If you’ve been following the American presidential election and all the debates and campaigns that go with it, you might have heard the term ‘globalism’ getting thrown around. This term has only recently been made use of by the mainstream media, particularly after Trump did so, on numerous public appearances, but it has been referred to by factions of the right-wing parties for a few years now.
Globalism is a philosophy that ultimately values the collective over individual rights and this tends to translate more closely to left-wing policies when it comes to implementation. For example, the creation of the United Nations, and the European Union; over-arching organizations above state-level are a result of liberal ideology, a large strand of which leads to globalism. Liberalism became prominent in the 1970s where an anti-war sentiment took hold, which was furthered by the advancement of technology (thus increasing global relations) and power politics was no longer the norm; international law was. This includes the enforcement of interdependence both economically (made possible by the EU) as well as security-wise (the UN i.e. NATO).
Liberalism believes cooperation to be innate to human nature and thus encourages a structure that epitomizes this. This has certainly been the case during the economic Depression Greece underwent back in 2008 and was successfully aided by fellow EU states due to the shared economic base. The state of which has been changing in recent years and it is best described with the older but grand theory of Realism, a predecessor to Liberalism as a theoretical perspective of International Relations. It is a theory that has recently increased in relevance as we delve back into nationalism. Realism focuses on conflict and identifies self-preservation, sovereignty and military security as the biggest concepts in politics. With the renewed focus on border control, Brexit as well as the increase of international terrorism, it may well be worth revisiting this theory after becoming relatively dated following the Cold War.
The election of Trump represented several things. The anti-political-correctness sentiment fused with anti-immigration fuelled stronger border control. So what does Realism have to say about the state of affairs? We have seen the increasing critique of globalized policies, worsened by what many now coin ‘the regressive left’. Realism finds social issues to be practically irrelevant and prioritizes military security overall. This is a position Trump has been known to take, including power maximization and ideas of territory expansion in the Middle East.
Anarchy is another large component of Realism. It is the belief there is no higher power to govern states and thus we live in lawless, unaccountable chaos. It only makes sense therefore to find social politics irrelevant in an anarchic world where morals mean little. This is of course tackled by the humongous role the Media plays in influencing public minds that are in fact swayed by ethics and therefore affect policy and state action itself but Realism was not prominent during western democracy and is unable to account for this. Where Realism does still hold relevancy, however, is in the fact that states are starting to refuse the set structure of the UN and EU, thereby encouraging other states to follow, paving a way back to realist foundations.
The current political issues that the West has been experiencing for the past decade has been commonly sourced back to Globalist and therefore Liberal thinking. This was similarly the case when Realists, therefore right-wingers were blamed for the resulting wars and international tensions and conflicts. Both theories are strong by nature but its relevance is varied and Realist thoughts are certainly on the rise today.