“Globalization, as many have recently noted, is in retreat”. That’s the opening sentence of Martina Larkin’s analysis of the problems of too much inter-dependence. This need not concern any one too much except that Ms Larkin’s job practically symbolizes globalization.
She heads the World Economic Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils, which consists of 86 groups of experts from around the world. Each group brainstorms and thinks about a particular global issue or industry. This is meant to foster interdisciplinary long-range thinking about the global agenda.
That’s a lot of globalized thinking and Ms Larkin’s opinions consequently matter a great deal.That said, they are vaguely reminiscent of those early, somewhat absurd anti-globalization protests at the turn of the century when the mobs would hold up banners to urge “world unity against globalization”.
Anyway, it’s difficult to see why Ms Larkin, who’s presumably at the centre of thinking about the global agenda, takes such a despondent view of inter-connectedness and inter-dependence.
Some of what she says is frankly bewildering, not least the supposed evil consequences of globalization. Why, for instance, blame globalization for exposing “the inadequacy of national governments and international institutions”? Surely, national governments and international institutions are perfectly capable of exposing their inadequacy, by themselves?
She approvingly quotes Mark Leonard, Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum’s new Global Agenda Council on Geo-economics, who recently wrote a doleful piece on some countries’ attempts to protect themselves from the economic backlash of inter-dependence. The world seems “intent on re-segregating itself”, he said, “no one is willing to lose out on the benefits of a global economy, but all great powers are thinking about how to protect themselves from its risks, military and otherwise”.
But isn’t that commonsense and basic survival strategy rather than isolationism?
That’s what globalization 2.0 is made of – multi-national markets and marketeers; transnational threats; international ideas.