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Managing Globalization More Prudently

Five principles for a better and more inclusive path forward on managing global issues.

January 15, 2017

Considering the internal and external challenges it is confronted with, how can current approach to globalization be defended?

And what do the representatives of a global politics of responsibility have to do differently compared to the practice in past decades?

Five principles come to mind:

1. Honesty pays

The broadly shared tendency to make politically sound decisions on an international level and then sell it on a TINA basis (“there is no alternative”) at home may be the easiest way in the short run.

However, in the long run, it is harmful to operate on that basic as it hinders real societal debates and an open public debate.

Establishing a more cosmopolitan world view as value-oriented policy has to be represented offensively and proactively – in a spirit of openness and without hiding from contestation.

This entails embracing controversial issues without the fear of a political conflict.

2. Transparency pays

There must be room for opposition and contestation on the international and regional level.

The disputes inside European and international institutions about the right path of action and overall direction have to be made transparent. Room for opposition has to be created.

If, for example, critics of European austerity policy are not given the opportunity to exercise opposition within EU institutions, they are automatically pushed into the camp of EU opponents.

3. Support the losers of globalization

A look at the increase in wealth in a global perspective over the last two decades shows a lop-sided world.

While the medium income in China and India has risen sharply (80% increase in income), followed by the small group of the global superrich (with a plus of 65%), the poorer income groups of the Global South and the upper middle class in the West have also won.

However, one small group has been left behind. On a global scale, it is a very small group indeed – the lower-income brackets in the old industrial countries. Over the last 20 years, they have seen their incomes shrink by about 5%.

A smart approach to globalization would develop strategies on how this politically important group can be compensated.

4. Search for North-South coalitions

These days, pro-openness convictions do not just exist in the Global North. In fact, the populations of the Global South appreciate free trade even more than the ones in the North. They have a more liberal attitude towards migration issues as well.

Likewise, the insight that climate change is man-made is shared by a larger majority in the countries of the Global South than in the United States as well as in Germany and Sweden.

A smart way to manage globalization would focus on global accountability and seek like-minded coalition partners in the South, instead of counting on questionable deals with authoritarian potentates.

5. Don’t go low – go high

Finally, the global elite has to cast away its arrogance. As impressive as Michelle Obama’s speech itself in the crucial phase of the U.S. presidential election campaign 2016 was, her sentence “When they go low, we go high” is an example of this attitude.

The recognition of otherness and difference should not be limited to the exotic, but should also apply to the seemingly provincial.

Simply put, the conflict between the owners of frequent flyer cards and home-loving non-travelers can only be mitigated if the frequent travelers express their joy about the other also in their own country.

More on this topic


How can current approach to globalization be defended?

The disputes inside international institutions about the right path of action should be transparent.

There is a need to focus on global accountability and seek like-minded coalition partners in the South.