The concept of Globalism now is most commonly used to refer to different ideologies of globalization. Globalism refers to any description and explanation of a world which is characterized by networks of connections that span multi-continental distances; while globalization refers to the increase or decline in the degree of globalism. It may be contrasted with individualism, localism, nationalism, regionalism or internationalism.
Manfred Steger distinguishes between different globalisms such as justice globalism, jihad globalism, and market globalism. Market globalisms include the ideology of neoliberalism. In some hands, the reduction of globalism to the single ideology of market globalism and neoliberalism has led to confusion. For example, in his 2005 book The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World, Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul treated globalism as coterminous with neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization. He argued that, far from being an inevitable force, globalization is already breaking up into contradictory pieces and that citizens are reasserting their national interests in both positive and destructive ways.
Alternatively, American political scientist Joseph Nye, co-founder of the international relations theory of neoliberalism, generalized the term to argue that globalism refers to any description and explanation of a world which is characterized by networks of connections that span multi-continental distances; while globalization refers to the increase or decline in the degree of globalism. This more general use of the concept is much less influential.
Paul James defines globalism at least in its more specific use … as the dominant ideology and subjectivity associated with different historically-dominant formations of global extension.
The definition thus implies that there were pre-modern or traditional forms of globalism and globalization long before the driving force of capitalism sought to colonise every corner of the globe, for example, going back to the Roman Empire in the second century AD and perhaps to the Greeks of the fifth-century BC2.
The word itself came into widespread usage, first and foremost in the United States, from the early 1940s. This was the period when US global power was at its peak: the country was the greatest economic power the world had ever known, with the greatest military machine in human history. Or, as George Kennan’s Policy Planning Staff put it in February 1948: “We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity”. America’s allies and foes in Eurasia were, of course, at this time suffering the dreadful effects of World War II.
In their position of unprecedented power, US planners formulated policies to shape the kind of postwar world they wanted, which, in economic terms, meant a globe-spanning capitalist order centered exclusively upon the United States.
The first person in the United States to use the term economic integration in its modern sense (i.e. combining separate economies into larger economic regions) did so at this time: one John S. de Beers, an economist in the US Treasury Department, towards the end of 1941. By 1948, economic integration was appearing in an increasing number of American documents and speeches. Paul Hoffman, then head of the Economic Cooperation Administration, made the most marked use of the term in a 1949 speech to the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. As The New York Times put it,
Mr Hoffmann used the word ‘integration’ fifteen times or almost once to every hundred words of his speech. It is a word that rarely if ever has been used by European statesmen having to do with the Marshall Plan to describe what should happen to Europe’s economies. It was remarked that no such term or goal was included in the commitments the European nations gave in agreeing to the Marshall Plan. Consequently it appeared to the Europeans that “integration” was an American doctrine that had been superimposed upon the mutual engagements made when the Marshall Plan began .
While ideologies of the global have a long history, globalism emerged as a dominant set of associated ideologies across the course of the late twentieth century. As these ideologies settled, and as various processes of globalization intensified, they contributed to the consolidation of a connecting global imaginary. In their recent writings, Manfred Steger and Paul James have theorized this process in terms of four levels of change: changing ideas, ideologies, imaginaries and ontologies.