President Trump dares to question whether globalization is an unmitigated good, and for this he is roundly criticized by the Left. But we should question it.
For people like Tom Friedman it is an article of faith that globalization is going to lead to a utopia in which people of different countries, religions, ethnicities and cultures freely and openly interact. Like the pieces of many-colored glass in a kaleidoscope, they’ll create, through their interactions, ever-changing mosaics of beauty and harmony. The pieces will retain their distinctive shapes and colors, but the gestalt they form will be infinitely more interesting than the sum of its parts.
Sometimes that works. All culture is hybrid, and American culture more so than others. Nowhere is this more evident than in the arts. Visit the African-American museum in Washington, D.C., and listen to the music. You’ll hear the soul of everything that constitutes America and its history.
Only it doesn’t always work out so nicely. Borrowing from other cultures used to be a good thing. Now, it’s “cultural appropriation,” a major sin for the moral imbeciles on the left. W.E.B. Du Bois said: “I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not.” But now Shakespeare is supposed to wince, when a person who’s not English reads him.
Then there’s the way bad ideas get globalized. Consider the cultural boycotts that are organized against Israel by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement. BDS was founded by Qatari-born Omar Barghouti, a liar, a tax dodger, and an outspoken advocate of the destruction of the Jewish state. “We are witnessing the rapid demise of Zionism, and nothing can be done to save it…I, for one, support euthanasia,” he said in 2013.
The very left-leaning rock group Radiohead ran up against BDS, when it scheduled a Tel Aviv gig for next July, and BDS rounded up more than 50 artists to sign an incendiary petition to pressure the group to cancel. The public way in which the artists chose to communicate with one of their peers, who chose not to follow their lead, was meant to name, shame and blame, to create a lynch-mob mentality where rational discourse is bypassed in favor of mass hysteria.
“It’s deeply distressing that they choose to, rather than engage with us personally, throw sh** at us in public,” said Radiohead’s Thom York in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. But engaging with people who disagree with them is not the way the left operates. Engaging is intellectually difficult, and you might end up changing your mind. Better to bully, intimidate and humiliate. Arouse passions, not minds!
When you try to persuade someone using rational discourse, you are making certain assumptions about them. You assume that they are informed and that they are intelligent and, above all, that they are moral agents. That’s what bothered York so much about the petition signed by his peers. “It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves,” he said. “I thought it was patronizing in the extreme.” Actually, it’s more than patronizing; it’s dehumanizing.
In his Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche describes valuation — making moral choices — rather than reason as the trait that defines humanity. But allowing people to make choices is antithetical to the left, because it implies that it doesn’t have a monopoly on truth. For the left, people are vessels, limited to receiving truths established by a consensus of elites. That’s how teachers treat their students, and that’s how the elites treat everyone else. Witness the climate scientists who anathemize those who won’t “believe in” their consensus truths about the weather.
And here’s where globalism presents the greatest danger. In universities across the world, the same tactics are being used, the same messages propounded as absolute truth. Intellectual discussion is a shining artifact of the past. “It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that?” a Yale student shouts at a professor who tries to reason with her. “It’s about creating a home here!” If he disagrees with her, the professor should “step down.” And step down he was forced to do.
York can’t wrap his mind around the idea that diversity of opinion isn’t permitted in academia. “The university thing is more of a head f**k for me. It’s like, really? You can’t go talk to other people who want to learn stuff in another country? Really? The one place where you need to be free to express everything you possibly can. You want to tell these people you can’t do that?” His incredulity is refreshing, as more and more we become inured to this sort of thing.
The “globalization is good” folks would be more persuasive, if we were all saints and only benign ideas were shared across cultures. Instead, we’re seeing bad ideas being propagated across borders and cultures on the web, in social media. New internet mobs have arisen to persecute people whose ideas they don’t share. Rational discourse has nothing to do with it, but only smash and grab and silence anyone with whom you disagree. It’s what we used to see on television, when Muslims across the Middle East rioted when they perceived that Islam had been dissed. It’s what we see today in America, at Yale and on other college campuses, and it’s the dark side of globalization.
President Trump is right, then, to be skeptical about the effects of globalization, when it’s the wrong values that are being globalized. American openness to new ideas, tolerance for different beliefs, and the rigors of Western scientific inquiry are being discarded. In their place, we’re importing the third world’s strictures on liberty.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://thespectator.com/world.