Rethinking Global Political Economy: Emerging Issues, Unfolding Odysseys

By Mary Ann Tétreault; Robert A. Denemark et al. | Go to book overview
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Globalization as global history

Introducing a dialectical analysis

Barry K. Gills
History teaches us everything, even the future. World history is clearly multicivilizational. The history of capital within world history is therefore also clearly multi-civilizational, not uni-civilizational, or uni-cultural. Is the future of world history, as well as of capital and even of globalization, also not multi-civilizational? I think so. Although capital operating on a world scale through commerce (involving both production and consumption) does have a historical tendency to reduce all economic forms to a unity (i.e. capital), it has never been accompanied by a true cultural uniformity all over the world. It always coexisted with cultural diversity. So how can a concept such as globalization, which seems so ultracontemporary, be related to global history, which rests on a knowledge of the past that is not necessarily relevant to the present and future as (pre)configured by contemporary globalization processes? And why or how can I posit an identity between these two terms, using the connective word "as," as I do in my title: "Globalization as global history"? I will introduce a set of hypotheses to make my reasoning clear.
1 Globalization is intimately about global history: past, present, and future, and there are no absolute dichotomies between past and present or between present and future. Rather, aspects of continuity unite these three into a single stream of world historical time and history.
2 By using a critical historical method or a historical mode of enquiry, that is, by historicizing globalization, we come to better understand the concept and its complexities and are less mystified by it, in both theory and praxis.
3 This critical historical method, when allied to a critical social theory, should focus on understanding both change and continuity in the (world) historical process, itself to be understood not as a strictly linear progression of developmental or evolutionary stages (as in modernization theory), or in a strictly cyclical manner in which there is a simple repetition in a law-like pattern (as in world-system theory), but rather in a dialectical manner, where forms and principles of regulation exist in a high state of historical tension.
4 We need a rectification of our common understanding of world or global history, and of globalization, from the current paradigm of embedded Eurocentrism, a construction of knowledge which systematically distorts world/global


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Rethinking Global Political Economy: Emerging Issues, Unfolding Odysseys


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