How do we feel about globalisation? Are we thinking straight when it comes to climate change? Is there too much blame going on in our relationship with politicians?
For the last year, I’ve been working with psychotherapist and psychohistorian Nick Duffell on our new book ‘The SIMPOL Solution‘ to take a look at the state of global problems through a psychoanalytic lens.
To mark the launch of the book, forthcoming from Peter Owen in 2017, Alex Lyons interviewed Nick to get his perspective on everything from Trump and Theresa May, to the power and potential of psychology to get us out from under.
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.
A review of “Sail on, o Ship of State”
Sail on, o Ship of State is a compilation of short essays about the nation-state – its past, present, and future. Written by 13 experts and topped with a preface by Michael Gove it represents, as a whole, a strong defence of the nation-state in the face of globalisation.
The book gets its pro-nation-state slant from the majority of contributions which come from ardent believers in national independence and autonomy; a school of thought known in International Relations circles as “Realism”. The contrary view, that of the Liberal (and the Cosmopolitan) traditions is comparatively under-represented. This makes for a somewhat lop-sided view of the nation-state in the 21st century.
For Realism, globalisation poses a dilemma because it brings nations ever-closer together. As firm believers in independent, competing nation-states, Realists see any further evolution towards the global as suspicious because it implies cooperation and what they see as a lessening of national independence and autonomy. Cosmopolitans, on the other hand, believe that in our increasingly interconnected world, in which we face common threats like climate change, forms of global cooperation and governance are both desirable and necessary.
Being skewed towards the Realist view, the book risks misrepresenting the position of many Cosmopolitans by suggesting they believe nation-states will (or should) disappear. Right on the front cover, the book declares that “The nation state has refused to shuffle off the stage of history”. But is that really what Cosmopolitans are suggesting? Continue reading