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Globalization checkmated?

from Thomas Palley and current issue of the RWER

  1. Economic failings and the rise of politics

It has been ten years since the financial crisis. Since then, the global economy has recovered and attention has increasingly shifted to political risks as the trigger for the next economic crisis. That shift of attention has been driven by political events like the UK’s Brexit referendum, the election of President Trump, and the rise of anti-euro populist political parties in Italy. Such events have the potential to cause financial disruptions that trigger broader economic dislocation, which in turn could further aggravate political conditions. In effect, we have moved to a world in which politics has become an important potential economic detonator.

The rise of politics is no accident. Instead, it reflects the popularly perceived failings of the neoliberal economic paradigm which has dominated economic policymaking for the past forty years. Since globalization is the most prominent feature of the neoliberal program and has also had some of the most visible negative effects, it has been placed in the forefront of the backlash. That backlash suggests globalization is unlikely to deepen further, and may even unravel a bit.

  1. Globalization as economists’ version of the “end of history” fallacy

The challenge to globalization has taken economists by surprise. In many ways, there are parallels between economists’ faith in globalization and Francis Fukuyama’s (1989) “end of history” hypothesis. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Fukuyama prophesied that free market liberal democracy had become the “final form of human government, to which all countries would now converge (Fukuyama, 1989, 3)”.

Fukuyama’s hypothesis reflected the triumphalism that accompanied the fall of the Soviet Union. Within ten years it was already looking frayed, and within twenty years it was in tatters. At its base, lies a flawed understanding of human psychology regarding the appeal of identity, religion, racism, tribalism, and nationalism. Those profound forces easily lend themselves to majoritarian democracy without minority rights, or even outright authoritarianism. The fallacy of the end of history hypothesis was already visible at its inception in the form of rising Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and robust Christian fundamentalism in the USA. The discontent with the neoliberal experiment has further encouraged non-liberal forces, as evidenced by the tilt toward nationalist illiberal democracy in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. In China, a hybrid state – free market economic system has emerged in which the political system is nationalist and authoritarian and moving in the direction of a high-tech totalitarian surveillance state.

Strong parallels can be drawn between mainstream economists’ belief in neoliberal globalization and Fukuyama’s end of history hypothesis. Economists’ thinking rests on the ideal of competitive general equilibrium which frames modern economic theory. That theory justifies the neoliberal economic paradigm, and trade theory extends the paradigm into the international sphere via application of the principle of comparative advantage which supposedly determines the pattern of specialization and trade.

Given this framework, globalization is presented as inevitable and unstoppable owing to the forces of technology and mutually beneficial gains from trade. The optimal future course of the global economy is to follow the template established by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Any who question that analytical perspective and its policy prescriptions are labelled as protectionists, luddites, or economic nationalists, and they are written off as being on the wrong side of economic history.

Unfortunately, as with Fukuyama’s political version of the end of history, events now threaten economists’ economic version of the end of history. That is because neoliberal globalization has run smack into a host of economic, political, and geopolitical contradictions.  read more

 

  1. October 2, 2018 at 12:24 am

    Economists’ thinking rests on the ideal of competitive general equilibrium which frames modern economic theory. That theory justifies the neoliberal economic paradigm

  2. October 2, 2018 at 1:08 am

    Fukuyama Apologised. He admitted he was wrong. Hitler killed himself when he was sure of his defeat. Stalin almost lost his authority and his mind, as did the disabled Roosevelt.
    Diplomacy is exactly what it means, as does cutthroat competition. History is made by the victor, as Churchill maintained. ( Presumably, his clan do not mind him being turned into an advertising ploy by insurance companies!)
    As for Economists, they appear to be so severely affected by repeated physical and mental trauma deliberately caused by useless theories that are as repetitive as the pain their “expert knowledge” has caused their victims that they ought to have their heads examined. Hopefully by an expert Psychologist from the Harvard Business School!
    No offence intended to anyone, so I would settle for a course of voluntary community service by them in any labour camp. Perhaps they will then realise the meaning of “no pain, no gain” and the value of hard and piecemeal work, and that a piecemeal approach to globalisation and scientific explanation also means exactly that. Good luck to them.

  3. October 2, 2018 at 3:28 am

    Thank you for the Article.

    I echo Helen Sakho’s sentiments with my own contemporaneous notes as I read the excellent article.

    Demise of Soviet Union? Yes. There was stress while evolving at high speed from Genghis Kahn, Zardom, ww2 etc, and then the nuclear threat from the united states, known as “mad.”

    One may also say stress came from that the mad race to keep up with united states warmongers, who are, historically, genocidal indian killer maniacs who donated small pox infected blankets to the indigenous north American nations. Amherst was the creep’s name.

    Mother Russia kicked all of Genghis Kahn’s fledgling nations out of the nest and focused on surviving capitalist hunger for resources and power over workers, the source of all value. The mother Russian bear has regained her feet and helped China, Mongolia, Iran, Iraq, all the Stans and Syria. These relationships go way back.

    And with Russia’s help, might China’s advanced surveillance systems be used to locate otherwise respectable research labs surreptitiously flushing more than normal domestic sewage into the waste system? I realize honorable corporations and scientists in the US would never do such a thing requiring surveillance.

    Do people really want two children in China? That is a big question today, in China.

    Can China devise a method to prosper with a gently declining population? Positive steps in this direction will provide an advanced ecological democracy able to focus distributed human intelligence in ways western representative democracies avidly oppose.

    In the US, finance wizards with college frat connections extending into financial institutions use those friends to help buy out profitable companies with funds supplied, after up front fees and friendly commissions. National US manufacturing expertise and wealth was privatized into the hands of sons and daughters turned financial wizards. And that’s easy on borrowed money backed up by unsuspecting citizens. Bigger barges might do it!

    These are small points yet accuracy is important. The US was expansionist and annexed the northern part of emperor Maximilion’s personal property and Catholic missions spaced a day’s horse ride apart. That area Maximilion called his own included what is now Mexico, California, Colorado etc.

    China is already a super power in its region, as it has been before. Even so, Asian nations have survived the rise and decline of several Chinese evolutionary nodes of stunning world leadership. China’s Vietnam war lasted 800 years, for example, and Vietnam won. China tested Vietnam as the US was fleeing; Vietnam was guarding its northern border while fighting off the US. Things became copacetic as far as Vietnam was concerned.

    I regret my history being too limited to suggest policy. President Putin believes westerners should at least study a little of his area’s history. One neighbor’s story; China’s population became unsustainably large, for example. Now it seeks to devise growing quality of life that reaches to colonize the moon even as the population gently declines and reduces resource demand per person. Russia is in on that and so is Korea and Iran. Northern Korea turns out the lights at night to save so it can go.

    National treasure has been spent and borrowed upon for a pirouette to the Pacific and containment of China. Is that some kind of joke? The rail lines of China pass through Moscow bound for the cities of Europe, Iran, Kazakstan, Afghanistan et al. China makes money from containers shipping to Europe as the US loses money on the illusion it contains anything.

    A new rail line is planned from Berlin through Kaliningrad and on to St. Petersburg. The interior of Russia raises non GMO food loaded on trains going many directions. If China can leapfrog to a new information-age form of democracy and uses that to prosper with declining population, the new economic order will be impossible to describe from the perspective of growing to infinity faster and faster on a finite planet. If the rest of the world learns to avoid US wars of capitalist aggression, we all might survive.

  4. Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
    October 2, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Garrett, wow, you really took after those Indian-killers, but not the killers of millions of Jews, Rohingya & Gypsies. As for the future, since we are all linked by technology & trade, how does that factor into your view of political expansionism?

  5. October 4, 2018 at 8:02 am

    A total institution is a place of work and residence where a great number of similarly situated people, cut off from the wider community for a considerable time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life. Erving Goffman (sociologist) invented the concept to reflect what he found in his study of orphanages, poor houses, nursing homes, leprosariums, mental hospitals, tuberculosis sanitariums, concentration camps, P.O.W. camps, penitentiaries, jails, work camps, boarding schools, ships, army barracks, large mansions (in the servants’ quarters), convents, abbeys, monasteries, and other cloisters. Goffman divides total institution into five types:
    1. Those established to care for people felt to be both harmless and incapable.
    2. Places established to care for people felt to be incapable of looking after themselves and a threat to the community, albeit an unintended one.
    3. Institutions organized to protect the community against what are felt to be intentional dangers to it, with the welfare of the people thus sequestered not the immediate issue.
    4. Institutions purportedly established to better pursue some work-like tasks and justifying themselves only on these instrumental grounds.
    5. Establishments designed as retreats from the world even while often serving also as training stations for the religious.
    There is at least one more type of total institution that Goffman omits. Institutions established to confine economic life and all areas effected by economic life to actions conforming with neoliberal globalization.

    Historians have confirmed the validity of Goffman’s concept of total institutions which minimize the differences in formal mission to establish a unity of design and structure. This confirmation by historians of total institutions also shows us the major problem with such institutions and one of the main reasons the one total institution we added, neoliberal globalization fails consistently. In replacing the subtleties of mission with a unity of design and structure, total institutions force people to structure themselves in ways out of sync with their past actions and expectations. With this tension operating it’s only a matter of time before either the person conforms to the institution or the nonconformance breaks the institution. Neoliberal globalization is especially vulnerable to failure because of the wide disparity between how it demands humans structure their lives, economic and otherwise compared to the way humans structure their lives prior to being enveloped in neoliberal globalization. The stresses are extreme. Might say lethal.

    • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
      October 4, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Ken, I spoke with Goffman when he visited Berkeley so many decades ago, but I have never before heard of “total institutions”. However, I have personally noted such wherever work or any form of physical isolation insulates one from meaningful contact with others. We both know it from the military & I certainly did when working for a while in the higher echelons of business & government. The special quality of neo-liberalism is that it is multi-cultural/multi-national, so that one is always learning new things, it seems to me.

      • October 4, 2018 at 11:32 am

        James, Goffman delivered a paper in April 1957 at the Walter Reed Institute’s Symposium on Preventive and Social Psychiatry, titled “Characteristics of Total Institutions.” An expanded version appeared in Donald Cressey’s collection, The Prison, and was reprinted in Goffman’s 1961 collection, Asylums. The expanded version is not hard to find on the internet. If you can’t locate a copy be happy to email one to you.

        What makes neoliberal globalization dangerous is that it doesn’t “change it stripes” based location or culture. It demands the same actions and ways of life no matter location or culture.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        October 4, 2018 at 2:20 pm

        Yes, Ken, the tiger does not change its stripes, and having tasted blood (economic success) the neo-liberal feels no reason to, I expect. On Goffman, in 1957 my father, a psychiatrist at both the VA & a University, was active. Guess I was not included in the conversation.

      • October 5, 2018 at 11:11 am

        Right on, James. In 1957 I was in the 6th grade. No real interest in Goffman, yet.

  6. Craig
    October 4, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Globalization via neo-liberal economics is the final coalescence/expression of private finance’s monopolistic power to create credit/money in its equally monopolistic vehicle and form of Debt Only and is therefore a total institution and a dystopia. Its inverse would be a subsidiary global set of separate states with monetarily stable domestic economies pursuing their own ideal scenes/utopia.

    • October 5, 2018 at 1:05 am

      We are all correct, of course. One truly enjoyed May having the last tango in Paris, looking even younger, fitter and more beautiful than Macron’s wife. And how utterly natural they both look. But May also danced in Africa, so the ARMS race continues unabated. As for famine, destitution, corruption, misogyny, homeless, despair, trafficking, sex slaves, wars and conflicts, who cares really? These are not economic issues. They are just a mild reflection of diluted consciences that are further numbed by the me.coms of this globe. India, for example, has absolutely no problems other than celebrating gay marriages openly, and China and Korea (those other truly large, scary places and markets) ) no longer seems so bad. Because if you can become a celebrity, you can easily afford to pay a very small fine of some hundreds of millions and call it a ?
      Civil partnerships have just been allowed in the UK! While authentic homosexuals are easily killed or abused elsewhere. What a show this all is! For me, not very pleasant to witness really. Does life all have to be about the price of plastic surgery? Or the private lives of individuals? Are we, as any kind of scientists (forget about critical, secular economists) nothing better to argue about? I go back to Hitler, I am afraid, as I must. This gay vegetarian killed 3 million Jews in Poland alone, a population that is the same in number as many European countries. Call the last era of classic imperialism (i.e: “globalisation” what you like, but let us not watch too much television. It is not good for our eyes and the eyes of our students and loved ones! Let us read them some books instead. For Economists, I would urgently ask them to order, read and learn from a book entitled The Richest Man in Babylon. And yes, I can tolerate a few misogynistic or racist comments from colleagues, but I do think we could at least ask Dian Abbot (an old acquaintent of mine since the times of Hackney and the CRE, or Corbyn from his vast connections with anti-MENA activities that got him where he is now, or Red Ken since the GLC) to come along and join us here for a more colourful equal opportunity’s blog? Any objections?

      • Craig
        October 5, 2018 at 1:31 am

        Precisely why the zeitgeist/ethic of the new age needs to be the natural psychological concept of grace as in graciousness in all things.

      • October 5, 2018 at 11:19 am

        Helen, but what are humans? What is Sapiens, and did it get into this mess? According to Yuval Harari, Sapiens is a subpar species that got an evolutionary “shot in the arm” about 70,000 years ago when humans were modified with what Harari calls a “cognitive revolution.” This revolution gave humans the ability to create things, peoples, lands, whole ways of life that did not and perhaps never would exist otherwise. This provided a powerful evolutionary advantage for humans. Thus, ensuring the attribute was not lost over the millennia. This “advantage” proved problematic, however, in terms of the other factor steering human change, culture. It allowed humans standing in opposition to the principal evolutionary pathways of humans to imagine and work to create ways of life, even entire societies that favored those humans out of step with these pathways. The result is human coordination and cooperation operating adjacent to human murder, conflict, and war. As they say, the gift that keeps on giving. Humans are contradictions and have been for 70,000 years. That their economics are contradictory should come as no surprise, therefore.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        October 8, 2018 at 8:11 am

        Helen, yes, May looked “radiant” as the fashionistas like to say at her recent speech. Just as Trump at those moments when he temporarily bonded with the leaders of China & North Korea. What concrete actions have followed all of this?
        As for the psychology or anthropology for that matter of economists, I really can’t find much. A non-defined “rationality”, irrationally extended into the future, together with some “preference function”, “utility index” or whatever which are posited with no particular regard for context & specific decision-makers. Wow–talk about empty models. Real estate brokers in California as early as 2004 were speaking of the coming “blowup” due to over-priced properties, unqualified borrowers & temporarily low interest rates. In 1995 & 1996 I as a volunteer activity was the president of a local Real Estate Board in the Mtns of Southern California. Back then we spoke
        of the boom & bust of the 70’s-90’s as seen in second home prices. But by 2004 EVERYONE in the business knew some-
        awful was coming. Could be one reason I bailed the US for a
        more rational existence teaching in Germany in 2002.

    • October 5, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Craig no argument from me. One note, however. The current situation is just a hop, skip, and jump from the globalization ruled over by the UK from 1600 to 1900. Even some of the same methods. Particularly the use of debt. In both physical and monetary form.

      • Craig
        October 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm

        Precisely. Why do you think I keep emphasizing the urgency of perceiving and implementing the new paradigm and its two basic policies that will break up the monopolistic paradigm of Debt Only, resolve modern economy’s two deepest and most chronic problems and transform balkiness and scarcity into abundance and free flowingness?

        Natural grace, not your worst sunday school nightmare, just the philosophical concept and experience behind its dogmas, is the answer monetarily, economically, socially, psychologically and yes cosmologically because it finally integrates, inverts and transforms the paradigm of Empiricism Only into the integrative oneness/wholeness of the pinnacle concept of Wisdom.

      • October 7, 2018 at 8:35 am

        Craig, I believe we are in general accord about the problems our species faces. But we are miles apart in our views on the solutions for these problems.

  7. Helen Sakho
    October 5, 2018 at 2:29 am

    Thank you!

    • October 5, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Thank you Ken, I value your regular contributions and advice. That is why I contribute to yours. And I agree, but! Animals and plants and humans have the earth and the sky in common. Animals and plants are trying to survive humans. I wish them good luck. They never ate man or celebrated raping each other for fun, or for AI and Social Media purposes. They are (still) romantic, faithful, intuitive, and much more. But sure, one never knows. They are extremely intelligent species. Perhaps when I hear that a man-eating plant ordered a sushi pizza from Delivero because he was too lazy, or a lion having his eyebrows plucked away and a hair cut online, or a lioness using a wig, or a killer whale laughing her way back home, or an ant being so depressed and fatigued because she was on Zero-hour contracts and started begging for winter food and shelter outside McDonalds I will change my mind. Do please carry on. Your critical views and similar expressions by other colleagues are crucial at this ahistorical time, not to mention other factors.

      • October 7, 2018 at 8:38 am

        Helen, it isn’t intelligence that distinguishes Sapiens from other species. Many species are as intelligent as Sapiens. It is as Harari suggests imagination that gives Sapiens its evolutionary and particularly cultural advantages. But this advantage also translates into Sapiens inventing ways of life that degrade and devalue nature. And often remove Sapiens from restrictions related to nature; treating Sapiens as a species that is not natural. This makes it easy for humans to abuse nature and those whose lives are intertwined with nature. As a result, humans and animals/plants reside in two distinct and not similar spaces. And the spaces never meet. But humans frequently attack the natural as an enemy of Sapiens.

  8. Helen Sakho
    October 8, 2018 at 3:16 am

    Does this mean that human Economists will never meet each other, or any other species on this earth! Or, can we simply remind them that basic Capitalism is defined as super-profits, made at an ever increasingly rate? And that they should at least focus on teaching this and developing a more realistic agenda? I think we should. And I am sure we would all agree on this going some way towards the state that the GLOBE is in.

    • October 8, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Helen, don’t you know nature is for killing or exploiting. Depending on the depth of the psychosis of those in charge and the amount of mindless fun or profit on the table.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        October 8, 2018 at 3:29 pm

        Ken, pretty obviously lots of our political & other leaders either start with the “eat or be eaten” outlook, or find that to survive they must adopt it.

      • October 9, 2018 at 9:23 am

        Yes, James psychosis is one of the more interesting inventions of humans. Humans do all kinds of actions to satisfy it.

      • Prof Dr James Beckman, Germany
        October 9, 2018 at 6:12 pm

        Yup, Ken, as my father, a psychiatrist, introduced me to many of his patients, each living in their own universe. Now we have heads of governments & other organizations openly doing so. The problem to me is that tech allows a relatively few people to largely control the lives of billions of their fellow humans, apparently driven by the personal need to control & to acquire.

      • October 10, 2018 at 10:10 am

        James, the situation a bit more complex. Living much of their lives in “make-believe” arrangements and actions is normal for Sapiens. Sapiens’ cognitive revolution of 70,000 years ago produced this result. This biological change is one of the major changes favoring Sapiens’ survival. With these new capabilities Sapiens could imagine just about any possible way of life and set of actions. Providing Sapiens with planning and action options available to no other species on the planet. This goes wrong when the make believe is no longer communal. In other words, your father’s patients were imagining and acting in a way of life shared with no other members of the species. From early in its evolution Sapiens is a communal species. Its evolution is by group, not individual, for example. That’s why a psychopath like Donald Trump is always torn between bringing others into his non-communal way of life and keeping it to himself as something special just for him. It’s almost impossible for a psychopath to convince others to join in her/his make-believe creation and just as impossible for the psychopath to admit the creation is where he/she lives alone.

  9. Craig
    October 8, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Wisdomics-Gracenomics is based on….the integrative ethic that is the very process of wisdom itself and on every aspect of its pinnacle philosophical concept grace. It’s not the least bit about religion, but rather the natural de-mystified thoughtfulness, ethical temporal universe applications and fully conscious personal experiences thereof.

    Only an idiot culture of Science Only could devolve to the point we now stand, and only economists caught too much up in such culture could not see that obsessive contention between an unworkable economics obsessively based on profit or the equally unworkable and obsessive RE-distribution of same…was not the answer….when a thorough integration of the truths, workabilities, applicabilities and highest ethical considerations of the two, i.e. wisdom would result in a graceful/gracious free flowing thirdness greater oneness that was no longer either of them.

    Heterodox economists can’t even see that grace is the philosophical concept behind the solutions they cautiously already advocate.

    MMT and Keynesians of every stripe want fiscal grace as in monetary abundance instead of austerity.

    UBI is all the rage and what is that but grace as in gifting (unless you’re a little too orthodox Marxist and have to make it theft instead, even though there’s a more freeing and resolving means of effecting economic democracy than either re-distributive taxation or trickle down economics).

    Everyone who isn’t wet behind the ears knows that Finance is the problematically parasitical and key structural issue that must be de-throned, de-monopolized and re-integrated with the rest of the economy, but they apparently do not see that grace as in monetary gifting and grace as in integrity/re-integration is the precise concept upon which a new paradigm and its logically aligned policies could do exactly that.

    And the libertarians, min-archists etc.? They unconsciously rub shoulders with the truth of the concept of grace when they rail and arrogantly declare their irrational generalizations about government ALWAYS being tyrannical when a governmental policy of individual monetary freedom as in free gifting could not be so. A = A ….they need to “Check their premises” as Ayn Rand used to say. And when they also declare that “There ain’t no free lunch!” it simply points to the fact that if you mentally reside too much and too long within the current paradigm and a new paradigm is the conceptual opposition/inversion of the old then you’d be smart to stop standing on your head and mistaking the problem for the solution.

    Carry on….and think about it once in a while.

  10. Craig
    October 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

    Oh, and globalization? No grace as in economic integrity and subsidiarity….because the only thing that can be conscious is the individual, and trying to solve things by becoming big without considering the individual first, last and always is a perfect example of “looking  through the wrong end of the telescope.”

  11. October 8, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Helen, I’ve been on about rethinking the theory and engineering of economics, but I’ve increasingly had in mind what you are implying about the purpose of it.

    The vision of your lion having his hair cut and his lioness wearing a wig had me in stitches, but walking through the jewelry quarter in Brighton, UK, full of beautiful diamond rings which at the prices being asked must have been there for years, drove home to me just how much this is all about symbols and the reassurances of the love necessary to raise a family, with man waving their pay packets just like peacocks showing off their fine feathers to woo a mate.

    Craig’s grace, too, is all about the greatest love being shown by those prepared to die to save not just their friends and family but their enemies. Asad’s old gestalt example aptly shows the attractive young girl turning into an ugly old woman, who we should still love for her former beauty and the motherly caring which has reduced it to ruin. Just like the birds and the bees, our biological ancestors – but indeed also their Creator – “(still) romantic, faithful, intuitive, and much more”. Unless we see our own worth and not our mate’s reflected in our pay packet.

    • October 8, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      PS. Looking behind me I saw James Robertson’s book “Power, Money and Sex”, a thoughtful essay which puts the above in context and is well worth reading. Robertson’s books are all available on line at http://www.jamesrobertson.com/books.htm#power.

      • October 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm

        I am a great fan of Asad, and his whole clan. My only concern is that he urgently needs his eyes tested. Their look somewhat skewed.
        At least Economists stand accused of wearing tinted glasses, or having too many hands from which they develop uncertain theories, but poor Asad! Such Economists may well have good, tenured positions, but will Asad ever get his old job back, should he lose this one as well as his sight? But, then again, dual nationality does have its advantages; and the Brittas Empire is the vastest and the bestest of all Empires.
        Let us then ( just for the sake of lessening the burden of our students) pose a question to them in our next encounter on the possibility that all Economic empires collapse sooner or later. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Should you require a dictionary of basic economic definitions, please leave the seminar at once or WhatsApp a friend in any part of the MENA region. Or actually any region for a helping hand.

      • October 8, 2018 at 8:56 pm

        Touché. Seriousness checkmated! I do find today’s scientific update serious, though: that we now have only ten years or so left to prevent our false economy bringing about an irreparable and thus final collapse of Empire.

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