Universal Values, not just Globalisation


February 26, 2017

Universal Values, not just Globalisation

 

We have been so obsessed – and this is a failing – by the economics of globalisation, the trade and finance and free movement of labour, that we do not give higher value to the fundamental human values and intercourse that are at risk.–Dr. Munir Majid

 

 Image result for Munir Majid

THE gravest threat of the rise of nationalist populism is to the universal values and practices of a civilised world which took several decades to develop. It is this that modern tribalism in Europe and America seeks to cannibalise.

 We have been so obsessed – and this is a failing – by the economics of globalisation, the trade and finance and free movement of labour, that we do not give higher value to the fundamental human values and intercourse that are at risk.

Image result for Globalisation and Human Values

@http://web.stanford.edu/group/ccr/blog/2009/04/intercultural_communication_in.html

The world has become more possessed by economics than even Marx could have predicted. The disparity of income and wealth is as wide as he saw in post-industrial revolution Europe.

The political turmoil of Leninism, the rise of fascism, the Gulag and the Holocaust – and war – were some of the worst outcomes that followed.

We must recognise this looming threat. We will not get there unless we first recognise the main failing of globalisation, this obsession with economics.

Economic and financial benefit – however ill-distributed – was its driving force, mainly through trade, free movement of capital and labour. Such benefit did not become self-evident truth, however, as too many were left behind for too long.

Would it have made a difference had such benefit been better distributed? It would seem unlikely as non-economic values in the nation-state were disturbed as much as production and income structures were overturned.

Image result for globalisation and human values

“Give us our country back”, is more than about economics. It is about the deemed imposition of global values and the perceived dilution of national character.

The appeal to nationalist populism, which last year saw the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as United States president, was primarily occasioned by globalised economic and financial supercharge which isolated the low income and divided societies while the top earners spirited away with handsome benefits, but the potent response came from nationalist reassertion against foreign threat.

Against loss of jobs to….Against loss of country to….Against loss of control because of….All because of globalisation. Global is foreign.

Universal values and international behavioural practices got to be associated with the ills of globalisation. This is the most dangerous threat to civilised world order.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however extant its violation, for instance, well preceded the wave of globalisation. The 1951 Refugee Convention defines the rights of refugees and the obligations of states towards them which are now part of customary international law.

What might now seem mundane, the Universal Postal Union, was established in 1874, and now has 192 members as it serves a universal communication need. There are many others of this ilk.

Cross-border immigration took place to fill up jobs locals would not or could not do. The world was enriched by these kinds of common necessities, not by an enforcement of globalisation.

The point is that universal and international necessities were and are way ahead of the globalisation against which there is such massive revolt. Their values, standards and practices are in dire threat of being sacrificed on the altar of narrow populism.

We can talk too much about globalisation. It is far better now to talk less and do more – and not to use the term globalisation ad nauseam.

The kinds of demonstrations for the values of good society and nationhood across America and Europe that we have seen in response to rules of dictatorship, rules of violation of rights and universal values, against racism and acts of inhumanity, are significant signs that civilised standards of life will not be allowed to be trampled on and to die.

On the other hand, we must also do more “for” things, before we have to demonstrate for them. The good earth has been so much abused. We now talk about climate change and environmental protection. We need to look at the big picture of course, but we should also do more and more, and highlight more and more significant efforts that can and are being made to save the planet – for the good of mankind.

I know, as a significant example, of a documentary feature, Great Green Wall, being produced by acclaimed Oscar-nominated film-maker Fernando Meirelles, which proposes to tell the story of one of the most ambitious endeavours taking place on the edge of the Sahara desert: “A dream to grow a wall of trees and plants across the entire width of Africa, and stop the ravages of climate change firmly in its tracks.”

I know one of the persons involved at the start of the project in 2007 which when completed in 2030 will make the Great Green Wall the largest living structure on planet earth – three times the length of the Great Barrier Reef.

Businesses and governments should support and get involved in these kinds of global efforts to deliver goods that make and realise the point of universal values that are so much under attack from modern tribalism in the contemporary world.

There is no reason why the government and companies in China which so want to show global leadership cannot support projects such as the Great Green Wall or, indeed, embark on their own projects, such as to reclaim the Gobi desert.

There must in the world – especially among business corporations – be a greater realisation that value-at-risk is not just about dollars and cents. Yes, the good will ultimately come to the economy. But do not talk too much about it as if that is all there is.

Dr. Munir Majid,  Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE Ideas (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy), is Chairman of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute.

8 thoughts on “Universal Values, not just Globalisation

  1. It is time for everyone of us who at one time or other sat in positions of power, I am not, repeat not, referring to politicians, but those of us in the executive branch of government or the GLCs to take responsibility. They were responsible for the implemetation of policies.

  2. Globalization in itself does not devalue.
    Rather, it is the obsessions (not necessarily foriegn) of the power-that-be elites’ Greed, Misconduct, Cronysm and Manipulation in the practice of globalization that devalues the socio-economic well-being.

    The powerful and rich have squeezed out the value derived from globalization for themselves that are supposedly meant for more even distributions of wealth and opportunities among the people. This is a global concern.

    Also, unrestrained population growth, demographically, in the developing and developed countries is a concern that needs greater global attention.

  3. So what’s the solution(s) for such disparities?
    Cakap, tak bikin..!
    We are all complicit – whether by commission or omission.

  4. //There is no reason why the government and companies in China which so want to show global leadership cannot support projects such as the Great Green Wall or, indeed, embark on their own projects, such as to reclaim the Gobi desert.

    Dr Munir should note that wikipedia on the Great Green Wall mentioned the following.

    // Lessons learned from the Algerian Green Dam[4] or the Green Wall of China led to understand the need of an integrated multi-sectorial approach for sustainable results.[5]

    And related criticism on the wikipedia link on the Green Wall of China.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-North_Shelter_Forest_Program
    “planting trees in arid and semi-arid land violates [ecological] principles”.

    I am actually quite optimistic that current Chinese administration would respect promotion of universal values in its effort to promote OBOR.
    I am just concern what respective ruling elites around the world would do to their own citizens in the name of grand central planning, or grand plans to take back their countries. Being liberal in my mind is merely doing the least, so that the least could thrive also.

    I hope DrMujid would be more explicit on what he meant when he references China. There was a Great Leap Forward effort in China. It did not end well. Perhaps, like DrMujid, I too am concern about efforts to take back the country and make XYZ great again. Yet, I am still unsure why DrMujid references China when he clearly meant to write the article with Trump’s US in mind.

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