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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: May 2018

16 - Globalization, inequality, and disintegration of states, 1980–2050

from Part V - 1950–2000: Global threats and promises


Events of the year 1989 astonished the whole world. The usually sober 200-year-old political yearbook Annual Register began its 1989 edition with these breathless words:

If 1988 saw peace breaking out in various parts of the world, 1989 was even more remarkable as the year in which the Iron Curtain was lifted in Europe, with a rapidity which left most pundits gasping. Not only was the infamous Berlin Wall thrown open to divided German people; also, one by one, the East European communist regimes which had sustained the post-1945 continental divide succumbed to the irresistible forces of awakened democracy. That this historic transformation occurred in the bicentenary year of the French Revolution has a symbolism which appealed to many.

Early in 1989, the Soviet Union withdrew its last official armed forces from Afghanistan, where it had been battling American-backed military forces for nine years. In other events of that vibrant, violent year, Chinese troops suppressed pro-democracy uprisings in Beijing and many other cities, a South African president who pledged to end white racial domination took office, his government ended years of South African opposition to the independence of neighboring Namibia, and Iran’s religious leader pronounced a death sentence in absentia against author Salman Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses.

Suggested Reading
Castells, Manuel, End of Millennium (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000). This is a wide-ranging survey of major world trends, linking them to the creation of a new network society based on information flows.
Cowen, Tyler, Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World's Cultures (Princeton University Press, 2002). Cowen presents a lucid, energetic, persuasive statement of the view that in music, literature, cinema, cuisine, and the visual arts, expanding markets promote diversification, rather than stultifying uniformity.
Glasius, Marlies, Kaldor, Mary, and Anheier, Helmut (eds.), Global Civil Society 2002 (Oxford University Press, 2002). This yearbook reports the latest on worldwide non-governmental organizations and social movements.
Hannerz, Ulf, Transnational Connections: Culture, People, Place (London: Routledge, 1996). This study focuses on what close-up observation reveals about how globalization works at the small scale.
Hornborg, Alf, The Power of the Machine: Global Inequalities of Economy, Technology, and Environment (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2001). Hornborg describes how unequal trade across the world depletes the environment.
Kaldor, Mary, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Cambridge: Polity, 2013). Kaldor explores how modern international institutions have shaped the character of national rebellion.
Rosenau, James N., Distant Proximities: Dynamics Beyond Globalization (Princeton University Press, 2003). Rosenau discusses what a world without strong states would look like.
Stiglitz, Joseph, Globalization and its Discontents (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002). A Nobel Prize winner and former World Bank chief economist surveys the accomplishments and (mostly) misdeeds of international agencies, especially the International Monetary Fund.