Hackneyed Jargon and Intellectual Honesty

Monday, 29th May 2017

What I really mean by globalists, elitists and corporatists

A couple of weeks ago someone chastised me on Twitter for using the term Deep State to explain Donald Trump’s Damascene conversion over Syrian regime change. Apparently the concept that the US Administration may be beholden to secretive cliques with close ties to the military industrial complex is a mere conspiracy theory perpetuated by Russian propagandists. All sane analysts know the US State Department has only ever supported the causes of liberal democracy and human rights abroad, if we exclude occasional strategic alliances with our enemy’s enemies who turned out to be worse than our enemy. So by this logic General Dwight D Eisenhower was a mere conspiracy theorist at the height of the Cold War. Indeed most of the evidence I’ve encountered about the Deep State comes from Americans such as former Reagan Advisor Dr Paul Craig Roberts and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh. Of course, the wheelers and dealers behind the Deep State deny its existence. They’re merely exercising a little pressure on whoever happens to be in the White House.

I find it very hard to write about current macro-political developments without using the misunderstood adjective globalist or its related abstract nouns. I know it’s hackneyed and many will dismiss my musings as those of a mad isolationist who simply wants to stop the world and return to a harsh primordial habitat. I guess globalism is a more of a philosophy, while globalisation is a phenomenon that results almost inevitably from rapid technological and economic changes. However, I cannot think of alternative terms that others would not misconstrue to an even greater extent. The real bone of contention here is not whether greater planetary interconnectedness is a good thing or not, but who is in control and for what purpose? Do we all need to adopt the same cultural paradigms and discard traditions that evolved gradually over hundreds of generations or can we harness recent technological advances to preserve the best of humanity’s diverse cultures while allowing different peoples to experiment in new cultural expressions? Do we want a multipolar world with a mosaic of intersecting but socially cohesive communities or do we want a homogenised unipolar world? By globalist I mean many things:

  • Corporate globalist A supporter of the hegemony of transnational corporations over national or regional organisations.
  • Political globalist A supporter of greater convergence of existing national and supranational governments. A political globalist may cite the phenomenon of corporate globalisation as a reason for the transfer of power from small nation states to larger regional blocs and only big organisations can counteract multinational businesses.
  • Global idealists Advocates of one world love free of all barriers that divide different groups of people. Such wishful thinkers imagine the whole world as a hippie commune and fail to see how breaking down one type of barrier, such as borders between countries, can lead to the erection of new barriers such as electrified fences around private properties when rapid cultural integration does not go as planned. Global idealists will often decry corporatists or mega-statists, especially when the global elites seek to transfer more power to greedy corporations and limit personal freedoms through greater surveillance.
  • Elitists favour a hierarchical society controlled by a small group of privileged individuals who consider themselves both morally and intellectually superior to the rest of humanity. Traditionally such people would favour nation states as the best means of preserving their power. However, today the globally connected rich prefer globalism to circumvent local democracies and expand their commercial empires. While a medieval elitist might want a principality to protect his castle, a postmodern elitist just buys an exclusive resort anywhere in the world as long as it's well protected and is easily accessible via private helicopter or yacht.
  • Internationalists advocate a multipolar world thats seeks to harmonise the practical needs of greater cooperation between communities and countries with people's desire for greater self-determination and gradual cultural evolution.

Few could doubt that the ability to communicate freely and instantly with anyone connected to the worldwide web is a good thing. It could help us learn from each other and resolve potential conflicts peacefully and amicably, as long as we respect that others may have very a different perspective. A true humanitarian does not seek to change other peoples, but learn from them, sharing knowledge and experience, but not imposing a new way of life. Some practices may seem vile or immoral, from our perspective. We may view the treatment of women and homosexuals in some majority Muslim countries with abhorrence. Many global idealists see it as their mission to liberate women and gays in these countries. Naive global idealism can easily yield to full support for military adventurism especially when justified by human rights concerns. However, a devout Muslim could by the same logic justify intervention in Western Europe to thwart the perceived evils of abortion, sexual promiscuity, stupefaction, gambling and usury. If you’ve ever tried to debate contentious topics such as abortion, you’ll know what I mean. Pro-lifers will condemn pro-choicers as mass murderers, while the latter will denounce the former as religious zealots and apologists for misogyny and child abuse. In a multipolar world the citizens of one country could agree to ban abortion (except in cases of rape or where the mother’s life in danger), while those in another country could allow it as the lesser of two evils. However, globalists would advocate a universal set of laws on such matters. If one can universally allow women’s freedom of choice on abortion, one can also universally outlaw it, which may in practice lead many women to resort to shoddy backstreet clinics or dangerous abortion pills. The same logic applies to sexual mores. If we had a global referendum on the legal status of adult homosexuality or the death penalty, the outcome may shock Western liberals and recent demographic trends will only increase the number of people in ethno-religious communities that denounce homosexuality, but favour capital punishment. Mass migration, a phenomenon that globalists of all hues welcome, undermines traditional nation states, but creates new parallel communities with divergent cultural outlooks. To accommodate these communities, the authorities have to roll back the gains of the last three to four generations of social progress to a more laid-back and tolerant society. Communal tolerance only works with high levels of mutual trust and shared values. Until recently mixed gender social nudity was common in many locales in Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. Now such venues have to be sectioned off to avoid conflicts with the countries’ growing Muslim communities. The recently elected Austrian President, Alexander van der Bellen, suggested that all women should wear veils in solidarity with those who have to cover their heads and faces for religious reasons. The trouble with universalism is it all seems fine in theory if the world converges on the cultural expressions and practices that you favour. In the near future divergence from the universally enforced norm will be a privilege afforded only to the lucky few. Sir Richard Branson can carry on lecturing us on the wonders of globalism from the privacy of his own private island. I wonder how many refugees from Middle East war zones Sir Richard has welcomed onto Necker Island.

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