Global cooperation, dealing with other countries, getting along with other countries is good, but there’s no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag. This is the United States of America that I’m representing. I’m not representing the globe. I’m representing your country.
—President Trump, CPAC, 2/24/17
Pesident Trump has declared sides in a long-simmering dispute, centered in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. That dispute is between globalism and national allegiance. The globalists tend to comprise the political, social, and economic elites of Western societies. They are a minority, but a very powerful and influential minority.
Globalists, to varying degrees, lack a deep and particular preference for the lands of their birth. Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington once affirmed that many American elites are “transnationals,” people who view national loyalty as something to supersede rather than embrace. They incline to the notion that they are “citizens of the world” and that traditional patriotism is at best unsophisticated and at worst, ignorant and destructive.
Contemporary globalism appears to have two factions, a seemingly odd alliance of capitalists and socialists. Just as odd, the capitalists speak the language of left-wing political correctness, and the supposed socialists are significantly comfortable with capitalist economics. An individual who embodies both factions is the left-wing multibillionaire George Soros.
When globalists affirm patriotism at all, it is usually to identify their country with the universal values they espouse. Thus globally minded Americans can love America only to the extent that America is a “proposition nation” or a cosmopolitan prototype for the global society they envision. Their affection barely extends to the particulars of heritage and culture of America, which make it distinct from other countries.
And for some of the globally minded, those particulars are a definite reason not to like America, as they are completely tainted by racism, sexism, homophobia, and all the other unpardonable American sins condemned in the catechism of political correctness. In any case, the globalist views the journey from particular to universal allegiance as a pilgrimage that any enlightened and decent person should undertake.
National loyalists, or patriots as they might be called, are more numerous in Western societies than globalists. Typically they are middle-class, lower middle-class, and working class. They are not as articulate as the elites in expressing their views, but their basic sentiment is that a preferential love for one’s homeland is a natural and proper affection. The Scottish writer and poet Walter Scott affirmed this conviction with his poetic line “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself has said, This is my own my native land.”
Firm national loyalty, however, does not preclude benevolence toward people of other nations. Indeed, as an old saying goes, if charity doesn’t begin at home it doesn’t begin anywhere. Similarly, if a person lacks the rudimentary benevolence of patriotism, can he really have any true benevolence to offer anywhere else?
This is not to say that national loyalty has no downsides. In certain circumstances it can mutate into a malevolent nationalism which stresses hostility to foreigners more than a healthy love of one’s own country. In this situation, a decent and worthy kind of global or international thinking can provide a counterbalance by stressing the virtues of tolerance, cooperation, and a sense of common humanity.
Such was the concern in Europe after World War I when the former combatants of that conflict reflected on the national chauvinism, vainglory, and hatred that fueled four years of mass slaughter in the trenches. More than a few thoughtful people reflected that national leaders used patriotism as a cover for their agendas of power and greed. One expression of rising internationalist sentiment was the League of Nations, to promote cooperation among countries. But national rivalries and belligerence rose again in Europe and resulted in World War II. Passionate nationalism faded as various forms of globalism gained clout and respectability, including the notion of a one-world government.
The post-war years saw the founding of the United Nations, the successor of the League of Nations, and a number of international institutions. Western Europe, with its history of excessive nationalism, would ultimately prove the leader in merging national identities as a step toward a global future.
Globalism in the West, however, was significantly held in check by the Soviet Empire, which—ironically—aimed at global rule and the withering away of nations under Communism. The need to resist the Soviets during the Cold War sustained nationalist sentiments in Western countries. But when the Soviet Union fell, significantly due to rising nationalism within its borders, the West spared little time to express its pent-up internationalist aspirations. Europe, leading the way under the banner of the European Union (EU), moved significantly toward becoming a unitary state with a common currency and a central government in Brussels, with considerable authority over the member states.
In the Western hemisphere, the United States pushed for expansion of free trade, a key doctrine and policy of globalism as a means to unify nations economically. An important achievement of this drive was NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, involving the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. NAFTA also may have laid the groundwork for what many describe as the North American Union, the New World counterpart of the EU. This idea, though not yet enacted, seems to have influential support.
Another key policy of globalism is massive immigration, the virtually unimpeded flow of people across national borders—as if those boundaries were insignificant. Since the nineties Europe has experienced large-scale immigration from the Third World which threatens to extinguish its historic identity and character. At the same time, the United States has undergone the largest sustained wave of immigration in its history, mostly from Latin America and Asia. The resulting diversity is stressing our national cohesion, perhaps to the breaking point.
Meanwhile, the globalists in Europe and America have little patience with complaints against their agendas, and commonly attribute them to “xenophobia” and other assorted phobias of less enlightened people. They proclaim with apparently unshakable faith that current problems are just bumps in the road as mankind advances to internationalist utopia.
But growing numbers of people around the world are less than convinced, and suspicions are rising that globalism has departed from its benign intentions and turned to the dark side. Globalism, say these critics, prevents citizens from controlling their destiny, that it substitutes elitist rule for democratic consensus. Specific complaints include destruction of jobs due to free trade and demographic displacement. This sentiment found some expression in the withdrawal of Great Britain from the EU and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
Some of the critics still give globalists credit for having good intentions, even if the globalists don’t reciprocate that generosity. Other critics are far more skeptical and cynical. They charge that the ideals internationalists express are just a smoke screen for their real goal: a totalitarian One World regime.
To raise this charge is to invite accusations of “conspiracy theory,” and mockery from the mainstream of opinion. And indeed, it can only be speculation as to what the elites might or might not be plotting in secret. Nevertheless, what they reveal in plain view—through word and action—is completely sufficient to raise strong suspicion about their goals. Once again, it is quite evident—without the slightest conspiracy theorizing—that they have little regard for the legitimate patriotic concerns of ordinary citizens, or the rights of those citizens to preserve what they cherish.
Globalists may speak about harmony and peace, but the barely veiled contempt of these few for so many is hardly conducive to building a benevolent world order. Globalism today in some ways mirrors the arrogance of past nationalisms, and it may end up promoting strife and conflict, just as those excesses of nationalism did. If globalism brings any real international cooperation, it may be—most ironically—among patriots of different nations who wish to preserve their respective identities.
Should globalists wish to dispel “conspiracy theories,” they might consent to greater discussion of what their project truly intends. Regardless, citizens of the rank and file must insist on this discussion and ask globalists most pointedly about what loyalty, if any, they have toward their countries and to what extent, if any, do they believe in national sovereignty and government of the people. Most specifically, is treason too strong a word to describe contemporary globalism? If not, why not? The time for answers is now. ■