Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Culture in the Rise of the Global Imaginary

In my battle with sovereignty, I have always looked to globalization as the hope for our planet. Because of this, I have always thought of globalization as purely an economic and political phenomenon, but after reading Globalization by Manfred Steger, I wonder about the future of human culture.

Steger refers to me as a hyperglobalizer, and, in terms of culture, I consider myself an optimist. Steger gives two different examples of the optimistic hyperglobalizer, but I do not buy into the homogenization of the world into one Western culture. Instead, I think that globalization is leading to a much needed shift from nationalistic culture. I have never agreed with people who define themselves through race or national origin. These are two things that reflect nothing except their expression of certain genes and pure geographic happenstance. In my mind, it has never seemed logical to “be proud to be an American,” but it has nothing to do with how I feel about the United States itself. The fact is that I never had a choice, and it would be silly to be proud of something I did nothing to deserve. Instead, we should be affiliating ourselves with our philosophical values such as the superiority of democracy, the irrefutability of human rights, or the inhumanity of state sovereignty.

With the falling of modern nationalism and rising of the global imaginary, this trend seems to be taking over. My ability to check news in Pakistan and read the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche in my room has made me free to associate myself with whatever choices I make without any regard for sovereign borders. These decisions are the new expression of global culture. Ryan Carroll is no longer an American; I am a left-winged mathematician who demands world-wide human rights, the redistribution of wealth, and the breakdown of sovereignty.

I don’t believe that humans will ever homogenize. In the interest of their personal identity, people will inevitably find some way to exclude themselves from the general population. This fact has always seemed silly to me. It seems to be the principle behind almost every war in human history, but after the Holocaust, I’m alright to settle with a shift away from the meaninglessness of nationalism. Unfortunately, I do not believe that religious prejudice will go away so easily, but I guess world peace comes one step at a time.


  1. I certainly have the same wish as you that race or nationality should no longer be a fact that separates people. However, sometimes I keep thinking isn't it because of globalization that people start to have a stronger sense of nationalism? Isn't the communication of culture and religion that causes more discrepancy and thus people under different religion and culture backgrounds start to defend their own?
    So to me, I think globalization might need to call on more mutual understanding in today's world.

  2. I also agree with your opinion concerning to the usage of nationality and ethnic origin in defining any given individual, but I do think that Jasmine makes a good point. Even here at Rhodes, the simple fact that many students come from different states within the same nation causes certain people to identify with each other based on their geographic origins (specifically the Texans). While some of these people might get along because of similar upbringings and beliefs,it is more than likely that there is as much variety within the group of students from New York as their is within the entire student body.

  3. I have to say that Jasmine's comment about gloablization stimiulating nationalism holds quite a bit of merit. We can see this today in the alarming resurgence of nationalism in many of the Asian and Middle Eastern nations, and in some ways, the United States as well. Today, we are more global than ever but the sense of community and understanding we assumed will come with this interdependence is absent in many cases.