If you think this anti-globalization backlash is new, you haven’t been paying attention

I have a post on this subject at VoxEU, available here.

2 replies on “If you think this anti-globalization backlash is new, you haven’t been paying attention”

This summer 30 years ago I faced a maddening intellectual coundrum. How was it, that a small, controlling group of well-educated individuals seemed hell-bent on wrecking, what was up to that point, a successful educational enterprise. Their responses to some emergent organizational problems was quite shocking. The problems were in most part, predictable, but a sequence of thoughtful, piece-meal, organizational changes would have sufficed to divert or dissolve dissent. The controlling group were having none of it. They blamed everyone and anything for the difficulty and embarked on a course of action which eventuated in a bitter labour dispute and a long-lasting loss to the organization. As I said, I experienced a profound sense of bewilderment at the outcome – until. Until I discovered that behavioural psychologists had sussed out the reasons for such damaging behaviours for both individuals and groups (mid-’50s). Organizational behaviourists followed about a decade later. Economic behaviourists? – well, its taken them a wee bit longer. But we seem to be getting there now. The reason: radicalized, ideological mindsets. And the real kick in the teeth – the higher the level of intellectual achievement (or social status) of the individuals concerned, the stronger their vehemence to the adherence of their ideological mindsets – and consequently their policies, their behaviours and their decisions. And, as Lisbeth Salander said – “Decisions have consequences.” They sure do – and some quite bad economic ones at that.

” … Lyndon Johnson was immobilized on the [Vietnam] war, and so was his administration. He had been most at ease with a consensus policy, a policy in which all the very great men agreed on the essential wisdom of one centrist idea, and now this consensus was openly and finally shattered, his government totally and irreconciably divided, and he simply could not come to terms with the division. …. …. So he had at once limited the war, but he could not make the next step which might see the liquidation of it politically. Perhaps there was too much of his own ego involved in it.” [David Halbertstam (1969): “The Best and the Brightest”; p 659].

Alter the subject matter, the location, the dates and the actors and we have our own EU. I would argue that the terms ‘backlash’ or ‘backfired’ are not really apt as valid descriptors of the behaviours of those who now oppose the european project. One simply cannot (indefinitely) sustain the Big Lie of european political and economic integration (or Globalization) – as per the ideological mindsets of the ‘great men’. More and more citizens of individual european (or non-european) states will slowly – and quite reluctantly, form the opinion that they are being conned and will either fashion an opportunity to demonstrate their dissent and opposition, or take advantage of a presented opportunity.

Do not expect any meaningful restructuring, reform or change to the EU: a lot more political and economic destruction has to occur first. The obvious can indeed be ignored for a long time. Anyone reading Stiglitz’s “The Euro”?

“It is astonishing in retrospect how few people argued strongly for more services rather than fewer people.”

If this is meant to imply that most people were arguing for immigration controls I would be interested in knowing who those many people were as I didn’t see many doing this. Actually, change ‘many’ to ‘any’.

Also, am I right in understanding that those who oppose globalization, the EU or immigration for any but economic reasons are ‘xenophobes’? If so, I can’t see the reasoning.

Brian Woods Snr: a group of highly educated people wrecking a successful educational enterprise.

You could extend your example all the way to ‘society’ or ‘world’. I am reading Christopher Booker (he also wrote the definitive history of the EU: The Great Deception) at the moment, his first book I think (as it was written in or around 1969), The Neophiliacs, which traces the genesis of the extraordinary social revolution of the sixties. He sees it as a huge fantasay, or rather a wide arc of mini-fantasy cycles, which appears to be reaching what he terms the ‘nightmare’ or ‘meeting hard reality’ stage. Looking at it in terms of winners and losers, as the linked article suggests, doesn’t begin to explain things.

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