Monday, June 2, 2008

Brussels-izing Globalization

Hampton makes some really good points here. I'd quibble with the claim that globalization is about economic liberty, so much as economic deregulation. I'd also make a distinction between "Brussels" the idea, as opposed to Brussels the reality. How accurately the anti-democratic, technocratic image of the former matches the reality of the latter is subject to debate. But there's enough truth to it to make it resonate strongly in public opinion, and resentment of it certainly drove opposition to the 2005 Constitutional Treaty, and is doing so with the Treaty of Lisbon today.

I failed to make it clear in my post, but when I referred to the "small villages across the continent that are increasingly being transformed by globalization," I actually had the EU common market (ie. "Brussels" and the continent-wide "mini-globalization") in mind as much as the broader globalization phenomenon. Sometimes, of course, it gets hard to separate the two. In the village where I lived in Provence, the wealthy English, Dutch and Belgian second-home owners who had transformed the life and culture of the village (and who in many ways represented "Brussels," at least symbolically) had for the most part gotten wealthy off of globalized commercial activity. From the LA Times article, it seems that in Ireland, the second-home owners are Irish. But resentment of "Brussels" seems to overlap with a resentment of outsiders responsible for a lost way of life in the opposition to the Treaty.

One final thought about the broader globalization backlash that I referred to. As it gathers, it's almost sure to express itself in a call for stronger regulation, whether of the ecological, national security (e.g. protected industries) or social variety. In other words, one of the ways that the developed economies will begin to strategically defend themselves against the wealth and power transfers of the globalized economy will be the "Brussels-ization" of the globalized governance system. Won't that be fun?

Cross-posted to World Politics Review.

Posted by Judah in:  European Union   

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