In this study of globalization post-Trump, Brexit and COVID-19, academics Anthea Roberts and Nicolas Lamp assess the state of the debate. They add life to what could be a ponderous topic by identifying the main schools of thought about globalization and likening each to one side of a Rubik’s Cube. It’s a metaphor that frames a complicated issue and underscores the human tendency to oversimplify complex problems. The authors’ solutions are equally metaphorical, but theirs is still a worthwhile take on a critical subject.
The dominant narratives about globalization resemble the six sides of a Rubik’s Cube.
In the years after the end of the Cold War, globalization and market capitalism emerged as clear victors. The Western standard of open markets and loose borders served as the dominant role model for the world. However, the world got quite a bit messier with the 2008 global financial crisis. That shock uncovered new doubts about the wisdom of globalization. War in the Middle East led to a wave of refugees fleeing to Europe. And the Brexit vote in 2016, followed by the election of Donald Trump, were two sure signs that many had rejected mainstream thinking about the global economy.
In these confusing times, competing accounts about globalization have taken hold. These narratives represent distinct storylines about the path of the global economy that can be thought of as sides to a Rubik’s Cube. The top of the cube is the optimistic scenario, the one that overlooks any downsides of unfettered competition and argues that everyone in the global economy benefits from globalization. At the bottom of the cube is the “everyone loses” theory – globalization...
Anthea Roberts is a professor in the School of Regulation and Global Governance at Australian National University. She is the author of Is International Law International? Nicolas Lamp is an associate professor of law at Queen’s University, Ontario.