Two types of images are key to understanding current debates about economic globalization: the hockey stick chart, representing the stunning and inexorable growth of some phenomenon; and the cross chart, whose lines represent changes in relative power and prosperity.
In the post-Cold War era the public and policymakers believed that with every day the world’s economies would become more and more integrated. Now the opposite is happening.
As economies tumble, inflation surges and global food prices soar to critically high levels, two sectors seem to have hit the jackpot in 2022 – energy giants and grain traders.
Ultimately, trying to free the ship, or even convert it to run on green fuels or the latest in sail technology is treating the superficial layers. Instead, we need to dig deeper (yuk yuk).
But if these findings are anything to go by, we need to reevaluate the dominant narrative about long-term poverty trends. The notion that extreme poverty is the baseline state of humanity falls apart, and it becomes clear that the story is more complicated.
Discussions of the threat to liberal democracy have neglected perhaps the most surprising source that is one of the major arcs of history of the last three decades: globalization.
The coronavirus pandemic is, among other things, a tribute to human ingenuity and our relentless pursuit of globalization, an impulse thousands of years old. Previous civilizations, from the Romans to the Mongols, traded aggressively and invaded new ecosystems. It didn’t end particularly well.
With coronavirus prompting a slowdown in global trade, it’s all the more critical to find a different way forward. Thankfully, Asher, Rob, and Jason have a few ideas about how to have fun while building a resilient local economy.
The global spread of a new pathogen has exposed the fragility of modern life. As it moves around the world, the coronavirus has compromised the circulatory system of globalization, dramatically reducing the international flow of money, goods, and people.
Movement is a privilege viewed a right. Modern infrastructure in its many forms, from planes to trucking, one-day Amazon to instant Snapchat, is almost entirely built and run on uninterrupted flows of energy—which, for the past century-and-a-half or so, have been almost entirely fossil-fuel-based. In a way, it’s quite simple: throw fuel of unmatched power on the fire, the fire’s going to grow to unprecedented strength.
But the reality of our lives, irrespective of wealth or position, is that we are thoroughly interdependent with each other, the socio-economic networks that bind us, and the planet and its living system that holds us all. When we tear at the fabric of our relationships, we undermine the welfare of all, and our capacities to face the dire challenges ahead.
The current blind faith in technology will not save us. For the planet to stand any chance, the global economy must be redesigned. The problem is more fundamental than capitalism or the emphasis on growth: it is money itself, and how money is related to technology.