The Meaning of Globalization: From Ulrich Beck’s Vision to the Rise of Anti-Globalization (5)

Nowadays, world governments are so busy with tackling the unwanted side effects of globalization, such as digital crime, imbalanced distribution of wealth, etc. because when border “disappears”, the distance between any nation-states or political entities also become meaningless. Here, it is necessary to indicate that there is a close relationship between border and distance. Generally speaking, distance can cause separation and prevent communication between peoples. As the outcome of the establishment of political border, separation is a very end which helps control the free-floating of population. On the other hand, distance can be a substantial protection for the political. Therefore, if border becomes “dysfunctional”, distance can no longer be existed. The consequence of this is: various politico-social risks like terrorism and human diseases would easily spread from one country to another.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

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The Meaning of Globalization: From Ulrich Beck’s Vision to the Rise of Anti-Globalization (4)

Therefore, once the “stationmasters” give a green light to the coming of the “train”, “the-border-vanished” becomes a reality. That is to say, under the condition of the absence of opposition to globalization, the existence of border, for the “stationmasters”, is to be meaningless. By origin, border has been a kind of bilateral political arrangement between different governmental powers since the modern age. However, globalization today breaks down the arrangement in a one-way sense, showing that in the globalizational name one power or a group of powers intentionally expands its influence and avoids being influenced by other counterparts. Under the circumstance, traditional politics still has its role in serving the rise of global economy, like stimulating economic growth, managing the local market, creating more jobs for citizens, etc. However, it loses its actual power to realize the humanitarian values, such as human rights, justice, equality and even democracy because of the coercive globalizational nature. In other words, globalization, especially the economic one, successfully challenges and alters the original positive role of the political entities around the world. As a result, the political, as we can see, is operating like a profit-making company: the governmental leaders get used to exploit more and more capital resources from the “external” in order to solve the “internal” economic problems they encounter (e.g. easing the money shortage of national banks, etc.).

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Meaning of Globalization: From Ulrich Beck’s Vision to the Rise of Anti-Globalization (3)

Therefore, it is rational to say that another thinking angle of analyzing the nature of globalization is needed. Ulrich Beck, Similar to some social science theorists, argues that globalization is developing with the characters of “the-border-vanished” and “no-distance”[1]. However, he also points out under globalization “people are thrown into transnational lifestyles that they often neither want nor understand”, “…changing [people’s] everyday life with considerable force and compelling everyone to adapt and respond in various ways[2]. These direct comments clearly indicate the coercive nature of globalization. Perhaps we can use this metaphor to discuss it further: globalization is like a “train” on which full of “rich men” are carried. These men ask the “stationmasters” – the heads of countries – to accept the “train’s coming”, promising that the arrival of the “train” will benefit everyone because they have the power to create “economic prosperity”.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] “Globalization means that borders become markedly less relevant to everyday behaviour in the various dimensions of economics, information, ecology, technology, cross-cultural conflict and civil society. It points to something not understood and hard to understand yet at the same time familiar…. Money, technologies, commodities, information and toxins ‘cross’ frontiers as if they did not exist. Even things, people and ideas that governments would like to keep out (for example, drugs, illegal immigrants or criticisms of human rights abuses) find their way into new territories. So does globalization conjure away distance.” See: Beck, Ulrich (2001). What Is Globalization? USA: Blackwell. p. 20.

[2] Ibid.

The Meaning of Globalization: From Ulrich Beck’s Vision to the Rise of Anti-Globalization (2)

Generally speaking, the form of globalization is related to certain historical factor(s): at the beginning it started its elementary development in the Age of Discovery in the fifteenth century. After that, the eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution caused the rise of international commercialism, making the growth of colonialism as well as imperialism on the globe. Then capitalism became more dominant in the human realm that indirectly caused the outbreak of World War I and II. Eventually, the Western colonialism broke down because of the upsurge of the waves of national independent movement and democratization across Asia and Africa. However, world economy was still controlled by the West, especially the United States. Through the propagation of the capitalist ideology: “neo-liberalism”, the dominant powers further concretize the “unavoidability” of the development of economic globalization, which brings us a serious imbalanced distribution of social wealth and natural resources. Although the “developed” have got tremendous interest through economic globalization, the “global market” is continuously developing in accordance with the so-called “principle of profit maximization”. Since then, different nations in the world have been set to play different roles in the single market: the “developed” are responsible for designing the “prototype” of products and for researching on the possibility of “customization”; the “developing” are in charge of selling their labour power and natural resources for goods manufacturing. Globalization, as we can see, lets all people play their “appropriate” roles in serving the market with different levels of development. The question is still here: who makes it “unavoidable”?

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

The Meaning of Globalization: From Ulrich Beck’s Vision to the Rise of Anti-Globalization

WHAT IS GLOBALIZATION? Globalization is a social phenomenon with the characteristic of “diffusibility”, influencing the development of human politics, economy, and culture, affecting the tendency of the ecological changing of the Nature. This phenomenon has been studied by many scholars in academia. For example, Anthony Giddens argues globalization gives rise to the fact that “we are living ‘through a major period of historical transformation’ (Giddens 1999:1)… suggests that we feel ‘out of control’ in a ‘runaway world’ where many of the influences that were meant to make life feel more predictable such as science and technology have had the opposite effect…it is an unavoidable reality[1]. Besides, Jan Aart Scholte, to go further, presents a more optimistic point of view on globalization, arguing that the phenomenon is of “the spread of transplanetary – and in recent times also more particularly supraterritorial – connections between people[2], indicating that “globalization involves reductions of barriers to such transworld social contacts. With globalization people become more able – physically, legally, linguistically, culturally and psychologically – to engage with each other wherever on planet Earth they might be.[3] The point here is the theorists mostly agree that globalization is sophisticatedly developing in the world which has produced many powerful effects, including the positive and the negative ones.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] See: Jones, Andrew (2010). Globalization Key Thinkers. Cambridge: Polity. p. 45.

[2] See: Scholte, Jan Aart (2005). Globalization A Critical Introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 50-51.

[3] Ibid.

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (5)

We are focusing on examining an emerging social power which represents the rise of anti-globalization movement. This kind of social power is always shifting its shape, density and capacity based on different politico-economic climates and social conditions. Of course, it is possible to measure this power by following the quantitative method mentioned above: to produce lots of statistic figures related to the existing of the social power. However, the figures can only indicate the “status quo” of the power sustaining in a very short time. To produce complex quantitative data is, in our research context, not a right approach to constructing a qualitative understanding on the current ongoing development of the social power for common people’s voices.

Here is an alternative approach to discovering the significance of the practices of the independent media activism as an influential social power developing in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

We will get start with revealing and analyzing the unique characteristics of the practices of the independent media movement in the Chinese societies. Comparing the characteristics of the movement practices with the Western counterparts’ and discovering the hidden connection between the contemporary social movement and the Chinese traditional thought – Daoism are the next two important steps. There is no doubt that Chinese society as a whole has been impacted by the domination of globalized capitalist economy and Western scientific civilization. However, the Chinese is still keeping its unique thinking logic and its clear attitude toward the contemporary changing world in a distinctive historical context. This can be evidenced by the fact that a “dialectical adaptive logic” has been embedded, developed and working in Chinese people’s mind, influencing the development of Chinese society from past to now. The form of this special logic for life is made by the long-term feudalism of the ancient China and the Westerns’ “colonization” with the Communist ruling over the modern China that the Chinese have never had the opportunity to develop their socio-political sense “to live their own life”.

Today, the brain of the West has dominated most of the academic studies on contemporary China, seeing the Chinese as the “follower”, ignoring the existence of the distinctive logic for harmonizing the hard social reality with the “to-be-oneself” idealism of the Chinese people. Therefore, how to open up a new approach to consider this “home-grown” logic is a crucial thing. Through our study on the independent media in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we discover that certain Chinese traditional thoughts can play a role in explaining various social phenomena emerging in the contemporary Chinese society, meanwhile the logic is fully considered.

Finally, a completely new theory – “Open Structure” is to be presented not only for embodying the logic’s existentiality but also for interpreting the close relationship between the Chinese society, the characteristics of the media movement practices and Daoism. Through the theory, a bold attempt to examine the significant reflection of today’s Chinese people on the nature of the globalized civilization by reconnecting the ancient thinking with the contemporary reality will be realized. Also, the theory is anticipated to help open up an advanced construction of an open knowledge structure beyond existing East-West epistemological perspectives, on which the next stage of human civilization for all people can be based.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (4)

For contemporary media studies, many researchers tend to develop their understanding on media with the methodology for social science: carrying out lots of works for producing “useful statistic figures”, such as the numbers of media members, the page views of the website, etc. for measuring the social influence of media in order to build up the “validity” and “reliability” of their research. According to the so-called “scientific” data, they are able to “objectively” argue that a significant role of media in, for example, changing the developing tendency of society is justified. This is a typical process of following the research approach to understanding the nature of various kinds of social phenomena. Undoubtedly, this approach can contribute to human knowledge development and civilization advancement, helping construct a complex thinking apparatus for science. However, it puts the statistic and pragmatic reasoning at the peak of the human knowledge building. Difficulties would be unavoidably produced in the research process when sticking with this limited methodology because all social phenomena, whether they occur in the East or the West, are always in the “becoming” based on different space-time conditions. It is impossible to establish a fixed, rigid theory to end up our understanding on society by relying on the temporary data as evidence for any knowledge justification.

Therefore, we have a concrete reason not to use the methodology mentioned because we view our research subject: the independent media in Hong Kong and Taiwan as a kind of people’s collective activism being practiced in “where we are”, not in the outer unrelated. The practices of the independent media activism as part of anti-globalization movement cannot be simply seen as an unmoved social phenomenon, but should be defined as a humanist demand that is developing in the world “connected with us”. The demand of the social activists emphasized in the movement is closely related to everyone’s life because for the time being no one can escape from this unequal and injustice globalized society. This is the “becoming” of a desirable civilization for all: every member of the globalized society should be encouraged to publicly express their own opinion for a more idealistic development of globalization. To hear and understand these people’s thinking based on a positive attitude toward the fundamental media movement is our responsibility. Here, we therefore hold a clear standpoint: we do not want to carry out a typical academic research on the independent media movement as the “others’ noise” in the social, but want to launch a meaningful research with the anti-globalization movement contributed by the Chinese independent media. To follow this logic, we refuse to use any quantificational method for constructing this study. If not, the original goal of this research – not to help strengthen the still image of the “developing” China but to discover how the people in the Chinese realize their dissenting movements by using their own way – would be derailed.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (3)

In the Conclusion, text research with theories and interview content analyses will be exercised again. For justifying the Daoist characteristics of the practices of the media activism in the Chinese societies, we will establish certain thinking approaches to revealing what spiritual elements in Daoism are embodied in the practices. After that, a new approach to understanding the present and future tendency of the socio-political development of Chinese society in globalization will be opened up.

On the other hand, in Chapter Three and Four qualitative analysis is, also, one of the major research method to be used for the case studies of the Hong Kong and Taiwan independent media movements. The method is twofold: first, the representative founders of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” are to be interviewed that the first-hand qualitative data of the independent media movements are therefore obtained. Here, the qualitative data will reflect three main aspects of the nature of the media activisms: (1) the substantial ground of the independency of the media movement practices; (2) the distinctive approaches developed by the media activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan; (3) the core value or belief held by the activists for the practices. We will discuss the data in detail with the method of qualitative analysis for the production of the two case studies. After this study process, certain significant point of views on justifying the Daoist characteristics of the independent media movements are to be presented. The existence of these distinctive characteristics of the media movement practices suggests that the anti-globalization movement itself is being developed not only with globalization but also with localization. Moreover, the characteristic practices evidence that the social activists in the Chinese actually have given their exclusive feedback to the current extreme development of the globalized world by conforming to a “localized” thinking logic that is totally dissimilar to the Westerns’.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (2)

First, text research will be mainly used in Chapter Two and the Conclusion. As mentioned, the globalization of anti-globalization movement is connected with the current problematic development of world economy and power politics, in which the quality of people’s life is gradually corrupted. “Representative democracy” powered by party politics can be easily directed by global financial institutions and business corporations through the transnational cooperative mechanisms, such as WTO, IMF, G20, WEF (World Economic Forum), etc. The global players try their best to intervene in any principle and law-making processes, redefining the politico-economic “order” of the contemporary world for their self-interest. As we can see, the neo-liberal principle for world economy set by the governments, institutions and bankers has made a series of economic crises in the global market. However, they do not want to take the responsibility to pay off the “negative outcome”, but tend to transfer the unwanted to ordinary people through tax rising (with different names). This shows a serious flaw in the ruling and crises makers’ operation: why do the tax payers have no choice but to accept the governments’ impotence? In fact, world citizens are bearing the economic pressure contributed by various austerity policies made by the powers because the governmentals themselves have sunken into their own bankrupt mire after saving the players’ interests. As a result, globalization has done nothing for people’s well-being: the wealthy is still wealthy, the poor poor as usual. If you accept the capitalist logic for wealth accumulation, anything goes.

Therefore, anti-globalization movement is developing around the globe that is inspired by certain critical theories and radical philosophies with anti-government and anti-capitalist reasoning. For understanding them clearly, it is necessary to examine and analyze the relative contents of the philosophies carefully. After that, we can find out some important hints that would help us clarify the close relationship between the current development of the globalized world and the idealism in the humanist theories as well as the practice of anti-globalization movement.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China

One of the purposes of this study is to unveil and analyze the human problems brought by the negative effects of economic globalization. These include the rise of global capitalism, the deterioration of the operation of representative democracy in the developed realm and the widespread development of anti-globalization movement – the independent media activisms in the Chinese societies. Through the case studies of the Hong Kong and Taiwan independent media, some unique characteristics of the media movement practices are to be discovered: the media runnings not only embody the spirit of Daoism, but also help open up a new approach for us to understand the significant role of the Chinese traditional thought in influencing the contemporary development of Chinese society. For this humanist study, we will use two main research methods: (1) text research (for examining the historical context and relative theories of anti-globalization movement); (2) qualitative analysis, including (a) to interview the major founders of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org”; (b) to analyze the interview contents as the first-hand information of the independent media research that the distinctive characteristics of the media movement practices are contained and reflected.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)