Localism the Best Response to Evils of Globalization

By Hiebert, Dennis | Winnipeg Free Press, January 6, 2017 | Go to article overview

Localism the Best Response to Evils of Globalization


Hiebert, Dennis, Winnipeg Free Press


Twenty years ago, political scientist Benjamin Barber published his seminal work, Jihad vs. McWorld . It described two opposing, concurrent global trends, one a centrifugal force tearing the world apart into various tribal wars, and the other a centripetal force bringing the world together into a uniform global society.

The jarring year that has just concluded (is there any other kind?) again raised the big-picture question of whether human societies are becoming more or less interdependent and homogeneous. Are we living in an increasingly or decreasingly single society? Are we moving toward or away from a single social system that spans the world as a single place?

Most aspects of globalization -- primarily the economic, political and cultural -- have been driven by central Western powers. But 2016 brought multiple sobering setbacks to globalization, right in its nations of origin, to the shock and chagrin of its much-criticized elites.

Anti-globalization convictions have been expressed through the World Social Forum's opposition to the World Economic Forum and through social movements focused on specific dimensions of globalization, such as fair trade versus free trade. But perhaps the greatest resistance to globalization now emerging is a generalized, populist neo-nationalism, most obviously evident in the Brexit vote in the former military and political British Empire, and the election of Donald Trump in the waning economic and cultural American empire. All forms of resistance to globalization have in common a national protectionism otherwise routinely overpowered by globalization, but now emboldened right within the leading national practitioners of globalization themselves.

Neoliberal globalization has always been driven by a self-interest willing to conquer and exploit, not by a commonality of culture or a generosity of spirit. When the global other no longer serves our purposes, and certainly when the global other compromises our purposes, we in the West readily shut them out, because, unlike them, we have the power to do so. Hence the current great Western turn inward to privilege our own jobs, our religion, our security, our people, our countries, our cultures and our "Canadian values," all in an attempt to "make America great again."

It is really no surprise globalization has come back to bite its original and most ardent purveyors. Well, not those elites who benefit most from it and have the security to bask in its ideals, but rather its aggrieved working classes. They now rise up in protest and outvote their upper classes. In essence, it is simple Marxist class conflict that was temporarily out of sight, exported to the other side of the world in the transnational corporate race to the bottom, now returning to roost with a vengeance in the politics of the very nations from which globalization emanated. …

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