Attempt to Respond from Armenian Position: The End or The Beginning of Globalization

© Shushan Khachatryan

Many people proudly announce the end of globalization in our century, while others unequivocally claim that the period we live in, is just the prelude of globalization that began in 1989. Which opinion reflects the reality, which of these two is more reliable? Are the diversity and distribution of supply networks in a number of countries, the existence of the internet and means of communication and transport, the availability of information enough to assume that globalization has taken place, and this stage has ended with the pandemic? Alain Badiou, for example, claims that “the rivalry between the imperialisms, old (Europe and the USA) and new (China, Japan…), excludes any process, leading to the global capitalist state”. And has globalization as a process, without an aim of a transnational state, taken place?

As Yuval Harari claims in his interview, the world is no longer built on the conflict between the right and the left, but on a new competition between globalization and nationalism. According to him, the new division is between nationalists and globalists. The peak of globalization – the idea of a transnational state – that more or less known danger as a project of a global empire, that is perceived as a new manifestation of greed for power or even colonization, globalization, as more of a westernization or flattening, pursues nationalism, and the isolation of countries, as an obstacle to the production capitalist progress, inefficient use of resources, pursues globalization. But there are a lot of people who are against both the discourse of nationalism and capitalist globalization. However, the choice is between these two: diversity in one (one structure of different nations on the planet) or homogeneity in diversity (each separate nation and the existence of different countries)? Although those passionate supporters of globalization will prefer the version of creating one and the same person, this aim of theirs, fortunately, remains an unavailable desire, thus diversity has no alternative: the question remains the form of diversity, which determines the boundary between these two wings.

Two incidents lead us to the attempt to respond from the Armenian position, like bread crumbs in the forest. It is clear that they are the pandemic and the war that have conditioned our life, and to observe them, I have brought about the discussion of danger and the version of solution.

One danger, and the world was faced with different solutions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With the wide expansion of the epidemic, the first challenge for nearly all the countries became the virus (except the countries at war), but all countries suggested different and peculiar solutions to one and the same problem, in spite of the attempts of the World Health Organization to standardize the actions. There was not even a definite and united answer to the appeals of treating the problem seriously. Masks stated being worn in one country, in contrast to another country, where they were considered ineffective means, one country closed its borders, stopped receiving tourists or visiting other countries, the air communication stopped, while the other country continued its normal public life (Belarus, Sweden), in one place businesses stopped and the public life was dying, rallies and demonstrations were banned, while in another place everything was going in its usual way. Sometimes even certain villages and towns were not quarantined together, depending on the pandemic situation in that particular area. Even the vaccines started being invented simultaneously in different countries and being experimented in their own ways. There is not a single vaccine for everyone, there are various samples, and each country is free to decide which one to use or even not use any of them at all. A global problem is/was given local solutions. The danger was one, in fact, the ideas of responses are infinitely diverse, which gives the opportunity to assess which measures are effective. Facing the same danger, led to realization of the same destiny, as Edgar Morin claims in one of his interviews. According to him, “the planet is subjected to the opposite processes of completion and division”. The infection had a dividing effect at first, when the first news about the disease emerged: the infected started to be taken as “leprous”, from whom one should stay as far as possible, even there were cases of violence of cleaning the area from them or indicating their whereabouts. However, after a short time, came the realization of the danger of one’s own infection probability, as a result of which the common destiny became clear. The realization of the collective destiny had a uniting, completing effect, which is number 1 condition for globalization. People from one side of the world of sharing destinies, started to admire the songs and music in balconies of Italy, as a means of overcoming the isolation, on the other side of the world. The news became on the same subject in every corner of the world, the daily routine became the same in most of the countries, destinies were like one another, the working process became disrupted and the plans became unrealized in the same way. Even under the conditions of migration and increasing pace of communication, there was not and could not have been this kind of sameness of problems. Countries with paradoxically closed economies and borders, became more open to sympathize with others’ experiences, we can say, the closed world “opened”.

Consequently, the common danger and realization of a common destiny, open doors for the project of globalization, because, as Morin says, “they weld, unite”. And what refers to local, national and diverse solutions (including anti-globalization measures, such as the closure of borders, relative reduction of trade, migration and communication), they contradict to the project of sameness (and openness) of globalization, thus this virus, together with its mutually exclusive impulses, announces the end of globalization on the one hand, and the beginning, on the other. What’s more, both the influence of the virus, and the reactions of the supporters of globalization and the supporters of nationalism were contradictory. The supporters of openness started talking for the closure of borders, while the supporters of closure were for the opening. Therefore, the coronavirus infection is neither conditioning globalization, nor hindering it, or it is doing both of them. Global danger came, and in fact, the world did not become more globalized than before.

The version of a local danger, single solution was faced in Armenia during the second Artsakh war. This war was a local danger, because it was not a threat for nearly any other country, except the two (more precisely, three) involved parties. The conflicting parties were the ones interested in its solution, each in its own favor, and some neighboring countries, in accordance with their own interests. For the rest of the world the problem was as/more insignificant, as/than a fire in distant forests in Australia or military operations in Syria, thus texts of concern were announced, which, however, were the manifestation of human indifference. The sent humanitarian aid, in its turn, was trying to eliminate some of the consequences but not the problem. If in case of the pandemic we dealt with the realization of a collective destiny, then the war led to the encounter of the realization of standing quite alone in front of the danger, moreover, it is about the loneliness of both an individual and a collective unit (even in case of having allies). The indivisible destiny sank like a nail between the conflicting and non-conflicting parties, as in case of other countries at war, many of which accused the world of restraining the migration from their comfortable spot. War is always distant for the parties not included in the conflict, just as the discovery of the virus in Wuhan for the first time did not bother many people, as something taking place far from them and not reaching themselves. The more the Armenian users were trying to “explain” the world the illegal actions against Armenia (use of phosphorous munitions and cluster bombs, involvement of terrorists, beheading and torture of soldiers and civilians, delay in returning the captives, destruction of cultural heritage), the stronger the world closed its eyes and ears, reinforcing the anti-globalization feelings of not shared destiny. We can say that the destiny, pain and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” were shared only by the compatriots. As a result, reconciling with the thought that our problem is our problem, Armenia said goodbye to a year, which, if it was tragic for the world, especially with the number of deaths of elderly people, was doubly tragic for Armenia. And in a globalized world the tragedies and victories must be for all.

© Vilyam Karapetyan

So, war is the end of globalization, because it is the prosperity of its opponent, nationalism. The reason is that the commonality of destiny makes the idea of a nation, which is considered a product of imagination, tangible. In this case, the logic of tangibility is like the following: how can a nation be imaginary, if its borders are automatically drawn due to war, by the identification with those belonging to the same nation, due to the unity of destiny, if the abstract makes itself visible, in this case hindering the formation of another, a more abstract notion, that is global identity. Segmentation, the emphasis of the group identity, hinders the attempts of globalization during the war, because due to the concentration on a part, the whole is left out of sight. And the prosperity of nationalism and overidentification with those belonging to the same nation, during the war, are connected with the fact that under these circumstances, especially, the mobilization of patriotism, emerging due to this overidentification, is the way of overcoming the danger. If coronavirus could not be considered as a totally globalizing circumstance, then the war, even the world war, is unquestionably a preventing factor for the globalization project, because it separates, it segments. Maybe the situation would have been different, if there was a global commitment to stop the wars, not as a local problem, but as a threat to all.

One major danger, one solution is what is the dream of supporters of complete globalization. However, this variant has not been encountered, at least during the latest period of history. Maybe this is the only variant, in case of which the project of globalization can fully succeed. Approaching asteroids, aliens (hypothetically), environmental disasters, such as global warming, etc. Each of these is able to unite the different ones, if due to the united effort there will be a chance of solving the problems that will be impossible to overcome separately.

As a result, a susceptible supposition may be done, that the global problems such as viruses, environmental issues and so on, are of some use to those passionate supporters of globalization, because these problems may eradicate nationalism, and of nationalists’ interest are local problems, such as wars and so on, that must restrain that new “monster”, globalization. We know the interests are paramount, but whether the parties are pursuing the localization or globalization of problems by such extreme means, remains an unanswered question, just to reflect upon.

According to Morin, one of the most important omissions is the fact that “there has not been an attempt to unite the two opposite imperatives, globalization and deglobalization. Globalize in order to promote communication, leading to mutual understanding and prosperity between nations, and to de-globalize, in order to save territories, nations…”.

During the world war the world does not unite, but is separated into groups. The danger is one, but the solutions are bipolar and multipolar.

1․ «Փոփոխության որոնումները․ հարցազրույց Էդգար Մորենի հետ», Սոցիոսկոպ, Երևան, 2016: 

2․ «Արձագանքել մտածողության ճգնաժամին. զրույց Էդգար Մորենի հետ», Ինլայթ հանրային հետազոտությունների կենտրոն, Երևան, 2021։ 


Author: Marine Khachatryan © All rights reserved.

Translator: Lilit Arsenyan․