…both Leavers and Remainers, both Trump’s supporters and Sanders’s, both Right and Left across the world have much more in common than they suspect. The sad irony is that neither side realises that the deeper cause underpinning both their concerns is globalization. Whether it’s the Left’s concerns about multinationals not paying fair taxes and the lack of funding for public services, or the Right’s about immigration, poverty and feelings of cultural alienation, both are symptoms of unregulated globalization: destructive global competition.
More on my post-brexit reflections with Nick Duffell at the Huffington Post.
It was amusing, and more than a little disheartening, to see the swarm of commentators putting digit to key in recent weeks in response to the latest Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum – a list ranking the world’s nations from most economically competitive to the worst.
From the ‘Top 10 competitive economies’ to ‘the worst economies in the world’, analysis tended more towards either celebration or recrimination over a nation’s respective placement on the list. ‘Are we more competitive than last year? If not, who’s to blame and what can we do about it?’
Absent as always from the discussion was any reflection on what this race for competitiveness actually means. Why has competitiveness become the major measure of value for national performance? What happens if we follow the race to it’s conclusion? Who or what gets left behind when economic competitiveness is pursued more vigorously than, say, climate change agreement or tax regulation?
In my latest piece for the Huffington Post I seek to address some of those questions, and look towards a more cooperative alternative.
I was recently invited to give a guest lecture at the University of Oslo on the role of the global market in undermining national democracy.
In it I described how the national emphasis on economic competitiveness compromises the capacity of political leaders to act on global problems or, indeed, to represent the interests of their citizens. The consequences of this destructive international competition can be felt in all spheres – from the environment to human rights, to tax regulation etc.
It is to these consequences that the work of Professor Thomas Hylland Eriksen, who I was fortunate enough to meet following my lecture, is directed. A research director at the Department of Social Anthropology at UiO, Eriksen’s ‘Overheating’ project is an in-depth ethnographic study of the crises of globalisation – including environmental issues, financial and cultural sustainability.
The project, which includes work in Australia, Sierra Leone and Peru, offers some fascinating insight and tangible examples of the negative impacts of globalisation as a process on people and the environment around the world. From it, it is not hard to extrapolate how destructive international competition might have a hand in exacerbating those negative effects.
Recently I was invited to give a talk at the UK Values Alliance quarterly meeting, followed by a brief Q&A style debate with Richard Barrett, founder of the Barrett Values Centre.
The UK Values Alliance is a collaborative group seeking to promote values in society. They formed as a result of the UK National Values Survey, organised in October 2012 by the Barrett Values Centre. The survey demonstrated a huge gap between the personal values of UK residents and the values they see at a national level.
In my talk I sought to address some of the reasons behind that perceived gap between the values we hold, and those at the national level, using the example of our political leaders. Why do we credit ourselves with open natures, cooperative dispositions, and world-centric perspectives while blaming our politicians for being self-serving, ego-centric, and competitive?
Rather than emphasising these difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’, between ‘our’ values and ‘theirs’, I wanted instead to highlight the global system which constrains politicians’ capacity to govern in line with positive values and beliefs.
This system, which I have previously described as ‘destructive international competition’, is fundamental to understanding why politicians fail to govern in ways which reflect our deep-seated values, and accounts for their inability to tackle some of our most critical global problems.
Following the talk Richard Barrett and I briefly debated my review of his excellent and highly influential work ‘Love, Fear and the Destiny of Nations’. You can read the full review on the Simpol website.
To find out more about the UK Values Alliance’s vital work, including how to become a member, visit their website.
The intervention, regulation, taxation, social ownership, redistribution and global co-operation needed to slash carbon emissions and build a sustainable economy for the future is clearly incompatible with a broken economic model based on untrammelled self-interest and the corporate free-for-all that created the crisis in the first place. Given the scale of the threat, the choice for the rest of us could not be more obvious.
From Seamus Milne at the Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/20/climate-change-deniers-markets-fix