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Not to be confused with Globalization.

Globalism refers to a group of ideologies that advocate the concept of globalization. It tends to advocate for such policies as increases in immigration, free trade, lowering tariffs, interventionism and global governance. It is typically viewed as opposite of nationalism, and has become increasingly divisive in politics in many developed countries, such as the United States.

Definitions and interpretations

Paul James defines globalism at least in its more specific use ... as the [dominant ideology] and subjectivity associated with different historically-dominant formations of global extension. The definition thus implies that there were pre-modern or traditional forms of globalism and globalisation long before the driving force of capitalism sought to colonise every corner of the globe, for example, going back to the Roman Empire in the second century CE and perhaps to the Greeks of the fifth-century BCE.

Manfred Steger distinguishes between different globalisms such as justice globalism, jihad globalism, and market globalism.[1] Market globalism includes the ideology of neoliberalism. In some hands, the reduction of globalism to the single ideology of market globalism and neoliberalism has led to confusion. For example, in his 2005 book The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul treated globalism as coterminous with neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization. He argued that, far from being an inevitable force, globalization is already breaking up into contradictory pieces and that citizens are reasserting their national interests in both positive and destructive ways.

Alternatively, American political scientist Joseph Nye, co-founder of the international relations theory of neoliberalism, generalized the term to argue that globalism refers to any description and explanation of a world which is characterized by networks of connections that span multi-continental distances; while globalization refers to the increase or decline in the degree of globalism.[2] This use of the term originated in, and continues to be used, in academic debates about the economic, social, and cultural developments that is described as globalization.[3] The term is used in a specific and narrow way to describe a position in the debate about the historical character of globalization (i.e. whether globalization is unprecedented or not).

History of the concept

The word itself came into widespread usage, first and foremost in the United States, from the early 1940s.[4] This was the period when US global power was at its peak: the country was the greatest economic power the world had ever known, with the greatest military machine in human history.[5] Or, as George Kennan's Policy Planning Staff put it in February 1948: "[W]e have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. […] Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity".[6] America's allies and foes in Eurasia were, of course, at this time suffering the dreadful effects of World War II.

In their position of unprecedented power, US planners formulated policies to shape the kind of postwar world they wanted, which, in economic terms, meant a globe-spanning capitalist order centered exclusively upon the United States.[7]

The first person in the United States to use the term economic integration in its modern sense (i.e. combining separate economies into larger economic regions) did so at this time: one John S. de Beers, an economist in the US Treasury Department, towards the end of 1941.[8] By 1948, economic integration was appearing in an increasing number of American documents and speeches.[9] Paul Hoffman, then head of the Economic Cooperation Administration, made the most marked use of the term in a 1949 speech to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation.[9] As The New York Times put it,

Mr Hoffmann used the word 'integration' fifteen times or almost once to every hundred words of his speech. It is a word that rarely if ever has been used by European statesmen having to do with the Marshall Plan to describe what should happen to Europe's economies. It was remarked that no such term or goal was included in the commitments the European nations gave in agreeing to the Marshall Plan. Consequently it appeared to the Europeans that "integration" was an American doctrine that had been superimposed upon the mutual engagements made when the Marshall Plan began …[10]

While ideologies of the global have a long history, globalism emerged as a dominant set of associated ideologies across the course of the late twentieth century. As these ideologies settled, and as various processes of globalization intensified, they contributed to the consolidation of a connecting global imaginary.[11] In their recent writings, Manfred Steger and Paul James have theorized this process in terms of four levels of change: changing ideas, ideologies, imaginaries and ontologies.[12]

See also


  1. Steger 2008, p. [page needed].
  2. Nye 2002.
  4. "globalism in American-English corpus, 1800–2000". Google Ngram Viewer. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 

    Compare this with globalism in the British-English corpus, where its appearance is later and much more muted.

  5. Leffler 2010, p. 67.
  6. DoS 1948, p. 524.
  7. Kolko & Kolko 1972.

    One American historian has gone as far as to describe this particular American version of globalism as visionary, in order to highlight its potently ideological nature—indeed, "Washington's most impressive Cold War ideological achievement". Visionary globalism was a far-reaching conception of "American-centric state globalism using capitalism as a key to its global reach, integrating everything that it can into such an undertaking". And "integrating everything" crucially meant global economic integration, which had collapsed under the blows of World War I and the Great Depression. (Peck 2006, p. 19, 21)

  8. Machlup 1977, p. 8.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Machlup 1977, p. 11.
  10. Machlup 1977, p. 11; Veseth 2002, pp. 170–1, where the Times article is reprinted.
  11. Steger 2008.
  12. James & Steger 2010.

Further reading

External links