Globalism Begins at Home, Conclusion

There is no secret plot or conspiracy to undermine our national sovereignty, unless by conspiracy we mean the collective will of the political class.  The Bushes and the Clintons would be rightly outraged if they heard rumors of such suspicions.  Opposing globalization today is like criticizing affirmative action, challenging women’s rights, or pointing out that homosexuals are a serious drain on our finite medical resources.  All right-thinking people, whatever their party or orientation, support globalization.  It is a movement whose attractions are so obvious that the brilliant staffers hired by Cato to parrot the party line cannot even understand why anyone could be upset with the idea of a North American Union.  Here is young Cato policy analyst Will Wilkinson, speaking some years ago on National Public Radio’s anti-business program, “Marketplace”:

There are some who believe a grave threat to American sovereignty looms over the horizon. A shadowy cabal, they say, is planning a massive "NAFTA superhighway," a new North American currency, and a common market in goods and labor. It will all culminate in an E.U.-like North American Union. It turns out this is mostly fantasy. But the fantasy is more dream than nightmare. Because some aspects of a North American Union would leave Americans and our neighbors both richer and freer.

You see, he explains to the rubes, in making it more difficult for migrants to enter the US, we have also made it harder for them to leave: “Those who do come now are more likely to stay. And this has increased the permanent population of undocumented Mexicans.  The best solution to America's immigration problem is not a wall or a new crackdown on the hiring of undocumented workers. It's NAFTA's unfinished business: a common North American labor market.”

There now, the real problem of illegal immigration is that it is illegal.  If we simply throw our borders open to the world and say, “Give us…the wretched refuse of your teeming shores,” the problem will go away, and we shall all live happily ever after as Cato’s Steve Moore once said in a debate with Peter Brimelow and me, buying our fruit from Korean grocers and hiring illegal nannies to take care of the children our wives refuse to rear themselves. We could adopt the same approach to other social ills: Legalize rape and the rapist will be less reluctant to seek treatment for his problem; legalize armed robbery and the robbers will more readily pay taxes on their earnings.

For the libertarians at Cato, globalization, free trade, and immigration present no problem, because, as the editor of The Wall Street Journal once famously declared to Peter Brimelow, “The nation state is finished.”  But my friend Brimelow, the last I checked, was still an advocate of global free trade!  Many libertarians would add that the demise of nation states has come none too soon since they never should have existed.  They are not entirely wrong.  Nationalism has almost as many sins on its record as Marxism, which killed hundreds of millions in the 20th century or the Classical Liberalism/Libertarianism that destroyed the social and moral order of Europe and the United States.  One of the only true insights Marxists ever had was that the liberal ruling class 

…has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous "cash payment". It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom--Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

If the international system of large nation-states were to be replaced by confederations of regions and smaller communities, a Chestertonian might rejoice in the possibilities.  Such a scenario is hardly likely, however, because it is not in the interest of the groups who preside today over the breaking of nations.

Some form of international empire will undoubtedly be the result of the current drive toward reducing and eliminating national sovereignty.  This is hardly cause for alarm.  Although many conservatives would like to believe that the nation-state is a universal phenomenon, it is, in fact, an historical creation, hardly older than the 15th century.  The states of France and England, to name just two successful examples, were created by ambitious monarchies with the assistance of the equally ambitious aristocrats and businessmen who saw the nation-state as a vehicle for their own interests.  

Even churches joined the movement, not only the Protestant-national churches of England, Scotland, and Germany that toadied to the rulers who confiscated church assets and distributed them to their friends, but also the pliant and venal Catholic bishops of France and, eventually, of the Hapsburg empire.  In any such enterprise, factions develop, and the grandchildren of Henry VIII’s wool lords wrested power from Henry’s sister’s great-great-grandson, Charles I.  However, the goal of the Roundheads was not to weaken the state but to strengthen it.  The same can be said of the Jacobin lawyers who murdered the kindest man who ever sat upon the French throne, from Clovis to Napoleon III.  Robespierre was as committed to nation-building as Louis XIV.

This is, of course, a Machiavellian perspective, one that concentrates exclusively on power.  States and their governments can be looked at from several points of view.  From a Christian perspective, the rulers of this world have been empowered by God to protect the innocent and punish the wicked; from an ethnic and cultural point of view, our form of government reflects the character of the people: A system of loose monarchy, independent nobles, and sturdy freemen was an expression of the Anglo-Saxon character, just as the cult of plutocracy and celebrity, matched by the servility of the people, express the American character today.  We laugh at the servility of the Indians and Pakistanis who choose party leaders on the strength of their last names (Gandhi and Bhuto), then go out to cheer for George W. Bush or Hilary Clinton or Michelle Obama.  Ivanka Trump in 2024!

In swearing eternal allegiance to the divinely appointed Clintons and Bushes and in revering the traditions of the Morgans and Rockefellers, a prudent man might also take account of the basic facts of power.  It was Gaetano Mosca who explained that the character of an elite impressed itself upon the character of the regime, and it is only a small step from Mosca’s insight to view regimes as the vehicles by which an elite maintains and extends its wealth and power.

What can be said of the nation-state applies to all forms of government including Marxist dictatorships: They serve the interests of the ruling class or party.  Just as the commune of Medieval Florence was a corporate association of the Greater Guilds in the interest of the bankers and wool-merchants, so (as Milovan Djilas argued) communist governments serve the interests of the party members who “eliminate every form of property except their own.”

For the old union of the United States, the handwriting has been on the wall for decades.  100 years ago national business interests used their clout to eliminate the power of state governments to interfere in their ability to expand and monopolize new markets.  Now, since at least the 1970’s, transnational business interests are working to eliminate the power of nation states to interfere in their ability to expand and monopolize new markets.  Global markets require global regulation in the interest of the global competitors that seek to be global monopolists, and global regulations require a global state with a global army, global courts, and global police.  A Bill Gates or Ross Perot can make billions by selling to select national governments, but trillions are available to those who will control a global government.  Regional integration is only a necessary intermediate step.  There is no point in complaining any more than we are justified in blaming the tiger who eats the missionary: The beasts are made this way.

International protests against globalization are led by Marxian leftists, who are the last people in the world to lead such a movement: They have been calling for some form of global regime since the Communist Manifesto.  But American conservatives are scarcely in a better position.  Since the creation of National Review, conservatives have sacrificed every principle of morality, tradition, and civilization upon the altar of a “free market” that has never really existed, certainly not in the United States.  To do them justice, all that conservatives ever really meant by the “free market” was big business.    Cato-heads and WSJ editorialists are only doing what they have always done: They are shilling for their paymasters. Their intellectual ancestors shilled for liberal nation-states, but for the conservative-libertarian movement, transnationalism, as the kids would say, is the new nationalism, a pretext for destroying everything real that we have inherited and replacing the reality of peoples and their traditions with the virtual reality sold to us by Microsoft, Walmart, and the Hollywood-New York access that shapes our dreams.

Our rulers, cheered on by their shills in the press, have even succeeded in cashing out the family, not only by promoting divorce, public schooling,  adultery, and transsexualism, but also by driving mothers into the workplace, outsourcing family functions to soccer teams, and persuading families to dine at out corporate owned junk-food restaurants like MacDonald’s or Applebys.  Viewed in this light, the North American Union will be a comparatively trivial step in the evolution of posthuman America.

All you would-be rebels have to do is to stay married to your first wife and keep her at home with the children.  Then you can take your first steps toward opting out of the cash nexus. 

What, lead my own life?  Eat supper at home?  Cut the cable?  Forget about Katie Perry and the Superbowl? That is too much to ask.

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina