The Globalization Backlash

by Colin Crouch

Today’s nationalist backlash is coming from both the right and the left. The right attacks immigration as a threat to identity and community, and the left believes global capitalism is undermining labor and the welfare state. Crouch does not dismiss these critiques, but he argues that in both cases, the cure will be worse than the disease. At home, a reactionary nationalism based on a left-right coalition would make no one happy—and most people poorer. Abroad, antiglobalism would usher in a dangerous era of world politics driven by zero-sum competition. Globalization’s most striking accomplishment is the economic rise of non-Western societies: since 1990, a billion people outside the advanced economies have emerged from poverty. Trade has also promoted social and cultural exchange and learning. Crouch concludes that had the world not globalized, it would be far poorer, illegal immigration would be higher, and international relations would be more hostile. Crouch’s bottom line is that there can be no return to a pre-globalized era. The only path forward is for countries to jointly manage the flows of goods, capital, and people.


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