The main issue in the world today is globalism versus national sovereignty, and it is playing out in the politics of countries on every continent.
In the United States, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s critique of globalism – encapsulated in his campaign theme of “America First” – has galvanized a mass movement opposed to the internationalism of the regnant elites, their transnational allegiances and their foreign wars.
In Britain, the opposition to the European Union culminated in a referendum which – against all odds, and against all the Powers That Be – repudiated the EU in a stunning blow to the political class.
As the refugees from globalist wars in the Middle East stream into Europe, Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban declares war on the “fanatical internationalism” of the European Union – and is denounced as a “fascist” by those he calls “today’s enemies of freedom.” These new authoritarians, he avers, “are cut from a different cloth than the royal and imperial rulers of old, or those who ran the Soviet system.” Sounding like Trump, Orban sets his sights on the enemy:
“They use a different set of tools to force us into submission. Today they do not imprison us, they do not transport us to concentration camps, and they do not send in tanks to occupy countries loyal to freedom. Today the international media’s artillery bombardments, denunciations, threats and blackmail are enough – or rather, have been enough so far.”
To be sure, nationalism has often been the instrument of authoritarians, and warmongers, but what we are seeing today is a reaction to an aggressive anti-democratic internationalism that doesn’t care about the consent of the governed. That’s why a British court has effectively overturned the results of the Brexit vote – in a lawsuit brought by a hedge fund manager and former model – and thrown the fate of the country into the hands of pro-EU Tories, and their Labor and Liberal Democrat collaborators.
This stunning reversal was baked in to the legislation that enabled the referendum to begin with, and is par for the course as far as EU referenda are concerned: in 1992, Danish voters rejected the EU, only to have the Euro-crats demand a rematch with a “modified” EU treaty which won narrowly. There have been repeated attempts to modify the modifications, which have all failed. Ireland voted against both the Lisbon Treaty and the Nice Treaty, only to have the issue brought up again until the “right” result was achieved.
“Remainers” accuse Brexiters of being economic “isolationists,” and yet there is nothing to prevent the free flow of trade between a sovereign Britain and the continent except the trade-bloc mentality of the EU. The globalist agenda makes use of “free trade” propaganda, but in reality their trade policies amount to managed trade: real free trade doesn’t require thousand-page treaties. The result of such treaties has been the creation of trade blocs, i.e. a form of regional protectionism married to outright imperialism. Take the cases of Japan and South Korea: in exchange for allowing the de facto military occupation of their respective counties, both US satellites are given a free pass for their goods to cross our borders unimpeded. So in exchange for the “benefit” of having our industrial core hollowed out by cheap overseas products, we are required to not only pay billions for the defense of these countries, but also must risk the prospect of having to go to war to fulfill our “obligations.”
Aside from the economic effects, the legal effects are deleterious: these trade agreements have led to the creation of supranational agencies staffed by transnational bureaucrats, which slowly but surely have expanded their power over our domestic affairs. The World Trade Organization, the adjudication apparatus accompanying NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership, etc., all these establish a web of treaty “obligations’ that, according to our own Constitution, override laws passed by Congress. In this way, the fate of a nation is cut off from the will of its citizens and passes into the hands of a distant elite – distant geographically and in every other way.
Such terms as “globalism” and “nationalism” are useful up to a certain point, but they also tend to muddy the essential issue, which is the devaluation of individual and local autonomy. In predicting the rise of this conflict in 2008, I wrote:
“Gigantism is the handmaiden of modernity,or so we have been led to believe. In literature, future utopias are almost always characterized by a world government, on the grounds that presumably the people of earth have evolved beyond the narrow confines of nationalism and ethno-cultural particularities. Everybody wears a white tunic or body-stocking and flies around on jet-packs. Conversely, literary dystopias habitually depict a world riven by savagery and decentralized politico-economic units, e.g.,The Shape of Things to Come, by H.G. Wells, in which an aspiring world government of technocrats battles the medieval remnants of local warlords. ‘We are the world’-ism is rife in liberal circles, and World Federalism has long been a cult, albeit a very small and uninfluential one, on the Left.
“However, the world government idea is – I predict – going to gain new traction in the coming years, and this is especially on account of the economic crisis currently roiling world markets. The problem, they’ll tell us, is global: world markets need to be regulated (for our own good, of course), and therefore what we need is ‘global governance,’ the catch phrase that has been coined by the policy wonks pushing this project.”
In short, gargantuan bureaucracies now rule our lives: the “little guy” doesn’t stand a chance.
What the reaction to globalism is all about is that people are angry that they no longer have control over their own lives: it’s a rebellion against the fact that we’re all being buffeted about by forces and interests indifferent to the fate of ordinary people, and that there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it. And behind this rising resentment is the suspicion that the people manipulating these forces are having one over on us: that they have rigged the game in their favor, are profiting from our misery, and are laughing all the way to the bank.
One of the more dramatic features of the globalist agenda is a foreign policy of perpetual war: after all, recalcitrants must be punished if they choose to defy the guardians of the “international order.” Any nation that dares step out of line must be made an example of, lest a “rogue” state succeed in its defiance and inspire a mad rush for the exits.
Yet it isn’t just about imperialism: it’s also a socio-economic phenomenon, as can be seen in the class composition of the two opposing camps. On the one hand, we have the plebeian masses who are flocking to Trump’s rallies and cheering on his jeremiads against international banking interests and foreign wars. On the other side of the barricades we have Gina Miller, the wealthy Guyanese-born immigrant who launched the lawsuit that brought down the Brexiters: she who lives in an $8 million townhouse in the Chelsea district. In spite of her fancy London digs, her mediocre hedge fund, SCM Private, hasn’t done that well: Miller has had more success running the “True and Fair” lobbying effort, which is a “transparency” campaign to regulate her competitors out of business.
As every libertarian knows, the real conflict in the world is liberty versus power: this collision occurs in every country, in all eras, albeit in different forms and guises. What is happening today is that this battle is being internationalized, with the political elites of the West taking up the banner of “internationalism” and seeking to impose the globalist agenda not only on their own long-suffering citizens, but also on the rest of the world. The resistance is being attacked and demonized, pilloried as “reactionary,” “racist,” and even “fascist” by the corporate media – and still the populist upsurge grows.
Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, this international rebellion will continue to grow. The peasants with pitchforks are on the march – and they will not rest until they have brought the monster down.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.