Addressing the Notion of Being Left Behind by Globalization
- An Appeal to Reason -
Europe is no longer the same. For many years it looked like Europe was right on its way. Right on its way embracing and sharing liberty, equality, fraternity as its core values. Right on its way to a unified Europe consisting of sovereign states under one European roof. An Europe without national borders as envisioned with the Schengen Agreement. No more it seems nowadays, unfortunately.
Another Prick Builds a Wall
All over Europe nationalist, right-wing parties and groups are flourishing. In some countries even traditional conservative parties are undercut and infiltrated by the very same nationalist ideas. It appears that two devastating world wars were not enough to once and for all get rid of such movements.
Wall and fence building is on the rise. Despite more than 40 years of division in Europe by the iron curtain. Suddenly a contest is on: who builds the best wall. By people whose brains are walled gardens. Even “please acknowledge us” Austria chimed in. Another prick builds a wall.
And when looking at the US primaries with GOP frontrunners like Cruz and Trump it’s no different. Trump wants to build a wall at the US / Mexican border. Since when did a wall, whether physical or mental, ever solve anything?
What do you think what happened? Is that what you want for yourself and your family?
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” ~ attributed to Albert Einstein
Oh, I see, you mean the refugee exodus is to blame? At least in Europe? Indeed, there are lots of refugees all over the world seeking protection. Protection from wars, but also trying to escape poverty that threatens to kill them. According to the UN last year that number is a staggering 60 million people and rising.
Let’s stay for a moment in the Middle East and North Africa. What are you saying? As much as you understand ‘their’ problems, we, in our prosperous countries, cannot take care of everyone. Our societies are neither prepared, nor willing to absorb and integrate large numbers of people with different cultural backgrounds.
Don’t do stupid shit
I hear you. I understand your point. Yet, did it come to your mind that ‘our countries / our societies’ have a lot more to do with ‘their’ problems than you might be aware of? Think 2003 and the Iraq war, for instance. Started with no reason by George W. Bush and his government. As always with the UK at their side, no matter what. Bringing destruction, devastation, chaos to the region. Creating the cradle for murderers like the so-called IS.
Or take, for instance, the infamous Arab Spring. When the European Countries decided to ‘help’ the people there with democracy. Look at Libya. In 2011 France’s Sarkozy and Britain’s Cameron playing world powers. Is Libya any better off now?
Quite the opposite. A total disaster. Anarchy. Social order falling apart. Tribes fighting each other with weapons we supplied them with. And IS rising. What happened in Egypt? Are they better off now? And now Syria? A big vacuum was left, which the jihadists have now filled.
And now what? The Middle East cannot be fixed … not for a generation to come, President Obama is convinced. And I think he is right about that … just his timeframe seems to be a bit short. Don’t do stupid shit.
Skin in the Game
Have a look at today’s European Union. 28 countries are members. And their political leaders are widely divided when it comes to what the EU is or should be. That is, of course, especially true when it comes to the refugees.
Most irritating is the behavior of the political leaders of the eastern European countries. Namely Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia. Not only are they the frontrunners of fencing in their countries. They also fight for deconstructing the EU. But the EU money they want to keep, no matter what. Of course, what else? Free riders with no skin in the game.
I have some personal advice for them:
if you don’t like the EU you were so eager to join, then please leave. Personally, I am fed up with these free riders. Taking the EU money but refusing to play by the EU rules. Your definition of give and take. The EU gives and you take.
Why don’t you just revive your old COMECON instead? Wasn’t it amazing how wildly successful that was? Maybe you want these incredibly prosperous times back for your countries. And in that context it makes total sense building fences around your countries. Even if it looks then more like a prison camp. Just like before.
Summing up the Refugee Problem
Europe has to get real and deal with refugees. They won’t disappear. Not even with this brand new agreement between the EU and Turkey. A bad solution indeed, but the best one obtainable. And now add to that all these people in African countries fleeing poverty. The pressure is on and rising. Thanks to smartphones and social networks they know our good life. In real time. Our good life made also possible by exploiting these people. And now they want that good life too. Just like you.
What did you say? You are telling me that it is because of these refugees that you don’t feel that well anymore? You blame it on the symptom instead of understanding the roots of the problem?
Addicted to Fear
I hear you loud and clear. You feel abandoned and left behind by the political leaders. The middle class was already thrown under the bus by our politicians. The lower class is already left behind with no chance to catch up.
The refugees became the trigger unleashing the anger in you. They became the target of your anger. Your anger fueled by the diffuse fear you have. And no one around to listen to you, to take you by your hand. No one loves you. And you wallow in your frustration expressed by whining and complaining.
That’s how you become an easy prey for these populist, nationalist self proclaimed leaders of the ‘left behind’. The pied pipers luring you into their trap. They eloquently articulate your fears in the simple language designed to manipulate you. They promise you simple solutions, but there are none. And by the way: they don’t give a shit about you. Just watch their language, watch their words and deeds.
They build fences like the power hungry Viktor Orbán. Yet, these fences are the materialized limitations of their own intellectual capabilities. They claim to protect the ‘Christian Occident’ like the embittered Jarosław Kaczyński. Yet, even the founder of their Christian Religion, Jesus Christ, would be rejected by them when seeking refuge. Because he is different to them and he is brown.
Do you really want to follow these people? That’s as good as it gets with you? Shame on you then.
The world is and always has been volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.
Ever heard of globalization? Of course, you say, proudly showing your latest iPhone. Assembled by people held like slaves at wages that wouldn’t get you out of your bed. People committing suicide because of that. Oh wait, that problem is solved. They put suicide nets at the buildings to stop people from jumping off and killing themselves.
There you are in your shiny shirt sewn by poor kids in Bangladesh. While our kids have the privilege of going to school, getting an education, other kids in other parts of the world must work hard instead. But hey, you can argue that your shirt was a real bargain.
But that’s just one side of globalization. There is another side to it. And it’s fueled by technology. Guess what, your ‘safe jobs’ are in severe danger of disappearing. Entire traditional industries will also disappear.
You say that new jobs will come along? Indeed, you are right. The question is how prepared YOU are. Give it an honest check. Your competitor is no longer the one sitting next to you. She might be in a different country far away. Smarter, more talented, more skilled, more flexible, quicker, How about that as a start?
You see, it’s not the refugees at the roots of your problem. It’s your personal encounter with globalization. So, now your fear has a name.
Whether you complain and whine about globalization, or, you flat out want the old times back. It’s not going to happen. Period. Despite all the promises of these populists and nationalists you so willingly want to believe. If you choose to follow your willful ignorance, follow the pied pipers you will for sure being left behind. A simple fallout, a collateral damage. Sorry to be right in your face. Globalization is inevitable.
The world is and always has been volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.
You argue that our existing governments aren’t helping you with understanding globalization. And again, you are right. The traditional political class is doing a lousy job with that. The problem is that most of them don’t understand it either. But hey, you elected them, remember? And by the way: not making use of your right to elect is also electing. Electing to be left behind.
Talking about the right to elect: it’s the right, the privilege of free people in a free society. And with it comes great responsibility. Before you make your decision whom to elect it is your duty to get yourself informed. Yes, your duty. And that involves the hard work of critical thinking. With your vote you are not just responsible for yourself. You are responsible for our society. And you are accountable.
I have a point, you say, but you don’t know what you can do? Well, first of all get your thinking, your critical thinking into gear. One advantage of the ‘age of information’ is that everything you need to know is right at your fingertips. Yet, I would also recommend to read books written about that by renowned people. People who know and understand what they are talking about. Get yourself educated.
If you only would have the time you say? You have the time. Just stop wasting your time sharing trivial bullshit in your social networks. 140 characters won’t suffice to explain the world. Let alone to understand it. Stop adding to the noise. Make yourself useful and become a signal instead.
“Action has magic, grace and power in it” ~ attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Many people, some of them I personally know, are often complaining. Just complaining. “Something needs to be done” they say. Or “someone should do something”. Complaining about politicians destroying the idea of Europe and working on bringing the old status back. The old status of national states instead of a European Union. Borders instead of freedom. Fences and walls to protect their borders. Even in the US, where people like Donald Trump threaten to build walls when elected.
You say that you want an Europe based on liberty, equality, fraternity. You want your personal freedom. You want a free Europe without national borders. Then do something, fight for it. Your complaining is not good enough.You must make yourself heard. Raise your voice and speak up. Bring about change. Fight for freedom. And don’t be a complaining wimp hoping that others will do the job for you.
These politicians, these fence builders and wall erectors, are suffering from their very own version of borderline syndrome. Driven by fear that what they have might be taken away. Sharing is a foreign, even unacceptable, concept to them. And the same is true for their followers. The ones fearing to be left behind. With such an attitude they will certainly be left behind by globalization.
Once you begin to understand what globalization means, you will also understand the opportunities it brings. Opportunities for you. Although, it requires that you become actively involved.
Fence sitting won’t do the job. Doing nothing is always ending with being left behind. And doing stupid shit, like naively following the populists, is the surefire way into your personal disaster. In that case happy landing.