The Importance of Globalization
Today, with hundreds of different global organizations like the Red Cross, the United Nations, and the Olympics ever gaining prominence in our society, it is clear that global collaboration is a present and important part of our lives. Globalization establishes a connection between distant and neighboring countries alike and, for one, can be a way to solve problems that are not as restricted by the borders from which we restrict ourselves. For example, climate change and the rise of HIV are not any one country’s responsibility, and therefore they are rightly being handled by a unified front of countries dedicated to change. With technology growing and expanding rapidly as it is and the global economy relying more and more on the international exchange of goods, clearly our world is becoming increasingly more globalized. This is for the best – we do not live the same unaware and cut-off lives that our distant ancestors led. But the root of all opposition to a more closely connected world stems from a desire to remain independent at all costs – and this desire is one of the fundamental elements of nationalism. It may be true that patriotic pride was an important building block within its own country, but in the globalized world rapidly being built today, nationalism currently is a roadblock.
The Pride of the Inside and the Contempt of the Outside
In the ancient world geography was the first hindrance to any form of globalization. During the primitive stages of business and technology, connectivity across nations was weak due to geographical boundaries, and the most logical solution was for singular nations to develop independently. This created a sense of brotherhood between the people and then a loyalty to the state, and so a strong sense of nationalism was instilled in citizens. Pride in country fuelled armies, improved the economy, and eventually provided regions with a much-needed stability. Even active members of historic rebellions maintained a firm belief that they were doing what they perceived to be “right for their country”. Centuries of pride and stability formed most of the countries we know today, and at the time, without question, nationalism was a valuable asset to the nation.
Nationalism is rooted from an instinctual “us vs them” perspective just as much as it comes from patriotic pride. The literal geographical boundaries between people became the same bumpy lines between nations, and as friendly citizens in communities grew closer, whispers about what could not be seen floated around and xenophobia crept forth the dark mystery of “the other side”. Soon, nationalism evolved from simply pride to plain arrogance. This type of nationalism - that went from pride between brothers to the contempt of outsiders - is the same mindset that hinders our globalized world today. The priority lies in the individual country, whereas in our modern world today, stricken with international issues, what should be prioritized is cooperation and unity. The idea of clinging to patriotic pride above all else is outdated – and it cements a twisted belief that those who lie beyond the city walls cannot possibly be greater than what lies within, a damaging standard in the progress of foreign relations. This disdain towards who and what lies beyond geographical borders is the major factor in preventing nations from working together, and in turn, this contempt of outsiders stemming from pride - nationalism – is preventing globalization.
Brexit and UK Nationalism
One of the most newsworthy political events in 2016 was the unexpected turnout of the vote of Britain to leave the European Union – dubbed “Brexit”. The public decision to “Leave” rattled the globe and was a clear victory for nationalism over globalization in the form of the European Union.
The politicians backing the campaign of “Leave” painted the United Kingdom as a country that needed to be “taken back”; heavily implying when not outright stating that the EU – an active effort of globalization – was hurting, rather than helping, the UK. The campaign revolved entirely around nationalistic pride of the UK, with claims that the unity the European Union provided was taking advantage of the lives of the everyday man in the United Kingdom. And, preying on right-wing outrage with Europe’s migrant crisis as well as a surge in foreign terrorist attacks, “Leave” promised that the citizens of the UK would be put first – essentially, slamming globalization as being not only ineffective, but also dangerous, and reminding the public of their duty to Britain and how they were obliged to help their home country become stronger. The ultimatum of control proved, on some level, to resonate with the public when the results showed the victory of “Leave”. But immediately following the referendum, the value of the English pound dropped to a 30-year record low, severely damaging the economy and leading to the exact opposite of the economic success “Leave” politicians promised. UK nationalists may claim to help the United Kingdom, but, in a world already this globalized, flickers of pride and patriotism are not viewed with the same confidence as a stable organization like the EU and, in turn, these brief nationalistic spurs hurt the home economy that has depended on the stability our globalized world provides.
The Campaign of Donald Trump
It is undeniable that the campaign of Mr. Donald Trump was one centered around American patriotism and star-spangled pride; indeed, his election slogan was, “Make America Great Again”. This implication that America was somehow “wrong” was a call to arms for his supporters because he was challenging the patriotism and dedication of the United States. But in his rallies of red, white, and blue pride, he opened the floor to xenophobia by proclaiming that countries like Mexico and China were hurting the USA, and that his presidency would keep out foreigners and give back American jobs. Like the Brexit campaign, Mr. Trump preyed on fear and promised that an isolated United States would be a better functioning one than the globalized country it had been previously under Mr. Obama. The Trump campaign was a nationalist one – it valued a promise of independent success for the country rather than a global outreach. Mr. Trump’s goal of a nationalist America has outraged many prominent world leaders who consider globalization essential. It is impossible to say for certain where nationalism will lead the United States of America in 2017, but so far, the mere promise of nationalism is on track to completely derail the US’s current connected and progressive foreign policy in favor of separation, and has done little to bring “back” the economy.
A Collaborative Global Future
The arrogance of nationalism stops mutual globalization efforts in their tracks. It is the fear and distrust of other leaders and nations that fuel a country’s belief not only in their own superiority, but also that their own country should not rely or turn to others. Britain’s exit from the European Union showed just how far the public can be pressured to follow what they are told is “good” for the country, and how important to the public national pride is. Mr. Trump’s recent election to office proved that fear and hatred of outsiders could be expanded and exploited as an excuse for a country’s shortcomings, and how independent development could “solve” supposed problems caused by the outside. Our world has come a long way since the isolated ancient days, when we had no one to turn to but our own. It is no longer the time to cling to nationalism by maintaining arrogant, prideful, and hateful opinions, for they will bring us back into the primitive times – instead, it is essential for human development that we put aside individual differences and work collaboratively towards the one goal we can all agree on: the best future for us all.
By Lucy McMahon
9th Grade Student at Miss Hall's School