Is globalization good for the United States? What is much clearer is that the notion of American exceptionalism cannot be reconciled with globalization defined as ideology striving towards global federalism.
By Nicholas Dima l September 10, 2012
An American ambassador was asked once about Washington’s position on an important international matter, and he answered that only the President can speak on behalf of all Americans. Who, however, speaks for America on the issue of globalization? The answer is complex.
First of all, we must define “globalization.” This is problematic, for many definitions have been offered. According to the authors of Pillars of Globalization, Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan and Gérard Stoudmann, it may be understood as “a process that encompasses the causes, course, and consequences of the transnational and transcultural integration of all human and non-human activities.” It is also commonly defined as the universalization of liberal democracy, cosmopolitan identity, and free trade. In fact, the famous political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, deterministically referred to the spread of these notions as the “end of history,” i.e. the final goal towards which mankind has been consciously or subconsciously striving throughout its entire history.
Globalization is, quite simply, a buzz word used to describe corporate multi-national thinking as opposed to national policy. It is meant to replace (transcend) ‘international’ in the description of the world economy. Therefore, in the international context, free markets don’t work because what they are ‘free’ from is government planning and management on behalf of special interests.
Yet, as much as the supporters of globalization wish to portray it as merely a natural and spontaneous process, it is also an ideology, which has also functioned under alternatives names, such as: internationalism, world federalism, mondialism, or trans-continentalism. The ideologues of globalization often openly declare that they wish to utilize such tools as international organizations, open borders, mass immigration, and free trade agreements encompassing multi-national mechanisms and institution building – never envisioned by the general population when considering free trade, for example – in order to further international economic and political integration to create a “new world order” under some form of “global governance.” In the case of the United States, America would become subordinate to global governance, just as States are subordinate to the Federal Government. The globalists readily admit that this entails a significant limitation (and eventual elimination) of national sovereignty and the de facto end of the nation-state. They also do not hide their hostility towards the diversity of nationality, religion, and custom that defines the world and which represents a great obstacle to a one-world, globalized system. As Brock Chisolm, the postwar director of the UN’s World Health Organization, stated bluntly: “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism and religious dogmas.”
Is this in any way compatible with American sovereignty and independence under which this nation was founded or the notion of American exceptionalism? Surely, it is an ideology foreign to America and hostile to the Constitution.
The United States was founded—after securing its independence from the British Empire-as a unique republic focused on the welfare of its free citizens. The ideals of freedom, democracy and prosperity expanded and gradually embraced most of the people. In the process, some Americans became very rich and some didn’t but the equality of opportunity – without old world class distinction – was always present and available. The majority joined the middle income strata of a free and individualistic society. For some two centuries, this category prospered and became the backbone of the country. However, during the last several decades, the hope to enter the middle income bracket and to maintain that status has diminished. The rich are becoming richer, the poor are losing hope and becoming dependent on the government, while the middle income earners are thinning out. It all seems to be the result of “globalization.” The question naturally arises: who benefits from it?
Entrenched globalists admit that, currently, there are some problems with the process, but they claim that, in the future, economic globalization will benefit everybody. That’s acceptable only if the individual wishes to be placed on a particular productivity rung of the economic ladder determined not by an individual’s free will and opportunity but by the dictates of government policy. As a former refugee from a communist country, I remember that Communist Party activists always promised us future prosperity, which, alas, never arrived. Instead, communism collapsed and was replaced by post-communism and globalization.
And here is what globalization has brought to America: well-paying manufacturing jobs have been lost to overseas outsourcing; young people, including college graduates, have been unable to find adequate jobs; and many available positions pay minimum wages. Globalization has generated a deep chasm, making the American Dream more difficult to attain!
In antiquity, the Greek philosopher Plato argued that the common good required a ratio of five to one between the richest and poorest members of a society. During the previous century, J.P. Morgan thought that bosses should only earn at most twenty times more than their workers. Between 1980 and 2000, however, the average salaries of major CEOs rose to a rate 400 times higher than those of average workers. Is this good for America? Obviously, large trans-national corporations (TNCs) believe it is and lobby the government for more legislation to further globalization. In addition to the disregard for economic patriotism shown by some large corporations, the government and its multiple agencies help push businesses abroad through legislation which increases taxes, labor costs, and regulations.
In the United States, public-private corporations are being created as bridges between private business and government. President Ronald Reagan clearly understood the nature of this problem when he said, “What is euphemistically called government-corporate partnership is just government coercion, political favoritism, collectivist industrial policy and old-fashioned Federal boondoggles nicely wrapped up in a bright-colored ribbon. And it doesn’t work. This kind of approach was tried in Europe.”
To a large degree, these public-private partnerships and the TNCs do not pursue goals beneficial to the public in general, but beneficial merely to themselves. President Theodore Roosevelt understood long ago the delicate relationship between government and big business. Thus, he busted several huge monopolies, such as Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, which, at the time, controlled 90 percent of all U.S. oil refineries. Roosevelt argued: “Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions; and it is therefore our right and duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.”
Referring also to monopolies and inequality, President Woodrow Wilson wrote in his book, The New Nation: “If monopolies persist, monopolies will always sit at the helm of government. I do not expect to see monopoly restrain itself. If there are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States, they are going to own it.” Who is currently busting the big trans-national corporations steering the ship of state further along the path of globalization? Who is checking the trend toward monopolization which characterizes modern globalization?
Although little discussed openly, globalization is dangerously dividing American society. The main split is between liberals and conservatives, between atheists and God-fearing people, and between internationalists seeking to destroy the nation-state, and patriots who want to save the Constitution and the America they inherited from their forefathers.
While the liberals seek a new international order, patriots focus on sovereignty, independence and American exceptionalism, reminding us of the very principles on which the country was built. In support of their positions, they invoke the Constitution, the prescribed role of the government, and the Declaration of Independence which reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” They also emphasize that the Founding Fathers opted for a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Pat Buchanan, a well-known conservative writer and pundit, adviser to presidents, including Ronald Reagan, and former presidential candidate himself, insists that we “put America first.” Buchanan, along with other critics of globalization, criticizes unreserved “free trade” as a utopian ideal – the word utopia being derived from the Greek ou topos, i.e. “no such place.”
“Global free trade is a Faustian bargain. A nation sells its soul for a cornucopia of foreign goods. First, the nation gives up its independence; then its sovereignty; and finally, its birthright—nationhood itself…” And “when the economic levers go, the political independence is sure to follow,” wrote Buchanan in his book,The Great Betrayal.
Economically, to counter the globalist view, the patriots stress that “an economy is not a country” and “trade is not an end, but it is the means to an end.” Therefore, the priority should be the welfare of the American nation not the special interests thriving on government engineered globalization. Other Americans also stress that people are not simply or primarily producers and consumers. As Buchanan pointed out: “They are members of a nation, with history, traditions, language, faith, culture and institutions to maintain and pass on.”
The internationalists and their atheist allies accuse God-fearing Americans of being retrograde and irrational troglodytes, or, as President Obama notoriously put it, “angry people clinging to their guns and religion.” Mark Levin in his book Liberty and Tyranny rebuts these claims by pointing out that “science cannot explain the spiritual nature of man […] we can explain the existence of consciousness, but we do not know why there is consciousness.” Indeed, American patriots “irrationally” submit to a divine order and place America under God, as did the Founding Fathers.
From a practical point of view, today’s patriots want to preserve the American manufacturing industries as a guarantee of national prosperity, sovereignty, and independence. They point out that America is still strong, but the current trends are nevertheless alarming. And they warn that great nations have failed in the past. Could this happen to America? In their book, The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty: Why Nations Fail, Acemoglu and Robinson provide several reasons that ought to give Americans pause: “Weak governments; hidden private interests; unenlightened leaders; lack of economic opportunities; instability; [and an] uneducated or complacent population.” The authors explain that a nation can shift from a virtuous circle to a vicious circle, where the efforts by elites to aggrandize power and wealth destroy a nation. The ideology of globalization, in fact, creates extractive institutions instead of inclusive political and economic institutions.
What is much clearer is that the notion of American exceptionalism cannot be reconciled with globalization defined as ideology striving towards global federalism. Submerging the United States in a world whose many cultures often prefer the illusory security of servitude over the inevitable risks of freedom poses a threat to America’s traditional libertarian culture. In fact, the spreading of an artificial, cosmopolitan universal pop-culture which accompanies globalization (sometimes referred to as the “McDonaldization” of the world) amounts to reducing all of the world’s cultures to the lowest common denominator, thereby imperiling the great treasure that is the world’s diversity.
Nicholas Dima, Ph.D., is a former professor and author of numerous books and articles including the autobiographical memoir, Journey to Freedom, a description of the effects of communist dictatorship on a nation, a family and an individual. (Refer to updated editions). He is currently a contributor to