Deglobalization: History and Future
Deglobalization is a movement toward a less interconnected world. It is defined by strong nation-states, regional solutions, and border limitations as opposed to international organizations, agreements, and unrestricted travel. Some argue that the world has entered a time of deglobalization, pointing to recent occurrences like Brexit, the energy crisis, the Ukraine-Russia war, and the drop in foreign direct investment over the previous ten years (FDI is when citizens of one country make long-term investments in the economies of other countries). However, it would be inaccurate to claim that deglobalization is the current state of the world.
Is the world really in a period of deglobalization?
The ongoing importance of worldwide cooperation and interconnection is demonstrated by phenomena like the COVID-19 pandemic, global crime, and climate change. It is safe to conclude that in the West now, as opposed to in the 1990s, there is more skepticism of globalized methods. A wave of opposition to globalized economies and multinational organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and NATO has fueled a rise in populist politics in Europe and the US. Populist parties in nations like Poland and Hungary have explicitly stated in their party constitutions that they support leaving the European Union (EU).
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Many people believe that the United States (UN) is weak and stuck in a deadlock, and populist movements frequently mock the idea of being a member of a worldwide community of nations. As a result of being criticized as being either too strong or too weak, international organizations have seen their reputations suffer. Governments’ lack of cooperation prevented the World Health Organization (WHO) from leading an effective response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Testimonies of Occurring Deglobalization
Both democratic and authoritarian states are important pieces of evidence of deglobalization. In recent campaigns in the US and Germany, climate change was discussed as a national issue instead of a global issue. On the national front, its mitigation adaptations were discussed. Moreover, China has severely restricted and recast transnational infrastructure like the internet. Internet in China, as a tool, is heavily controlled by the national government.
Policymakers are finding it harder and harder to strike the right balance between global and local remedies. What degree of facilitation or restriction should there be on global commerce in goods and services? How can rival and occasionally antagonistic nations work together to address the global climate change challenge? How can migration be effectively handled and its driving forces addressed? Can conflicts and wars be handled? How much of a role should international organizations have in responding to health emergencies?
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The commercial and financial flows that support global trade are necessarily impacted by this effect on the political imagination, eroding investor confidence in the security of foreign investments.
Last Period of Deglobalization
Economists have different opinions on this topic. According to a theory, a period of globalization began during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century. It continued until the start of World War I. After thereafter, there was a deglobalization phase that lasted until the early 1950s. The most recent, most intense phase of globalization then came after this. This suggests that while deglobalization predominated from 1910 to 1950, the Great Depression, which occurred in the 1930s, could not have occurred without globally integrated financial flows.
Benefits of deglobalization
It is challenging to claim that forces of deglobalization are fundamentally harmful when some problems might be resolved more effectively at home. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the risk of depending on worldwide supply chains for basic medical goods. While climate change calls for reductions in the massive carbon footprint of global trade.
Inherent drawbacks of globalization include the rise of unaccountable global monopolies like Amazon, which has benefited greatly from the pandemic, and a deepening of income disparity inside and between nations.
Deglobalization does not, however, provide definite answers to these problems. Without globally enforceable trade norms, a national government’s attempt to regulate Amazon or Google will not be reinforced, and developing countries cannot be more equitably represented in international trade.
Risks of Deglobalization
The COVID-19 pandemic serves as evidence that the biggest challenges facing governments today are worldwide and cannot be confined by national boundaries.
The pandemic’s impacts were initially made worse by the world’s inconsistent, disjointed response. In an effort to keep knowledge of the virus within its own borders, China failed to alert the world to the threat for several key weeks.
To stop the spread of the disease, governments from Europe to the US adopted separate and uncoordinated actions. More recently, vaccine protectionism has resulted in ineffective vaccination campaigns in developing nations, endangering the creation of novel, vaccine-resistant strains. The pandemic demonstrates that a crisis is likely anywhere there is a significant mismatch between a global threat and deglobalized instincts.
Other fields can use the same idea. Without more streamlined law enforcement and widely accepted justice standards, international crime cannot be effectively combated. States cannot address the climate crisis by establishing their own separate goals without consideration of others’ actions. Additionally, there cannot be any international agreements to restrict the development of offensive cyberweapons and universal norms of cyber cleanliness.
The Future of Deglobalization
The story of humanity is one of increasing local power integration, starting with tiny city-states and progressing to larger national political entities, then larger regional political institutions, like the EU. What is currently failing is the development of broader multinational political blocs capable of controlling the effects of globalization.
National leaders can exploit international organizations as convenient scapegoats for failing to address global issues, despite their natural reluctance to surrender authority and responsibility to them. With the union of sovereign states into supranational blocks, citizens fear losing their sense of identity and unity.
However, technology has unleashed strong, globalized forces that are here to stay, whether they be in regard to cross-border crime, terrorism, or health hazards. Allowing international institutions and agreements to deteriorate only makes the world’s attempts to maintain peace and security, hold transnational corporations accountable, protect public health and safety, and stop the exploitation of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people less effective.
Deglobalization might be short-lived, but it might also persist until decision-makers are able to designate international organizations with enough authority to respond fast and with robust democratic accountability. Failure to act could lead to increased miscommunication, hostility, and a worsening of health and environmental concerns.