Friday, February 20, 2015

We cannot retreat behind walls in the modern world

In my lifetime (Post War era in its entirety) the most significant phenomenum by far has been the overt cooperation of nations. By "nations" I do not just mean inter-Government (though it includes that). I mean, especially, the business world. As a child I can't recall my family consuming any global brands. TV was 95% locally made (the odd Hollywood movie aside). Holidays were on Cornish not Costa beaches. And our society was mono-cultural. Over the years all of that has changed. My parents visited perhaps ten countries. I've been to nearly 100. They had three radio stations to choose from. I can listen to any station anywhere in the world on my iPad. They had to get visas to travel and wait in long queues at borders. My borders, once I've got to Calais (!) are open and crossed at 120 kms per hour. My Father only ever worked in London. I've lived and worked in seven countries.  

Whether we like words like "Globalisation" or not it is a fact and it's here to stay. The Multinational Corporation, the Global brand, the international media, the ubiquitousness of travel, the openness of modern societies to migrants, the economic cooperation, the bias for "Jaw Jaw" to resolve differences not "War War" ( in Europe at least). All of this, and much more, driven by technology. We can be anywhere in the world (almost) within 24 hours. We can tune in to any medium from almost anywhere. I can read The Times without even having to get out of bed. And the Washington Post for that matter. On Facebook I have friends in thirty countries and converse with them in real time. There are no food seasons any more. I can buy strawberries and raspberries all the year round at my supermarket. Containerisation has meant that my bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand costs no more to transport to me than a bottle of Sancerre.  

In this international world we cannot retreat to behind our borders. We cannot take unitary decisions over things in isolation. It's about much more than cooperation with other nations in fact. We are, like it or not, in partnership in everything we do with people, institutions, businesses and centres of power external to us. That is why to continue to play an active part in international bodies, to continue to build political and economic alliances, to continue to be an open, liberal pluralist society and to reach out and not retreat inwards is the only way forward.


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