In our last episode together, Ken made an interesting point:
“Right now government is confined to national native nation states. That’s the fundamentally highest form of real government that we have. The market on the other hand, it’s the free market, and then we try to curtail it with certain moral sanctions, no slavery, no trafficking, that kind of stuff. But otherwise the market tends to be very competitive and aggressive in that sense. And the problem is, the market is now global, the governments are national. And we don’t have a balance there, and that’s producing some disasters.
We really don’t have a government that can match the size of the market and therefore [be able to] oversee the market in very limited but important ways. So that’s an issue. And so now we have nation states hung in this global competitive free market. And anything that a nation state does, like help the environment — but if it does so it’ll cost it hugely in terms of economic competitiveness. We have a market that’s actually driving us into more and more externalities, more and more environmental destruction, and we don’t have anything to counterbalance that. And that’s a nightmare. So this is a real important issue that we have to keep in mind as we’re thinking about ways to move forward integrally.”
I think this nails the issue — our economic systems have gone transnational, and yet our governance remains stuck at the national level. Which means there is a governance vacuum at the level of the transnational holon — and since nature abhors a vacuum, that space where a global regulator should be ends up getting filled by corporate interests and agendas, resulting in the corporate plutocracy we have today. Plutocracy is not the result of national governance, it is the inevitable result of a lack of real global transnational governance.
So in my equation, moving toward nationalism — which stands in contrast to “transnationalism” — does not curtail plutocracy, it reinforces it. It cedes the territory to plutocratic interests, who say “since there is no meaningful governance here, we will create our own, in our own image.”
(I think this also factors into much of the cynicism many people feel around government. Our political leaders and representatives are supposed to be, among other things, a shield between the public and these transnational corporate interests. And due to the nature of the conflict — localized nation-states versus nonlocal transnational conglomerates — this shield is constantly being buffeted by corporate lobbying and influence-peddling. Which means the shield is always in some sort of direct contact with this transnational plutocratic layer of our holonic stack. For many, this produces a knee-jerk cynicism that says “you are interfacing with corporations, therefore you must be bought and sold by those same corporate interests.” It’s a naive idealism that overlooks the fact that our governing bodies are supposed to be engaged with these corporations, prioritizing public interests while also trying to find win-win scenarios where everyone can thrive. Therefore it is no surprise when Democrats and Republicans alike go on speaking tours on Wall Street, and this does not automatically mean something nefarious is happening. Even accepting money from these corporations is not necessarily a sign of corruption, it’s more a symptom of a much more sinister issue America has with the game theory of campaign finance. “If I don’t take their money and try to find a compromise that gives them a little of what they want, they will fund my opponent who will give them everything that they want.”)
Today’s “globalism” is hamstrung by the fact that there is no real global regulator to set and enforce policy. And there is a lot to criticize about the current state of globalism. It’s an international globalism, enacted at the level of the nation-state, not a genuine transnational globalism enacted at the level of the global holon. It is, therefore, a globalism that is governed in many ways by plutocratic interests.
At the same time, even this weak, flattened globalism has produced some amazing results over the last 60 years or so, having pulled more people out of poverty across the entire world than any other force in history, with far less bloodshed. It’s created some major problems locally, of course, but I think it’s unwise to neglect these important facts about the successes of globalism.
So I continue to believe that the solution here is not to eliminate globalism as a whole and return to nationalism, as that only reinforces and emboldens plutocracy.
The solution is to create a bigger, better, and far more effective globalism, one that can remain uncontaminated by corporate interests, and one that supersedes the nation state while also remaining aligned with the interests of its constituent nation states.