Everyday we sink further into a morality of ‘globalisation’, which it is high time that we get out of. Indeed, most of the endless economical, political and media debates about it have this in common, whatever their apparent contradictions, that they all centre around the same level of morality as summarary as it is instrumental, for which, when all is said and done, it will only be a question of saying if this thing –singular – is good or bad. Thus we perpetuate on its behalf a positive or negative simplicism, which takes centre stage and will not hear of leaving it. A profound convergence between ‘adversaries’ and ‘partisans’ who, beyond a façade of opposition, literally stifle the debate to the detriment of a just appreciation of its complexity. Such a ‘morality’ is harmful, it devastates, not only because it fulfils a continual confusion whose resources are situated elsewhere, but also because it prevents you from conceptualizing the processes concerned and progressing in their elucidation.
So, how do we get out of the present impasse?
Firstly, by ceasing to invoke incantatorily the idol ‘globalisation’, and by diffusing the plural usage of the concept – i.e. by developing an interest in globalisations. Why? Because the different processes denoted under the blanket of ‘globalisation’ are neither homogenous nor univocal, but on the contrary multi-faceted and polysemous, even when they appear comparable. Thus, between the globalisation of the cement industry, globalisation of humanitarian information, globalisation of vaccines and ‘the globalisation of poetry’, the links remain to be drawn – they are problematic, neither evident, nor unlikely. This plural declension is not anecdotal: for, faced with ‘globalisation’, the debate always seems to be reduceable to a positive or negative opinion, however, how could we be ‘for or against globalisations’?
It is clear that it would be nonsensical, because the multiple incites prudence! Because it invalidates in advance all positivist or negativist reduction. But the plural declension of globalisations has another advantage: that of facilitating their ‘appropriation’ by all citizens. Indeed, if we know that they are disillusioned by the media leitmotiv of ‘the globalisation of the economy’, how could they not be interested in the globalisation of the sector in which they work (say bio-dietetics?), in their favourite pastime (football?) or of what their child comes across at school (Internet training)?
Thus, it appears inevitable to define the concept every time it is used – a minimal demand, which is rarely respected. But how to pretend to formulate a relevant discourse if we take the liberty of using ‘internationalisation’, ‘globalisation’ and ‘mondialisation’, or even ‘cosmopolitanism’ as pure equivalents? Would a language be so accessory that it would not have serious reason for distinguishing words and precising concepts? The common heritage of accepted meanings for these concepts is it so negligible that you could get rid of it, without another form of binary morality, and, doing so, generate the violence of a confrontation which denies its origins the demands that this would presume; the effort to briefly resituate 'globalisatio' that we see in its cultural and historical dimension; a rigourous attention to 'the words to say it' would contribute to getting the current debate out of chaos.
Finally, no ‘globalisation’ in History appears as an irreversible process that you could, one moment, be happy to approve or reject. On the contrary, ‘globalisation’, in the image of ‘democracy’, could not have been anything other than what we made it, individually and collectively. And, like democracy, it depends closely on the definition that we give it, the objectives that we pursue and the means that you use to achieve them. It is not ‘one thing’, nor a phenomenon that will impose itself on men from above, but it denotes – in the diversity of its faces – the means that men use to achieve certain aims. And if something must be questioned, it is firstly these aims: the original intentions and resolutions, finalities of those who participate most actively in globalisations, of those who are, under various titles, its principle promoters and distributors.
Thus, in the same way that it is odd to complain or to rejoice in the functioning of democracy, if you do not take part in public life, globalisations demand that you be interested in them and in a new way – in particular, if you intend them to take the route of general interest rather than that of private interests. As ever, it is a matter of learning, educating and formulating. Evaluating from different points of view – for example, those of philosophy, human and social sciences and the arts – the different processes at work, the relationships between them, the diverging interpretations that they arouse, the consequences that might be projected. It is also necessary to educate people to look without prejudice on ‘the new world’ in mutation – to exercise thought to open onto an intrinsically complex world. Finally, globalisations in professional and skilled work (from college teacher to the boss of a factory and union workers, via lawyers and businessmen) must be taken into account (with all possible means at our disposal).
It is only by this that we will be able, not to abusively reconcile citizens on ‘the meaning of globalisation’ (the ‘right one’) – in the name of a new morality of substitution –, but to give them access to some keys to these mutations which concern everyone and about which everyone has the right to possess a shared or personnel opinion.
(On the same problem or on connected issues we recommend the following articles in French by the same author : Pour une ''philosophie des mondialisations'', Mondialisation : la loi du plus fort ?, De la mondialisation aux mondialisations : domination ou partage du monde ?, Problématique des mondialisations)