Globalisation Trilemma and End of Consensus
The point is, of course, this politics - both of the emerging economy variety of globalisation and nation state and the developed country version of democracy and nation state - would come under a hitherto unforeseen force, that of automation. This was always there - Microsoft Word and Digital Telephone Switching Systems killed more middle class jobs than India and China combined - and this is one thing politicians never want to talk about. The technological unemployment, though John Maynard Keynes may have been speaking about it in the 1930s, was always treated as something seen in science fiction, not in real life. And, even when computers started killing jobs, the media and the politicians were looking the other way, whipping up the bogey of foreign competition, Japan now, China thereafter.
This is what changes now, 2017 and on, when technologies, of doing accounting, testing software, driving cars, managing hotels, are no longer science fiction material, but boring real life phenomena. The politics may pick and choose its options from globalisation trilemma - it is always two of three combinations, with nation state as a given - but automation would disrupt this neat formulation. The globalisers in emerging countries would see global jobs disappear - India is set to lose about 70% of those in the next few years - whereas the Small Islanders and other Western supremacists would see no jobs returning, only a disappearance of global demand as a result of all those walls and ditches we are going to build or dig.
This puts us in a new territory, one with potential of conflict, but also with the new possibilities. The march of globalisation helped a lot of people, and its celebration muted all the other possibilities. The breakdown of the consensus should allow new ideas to emerge - for example, the givenness of nation states and the territorial forms that exist now would all be open to questioning all over again. This is one thing to fear, as these changes would be resisted, perhaps with blunt tools of the past and bluster of ideas past their sell-by dates. But this is a conversation we should now open our mind to, as globalisation as we know come to pass, and we step into a new age of social and economic imagination.