It is interesting that anti-globalists know so much more about globalism than globalists do. I hear that we are part of a worldwide conspiracy, yet I am not aware of any attempts to take over anything. Globalism is not yet a defined movement, much less a well-defined movement. In fact, very few of us call ourselves by the name. Anti-globalists are reacting, it seems, to something they sense coming on, not to something they see in the world. But they may be the ones to give the globalist movement a sense of identity.
Here’s what I hear some of they say:
Globalists are faceless, anti-democratic, international bureaucrats, who want limits on personal freedom, unchecked immigration, unending war in the third world, and unelected government. They think citizenship is a “quaint anachronism,” they distain culture and religion, and want open borders, cheap labor, and quick profits. They are the political and financial elite and against the little people. Your job will be obsolete because slaves and sweatshop workers will be brought in by the globalists to replace you. They will allow terrorists to move in next door to you in the name of cultural diversity. Not all globalists are evil: some are simply naive. All of them are self-appointed emperors, serving their own selfish needs.
I understand where this comes from. Anti-globalists are patriots. They believe, as I did once, that the nation was the highest good. Giving oneself for one’s country was the highest form of altruism. I get that. But I think it is inappropriate for the world we live in now. The ultimate altruism in a nationalist world is warfare: living and dying for one’s country. We cannot do that anymore. The Earth is too small. Intercontinental missiles make the concept of territorial defense obsolete and there is no longer a practical way for a nation to defend itself. Nuclear bombs are so destructive and their lingering affects so lethal that no nation is likely to recover after a nuclear exchange. Human survival depends on eliminating warfare – not eliminating the weapons of war, eliminating warfare itself. When there is no reason for war, there will be no reason for the weapons of war; they will disappear on their own.
I do not mean to offend your nation. But I will have to offend your assumption that nationalism is the highest form of altruism.
Through this logic, I have become a globalist. But what then? Does this mean I believe in NAFTA, outsourcing jobs overseas, the World Bank, and bureaucratic rule? I don’t think so. These defining features of “globalism” come from those who are ideologically opposed to what they are defining. I, too, am opposed to outsourcing and bureaucratic rule; these are manifestations of the globalization of capital, and not of people. Private capital is way out ahead of any other form of globalism. Without a level playing field, global capital flows toward countries with the cheapest production costs – those with the worst labor and environmental legislation. So, at the risk of over-defining terms, I am a globalist but not a globalizationist, if that makes any sense. When business gets bigger than the jurisdictional scope of those it affects, rather than trying to contract the scope, we should expand the jurisdiction. To protect workers in rich countries and natural habitat in poor countries, we need uniform environmental and labor laws throughout the world – democratically formulated laws; there is nothing about democracy that limits it to the national scale.
A united humanity would not be necessarily democratic or oppressive. It will take the form we allow. It may seem scary to think of being in the same boat with everyone else in the world, but we are already in that boat; we just haven’t yet noticed. We have gotten bigger, while the world has gotten smaller. To keep the boat steady, things will be done that have never been done before. Survival is adaptation to reality.
War, trade, climate, resources, environment, immigration, economic development, disease, and natural disasters are all global. We will need global institutions to deal with them. There is no national atmosphere or ocean. There is no defense from other people. There is no outside.
But are we capable of governing ourselves on a world scale? Can we overcome the deeply rooted assumptions that keep us divided into separate nations? I often doubt we can. Most people do not yet see the wider world that we are living in, and the few that do are accused of being faceless, anti-democratic bureaucrats who want to take your job away. It does not look good.
Globalist conspiracy theories are a cosmic intelligence test. If we are able to see the world the way it is, we get to live.