Ten years after The G20 first convened to bring together around a conference table the heads of state and government of the world’s largest economic powers and controllers of natural resources, the Group of 20 was doomed from the start. Russia and China were never going to agree to US economic hegemony, the European Union Nations were never going to accept Saudi Arabian human rights abuses and some of the third world nations were never going to be happy with the liberal democracies’ obsession with LGBT rights.
For a while the group held together, though it was doomed from day one to start falling apart as son as global trading conditions started to get tough. At the latest G20 jolly, in Buenos Aires, the loud and clear message was the G20 and globalism are both on the wane as a forum for shaping economies and solving global problems. Set up in 2008 to regulate spiraling financial markets in the midst of the toxic debt crisis, the G20 format has managed to though when Angela Merkel or Barack Obama invited attendes to “All join hands and sing Kumbaya, fewer and fewer world leaders were willing to join in.
It’s not that the idea of finding global solutions to global problems is a bad one, but that global problems require very different solutions in different parts of the globe. On top of this many of leaders sitting around the negotiating table have lost the political will to find such answers. President Donald Trump was elected leader of the USA was elected on a promise to ‘Make America Great Again’, which is not the extreme form of nationalism his opponents in the US claim, but nonetheless does not sit comfortably alongside leaders like Merkel or Emmanuel Macron, both of whom have recently asked citizens of the nations they lead to put the interests of people in other nations ahead of their own.
With Merkel’s Germany facing a social crisis because of the stresses caused by her open doors immigration policy which has seen an influx of uneducated, semi — literate third world migrants whose lawless beaviour has led to the creation of no go zones for police and emergency services in cities and large towns, while the failure of Marcon’s presidency has plunged France into civil unrest as protests against rising prices, immigration, unemployment and falling standards of living have morphed into violent riots in the streets of big cities, these leaders remain in denial about the failure of globalism..
Isolation, nationalism and protectionism have all been resurgent since the financial crisis of 2008, as the alleged consequences of globalization that has widely been perceived as impoverishing working and middle classes while benefitting the rich and corporate business.
The de facto leader of the movement to national interest is US president, Donald Trump. He is an avowed deconstructivist, — according to his critics someone who wants to tear down the existing order because he doesn’t think it works in his favor. Such criticism is unfair, all national leaders in nations that claim to be democracies are, in theory, elected to put the interests of their citizens first, never mind the rest of the world as Angela Merkel said in different words recently. Merkel however is clinging to power by her fingertips, at the head of a coalition that is too weak to get any controversial legislation though, simply because she is unable to accept that with German prosperity falling, her time is over, for the sake of her party and her country she should have step down. And yet Hausfrau — Volksfuhrer Merkel does not see the hypocrisy of asking German voters to put the interests of people in third world countries ahead of their own as she puts her personal interests ahead of her country’s and its peoples’. Macron too, though in power for less than two years, has seen his popularity fall in polls to unprecedented lows. This is partly because of his obsession with telling French voters that foreigners are more important to him than his own fellow citizens, as those fellow citizens struggle to make ends meet due to his tax increases and the inflation his policies on top of EU policies are causing.
Merkel and Macron are the outliers however. Donald Trump, in his isolationism and protectionism is far from alone.
Russian president Vladimir Putin, China’s Chairman Xi, the Saudi crown prince Mohammed (Mad Mo) bin Salaman, the Turkish autocrat Erdogan, at the G20 table don’t have much respect for international law which they precieve as favouring western or Christian interests. And more leader joining the “My country first” club. Italy’s Matteo Salvini has challenged the EU over its right to reject Italy’s budget. In Mexico, a populist has just taken office. In Brazil, a professed right-wing radical will be moving into the presidential palace come January. These changes, along with the possible collapse of Merkel and Macron’s governments make a grim outlook for globalists between now and the next G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
The German chancellor, the Canadian prime minister, the French president and EU representatives — those who waved the flag of multiculturalism and globalism, in Buenos Aires are facing an increasingly lonely struggle should they survive another year in office.
Even within the EU, populism and isolationism are spreading. After Brexit, followed by rebellions against Brussels diktat in Poland, Hungary, and Spain, the most recent example of this shift is the populist government in Italy.
Reading the thin communique adopted by G20 members, it appears that this assembly representing two thirds of humanity is little more than an empty shell. Admittedly, the leaders did commit to reforming the international trade system, although moves led by Rusia and China to replace the petrodollar as the main currency for world trade forced that decision on them. But in the meantime, members of the G20 impose punitive tariffs on each other in an attempt to get a bigger piece of the global economic pie. There’s certainly a wide gulf between theory and practice.