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Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Globalisation without fangs

Are we on the threshold of a new stage of globalisation, and if so will it meet the demands of developing countries?

Hassan Abou Taleb , Sunday 19 Feb 2017

With the beginning of US President Donald Trump's term, it seems that the world is on the threshold of a new stage of globalisation in which compulsory integration is receding in some states and societies within a global economic order that first serves the interests of capitalist countries at the expense of the entire world's peoples.

This new stage of anticipated globalisation in Trump's term does not mean necessarily that all the mortal sins of the previous era will be reformed. It also does not mean that it will lead to upholding the just demands developing countries raised repeatedly, in return receiving a very limited response.

Globalisation was established on three connected arms, which are free trade accompanied with freedom of investment and capital transfer; the influence of World Wide Web ("the Internet") and its ability to connect societies and transfer information at the moment it took place, and its expanding impact on international commercial and economic transactions; and the linking of local economic transformations and integration into international economic movements with political concepts that advance democratisation, the spread of freedoms and Western intervention for the sake of changing regimes stumbling in democratisation processes.

These three arms are facing varying degrees of threat and are susceptible to change if President Trump is to complete his first presidential term, and which will be exposed to a greater amount of change if President Trump succeeded in winning a second term.

Trump is indeed threatened with not completing his first presidential term. Demonstrations and other forms of protest against him inside and outside the United States, even before his inauguration, are considered a first sign of the difficulties that lie before him. For he will have to face opposition from a large current within the US, including a significant section of the Republican Party as well as the Democratic Party, several civil movements backing women and freedoms for diverse ethnicities, a part of the military elite, the intelligence structure, and the majority of those working in media and the arts, and heads of US corporate bodies.

All of these see a man who isn’t fit to govern the US, and that his continuity in office threatens the overall value system that spurred — and still does — America’s greatness.

There is an almost pronounced talk of calling for or forcing him to step down through revealing private files of his companies and his financial dealings, especially related to taxes and benefitting from tax irregularities, including working on impeaching him before Congress, culminating in conviction and hence expelling him from the White House.

Thus, if Trump manages to stay in office through his first term, and his internal policies secure a degree of success, especially in the field of job creation, opening new factories and reviving old factories that stopped manufacturing, in the field of renewing infrastructure, and in reducing the flow of immigrants and expelling several million illegal workers, this would increase his popularity among the middle classes and marginalised groups. His chances of staying for a second term would be enhanced.

It is noticeable that such policies are the antithesis of the economic foundations on which globalisation is built. 

If Trump is truthful in his notions about non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, whatever the reasons are, this draw the political foundations of globalisation to a dramatic finale. On the other hand, the capacity of these policies to reduce the effects of the worldwide information revolution are non-existent.

If Trump’s policies achieve a degree of success they may backed by rightist and populist trends, especially in European countries. This, in its turn, will inflame secessionist tendencies with the EU. If the Brexit model is repeated in two or more European countries, the EU experience might end altogether. This experience was seen by the world for a long time as one of the most successful models of regional integration and a tool for entrenching globalisation.

Even in the case of EU continuity after the exit of more than one country, the worth and influence of this European regional system will diminish. The EU’s ability to influence global policies would also shrink considerably and it wouldn't be capable of defending globalisation as it is doing currently.

Obviously, in the forefront comes Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, which are seriously apprehensive about such a probability after Trump commenced his presidential responsibilities.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticised Trump’s hints in his first presidential speech on those who exploited the poor and marginalised classes. So did French President François Hollande when he refused what he called protectionism that infringes free trade, since it will lead to halting investment. At the same time, Hollande called for an organised globalisation that includes health and social criteria, as if admitting that globalisation in its current form needs major revision.

No matter how powerful this acknowledgement of globalisation’s failings, President Trump’s persuasions are focused on making changes internally and changing the social structure that supports the president’s authority. This is also a major battle, which apparently seems to be an American affair while objectively it concerns the whole world that has to be prepared for a new form of globalisation.

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