This piece discusses about the battle ground for resources and strategic locations across the globe. Moreover, the article also discusses how the contrasting geopolitical imaginations in the world politics is creating a vibrant vacuum that fuels the vicious competition. – Rahim
It is often said that geopolitics and globalization are the two sides of the same coin but with different attributes. The history of both acronyms is very old dates to the ancient Roman and Greek era. Today, the landscape of both geopolitics and globalization has moved beyond land and sea up to the outer-space. Many scholars believe that globalization and geopolitics are the anti-thesis of each other encompassing different modes of power. whereas, the globalization talks about the virtues and universal values, while geopolitics talks about the vices and hard-core realist interests.
With the dawn of the twentieth century, a new global debate commenced between Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the west” and Arnold Toynbee’s “Civilization”. The book of Spengler’s was filled with bold claims that claimed to predict the forthcoming history. What Spengler said, “The decline of the classical west is inevitable as the history itself; the symbols of natural culture will degenerate into material decadence in the process similar to human aging cycle”. But when Toynbee wrote “A Study of history” in the 1930s, he replaced Spengler’s warning attitude with foresight and determinism with agency. Basically, Toynbee adumbrates two options either compromising adaptation or inflexible fundamentalism.
Perhaps, this was the first vibrant debate that alluded the coming marketplace competition between geopolitics and globalization. What Toynbee said, “A new ubiquitous Western civilization held the fate of all mankind in its hands”. Indeed, Toynbee’s claim favors the “Flat world theory” of Thomas L. Friedman, who claims globalization with greater free market economy is the fate of the world. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that both geopolitics and globalization is driven by two eternal forces: fear and greed.
It was famous German geopolitical scientist Frederick Ratzel, who made a very bold at the dawn of the twentieth century that “Empires needed to expand in order to survive”. It was Rudolf Kjellen, the pupil of Ratzel, who coined the word “Geopolitik”, that refers to the pure geography filled with massive natural resources. Likewise, famous British geographer Harford Mackinder called geopolitics as the life-cycle of the world organism. Famous French historian Ferdinand Braudel called geopolitics as “longue duree”. Today, geopolitics and globalization are the most revolving phenomenon in the global politics, whose main concerns are resources, power, stability and conflict.
Basically, geopolitics was mainly aimed at capturing strategic geographic positions, resources and economies, whereas, globalization initially tried to define the world as single organism that was entwined with the cob-web connections ranges from economy to resources. This is what today resembles the geopolitics of the twentieth century with varied impacts on geography and ideology.
Consequently, in the 1990s, a new great debate commenced between the contrasting visions of Francis Fukuyama’s “End of history”, and Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of civilization”—the contradictory visions of utopianism and Fatalism. Basically, Francis Fukuyama put forward his “End of history” thesis marking the end of ideological wars and gave the foresight of new Millennium as the globalization of liberal order. His theory trifurcate divisions of the world as the first world (globalized), second world (Partially globalized) and the Third world (non-globalized). What Fukuyama claimed, the cherished ideals of the First World will dominate the socio-political spheres of the second and third world with liberal oriented universalization.
For Huntington, with the beginning of new millennium, the world will turn into civilizational paradox: a new civilizational rivalry will commence between East and West encompassing the very ideals of identity, traditions and religion. In Shelley’s word “Ozymandias” that the death is the destiny of all— that civilization often clashes and die out all. According to Huntington, the Western civilization is modern and scientific, while the Eastern civilization are still hampered with poverty and mysticism. Thereby, the wider expansionism of the enlighten western universal values might clash with the traditional and backward traditions of the East. But, for Fukuyama, nothing can stop the expansionism of world-free market based liberal order. To be more precise, Fukuyama openly declared the triumph of liberal democratic order as the fate of new millennium. What he said, “what we may be witnessing is not the end of the cold war but the end of history as such; that is, the end point of man’s ideological evolution and the universalization of western liberal democracy”.
In contrast, if we take into account the western enlightenment geopolitical imagination, it is mainly imperial that stressed on both physical and biological competition for relative gains. Likewise, the context of geopolitics in the sense of Montesquieu and Voltaire in reference of Alexander the Great was mainly limited to exchange of places and redistribution of resources. But in the age of globalization, geopolitics has turned vicious and greedy for controlling world geography and resources. Consequently, we are not living in the age of globalization rather in the vicious age of geopolitics of globalization, in which the world is oscillating between geopolitics and globalization.