Are Globalization, Climate Change, Technology, China’s Rise Pushing the World Toward Authoritarianism?

Critics of globalization on the right and left fear that it is creating dystopian societies:

  • migrants, in unprecedented waves, forced to leave their homes and their loved ones to find sustainable work abroad, without the rights of citizenship or of collective bargaining;
  • natives in the bottom 70 percent of society who struggle economically, are poorly educated, and resent migrants who they fear are stealing their jobs, living off of public benefits, have different values, dilute national cultures, and threaten identities;
  • a global educated elite of the top 10 percent of societies, politically powerful, who benefit from globalization, hire undocumented immigrants or benefit from the low wages paid that keep food, service industry and construction prices low. This elite are doing well financially, enjoying top-of-the-line health care, world travel, luxurious vacations, have multiple homes, generous pensions and secure retirements;
  • concentrations of wealth into a small number of international oligarchs, who are intertwined with each other in a “plutocracy cartel,” above the law of any one nation that might hold them accountable.

I do think that certain theories of globalization are plausible. The US government did deem certain financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Citicorps, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, AIG, “too big to fail.” Leaders of these corporations were protected from unwise and possibly even criminal financial decisions and received billions in “socialism for the rich.”

If there are few negative economic consequences for the risky economic behavior financial institutions engaged in that led to the Great Recession of 2008-11, what’s to stop them from taking enormous risks again? Only the masses, not the economic elites, are hurt. At the beginning of 2019, for example, 70 percent of Americans still had less net worth than they had in 2007.

The global oligarchs’ economic and political power is surpassing that of any national government, meaning they are paying far less tax than the working class.

As owners of or investors in technological innovations such as

these global oligarchs or multi-national corporations could usher in an age of far more restricted freedom, oppression, high unemployment, or low wage, part-time work for the mass of workers, who become serfs in a neo-feudal societies.

Fossil-fuel globalists and petro-autocrats such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, along with multi-national oligarchs hoard enormous resources and protect themselves from the effects of climate change, global warming and environmental degradation. They are in fact fighting governmental efforts to ameliorate these problems.

The dominant economic power of the 21st century is likely to be, not the US, but China. It already has more influence in the Middle East and Africa than the US. As I wrote on my history blog, “Uncle Sam is also facing declining influence in Asia compared to China. The rise of Asia economically in the 21st century may even end US dominance in the Western hemisphere, in the Caribbean and Latin America.”  This could lead to a decline of democracy, free market capitalism, freedom of speech and an increase in authoritarianism around the world, and especially in the West.

The major question is how to tackle what seems to be an overwhelming problem:

Unless workers find ways to effectively organize, mobilize and fight these concentrations of wealth and political power into the hands of the few, unless governments regulate and restrict such developments, the 21st century could become far more authoritarian in outlook. Democracies are already in retreat around the world. They could disappear.

New World Order? 

John Feffer, writing for a progressive publication, The Nation, contends “there is indeed a new global order. It’s called climate change and, unlike the scenarios imagined by the anti-globalists, it’s wreaking havoc not in some dystopian future but right in the here and now,” citing the dramatic increase in wild fires, and hurricanes in North America, intensifying weather patterns and global disasters. It cites studies predicting “plummeting agricultural yields, declining dairy and seafood production, spreading wildfires, shrinking water resources in the interior of the country, and flooded areas on the coasts before century’s end.”

Feffer concludes: “The only way to address this ultimate threat is through the sort of international cooperation that the anti-globalists fear the most, a linking of arms across the rising seas to defeat a malign global force and the powerful elite that maintains it.”

Drill Deeper: 


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