This is about the only paragraph of Mr. Wolf’s essay that is not awash in Late Capitalist Utopianism:
‘Yet that does not make this desirable. When we look at the awful mistakes of the past, we must be struck by how understandable and human they were, and by how inescapable the drift to conflict and economic collapse seemed to those responsible. We must also see that purblind nationalism and fantasies of grandeur did not produce an elegant balance of power, but rather a cataclysm. It was from this disaster that the world of institutionalised co-operation emerged. This sort of world has not become any less necessary. It has just become far more fragile.’
How might the reader define the notion of Late Capitalist Utopianism? Mr. Wolf refers to it as ‘Globalism’ in its ‘first’ and ‘second’ iterations. This Globalization is like ‘The Post-War Liberal Order’ : Europe as an American Protectorate, via NATO and its propaganda arm The Atlantic Council. While not forgetting Jean Monnet’s Coal and Steel Cartel named the Common Market, as precursor to the European Union. And the very idea/practice of ‘Liberalism’ as the way stations toward the sine qua non of ‘Globalism’: this Master Idea even embraces the Mises/Hayek/Friedman Trinity.
(As background read Liberalism: A Counter History by Domenico Losurdo and Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist by Alexander Zevin)
Not to forget Mr. Wolf’s penchant to engage in the rhetoric of the telling graph. (See The Rhetoric of Economics by Deirdre N. McCloskey)
The toxic rivalry between China and the US is compared to the rivalry between Germany and Great Britain, as prelude to The Great War. Mr. Wolf only reads fellow Technocrats!
A fascinating paper by Markus Brunnermeier and Harold James of Princeton University and Rush Doshi of Brookings argues that “the rivalry between China and the US in the twenty-first century holds an uncanny resemblance to the one between Germany and Great Britain in the nineteenth”. Both rivalries took place in an era of economic globalisation and rapid technological innovation. Both featured a rising autocracy with a state-protected economy challenging an established democracy with a free-market system. Moreover, both rivalries featured “countries enmeshed in profound interdependence wielding tariff threats, standard-setting, technology theft, financial power, and infrastructure investment for advantage”.
What can the reader think of the inclusion of this paragraph:
As Larry Summers has argued, Covid-19 looks to be a hinge moment in history. This is not so much because it is changing trends, but rather because it is accelerating them. It is reasonable to bet that the world which emerges on the other side of the pandemic will be far less co-operative and open than the one that entered it. That is where current trends are taking us.
The imperative for the Nation State, post Pandemic, is to rebuild its manufacturing base to produce strategic goods, as the bulwark against the failed ‘supply chains’ of the failed ‘Globalist Agenda’! And to rebuild in the name of Welfare of all its citizens: this designation to include the sans-papiers, the undocumented , the refugee!
Mr. Summers and his political/economic enthusiasm for the ill-fated Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, as the precursor to the catastrophic collapse of 2008, does nothing to enhance my opinion of Mr. Wolf judgement!