The old political divides like left versus right, progressives versus conservatives and capitalists versus socialists are fast fading away to be replaced by the new divide, globalism versus nationalism. And I’d like to share with you some words of caution about the nationalist backlash against globalization.
Here we are, freely sharing our thoughts, hopes, dreams and ideas on a decentralized application running on an immutable public blockchain. I don’t remember who exactly, but it was a very sharp observation to say that information on the blockchain can be seen as the start of history; information that cannot be changed or influenced by powerful entities that would like to leave their own account of history. History is now for the first time being written by us, instead of by the winners, the “powers that be”.
We’re sharing everything here and from all around the world; if there was ever a definition of “Global Village”, this is it. But are we really moving toward a true global society? I see nationalism rearing it’s ugly head everywhere. The president of the mightiest and most globalized country in the world wants to build a wall around HIS country and make HIS country Great Again. The EU is rightfully seen as a dead project, Brexit being only the most obvious sign of resistance against this unwanted unification of many nationalities.
Why this is happening is no big mysterie, at least I don’t think so; we’ve globalized the economy instead of the people. Money can freely roam around in a borderless realm of high frequency trading with limitless possibilities for profits and losses, but the people aren’t free. In each and every nation of the developed world the citizens see the income gaps between the absurdly rich and the heavily taxed middle class growing; while the productivity of the working class has grown the national economies, they’ve seen their income decline, while the rich have seen their profits multiplied many times.
This has been done, not because your government hates you, but because your government has played it’s role in the globalized economy. When national governments make policy in service of globalist economic interests instead of in service of their people, the people will feel abandoned. And when they simultaneously see their factories, their livelihood being shipped abroad to low wage countries, and people coming in from abroad to steal a percentage of the few jobs that are left, the blaming game begins. An attitude hostile to everything foreign is to be expected in these circumstances.
Still, it’s obviously the wrong response. Even if we concede that patriotism and nationalism have done great good in the past, it should be obvious to everyone that a cowardly retreat behind our own fortified borders is not the direction to go. We ARE that global village, that’s just the reality of the 21st century. It’s just that globalization under the guidance, the principles of a failed economic ideology can’t work. We’re tribal creatures first and foremost; for tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of years, according to our current understanding of human evolution, we have lived in tribes of a couple of dozen individuals, and most of our instincts, our gut reactions, were developed in that period.
Everybody in the tribe knew everybody else. Since we’re social creatures a large part of our mental abilities are dedicated to everybody else… within the tribe. We have remarkable abilities to estimate another person’s intentions, moods and body-language, especially if we know them well. We’re masters at facial recognition and we have the unstoppable intuition to see faces everywhere and in everything. When we hallucinate, we hear other people talking, not whistles or horns. When we look at the stars we see animals and people, neatly grouped in zodiac signs. The holy grail in robotics is building a robot indistinguishable from a real person… Our minds are obsessed with humanity, especially the humans we have a tight relationship with.
Props to nationalism for bringing us to the first steps outside the tribe. Technological and scientific advancements brought about the need for humans to organize themselves in larger communities; a farm that can feed a couple of hundred people serves a purpose when there’s a community of that size to feed. We recognized that when a couple of hundred people built houses for each other, in a location with food and water and a couple of productive farms, we could stay in one place for a long time; villages and cities were born, and under the local leaders the first city-states were born. Loyalty to the city, leader, state or nation and the fellow inhabitants, was a significant development in broadening the horizon of the traditional tribes.
Loyalty to one’s country has a clear history and sound reasons, but it’s important to recognize that the nation state was the second step in an evolution of broadening the tribal horizon, not shrinking it. It’s just practical to think the next step is a global civilization. Note that I didn’t say global economy; that’s exactly the problem we’re facing right now. To make a mobile phone or a PC, you need ingredients from all over the world. Right now the assembly of such devices is left to the whims of a so called free market economy, where each holder of each ingredient tries to make the most profit from relinquishing said ingredient. All national politicians play their role in this game by agreeing on trade agreements that span many borders with the interests of the largest manufacturers in mind, instead of the interests of their respective people.
To say that a free market economy is efficient, or that it serves some sort of greater good, is in my mind nigh delusional. It is in fact the exact opposite; it is the most inefficient model imaginable to produce goods and services, and it serves the good of a select few. If you believe that this is because capitalism isn’t “pure” enough, because it is regulated too much and that these regulations are the cause of the unwanted concentration of power, to you I say that you got the order of things mixed up. Ownership is what gives power, not the other way around. The multinationals own the politicians, that’s why your politicians have forgotten about you.
The reality of living in the global village is that we all need each other to survive, just like way back when we were nomads traveling from cave to cave. The loyalty you feel right now toward your fellow countrymen (and women of course) is a wonderful feat of mental ability; most of them you don’t know and will never know, you’ll never see them or speak to them, yet in your mind, in your guts you just know that your destiny is linked to theirs. The nation is a mental construction that’s constantly being fortified in public discourse, but it’s ultimate purpose is obsolete because our practical lifestyles and real world technological advancements necessitate global cooperation; global problems require global solutions, it’s as simple as that.
Whatever for the global cooperation may take, all cooperation requires organization and organization usually requires some sort of governance. Now, this is the ultimate nightmare of every free thinking human on the planet; a one world government, or more commonly referred to as a “new world order” devised in shadowy rooms by old white males calling themselves illuminated, or “Illuminati”. In my view it is certainly true that the world is already governed behind closed curtains by those who effectively own the economy, regardless of their identity or title, just because of how ownership translates into power; follow the money and you’ll end up with your true rulers. So in a world where everybody believes deeply in the benefits of the free market economy, the holiness of ownership, so much so that we have democratically elected political leaders who prioritize the global economic interest of these few over the real interests of their own population, it’s no wonder why nationalism one one hand and extreme identity politics on the other hand is rampant in political public discourse nowadays.
It’s natural to fear any human led governance over the world when we’re only accustomed to national governance with no regards for the people of the nation. But that’s because politics is not about humans, it’s about the economy to which humans are subservient. Ultimately it’s a bold deed to put a fence around a portion of The Earth and claim “that’s mine”. Just think about how ridiculous it actually is to claim a piece of the planet as your own. This is just as true for an individual as for a group of any size, whether it be a tribe, a city or a nation. Just remember that a border is just a thought up line across a real world, and that we all must share that real world regardless of any imaginary lines we care to draw.
An economy of greed produces leadership of the greedy, and it’s that kind of self-centered attitude that stands in the way of a real globalization of the people. It’s ironic and sad that this failed attempt at globalization has resulted in a nationalistic backlash in so many western countries. And it’s sad to see that so many people point the blaming vinger at the wrong enemies; alarm bells should ring when a country bombs a certain part of the world for decades non stop, clearly aimed at strategic domination of the world’s most precious resources, and then close it’s borders to refugees from the war-zones they created. This is not politics, but economy at work, the wars are being waged by your economic leaders, not your puppet politicians.
Any leadership over the whole planet is rightfully feared under the current economic paradigm of capitalism; concentrated power under the principles of an ideology that’s only interested in maximizing growth and profits is a nightmarish prospect indeed, and it could be argued that it’s already here. So in my mind we’re not ready as humans to function under a purely human rule; any form of global governance should be limited to solving practical global problems, like streamlining production processes to maximize the distribution of products that increase human well-being in an honest and efficient manner, accompanied by democratic input by all the inhabitants of the global village.
Wait a minute… Decentralized democratic input in an automated regulatory system with changes to that system being made only after reaching a certain predetermined amount of consensus…? What does that sound like? You’ve guessed it: blockchain technology 🙂 Really, given the fact that we need some sort of global organization, and given the empirical evidence of the constant failing of so called free market solutions, and given the fact that a profit based economic model naturally leads to the concentration of power because ownership is the same as power, I can foresee the need for some sort of human ruled AI, an AI that guards certain parameters of human justice and dignity on a purely material front, maybe incorporating some form of universal basic income, but all other decisions and actions are decided upon on a decentralized immutable historic and public ledger.
Maybe, just maybe the public blockchains, integrated with a world-AI powered by all the computers from all the planet’s inhabitants, with a smart contract powered economy that recognizes not only the possibility but the practical need to safeguard a much more equal distribution of material wealth, if only to enable all global citizens to have a computer to participate in global citizenship, is the next step, after the internet, toward a more just and peaceful future and true global citizenship. Retreating back behind our own borders, going back to a nationalistic or even local view on the economy is taking a huge step back in human cultural evolution and progress. Even with the ill informed popularity of nationalistic populists, I’m hopeful that we will some day wake up to the reality of our ultimate interdependence, and maybe blockchain technology will aid us in that realization.