The Rocket Man and the Dotard
For some, 2018 has been a year of disappointing clarity. Speaking from his hotel suite by Lake Zurich, billionaire patron of liberal causes George Soros lamented the fate of the globalized world. "Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong," he said:
His favored presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost to President Donald Trump, whose "America First" platform runs counter to the globalism Soros embraces. Trump, he said, "is willing to destroy the world." The European Union, which Soros once hoped would be so successful that he could end his charitable work in the region, is contending with the impending loss of Britain and a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment. And Soros himself has emerged as a political target in elections from Hungary to California, where his donations have been used as a cudgel against the causes he supports.
Though Soros defiantly vowed to double down on his efforts despite setbacks, Reihan Salam of The Atlantic is willing to consider the alternative: maybe globalization itself, or at least the way it was implemented, was a big mistake. Salam argues it facilitated Beijing's entry into corporate networks which now constitute "Chimerica," the meld of multinational corporations with "China-centric supply chains" that, like Frankenstein's monster, Washington can no longer rid themselves of.
Had America been more careful, Salam argues:
... [the U.S. could] have entered the age of globalization under markedly different terms: Instead of offshoring much of its industrial base to an often-hostile authoritarian power, perhaps it would have deepened its economic ties to democratizing states in Latin America, Asia, and the wider world. ... There is no going back. We can’t rewrite history. ... The question is what we should do now. For starters, I propose admitting that we made a grave mistake.
"A grave mistake."
The public acrimony following the conclusion of the recent G7 summit only confirmed the breakup of the "international world order." Trump is already treating it like a dying institution. "Donald Trump Prefers Unscripted Kim Summit in Singapore to G7 Ritual," writes the BBC.
Salon summarizes the analysis of Yanis Varoufakis, "a leftist academic who briefly served as the Greek finance minister at the apex of that nation’s debt crisis in 2015," of the global economy. In his book, Varoufakis describes the international order as a fraud with no more basis in reality than The Wizard of Oz:
Varoufakis argues that the entire Western economy has become a massive con game, on a scale thousands or millions of times larger than anything Bernie Madoff could have imagined.
Furthermore, in his telling, it’s a con game run by intelligent and not necessarily malevolent people who understand perfectly well that the whole enterprise is a fraud that’s bound to come crashing down eventually. He says he knows that to be true because those people told him so, in the kinds of closed-door meetings where the uppermost level of the managerial caste discuss such things. That’s where the “Greek tragedy” enters the Greek tragedy: Those who supposedly control the system have instead become its prisoners. Or to put it another way, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.