Why do some people reject globalism

The West is losing control

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Perhaps more importantly, the US, Europe and their partner Japan no longer controlled globalization. She became independent. The rich world lost its former power to stop any trade it did not like. When the Anglo-American financial crisis began in 2008, fears that the West had lost control of the world increased.

At the same time, world trade was making all sorts of relationships almost everywhere in the world. You learned more about other countries, visited them, and adopted foreign customs, eating habits and social behavior beforehand. As a rule, rich countries were more interesting to people in poorer countries than the other way around. Some of them began to immigrate to rich countries, for example from Eastern to Western Europe and from all over the world to the USA.

This returned ethnic tensions, the dark side of the first wave of globalization after the world wars. They added to the feeling of loss of control. Some people in the rich countries, especially the elderly and those who had lost their industrial jobs, were very insecure. The nation-states, which they were supposed to protect from the outside world, lost the ability to keep this promise.

One could sharpen this story and tell it only as a progressive logic of economic globalization, with neoliberalism as a particular driving force. But there is also another factor: relations between the West, especially the USA, and the Middle East and the Islamic world have deteriorated. That only exacerbated tensions.

Resentment against Islam

The problem has two sides: The number of people who seek protection from violence and war in our peaceful countries is growing rapidly. And the number of acts of terrorism in western cities carried out by a very small number of young Muslims who consider us their mortal enemies is also increasing. Both phenomena have little to do with each other, but they confront the inhabitants of the western world with the image of a mass of people who come into their society from a different culture - and among them there could be terrorists.

Economic globalization alone would probably not have been enough to make nationalism so strong again. All current xenophobic movements in Europe use resentment towards Islam. In the richer western European countries - the Nordic countries, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland - the xenophobic groups are stronger than in southern Europe. This shows that not only economic reasons fueled their rise.

In Germany, the alternative for Germany only gained in radiance when it made Islamophobia part of its strategy. The governments of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic - all countries that have benefited greatly from their membership in the EU - fell into anti-European rhetoric when asked to help Greece and Italy take care of the refugees. In the United States, Donald Trump cannot easily equate Muslim and Mexican immigrants, but if he wants to close the borders, he takes advantage of the fear of both.

The West, Islam, globalization

On a deeper level, which is more cultural than economic, the conflict between the West and Islam with globalization has wound up in a dangerous spiral. Globalization brings us into closer contact with other cultures. We can experience this as enriching and get involved in cultural exchange. But the foreign can also be unsettling or perceived as offensive.

Some people in the Islamic world have reacted with rejection of what they perceive to be the imposition of Western values, for example in the area of ​​sexual liberation - especially when they witnessed Western planes bombing cities in their homeland at the same time. In the western world, on the other hand, people reject the symbols with which Muslims demonstrate autonomy from our values. How else can one explain the hysteria that the sight of a few Muslim women in headscarves provokes? And how can one explain that, interestingly, increasingly well-educated young Muslim women wear the hijab as a cultural statement?

Such developments are mutually reinforcing. They strengthen some people's need to isolate themselves from strangers and to withdraw behind what appears to them to be a safe border. Globalization and a revived nationalism are becoming the most important political opponents of our time. They replace the conflicts between the parties of the 20th century.