Globalization Checkmated? Political and Geopolitical Contradictions Coming Home to Roost


The deepening of economic globalization appears to have ground to a halt, and the process may even unravel a little. The sudden stop has surprised economists, whose belief in globalization has strong parallels with Fukuyama’s (1989) flawed end of history hypothesis. The paper presents a simple analytic model that shows how economic globalization has triggered political and geopolitical contradictions. For the system to work, politics within countries and geopolitics across blocs must be supportive of the system. That is missing. The model is applied to a global economic core consisting of the US, China, and the European Union. It is revealing of multiple tensions, fracture lines, and contradictions. Within the US, globalization has delivered economic outcomes that have estranged the electoral bases of both major political parties. It has also delivered outcomes that are inconsistent with the US neocon geopolitical inclination. President Trump is a product of those forces, and he will likely prove to be a historically significant figure. That is because he has surfaced geopolitical contradictions that cannot be swept back under the rug. Ironically, his biggest impact may be on the European Union, particularly Germany, which is being compelled to recognize the neocon nature of the US and the vulnerabilities of dependence on US exports and technology. China was already aware of its vulnerabilities in those regards.

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Thomas Palley

Thomas Palley is Schwartz economic growth fellow at the New America Foundation; Senior Economic Policy Adviser, AFL-CIO. His most recent book “From Financial Crisis to Stagnation” has just been released in paperback by Cambridge University Press (February 2013).

Member of Insight Editorial board.

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