There is no debating that the ramifications of the referendum vote to the the EU are sweeping and that the full effects might not been known or fully felt for years. Britain’s exit from the European Union poses significant threats to the global order, and the work that has been accomplished in recent years to establish a rapport and fixed goals across the globe.
It’s not just Britain’s Brexit that is bringing nationalism back into the conversation, however. The backlash against globalization, and the impact that could have both economically and politically is growing all the time. From the new U.S. Administration’s very clear agendas, and the potential for France to elect Marine Le Pen and her platform of leaving the EU, to Greece and the Netherland’s dissatisfaction with the EU, the largest threat right now is to global governance as a whole.
European unification has been built on a certain platform that has now become unstable, and that platform has previously been a large part of the process in the United Nations and global governance. Since the second World War, globalization has been the fire alight under economic progress, technology and medical advances, incomes, extreme poverty being diminished, growth in infrastructure and Gross Domestic Product worldwide, as well as guidelines for further progress through forums like the Sustainable Development Goals. This progress is greatly threatened by the potential attitudinal backlash against globalization.
The global aggregate advantages of more open trade and finances are clear to those involved, but because these advantages and statistics have not been as publicly disseminated, the trend towards new modern nationalism is, frankly, frightening.
The 1970 book “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organization and States” by economist Albert Hirschman is just as relevant today as it was when it was written, and speaks particularly to this current issue. We are seeing the idea that “leaving” is becoming the preferred option in organizations, that loyalties are split between the developed and developing countries, and that reforms are not being seen as effective. He speaks to the “the neatness of exit over the messiness and heartbreak of voice” as the driving factor behind such historical decisions as the “exit” of America from Britain, and how it persists as the most effective option in the American mindset to this day. For countries all over the world, the populace not feeling heard often leads to an “exit” mentality, stemming more from discontent of their own governors rather than global governance. As voice continues to not be heard, exit will come to the global forefront, viewed as a viable solution.
To strengthen global governance and continue to build and reap the benefits that the world has seen from it, it is vital that we are transparent, that we strengthen “voice” mindsets and weaken incentives for “exit” mindsets. Inclusivity in government that serves all members and amplifies voice is imperative, as is making it clear, from multiple sources, what exactly the benefits that global governance has provided to the world are, and can continue to be, if maintained and strengthened.