“What are the most important ways in which liberal and critical IR scholars differ in their analysis of globalization? Which analysis do you find more persuasive, and why?”
Globalization is viewed in a fundamentally different light by both liberalism and constructivism. Liberals views globalization as overwhelmingly positive for humanity, however critical scholars have a far more negative view of it.
Liberalism sees the decrease of trade barriers, technological innovation, and rise of international institutions as fundamental positive factors for the world. As the world has become more globally interconnected, trade and economic development have soared. The World Trade Organization has helped to reduce global trade barriers leading to often substantial economic growth in its member nations. Globalization has led to significant technological growth especially with the introduction of information technology and especially the internet. These innovations among many others have helped grow economies and improve the standing of living across the world. Finally, there is the rise of international institutions that have helped increase peace and cooperation across the world. The UN, EU, NATO, African Union, ECOWAS, among others have increased peace and security across the globe.
Critical IR scholars, like their name suggests, are highly critical of globalization due to their name. Globalization has led to significant environmental disruption and destruction that has caused major negative consequences for the entire world, with more and more negative effects as time goes on. However perhaps the central most idea behind critical IR theory is that the legacies of colonialism and imperialism are still very much alive. With dependency theory there are set relations between the metropole and the satellite, with much of the global north being a part of the metropole and the global south overwhelmingly being apart of the satellite. In addition, there is World Systems Theory, where there is an imbalance between the core, semi periphery, and periphery. For example, there may be trade imbalances between the groups. The fundamental problem that critical IR theorists have with globalism is the negative externalities (especially environmental in nature) that they create and the imbalances power that are legacies of imperialism and colonialism.
So where do I stand on this topic? Both liberal and critical IR scholars have strong arguments, and I don’t think either viewpoint should be entirely discounted. Both viewpoints have at least some truths to them. One on hand, there have been massive improvements in the quality of life and wellbeing across many factors due to globalization. However, there is still a real legacy of colonialism and imperialism that has influenced the relationship between the global north and south. Globalization also isn’t perfect for the modern and developed global north, as free trade has meant that companies move jobs overseas to where labor costs are cheaper. But while the US and other developed countries may have lost jobs due to globalization, the effects for those nations have been overwhelmingly positive. Globalization has propelled the United States to superpower status and elevated many other nations to the status of major powers.