In my previous post, I explored the definition of nationalism to see if it was compatible with Christian thought. I would now like to turn my attention to what is often considered to be the opposite of nationalism: globalism. Many people today are either for or against globalism. Recently, President Donald Trump stated in a speech at the United Nations that he rejects globalism, and he has pledged his support of nationalism. Subsequently, it behooves Christians to understand what globalism is and whether it is compatible with Christianity.
Like nationalism, there are many ways of defining this term which ultimately affects whether or not Christians should support globalism. The first known use of the word was by Ernst Jackh, an anti-Fascist professor at Colombia University who used the term in his book The War for Man’s Soul to describe Hitler’s political aspirations to take over the whole planet. In this sense, globalism is practically synonymous with world conquest, but many would balk at this definition.
The quest for a definition is also hampered by the connected concept of globalization. One of the earliest attempts to define these concepts comes from political scientist Joseph Nye. He defines globalism as any description and explanation of a world which is characterized by networks of connections that span multi-continental distances while globalization refers to the increase or decline in the degree of globalism. Such a definition is rather general and non-specific. What exactly are these networks of connections across the globe? Are they good or bad? Do we want to see them increase or decrease?
Ryan McMaken attempts to untangle this web by delineating certain forms of globalism. He argues that globalism is an abused term used by both sides of the political aisle. It can refer to the removal of economic barriers or the attempts by politicians and bureaucrats to gain greater control of people, markets, and territory across the globe. Thus, he divides globalism into economic and political globalism. Economic globalism is the free flow of goods, trade, and investment to a larger share of humanity. Political globalism is about the control of people via rules made by central planning and the coercion of people to follow those rules.
As a result, economic globalism and globalization is the tendency of markets to become global in scope through the integration of markets. On the other hand, political globalism and globalization is the operation or planning of economic and foreign policy on a global basis due to a national policy of treating the whole world as a proper sphere for political influence. It is the idea that events and interests in one country cannot be separated from those in other countries; therefore, economic and foreign policy should be planned with those international interests in mind. Globalism is the attitude of placing the interests of the entire world over and above those of any individual nation or people. This definition leads to what seems to be the current understanding of globalism as used by many people.
The question now is whether or not globalism is compatible with Christianity. If globalism is of the economic kind, then it seems that such globalism is perfectly compatible with Christianity. There is nothing inherently wrong with removing trade barriers so that people and nations may freely trade with each other. Such a process is beneficial to both ourselves as well as others around the world. By opening up markets, people can come into contact with technology, industry, medical services, and new ideas. Even the Gospel is made more readily available. This form of globalism, however, can be abused. One can consider the various instance of colonialism in which Europeans forcibly took over parts Africa, Asia, and ultimately the Americas in order to remove trade barriers. If Christians are to support economic globalism, they must do so in the right way.
If one understands globalism as the political kind, then there is much concern here for the Christian. While it is true that nations must pay attention to political and economic events around the world and react accordingly, the danger is when nations and supra-international groups see it as their right not only to meddle in but ultimately control the way other peaceful nations govern their territory and people. An example is Brexit where the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Many believe that the UK is being controlled by bureaucrats in Brussels over whom the people of the UK have no political power. As a result, the UK is forced to do things that might not benefit the nation.
What results from political globalism is that the interests of a particular nation or people can be squelched making the nation and its people worse off. World interests, however, are not necessarily better than national interests. Emphasizing world interest can lead people to lose their voting suffrage, national sovereignty, or even their civil and human rights. Even the Church can find itself subjugated and persecuted. Subsequently, political globalism invites the question of who should be in control of this political system leading to much global dispute. This dispute increases the likelihood of military and economic conflict as one nation or group seeks to force others to tow a particular political and economic line.
Political globalism is a pipeline to tyrannical totalitarianism, something with which Christians should be theologically familiar. The Bible warns of the coming of the Antichrist: a political ruler who seeks to influence and control the whole planet uniting it under his vision. As a result, Christians should reject political globalism at least from a human stand point. There is no doubt that one day Christ shall unite all people, tribes, and nations under his rule, but he has the supreme right to do so as God. Human beings do not. If one, however, wishes to break down trade barriers justifiably for the good of all, then such globalism is compatible with Christianity.
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/09/25/trump_addresses_un_we_reject_the_ideology_of_globalism_must_defend_sovereignty.html; https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/10/29/trump_nationalism_means_i_love_the_country_im_not_a_globalist_i_want_to_take_care_of_us_first.html; https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2018/10/23/president-trump-nationalist-globalist-rally-sot-vpx.cnn.
Ben Zimmer, “Origins of the ‘Globalist’ Slur,” The Atlantic, Mar 14, 2018; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/03/the-origins-of-the-globalist-slur/555479/; accessed January 18, 2019.
Joseph Nye, “Globalism vs. Globalization,” The Globalist, Apr 15, 2002; https://www.theglobalist.com/globalism-versus-globalization/; accessed January 18, 2019; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globalism.
Ryan McMaken, “The Difference Between Good Globalism and Bad Globalism.” Mises Institute, Mar 28, 2018; https://mises.org/wire/difference-between-good-globalism-and-bad-globalism; accessed January 18, 2019.
https://financial-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/globalism; accessed January 18, 2019.
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/globalism; https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/globalism; accessed January 18, 2019.
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/globalism; accessed January 18, 2019.
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/globalism; accessed January 18, 2019.