Globalization or Democracy: You Can’t Have Both

But if the ultimate solution to overcoming the difficulties and strains on people which stem from increased globalization and the shift in the global balance of power rests in “high thinking and modest living” to borrow from W.E.B. DuBois, then neither liberals and modernists nor nativists and populists in the United States have the solution for our main problem at hand, and as a result, the side with the most votes at the ballot box – namely, the nativists and the populists – will most likely steer the country towards their own particular direction down the road. But if the Democrats can tap into the left-leaning inclinations and tendencies of the population with the right candidates, then it is possible that the Democrats can thwart a nativist and populist takeover down the road. Where those candidates will come from is anyone’s guess. 

It has even been argued that one must choose either globalization or democracy and that one cannot have both. As one American writer argued: 

“Globalization initially bought the Western world a new level of cooperation, openness, competition, and trade. Emerging from the war in Vietnam, the US sought a greater level of multilateral cooperation, international banking and peace. We did so by contributing to an international bureaucracy dedicated to directing foreign policy and trade agreements with adversaries, hoping that the benefits of business and trade, even negative trade balances, would mitigate bad behavior. That strategy worked better with some than with others.” 

But things took a turn for the worse after the initial hope in globalization faded, and soon enough, idealism and optimism turned into discontent and resentment. The author added: “What then evolved, however, looked more like an oligarchy and an elitist shadow government undermining American democracy. Free trade sounded good, in theory, but globalism was not free, and the outcome was not good.” 

The turn against globalization in the United States, it has been argued, became solidified and popularized after the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. And the turn against globalization was a bipartisan phenomenon, transcending party lines. Both the far-left and the far-right were borne out of the global financial crisis which emanated from the United States in 2008 and 2009. The basic divide, therefore, in American government and society is between popular control over American government and society or high finance’s control over American government and society. 

The elites, as is evident by now, have chosen to side with high finance instead of siding with the American people. But as Confucius said: “By gaining the people, the kingdom is gained, and, by losing the people, the kingdom is lost.” Moreover, and as one Western author argued: 

“We are facing the failure of Western elites. They no longer are the best of us, but a stagnant ruling class. Blinded by unprecedented opulence, wrapping itself in political correctness, its chief concerns are preserving and increasing its power and privileges. In the process, it has severely limited the flow of social mobility, insuring its own decay and growing incompetence over time. This had led to an increasingly inefficient government, with no vision other than maintaining the status quo and catering to special interests.” 

A status quo, one must note, that is now fading and cannot be restored given the rise of circumstances and events which are largely outside of our control. What takes the place of a receding status quo over the course of the next few years is anyone’s guess. 

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