Kapil Pokharel Kapil Pokharel
Jan 21, 2017
Immediate Effects of Globalization of World Capitalism in Nepali Society -Kapil Pokhrel

            Multiculturalism, historically, the term has come to be used “primarily in connection with demands on behalf of black and other minority groups for separate equal representation in college curriculums and extra-academic cultural programs and events.” (Turner, 1993:411) But the multiculturalism has enlarged as the issue of identity politics, these days. It has become a one of the tools of politics which has blocked the class politics in the international arena, as well.

Multiculturalism is a new phenomenon of the societies of the world.  Globalization and the neo-liberalism have influenced the world system of language, religion and culture including many other aspects.            

Globalization is free flow of (i) ideas, (ii) commodities, (iii) technologies, (iv) capital and (v) people. Due to the globalization it has become easier to flow of those phenomena which influence the language, culture and system of the countries of the world. (Friedman, 2000) As, Erikson cites, writing foreword to the 2010 edition on Wolf’s book, “the growth of urban slums throughout the Third World is also, however, an indirect result of economic globalization. (Wolf, 2010: xiii, cf. Davis 2006) It is obvious that ‘free flow’ is relation with power. ‘Free flow’, I mean is, free flow of ‘idea’ of the West and the capitalist world or the ‘developed’ or so-called ‘First World’ to the ‘Third World’ countries, free flow of ‘commodity’ is free flow of raw materials and natural resources from the ‘periphery’ to the ‘core’ and the ‘products’ from ‘core to the ‘periphery’; free flow of ‘technologies’ is from the ‘developed’ or so-called the first World to the Third world; free flow of ‘capital’ also the same; and free flow ‘people’ means free flow of ‘labor’ from the third world to the first world.

There are two different views on nature of globalization whether is it an idea or a project. One view is that globalization currently is expansion of world capitalism, and the other is that it is the historical process. Friedman writes, “It treats globalization as a particular phase process in the larger system, one that is linked with declining hegemony in older centers, with decentralization of capital accumulation—in other words, globalization of capital—and a double tendency toward globalization of elites and localization of middle and lower classes. The current polarization of elites and locals of the upwardly and downwardly mobile is combined with a cultural fragmentation that strikes the dehegemonizing zones of the world arena, leading to a complex combination of ethnification and class polarization. The latter give rise to various cultural transformations and an intensive creativity, one that is not a celebration of cultural liberation but of deep contradiction in the real lives of the people that social scientists should be trying to understand. (Friedman, 2000:655) That means it is a project to strengthen the world capitalist system even though globalization is not a new phenomenon (eg. Frank, 1998, Wolf, 2010), but it has essentialized today. It is certainly un-crossable that the different excesses that globalization has provided the world capitalism to elaborate its free flow, and globalization as its strategic plan in the current context. It has influenced the language, religion and culture of the world.

Similarly, neo-liberalism is the new phenomenon of the world capitalism. Ideologically, five key values of neo-liberalism are: (i) primacy of the individual; (ii) options and freedoms for choice; (iii) market security; (iv) minimal government; and (v) laissez faire economic policy. (Putnam, 2010: 5, cf. Larner 2000) When the ideology of neo-liberalism was implementing, the Soviet Union was defunged and world had become unipolar. In this context, the capitalist world had implemented it with full fledge. Naturally, It favors more efficient private sector and less the government role in delivering public goods and services to the public. In the case of Nepal, since 1990, after the formation of democratic government Nepal has opened for the world market. It holds liberal democracy as state’s principle and then neo-liberal ideology got wide ground to play in Nepal. (Ibid)

Due to the globalization and the neo-liberalism, the world capitalism has infected the indigenous society. We, empirically, experiencing its effects for last ten years in Nepal. It is manifested as the identity politics. It is not only the case of Nepal but of all around the world. Due to the neo-liberal capitalism, language of the indigenous people have gone to be collapse; culture have gone to be end; and indigenous religion is being disappointing. In the resistance against the violation in their language, religion and culture the indigenous communities organized with an idea of politics of identity. Hence due to the globalization and neo-liberal capitalism the identity politics has arisen around the world.

Because of the globalization the states have protected the capitalism, as a result language, religion and culture of indigenous community have gone to endanger. (eg. Turner 1993, Friedman, 2000 etc.) In his own word, Turner argues, “As a code word for minority demands for separate recognition in academic and other cultural institutions, mlticulturalism tends to become a form of identity politics, in which the concept of culture becomes merged with that of ethnic identity. From an anthropological standpoint, this move, at least in its more simplistic ideological forms, is fraught with dangers both theoretical and practical. It risks, essentialzing the idea of culture as the property of an ethnic group or race; it risks reifying culture as separate entities by overemphasizing their boundedness and mutual distinctness; it risks overemphasizing the internal hegemony of cultures in terms that potentially legitimize repressive demands for communal conformity; and by treating cultures as badges of group identity, it tends to fetishise them in ways that put them beyond the reach of critical analysis- and thus of anthropology.” (Turner, 1993:411-12) This means the nation states which had been patronizing only one culture but now it has compelled to protect culture of all identity.  Due to the new phenomena of the globalization and neo-liberalism territory, land and cultures have encroached but instead it is being resisted by indigenous activism. In the process of resistance indigenous activities has become the world-wide movement. Hence the trajectory of anthropology has also enlarged. The trajectory is not bounded to study [others] culture instead it broadened to the study of effects of globalization and neo-liberalism; multiculturism and identity politics; and aid and aid effects; etc. 

The structure of the social world has changed due to the new phenomena. Friedman argues, “A global systemic anthropology should aim at understanding both the world and the cultural identities and derivative discourses that are generated by the structures of that world.” (Friedman, 2000:648) According to Friedman, “There is a dual process involved in the current process of globalization. The first of these is a decline in centrality or hegemony in the world system, a decline expressed in the weakening of the nation states of the former center of the world system, this has been accompanied by the disintegration of the Soviet Empire as a hegemonic structure and of some of the weakest links in the world system, especially Africa. While there is a great deal of variation involved, this process has involved massive decentralization and the emergence of new or renewed politicized identities. It has also involved massive disorder and dislocation of populations, and a resultant mass migration to traditional centers that are now facing their own internal crises. The most general property of this new disorder is expressed in a wave of ethnification resulting in a cultural and political fragmentation of formerly larger units. The ethnification consists in a strong re-identification that is clearly advantageous for those who so identify but also increases the conflict potential in the larger world.” He argues, “The rise of indigenous movements, regional movements, immigrant minority politics and increasing nationalism are all in such terms expressions of the same transformation-fragmentation process of identification in the world arena.” (Friedman, 2000:648) From his statements, I mean, the conflict is increasing in the larger world arena.

On the other side, Hall and Fenelon argue that indigenous movements are different from other movements by challenging privatization, commodification, conventional gender roles, conventional family organization, and conventional views and practices of the fundamental relations between human beings and their environment. They say, “most indigenous movements even those that are highly self conscious and theoretically driven.” And add, “these struggle entail political, cultural, and economic struggles over sovereignty, limited autonomy and minority status and rights.” (Hall and Fenelon, Pp. 207) Hence cultural politics has been the politics of difference, transformation of difference into claims on the public sphere, for recognition, for funds, for land; and its view has been the view of national vs. ethnic, individual vs. collective (in terms of ethnic group). Erikson views, “Zones of tension are manifold in this world. In addition to the general lines of conflict given flesh and blood by Wolf—power versus powerlessness, wealth versus poverty, autonomy versus dependence—which remain relevant, perhaps eternally so, new conflicts, frictions, and tensions appear today…” (Erikson, 2010, Foreword in Wolf, 2010: xiii-xiv) And, Taylor argues that the ‘discourse of recognition’ has become familiar on two levels;  first, in the intimate sphere because formation of identity and the self as taking place in a continuing dialogue and struggle with significant others and then in the public sphere where a politics of equal recognition has come to play a bigger and bigger role. (Taylor, 1994) He further argues, “Salman Rusdie’s theory is ‘politics and religion should be separated’... multicultural society could break if people are not be recognized.” (Taylor, 1994:62) Those arguments means that there [are emerging] emerged the new dynamics of conflicts in the societies in the world.  What can be the solution of this conflict? There are also debate.

Liberal philosophers like Canadian scholar Kymlicka argues, “…liberals… contribute to people's autonomy, and because people are deeply connected to their own culture. I have also argued that national minorities typically have the sort of societal culture that should be protected, while immigrants typically do not, since they instead integrate into, and thereby enrich, the culture of the larger society. (Kymlicka, Pp. 94) He has suggested that liberals should care about the viability of societal cultures, because they contribute to people's autonomy, and because people are deeply connected to their own culture. (Ibid) Tailor also argues that liberalism do not mean to cultural neutrality, it does not mean secularity. (Taylor, 1994:62) It is obvious that the key principal of liberal state is for equality for the citizens. So there consists the freedom of different cultures within it. But I think, there are some lacking and questions for implementing. That is the question of protection of minority and immigrants cultures. Hypothically, his view can be true that ‘the freedom of culture consists in the liberalism which depends on individual freedom’.

I am disagree with their view, I argue that minority culture cannot alive in the liberalism as Kymlicka himself not sure on the ‘the survival of a culture is not guaranteed, and, where it is threatened with debasement or decay’ (Pp. 83); he also has some unsolved questions, “How should liberal states respond to societal cultures?; if people have such a deep bond with their own language and culture, why not allow immigrants to develop their own societal cultures? and have some national minorities over time ceased to possess a societal culture?” (Kymlicka, Pp.94) Here I argue, minority cultures need protection from the state but liberalism cannot protect any one (even to the minority) as it is based upon equal rights of people. In practice, if the states intervene to protect any [minority] culture the other group may say that there was violation of human rights and the norms and values of the liberal- democracy; however liberalism is based upon individualism, it demands individual’s supremacy. So liberalism cannot protect freedom of minority or marginalized culture.

Patten challenges ‘the widely accepted assumption that liberal neutrality is irrelevant to thinking about cultural and linguistic diversity’ focusing on the ‘problem of language policy’; he argues “liberal neutrality represents a coherent position that should play a modest, but not negligible, role in the construction of a normative theory of language politics. A rehabilitation of the idea of liberal neutrality as part of what I will call a hybrid theory of language policy points to a distinctive and appealing way of making the case for minority language rights and also to an understanding of the reasonable limits that can be placed on such rights.” (Patten, 2003:357) And stands for ‘a hybrid theory of language policy’.

In the question of provide social justice to the people and recognize them in multicultural society, Axel Honneth and Nancy Frazer have contrasting views. Honneth views that ‘recognition alone is sufficient to provide social justice to the people’ but Frazer argues, ‘recognition alone is not sufficient, but recognition and redistribution both should be together to provide social justice to the people’. (Frazer & Honneth) Both of them ‘reject the economistic view’ (Nancy, Pp.2) but it is overwhelmingly an issue of economic relation as ‘all the histories of hitherto society are the history of class struggle’ (Marx & Engels). It means as Marx and Engels argued in the mid-nineteenth century that socio-economic inequalities are the root cause of conflict between the social classes.

Reading all those statements, I arrive to argue that the current issues of multicultural society have created by the effects of globalization of world capitalism; those are deeply rooted to economic relations. Hence ‘establishment of economic equality’ can be the prerequisite of solution of the current dynamics of conflict.


Frank, Andre Gunder. 1929/1993. Reorient: Global Economy in the Asian Age. University of California Press. Barkely/ L. A./ London.

Frazer Nancy and Honneth Axel. Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange. Joel Galb, James Ingram and Christiane Wilke (Trans.). Verso. London. NY.

Friedman, Jonathan. May 1992. Myth, History and Political Identity. Cultural Anthropology. Vol. 7, No. 2. Pp 194-210.

Friedman, Jonathan. 2000. Journal of World-systems Research, vi, 3, fall/winter 2000, 636-656. Special Issue: Festchrift for Immanuel Wallerstein – Part II. http://jwsr.ucr.edu

Hall, Thomas D. and Fenelon James V. Hegemonic Decline: Present and Past. Indigenous People and Hegemonic Change: Threats to sovereignty or opportunities for resistance?Jonathan Friedman & Christopher Chase Dome (Eds.) Politicel Economy of the World-System Annuals, Volume XXVI-b, Immanual Wallerstein Series Editor. Paradigm Publishers. London

Kymlicka, Will. Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Clarendon  Press. Oxford.

Marx, Karl and Engels, Fredrick. 1978.  Manifesto of the Communist Party. The Marx- Engels Reader, Second Edition. Robert C. Tucker (Ed). Princeton University. W.W. Norton & Company. New York/ London.

Patten, Alan. 2003, Liberal Neutrality and Language Policy,  Philosophy & Public Affairs, Volume 31, Number 4, Fall 2003, pp. 356-386

Putnam, Daniel B. August 9-11, 2010. Neoliberalizing Development:   Transnational Institutions, NGOs and State Space in Nepal.   (http://digitalcollections.sit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1071&context=faculty_symposium)

Taylor, Charles and others. 1994. The Politics of Recognition: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Guttman, Amy (Ed.). Princeton University press.

Turner, Terence. Nov. 1993. Anthropology and Multiculturalism: What is Anthropology That Multiculturalist should be Mindful of It? Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 8, Pp 411-429.

Wolf, Eric R. 2010. Europe and People without History. Europe, Prelude to Expansion. University of California, press. 

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