The End of Globalization? — A Generational perspective
(This is a co-written perspective from a Startup Ecosystem Builder and Gen-X American Mike Ducker and Millennial, Vartika Manasvi, a global entrepreneur, sharing their different visions on the future of globalization)
Globalization is Dieing, says Gen-X!
International borders are closed, international flights are down by over 90%, and the over-reliance on the global supply chain has created a shortage of critical components. There is a push in every country for the local production of critical items like medical supplies.
It seems that Covid-19 will provide the knockout punch to globalization?
For me, this is the sad end of globalization, as a person who tried to make the world smaller their whole life! As an American student in the 1980’s, I remember watching the TV film The Day After and being scared of a potential nuclear war. Only to be inspired by those historical words of President Regan to ask the Soviet Union to “tear down this wall.” His vision seemed to call for a borderless world that could work together. Soon countries like China and Vietnam would open up wanting to be part of the global community. Many of those countries sent their talented young people to American universities. For the first time, I was collaborating, engaging, and learning from citizens around the globe when I was getting my MBA at the University of Michigan. The rise of the internet broke down barriers, smaller more nimble companies could create global businesses. In 1998 I was working on an e-learning startup in China partnering with public universities, American entrepreneurs and business were taking advantage of the global world.
September 11, 2001, created some of the first headwinds against globalization, my wife and I were packing to move to Kenya as US Peace Corps Volunteers when the twin towers fell. The global fight on terrorism would increase racism and limit the Muslim world of integrating globally. I worried about coaching basketball in a Muslim village in Kenya when the first day of the Iraqi war happened but my fears had no basis and I was welcomed as always. During the early 2000s, the negative impacts of globalization could be seen as many Americans, British, and other western workers could not adjust to a more global and technological world. Job shifts happened faster than societies could adapt their older workforce too, this created frustration and a growing anti-globalization movement. My hometown of Detroit, Michigan, the automotive capital struggled as globalization created opportunities for manufacturing to move to lower-cost countries.
Starting in 2005, I started my journey in international development, supporting programs that helped local entrepreneurs build their companies thus creating economic growth. A lot of the work was convincing companies to reach out and build globally competitive products for global markets. One of my most professional awarding programs was leading the U.S. Government Global Entrepreneurship program in Egypt after the 2011 revolution. Working with incredible ecosystem organizations to support their entrepreneurs to move from an economy of political favoritism to one building value for markets. Some of these entrepreneurs would leave their countries looking for better places for them to set up their ventures. Unfortunately, during this time we have seen America and Europe try to close their borders from those fleeing violence. In addition, we have seen international institutions like the World Trade Organization and the European Union are losing their powers. International agreements on nuclear security and environmental protection have been thrown out. A new set of cold wars has been established between the U.S. and China, and the U.S. and Russia.
Over the last six years, I feel more of my time is spent defending globalization instead of riding the wave of opportunities it has created as it has lifted billions out of poverty and allowed us to enjoy products from around the world, and then Covid-19 happened.
The Corona Virus forces us to rethink why we are relying on global supply chains; shouldn’t we produce products locally? Many are saying its time to protect our community in our nation by producing locally? We can no longer get excited about traveling to oversee nations and meeting new people. Is Globalization dying?
Path to self-sovereign identity — Say Millenials!
Like many millennials, I spend my mornings sifting through texts, emails, and twitter on my phone. In this age of the internet, I see connecting with people around the world as not a privilege and convenience but a natural state of being, a birthright of any technologically superior society. All I’ve known is this age of advancement and breakthrough, growth, and prosperity. Were it not for history, I might assume that this is how life has always been? For us, the momentum grew toward the promise of a world that needed our help — a world wherein our dreams would lift our wings to whatever ends we so desired.
The ‘get a degree, get a job’ approach promised me rising wages, health, safety, security, homes, and cars; and what I really got was 140 characters, Facebook, and free access to information. Doing an MBA was an honest mistake. The gap between education and employment was jarring for me; I was raised to believe that there was a very genuine connection between a college degree and a higher income, but the reality is that a lot of people with college degrees are working jobs they could have had without one. As someone who entered the job market immediately after the 2008 crisis, I made my early money writing resumes for people from around the world. I had no training; it was pure remote intelligence, the internet opened a new kind of pipeline, thinking of it as virtual migration!
Sky-high unemployment, stagnant wages, and steadily increasing student loan debt all combined with feelings of fear and uncertainty made us millennials a lost generation. We’ve not accumulated as much wealth as our previous generations. We work in denim’s with a very thin wall between our work and personal life, prefer shared living, like to work from the beach, and we all run either a global internet company or a side hustle! The wages have been unable to keep up with our inflated costs of living and left millennials like me disillusioned with capitalism’s ability to support our own lifestyles.
Today as an immigrant woman entrepreneur of the 21st century, I’m daily reminded of how divided and unequal the world still is, and the future seems increasingly unpredictable when it comes to economic stability. The coffee that I buy from Tim Hortons that denies paid sick leave to its cashiers and kitchen staff makes me more vulnerable to illness, as does the neighbor who refuses to stay home in a pandemic because schools failed to teach them science or critical thinking skills.
We’ve all been fooled when it comes to the current state of higher education and striving hard to make ends meet, thanks to the internet. For me, this pandemic is a powerful reminder of two things: the shared challenges of humanity, and the deep inequalities in income and wages. I am not one of those evangelists for globalization, what I hope for is a lasting change in society’s awareness of our common humanitarian needs. Our resistance to an epidemic is only as strong as the protections we extend to the weakest members in society.
Unlike the old globalization, where foreign competition showed up in the form of foreign goods, this wave of globalization will show up in the form of self-sovereign identities. I am grateful to the support extended by the Govt. of Canada to get a Startup Visa to be able to work, live and build a global business from Canada, such progressive immigration policies are helping global millennials like me to build our sovereign identity. While the coronavirus pandemic is going to cause immense pain and suffering. It will also force us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and, in the long run, it could help us rediscover the better version of ourselves.
More than ever we need a global solution, history shows us the risks of closing borders
Today, Asia is demonstrating to America and Western Europe (instead of the reverse) on how to manage the coronavirus? The local, national, and global issues of dealing with the social, economic, and health ramifications are massive. It will take a high level of international trust and cooperation to deal with the issues. Global collective intelligence is created when people collaborate, often with the help of technology, to mobilize a wider range of information, ideas, and insights to address a social innovation challenge. This will give rise to algorithmic nations, and develop trust networks made up of suppliers, customers, competitors, and government officials, that are focused on risk management.
History and economics have taught us that nationalism leads to decreases in prosperity and increases in conflicts. Many international institutions, like the UN and EU, were created after WWII to ensure a global war would never happen again. That said the Millennials will not stand for their governments to close down their country’s borders. In fact, COVID-19 shows us the risk of ignoring science, data, and climate. The crises of climate and environment will be next. In other words, this is the warning shot for global collective action to build the strategies to dismantle it and to put humanity on a course toward justice and solidarity.
Reading draft credits: Mike’s wife Tracy Ducker, Marco Fernandez, Jennifer Lussier