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The Virtual End of Globalisation! Ha! Ha! Told You So, New Class Elites! By James Reed
Greg Sheridan, who by his photo appears to have eternal youth, has lost faith in globalisation, previously losing faith in multiculturalism. Well, the disease critique of globalism was made by various writers over the past 20 years or more (Garrett Hardin etc., The Social Contract guys etc.), so the arguments have been out there for a long time, and until now, ignored by the chattering class. Anyway, welcome aboard Greg, to the good ship, nationalism. I hope you don’t mind my smell, I don’t wash too much being dirt poor from globalisation, but we are now all in the life boats together, so let’s cuddle up against the coming winter chill of converging catastrophes, detailed by the late Guillaume Faye (1949-2019) in his book, Convergence of Catastrophes:
“The thesis of this book is a terrifying one: our present global civilisation will collapse within twenty years, and it is too late to stop it. We shall regress to a 'New Middle Ages' akin to the fall of the Roman Empire, only much more destructive. For the first time in the whole of human history, certain 'dramatic lines', giant crises and catastrophes of immense proportions - already tangible - have emerged. They are converging and will most likely reach their zenith by 2020. Up to that time, as we have already been witnessing, their effects will continue to get worse, until a breaking point is reached. Guillaume Faye rigorously examines these escalating crises one by one: environmental damage and climate change; the breakdown of a speculative and debt-ridden globalist economy; the return of global epidemics; the depletion of fossil fuels and of agricultural and fishing resources; the rise of mass immigration, terrorism and nuclear proliferation; the worsening of the rupture between Islam and the West; and the dramatic explosion of a population of the elderly in the wealthy countries - all of it leading to an unprecedented worldwide economic recession, an increase in localised and possibly large-scale armed conflicts...and perhaps worse. Still, Faye reminds us, we should not give in to pessimism: what we are experiencing is not an apocalypse, but a metamorphosis of humanity. We might have reached the end of what the Hindu traditions refer to as the Kali Yuga, the 'age of iron' marked by materialism and selfishness, but those who survive the catastrophe and chaos will perhaps build a new and better humanity.”
Faye wrote about global pandemics, and was right about that, and we still face the other existential threats. Just imagine if an EMP Carrington Event, like the one that almost destroyed modern civilisation according to NASA in 2012, happened now while we were all in lock down mode! I guess it will be over pretty quick, maybe. I don’t know how long it takes to die from dehydration.
“Coronavirus has brought a world recession and has every chance of bringing a global depression. Don’t think it’s a short-term phenomenon or similar to anything we have seen before in our modern experience. It is chewing up and spitting out every tenet of globalisation. This week Scott Morrison rightly slammed shut our national borders. Although temporary, this may last a long time. And don’t forget, Australia only has the option of physically controlling its borders at all because twice — once when John Howard was prime minister and once when Tony Abbott was PM and Morrison his immigration minister — Canberra made a full-frontal repudiation of one of the central tenets of globalisation, free movement across open borders. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has talked of American unemployment rising as high as 20 per cent. Mnuchin is unlikely to be wildly overstating things. At the height of the Great Depression, US unemployment was 25 per cent. In many ways, the US then was more cohesive, with more natural social support mechanisms, even if not as rich, than now. Depressions, like wars, inevitably bolster the powers of national governments. Just as income tax was first introduced in the US, Britain and Australia as a wartime measure to pay for various war efforts and was then never taken away, so it is with depressions. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was a series of emergency measures designed to combat the Great Depression, which lasted a decade in the US. Many New Deal measures, such as social security, became permanent features of American life.
The Prime Minister and Josh Frydenberg are determined not to “bake in” permanent structural spending in the stimulus packages responding to the virus crisis. But this may not always be possible. The government is already working on a host of infrastructure and development projects to roll out as soon as the worst of the crisis passes. There will be much less tolerance for green warfare and regulatory obstruction. The emphasis will be on action to get projects going, to provide jobs and to build infrastructure with economic pay-off. But the virus will also affect politics, local and global, profoundly. As many commentators (including me) have argued, COVID-19 is the killer of globalisation, or at least globalisation as we have known it. One thing it is going to kill for sure is the idea of the free movement of people across open borders. To say this is not to indulge anti-foreigner or anti-immigrant sentiment. Authoritarian regimes control their borders as a matter of course. Until recent decades, democratic governments always tried to do the same. In the midst of war or natural disaster, you may not be able to do so. But these were recognised as exceptional circumstances. In recent decades, a positive ideology of globalisation has been to wipe out borders. The EU has tried to do this internally, and for a time tried to do it externally as well. It was a colossal disaster and one most European people hated. It led directly to Brexit and its slogan: Take back control. Immigration was crucial in the Brexit referendum. That was not because the Brits are inherently anti-immigrant, but because they want to control immigration. In 2015, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel threw open the doors to completely unregulated people movement from the Middle East and North Africa. Two million people came and the European population loathed it. Nationalist leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who tried to stop it and built a wall, were vilified by EU leaders. But across Europe political parties were born whose sole purpose was to fight open borders.
Merkel will go down in history as an immensely destructive politician, whose bland, stoic visage concealed an almost complete absence of political principle, and who showed not the slightest skerrick of consistency. She fairly quickly reversed herself on the open door and started paying huge sums to Turkey to detain or turn back North Africans and Arabs from Europe. Now Greece is actively turning boats around and, far from criticising, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says: “I thank Greece for being our European shield.” In the US, President Donald Trump was elected in part on the promise of stopping illegal immigration across the Mexican border. These clear rejections of the open borders element of globalisation were evident before coronavirus hit. The idea that the US controlled its borders was previously upheld by Democrat administrations such as Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s. They were often enough ineffective but the principle was clear. But as the Democratic Party moved left, it effectively embraced open borders. Democrat presidential contenders Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders de facto embraced open borders in their recent confrontation in a primary debate. They both deny their policies equate to open borders but that is completely implausible. Biden promised that anyone who claimed asylum on the southern border would be granted a court hearing and not detained while waiting for their court date. He also promised no one would be deported for being in the US illegally unless they committed a felony on US soil. And he promised healthcare for illegal immigrants. That is open borders and one reason why Trump, although he mishandled the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, is still likely to be re-elected. More generally, Trump is smart to talk increasingly of “war” against the virus, as his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron has done repeatedly. Trump understands that Americans almost never turn against their president during a war.
The rejection of the excesses of globalisation predate COVID-19. But the virus will massively enhance these dynamics. Coronavirus is hunting down every one of globalisation’s core doctrines and destroying them. It is the virus sent to kill globalisation. That is not to say globalisation is all wrong, or even mostly wrong. But it has been carried to excess. It has abandoned commonsense and needlessly damaged national sovereignty. I asked two prime ministers who secured Australia’s borders what they thought of this. Abbott told me: “There’s been too much faith in globalisation and it has led us to do many things which hamper our economic performance. Why do we believe in markets? Because they mostly work. But when they don’t work we put our country first. We should believe in markets but believe in our country more. “No self-respecting country should ever allow itself to lose a substantial manufacturing capacity, or not to have substantial stockpiles of essential pharmaceuticals.” And on borders? “Control of national borders is a precondition of sovereignty. A country which loses control of its borders loses control of itself.” Howard thinks it’s too early to draw conclusions about the long-term economic effects of COVID-19. But all through his political career he has argued that the nation-state is the critical actor in international politics. Consistent with his root-and-branch support for national sovereignty, he supports globalisation, by which he means free trade. Howard’s position on national sovereignty and borders has been slowly vindicated even as he, Abbott and Morrison were routinely denounced by every woke commentator in the world. He tells me: “My statement that we will decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come was not a popular view around the world, but it’s become a lot more popular.”
He is struck by the politics of the way the virus crisis has played out in Europe: “What’s happened has illustrated the limitations of the European Union. To some extent it has undermined the European project. Every country has gone its own way. Some say that’s because Brussels doesn’t have enough power. But Brussels certainly won’t get more powers now. “The question will need to be asked as to whether the requirement of unified EU action has in any way slowed individual national actions on the virus.” Howard’s analysis of Europe is undeniable. The EU’s folly demonstrates the futility and inanity of the furthest reaches of globalisation as ideology. The full-blown ideology of globalisation has its purest expression every year at the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland. This has led to the expression “Davos man”. The Davos phenomenon in fact demonstrates the dishonesty and futility of globalisation as an ideology. It is not global, for a start, but embodies the government, big business and increasingly the entertainment classes of Western Europe, New York and California. There is always a tiny skein of ultra-woke, politically correct liberals from Asia and elsewhere. But 25 years as a foreign editor have taught me one iron rule: if you ever meet a Southeast Asian politician who boasts about his popularity at Davos, you are dealing with someone who has no traction in their own society. The Davos types have been able to insulate themselves from the consequences of open borders and many of the other progressive causes they preach. No longer. If any group of national governments embodied globalisation identity it was those of the leading EU nations — France, Germany, Italy and so on. The world is moved by the terrible toll the virus has taken in Italy. Yet in its distress Italy asked for help in the provision of life-saving medical equipment and supplies, and not one of its EU partners was able, or chose, to help.
They don’t make these products any more anyway. Under the hyper-specialist supply chains of globalisation, these are made in China, And China did indeed provide some emergency supplies to Italy. But the bottom line is the Italian government looked after Italians as best it could. The Spanish government looked after Spaniards as best it could, and so on. France and Germany made it illegal to export such supplies at all. Despite the core EU ideology of free movement and open borders within Europe, Germany closed its borders, a perfectly sensible move. The EU leadership talked of closing the EU’s external borders. That makes sense as an emergency measure. But if it makes sense for the EU, it surely makes sense for individual European nations who think it would help them. Yet the very institution of the EU has robbed European nations of the independent power to do so. COVID-19 may be with us for a long time. Even when it is suppressed in any nation, that nation remains vulnerable to infected international travellers. Until there is a vaccine, international movement of people is likely to be restricted. After that, open borders will never again have the same appeal, and globalisation will itself be fundamentally transformed.”
Well, I never thought that one of the chattering class would come out like this, but this shows great integrity, something missing from almost all of the rest of the intelligentsia who were so eager to pounce on any seedling of nationalism they saw in the years gone by. Bring on the brave new ecological worlds of limits, pandemics, and local self-reliance, I say.