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Workers Of The World Unite At Last? By: Robert Locke
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 26, 2002


THE ENEMY is globalism, the bastard ideological form of globalization, which is in the end no more than the growth of communications. Globalism paradoxically demands that we make certain ideological choices, like the abolition of the nation-state, because they are "inevitable." It also has in the long run a curious way of sawing off the very branch on which it sits. Let’s look at an example.

One of the driving forces behind globalization has been the desire of international capital for free trade so that it can play national governments and workforces off against each other to hold down taxation, regulation, and wages. This isn't just Michael Moore-style conspiracy theory: business magazines brag all the time about how it is true. Given that big business is organized internationally and governments and labor unions are, with limited exceptions, national phenomena, this scheme has worked pretty well for years. But capital has a rude awakening coming if present trends are allowed to reach their logical conclusions. If the world government that Clinton Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott approvingly predicted eventually arrives, this convenient asymmetry between international capital and its national adversaries will be over. There will be a world government imposing regulation, and worldwide unions opposing business owners. And neither will have to fear some conglomerate shipping the plant off to Mexico or South Korea if it doesn't get its way, because Mexico and South Korea and Manhattan and South Dakota will be the same country. Much has been said since the 1980s about the competition for scarce capital and economic growth between nations which must compete to offer them a welcoming home in an arena which does not play sentimental favorites. The disciplining effect of this competition on the follies of governments and unions has been celebrated, for the most part wisely. So it is a great puzzle why the same people who celebrate this phenomenon, the big-business globalists, are conspiring in its demise. Take away the discipline of competition between nations, and the kind of world government we may expect is the kind of regulatory, socialized, and statist regime we have spent a century fighting against. It may not go to the extreme, but it will be inexorably pushed in this direction. Of course, Karl Marx knew perfectly well that socialism in the long run required world government, which is why he defended politically-incorrect things like the British colonization of India because they helped drawn the world together.

There is also the little matter of world poverty. The current global order is based on governments elected in the affluent nations of the world, where relatively bourgeois populations support free-market economic policies. If world government comes into being any time soon, it will discover that most people in the world are poor, and destined to remain so for a long time at current rates of economic growth. They, like most poor people in the real world (as opposed to neoconservative la-la-land) will vote for redistributive policies, not laissez-faire global capitalism. Economics is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways in which the fragmentation of the world into national polities has frustrated political wrong-doing. Every world-aspiring tyranny since 1776 has foundered on the resistance to it by other regimes. What will happen the next time a French, or Bolshevik, or Nazi revolution seizes control of state power and there is no England or America, or even a Switzerland, to flee to rally opposition? World government will make the temptation of absolute power irresistible. On a less bloody level, every dumb policy idea in the last 100 years has eventually been embarrassed into demise by comparison with nations that chose other paths. This has been true in economics, in politics, and in social policy. A world government would have no intellectual benchmark to judge its performance by. The prospect of a world government is bad enough, but the prospect of a world tyranny is so bad that it deserves attention by more than gun-loving backwoods militiamen. The very concept is founded upon the arrogance of presuming we will never again make any political mistakes. Naturally, once we have a world government, people will want to warm over a lot of exploded ideas from the past on the assumption that "it’s different now, and this time it will work." We can expect an era of grim political deja-vu. Americans are familiar with the federalist principle of the liberating effect of the fragmentation of power. It is time to grasp, and to enthrone as a fundamental conservative doctrine, that this principle operates internationally. It is pathetic that while moves towards world government are vigorously condemned, so little is published setting forward the basic reasons why world government is undesirable. History shows that societies frequently make major political decisions without grasping the consequences of what they are doing. Before things actually happen, thinking about them is a speculative pipe dream and therefore intellectually disreputable among realists. But this thinking has got to be done, and before irreversible decisions are made. As we did many times in the course of the 20th century, we are destroying a natural order that worked so well that we forgot how much we owed to it. A worldwide decline in the relative bargaining power of capital is the just the start of it, but it may be just the thing that wakes these people up.

Robert Locke resides in New York City. Others of his articles may be found on vdare.com and robertlocke.com.




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