“DIGITAL GLOBALIZATION: A GLOBAL SECURITY ASSET OR THREAT?”
In the second decade of the 21st century, globalization has undeniably made the world accessible through social networking and digital commerce. Globalization as defined by Webster is; the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets. There’s a lot of conjecture and speculation on who first coined the term but it became popularized by Harvard economist Theodore “Ted” Levitt in his Harvard Business Review article, “Globalization of Markets.1” Globalization enhanced in practicality after the destruction of the Berlin Wall in Germany in November of 1989 and the eventual dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991. The reason being is because of the bipolarity of global power after World War II entering into the Cold War Era between the United States and the Soviet Union. The war of ideology and global hegemony was between the United States who fought relentlessly to internationalize the ideals of individualism, capitalism and liberal-democracy and the United Social Soviet Republics (the U.S.S.R.) whose focus was defending its expansionism with the ideals of socialism, collectivism and redistribution. The majority of countries through out the globe were satellites of either of the two political superpowers as decolonization occurred through out Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean Islands with newly independent nation-states choosing between which superpower will sponsor them. The aforementioned point is sometimes referred to as the dependency theory and this was coined by political economists, Hans Singer and further expounded on by Raul Prebisch. The dependency theory implicates that wealthy and prosperous countries of the industrial world controlled and capitalized on the cheap labor, markets and abundant resources of the contradictorily poor and “periphery” countries.2
When the United States was victorious in the Cold War and became the unipolar Superpower towards the conclusion of the 20th century, there were various countries that were in precarious, unstable and vulnerable conditions due to a plethora of reasons that is beyond the scope of this essay. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, over 400 international armed conflicts ensued causing the militarization of non-state actors to fulfill their basic societal needs and/or inclinations that their governments were complacent in fulfilling for their relative constituencies and countries3. An incontrovertible reason of why countries in Africa, Latin America and the geo-politically designated Middle East have a lot of rouge, weak and failed states is generally because of the systematic mismanagement of resources, cronyism and corruption of political heads of state. Additionally, the United States administered and sponsored covert operations in developing countries in order to fortify and advance their geo-political interests. United States agencies and its contractors interfered into the domestic affairs of multiple countries in various regions causing the overthrowing and destabilization of governments who were antithetical to the interests of the United States’ foreign policy, national security and/or economic interests of Western plutocrats also known as the power elite. This caused the assassination, incarceration and kidnapping of activists and political heads of state which eventually lead to dictatorial regimes violating the human rights of its populations supposedly in the name of democracy and the free market (and I will expound on empirical events which substantiates my perspective in future).
During the 1990s when the so -called “Third World countries” were living perilously from the avaricious policies from Washington and Moscow, the “Dot Com Boom” or the Digital Revolution was born. The digital revolution occurred ubiquitously with the height of globalization in which multi national corporations based in the Western Hemisphere enhanced their pillaging of countries with opulent and national resources for the purpose of enhancing their wealth at the expense of impoverished and conquered men, women and children. International Governmental Organizations (I.G.O.s) like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund worked unilaterally with multi national corporations and Western Governments to ensure the prosperity of the Western countries and the augmentation of poverty in developing countries.
Optimistically, globalization made people in divergent countries and hemispheric locations closer than ever. Aviation, television and mailing are not the only means to knowing occurrences in another geo-political designation on the ground. The simple Wi-Fi username and password has become the digital passport to any corner of the globe. In the Age of Digital technology and social networking, one doesn’t have to rely on the adulterated and heavily funded traditional forms of media to obtain their information like television and the traditional tangible newspaper. The traditional forms of media are immersed with propaganda and subjective interpretations of the truth in order to maintain order, consensus and stability among the general population so that the rich could become stronger, while the middle and poor classes could become weaker. Instead, through social networking, you arguably have the decentralization and democratization of content, media and propaganda. According to Nielsen’s Total Audience Report, the average person watched about 147 hours of television per month in the 3rd quarter of 2013 and the following year, the average person only watched 141 hours of television per month4. Also according to the aforementioned report between 2011-2015, third quarter viewers between the ages of 18-24 years has decreased by 35%5!
In this millennial age, the utilization of the Internet and social networking has increased and everyone who has accessibility to a computer has a platform to syndicate their perspective about themselves or the world around them. It is conspicuous that mainly in the Western world, we live what some may coin “a high tech and low touch” society in which digital interactions are super-ceding physical interactions. Henceforth, globalization is not just an economic manifestation but is additionally one that affects communication. Studies from the International Telecommunications Union show that 3.2 billion people globally utilize the Internet on the daily basis and Internet users6. Hence, Internet users make up to 40% of the world’s population. Yet through the technological advancement of humanity, globalization has its pros and it’s inevitable cons. The globalization of communication via social networking outlets like Facebook and Twitter catalyzed to the rapidity of idea syndication and the mobilization of people to agitate and protest against governments who have exploited their citizens. Social networking played a pivotal role in the Arab Spring of 2011 that catapulted revolutions and protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso and various other countries. Concomitantly, social networking has mobilized and politicized the African American population here in the United States of America in response to the criminalization and homicides of innocent African Americans like Sean Bell, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott and countless other casualties to state sponsored discriminatory policing. Once again the exponential coverage and efficient streaming of acts of racism has evoked emotion and awareness of the persistent struggles of the African American to a global platform even in the age of the United States’ First Black President, President Barack Obama.
The ostensible con of digital globalization is the militarization of Internet users who eventually enlist into terrorist organizations like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and Al Qaeda. Users globally are manipulated to take on a Hobbesian view of the state of human nature, which is “short, brutish, poor, dark and solitary” according to British philosopher in Thomas Hobbes in his political philosophical book The Leviathan that was written in 1651. Eventually, these Internet users become manipulated by people like Abu Bakr al-Bagdaddi, the late Osama Bin-Laden and Anwar Awalakki to join these terrorist organizations for the purpose of supposedly fulfilling religious prophesy at the expense of millions of innocent lives. We have seen these terrorist organizations capitalize on the radical indoctrination of “radical Islam” via the Internet with the exponential increase of terrorist websites from less than 100 to over 4,800 in two years7. Additionally, there are white supremacists like the misguided, villainous and ignominious Dylann Roof who’s step mother was said that “he was led astray by 'internet evil” before he arbitrarily murdered 9 African Americans in Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina including United States Senator and Pastor Clementa Pinckney8. What we are noticing is that the globalization of communications has its pros along with its cons and it is up to positive values to become edified, strengthened and potentiated via digital platforms to cause positive changes within the ethos and axiology of society. The engineers of social change should be immersed in music, literature, art and cinema along with all areas of human interaction. The enhancement of positive value system would eventually stabilize, atomize and attenuate the negativity that indoctrinate and militarize the minds of a lot of psychologically vulnerable people. In closing, if we as global citizens in the private and public sectors don’t empower relative global institutions that are engineers of justice, equality, peace and autonomy, then this world will become increasingly calamitous with enhanced violence and anonymity. In closing, become conscientious and aware of yourself and the world around you experientially and scholastically. Next, empower institutions that are in the best interest of the greater good and safety of the people instead of patronizing the systems that are for the oppression and destruction of the humanity.
Barnaby J. Feder “Theodore Levitt, 81, Who Coined the Term ‘Globalization’ Is Dead”, The New York Times, 7th of July, 2006 available here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/06/business/06levitt.html?_r=0
Edger J. Dosman “The Life and Times of Raul Prebich: 1901-1986” Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 2010), 242.
Calculated from the UCPD/PRIO Armed Conflict Dataset and Codebook version 4-2015.
Victor Luckson “Fewer People Than Ever Are Watching TV”. TIME, 3rd of December, 2014 available: http://time.com/3615387/tv-viewership-declining-nielsen/
Nielsen Audience Report An Uncommon Sense to the Comsumer “The Total Audience Report” Quarter 3, 10thDecember, 2015 available here: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2015/the-total-audience-report-q3-2015.html.
International Telecommunications Union “ICT Facts and Figures- The World in 2015.” Available here: http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2015.pdf
Eben Kaplan “Terrorists and the Internet”. The Council on Foreign Relations. 8th of January, 2009 available here: http://www.cfr.org/terrorism-and-technology/terrorists-internet/p10005
Daniel Bates “Charleston shooter Dylann Roof’s step-mother reveals he was a church-going kid”. Daily Mail, 20th of June available here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3132886/Woman-raised-accused-Charleston-shooter-Dylann-Roof-says-led-astray-Internet-evil.html