23 January 2019

Globalization without globalists?

When I woke up a few days ago the radio was reporting from  Davos on the opening of the annual World Economic Forum, one of the conclave of evil in the minds of conspiracy theorists and anti-elitists in general. In the absence of several distracted western leaders, including President Trump, the theme this year was, so the radio put it, "globalization without globalism." A distinction was thus drawn between an ongoing and irreversible historical phenomenon and an ideology promoting it with alleged indifference to local consequences. The word from Davos was that the next phase of globalization would not or should not be a "top-down" process advanced by technocrats, but would or should be shaped and guided by grassroots input. I wonder how much this distinction owes to the distinction drawn by the President between the nationalist or patriot, on his side, and the globalist who is more concerned with how the "globe" in general is doing than in how globalization affects his own country. Advocates of globalization have often justified the process by promising that the opening of markets everywhere would lift billions of people out of poverty, or at least improve their standard of living significantly. That it would raise their own standard of living seemed more certain, but does that invalidate the argument or make it irrelevant as we enter a more contentious stage of the process?  Globalists might be vindicated in the long run, but politics increasingly driven by social media has no patience for that. Humanity should aspire to globalization at all levels, economic, political and cultural, but globalism should have a "liberal" corollary of the sort that capitalism has acquired in the developed world, ameliorating the consequences of change and encouraging adaptation by the many at the expense of the few who benefit the most. That would be preferable to the protectionist gamesmanship that disrupts globalization with questionable consequences. It might be preferable, also, to have a democratic movement that was both grass-roots and global, through which the voice of an actual global citizenry could emerge, but I wouldn't expect to hear much about that at Davos. The problem now isn't  necessarily that there's too much globalism; it may be that we simply lack the right kind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A relatively recent study I read (a couple years back) indicated that the wealth of the top 6 richest people on this planet combined is greater than the wealth of the bottom 3.5 BILLION people on this planet. If those 3.5 billion people are unwilling to stand up and stomp the greedy out of existence, then perhaps they don't deserve a better life.

Those who have attained that level of wealth did NOT do so by playing fairly, but limiting themselves to moral or ethical actions. If the rest of us refuse to enforce these morals and ethics, then morals and ethics become useless.