“Globalization is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and mutual sharing, and other aspects of culture” (Wikipedia)

SONGSOPTOK: What are you views about globalization? In the country and the society you live in, is globalization a threat or an opportunity?

ARONI:  I think that globalization is now a phenomenon that is fully integrated in the current paradigm the world is in. The fact that most of the interactions between countries, markets, economic and political actors happen in a dynamic environment which is shaped by the influence of global actors cannot be denied or considered as something new. In that sense, globalization is one of the key mechanisms of the system we all live in. So while the past generations had to adapt while this process was taking its shape, the current ones just have to think of it as a part of their lives.
In France, the opinion on globalization by different parts of the society is linked to its effects on the daily lives of individuals. I would have to say that most people who consider it as a threat are the ones who lost their jobs because of the loss of competitivity of their sector, but now even they have realized that it is not something that is going to change. Most of the people accept the fact that globalization cannot be avoided and hence try to use it to their advantage.

SONGSOPTOK: To what extent is the society you live in is globalized? What are the outward manifestations, if any, in the everyday lives of the citizens?

ARONI: The French society is globalized in most ways, in the sense that it's economy is fully integrated to the global markets, be it imports, exports, financial transactions; and since France is also a member state of the European Union, she has to adapt to policies which affect the different zones (Eurozone, Schengen etc.) to which the country officially belongs. The impact of globalization can be very implicit or intangible in the everyday life of the citizens, such as access to banking systems or loans, which actually are dependent on the financial sphere which is completely globalized. Or it can be very visible and sometimes brutal, such as the loss of jobs due to competition or outsourcing, or the rise of petrol prices because of the policies of the OPEC.

SONGSOPTOK: In your opinion, has the process of globalization improved the quality of life in your country? In what way?

ARONI: I think overall the quality of life in France has been affected by globalization as much as in any other of the developed countries. Globalization enables a faster transmission of new technologies into societies, and thus the changes in qualities of life regarding progress are enhanced by the country being part of a globalized world. I think it is now impossible to be in autarchy and at the same time improve the quality of life, so I think that any change not induced by national welfare policies are somehow linked to globalization.

SONGSOPTOK: One of the major effects of globalization is the significant increase in the volume of trade and monetary transactions between the different nations. Do you think that your country has benefited from this? In what way?

ARONI: France has one of the most developed economies in the world, so it has fully benefitted from the effects of globalization on trade, and even more so with its partners in the European Union. The European construction is in itself an example of the extension of globalization to the political sphere, and the fact that 19 countries have a single currency means that the exchanges in an already free-trade zone increase exponentially. France as one of the founder states of the EU, and one of the growth engines of the system along with Germany, has greatly benefited from globalization in and out of the EU, by being able to expand the market shares of its biggest companies thanks to favorable terms of trade, and a strong currency.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that globalization serves to make the already strong economies even stronger and weaker economies weaker and more dependent? Can you give us a few examples to illustrate your answer?

ARONI: I do not think that the effects of globalization can be analyzed by a one sided approach. Overall I think that globalization in the long term makes any economy stronger, due to the fact that trade naturally increases when countries are allowed to interact more, and that it is a vector of growth. But as in any economic mechanism, endogenous or exogenous factors may affect the economies and the effects of globalization can have very negative effects in the short or mid term horizons. I think the integration of the emerging powers to the world economy is a perfect example to show that the effect of globalization enabled them to achieve high growth rates and become more prosperous, but that some problems persisted or became stronger, and are still to be solved. Also, some of the most developed economies suffered from the effects of globalization as well: some sectors were completely destroyed by competition, there were social tensions due to outsourcing and loss of jobs, and the massive financial crisis of 2008 spread so fast because the banks in the world were all linked, which then translated to a full-fledged recession all around the world. So the effects are in no case unilateral, be it on strong or weak economies, and each case must be analyzed in its own environment.

SONGSOPTOK: What, according to you, is the role played by the major multinational companies in of globalization? Do you think that the entire process was actually put in motion by the large MNC’s for their personal profits or do you think that there has been a trickle-down effect to the economy of your country?

ARONI: The MNC's are the main vectors of globalization since most of the trade is done through their activities, and also that they are actually operating all over the world. I am not convinced that the process was designed by these corporations to make profits, but it was born from their activities and that the economic and political actors could see that enabling these companies to operate all around the world would open new trade opportunities and influence zones for the countries they belong to. That is the reason why countries like China, India or Brazil slowly opened their economies to foreign investment, and encouraged the implantation of these MNC's so that their economy could be boosted by the activities of these profit making companies and their influence on the local environment. MNC's did not create globalization, but they quickly understood what they could get out of it.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that globalization actually breeds a homogenous culture? What, if any, has been the effect of globalization in the cultural sphere of your country? In your opinion, has it been positive or negative?

ARONI: It is possible that globalization helps certain cultures spread faster to certain parts of the world, but I don't think that a homogenous culture is actually something that can exist in a globalized world, precisely because the interconnection of societies actually links different cultures rather than shutting out one another. The fact that in Paris I can eat a French gourmet meal, sushis, Mexican, McDonalds or even a dosa means that different cultures are coexisting, and I think that is one of the most positives aspects of globalization.

SONGSOPTOK: What, in your opinion, is the impact of globalization on environment? Do you think that the capitalistic growth model used by the large multinationals have a negative effect on the environment? In what way?

ARONI: I think that the capitalist model of production has had negative effects on environment, but those effects existed way before anyone even started talking about globalization. The fact that most of natural resources are used in an extensive way and that mass production in factories reject large quantities of greenhouse gases and other toxic waste, means that the global ecosystem is put under a lot of pressure, and needs to be taken care of. But that is not a result of a globalized world, but by how industry was designed from the very beginning. Globalization has maybe accelerated the growth of these issues by enhancing emerging economies, but it is not the primary cause of the deterioration of the environment.

SONGSOPTOK: Is it possible to imagine a world today with an alternative mode of production and consumption? Is it at all necessary? If so, will you share your ideas with us? How can we, as ordinary citizens, contribute to such a model?

ARONI: It is always possible to imagine an alternative to an existing model, but that would realistically possible only if research on human sciences finds the concepts that could result in a systemic change. As citizens, it is extremely hard to change a macro system or a paradigm that dictates most of the interactions between individuals, but sharing about it is the first step to find new ways of life.

ARONI: Is a Master’s student specializing in Geopolitics at Institut Français de Géopolitique, Paris.
We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)


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