Globalism, Nationalism, and the Pandemic

Opinion: Columns

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By Kwame Salter

As the seven billion inhabitants of Planet Earth try to understand and come to grips with the ubiquitous coronavirus pandemic, fundamental changes in social and political behaviors are taking hold. Conventional wisdom has taken an enormous hit. How we used to think about problem-solving is passé.

It feels like the medical delivery systems and infrastructures that we have taken for granted are proving to be inadequate in the face of this invisible, yet, lethal scourge. More critically, how we think about each other is fast shifting. After the deaths caused by the virus, the next biggest casualty is trust. Politicians all over the globe are confused, befuddled and scared. Suddenly, these so-called leaders are faced with a challenge that they cannot deny, delay or destroy. They stand before their citizens with charts/graphs that do little more than track body counts now and into the future. Their rhetoric has gone from bombastic blathering intended to reassure the people to somber, almost defeatist, daily messages that create more fear and insecurity. Coronavirus is the reset button that will accelerate a profound reassessment of how human beings everywhere live, work and interact with each other daily.

We have been pushed into a new reality. This new reality has revealed that the current global political leadership class is sorely lacking individuals with a world view. The current crop of world leaders still believes that nation-states with rigid borders are necessary and can protect us from our foes — real or imagined.

Ergo, we are currently witnessing a revival in Nationalism across the globe. In my estimation, Nationalism is best defined as "us despite others." And while these modern-day populists crow about protecting their borders and their citizens and growing their

economies, the world has become the "global village" — a term that Marshall McLuhan coined in the 1960s.

Thanks to technological advances, time and distance have shrunk, allowing human beings to see, talk to and trade with each other in minutes and hours versus weeks and months. Globalism has taken root. Nation-state borders and domestic political structures are minor inconveniences to this class of global wheeler-dealers. National governments are viewed by them as conduits to facilitate the global movement of money.

Globalism, like it or not, has blurred the lines between national pride and economic survival. As a result, nation-states must depend on global partners to remain economically viable. Unlike past eras, the world today is truly interdependent. Armies and weapons of mass destruction exist as means to hold each other mutual hostages. Military strength is more effective as a threat than as a strategy.

Even when employed using conventional weapons, war is a lose-lose proposition. Deploying an army does not guarantee anything other than death, destruction and continued hostilities. Ideologies like capitalism, socialism and communism used to drive conflict between nations.

Today, money trumps ideology. In a sense, we have outsourced our manufacturing capabilities and lives for cheap and available goods manufactured in China. The coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp relief the dangers of making another country the sole source provider of critical medical and technological equipment. In the U.S., this pandemic has surfaced real contradictions and offered up some valuable lessons.

In the United States we must take stock and inventory of not only our wealth and natural resources but also our relationships with each other and with the world. So in the spirit of offering actionable solutions, I humbly submit the following suggestions:

1. Immediately, suspend the political sanctions on our so-called enemies so that these resources can be used to fight, curtail and put in check this scourge.

2. Repurpose and highlight the role of the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) as the clearinghouse and coordinator of global "best practices" being employed to fight this pandemic.

3. Treat the virus as a global threat that respects no borders, ethnicity or socio-economic position.

Finally, pray.

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Reader Comments

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Maureen Connolly  

Posted: April 10th, 2020 4:13 PM

Thank you. My feelings exactly.

Deborah Wess  

Posted: April 10th, 2020 12:16 PM

well-said, esp. "us despite others"

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: April 8th, 2020 11:21 AM

Exactly which countries are our "so called enemies," Mr. Salter? Russia? North Korea? Iran? Because those countries - particularly Russia - have caused us serious and ongoing harm. Blanket prescriptions, either from the right or the left, do not work, as the current fool in the White House has shown repeatedly. By the way, pandemics are, by definition, ubiquitous.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: April 8th, 2020 11:17 AM

This is information that I have said for decades and have no idea why our Country would become so dependent on others, other than the ability for American corporations to have products made for less money. I have been said masks over and over and it took the CDC to finally say it was alright. I have been saying all employees who handle packages including food need to have their temperatures taken before each day of work just as a possible indication. Yes, we live in a World of instant communication although we are stuck in a way of thinking that is not advanced enough to make instant communication to work in our favor. Eventually the CDC will say check temperatures of workers and it is disappointing that it is not taking place now. When this virus had died off and a vaccine has been discovered, corporations will still depend on other countries because profit is worth more than anything us and this is the wrong way to treat humanity although profit and job security trumps people doing the right thing

Mary Kay O'Grady  

Posted: April 8th, 2020 10:31 AM

Agreed.

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