I wish, today, to speak very briefly on the incompatibility of nationalism and globalism, or as I shall refer to it, economic cosmopolitanism (EC). My basic argument here is that the relationship between nationalism and EC creates an deep incompatibility between themselves, the public good, and general human well being.
In previous posts I have commented on definitions of nationalism and cosmopolitanism, and commented on a observation of the dark side of cosmopolitanism, e.g. its use to justify the marginalization of whole peoples*. In addition to these readings I continue to work through “The Origins of Totalitarianism” by Arendt, and now I am beginning to read “The Tyranny of Merit” by Sandel.
It is within the early pages of Sandel’s work that he stated something that started to put a number of things together for me. Speaking on the center-left economic policies of the 90’s:
“They softened the harsh edges of unfettered markets but did not challenge the central premise of the Reagan-Thatcher era—that market mechanisms are the primary instruments for achieving the public good.”**
It is in this line that I realized the true dilemma of the public good; the juxtaposition of nationalism and EC.
I, by no mean, believe that the public good, or general human value, should at any time be determined using economic measures. Doing so devalues the human condition and reduces existence to a number. This I find reprehensible, one of the most vulgar developments out of capitalism. Yet, if we are to address the matter in a pragmatic way, as is ever my end goal, then we must look for some middle ground. Here is the root of a conversation about incompatibility.
So, let is take it that there is some truth that EC can provide a level of public good. We must, in a world of nationalism, ask, to whom? Who’s public good? For the Nation that sees its manufacturing jobs move overseas due to EC, can we say that it is a public good? I have to ay no. As the public has lost well paying jobs and lost economic stability. In addition to this, and regardless of all the politicking, costs for goods do not change all that much, prices do not go down, and the overall impact becomes even harder on the public good***.
So, again, for whom is it a public good? Well, the answer is clear, it is for the corporations. These organizations thrive off of the relationship between nationalism and EC. Simply because they know the average worker does not have the capability to travel to where the jobs go. In fact they are betting on it. Corporations move jobs to other nations where they can pay factions on the dollar for the same labor. While at the same time they do not cut the price of their goods. This ensures their coffers swell, as they keep wages low.
The result is that at the end of the day the public good is harmed, even if you hold that the market is the best way to achieve the public good. Why? Because the market is ever working against the public good and EC is just another tool to do so. It is made all the easier with strong nationalist movements and nationalist identities. Therein is the incompatibility of nationalism and EC toward the public good.
If we wish to keep even a fragment of EC, and the market functions that keep it going, we must adopt a social cosmopolitanism. Wherein, people are free to move across boarders to find work. Where there is an equitable currency that will provide a minimum standard of living regardless of were you live.
Of course, sadly, none of this will happen. At least not now. Corporations like things just the way they are. The politicians who support laws that ease regulation that allow EC to grow would not allow social cosmopolitanism to happen. Because, the reality is, that this is all about power, and the market, and its supporters, cannot stand to lose the power that the incompatibility of nationalism and EC provide them.
*I shall be posting my final “Notes On: Global Ethic – Seminal Essays” notes in the coming days.
The Tyranny of Merit
Michael J. Sandel
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***Donald Trump ran, in part, on a racist agenda that used EC to make peoples worries about job losses justified.