Alain de Benoist: De-globalization
For several years, some authors haven't hesitated to speak of “de-globalization.” Is this an objective observation or a pious wish?
Since the start of the 2010s, following the publication of the famous work by Philippin Walden Bello (Deglobalization, 2002), a number of authors (Jacques Sapir, Emmanuel Todd, Frédéric Lordon, Edgar Morin, etc.) have actually started to speak of de-globalization. Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Arnaud Montebourg et Jean-Luc Mélenchon have also seized upon this theme. The debate has even expanded recently: Donald Trump was elected through denouncing the effects of globalization and Brexit won thanks to the vote from regions devastated by de-industrialization. However it's less an observation than a watchword. The general idea is that it is possible to end globalization or, at least, it is possible to give it a different content, an idea that 65% of French people are favorable towards, according to polls.
Globalization as we know it was made possible by the collapse of the Soviet system, at the end of the last century. It quickly lead to relocation, de-industrialization, labor insecurity, and unemployment, then through indebtedness unleashed the cataclysm of “subprime mortgages” in the United States and the outbreak of a global financial crisis from which we still haven't exited, but which has clearly demonstrated the limits of globalization.
Globalization firstly represents the planetary deployment of the logic of capital, which hopes to counteract the tendency of the profit rate to decline through the dismantlement of customs barriers, the indefinite expansion of exchanges, the commodification of existence in general (through the transformation of what hadn't been produced in order to be sold into merchandise) and the transformation of the planet into an immense marketplace. The motor of this progression, making hybris a line of conduct, resides in a free-market ideology based on the myth of the self-sufficiency of “efficient markets,” which advocates for the disappearance of borders preventing the free circulation of men, goods, and capital (which explains the similarity, on this point of discourse, of MEDEF [translator's note: Mouvement des Entreprises de France, the French employers lobby] and the ultra-left devotee of redemption from abroad, who also wants to abolish borders and unify the world through political and philosophical universalism).
So it is natural that the recommendations aiming for de-globalization propose acting firstly in the financial and economic realm: reorientation of economies from prioritizing production for export towards production destined for local markets, reviving “short circuits” [translator's note: referring to direct sales of farm products from producer to consumer], forbidding relocations that put native salaried workers into competition with those from countries where the work force is cheaper and the norms of productions are less constraining, re-localizations by linking the places of production and the places of consumption, protectionism and the regulation of exchanges, restoring customs duties bound to countries with low salaries, taxation of financial transactions and the profits of multinational corporations, controls on capital and the progressive draining of the speculative sphere, reestablishment of a boundary between commercial and deposit banks, fighting against fraud on transfer prices, the abandonment of the dollar as global reserve currency, etc.
It means, in other terms, to check the tendency towards limitlessness by a system that requires the suppression all the obstacles (political, cultural, or social) that hinder the expansion and concentration reproduction of capital.
And in order to do that, ensure that the political affirms its guardianship over the economic again.
After the bipolar world and the unipolar world, we are apparently entering into a multipolar world. Does that mean, at least on the geopolitical level, that we have already exited from globalization?
Globalization started from a unipolar moment, which is the one where the United States thought to lay the foundations of a “new American century,” the same moment where Francis Fukuyama ventured to announce “the end of history.” This moment didn't endure. The rising power of China and Russia, those powers emerging in other developing countries, demonstrates that we have clearly passed from a universum to a pluriversum, that is to say a multipolar world. The irony of history is that while the end of the USSR made globalization possible, it's rather the comeback of Russia that marks its decline! Evidently it's good news – or rather, it would be if Europe was a power itself, though today it's only an aggregation of weaknesses.
In this perspective, is there still a future for the old nations or must we aspire to the creation of new blocs, European, American, African, Oriental, or Asian?
It is all the more difficult to oppose globalization from a more restricted base. Isolated countries, for example, can hardly stand alone against the omnipotence of financial markets. That's also the reason why, taking into account the risks of retaliation (or “commercial war”), protectionism on the European continental scale would be more effective than a simple national protectionism – which is nevertheless better than no protectionism at all.
The ideal would be to end up with self-reliant, relatively homogeneous “great spaces,” that would constitute several political, economic, and civilizational poles in relation to globalization today. Realism forces us to say that it is still far away. It's doubtlessly the route that will be eventually taken, but that will take time.
Interviewer: Nicolas Gauthier
Translated by Eugene Monsalvat