Globalization is one of the most pressing challenges of the modern epoch. It is clear that the world changes with the tendency to become very interrelated and strongly unified in contrast to previous times when the natural borders were much more important, and that separated nations and continents. With the technical development that improved all spheres of social life, it became possible to discuss such phenomenon as a global society with its specific characteristics. At the same time, it is obvious that the technical development is not the main cause, but one of the most illustrative sequences of the same one. Both technical revolution and globalization are the results of the development of capitalist relationships that demand new forms of interaction (such as a global society, for instance) and in this way change the society that should contain and provide the forms needed. The problem of globalization that depends on capitalism and appears as the result of development characteristics of the capitalist form of production relations is very deep for some reasons. It is clear, for example, that the capitalistically presupposed globalization is vulnerable to all criticism addressed to capitalism itself that seems to be rather appropriate. In this way, capitalism combines its weaknesses (transformed in accordance with the actual challenges and purposes) with globalization that is not a direct result of capitalism and theoretically can exist in other ways without it. The main point here is to research the today’s capitalist form of globalization with its strengths and weaknesses and to understand in this way to what degree capitalism presupposes the general direction of globalizing processes. The contradictory sociological characteristic of capitalism allows evaluating it in the context of globalization as an effective device that brings both positive sides, such as the success of globalizing tendencies, and negative ones, such as the increase in workers’ exploitation, capitalists’ dominance and other features frequently criticized by the opponents of the capitalist way of life and social development.
Capitalism in Marxist Sociology
The main characteristics of capitalism researched through the Marxist approach are the inseparable condition of the understanding of today’s globalization in its connection with capitalism. Certainly, as long as the proposed research concerns the sociological aspect of globalization, it is important to underline the sociological side of capitalism. First of all, capitalism is a specific form of economic relations and production. Thus, according to Elias Khalil (1992), these specifics of capitalism meant for Marx two fundamental features, namely market anarchy and exploitation. Both aspects directly concern the sociological dimension; besides, the former is of economic kind, while the latter describes the relations between the dominant and oppressed classes. The sociological description of capitalism may appear through the deeper understanding of each of these concepts.
The market anarchy means that the capitalist market is free from any normative dictate, which, in its turn, influences all spheres of social life. The market in this case is an abstract concept, which includes all trade-related issues. The dictate of market demand becomes more important than the morality of some stable traditions. In this way, the society becomes very unstable and oriented to constant development (Khalil, 1992). Thus, it is possible to evaluate capitalism in this aspect as both positive and negative phenomenon dependently on the researcher’s position. Through the belief in the importance of constant technical and scientific development oriented to the market purposes, capitalism leads society to definitely positive results. It is clear that the demographical increase along with the total liberalization is the undoubted sequence of market development. As long as the main aim of the market-oriented economy is profit, the market anarchism presupposes different multidimensional forms of proliferation in those spheres of social life that traditionally concern some forms of social contradictions based on racial, national, gender and other distinctions within the society. In this way, the liberal ideology appears as the way of total social collaboration oriented to prosperity, the main criterion of which is the satisfaction of market demands.
Despite such positive characteristics of market anarchism, there is also a negative side of this phenomenon. Certainly, the increase in social tolerance and multicultural reforms is a very positive transformation caused by capitalism. However, the further realization of these tendencies may lead to the denial of any differences between people with parallel transformation of them into just workers who live and work to consume the production equivalent to their work in accordance with the principles of work specification. The famous neo-Marxist psychologist Herbert Marcuse (1966) even claimed that the technical and industrial achievement of capitalism also have a negative impact on society. The point here is that with the capitalist way of life, there appears the oppression of each person as the result of the way of life defined by the market dictate that makes people just elements of some great mechanism oriented to th increasing of production quality and quantity.
The previous concept of liberalization as the result of market anarchism is closely related to the problem of exploitation often underlined by the critics of capitalism. According to Khalil (1992), “although capitalist exploitation is unique as well, it is a derivative feature of market anarchy”. The problem here is that along with the denial of culturally oriented differences between people, the economy provides another base for social separation that becomes significant due to the importance of free-market economy in capitalist society. In such a way, there appear two antagonist groups of people: capitalists (the dominant class of exploiters) and wage workers (the exploited class). The main difference between capitalists and wage workers is that the dominant class possesses all means of production and workers cannot work without cooperation with them. Thus, wage workers sell their work to the owners of the means of production and get their work in alienated equivalent (in a form of money that substitute their real production). Such relations allow capitalists to use their workers as some kind of means of production through the control over the market prices, advertisement and other forms of hidden exploitation. Certainly, it is possible to evaluate these relations as symbiosis instead of parasitism, but in fact, such argumentation just looks as an attempt to hide the problem. At the same time, the orientation of capitalism to profits in some degree justifies exploitation because it is a way to use workers for the social prosperity in general. In such a way, according to the Marxist definition, the main interrelated and contradictory characteristics of capitalist society are market anarchy and social antagonism.
Globalization in Its Connection with Capitalism
The process of globalization has a constant character, and its development did not start only with the appearance of the economic system of capitalism. It is possible to find many examples of different projects of globalization throughout the history. Besides, the huge increase in this process is parallel with the economic development of the Western society that allowed it to share the specific production relations with the whole world. At this point, the terms “globalization” and “westernization” are similar because of the close interrelation between globalization and Western capitalism. In fact, it is possible to state that globalization in its Western form started just with the development of the Western world in different forms, including its international expansion, colonialism and other initiatives due to which all white spots disappeared from the world map. In this way, the great geographical discoveries presupposed the capitalist globalization providing the informational base needed. The same concerns other aspects of this difficult multidimensional process.
The importance of capitalist economy as a factor of globalization is clear for today’s researchers because of historical and sociological evidence. Luke Martell (2010), for example, despite his accent on culture as the main globalizing factor, claims that “it is difficult to see many areas of globalization where lying behind them are not also economic structures which affect the equality or power relations with which globalization is produced or received, or economic incentives to do with making money”. Then, Martell (2010) underlines that his “argument is not just about the economics behind globalization, but capitalist economics, the pursuit of profit by private owners”. This detail is very important for the correct understanding of the capitalism through its specifics mentioned above. Certainly, there are many other dimensions of globalization. Martell (2010), for instance, mentions historical, cultural and some other factors that, however, concern neither sociological nor capitalist aspects of this difficult phenomenon. Besides, the most important through the prism of the proposed research are economic relations that presuppose the relations between the social members, especially in the capitalist society oriented primarily to market demands and increase in profitable production.
Before providing the main characteristics of positive and negative impact of capitalism on globalization, it is important to underline that even in today’s Marxism, the concept of capitalism has much wider meaning than that proposed by Marx. As Tairako Tomonaga (2003) claims, the reality is much more difficult than the concepts of the so-called “intellectual Western Marxism”, and that is why it achieved new interpretations and applications in such states as USSR, Cuba, China, etc. At the same time, the position of Marx is mostly correct today because his prognosis concerned the Western capitalism that became the main form of capitalism in the world. Thus, the conceptual adequacy of the Marxism today indirectly illustrates the correspondence between Westernization, capitalism and globalization in today’s multicultural and multipolar world.
The most important sociological sequences of globalization realized in accordance with the worldview principles of capitalism are the increasing tolerant and multicultural tendenccies (Martell, 2010). As already mentioned concerning capitalism, its main aim is profit with disregard of any national, religious, racial, gender or other differences between the members of society. In fact, such economic rationalism is very humanist because all people are legally equal and they may achieve all they want only working hard and helping society to increase the global profits. The global market destroys all borders that limited people in previous epochs because with the development of communicative technologies it is possible for everyone to find her or his personal way of life in accordance with the liberal economy. The technical revolution causes the conceptual denial of any territorial separation in their previous, preindustrial perception. For example, it is possible to reach any geographical point on the Earth with the use of correct technical devices, while in the previous century it was impossible. The similar sequences of informational development in connection with the social orientation to the market cause the inevitable overcoming of the irrational contradictions characteristic of the world before globalization. In fact, the dominance of market, even in its “anarchist” dimension, ensures the predictability and rationality of human behavior because most of people in liberal society tend towards obedience in order to exchange the advantages of their relative freedom in the unlimited global market for the numerous ways of self-realization. It is clear that the same tolerance concerns all dimensions of social life except those of economic (rational) kind.
At the same time, globalization connected with the Western capitalism contains some negative features traditionally related to capitalism itself through the Marxist criticism. One of the most important threads of the capitalist version of globalization is the insecurity of wage workers because of the global increase in capitalists’ power. The work alienation rises to a very high degree in global society, and it is clear that one worker still stays alone when the capitalists who own a global company are much more powerful than those who possess even some company of the state importance. In fact, the dominance of capitalists becomes unlimited in the global free market, and there is no way to oppose this power because it is much more rational for these huge capitalists to support each other in exploitation of wage workers than to struggle for the further stages of global dominance. In his brilliant study of capitalism as a complex phenomenon, Ellen Meiksins Wood (2002) shows that the aim of capitalists was only to get the unlimited profits at any price, and the sequences of such economic politics are both social and ecological negative transformations that appear as the inevitable results of the lack of moderation in appetites. In this way, the increase in ecological degradation is also a sequence of capitalist globalization that directly affects the sociological characteristics of the world (because of the strong interrelations between society and biosphere).
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It is important to note that the stronger the companies, the more sophisticated ways to use their workers they should provide. In fact, this detail is rather ambivalent because, on the one hand, it would be better to overcome the capitalist exploitation, but on the other hand, this exploitation looks like a traditional way to organize people in order to achieve some great results. Thus, the development of the forms of exploitation may provide new forms with more liberal and “suitable” conditions that would become a new step in the history of relationships between workers and capitalists. For example, Samir Amin (1997) through his deep research of capitalism and its roots, proposes replacing capitalism with more egalitarian way of the social organization. Despite his criticism of capitalist way of life, it is clear that it is impossible to find any other way without research on capitalism on its today’s and even future stages in order to understand how to achieve higher degree of social equality and fairness. The same concerns another contradictory problem of the thread of monopolies. Certainly, in some degree, it looks like a thread, but through the perspective of today’s society specifics, it becomes obvious that the global monopolies may become the guarantees of both high quality and relevant quantity of production because instead of the competition, the dominant company would produce everything in accordance with the existing demands. Certainly, it contradicts the principle of the market anarchy, but the appearance of monopolies is also a possible sequence of globalization.
Through the research provided, it becomes clear that the Marxist criticism of capitalism and the today’s criticism of globalization are very similar because globalization and capitalism are closely interrelated social and economic phenomena. Even though these phenomena exist separately from each another, today, with the dominance of capitalism, all globalizing processes are largely influenced by it. This means that the contradictory essence of capitalism with its both weaknesses and strengths also concerns globalization that today exists as the capitalist project oriented to the free market relations, liberal ideology and other capitalist social inventions.