More, Mobility, Mentality

Moises Naim divided the major changes and revolutions occurring in an age of globalization into three categories. For one, there is the “More” revolution, given that there is now more of everything available in terms of consumption and demand. Second, there is the “Mobility” revolution which suggests that “accelerated global mobility” is fundamentally changing the way cultures, economies, and societies are functioning and operating. And third, there is the “Mentality” revolution which has led to a “profound change in expectations and standards” amongst all classes and amongst both rich and poor in virtually all societies as a result of the two aforementioned changes or revolutions stemming from globalization. In short, the “Mentality” revolution means that the worldview or weltanschauung of many people has been changing over the course of the last few decades, regardless of economic or social class and regardless of culture and nationality. 

As Quinn Slobodian noted, there are key arguments to globalist thinking which underpin the notion that nationalism and world organization based on the nation-state is now obsolete. He wrote that in the globalist view, the following arguments were most pertinent: “The world economy was unitary and could not be divided meaningfully into constituent nations or empires. It was interdependent, because industrial nations relied on foreign markets for both raw materials and sales, and fluctuations of supply and demand were felt worldwide.” He added: “It was infrastructurally homogenous, comprising a material network of railroads, telegraph lines, and steamships as well as standard conventions of law, finance, and production. At the same time, it was functionally heterogeneous, because different regions specialized in economic activity that suited their particular endowments, producing a greater international division of labor and thus a more efficient use of the world’s resources. Most importantly, the world economy had a supranational force, capable of overriding attempts by individual polities to influence it.” 

However, all of this, and as Wendy Brown has mentioned, has fostered a “reactionary formation” against globalization in many parts of the world, even in the United States. Many regular people are now reduced to “somewheres” or as “deplorables” to borrow from Hillary Clinton as a result of globalization. Brown wrote: “The somewheres cling to the soil, even if it is planted in suburban lawn devastated by droughts and floods from global warming, littered with the paraphernalia of addictive painkillers, and adjacent to crumbling schools, abandoned factories, terminal futures. Families become shells, ownership and savings vanish, marriages teeter and break, depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness are ubiquitous, religion is commercialized and weaponized, and patriotism is reduced to xenophobic support for troops in aimless, endless wars and useless, but spectacular border barricades.” 

Brown added: “Nation, family, property, and the traditions reproducing racial and gender privilege, mortally wounded by deindustrialization, neoliberal reason, globalization, digital technologies, and nihilism, are reduced to affective remains.” But at the end, Brown left open the possibility that both the political right and the political left will actively try to “transform” these “remains” which have been left behind by the epic and monumental changes that have been brought about by globalization. Whether it is the political right or the political left who ultimately triumph in the competition and struggle to transform these “remains” is yet to be determined.

But it is clear that what the economic, ecological, and physical changes have prompted from a social standpoint is in large part the “White Rage” that has now been channeled through angry populist and nativist politics in the United States. And while the rage on the part of white folks is understandable to a certain extent, it is highly unlikely that the cure and the remedy for the rage can be found in the kind of angry populist and nativist politics that have taken root in American society. Even I have felt the rage and the sense of helplessness in the face of the changes which have occurred as a result of globalization, even though I am not white and even though my family qualifies as the top 1 percent based on certain metrics and standards. However, even the “remains” left behind by globalization will probably be ruined through the current course of action which the political right in the United States has assumed. In short, the cure and the remedy cannot be to put out fire with fire. 

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