For my third consecutive post related to the fall of the Berlin Wall, I would like to bring up The Economist’s Leader on the Berlin Wall, who I thought had a thought-provoking insight as to globalization in the post-Cold War. The specific observation lies near the end of the article: “Economic freedom could be slowed down, perhaps even reversed, by politics.” Citing Marx the article points out the uneven distribution of capitalism’s winners and losers:
[Capitalism] leaves behind losers in concentrated clumps (a closed tyre factory, for instance), whereas the more numerous winners (everybody driving cheaper cars) are disparate.
Capitalist economics is about the average level of boats. Politics, on the other hand, are personal. Despite globalized economic freedom Leader laments that: “Above all politics remains stubbornly local.” All those tyre factory workers are voters, voters that see only their locality sinking and vote to protect their boat. Hyper-localized popular animosity to globalization works its way up through democratic representation to national policy in the form of trade protectionism. The provincial outlook of electoral politics blinds voters to The Big Picture of Globalization. Thus, the gap between political and economic freedom is geographic. And the ironic thing is that globalization is supposed to remove those provincial boundaries, both in terms of trade and of information dissemination.
Which leads me to wonder: has the Internet, with its geography-destroying power, removed any of these blinders? There is ample evidence of the Internet giving local economic “losers” another chance in the global marketplace. Except for places like North Korea the Internet has worked wonders in showing how “the other half” lives. Is there any evidence that this has changed views on economic globalization or voting patterns?
And as for the other side, protectionist policies remain strong. Is there any evidence of use of the internet for protectionist ends? For example, like-minded unions from across the country or the world joining forces using the power of the internet?