Populism and separatism on the wake of an unruled globalization

November 16, 2017
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Concerns are spreading on the inherent merit of a growing interdependent world as economic unbalances and social inequalities are stirring a tangible popular anger. This in turn is driving a political fractioning in many nations making more difficult to form party coalitions. The voters frustration with politics, made up of a mix of anti-establishment and anti-immigrant feelings, is probably the best indicator of the change of hearts and minds on how globalisation is generally perceived.

Many observers contend that the promises of sharing progress and greater human solidarity sprang out of the fall of Berlin Wall went mainly unaccomplished. Downsides of the globalisation have been dominant not only for the lower wage earners but for the middle class too. And the future does not look any better. As the Catalonia crises demonstrates populism is not only a downtrodden of the current world disorder but it may turn into a weapon to the separatist movements.

More recent studies–having investigated on possible way outs–came to the conclusion that in the foreseeable political horizon is not  discernible any change bringing a sustainable relief. What’s more, the effects of the economic divisions risk to accumulate with tensions of a worrisome geo-political context making more difficult to gather around the table major world leaders. Never like those days, it is felt the need of a lip ahead in promoting a dialogue to restore a more acceptable world security level.

As of now it should be clear that the only reasonable solution to defuse terror violence and  proxy wars is to take up the quest of reviewing the world balance of power. To this end some analysts urge to reckon with the realities on the ground, which suggest a number of steps forward. The first and foremost is not to reject out of hand the ambitions of China, Russia, Japan,Turkey and Egypt, among others, to have a stronger voice in the international consultation process.

A division of the world into spheres of influence, with the mutual obligation for the major powers to conform their respective attitude to a number of political and moral rules, may be  – provisionally, at least- a welcome decision. On the contrary, the attempt to isolate Russia and Iran would bring nowhere. For sure, an improvement of world security conditions may allow to better handle the globalization downsides.

One priority initiative is, in the absence of autoritative International Institutions, to strengthen national politics of globalization.  One of the first aims should be to stop the convergence between globalization forces and information technology. That could be done by imposing stricter controls to the mergers and acquisitions operations, and ultimately to the most powerful equity investment firms and banking institutions, which provide the necessary finance.

It is a widely shared opinion that the sudden surge of high-tech companies, whose tentacles, analists contend, are encircling both public and personal lives, is a factor weakening democracies. Franklin Foer, an American journalist, in his book World Without Mind: the Existential Threat of Big Tech, decries the society’s capture by the biggest ITcompanies and charge them to serve up a type of information which suggests what people should think.

The hope is that by better opposing to a globalization led by “strong powers”, it would be easier to face the populist wave, that has yet to crest, as well as the twin danger of separatism. Concerning the latter, Great Bretain has provided a better way to deflect Scottish moderates from a pro-secession stance. Actually in some countries, including Italy, it may be appropriate in principle to give regions more say on how to concur with the central Government to a more effective management of the global national resources.

However, delegating greater authority to regions is not free from risks, as the thorny issues which in that case arise include higher knowlege and competence in good management. To this respect, it has to be mentioned a Florence-based Association, called Eunomia, whose purpose is to upgrade the professional skill of public  managers. It organizes for them taylor-made study courses and grants master diplomas. This is a praiseworthy way to lay the basis for a better management of public money, which is a prerequisite for any possible more autonomy to the regions in the future.





The author

Antonio Badini teaches at the Department of Political Science of LUISS University. He is the General Director of the International Development and Law Organization, and was Ambassador of Italy in Algeria, Egypt and Norway