The Good and the Ugly Effects of Globalization | A World on the Brink
Dee Smith: Over the last 30 years, globalization has connected our world in ways we could never have imagined. It's brought about an incredible increase in the movement of information, goods, money, people, and perhaps most important, labor. Globalization has fueled the economic growth of our entire planet and brought nearly a billion people out of poverty, but it's also created enormous problems. In this episode of A World on the Brink, we'll explore modern economic globalization, looking at what drives it and exploring some of its consequences. We'll see how it was a vehicle to expand economic influence, a way to build markets for Western goods, and a means of preventing war. We'll also look at globalization as a method by which the West attempted to instill its laws and its values around the world and how one nation in particular has turned the tables. James Hollifield: It's not as if the world was not globalized. It's not as if the world wasn't interdependent. From the Roman Empire to the present, we've always had interconnectedness. Edward Goldberg: So, globalization is not new. One could almost say globalization is a political, economic, cultural type of evolution. When the Spanish conquered Mexico, they discovered the tomato. The conquistadors brought it back to Spain. So, from Spain, it gets to Italy. The first reference of it in Italy is not as a food. The first reference of it in Italy is a letter from Cosmo de Medici, where he's using it as a table decoration, which is just wonderful. Eventually, it becomes sauce. And eventually, it becomes the classic Italian food. But I mean, what better example of globalization is there than this tomato from the Andes Mountains? The early 1990s was this halcyon period of globalization. The war had come down. The Soviet Union fell. We were looking at a borderless wall. Technology was not a threat to jobs. It was this new area of just unbelievable change in our lives with technology. Christian Michel: We believed that globalization would abolish the concept of borders, ethnicities, and so on. That is reappearing, and that is a real danger. EG: And no one at a time realized the downside of globalization. No one realized about the fact that globalization also means economic contagion. Globalization also could lead to global warming. Globalization also is an impetus for terrorism. No one thought of this in the 1990s. Micah Zenko: So, if you look at support for globalization in different parts of the world, in China, and India, in much of Latin America, and lots of Southeast Asia, they are wildly active and enthusiastic participants. In other countries, there are portions of the population who have not done as well. Edward Alden: In fact, I think a lot of the countries that in a way were late joiners were enthusiastic about the benefits they received. If you look at the last two decades, there has been no period in human history when more people were pulled out of poverty than that last two decades. Most of those were in China and obviously in other developing countries. So, I think, in fact, a lot of these countries see themselves as the winners from the liberal international economic order even though they didn't set the rules. DS: Globalization has waxed and waned over the centuries, but this current phase is something very different. And it's brought some unexpected results. This is not globalization of one single political force with an international reach. Its globalization forged by numerous sovereign states who all wanted the same thing after the end of World War II-- access to trade. The defining belief of modern globalization, coined by 19th century economist David Ricardo, is that if goods are produced wherever they can be made most cheaply, there will be an overall increase in economic wealth. In other words, cheapest production will benefit all. To see the transformative effects of globalization in action, let's look at one nation that, as late as 1980, was economically isolated from much of the world. A poor nation, where most of the labor was agricultural, and nearly 90% of the population lived in extreme poverty. Today less than 7% of its population lives in poverty, and it's one of the world's largest economies. If you want to understand the story of how globalization can transform nations, you have to understand the story of China. JH: The one place that will determine where we will be in 10 years, it's going to be happening in Beijing. It's going to be happening in China. The Chinese are going to be in an increasingly powerful position. You How they exercise this new-found power will determine not only the fate of the region that they live in, whether they're going to continue to be very aggressive in inserting their authority in East Asia, and whether that's going to lead to greater conflict, that's going to depend very much on the leadership in Beijing. Stewart Patrick: This is Asia's century. Throughout the region, there is overwhelming confidence that the motor of the global economy is west of the International Date Line. Scott Malcomson: Right now, you have China, most of the east and South Asian states, Russia-- these are all state-led economies basically. SP: China may slow, but other countries in the region may pick up the slack, not least in India, which has been growing by leaps and bounds recently. JH: If there was ever a time when the what we used to call sort of the advanced industrial world-- we can't really call it that anymore-- or the Western democracies-- if there was ever a time when the Western democracies, the United States in particular, could really bestride the globe and call the shots, as we did in our part of the world in the 1950s and 60s, those days are over. DS: From the start of the 19th century, the British, French, Japanese, Germans, and Americans all fought over China. The authority of the Chinese imperial government was eroded. And the people's defining belief that Chinese civilization was a superior one was called into question. In 1949, Mao's People's Republic bought a new stability. But over the following decade, his attempts to transform a huge population of peasant farmers into an industrialized workforce proved ruinous. The massive social and economic dislocations that followed resulted in an economic decline and a famine that killed somewhere between 30 and 60 million. Conditions began to change in the 1970s, as China became more open to the outside world. But it is only in the last three decades that the Chinese have developed a new attitude towards trade and mobilized their huge population for real economic productivity. The speed and magnitude of China's economic growth has been on a scale never before seen. And ultimately, it has changed far more than just its economic status. Admiral Patrick Walsh (Ret.): In the words of the Chinese, it's a century and a half of shame. So, after 150 years, they feel that their time has come. And for many years, they were following the guidance of hiding their capability and biding their time. SP: Used to be called a Pinochet argument, that first you have to have a strongman to basically be able to get the economics right, and then gradually you would liberalize. The ability of the Chinese Communist Party to make significant decisions has allowed the country to focus simply on making money as opposed to having civil and political rights. SM: When, after 1989, China entered into the international economy, it wanted to-- a very high proportion of its citizenry was still employed in agriculture, which was not the growth industry. And so, it needed-- in order to take advantage of the inexpensive nature of its labor, and to insert it into the international system, it needed to be possible for labor to move to larger cities. But at the root, the Chinese labor system was still based in villages. And the city residence system quickly started breaking down. DS: In the last decade and a half, China has faced a complex problem-- how to achieve the maximum economic growth, while maintaining the Communist Party's social and political control. This has not been an easy problem to solve. In effect, China has struck a deal with its vast population. Continue to submit to authoritarian rule and continue to get richer. To maintain stability and control, the Chinese government has to continue to deliver on this deal, but growth has created challenges. Chinese wages have risen, and they are no longer the lowest cost producers. China is pricing itself out of the export market. Their reliance on controlling imports and subsidizing exports, combined with the massive debt fueled construction boom, has created what many economists believe is an unsustainable bubble, the potential collapse of which poses a threat to the entire global economy. In light of these issues, it looks as though China is veering towards more aggressive tactics. EA: China's trade strategy is very mercantilist in really the sort of classic way of trying to promote exports and restrict imports in various ways. SM: They want to keep control of what's going on in their cities, because that's the key to their own power. So, you now have a situation in China, where you have an unsustainable system of residency and social welfare, combined with local very large, very powerful urban political economic machine. The markets to which China has traditionally exported in order to build its own middle class are, as far as they say, starting to try and cut themselves off. Essentially, the argument being that globalization meant that the American, the German, the wherever working class in the industrialized world and lower middle class, middle class in the industrialized world, essentially their wealth went to China. EA: So, China, for a long time, has subsidized and supported its successful export industries, a lot of them heavy industries like steel or aluminum. You can take even something like solar panels, which are not a heavy industry, but they're reasonably commodified products. There are certain industries that, left to their own devices in the world market, are not going to succeed. And if they go belly up, it's going to cost jobs, may threaten national security. SM: If indeed the politics of the developed world begins to put its barriers back up, and say, we're going to develop for ourselves, we're going to create some sort of semi autarchy and isolate our political economies a bit, so that we can get our middle classes producing again, what happens to this middle class of recent vintage of hundreds of millions of people in China who had depended on that? Those, to me, are the main reasons why the Chinese situation is extremely fragile. DS: China also faces another kind of fragility. The historical one child policy, combined with increasing life expectancy, means China is becoming a society where one working adult will support two parents and as many as four grandparents. It turns the usual population pyramid on its head and creates a situation we've never seen before, and one that may not be sustainable. But the social contract persists. Growth must continue, and China's huge population must be fed. This need is spurring China into a range of new initiatives, as they continue to expand. The ultimate expression of this is the multi-trillion dollar One Belt, One Road project, a 21st century recreation of the historic Silk Road. Samuel Cherap: China's famous Belt and Road initiative, One Belt, One Road, of course, goes right through both Russia and through Central Asia, post-Soviet Central Asia. This is probably the biggest foreign policy success. We should remember that the Soviet Union and Communist China were essentially at war for several years in the late '60s and early '70s and really hadn't restored their relationship until the very end of the Soviet era under Gorbachev. And that warming continued in the '90s and essentially they've built today a strategic partnership. APW: When you have a country like China come in there and essentially say, we will give you all the lending that you need, all you need to do is give us access to your natural resources. If you're a government, which side are you going to take of that trade? For countries that have been on the receiving end of direct aid from China, they've quickly learned that they've stepped into something that they want to step back from. So, my experience with the countries in the Pacific was that when China makes an overture that they want to provide direct investment into certain resources, what they don't explain is that they're bringing their own labor, and that there are hauling everything out, and they're taking it back to China. Helima Croft: When you have a country like China come in there and essentially say, “We will give you all the lending that you need. All you need to do is give us access to your natural resources.” If you’re a government, which side are you going to take of tgat trade? I mean, China is a much more compelling offer. DS: After the Second World War, the Pacific was described as an American lake, and it was policed unimpeded by US Naval forces. Today, things are changing, and China is being much more assertive in its immediate neighborhood. And in response to this, the US is sending very mixed signals about its commitment to the region. This is confusing for China's neighbors, who are traditional US allies, and who are suddenly having to contend with a new kind of China. Not knowing what the US will or will not do in the region makes it difficult for them to engage in foreign policy, and so more and more nations are hedging their bets. SP: In certainly the last few years, China has been extraordinarily assertive. This has occurred in the South China Sea, the East China Sea. You have a very volatile region. It's growing very fast. And there's uncertain and unresolved relationships between China and its neighbors. APW: And they started to assert themselves in ways that frankly shocked their neighbors. I see a distinction between the Communist Party and the average Chinese. There's 6,000 rocks, reefs, and shoals in the South China Sea. To put that all at risk and to put all the development that's taking place with the growing middle class in China, seems to me to be a real disconnect over an effort to use a nationalistic sort of tone to rally the country against a threat that doesn't exist. MZ: Now, the worry is that as China becomes a more dominant militarily powerful and economically thriving country, that it will choose to go to war with the United States. And the belief is that the declining power, in this story, was the United States, will go to war with the rising power to assure its position in the global order, that it will try to freeze its power relationship with the other state. So that's what people worry about. China and the United States have vast nuclear weapons arsenals, so they can deter each other from using force against each other if they perceive their country, their sovereign territory, or their government is at risk.. APW: I think the future of US and China relations will depend on the strength of US leadership, and to be able to view that relationship as a mature relationship that can withstand the ability to stay, to say no. DS: We've seen how globalization can change the way an entire country operates. In the case of China, this first led to huge economic growth, then more expansionist attitudes, and now more aggressive foreign policies. It has been said that China and the US have a knife at each other's throat. China has held a vast amount of US government debt and the US has been a huge importer of Chinese produced goods. But China's desire to exercise more control over its geopolitical neighborhood may bring it into a more direct confrontation with the United States, and it is not impossible that this could lead to war. So, while globalization has empowered many Asian nations, China most of all, its effects have not always been positive. This is true of parts of Europe and also true of the United States, where, for example, we are starting to see the effects of manufacturing returning, but not jobs. Globalization has been blamed, along with immigration, as the cause. And anger over these concerns has been accompanied by a rise in populism and nationalism. But the rise of automation poses a threat to employment that is at least as great, so how has globalization affected other parts of the world? MZ: Some states have adapted to the pressures of globalization better than others. The United States has done a fairly poor job of adapting to globalization. Some other states have done quite a bit better. Germany in particular, which has become an export driven society, invest tons and tons of money in retraining and educating its workforce who are impacted by the forces of globalization. The United States, we don't do so much of that. SP: One goes from being am assembly line worker in a high skilled plant to being a greeter at Wal-Mart. And it's a demoralizing and dispiriting thing to have to face. And it makes it a lot harder to get food on the table for these folks. And one natural reaction to that is to say globalization hasn't worked. We really need to engage in more protection for our domestic industries. And in this sort of a context, it's very easy, in a sense, to blame open trade as, in a sense, being very destructive to the basis, the core, of the American economy. I think what that misses often is that much of the dislocation is really the result of dramatic advancements in technology. EG: So, who has this been bad for? You know, it's hard to tell the worker who's been laid off in North Carolina in the textile plant, where the textiles are now being made in China, that OK, 300 million Chinese are no longer in poverty. It's kept wages flat in the United States for a certain percentage of society. Some economists have argued, yes, wages are flat, but there's also super benefits we don't see when we say wages are flat. We've basically been in a period of deflation. Plus, you've had all this new technology, partly due to globalization, like the iPhone and all these things that just make human living easier. Well, from 1990 to now, to 2017, we've lost approximately 31% of our manufacturing workforce. OK. That sounds horrible. But at the same time, our manufacturing output has increased by 71%. That's not globalization, that's automation. DS: Globalization is not just about the production of goods. It is also about the movement of people. And while immigration has always taken place, there is a marked difference today. Cities like London, Houston, or Paris are more diverse than they have ever been. In all the places it is happening, the scale and scope of immigration today is creating a split between those who embrace immigrants and those who react vehemently against them. And like the other | of globalization, immigration is increasingly and dramatically affecting politics. More political leaders appealing to the mainstream use the fear people have of losing their livelihoods to immigrants to stoke the fires of intolerance and thus to gain political capital. Professor Lord Robert Mair: So, Britain has a very long history of receiving immigrants. Many parts of our cities have very divergent, very diverse communities. I don't think that that in itself has been a major problem, but I think there is a growing feeling that somehow there are more and more immigrants and less and less what one might say indigenous British people. EG: And we know in the United States one of the reasons we've been able to have this dynamic culture is because of the influence of immigrants, the confluence of different thinking, challenging different cultures, challenging us, have propelled us. We look at who's doing-- Many of the founders of our high-tech companies-- from Andy Grove at Intel, an immigrant from a Hungary 40 years ago, To the Google boys today. Virginia Gerrard: In small countries that maybe only have a population of five, seven million people, if you have 200,000 people, half a million people, a million people come in, it really will change the way it is. On the other hand, we don't live in isolation anymore. Nowhere in the world is isolated anymore. It's a globalized world. And that's what a globalized world looks like. PLRM: I think it's interesting that our children's generation are much more at ease with this. They're much happier and much more relaxed with the fact their school friends are from all sorts of different backgrounds. So, I think it may be any kind of feeling of resentment of immigration may be reducing-- I would guess, is reducing rather than increasing. DS: The combination of an economic downturn and increased unemployment creates an instability that can upend politics. People have increasingly lost faith in their leaders. And although they don't know why things aren't working, they do know that they want change. So, in country after country, we are seeing a vote against the establishment. Months before Trump was elected, a political earthquake took place in the United Kingdom with the Brexit vote, when a narrow majority opted to leave the European Union and threw the government and the country into disarray. But how conceptually connected are Brexit and the election of Trump? PLRM: The reasons that so many people voted to leave the European Union in the UK are probably split into two. What was not widely understood in central government, particularly in London, was the feeling all around the country of a malaise, of a dissatisfaction. Ever since the global financial crisis in 2008, many, many people around the country have not seen any change in living standards. Some have seen a reduction in living standards. Very few have seen salaries rise. Many have seen resources cut. All kinds of really quite serious measures had to be taken as a result of the global financial crisis. And whilst that did not seriously affect many people living in the metropolis, living in London, and some of the other big cities in the country-- they benefited from globalization and from all the kind of things going on around the world-- many, many people outside those communities saw no change. And a referendum, which is a dangerous thing to have, is a very easy mechanism for expressing dissatisfaction. But a vote against was effectively a vote against the government. Gordie Greig: I think there was a disgruntlement and a sense of distaste over the way politicians run their policies, which didn't seem to connect with what are now called the just about managing, as Mrs. May calls them, ordinary people. And that was a political earthquake. But it was a wake up call for people to realize that there was something going on which was beyond the shores of our island. We've seen this in America with Trump. And the disconnect between politicians and people is something which has thrown everything up in the air and caused us to refocus. PLRM: When communities get dissatisfied-- and history has shown us over and over again, it's very easy to blame outsiders. It's very tempting and very easy to blame foreigners. And so, a large part of the Brexit vote in favor of leaving the European Union was people who had a sort of uneasy feeling, that their malaise was somehow to do with foreigners, to do with immigration. And indeed, immigration figures have shown quite clearly that the numbers of immigrants have been going up and up over the last decade and more, but the prosperity of the country has been going up in parallel with that, so that nearly all of the immigrants bring with them economic prosperity for the country. And so, if you've got a malaise anyway, and then you're combining that with a resentment of the fact that these sorts of things-- it's more difficult to get your children into local schools, more difficult to get hospital appointments, and you see that there are a lot of foreigners that have settled, then you're even more likely to vote for Brexit. GG: It was a by-election about the dissatisfaction of the people in Britain with the political process, particularly connected to Europe. And it led to some extraordinary claims and counterclaims over money, over laws. The most astonishing was Michael Gove, who is here one of our leaders in the Leave campaign, former Lord Chancellor, former education minister, who said, experts are not what we need. For me, the last person who said something about experts not being needed was Mao. There was something extraordinary, toxic, and divisive about the tone of the debate, which led to our country deciding-- and we have to accept it, that we're going to leave Europe. DS: But is dissatisfaction with government and wage stagnation the full story? There is increasing evidence that Brexit is not only about globalization, economics, or unemployment, but also about long standing cultural forces that have caused a large part of the English population in particular to want to live in a country that is identifiably English. Just as in the US, regions of the UK can be characterized by very different attitudes. And here is where the stories in the UK and the US start to converge. In the latter decades of the 20th century, the Democratic Party in the US seized the opportunity it saw in the growing population of black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American voters, and grabbed onto the politics of identity, allying themselves with what was sometimes called a rainbow coalition. As the Democrats gave up their claim to the white working class's loyalty, the Republicans made a pitch for and won their support, only to then betray their interests in favor of policies benefiting the business classes. And in the late 20th century, the politics of both left and right entered into a period of defining what a politically acceptable discourse was, leaving the white working class feeling silenced and disregarded. This triple blow has had several devastating effects. JH: What was happening in societies in Europe in the wake of the Industrial Revolution-- tremendous amount of alienation, spike in suicide rates-- does that sound familiar to you? Did the European societies manage those centrifugal forces? Did they keep them under control? Were they able to prevent them from leading to conflict? They did not. If we repeat those mistakes, if we don't manage our societies well, that are going through rapid change, if we lose the American middle class, if we see tremendous and growing inequality, and you have more and more larger numbers of angry people living on the margins of society, those are things we have seen before in history. And if we don't manage these changes well, if we don't take care of people in our society, we're heading potentially for another train wreck here. MZ: Since 9/11, the suicide rate has increased by a third, from nine and 1/2 per 100,000 per year to 13 and 1/2 per 100,000 per year. We don't know exactly why this is, but we think it has something, again, to do with opioids and exposure to globalization. And this is, I would say, a national security threat that American political leaders, and certainly national security leaders, don't really talk about. And we need to recognize it and try to grasp the severity of it. DS: In recent research, political scientist Jonathan Guest says he has found evidence that the white working class not only feels it has lost its perceived presence at the center of US culture, but that it has been told it is no longer relevant, nor even valid, and should be silent. This creates despair, but push despair far enough and it becomes anger. Trump has become a white working-class symbol, because he is the one who has returned the group to prominence in American politics and who has given them a voice again. In his research, Guest found that 65% of white Americans would consider supporting a nativist third party dedicated to stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, and stopping the threat of Islam. He notes that this is a politics of nostalgia, and that it is at play in different forms in the US, the UK, and in Europe. When talking about the politics of nostalgia, the first thing to note is that none of us realize how inaccurate our memories actually are, both collectively and individually. Andrew Solomon: All human memory is false. There have been endless studies that have looked at the physical structures of memory in the brain, and that have shown not only how much selectivity there is in what we remember, but also how much distortion there is. Additionally, the first time you remember something, you are actually remembering the thing. But by the hundredth time you remember something, what you're really remembering are the 99 other times. So, there is a process through which our memory moves farther and farther away from the truth. That's not to say that there is no such thing as memory. That's not to say that people don't have an accurate understanding some of the time of what their emotions were. But I think the fluidity of memory has to be borne in mind. Jeremi Suri: So, nostalgia is a common phenomenon that historians write about all the time. And every generation has its nostalgia, right? So yes, a lot of people in many societies today look back to an earlier period of the 1950s. And it always is an element of politics. People always imagine a different world, and they always feel they've left something behind. Those who moved to cities in the early 20th century felt they had left behind this rural ideal. The whole way we depict cowboys, right? It was actually a dirty, grimy, difficult life, but we have this nostalgia for the freedom of being a cowboy. So, the nostalgia is not new. Those who tend to be most nostalgic are those who were on the older end of the political spectrum, which is to say they're older, they're perhaps conservative in a certain way that reflects their demographic. And I think we're seeing more power in nostalgia today, because that demographic is more powerful. AS: The fact that our memory of the past is imperfect doesn't invalidate it. I think history can be a very valuable part of how we come to understand ourselves. And one of the things that goes on in a period of globalization is that the coherence of history seems to be disrupted. Because if the history of the United States is a history that begins with the pilgrims and that goes on with all of these people we think of as Americans right up to the present, there is a kind of through narratives that make sense. As soon as we introduce large numbers of immigrants, and people with various identities that weren't previously tolerated, we're bringing in elements of chaos that don't really fit with the history that came before them. The changes that have taken place more recently and do not yet feel historical are the ones by which people are most intimidated. CM: Looking at the past, these people at the extreme right and extreme left don't have a vision of the future. They don't even want to keep the present as it is. They want to go back to a kind of golden age of a 1950s. Now, a progressive president would have said, let's make America greater than she's ever been. But no, it was, let's make America great again. Let's go back to the past. In this country, you have Jeremy Corbyn on the left of the political spectrum, who says, let's return to nationalizing the railways, nationalizing banks. I mean, all these policies of the 1950s and '60s-- what about the future? But that is not what we have in mind, neither the extreme right nor the extreme left. We are all going back to a kind of mythical past, which is what a counter-revolution is about. DS: The idea that this is a nostalgia simply for better economic times is a comforting one, as it suggests a complete resolution through an improved economy, but that is a very reductive answer. In fact, this nostalgia seems to be fueled by a complex mixture of identity, class, and economics. The question we need to ask is whether the combination of identity politics and large population size exacerbates the politics of division and dissension. There are no simple cures or simple solutions. Instead, there is a set of possible approaches, each of which may be necessary but not sufficient, and each of which has drawbacks. AS: I think there's more and more evidence that different groups within societies have different interests. I think everyone wants peace and stability and security and economic certainty. I think there are a lot of things that everyone wants in common. But the world is very overpopulated, and what there is available is not, in many ways, increasing. And so, I think the tension that comes around competition for limited resources ends up defining a great deal of what happens. EA: I really do believe that economics drives a lot of this. I think if people are doing well, if they can earn a decent wage, if they can look after their families, I think they're a lot more tolerant of cultural change around them. I think it's when they see it as competition, when they see change that they believe leaves them worse off than they were before, and then I think they're inclined to look for scapegoats. And I think that's when you get anti-immigrant movements, I think that's when you get anti-trade movements, because people see that their lives are actually getting worse. They don't necessarily understand all of the different factors that are making their lives worse, but they're looking for explanations. And they often latch on to the easier ones. And of course, there are successful demagogues who are telling them, this is the source of your problem, and I think it can drive that message home. DS: Change is now happening at a rate much faster than our social and political structures can evolve to deal with it. Social and political experiments, like the European Union, are overtaken by events before they are even fully put in place. And the mismatch between the pace of change and the pace of governance is becoming more pronounced every year. PLRM: There are some interesting changes, as we've seen in Europe, that 40 years ago or so when the small number of European nations got together and said, let's have essentially a trading community-- 40 years or so, there was a huge enthusiasm for what was the beginning of European Union. EA; The classic example in Europe, I think, is the creation of the euro. So, the creation of the euro weakened a lot of the flexibility of the weaker economies in Europe-- Greece, Spain, Italy, and others-- to adjust to adverse economic conditions. The classic response if your economy is becoming less competitive is to devalue your currency and make your goods and services relatively more attractive in the world. With the creation of the euro, the periphery countries in Europe can't do that anymore. And that's where I think you saw the European crisis first start to play out. Roderick Greirson: It is inherently difficult. It seems for people with different lifestyles, different ways of living, different beliefs, different customs-- it's very difficult for them to move easily among each other. And this is not a phenomenon that's noticeable only in the West. I live in Fez in Morocco. I was speaking to a friend of mine, a very close friend, and he said, as we stood on the balcony of the house and gazed out over the medina, he said, it's wonderful that you are here. And I'm so pleased that we've had a chance to become friends, but I think I'd feel very differently about that if 36,000 of them suddenly arrived in our medina. So, for Moroccans, it's quite easy to accept relatively small numbers of foreign visitors, because they don't create waves of the sort that disturb society as a whole. But if you begin to have larger numbers, and if the people who have arrived begin to think that their own customs should be assigned ever greater weight, then it does become difficult. AS: Well, the identity politics of the last 20 years have really proposed that each of us has many identities. It's the narrative of intersectionality. So, someone can be, I don't know, deaf and gay and French and elderly. And all four of those identities are apposite. This is actually a bit of a modern revolution, the sense of there being so many pieces to identity is a new one. I also think that in an earlier era, there was a sense that whatever your identities were, aside from your age, they were going to remain relatively stable. I think the pace of change itself has become so rapid, in part due to technology, that people are overwhelmed by it, and in part due to the relatively open borders that have characterized the liberal world order. And people have sense that their very innate fundamental sense of themselves is unstable. JS: So, people still come from somewhere. We're very attached as human beings, and I think we always will be, to a sense of place. And so, I'm the child of immigrants. I define myself being born in the United States, but also, I define myself as part Indian-- my father was from India-- as part of Russian Jewish. Mother's family is from Russia and they're Jews, right? So, all of that is part of who I am. And it’s very natural as human beings to seek these identities that are attached to place. I don't think that's ever going to change. But I think we hold multiple identities at the same time. So, everything I just said about myself is how I think, but I also see myself as a global citizen. We have multiple levels of identity at the same time. And I think actually what we've witnessed, and what will continue to be the case, is that both our local and global identities will become more and more accentuated and will in some ways, complement each other but in some ways, be at odds with each other. But there's nothing new about that. Humans always contain many identities in them at the same time. AS: I think within an individual within a society that these questions of identity are complicated in part by people's perception that the identities of other people undermine the stability of their own identities. So, when you look at the movement against gay marriage, you think, OK, if you're not in favor of gay marriage, don't have a gay marriage. Let it go. But in fact, the people who are opposed to gay marriage keep saying that the existence of gay marriage somehow undermines the marriages that they have. I think, on a global scale, there is a perception that if you allow people from some Middle Eastern troubled spot to emigrate to Denmark, that Denmark will stop being Danish. And the people who have an identity as Danes feel like they themselves will lose that identity, that that identity will be undermined. Now, this is not a completely irrational point of view. If Denmark were to welcome more Muslim immigrants than it has Danish population, the character of the country would be profoundly transformed. So, I'm not saying that this is totally irrational or groundless. I think it actually is grounded in reality. I just think that the way to deal with that reality is by welcoming it and figuring out how to negotiate it, rather than trying to cling to a kind of monolithic sense of identity, which is in every country in the world now being undermined. CM: The common characteristics of populist movements around the world, the anger of people around the world, is that they feel that this change is going too fast, is uprooting them from their traditions. And with too many sort of influences, foreign influences, that is changing their cultures, that is destroying their cultures. And you have this, of course, not only in Europe and the fear of Americanization, but you have it very much in Russia. You have it in the Middle East, because that is what all the anger in the Middle East is about. It is Western influences that is perturbing, that is adorating the purity of Islam and the traditional way of life there, changing the position of women, changing the position of men. AS: People always have nostalgia for the world that existed behind them. Then the problem is that when you try to recreate the thing you remember, you don't recreate what you remember. You create something new. Recreating the past is an impossibility. In part, people's memory of the past is usually wrongheaded and confused. But even if it were right-headed and not confused, social technology has changed. Personal style has changed. The law has changed. Time has changed us in so many profound and fundamental ways. The inner workings of families have changed. Everything is in a state of flux. So, when you try to cling to something from the past, what you actually tend to do is to create a stymied version of the present, rather than a glorious resurgence of what came before. DS: It is needless to say that globalism by definition is a big subject, but its effects are felt at a very local level, and those effects are very specific. Within opinions on globalization, we see the full range of human response-- parochialism and broadmindedness, hope for a better world, and fear and greed for ourselves, neo-tribalism and cosmopolitanism. It is not a simple question of good or bad, or of nostalgia versus forward thinking. It is a reflection of the complexity of humanity and of all our frailties and strengths. But two dangers have perhaps become clearer. One is the risk we have created by tying everything together so tightly with technology, particularly with the technologies of communication and of transportation of goods and of people. The other is whether human beings are really engineered to live in mass societies like those of the modern world, or whether, when faced with this, they will create new social networks, giving them tighter identities in smaller groups, where they can find meaning and belonging. Today, we find ourselves clinging to narratives that make us feel good, whether that is a desire to go back to a past we fool ourselves into thinking we remember accurately, or a desire to keep pushing ahead with a globalizing program of social and political change that is arguably no longer working. In the next episode, we look at a part of the world where three continents and many cultures collide, the birthplace of the three great monotheistic religions, and the site of much of today's most violent conflict-- the Middle East.