Malaysia & Crimea expose the false premises of globalism
Malaysia’s missing airliner and Russia’s takeover of Crimea have rattled the conventional wisdom of how the world works. Besides raising questions about air safety and foreign policy, these events expose the flaws in the foundation of what we call globalization.
Western elite opinion has come to believe that nations will wither away in the brave new economically integrated world. We are told today’s sophisticated global citizens and consumers identify less with their country of birth than with their smart phones, whose parts have crossed more borders than five generations of Mexican migrants. ‘Are you iPhone or Android?’ means more to 21st Century Man than ‘Are you American or Brazilian?’ Among the cognoscenti, languages and flags are simply vestiges of a bygone era rather than touchstones of pride and self-identity.
A corollary, implicit when not explicitly stated, holds that the ultimate decision makers in all matters political as well as economic will be found in corporate suites rather than parliaments. Geopolitical ambitions are tempered by “market realities” – no head of state would risk doing anything that upsets the harmonious workings of our globally integrated economy.
Apparently they didn’t get the memo in Ukraine and Moscow. It’s now clear the residents of those neighborhoods still very much believe in nations - and are willing to act on their beliefs.
It’s been said the protestors of Maidan were yearning for “freedom” (whatever that means), but that is a very America-centric view. Some no doubt wanted freedom from corruption; others yearned for freedom from Russia – in order to have their own Ukrainian nation. Meanwhile, a number of the good people of Crimea wanted freedom from Ukraine so they could be part of another nation. The concept of nationality captured their hearts and minds as surely as Armani and Versace captivated the imagination of the Bling Ring.
It is another example of Western chauvinism to view the aspirations of the Kiev protestors as materialist – that they want to be closer to the EU so they can have nifty Italian designer goods. This stubborn insistence on seeing the world in purely economic terms blinded us to anticipating that Vladimir Putin could do exactly what he did do. Putin wasn’t supposed to risk upsetting the markets - but he did. He was supposed to fear sanctions and economic backlash - but he didn’t. He must be disconnected from reality, as Angela Merkel sees it.
Blind faith in economism dictates the response we hear across the American political spectrum. To chasten Russia, we should ‘open trade and export cheap natural gas to Europe,’ we are told. Assuming those saying it are sincere (rather than exploiting a crisis to push a prior agenda), they should know better. One needn’t look far to find ideological passions trumping economic interests.
And what about Malaysia - what does that teach us?
To begin with, a sense of national identity and pride had as much to do with Malaysia keeping the FBI and NTSB and other experts away from the Flight 370 investigation as concerns about revealing military intelligence capabilities (or lack thereof). Again, national pride outweighed commercial concerns about Malaysian Airways’ future as the choice of discerning travelers.
Our myopic materialist lens has blinded us to fundamental truths. We see Malaysia’s Boeing 777 aircraft is the same as American’s Boeing 777. Ergo, Malaysia is the same America. It’s one big happy same-all-over world, right? Wrong. Just because everyone can buy the same goods, that doesn’t make everyone the same. We have been told time and again that when everyone shares our standard of living they will share our values. This is the central fallacy in the materialistic globalist mindset.
We are now being asked by the Obama administration to fully merge the economy of the United States with countries on the other side of world – among them Malaysia, in fact - through the TransPacific Partnership. We are told we can do this secure in the knowledge that the people in those countries think as we do, conduct business as we do and share our values.
Take a cold hard look, and you will see those cherished notions died in the waters of the Indian Ocean and on the shores of the Black Sea.