The global generation

An op-ed by Brooke Moore, LiKEN Research Assistant

Outside the Paris Agreement COP 21. Paris, France. Photo by Emily Williams.

Having grown up in a generation where global society is accessible through the click of a button, I am concerned about recent political shifts towards isolation. Our modern lives are inescapably influenced by the interconnectedness most commonly referred to as globalization. To many, globalization is deemed a negative force supportive of only the neo-liberal leaders who fostered the economic movement to begin with. Now backlash against these partnerships that benefit a global elite at the expense of local economies and environments have emerged globally – from Brexit, to the election of Donald Trump to Italy’s referendum. Nations previously at the forefront of globalization are now experiencing contemporary nationalistic movements, striving to reconstruct the barriers global institutions fought to remove and promoting traditional borders that protect the individual from the outside. We are in danger of a political polarization between those who espouse such anti-globalization sentiments and those who fear that the new nationalisms will perpetuate bad oppositions of “us vs. them”. Many who are worried about anti-globalization nationalism, favor a kind of international interconnectedness that fosters a notion of global citizenship where all are supported. Although to many globalization is this sense of global citizenship and support, the aforementioned isolationist movements deem globalization a negative force tempered by negligent institutional governance, utilizing the middle-class as a necessary consequence. But are they wrong? How can we bridge the gap between these opposing viewpoints?

As our millennial generation begins to enter the workforce, we are left at a crossroad. Do I strive to devote my career to returning a sense of promise and hope to globalization, or do I foster this growing aversion towards it? These anti-globalization movements have erupted globally for a reason and it is imperative for our generation to understand why.

Over the past two decades, proponents of economic globalization have argued that it would increase prosperity and remedy divergences and stratification, especially in developing nations. However, under globalization, inequality has increased throughout the globe. Should we therefore abandon globalization, or should we restructure it? There may be no definitive answer to these questions, but we now have the opportunity and responsibility to decide globalization’s role in our future.

Movements fighting for issues such as sexual, racial and social equality greatly benefited from globalization as interconnectedness. Climate Change activists have analogously benefited from globalization, as explicated by the 2016 Paris Agreement where governments of divergent cultures came together to cooperate for the greater good. Taking ostrich-like approaches and distancing ourselves from global cooperation will slow – if not halt – progress on many of these necessary pursuits of justice. What should we do in a time where governments question their role in global society? We must highlight how globalization has not only fueled success up to now, but how it can further provide our society with greater progress. Why are we suddenly fueled by a desire to protect those within our border, but not those who neighbor it? Now is the time more than ever for individuals to label themselves as global citizens rather than perpetuate the distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Catastrophes, such as global climate change, do not just affect one of us, but rather they affect everyone.

Paris Agreement COP21. Paris, France. Photo by Emily Williams

So, what does this mean for us, the younger generation transitioning from school to the work force?

It means we should try to redefine globalization, effectively eliminating its negative aspects and enhancing its positive influence on our futures. The growing apprehension over the globalized economy does not need to push us towards total isolation from global society. Our generation can still utilize the interconnectedness of today to propagate a communal attitude towards progress. Starting campus organizations, attending conferences or simply educating ourselves on international news are invaluable first steps. Knowing the dangers of globalization should only empower us to create a more effective system that can successfully bridge the gap between the equal, just and profitable society we need, and the society we have. “…the fate of nations is intertwined, and…exclusion hurts those who are excluding as much as those who are excluded” (Solomon 2016). Opposition to interconnectedness will only hurt the societal victories modern civilization is fighting for.

Works Cited

Solomon, Andrew. “A Perilous Nationalism at Brexit.” The New Yorker, 28 June 2016, www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/a-perilous-nationalism-at-brexit.