Political Globalization is Global Political Evolution

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* Article: Political Globalization is Global Political Evolution. By George Modelski and Tessaleno C. Devezas. World Futures The Journal of General Evolution 63(5-6):308-323, July 2007 (DOI: 10.1080/02604020701402707)

URL = https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233501829_Political_Globalization_is_Global_Political_Evolution

Contextual Quote

"Globalization is a process in time, and therefore it also is a historical process in that its understanding requires tracing it back to its beginnings. These beginnings may arguably be traced i.a. to the Silk Roads across Eurasia, and the projects of World Empire, most prominently pursued by Genghis Khan and his Mongol successors in the 13th century, but more clearly seen in ocean-based enterprises of succeeding centuries. Similarly we cannot expect it to assume final form for possibly another millennium. It also is a historical project in that there is only one instance of it in the experience of the humankind. We cannot generalize about it (in the sense of summing up a number of instances) except by trying to trace that one instance of it that we know, but also by reducing it to a set of constituent processes and elements."

- George Modelski and Tessaleno C. Devezas [1]


"Political globalization is one dimension of a process that is multidimensional (not just economic), historical (in millennial proportions), and transformative (in changing planetary institutional structures). Conceiving of political globalization in evolutionary terms (as one centered on innovative sequences of search-and-selection) makes it possible to construct a time-table for global politics, and to derive from it an agenda of priority global problems. The following questions will be addressed on that basis: Where in that process are we situated at the present time? (a time that is one of palpable uncertainty); What global problems does this analysis point to, and what does it tell us about where we are heading? These are not forecasts but rather elements of an "institutional" framework of orientation for the discussion of the next several decades of global organization."



George Modelski et al. :

"This is a Big Picture—Long View study. It takes in the whole of global politics, and it also spans more than two centuries. It does not purport to be the theory of everything, but it does aim to sketch out in broad outlines the course of political globalization as shaped by global political evolution a century ahead, at least for certain well-defined problems.

Three questions will be addressed on this occasion:

1) Can political globalization usefully be analyzed as global political evolution?

2) What conceptual equipment needs to be deployed to undertake this task?

3) What does such an analysis tell us about where in that process we are presently located, and where are we heading in global political organization?"


The Connectivist Approach to Globalization

George Modelski et al. :

"The conception of globalization advanced here may best be described as institutional because it seeks to explain the rise of great planetary institutions that include free trade regimes and transnational enterprises, global leadership, and global governance, world social movements, and world opinion. Downloaded by [University of Tasmania] at 09:31 30 November 2014 An institutional approach might best be contrasted with a “connectivist” approach. In that latter view, globalization is defined, to give one example from a recent report, as the “growing interconnectedness reflected in the extended flows of information, technology, capital, goods, services, and people throughout the world” (National Intelligence Council, 2004, p. 27).

Viewing “certain aspects” of these developments as “irreversible,” the report raises globalization to the status of a “mega-trend” (we describe it as “process”):

- “a force so ubiquitous that it will substantially reshape all of the other major trends in the world of 2020.”

Such a global mega-trend can be visualized with the aid of aggregate data on world flows (National Research Council, 2004, p. 27). That is the pure “connectivist” position. Another facet of globalization viewed as connectivity is “openness.” To operate freely connections require open societies because connections thrive most in the absence of barriers—barriers to trade, to capital movements, to migrants, or to the diffusion of ideas and practices. That is why another set of indices of globalization is country indices of openness—the degree to which nations are accommodative to the world system. Openness is a property of national systems, and nations can be ranked according to the degree to which they are acceptant of world flows. The measurement and analysis of global interactions yields much of the substance of the phenomenon of globalization. Trade flows, capital movements, travel and migrations do indeed make the world more—and at times less— interdependent. Scholars judge the progress of that process on the basic of empirical observations. The mapping of connectivity frequently uncovers variety of networks—trade, financial, social—which are structural features of the world system. Yet these developments also fluctuate, and sometimes even collapse utterly. It is widely noted, for instance, that the hopes for world peace aroused by the expansion of world trade in the latter part of the 19th century were to be rudely dashed in 1914, and what followed was a substantial reduction, if not derailment, of an apparent trend toward globalization. And yet we are not entitled to say that the process as such had then come to a complete halt, only a pause. Most of all, the mere ascertainment of trends is no answer to the question: Why do we globalize in the first place?"


The Transformationalist Approach to Globalization

George Modelski et al.:

"The approach developed by David Held and his collaborators (1999,p.14ff)that has been described as “transformationalist” goes beyond the “connectivist” view and treats globalization as a historical process that brings about connectivity and openness but one that also has an institutional grounding, and can therefore be depicted in two dimensions, spatio-temporal, and organizational, respectively. That model of globalization combines an interest in the intensity, extensity, velocity, and impact propensity of the flows that animate the world system, with an analysis of the organizational dimension that describes the infrastructure, and the institutionalization, of global interdependence (“a new architecture of world order”). The view advanced here leans strongly toward this second dimension as one more suited to an evolutionary analysis even while recognizing the importance of having good reliable measurements of the multitude of interactions that are of interest. Notice that both connectivity and openness are the product of a set of organizational and institutional arrangements. They derive from the organizations that originate and manage these flows, the regimes that facilitate and govern them, the matrices of mutual trust that sustain them, and the systems of knowledge that guide them. In particular, and briefly stated, political globalization tracks the evolution of world order architecture, from the classical imperial form, through global leadership, to global organization."


The Institutionalist Approach to Globalization

By George Modelski et al. :

"Globalization is transformational-institutional because it traces successive steps in what we might call the development of a planetary constitutional design. Where one millennium ago, the human species was recognizably organized in some four or five regional ensembles, with basically minimal mutual contact, and no organization, common rules, or knowledge, today information is abundant and low-cost, contacts have multiplied, and organization and rules dealing with collective problems are no longer exceptional. The institutions whereby human relate to each other have been undergoing a transformation at the planetary, but also at local, national, and regional levels. Globalization, finally, is also multidimensional. That is, it has no simple recipe for identifying “stages of world history,” such as slavery or capitalism. As generally recognized, it comprises not just the spectacular expansion, under the banner of free trade, of world commerce and of capital movements, with the large array of transnational enterprises, and the elaborate body of rules and regulations governing all of these. Globalization also concerns the rise of global social movements, and worldwide cultural trends, and the emergence of world opinion as conception of common interest, but most particularly in the context of this article it has a political dimension. But before we enter into a discussion of political globalization we need to review a few concepts basic to this analysis."


George Modelski et al. :

"The evolution of global politics is a higher-order learning process than the long cycle. It is a process of globalization because it is creative of political institutions of worldwide scope albeit in periods spanning half-a-millennium. It is one of political globalization because it accounts for the formation of political structures that weave together several strands of relationships and collective enterprises. Earlier, in the classical era, political interaction was either local or regional. It is only about the year 1000 AD that interactors (conquerors, traders, explorers) began to emerge at the planetary level and they set in motion a process of global political evolution. Driving that process at the agent level are long cycles of political competition but at the higher, institutional, level this adds up to global political evolution (Table 1). Since the start of the modern era, about 1000 AD, global political evolution has established, in the course of “imperial experiments,” the technical preconditions of global order, in part by defeating the project of the Mongol world empire. In the period that fashioned the institution of global leadership (say 1430 AD to 1850 AD) an (oceanic) nucleus of global organization emerged in the defeat of (continental) imperial challengers. The two British cycles were the mature form of that structure as it moved from selection to amplification. The current period, as shown in Table 1, from 1850 onward as “Global Organization,” is to be completed in about two to three centuries. If the first period was one of no organization (or failed), and the second one of minimal organization, the third is one of selecting an adequate structure (to be completed in the fourth phase). By adequate we mean one that has the capacity to respond effectively to problems of human survival, especially those posed by threats that are nuclear and environmental."

930 — Imperial experiments Failed world empire

1200 — Mongol empire

1430 — Global leadership Global nucleus

1640 Britain I, II

1850 — Global organization Global governance

2080 — Democratic comm.

2300 — Consolidation

Where are we now ?

George Modelski et al. :

"Where in this scheme do we stand at the beginning of the 21st century? AsTable 2 shows in greater detail in its second and third columns, we have now entered the third period of political globalization. (We leave aside until later a discussion of the co-evolving processes of democratization, and of K-waves.) That third period is one of “global organization,” and according to our analysis it certainly is “critical.” That period is critical because it is one that is programmed to be the one “selecting” new forms of institutional innovation. That period is currently in the second of its preparatory (integrative, community-building) phases, and it lends an agenda to LC10 that, as note in the following section, centers on building a democratic base for global governance that will lay the ground—the sub-structure of solidarity—to serve as the foundation for significant institutional change in the next (selectional) phase of that process, a century from now. The prognosis is this: global politics has been, since 1850, in transition to a presumptively democratic global organization, and that means that the U.S. cycle has been no mere repetition of the British experience, but was shaped by that very fact. But at the start of the 21st century we are still in the second, cooperative, or coalitional, phase of that transition that is unlikely to be completed until mid-21st century. That second phase establishes the solidarity matrix within which future global organization will take shape. It is an implication of this analysis that such a condition is less likely to emerge from within a system of multipolarity. As political globalization gains additional strength, the control of global organization, for example, via majority voting blocs or veto power (hence institutional power) will increasingly become the condition of organizational leadership. Such a context will favor a functioning democratic community. It is on the foundation of a majority-democratic global base that a more effective system of global governance is likely to emerge in the 22nd century."