Runaway World

Nikola Popovski

Exactly two decades ago, in 1998, the famous British sociologist and professor Anthony Giddens, who gained worldwide fame when he became the main reformer and ideologist of the Labour Party under Tony Blair, was one of the promoters of accepting the new reality in the world – and that was the process of globalization. He briefly described it in his famous work “The Third Way”. According to many theorists, globalization was not only (and still is) our reality, but was also explained as a phenomenon of “growing globalization” and that it is “here to stay.”

Professor Gidens in response to critics of his perceptions of globalization and in response to its inevitable appearance in 1999 published a small, but important book, called “Runaway World” in which he stated that “globalization is a complex set of processes, not a single one”and that “not only pulls upwards, but also pushes downwards, creating new pressures for local autonomy” citing the famous American sociologist D. Bell, who says that “the country has become not only too small to solve big problems, but also too large to be able to solve small problems.”

Two decades later, globalization is still here and is likely to stay, but it seems that in the meantime it will have to undergo some radical medium-term changes that are caused by the consequences it has widely imposed on the world stage. There is no dilemma that its benefits exist and they are far-reaching, but they constantly create their own inevitable opposites.
In 2002, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote about this in his famous book “Globalization and Its Discontents”, but later published many of his responses to its critics (Making Globalization Work, 2006 and others) that culminated in his most recent work, “Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited” in 2017, the subtitle of which is no other than “Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump”.

It seems that today we are witnessing how the benefits of globalization are being suppressed or forgotten, and constantly repatriating its problems. Today elected politicians around the world seem to have teamed up in their efforts to land as many blows on globalization as possible, and to prevent natural social, economic and political processes in the world, thinking that in this way they will protect their country and its people. They are all very wrong.

Such phenomena of anti-globalization are visible at every step. Firstly, free trade in the world is being replaced every day by growing customs and other trade disturbances among the world’s largest economies. The US-China Trade War came to a point where the Chinese government recently stated in its official government document: “The US government is taking extreme protectionist measures in the trade that have disrupted the international economic order, causing damage to trade relations around the world, disrupting the chain of global values and international distribution of labour, disrupted market expectations and led to violent shifts in the international financial and commodity markets. America has become the largest source of uncertainty and risks for the recovery of the global economy.” It is clear that behind their major global wars, this will certainly affect smaller economies as well.

Secondly, the free movement of capital and goods is hampered by the continuous introduction of mutual bilateral and multilateral sanctions. Thirdly, the migration of the population and the workforce for economic and security reasons intensified and began to create serious disadvantages in a significant part of the world. The process of the increasingly freelance movement of the labour force on a global scale today is seriously obstructed by legal and physical (walls along borders) barriers. It causes the processes of disintegration of some alliances (Brexit) or their weakening (eastern and southern countries versus those from the west and the north of the EU). Fourth, the political and military co-operation in the world is shrinking and the hidden or open political and military conflicts are receding, even among the major military forces in the world. It is widely known that today there are battlefields (Syria) over whose sky hostile aircraft of two military superpowers or their close allies are competing. This led to a situation in which Russian fighter jets were thrown twice by “non-enemy” armies (Turkey and Syria).

Even the benefits that everyone felt and still feels from globalization, such as the fact that the number of people living with income below the threshold of $ 1.9 a day (according to purchasing power parity), that is, in the domain of so-called absolute poverty in the world declined to “only” 736 million, or 10 percent of the world’s population in 2015 (11.2 percent in 2013 and over 15 percent before 2000) is overshadowed by the fact that precisely because of globalization, only 8 (eight !) people worldwide have an equivalent wealth of that of 4 billion people who belong to the poorer half of the world’s population whose number is currently estimated at around 8 billion. It is likely that globalization gradually reduces poverty in the world, but at the same time it increases inequality in the distribution of income within each state and the world as a whole. This is also noted by economist Branko Milanovic, who in his book “Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization”, 2016, in the last sentence of a study of about 250 pages asks and responds: “Will inequality disappear as globalization continues? No. The gains from globalization will not be equally distributed.”

Globalization is now facing a serious test. One day, it will once again dynamically continue and pave the way forward, but by then it will receive many direct and lateral blows. The current isolationist and anti-globalization steps of different countries in the world will have consequences. Just 20 months ago, nobody could have predicted that the US would stand on the helm and that their current policy would lead to the collapse of the opportunities for greater economic growth in the world. Last July, professor Nouriel Roubini of the New York University publicly declared that Donald Trump’s policies “may kill the global recovery” and that “the period of low volatility and synchronized global growth is behind us,” adding that there is “a serious risk of a growth stall – or even a downturn – in 2020. He concluded: “With the era of low volatility now behind us, it would seem that the current risk-off era is here to stay.”
From this perspective, the two economists might have been right – I. D. McKinsey and M. El-Erian (I. . McKinsey, M. El-Erian) when they assumed it nine years ago and introduced a new standard that the 2008 financial crisis and the global recession of 2009 could lead to a state of “new normality” in which the low economic growth is expected, and consumers will need greater restraint over a longer period of time. They could not only predict that many serious anti-globalization processes will be upgraded, which will further complicate and exacerbate not so many bright prospects for an even better life.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik