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  • Inside OutPolitical Violence in the Age of Globalization
  • Paul Dumouchel (bio)

One characteristic of globalization that often goes unnoticed, perhaps because it is so evident, is that it has no outside. There is nowhere beyond, no place that can be viewed as an outer space, as a location that globalization has not reached. Globalization has no border that indicates that this is where it ends; rather it closes upon itself like the globe whose shape it adopts. It is a house that you cannot leave. There is no other world that is further than, that is past, globalization. There is no area where you can go that escapes its closure. Outside of globalization, there is no outside, no land that can be inhabited or even discovered and explored. This is not a problem of imagination. The difficulty to which I wish to point is not that we cannot imagine a life that would be different from life in the globalized world; in fact, that is relatively easy to do. What I want to argue is that the process we call globalization changes the shape and structure of our relations to each other, because it has no outside. Globalization (whatever else it may be) is a totalizing process in the sense that there is nowhere that is not part of the globalized world.

If it is not possible to go outside of globalization or to go beyond it, it is indeed possible to fall from globalization or to be left behind and overlooked by it. This “fall from grace,” so to speak, corresponds to a form of internal exile [End Page 173] rather than to a departure for another country. This “exile” may be self-imposed, as was (and is) the case with cloistered monks. Men and women “abandon the world” for the service of God within monasteries, islands of peace that are both inside and outside the world. However, historically this voluntary internal exile was a departure in which those who left did not entirely vanish from the society where they had previously lived. As history has shown, monasteries were important economic actors during the Middle Ages, and they played a fundamental role in the evolution of the social and political structure in Europe, as well as in the transformation of Europe’s natural environment. Similarly, those who choose internal exile in today’s globalized society also remain important actors in the process they denounce.

This internal exile can also be externally imposed; individuals and entire populations even, can be dropped out of globalization. Nonetheless, in no case does this falling out give access to a place that is not inside the global world. It does not lead anywhere that is not surrounded by the global world. To use a somewhat different image, globalization contains holes into which one can tumble and out of which it may be difficult to climb, but it has no outside. There is no outer space. That is precisely why it is called globalization! It encompasses the whole world.

Why is the outside important? Essentially, because outside of where we live is where “others” live. It is a place that is inhabited by those who are not us. Who are they? It could be that the answer to this question is not very important, as long as they are not us. The word “outside” suggests first of all a separation in physical space. It is opposed to inside, and those who are not us do not live inside, or if they happen to live there, it is only by accident, temporarily, and with our permission. This is what globalization has transformed. “Others” are now among us. Through globalization, the coincidence between political, social, and cultural separation on the one hand and distance in space on the other has come to an end. It is not true anymore that those who are not us, those who are different, inhabit a different place, that they live somewhere else. We now share with them the same “global” world and integrated space. That which we call globalization corresponds, among other things, to the fact that difference in spatial location does not anymore coincide with important social, cultural, and...


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pp. 173-184
Launched on MUSE
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