According to the African philosopher, Mogobe Ramose, “The metaphysics and philopraxis of Ubuntu, based on the primacy of humaneness and the principles of sharing and human solidarity, is the ethical counter to the Western economic globalization”.
How can we assign meaning to and interpret globalization in the broader sense? How does globalization effect the political, social as well as economic spheres in an African context?
In order to answer these questions, we need to question the basis, plausibility and the validity of the assumptions as well as the assumption of the experience that goes with the term, globalization. These questions surrounding globalization in an African context cannot be answered without analyzing Ubuntu philosophy. A philosophy that can be viewed as the ethical counter to Western economic globalization.
“To globalize means to make worldwide in scope and application. Globalization is a metaphor for the aspiration and the determination to render an idea or a way of life applicable and functional throughout the world” (Ramose 2012:90).
Ramose states that we are not yet able to confirm the existence or rather the accuracy of globalization and that the concepts of globalization are but mere ‘rumors.’ Ramose states that globalization demolishes boundaries, intellectual as well as cultural. Globalization also cause divide between humans by drawing boundaries through the claim to exclusive possession or ownership as well as through the claim to sole entitlement and competence to decide and exercise control over a certain area.
The creation of boundaries as a result of globalization does not necessarily prevent areas to overlap. It might even lead to convergence and unity among the entities involved. It does however lead to the merging of diverse cultures, religions and political and economic systems, which could lead to the dominance of one group over another. This makes mutual recognition and equality nearly impossible. This ideal of epistemological dominance and suppression is based on the idea that ‘…all of humanity can and must live under one economic and political truth’ and therefore benefits only one group of people.
Behind these claims are absolutism and dogmatism. The stamp of authenticity of dogmatic absolutism is where the group or person demands his position be recognized as the center towards which all else must move and being firmly fixed upon this demand (Ramose 2012:84). This brings me to the term ‘economic fundamentalism’. Economic fundamentalism is absolutist and dogmatic, like the three monotheistic religions.
Its ‘god’ is money and commands the relentless pursuit of profit at any cost and demands nothing but obedience from its followers. Money was originally created as a means to an end, but economic fundamentalist ideology has twisted this logic and subsequently, money has become an end in itself. The insatiable hunger for profit has glorified money to a divine level- a god in its own right. I agree with Ramose when he states, “…the invention of money is the original sin of economics”
The very foundation of globalization is built on the urge to broaden trade and expand religion, especially (but not exclusively), Christianity and Islam. This occurs in a specific cultural context which includes politics. Therefore, both religion and trade were the epiphany of a particular political ideology as well as the conveyor thereof. Globalization may therefore be cultural, religious, political and economic in nature.
-Professor Mogobe Bernard Ramose was born in South Africa. He was granted political asylum in Belgium where he obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He lectured in philosophy of law, philosophy of religion, ethics and African philosophy at universities in Western Europe and Africa. He is currently working as a research professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, Sefako Makgato Health Sciences University, South Africa.