Rcism is not regional. I often hear people refer to it as though it were trapped in the South. White Northerners who are appalled by the blatant racism around them will say things like “This isn’t Mississippi” or “Take that attitude back to Alabama.” But whether white Northerners like to recognize it or not, slavery was in every colony in the United States for more than a century and a half. It was part of the fabric of America—all of America. After Charleston, South Carolina, New York City had the largest urban enslaved population; by the mid-18th century, one in five people in the city of New York was Black.
The leftist objectives of “woke capitalism,” a phenomenon which is intertwined with “socially responsible” investment (SRI) and has at its base, stakeholder capitalism, have obscured the way in which this combination works owes far more to fascism than to socialism. Nearly 90 years ago, Roger Shaw, a progressive writer, described the New Deal as “employing Fascist means to gain liberal ends.” Overwrought, perhaps, but not without some truth to it. He would recognize what is going on now for what it is.
This thought-provoking collection of essays surveys today’s troubled system of global governance. The contributors paint a bleak picture: the scale and scope of global problems—including pandemics, global warming, cyberwarfare, international extremist networks, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—have simply overwhelmed the old postwar governance institutions, starting with the United Nations. The editors argue that for scholars to grasp the extent and profundity of this crisis, the study of “international relations” needs to be expanded into a multidisciplinary study of “global affairs,” which spans the fields of economics, politics, law, the environment, and development.
Only this approach will help scholars understand an increasingly “complex, dynamic, and fragile” world. The environmental scientist Michael Oppenheimer argues that the world is entering an era of “illiberal globalization,” defined less by multilateral rules and more by raw power. In his contribution, Ankersen argues that the notion that globalization would overwhelm and undermine countries and lead to the “decline of the state” has not come to pass.
In a capitalist society, there is always a good explanation for your poverty, your meaningless job (if you have a job), your difficulties and your general unhappiness. You are to blame. It is your failure. After all, look at other people who do succeed. If only you had worked a little harder, studied a little more, made those sacrifices.
We are told that anybody who works hard can become a success. Anyone can save up and become your own boss, a boss with employees. And there is some truth to this. Often, any one person can do these things–but we can’t conclude from this that every person can. It is a basic fallacy to conclude that because one person can do something, therefore everyone can. One person can see better in the theater if he stands, but if everyone stands no one can see better. Anyone can get the last seat on the plane, but everyone can’t. Any country can cut its costs and become more competitive, but every country cannot become more competitive by cutting costs.
The ongoing pandemic has resulted in millions of death.1 Millions of people have been pushed to extreme poverty due to COVID-19. According to the World Bank, “The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, depending on the severity of the economic contraction”.2 The consequences of the 2007 economic contraction have not been fully neutralized. Hundreds of millions are under- or unemployed: “Almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work” (ILO, 2020). And those who are lucky to be employed are subject to “a global wages scandal, with some countries even having a minimum wage that is lower than the poverty line”.
More than 60 years ago, research by the economist Robert Solow highlighted the importance of innovation for growth but shed little light on how to generate that innovation. Aghion, Antonin, and Bunel, who are responsible for much subsequent research in this area, argue that fostering innovation is all about balance. Innovation thrives with competition, but too much competition will preemptively diminish the rewards of new technologies, businesses, and ideas. International competition can stimulate innovation and efficiency, but too much risks provoking a backlash against globalization. Successfully navigating the supply chain disruptions created by COVID-19 requires strong political leaders to implement smart policies, but not leaders so strong that they can suppress organizational innovations that will disfavor them or their allies. The authors explain these dynamics and more in an eminently accessible fashion.
Each month, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) releases a monthly food price index. The release on 3 June showed that food prices have surged by 40%, the largest rise since 2011. The impact of this food price rise will grievously hit developing countries, most of whom are major importers of food staples.
Prices rise for a range of reasons, the current rise largely fuelled by the collapse of sizeable sections of the global economy during the pandemic. Warnings of general inflation due to lockdown-related pent-up demand, shipping bottlenecks, and oil price increases loom over richer states, which–due to the power of the wealthy bondholders–have few tools to manage inflation, and by poorer states, which swirl in a cataclysmic debt crisis.
Rising food prices come at a time when unemployment rates in many parts of the world have skyrocketed. On 2 June, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its annual World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021report, which showed, as expected, that the pandemic-related economic collapse has meant the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs and working hours.
The global discourse on sustainability has revolved around the need to transition towards “Sustainable Consumption” ever since it was introduced during the 1992 Earth Summit chaired by Maurice Strong, a Canadian businessman who made his wealth from the oil and gas industry.
A couple of years later, the 1994 Oslo Symposium on “Sustainable Consumption” sought to resolve the ambiguities around the term’s definition and decided to define it as: “the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimising the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardise the needs of future generations.” (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals n.d.).
Do China and the U.S. have fundamental goals that constitute a contradiction, that is, goals so profoundly at odds with one another that the goals cannot coexist? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Such a contradiction means that one side must abandon its aims if a disastrous conflict is not to ensue. Which country should step back? Is there a moral, ethical or common-sense basis for making that call, a basis on which humankind can readily agree?
Twenty years ago this week the share price of a startup run by an obsessive called Jeff Bezos had slumped by 71% over 12 months. Amazon’s near-death experience was part of the dotcom crash that exposed Silicon Valley’s hubris and, along with the $14bn fraud at Enron, shattered confidence in American business. China, meanwhile, was struggling to privatise its creaking state-owned firms, and there was little sign that it could create a culture of entrepreneurship. Instead the bright hope was in Europe, where a new single currency promised to catalyse a giant business-friendly integrated market.
Creative destruction often makes predictions look silly, but even by these standards the post-pandemic business world is dramatically different from what you might have expected two decades ago.