Goodbye, Davos man, Globalism has lost its shine

2 May

Writing in Salon, Michael Lind tells of the decline of globalization:

But the voters of the industrial democracies are not listening to the elite transatlantic chattering class.  The late political scientist Samuel Huntington coined the term “Davos Man,” after the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, to symbolize the post-national, anti-populist global elite. Davos Man still exists, but he is in danger of going the way of Neanderthal Man. The Davos vision of a dawning post-national free market utopia was cracked by the al-Qaida attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and then shattered by the global financial crash of 2008. Free market globalism continues to be the  orthodoxy in elite economic and journalistic circles, but in politics it has been in retreat for years. It is increasingly clear that libertarian globalism was never the wave of the future, but merely a temporary blip in history between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the fall of the twin towers in 2001.

Hello economic nationalism:

In the world economy, the major trend of our time is the rise of nationalist state capitalism, not the disappearance of national economic boundaries that was predicted by the prophets of globalization like Thomas Friedman following the end of the Cold War. When the world economy collapsed in 2008, leading industrial countries rushed to bail out national firms like America’s GM and Germany’s Opel, giving the lie to the claim that major corporations no longer had national identities. Instead of liberalizing its economy as it developed, China has made its state-owned companies more rather than less important. Most of the world’s energy companies, and a number of major shipping and aerospace industries, are state-controlled. The response in the U.S. has been growing economic nationalism, which is tapped by presidential candidates like Obama and Romney who call for defending and promoting American industry — at least when they are running for office.

Is the fantasy really over?

Even so, the fading vision of inevitable progress toward the free flow of money, goods and labor across national boundaries was never anything more than a utopian fantasy, like the Marxist dream of international fraternity in a socialist world.  Capitalism in some form, partly private and partly statist, will endure. But less than a generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, libertarian globalism has joined communism on the dust heap of history.


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