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The contemporary world is often regarded to exist in the era of globalization, i.e. it is rapidly becoming the so-called global village with unified civilization, common cultural and moral values, and most importantly shared market. All this has become possible due to the spread of globalization. However, there is no single definition of this extremely broad notion as well as there is no definite answer concerning its influence on the humanity. Scholars have not come to the shared opinion whether the process of globalization has increased or helped reduce conflict within the international system. This paper is going to dwell upon this complicated issue with the subsequent attempt to formulate the answer to this question.

Globalization is a multidimensional phenomenon that affects all aspects of human activity. There is no certain date when the process started, but most sources agree that the starting point of the increase of globalization processes dates back to the end of the Cold War. Since then, the process of unifying countries all over the world into one structured unit has rapidly gained momentum drastically changing the face of the planet. One of the first and most general definitions of globalization is the following: “Globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole...both concrete global interdependence and consciousness of the global whole in the twentieth century”. The above definition serves as the basis for many attempts to pinpoint the essence of the process. Thus, Anthony Giddens has modified it by emphasizing the interactive dimension peculiar of globalization:

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Globalization can thus be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. This is a dialectical process because such local happenings may move in an obverse direction from the very distanced relations that shape them. Local transformation is as much a part of globalization as the lateral extension of social connections across time and space.

However, the most wide spread definition of globalization deals with its economic dimension. In this respect, the phenomenon is understood as “the integration of markets in the global economy”. The ideal version of the global economy presupposes the creation of one international free market without borders with the free flow of capital, labour, and goods. It should include financial, money, credit, insurance, commodity, natural resources, product, and labour markets. However, the reality has proved that the creation of the global market is a long and intricate process with a lot of hurdles and shortcomings. Interconnectedness of countries from the economic perspective may be dangerous as the crisis in one country will inevitably spread to other constituent parts of the global economy, hence weakening it. Besides, nowadays globalization has enabled only the free flow of capital and money within various economic alliances emerging as the result of signing agreements between separate countries. As the example of the European Union vividly shows, the flow of labour between countries remains a significant problem contrary to the flow of capital and money, which leads to the emergence of tensions on the international market. Economic dimension of globalization has both its advantages and disadvantages with the latter being responsible for numerous conflicts within separate countries and within international system as a whole.

Economic integrity gives rise to social and cultural connections between people. Thanks to the increase of communication between representatives of various cultural and ethnic groups, intensive exchange of cultural norms and values has become possible. People have a vast number of opportunities to learn about other cultures and countries. On the one hand, such intensive cultural exchange serves the purpose of teaching people to be tolerant towards each other and accepting of miscellaneous divergent aspects. On the other hand, cultural differences become more prominent and eye-falling once people start actively interacting, which may cause various conflicts.

Another dimension from which globalization is often viewed from is from the perspective of technological advancements. Proponents of this definition suppose that globalization is the result of technological revolution. Various improvements in the domain of technology and communications have led to “the compression of time and space” . This way, technological improvements may bring in the future the appearance of a new kind of global civilizations as space, time, territoriality, and geography have already been profoundly changed. New technological global civilization will be based upon the interconnected society that has been altered by technology.

Over the past decade, the pace of globalization has significantly increased due to a number of reasons. Economic aspects have been and remain the underlying causes of its spread in all other dimensions as well. Thus, increase of the capital mobility and development of complex financial markets may be regarded as the stimuli for the increase of the globalization process pace. Global credit markets and various financial products as derivatives have enabled firms develop into multinational corporations. Free trade is an essential feature of globalization. According to The Bank of England (2006), trade openness, i.e. the ration of exports and imports to national income, has grown from 25% to 40% for industrial countries, and from 15% to 60% for countries with emerging economies. Rapid growth and spread of international brands have increased the pace of globalization as well. There has appeared the notion of McDonaldization meaning that popular global brands affect people’s values and cultures. As a rule, these global brands promote Western way of life and Western values, which may be a potential source of conflicts, especially for cultures that are significantly different from the promoted one. Furthermore, the progress of technology and availability of the Internet are also the driving forces of globalization.

Globalization has undoubtedly numerous advantages all of which are impossible to enumerate. It is beneficial for economies of both developing and industrialized countries as it promotes competitiveness and innovation. The quality of the manufactured goods and offered services has to be exceptionally high if the company wants to remain competitive on the international market. Therefore, innovation has become the integral part of globalization. Only the best of the best can raise revenues in such an environment. Globalization dictates its rules for the global market, hence dividing all companies into potential winners and losers. Economically, it may be beneficial for the market and for the economies of the involved countries. However, practically losers comprise many people who are deprived of the employment once their hiring firm is ousted from the market. Generally, rich countries and their companies belong to winners while poorer nations are likely to be losers. This way, inequality is promoted not within separate countries, but on the global level, which in turn is the predisposition for international conflicts between different nation-states. Globalization is considered to be the main reason of structural unemployment as it promotes structural changes of the global market. Service sectors of economy are continuously developing while manufacturing suffers from a slow decay. Free trade is not an entirely positive phenomenon as well because it may be and often is unfair in favour of richer nations that dictate the rules of the global free market. Emergence of a large quantity of multinational companies has led to the increase of their influence on governments of different countries. These firms seek the most beneficial environments for their activities and often threaten governments with relocating their resources to another country unless the desired policy is passed. That is why, globalization is often blamed for weakening governmental powers and strengthening the power of the businesses.

Another much discussed drawback of globalization is its detrimental effect on the environment. Despite the internationally acknowledged danger of environmental pollution, countries do little to reduce their CO2 emissions. Global warming has to be tackled through united efforts of all countries, which could be achieved due to the globalization. However, countries seem to be more interested in increasing their profits and share on the international market by increasing their production levels. Besides, inequality between poorer and richer countries contributes to this squalid situation as well because developing countries do not possess technological capacities to make their industries environmentally safe, yet they are urged to try to remain competitive on the market.

Globalization causes profound social changes all over the world. Historically, the notion of social change has always been tightly interconnected with the notion of conflict. The latter is likely to follow any less or more significant social change as it happens with the process of globalization. This hypothesis has been offered and proved by   P. A. Sorokin in his Social and Cultural Dynamics where he displays that the magnitude if “social strife” reaches its peak levels when a society undergoes a profound change of worldview. All globalization researchers like Richard Barnet and Ruud Lubbers agree that the increasing pace of globalization is the source of unprecedented changes in the society. Hence, it may be concluded that “the process of globalization is inherently disruptive and that an increasing incidence of conflict is an inevitable bi-product of it”. This idea is supported by Arnold Toynbee who regarded conflict to be one of the preliminary stages of the appearance of the world civilization.

One of the most prominent researchers who dealt with conflict within the contemporary international system is Samuel P. Huntington. His theory of the clash of civilizations is a prognosis of the future of the world that has been made on the basis if researching the world history. Huntington (1993) supposes that globalization is the driving force of the inevitable conflict between the West and the rest. In his opinion, future international conflict is to be about cultural differences rather than economic or political ones. Globalization facilitates the acceleration of this process by making these differences obvious. The existing eight major civilizations are to be united in different alliances that will be the main actors of the international arena. The USA, China, and Russia are envisioned to be in the centre of possible future power hegemons. However, the destiny of the future power configuration depends also on a number of the so-called “torn countries” that do not fit entirely any of the defined civilizations. According to the researcher, the main conflict is going to unravel between the Western and the Islamic civilizations as they represent two utterly different cultures with the most obvious reasons for opposing each other. The Western civilization tries to impose its idea of the democracy upon the rest of the world. It is done mainly in a subtle way, for instance, through economic domination and popularization of typically Western elements of the mass culture. The Islamic civilization is regarded to be one of the most resistant to this imposition. Hence, the conflict is almost inevitable. In fact, it already exists in some ways as global terrorism is mostly associated with the Islamic civilization and the West has announced the war against it. The American war on terrorism and the spread of the stereotype that Islam equates terrorism have further deepened the strife between the civilizations. Huntington offers several scenarios of the future, the majority of which are gloomy unless countries and civilizations learn to cooperate, co-exist peacefully, and respect each others’ differences. Globalization can be extremely beneficial for all parties involved if they try to compromise and avoid explicit and implicit conflicts.

Recently, there has appeared an idea that the pace of globalization has somehow slowed. Nowadays, there is a term glocalization meaning the popularization of separate cultural groups and ethnic identities. Instead of creating one global identity, minorities do their best to preserve their uniqueness and adopt only those aspects of civilizations that do not threaten them with complete assimilation within the larger Western civilization. Glocalization has become popular on all levels. When territorial and economic boundaries are aimed to be eliminated, glocal cultures appear to resist this total unification.

Globalization is a very vague and broad notion. This process has become the part and parcel of the humanity’s presence and future. However, it is not absolutely positive. In some respects, it has helped to reduce conflict by promoting free trade, cultural tolerance, open communication, and economic benefits. Nonetheless, globalization means profound social changes that are impossible to implement without the emergence of some conflicts. At the current stage of the globalization process, it seems to have increased the level of conflict within international system, but in the long run it has the capacity to reduce it significantly through the promotion of cooperation and understanding between representatives of all countries.

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