Populism: a menacing threat to globalization

By Owais Iqbal Ul Mulk
The world appears to be redefining itself. Nations are going back to their primitive allegiances to ultra-nationalism. Globalization once trumpeted by post-World War 2 economies, now seems to be under serious jeopardy. This time around the popular slogans against globalization are coming from the ‘civilized’ west who had once championed the process when it was economically invested in third-world countries. From the nativist and populist policies brought forward by Donald Trump to Brexit, from the rise of Marine Le Pen in France to far-right uprising in Germany, the developments in Poland, Italy and Netherlands, all point towards the same fact that the west is becoming increasingly inward looking. Whether or not the policies put forth by the populist leaders are factually correct but one thing is for sure–the west cannot afford to stick to the ideas of universal human rights at the cost of its indigenous people who think they are being burdened.
Populism is exploitation at its best; it is a demagoguery of profuse proportions.
Politicians of the world today carry no value system; they only see vote banks. Populism has emerged as an alarming threat to global values of economic integration, human rights, environmental concerns and multiculturalism.
The self-interests of the nations are motivating force behind these movements. Immigration is thoroughly disliked by the working class of developed countries. They have a strong conviction that their jobs are being stolen by the influx of cheap labor. The conservative politicians thrive on these sentiments by fully manipulating them to their favor. Trump’s rhetorics of ‘America First’ and the deliberate policy to keep ‘others’ out manifests the protectionist posture adopted thereby.
Global organizations, including UN, are threatened due to the rise of populism. The developed countries look at these organizations as platforms that are exploitative and benefit foreign corporations and costing local population resultantly. GATT and its successor WTO liberalized trade reforms and reduced tariffs on movements of goods, which are now looked at with suspicion. United States withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership is the reiteration of the very same policy.
United Kingdom’s referendum favoring to leave EU depicts the growing discontent of British regarding EU’s laws and regulations. The idea of a common market no longers drives the countries’ foreign policies.
The world after the devastating second World War united on a common forum to prevent further events like it and stop growing abuse of human rights. Universal Declaration on Human Rights was passed by the UN General Assembly in 1948, which called human rights indispensable for all people living under all conditions. There have occured a lot of events since then which violated human rights but none was as devastating as the latest turn of events wherein the so-called civilized have come forward clearly calling human rights as entitlements of their native population only. This has consequently replaced the universality of global human rights with particularism.
The future of the world seems grim. The policies adopted by the populist regimes will certainly have a domino effect. People from other racial, cultural and religious background will develop an intense hatred towards the west. Islamization will take hold of even the moderate Muslims living across the world. The skepticism of Asians and Africans regarding the hegemony of developed world will stimulate further.
The questions still remain: what is the solution to the problem? Who will fill the shoes of the civilized?
Certainly not a single country in the east! And what we really can look up to under these depressing circumstances are none other than the local and regional organizations. SCO, OIC, ASEAN, TPP (without US), ECO and BRICS can potentially provide a platform for the developing economies to handle reasonably the sinister repercussions of de-globalization.
But will they be enough? Can remaining aloof from truly global movements of ideas, cultures, technology, commodities and people be beneficial in the long-term? Only time can best tell.

One Reply to “Populism: a menacing threat to globalization”

  1. Good analysis of changing events. Globalization itself is also not without faults of its own. Thanks for the awareness.

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