Globalization is the worldwide movement to increase the flow of goods, services, people, real capital, and money across borders in order to create a more integrated world economy. Previously, I wrote of international trade in antiquities, but let take a look at trade during antiquity and how it has affected today’s economy. Trade networks have always followed the trends of politics, economics, technology, and most importantly culture. Exotic luxury goods demanded by elites encouraged trade to gain momentum: Incense Route, Silk Road, Amber Road, Spice Route, and Tea Route. Soon, economics became so interconnected that World Systems became dependent on each other.
Language, culture, ideology, and theology are just a few of the many products to be spread other than wealth. Empires gained monetary leverage from capitalistic trade to expand their borders, and when this failed, war was used. The Sumerian Empire in Mesopotamia was notorious for this in 3000 BCE, as were the Olmec people in the Yucatan Peninsula. Because of this, international capital exchange has also been the tipping point of many major world events. Trade routes and conflict can be seen in the modern world. Just look at the tension before World War I, the Cold War, and the current sanctions nations have placed on Iran.
Just as not all people are ready to accept a new world order, not all new world orders beneficial for society. Cultural homogenization to the economically dominant state happens. The Spanish conquest tore Mesoamerican Empires apart by trying to uniform religion, language, and political organization. Although they were met with resistance at first, bribery and the potential to improve one’s social standing triumphed culture.
Furthermore, shared environmental resources were and still continue to be exploited for financial gain because of globalization. In antiquity, regulation agencies did not exist to foster the growth of sustainable economies. The collapse of Harappa can be attributed to the collapse of trade between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Interconnected can lead to dependence, and when one falls, they all do.
The threats of globalization have not changed. From history, society has learned what to expect with World Systems. Last year, the International Monetary Fund presented globalization as a key world issue because of the structural friction between developing countries and advanced economies. While not a global regulatory agency, the IMF does wield enough influence to closely monitor cross-national trade, labor, and finance.