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"Globalising" Ourselves

Michael is right that uses of the word “globalise” are usually just nonsense, and Ross is right that “globalising ourselves” is undesirable, but if the phrase means anything then I have to dispute Zakaria’s original claim that Americans have failed to “globalise.”  On the contrary, because we have been at the leading edge of globalisation (and half of anti-globalisation abroad is a resistance to the Americanisation of local cultures), we (or many of us) were among the first to do whatever it is you do when you “globalise,” and now many of us find that we don’t care for the results at all.  Others, such as Friedman and Zakaria, are for the most part very happy with what has happened.  Following up on Michael’s point, Zakaria uses the word “globalise” in the way other people use the words “progress” or “freedom.”  It is taken as a self-evident and real good that you are promoting for the good of all mankind (never mind that it just happens to serve the very particular interests of your faction or group), and it functions as a marker of enlightenment and sophistication.  In this case Zakaria is implying, “Once you have sufficiently “globalised,” you will come to see things as I do, wise and far-seeing observers that I am, and you will cease your ridiculous opposition to the policies I prefer.”  Because Americans do not endorse the policies Zakaria wants them to, or because Americans have begun to have doubts about policies that have been pushed on them for decades without much regard for what they think of them, they have demonstrated their lack of globalisation.  In other words, they have started failing an ideological test, while passing that test will lead to nodding approval from globalists (and that’s about all that they will get from the exchange).  To “globalise” ourselves would be to accept the assumptions and beliefs of progressive globalists.  Instead of persuasion, the latter really do seem to be reduced to imposing a kind of moral stigma on those who have yet to get with the program, which is typically framed as an attribution of irrational fear, hatred or ignorance to those whom you have been unable to persuade.  The assumption is that the benefits of what they propose are so obvious and the costs so low that no one could question the desirability of their policies.  Lamenting that we have not “globalised” ourselves is the usual finger-wagging lecture that we Americans have somehow cut ourselves off from the rest of the world, when exactly the opposite has been happening for at least the last twenty years and really, taking the long view, for the last 100, and it sets up the audience for an exhortation to rededicate the nation to the “mission” that the globalists have declared that we have.  But we don’t have a “mission,” and we are awfully tired of the people who keep trying to force us to have one.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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