces nor the old could triumph. The introduction and effect of globalization as changes have had a passive effect on developing societies. The consequence is an historic bloc characterized by more individualism and competition, less government, existential insecurity and anxiety on the part of individuals, groups and entire societies.

The equality, exclusion, and rampant globalization unfolding in developing societies is a result of the political and economic acquiescence of developing state governments to external impositions. In the maquiladoras of Mexico, many of the impoverished workers blame their economic and health struggles on the Mexican state which has crushed union movements and allowed companies to violate national and international laws (Stackhouse, 1999). The state thus becomes an instrument of transnational capital and the local implementation of the new hegemonic order. In Ciudad Juarez the adverse effects of globalization are seen in the dusty and smog-shrouded shantytowns, and people living in squalor and abject poverty. The standard of living is progressively degenerating as poverty increases. For example, in 1995 one day's minimum wage in Mexico could purchase 44.9 pounds of tortillas or 2.24 gallons of milk. In 1999 the new minimum wage could buy only 16.9 pounds of tortillas or 1.4 gallons of milk (Stackhouse, 1999).

In sum, the evidence from other regions and countries of the developing world indicates that globalization is associated with a serious maldistribution of wealth generated by global markets. So far, the evidence shows increasing inequality and growing poverty and a widespread lack in the basics for a decent life.


The indicators of poverty and inequality reveal that the neoliberal theory of globalization is aggravating issues of food, health, personal, and other insecurities in developing nations. The adverse effects produced by the end of the "social welfare contract" between state and society sharply reduced the controlling role of government institutions and thereby produced individual and group insecurities that in turn degenerate into ethnoregional, class, and other tensions. The consequence in some states has been civil strife, state collapse, or multiple sovereignties. The new hegemonic order (with its structure and ideology) primarily benefits the interests of developed countries and the profit motive of multinationals. What is therefore needed is "responsible globalization" and "inclusion," or the political and economic will to bring into the globalization order and the new international political economy those now excluded. The new economics is causing misery even in industrialized countries where income inequality and job insecurity are increasing at a steady pace. While the developing state is increasingly being integrated into the world economy through the policies of external hegemony, it is at the same time being marginalized in terms of the benefits of globalization. The economic marginalization of the developing state may be responsible for the assertion of ethnic, religious, and other identities that produce civil strife in some countries.

The nature of the global political economy and the relative power of actors that compete within it must be significant components of any judgements concerning the efficacy of any globalization processes, or distortions engendered by them. Inegalitarian economies yield inegalitarian social structures and human security dilemmas. Hegemonic interests control the globalization-related growth centric approaches that are very resistant to redistribution. Such tendency creates greater long-term inequalities and at the same time the lack of political and economic will to reduce them. The consequence is resistance in developing countries that further affect human security.


Bangkok Post. 2000. "Former IMF Chief on Poverty." February 14, p. 3.

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