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The article examines the complex phenomenon of globalisation in the light of the facts – hence as rationally as possible. The author analyses the historical origins of the phenomenon to contextualize it, and hence to improve understanding thereof. Issues of central importance thus emerge: the role and importance of multinational enterprises, the impact of free trade – the fulcrum of the process of globalisation – on growth and employment in advanced countries and on the development of poor countries, poverty and inequalities, the relationship between globalisation and environment, and, ultimately, how states and the private sector are influenced by the growing power of NGOs, non-governmental organisations, and governmental organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Trade Organisation.