Embracing globalisation, and curbing it
The populist alternative is not the right one when it comes to calming the distressed middle classes of the West. In terms of responses and solutions, it would be much more gracious to restore their income and purchasing power. In fact, our middle classes have only benefited from the very fringes of globalisation, whereas it’s the rich and the tiny cast of experts that have reaped the most rewards.
The global elite has confiscated what globalisation has had to offer and, at the same time, this has been escalated by the State itself that – to the detriment of the majority of citizens – has endangered its own accounts in order to rescue the world of finance following the crisis of 2007 and 2008. By saving the banks from bankruptcy that would have been their own fault, our politicians thought they were saving their economies and their own children when they were actually doing nothing other than bailing out those who had bet, speculated, and gambled for their own personal gain. But we should not be surprised by the fierce rejection of globalisation and all that it represents by the majority of citizens living in these economies that we say are “integrated”, when it is of public notoriety that they are systems of exclusion and precariousness… For our old democracies, globalisation has gradually become a synonym for the hyper-concentration of wealth and the loss of influence of politicians, now reduced to puppets, a parody of themselves, all for the benefit of a tiny minority of businessmen who have made the world their playing field. Moreover, income and wealth inequalities aren’t just affecting the Anglo-Saxon countries – they are now rampaging through Scandinavia and Germany.
At the same time, however, the take-off of technology and automisation – which have played a huge role in driving wages down in the West and increasing its unemployment levels – has had extraordinarily happy consequences for developing nations. Their opening-up to the world has allowed the gradual emergence of a real middle class in Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, and Central Europe, having risen – on average – from 35% of the population to 65% in 2017! The World Bank’s figures show that nearly a billion people have escaped poverty thanks to globalisation, with its secondary effects being the substantial drop in infant mortality, increased literacy and widespread democracy.
At the same time, and as if it were inevitable, it is our Western middle classes that find themselves in troubled waters, when they aren’t heading straight for total liquidation like in the US. The building blocks of our civilisation, and considered by Alexis de Tocqueville to be the best fortifications to defend our democracies, the middle class now finds itself in an existential crisis. It is therefore imperative to curb the effects of globalisation because – whether we like it or not – it’s here to stay, and to last. But how do we do it? By adopting a set of measures, regulations and laws that will help protect the Western middle classes. Because at the moment, and to rehash an eye-opening analogy that a contact of mine in China recently made: “For us, globalisation is like a mosquito net – it lets the fresh air in but keeps the mosquitoes out”…