Ian Bremmer, President and Founder of The Eurasia Group which is an international consulting firm, an editor for Time Magazine and a professor at New York University has created a thesis on why he believed globalization has failed and initiated the shift toward nationalism over the last 2 years.
Bremmer is a globalist. He believes that globalization is good for the world because its theoretical framework creates opportunities during periods of economic downturn. For Bremmer, globalization opens doors of prosperity for economically challenged countries.
However, Bremmer in his thesis “Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism”, concedes that globalization has not benefited everyone because its success created economic inequalities. Not all countries could adjust to the changes brought forth by shifting international trade policies and innovations in technology:
“Even as it makes the world better, it breeds economic and cultural insecurity, and when people act out of fear, bad things happen.”
Economic inequality encouraged migration to regions which enjoyed comparative advantages. Increased immigration introduced distortions in the wage rate, increase competition in an already-scarce jobs market and fears on radical changes in social values.
Bremmer believes that inequality has empowered populist thought. Local citizens began to point fingers as to why their lot in life has not improved. Consequently, immigrants become the obvious target.
Why? Traditionally globalist countries such as Germany, France and Canada have strongly advocated pro-immigration policies by citing the need for more warm bodies to fill in gaps in much-needed skills. Bremmer argues that inequality has made competition ugly and has led to an “Us vs. Them” narrative which has played to the benefit of nationalists.
In terms of innovation, some countries did not have the money or resources to comply with the demands of change. Even if in theory, automated means of production could make processes more efficient, they could not assume the risk if revenue targets are not met.
Bremmer cites the example of Nigeria. It is a growing economy but its level of poverty has increased since the start of the 21st century. Despite rising poverty levels, the Nigerian government has hardly spent on public health or the creation of social programs. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa but also experiences a high degree of economic and social inequality. It has not benefited from the globalization movement.
However, Brenner thinks that globalization may still find its way back to relevance. The road just won’t be easy:
“The best case scenario is that some of these more individualized attempts to address global problems start working, we get lucky with a scalable tech breakthrough or three, and we start to pull ourselves out of this tribalism sooner or later.”