Globalization is the emergence of bodies that organize, operate and economize on an international scale. It arguably originated to a small degree millennia ago, however since the 19th Century, and particularly over the past few decades, it has come to dominate the way in which the world owns, distributes, obtains, consumes and wastes its resources.

At first glance, globalization appears as a primarily positive influence for the socio-economic evolution of our global culture, because it has brought some short-terms gains; however the long-term reality is much more destructive. The deregulation of international trade and the consolidation of power structures has caused severe damage to local economies, cultural diversity, food quality, business ethics, Mother Earth and individual health, among other areas.

Inherent to an internationalized market is the interdependence of the political and economic spheres between most individual nations. A catastrophic example of this in the finance sector is the 2008 global financial crisis in which the collapse of one organization reverberated throughout the world, causing widespread suffering for so many societies and their people. In a globalized market, when one suffers, many suffer.

Massive multinational companies are the face of globalization, as well as the face of deeply embedded power configurations that have monopolized and therefore controlled the short-to-mid term evolution of global affairs. Their agenda has been delivered specifically through the purchase of political agents and more generally through the monolithic corporations which they either own or control, whose activities are hardly regulated or influenced by individual nations.

Examples of the expansion of this corporate tyranny are the development of secret trade agreements, such as the TPP, TTIP and TiSA, all of which will transfer more power to the elite who control these organisations. If the people of the earth do not unite to squash these treaties, further erosion of our health, vitality and community spirit will no doubt result.

In addition, globalization has guaranteed that high amounts of wealth and resources have been redistributed from the people to the elite. As a result, local communities have become disempowered, dependent on mass-production and economies of scale — and lost their cultural foundations in the process. Meanwhile the consumer culture that empowers globalization continues to cause untold damage to the earth’s natural systems.

Other problems associated with globalization include:

  • Unsustainable and unnecessary resource consumption to manufacture and ship goods globally;
  • Increased environmental impacts, such as pollution, energy wastage and ecological degradation;
  • Transfer of skills and jobs to countries with cheaper labour and manufacturing costs;
  • Nations relying on importing certain goods because they’re too expensive to manufacture locally;
  • Tax responsibility is primarily put on the citizen, not the corporation, because of legislative loopholes;
  • Currency warfare occurs to cheapen a national economy and therefore the price of their exports;
  • Interdependence of national economies which subject them to greater risk from external forces;
  • Huge amounts of corporate money funding political campaigns and controlling policy decisions;
  • Encouraging consumerist and materialist paradigms which erode individual and community spirit; and
  • An increasing wealth inequality gap between the elite and the rest of the population of earth.

The Solution? Local Economies and Happy Communities

An interview with Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena Norberg-Hodge starred in and was the producer and co-director of the award winning documentary ‘The Economics of Happiness’. She is also the founder and director of ‘Local Futures’ (formerly the ‘International Society for Ecology and Culture’). Helena works tirelessly to awaken society to the adverse impacts that arise from global power and economic structures through engaging in lectures, film screenings, workshops and international conferences, as well as writing for various publications.

In this episode of Redesigning Society, Helena provides a snapshot of the harmful impacts of globalization and solutions for re-integrating and re-powering our communities to create a happier, more sustainability society.

Helena speaks from a broad sphere of experience. She has experienced first-hand the destructive impacts of globalization through decades-long involvement in a small region called Ladakh in South Asia. Ladakh was protected by the Indian Government from external influences for several decades until it was opened to the global economy in the 1970’s. Within a decade, Helena saw the healthy and self-sustaining community descend into despair with high levels of unemployment, family breakdown, urban slums and pollution.

The Verdict

There is no doubt that we need to rethink how we’ve designed the way we access and distribute resources on local, national and international scales. Our social and economic future depends on it. While people all around the world begin the steps toward re-regulating and re-claiming these structures, Helena Norberg-Hodge provides a gentle but powerful guiding voice. And her message is clear:

By re-engaging and re-powering our local communities, we can begin to redesign our society and reverse the damage and suffering globalization has cause for humanity.

Please note: Over the coming weeks, the Redesigning Society series will present a range of expert perspectives on the current state of societal affairs, as well as the collective changes we desperately need both philosophically and practically. Details of upcoming guests and topics can be viewed here. You can subscribe to The Conscious Society Youtube Channel to get early access to each interview in the series.