What is globalism and nationalism

globalization: Nationalism is globalizing


Read on one side

Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Marine Le Pen, Frauke Petry and the so-called "Islamic State" all have one thing in common: They criticize globalization and many people share their criticism. Although the economic interdependence of the world has brought us - among other things - cheaper products and better export opportunities, the term globalization has become a dirty word.

Resistance to globalization comes from across the political spectrum. The best organized opponent of globalization, however, is the political right. That seems logical, because a driving force of the protest is nationalism, and this is historically closely linked to the political right. At the same time, it is paradoxical: globalization is also a project of neoliberalism - and this has been an ideology of the right for several decades.

How does that fit together? To understand the contradiction, it is worth taking a look at history. In the late 19th century, a trading network spanned the entire globe for the first time. But the Western European powers - Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and others - controlled and regulated trade. Military and economic imperialism prevailed, which ultimately led to the struggle for Africa and was one of the causes of the First World War.

The dark side: xenophobia

Only after the Second World War did the time of free trade return. But globalization was no longer controlled by Europe, but by the United States - and the trade barriers were only dismantled in the West, because the Soviet Union, China and their allies were left out because of the Cold War.

For the citizens of the West, the development at that time was not a threat and they did not see it as a threat to their national sovereignty. For many parts of the world, and especially in Europe, a peaceful time dawned that had not been there for a long time. But there was a problem: because more and more immigrants were moving to the western industrialized nations, xenophobia grew there. This happened in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium or the Netherlands, where the migrants came mainly from the former colonies, and it happened in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, where the guest workers were actually invited to come.

Over time, countries found ways to counter the tensions. It helped the economy grow rapidly and the need for the foreign labor in the face of low birth rates and full employment. The conflicts did not go away as a result, but the political and economic elites, who still remembered the consequences of racism in Germany in the 1930s, largely resisted the temptation to exploit them.

The third wave of globalization followed. World trade grew, tariffs were lowered, the national and international dismantling of rules made rapid progress, and neoliberal ideas prevailed. Then came the 1980s - and the old industrial jobs disappeared, first in the steel and shipbuilding industries, then in other sectors in which companies from Japan and South Korea beat European and US companies out of the field.

The price of growth

The Soviet Union collapsed, the countries in Central and Eastern Europe were able to move closer to the European markets and finally to the EU, even China, which was still formally state-socialist, joined the World Trade Organization. The USA and Great Britain pushed ahead with the deregulation of the international financial system. As a result, the economy and the financial sector continued to grow - and irresponsible speculation was fueled, which plunged large parts of the world into the financial crisis in 2008.

Still, many benefited from globalization. Although the number of simple jobs decreased in rich countries, they were replaced by higher-quality jobs or services that could not be imported, for example in health care, education, gastronomy or retail. The economies of the previously poor countries, such as China and India, also grew, and a broad middle class emerged who could afford expensive products from Europe, Japan and the USA.

But growth came at a price. Workers in China's rapidly growing industrial cities suffered from harsh working conditions and dirty air. Workers in the old industrial regions of Europe and the United States watched the factories in which they had worked with pride go under. New jobs were more likely to emerge in the less recognized, poorly paid service industry. It was also more jobs for women who wanted to earn something - and not jobs for the traditional male single breadwinner.