Explaining Globalism

Kirby Urner

I’ve come out of the closet, if I was ever in one, regarding my globalism. I took to heart that slogan “Think Globally, Act Locally” even before I saw it attributed to Buckminster “Spaceship Earth” Fuller, one of my heroes.

However, second to the Platinum and / or Golden rule, comes the advice “When in Rome…” meaning I’m cognizant of the need to play along when it comes to believing in stuff, such as rules of the road. I brake for red lights and so on. I’m no anarchist if that means “doing whatever one feels like”. I’m into obeying laws (not all of them), recognizing that many games I have to play, are not one’s I’d have consciously chosen. That’s life in the big city (Rome).

The Platinum Rule (for those still wondering): do unto others as they would have you do unto them. The problem with the Golden Rule is treating others as you would have them treat you may go against their better judgement and code of conduct, just for starters. But then I can’t follow either rule to the letter as both contain flaws when followed in practice. Sometimes people just don’t know any better when it comes even to how they treat themselves. Blowing their minds could be liberating for them, however the devil is in the details.

Lets paint a science fiction backdrop, in the foreground of which, a network of campuses around the world shares a curriculum that’s self-avowedly global, and about training students to think globally. What would that look like? I have many clear ideas on the matter, and would argue that my style of investment banking has already succeeded, with help from others, in bringing these schools online. We call it “science fiction” to keep our minds open about where to go next, but also need to accept the reality of what we’ve achieved so far.

Am I talking about the international schools I grew up in? In a more confidant and greater America, post WWII, what had been called “American Schools” were rebranded as “International Schools”. America was confidant it understood what would be meant by “international” in the sense of American Express and Cosmopolitan. People were letting go of strident nationalism because they didn’t consider Americanism under siege. However all this changed in the narrative since Eisenhower. The confidence went away and now the talk is of “existential threats”. We could yak for hours, until the cows come home, about how all this happened, I just want to circle a time when Americanism and Internationalism were arm in arm. I was a product of that era. My globalism is “all American” in that sense. Iranians embraced it too, as they were interested in the space program. The Apollo Program represented America at its pinnacle, and yes, I’m sounding arrogant in using that word “America” for the District of Columbia’s dream nation in that exceptional and exclusive sense.

When America was so confidant in itself it could let its nationalism go, the Soviets could relax as well. We were converging towards a shared globalism, with the space program its hallmark. Buckminster Fuller was enjoying his hay day around then. The dark ages would come later.

In sum (I’ll make this short — I have a breakfast meeting to get to), when I explain myself to American nationalists, I try to give a sense of a Paradise Lost, a Utopia Missed. Again, the whys and wherefores are more than I want to go into here. Lets just say I think Economics needs more competition, from General Systems Theory in particular. The Euro concepts of Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Fascism and so on, need to reinvent themselves if they wish to serve as handles going forward. The whole “left versus right” one-dimensional axis on which one-dimensional women and men are expected to put themselves, is of fading relevance, I would argue.

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