Toward A New Era of Nation-States, Part I: The Promise & the Reality of GlobalizationAlgis Avižienis
Part II here
The adherents of globalism believe they are closing in on the achievement of their grand design: the unification of mankind, sometimes also referred to as the New World Order. This still-incomplete project — which Alexander the Great, the Roman Caesars, Napoleon, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, and other megalomaniac conquerors dreamed about, but never fully realized — is being carried forward resolutely, and at the same time, carefully, gradually, even stealthily.
Unification by bureaucratization
For the most part, the globalists are implementing their vision not by military force, but by huge bureaucracies, which for over 70 years, have been functioning unobtrusively in the realms of finance, international trade, foreign investment, diplomacy, and security. A host of international institutions advancing the globalist agenda have sprung up in the post-war period, including the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the like. The one-world project receives quiet, but effective support from a wide spectrum of public and private elites active in the financial, corporate, governmental, journalistic, cultural, and ecclesiastical fields.
Curiously, the architects of globalism seem at times reluctant to boldly proclaim the necessity of global governance, much less do they speak of global domination or conquest. Instead, they prefer a sotto voce approach, droning on about international cooperation, multilateralism, partnerships, shared values, and shared sovereignty.
Nevertheless, the long-term aims of the internationalists do on occasion percolate through to the surface. This project is not an entirely secret affair. It could never be fully concealed, given the enormity of its consequences for all of us.
Speaking on September 11, 1990, to a joint session of Congress on the eve of the Gulf War, the Republican President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, declared that: “Out of these troubled times . . . a new world order can emerge. . . . An era in which the nations of the world . . . can prosper and live in harmony. A hundred generations have searched for this elusive path to peace, while a thousand wars raged across the span of human endeavor. Today that new world is struggling to be born. . .”
In the summer of 1992, Joe Biden, the US Senator from the State of Delaware, at the time an influential member of the Democratic opposition, addressed the subject of the New World Order in four speeches given to the US Senate. Biden pointed out that “We are on the threshold of a new world order, and the present administration [of George H. W. Bush] is not sure what the order is. . . . But I would like to suggest how we might begin to reorganize our foreign policy. . . . My theme is that we must rescue this concept from negligence and pursue an active new world order agenda . . .” Of course, the then-Senator from Delaware has now become the President of the United States. President Biden, early on in his administration, has clearly signaled his determination to accelerate the process of global integration following the uncertain hiatus initiated by Donald Trump.
Globalism represents a mortal danger to European nation-states and to the indescribably rich and profound cultures that the nation-states are still safeguarding, to the extent that global governance allows. The drive to unite mankind in reality is all about extending the power of incredibly wealthy individuals at the expense of the power of everybody else, especially of the European nation-states and their citizens. But if this fact were sufficiently appreciated, the internationalists would run into great difficulties in gaining the Europeans’ support for their dreams of world hegemony. Thus, logically, the leading globalists need to disguise their thirst for power and present their megalomaniac project as a blessing for Europe and humanity in general.
The globalists’ public agenda
Although they are strangely circumspect in this matter, the internationalists have written and talked enough about their plans to give us some idea of the benefits that globalism will supposedly bring us. Let us take a closer look at three of their key, declared goals, while also recognizing that there are other items in the internationalist program.
Probably the most important of the promised blessings of unification is the prospect of universal peace, to which President George H. W. Bush alluded in 1990. With the elimination of so-called national egoisms — which the globalists identify as the main instigators of wars — humanity will finally be in a position to concentrate its enormous potential on peaceful aims, rather than on mutual destruction.
The second positive outcome of globalization would be economic. With the elimination of national boundaries and national regulation, investment capital theoretically should be free to find optimal opportunities for generating new wealth on a global scale. As a result, millions of Third World inhabitants would be given the chance to escape extreme poverty. The World Bank and UN bureaucracies have apparently been playing an important role here.
The third theoretical advantage of world unification might be a successful conclusion of the war against human-induced climate change, which allegedly can only be accomplished through international cooperation and such multilateral vehicles as the UN Paris Climate Agreement of 2016. The battle against global warming is now being presented as a virtual Crusade both in Europe and North America. The European Commission, guided by its President Ursula von der Leyen, and the new US administration, headed by President Joe Biden, have adopted this as a top priority. Significantly, even some of the wealthiest oligarchs and financial magnates, like Bill Gates of Microsoft and Larry Fink of Blackrock, have joined in the campaign for urgent action on the climate front. Some observers even speculate that it is the super-wealthy financial oligarchs who are setting the tone for the narrative on impending climate catastrophe.
Before proceeding to a more extensive discussion regarding the ideological foundation of internationalism, it would be helpful to briefly evaluate what the globalists have been up to, especially during the last half-century of intensified globalist economic integration. What have the internationalists accomplished so far? Are ordinary citizens in Europe and North America satisfied with the integrationist policies of their ruling elites?
A unified world endowed with permanent peace? What is the most significant result of a half-century of hyper-integration in international economic relations? In essence, the most significant thing that the Western global empire builders have achieved is to facilitate the rise of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Thanks to consciously-guided, massive Western investments, a free trade regime, and outsourcing of production, the PRC now has an economy that, by some measures, is already larger than that of the US. And it is growing twice, or three, or even four times, faster than the economies of Europe and North America. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the PRC had received 1.8 trillion dollars in foreign investment (FDI) in 2019, the largest such boost to growth that any developing country has ever been given. The real, unofficial total of Western FDI is likely several times larger, given that investment often flows surreptitiously into China via third countries, such as Singapore.
If the economic trends of the last 40 years continue, China will push aside the Western empire builders and become the dominant global power. The Chinese, and not the Western globalists, could very well become the ultimate arbiters of the fate of humanity.
This unsettling prospect has already prompted senior officials in the US to make fundamental reassessments of America’s global security stance. President Trump turned the US pivot into more aggressive thrusts, including the imposition of significant customs duties on Chinese exports, in an effort to begin chipping away at China’s growing strength.
Some foreign affairs analysts have begun discussing future US-Chinese relations within the context of a “Thucydides Trap,” which highlights the historical tendency towards inevitable war between a rising power and an established hegemon. Many foreign policy analysts expect tensions between the US (the established global power) and the PRC (the rising global power) to remain high for years to come. Some Australian and Southeast Asian leaders have even started talking about the real possibility of a major shooting war in the region. Obviously, there is no need to underline the gravity of a potential war between two states armed with nuclear weapons and supported by powerful allies.
The fight against Third World poverty at the cost of de-industrialization of Western societies
The second declared goal of the globalists — the commitment to free millions of Third World inhabitants from economic distress — is also closely related to the astounding story of China’s ascent. Meanwhile, the economic advancement of millions of poor people has had unintended consequences in other fields. There has been a dramatic spill-over effect on global energy consumption levels and, by extension, on dramatically increased levels of air pollution.
On the face of it, the globalists can already point to significant achievements in eradicating economic hardships in the Third World. The first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) has been reached ahead of schedule. The first MDG provided for a 50 percent cut in the 1990 level of extreme poverty by 2015. This worthy goal was accomplished in 2010, five years faster than planned. According to World Bank calculations, 1.1 billion individuals managed to escape extreme poverty during the period 1990 to 2010.
Among those rescued, at least 200 million were Chinese citizens who benefited from unprecedentedly generous flows of Western investment. But this figure encompasses only the very poorest, those who were earning less than #1.90 per day. The number of PRC residents who have attained middle-class status now exceeds 700 million.
As a result, hundreds of millions of newly affluent people have been dramatically increasing purchases of a dizzying array of consumer products, including automobiles. China now assembles 28 million automobiles each year, which is more than the combined production total of the US and Japan. As Chinese GDP expanded 40 times (from $306 billion to $14 trillion) in the past 40 years, so, too, did the number of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. Approximately 330 million autos are currently in use in China.
But government planners and very helpful Western automobile executives from Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Ford, and Toyota are working to double or triple this gigantic total. It is hoped that the number of cars for every 1,000 Chinese residents (currently 145) will eventually approximate Western ownership ratios (for example, 570 autos for every 1,000 in Germany).
The industrialization of China and India heavily impact global air pollution levels. Since it is a well-known fact that every 1 percent growth in GDP carries with it a corresponding rise in energy use (as well as increases in climate-changing pollution), it is obvious that the globalists’ declared plans to eliminate poverty are colliding head-on with their stated aim of attaining a carbon-neutral world by 2050. For, if China’s industrial growth were not enough, consider the globalists’ development plans for India, which has a comparable population of 1.3 billion people. And then there are other populous recipient nations, such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, not to mention the continent of Africa, with its over 1 billion inhabitants.
In working to reduce Third World poverty, the technocrats have also contributed significantly to China reaching first place as the largest emitter of CO2 in the world. The PRC accounts for about a third of the global total. The US is in second place at 14 percent, while the EU is in third with 10 percent. India‘s carbon dioxide emissions are smaller (7 percent), although this proportion will grow in line with current, globalist development strategies.
Back in 1980, the Chinese “contribution” to aggregate global CO2 output was only 7.5 percent, while the total for India amounted to a mere 1.6 percent. Thus, in the last 40 years, China and India together have expanded their share of global carbon dioxide production four times, and currently both countries account for the greatest part (40 percent) of the world‘s carbon dioxide problem.
Concerning the burning of coal, it must be stressed that the PRC consumes 51 percent of the world‘s entire extraction of this highly polluting energy source. China annually produces about 3.5 billion tons of coal from its own mines. Although the PRC leadership committed itself to radically reduce coal burning by signing the UN Paris Climate Accord, China has since then continued planning and building new coal-fired power plants. In the three years following Chinese adherence to the Paris agreements, the PRC government has issued permits for a new installed capacity of coal-generated electricity (120 gigawatts) that equals the entire current installed capacity of coal-powered electricity production in all of the EU countries.
During the past 40 years, European countries have reduced their CO2 output by 16 percent. By contrast, Chinese and Indian air pollution continues to grow rapidly. China‘s emissions of this greenhouse gas rose 4.7 percent in 2019, before the coronavirus struck.
We are therefore confronted with the outrageous fact that the globalist elites are to a great extent the cause of the presumed global warming crisis. And the very people who have profited enormously from the massive outsourcing of industrial activity are now clamoring for even stricter limits on carbon emissions in the EU and US.
Despite appearances, this corporate-supported campaign for a carbon-neutral future is only secondarily concerned with averting climate catastrophe. The chief purpose is political and financial. By constantly warning about the world-wide dangers associated with greenhouse gas emissions, the architects of globalism hope to evoke a sense of international solidarity that will absorb the altruistic impulses of many well-meaning people. The global Crusade to save Mother Earth is really meant to deflect attention away from more relevant national concerns, such as the de-industrialization of European societies that was engineered by the globalists. The public relations campaign that stimulates concern for global issues like atmospheric warming hopefully will displace concern for national aspirations, thus educating citizens of nation-states to become citizens of the world. And, of course, the leading globalists want to show that they really care about the environment, and not just about their profits.
The fight against global poverty and the outsourcing of well-paying jobs
When the most powerful and wealthy financial and corporate leaders take the podium to advocate environmentalist policies, they are in reality drawing attention away from the financial and corporate operators’ enormous profits deriving from global economic integration. Ordinary people in Europe and North America should be incensed by the fact that the outsourcing of their industrial jobs has led to stagnating GDP growth and worsening economic prospects for the middle classes in their countries.
Instead of questioning the saneness of the globalists’ development plans in the context of environmental sustainability, the corporate-inspired media focuses public debate on how Europeans and North Americans could further reduce their carbon footprints in their own countries. The financial elites might well be pleased to watch the EU nations pursuing the will-o’-wisp of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, while they continue profiting from growing investments in China, India, Vietnam, Mexico, and many other Third World countries where environmental protection is more often declared rather than implemented.
But, fortunately, the limits to deceptive public relations are becoming evident. As President Lincoln reportedly said: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
And, in this light, it is becoming apparent that public support for the international integrationist policies of the elites is slowly crumbling. The very regions that have been hit the hardest by de-industrialization (the East of France, the Eastern provinces of Germany, North East England, the Midwestern US) have given the most support to the turbulent rise of opposition to globalism, witness the rise of Le Pen, the Alternative for Germany, the Brexit movement and the Trump phenomenon.
President Trump’s 2016 campaign rhetoric resounded very strongly among the de-industrialized middle classes. At one point, he remarked that: “Since China joined — that’s another beauty — the WTO in 2001, the US has lost many more than 60,000 factories.” For now, the internationalists are clearly satisfied that Trump has been deposed, but the very causes of the growth of the so-called populists have not disappeared, but rather they will proliferate with the deepening of globalist integration.
Energy bottlenecks to the continued advance of globalism
The attempt to transform the most populous nation on earth into a society of motorized consumers helped bring about the oil price shock of 2008, when world oil prices surged from $50 per barrel to $140 per barrel. China’s steadily growing appetite for oil imports put ever-increasing strains on available production capacity, and one significant outcome of this was an energy crisis followed immediately by a severe financial crisis. The PRC in 2019 consumed 14 percent of the world’s petroleum, the second-largest global consumer behind the US, which uses 20 percent of the total.
As some economic observers have noted, the task of raising the living standards of 2.6 billion Chinese and Indians to the level of the American middle class would require four additional planets to supply the natural resources (oil, gas, metals, water, and farmland) required for such a transformation. Nevertheless, these two countries, and the multinational corporations and banks which are financing their industrial expansion, seem determined to continue on the present course.
As Jeff Rubin, the author of an insightful book on energy and globalization, pointed out in 2009, surging world-wide demand depleted readily available stocks of petroleum and brought about persistently high prices of energy. Rubin maintains that expensive energy was the major cause of the economic contraction of 2008-2009.
The globalized economy and free trade depend heavily on cheap petroleum to facilitate the movement of commodities and people around the globe. If oil prices rise above $100 per barrel, then transportation costs become prohibitive, and it becomes uneconomical to purchase goods far away from home. According to Rubin, four out of the last five economic contractions were caused by surges in the petroleum price. The recession of 2008-2009, however, was the worst because the oil price rise that caused it was far more dramatic than on previous occasions.
Rubin believes that the net result of tightening access to cheap oil will be a reversal of the globalization process and a return to local economies. Those who assumed that global unification through ever-closer economic integration is the wave of the future will find their dreams receding as the increasing scarcity of inexpensive petroleum forces a reorientation to local economies.
In truth, the significant price increases of oil that commenced in the 1970s coincided with the early phases of the surge in foreign investment and global trade. As global economic integration gathered momentum, so too did the demand for oil. Petroleum production over this period more than doubled to 100 million barrels per day in 2019. At the same time, living standards in the Western democracies began stagnating, and later they fell.
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union also began feeling the first effects of scarcity of raw materials. Gorbachev, who presided over an East-bloc version of globalization that he wanted to preserve, talked about this impending crisis endlessly. He warned that the USSR‘s extensive economic development, which consumed and wasted prodigious amounts of raw materials and labor, should shift to a policy of intensification.
This term meant organizing production with a greater reliance on more advanced technology and better management methods. After the intensification campaign failed to produce satisfactory results, however, Gorbachev pushed for glasnost and rapprochement with the West in hopes of gaining access to Western technology, investment, and markets. Gorbachev probably calculated that the over-centralized Soviet economy could not hope to deal with looming shortages of accessible raw materials, and he therefore embarked on perestroika, the long road of reforms that he felt would bring Western efficiency to the USSR. Seen in this light, Russia‘s acquiescence to the independence of the Soviet republics is comprehensible as a way of eliminating claims on supplies of cheap, centrally-subsidized resources — like oil and gas — by the non-Russian nations of the USSR.
The fracking intermezzo
The major factor that has halted the collapse of the globalization project on account of energy factors was the introduction of large-scale fracking in 2003. Modernized fracking techniques helped open up vast petroleum deposits that were previously considered uneconomical. But they represent an extraction method that is much more expensive than conventional oil production, and it damages the environment far more significantly. The new drilling processes facilitated a remarkable boost in oil production from 85 million barrels before the 2008 price shock to 100 million barrels per day in 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is notable, however, that, since the 2008 crisis, nearly all of this growth in oil output has been accounted for by fracking and other unconventional and more expensive production methods. Conventional oil deposits continue to provide a stagnating level of output at about 80 million barrels. Over time, however, the conventional wells are expected to show steady depletion.
Since these new production techniques are far more expensive than conventional methods, their stimulus to increased oil extraction has not resulted in significantly cheaper energy. The world oil price has remained at historically high levels, hovering near $50 per barrel in the past few years.
It is worthwhile pointing out that the best years of dynamic economic growth in Western societies (from 1950 to the oil crisis of 1973) coincided with a petroleum price level that remained close to $20 per barrel, as calculated in current dollar values. Present-day prices, although they are dramatically lower than at the time of the 2008 price shock, nevertheless are twice the level that facilitated the buoyant post-war years in the West. Hence, stagnating GDP growth levels at rates close to 1 percent will likely remain the norm for the foreseeable future — with all that this implies for rising social discontent — to the accompaniment of surging wealth disparities.
Therefore, there is good reason to believe that globalism, and the empire builders’ dream of unifying humanity, rest on a faulty material foundation: unsustainable exploitation of finite resources.
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