Monday, 05 April 2021 17:21

Being a Lion or Gazelle in the Global Age

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“... the global consumption culture continues on its way without slowing down by eroding and de-identifying ancient local values. While shopping malls were transformed into Postmodern Temples of Consumption, people fascinated by the creative performances of these fantasy palaces turned from those who went to the shopping just because they needed it into bargained effectively, spending hours and "freely" between commodities without purchasing, people became acquiescent of fixed prices. Consumption, which was based on the concept of “need” in the traditional period, started to be based on the concepts of “desire” and “request” in the late modern or postmodern period ..."

Sociologist Anthony Giddens quotes his anecdote while describing the cultural effects of globalization in his book "Runaway World": “A friend of mine is working on village life in Central Africa. A few years ago, he went to a remote area where he intended to conduct field work for the first time, and on the day he got there, he was invited to a house for night entertainment. As it would immediately come to mind, my friend was there hoping to learn about the unique traditional entertainment of this isolated community. However, the reason for the night was nothing more than watching the movie Basic Instinct en masse. And while the film has not even hit theaters in London yet.”

There are many definitions of globalization. However, for now, it is enough to say that globalization is the flow of information, goods, capital and people across political, economic and cultural boundaries. With globalization, our physical space comprehensions are changing and with this new process, also called time-space compression, each individual actually feels that the world is shrinking. Especially when the sophistication of the digital age is evident. What is increasingly important in today's world has now turned into information rather than goods. Information, especially since it is transformed into digital media and computer codes, becomes weightless and can be sent to anywhere in the world instantly.

Eric Hobsbawn describes our age as "the global victory of the USA and its lifestyle". Taking this further, Henry Kissenger: "Globalization is actually another name given to the dominant role of the USA," he says. Based on similar descriptions, we can summarize globalization as a concept that expresses homogenization throughout the world, and we can say that it is the adventure of Westernization and Americanization by subjugating societies.

We are faced with the fact that today's world is shaped by a globalization that reinforces the power of the capitalist economic system. The most important element in the flattening of the world and the transnational fluidity of liberal capitalist understanding has been multinational companies. So much so that in the rapidly homogenizing current world, these companies have become the main actors, and in Hegel's words: “The state starts where the borders of the companies end”. With the talent of supranational companies, economic globalization, which constitutes the most important reason for existence and first sphere of globalization, naturally comes with the sphere of cultural globalization. The historian Walter LaFeber says of the supranational companies, which are the engines of globalization, "they not only change the purchasing habits in a society, they also change the structure that constitutes society itself." As a matter of fact, the sociologist George Ritzer, who has studies on American-style consumption, globalization, metatheory, modern and postmodern social theory, summarized this situation as McDonaldization of society. McDonaldization of the society was formed with the rationalization of the food culture and the spread of the formal phenomenon to cover the whole world. The important thing in this system is that rational food culture has become a common and new tradition. Otherwise, it is not adding buttermilk to the menu in Turkey, giving wine as a drink in France, or using mutton instead of cow meat in India, of course. When viewed with this projection, Ritzer's McDonald's metaphor is an important example in that it shows that consumption habits are homogenized almost all over the world and that human communities in different geographies have formed similar lifestyles.

We can say without hesitation; the global consumption culture that permeates and imposes on the societies through the discourses of "consume without thinking" "live happily by consuming" "disposable" or "fast food" continues on its way without slowing down by eroding and de-identifying ancient local values. While shopping malls were transformed into Postmodern Temples of Consumption, people fascinated by the creative performances of these fantasy palaces turned from those who went to the shopping just because they needed it into bargained effectively, spending hours and "freely" between commodities without purchasing, people became acquiescent of fixed prices. Consumption, which was based on the concept of “need” in the traditional period, started to be based on the concepts of “desire” and “request” in the late modern or postmodern period. Thus, consumption has lost its rational character and has assumed some experimental and irrational characters. People from the youngest to the oldest started to use their consumption activities to determine their social position and identity, and consumption has turned into a kind of social activity. We have evolved into postmodern times in which not being with our own cultural identity but having everything is universalized and individuals are defined only by their production and consumption. We go through a period in which the age of pleasure and speed puts man at the center, without questioning the state that is being put into it, and recklessly. The fact that we are under intense media bombardment until our identities and personalities are shaped by the brands of the clothes we wear and that we can be successful in business and love, with the vehicle brands we use, reveals how great the problem we are facing is in fact. By the way, we need to briefly refer to the so-called Turkish TV series that have recently found great popularity especially in Arab and Middle Eastern countries and bring "foreign currency" to our "national" income. The intense interest of these series is not because they reflect the ancient civilization of this geography or because they bear traces of the Turkish-Islamic tradition; It is due to the fact that the Hollywood-made Dallas and The Young and The Restless-style TV series do not look for them, and that they turn into popular consumer goods with the logic of being from us rather than from the West in terms of social psychology. The following sentence in David Fincher's movie "Fight Club" has a very meaningful importance in terms of revealing the final point of this consumption culture, which turns into hysteria in the consumption of goods, time and space in every field: “The things you own end up owning you.”

Although globalization played an active role in the demolition of the Berlin wall, it started to build high walls between the core values of its own society and it has become a constant imposition that we need to look at the outside world through "Windows", as it makes people rootless by individualizing them. For example, the motto of “he is not a believer whose neighbor is hungry”, which is very important in terms of social solidarity culture in these distortions, has been forgotten, individual welfare and competition has been prioritized instead of sharing social welfare, social life that changes with the change of income level and social status, it has also changed the social environment. As a natural consequence of this, spatial transitions are experienced and integrations into new lifestyles continue to be experienced in the districts whose neighbors are not poor. Even in these new spaces, if possible, behind high-sheltered walls and high-security gates, which resemble military order gates, "solid castles" were settled, severing social ties with the outer world, and perceptions were closed. In these postmodern times, the tradition of cooperation and sharing has started to be made through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and even the moods and the joy on the faces of the needy people have become unique. What we mean or criticize here is, of course, not NGOs, but the mechanization of human-to-human relations. In the global age, human relations and emotions have become so secular that we used to say to our children: “Finish the food on your plate; there are many hungry people in the world who cannot find it to eat.” Nowadays we almost say: “Study your lesson well, finish your homework, there are many people in the world who will try to steal your rights” As we have just mentioned, pleasure and speed parity based on market competition, societies without leaving an opportunity for ontological inquiries, our humanity is being dragged into a position that provides a space for movement with the philosophy of "homo homini lupus". This reminds us the following statement from an American automotive factory in China, which is actually the summary of the postmodern era: "A gazelle wakes up every morning in Africa. Gazelle knows that it must run faster than the fastest running animal namely lion or it will be killed. A lion wakes up every morning in Africa. Lion knows that it must run faster than the slowest running animal namely gazelle or it will go hungry. Whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun rises, start running.”

Years ago, an advertisement of a furniture company on TV caught my attention and I was shuddered. In the advertisement, during the tea conversation on a family's newly purchased seating group, the tea in the father's hand spills on him and into the seat where he sits, and his wife and children look for something in the seat in anxiety and panic, as well as the fact that the father is left in a painful, disgusted state, remains fresh in my memory as a tragicomic phenomenon that will serve as an example of the "materialization" of human and the fact that the possessed eventually have us.

As a result, the most important test that awaits societies and individuals in the age of globalization, in which it seems impossible to get out; it is necessary to take a strong stance in order to maintain a sense of identity, homeland and belonging and to strike a balance between globalization. If this balance is not established, it will never be possible to prevent the turning into a commoditized entity in the vortex of secular, individualistic and standardizing global hegemony in all respects. And let us ask ourselves: "Do we have to be lion or gazelle in the global age?"

Read 488 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 May 2021 13:17
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