FT: Why globalisers still retain the upper hand
In her recent unsuccessful campaign during France’s regional elections, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, argued repeatedly that international politics is increasingly pitting nationalists against globalists. In this respect, if few others, Mrs Le Pen is correct. All over the world, globalisation is under challenge from resurgent nationalist forces. One of the great political challenges of the coming year will be to defend the benefits of globalisation — while fending off the arguments of nationalists such as Mrs Le Pen, Donald Trump in the US and his new admirer, President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
The benefits of globalisation are both economic and political. In economic terms, they include enhanced global trade and international investment, which boost prosperity and enlarge choice for ordinary people. Believers in globalisation are more interested in opening borders than closing them. Globalisation is closely linked to internationalism in politics, since it involves a recognition that the world faces common problems, such as climate change or refugees, that can only be dealt with effectively through international agreements.
The world’s nationalists increasingly reject these tenets. In the US and Europe, they often argue that their citizens have suffered from globalised trade, and want to reimpose tariffs. When it comes to migration, the nationalists want to keep foreigners out, a policy that, taken to extremes, can lead to outlandish suggestions such as Mr Trump’s demand to build a huge wall along the Mexican border and ban all Muslims from entering the US.