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Javier E

Opinion | From Voodoo to MAGA to Buffalo - The New York Times - 0 views

  • What has changed, however, is the behavior of Republican elites, who used to push back against conspiracy theories but now cheerfully embrace them whenever it seems politically expedient.
  • Which, I’d argue, is where voodoo economics comes in — not as an idea but as a determinant of the kind of people who became Republican politicians.
  • The rise of supply-side economics coincided with the rise of movement conservatism — an interlocking network of elected officials, media organizations, think tanks and lobbying firms. Because the movement’s core ideology involved reducing taxes on the rich, it was lavishly supported by billionaires and corporate interests, and this in turn meant that it offered job security to anyone who remained sufficiently loyal.
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  • Who was attracted to this movement? Many were careerists: people happy to serve as apparatchiks, following whatever the party line happened to be at the moment.
  • when I say that I miss voodoo economics, what I really mean is that I miss the illusion — which I shared — that the impact of its rise would mainly be limited to the politics of taxes and spending. What we now know is that the embrace of crank economics presaged the general moral collapse of the Republican establishment.
  • This collapse opened the door for paranoia and conspiracy theorists of all kinds
  • There is, I would argue, a direct line from the Laffer curve, to Jan. 6, to Buffalo.
Javier E

To Keep Putin and His Oligarchs Afloat, It Takes a System - The New York Times - 0 views

  • We tend to think of corruption as a failure of morality, when a greedy person decides to benefit by steering public resources toward private gain.
  • But while that’s not exactly untrue, it misses the most important thing: namely, that corruption is a group activity. You need bribe-payers and bribe-takers, resource-diverters and resource-resellers, look-the-other-wayers and demand-a-share-of-the-takers.
  • When that kind of corrupt network behavior becomes widespread, it creates its own parallel system of rewards — and punishments.
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  • “What is different with systemic corruption is that it’s the expected behavior,”
  • “These expectations make it very difficult for all individuals, actually, to stand against corruption, because it’s very costly in all different ways to resist that kind of system.”
  • Those who refuse to participate in the parallel economy of favors and bribes get passed over for promotion, cut off from benefits, and frozen out of power.
  • The result is a system where power and wealth accrue to those willing to play the corruption game, and those who are not get left behind.
  • Corruption “serves as a regressive tax, it’s like Robin Hood in reverse,” Persson told me. “All the resources are moved to the top of the system, to the great cost of the majority of the population.”
  • But why did corruption in Russia get that bad? The answer, and maybe a counterintuitive one, is in democratization.
  • There was corruption in the Soviet Union. But after its dissolution in 1991, the sudden explosive growth of freedom of expression and freedom of association in Russia and the other former Soviet countries and satellites brought new opportunities, not just for political and economic development, but for crime and corruption.
  • “Freedoms of expression and association don’t only have to be used for good things, they can be used for illegal activities, too,” McMann said. “When people can more easily get together and talk, that enables them to actually plan corrupt activity.”
  • That wouldn’t have been so bad if democratization had also brought in checks on executive power, an independent judiciary to investigate and prosecute crimes. “In order to have capitalism have functioning markets, you also need to build institutions. You need banks that can provide credit, you need a strong legal system that will protect property.”
  • Estonia followed that path. After the Soviet Union fell, Estonia’s new, democratically elected parliament strengthened the judiciary and introduced new checks on executive power. There, corruption fell.
  • But in Russia, the government heeded Western advisers’ urging to get the state out of the economy as much as possible in order to let free markets flourish. Institutions and constraints fell by the wayside. In that vacuum, the parallel structures of corruption flourished, crowding honest politicians out of government and honest businesses out of the market.
  • By the late 1990s, official corruption had flourished at every level of the government. In 1999, as President Boris Yeltsin’s presidency began to weaken, elites pressured him to leave office on their terms. If Yeltsin would anoint their handpicked successor, they would ensure that he and his family did not face prosecution for misappropriation of government funds.
Javier E

Mark Esper's Duty to Speak - 0 views

  • The risks of working for Trump were elaborated upon well in 2017 by my Atlantic colleague David Frum; our colleague Eliot Cohen also went back and forth on it and even changed his mind. The danger was obvious: You will end up selling your soul and you will likely fail to do much good
  • The counterargument was also obvious: The interests of the United States of America require that this train wreck of an administration—staffed with the likes of Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and His Faux-Britannic Excellency Sebastian Gorka—should have at least some non-stupid, non-craven, non-nutball types in the executive branch.
  • I argued at the time that there was no way to put child-safety bumpers on all the sharp edges of the White House, and that if Trump was going to drive the country into a ditch, the sooner we got on with it, the better. I am not sure now if I was wrong, but the best evidence against my position is that Esper may well have prevented a war with North Korea by averting Trump’s idiotic evacuation order for Americans in South Korea. If that’s the case, I’d have to say it was worth it to have someone in the right place.
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  • They had a duty to speak up sooner. And they failed in that duty.
  • These efforts allowed both Trump’s supporters and his critics to comfort themselves with the knowledge that someone, somewhere, was trying to limit the damage to the country. His fans could say, “He’s just inexperienced but he has good people around him,” while the opponents could say, “He’s an execrable moron but reasonable people are in charge, and they’ll save us from the worst.”
  • But the price for this quiet custodianship (a form of opposition to Trump described in detail by Miles Taylor, now known as the author of the famous “Anonymous” op-ed in The New York Times) is that the American people never really knew how much danger they were facing, at home and abroad, at any given moment.
  • Esper, Mattis, Rex Tillerson, and many, many other people who crawled through the Shawshank sewer pipe that was the four years of the Trump administration needed to speak up the minute they were out. Instead, they teased their book bombshells or played coy games of slap and tickle on cable outlets.
  • in the end, they have faith in the system. They see Trump as only one man, and the system as a bulwark of laws and regulations, people and committees, institutions and practices that will somehow kick in and prevent a catastrophe.
  • Governments are more than just large organizations. They are a far more delicate web of norms and habits, and liberal democracies especially are built on informal agreements rather than black-letter law. Yes, we have tons of laws and administrative bumf that complicate our lives, but when it comes to the nature of our democracy, the Constitution manages to do it all in fewer than  5,000 words. Our basic rights as citizens take less than a page. The rest relies on us.
  • And so when you know that the president is unhinged, when you know the country is in danger, when you know that plots are being hatched to subvert the Constitution, you have a duty to speak. This duty supersedes confidentiality, partisanship, or personal loyalty.
  • Think of all the people from whom we don’t have a full account of this mess, who did not speak up even as Trump was running for reelection or inciting an insurrection: Mattis, Tillerson, John Kelly, Robert O’Brien, H. R. McMaster, and many others.
  • These are experienced political figures who know that the public needs to be grabbed by the lapels and made to listen to a compelling story. The too-late book excerpts, along with all the throat clearing, the circumlocutions, the carefully phrased “but I’d still support the nominee” escape hatches don’t cut it.
  • I was in a vulnerable position as a government employee, and from the first time I spoke up, people tried to get me fired from the Naval War College. Even with tenure, I could have been dismissed if I was found to violate the Hatch Act, the law prohibiting on-the-job politicking by federal employees.
  • I called my family together nearly six years ago and said that I could lose my job if I kept writing about Trump. All of them told me to keep writing, and we’d deal with whatever comes.
  • for more than five years, the demands to fire me came so often, as one administrator later told me, that after a while they didn’t even bother to inform me about them anymore.
  • I cannot imagine what it would be like to be burdened with knowing the president was mentally unstable, that he wanted to fire missiles at Mexico, that he was planning to exit NATO, that he wanted to shoot unarmed protesters, that he wanted to invalidate a national election. That is a level of responsibility beyond anything I have ever experienced. This was Night of Camp David stuff, and I’m not sure what I’d have done.
  • But I’m reasonably certain I wouldn’t have kept it to myself until my agent told me I had a deal.
Javier E

How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • in the spring of 2021, Brown told me his alarm had only grown. “The crisis for the Church is a crisis of discernment,” he said over lunch. “Discernment”—one’s basic ability to separate truth from untruth—“is a core biblical discipline. And many Christians are not practicing it.”
  • Paul’s admonishment of the early Church contains no real ambiguity. Followers of Jesus are to orient themselves toward his enduring promise of salvation, and away from the fleeting troubles of humanity.
  • To many evangelicals today, the enemy is no longer secular America, but their fellow Christians, people who hold the same faith but different beliefs.
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  • Having convinced so many evangelicals that the next election could trigger the nation’s demise, Christian leaders effectively turned thousands of churches into unwitting cells in a loosely organized, hazily defined, existentially urgent movement—the types of places where paranoia and falsehoods flourish and people turn on one another.
  • “Hands down, the biggest challenge facing the Church right now is the misinformation and disinformation coming in from the outside,” Brown said.Because of this, the pastor told me, he can no longer justify a passive approach from the pulpit. The Church is becoming radicalized—and pastors who don’t address this fact head-on are only contributing to the problem
  • “The battle lines have been drawn,” Bolin told me, sitting in the back of his darkened sanctuary. “If you’re not taking a side, you’re on the wrong side.”
  • It’s the story of millions of American Christians who, after a lifetime spent considering their political affiliations in the context of their faith, are now considering their faith affiliations in the context of their politics.
  • “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,” Paul wrote. “Since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
  • The pastor said his concern was not simply for his congregation of 300, but for the millions of American evangelicals who had come to value power over integrity, the ephemeral over the eternal, moral relativism over bright lines of right and wrong.
  • For much of my lifetime, however, American Christians have done the opposite. Beginning in the 1980s, white evangelicals imposed themselves to an unprecedented degree on the government and the country’s core institutions
  • Once left to cry jeremiads about civilizational decline—having lost fights over sex and sexuality, drugs, abortion, pornography, standards in media and education, prayer in public schools—conservative Christians organized their churches, marshaled their resources, and leveraged their numbers,
  • Evangelical leaders set something in motion decades ago that pastors today can no longer control. Not only were Christians conditioned to understand their struggle as one against flesh and blood, fixated on earthly concerns, a fight for a kingdom of this world—all of which runs directly counter to the commands of scripture—they were indoctrinated with a belief that because the stakes were getting so high, any means was justified.
  • When Trump was elected thanks to a historic showing among white evangelicals—81 percent voted for him over Hillary Clinton—the victory was rightly viewed as the apex of the movement’s power. But this was, in many ways, also the beginning of its unraveling.
  • what’s notable about the realignment inside the white evangelical Church is its asymmetry. Pastors report losing an occasional liberal member because of their refusal to speak on Sunday mornings about bigotry or poverty or social injustice. But these same pastors report having lost—in the past few years alone—a significant portion of their congregation because of complaints that they and their staff did not advance right-wing political doctrines
  • Substantial numbers of evangelicals are fleeing their churches, and most of them are moving to ones further to the right.
  • Christianity has traditionally been seen as a stabilizing, even moderating, influence on American life. In 1975, more than two-thirds of Americans expressed “a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the church,” according to Gallup, and as of 1985, “organized religion was the most revered institution” in American life
  • Today, Gallup reports, just 37 percent of Americans have confidence in the Church.
  • to Jeff and Deidre, Jenkinson’s stance amounted to cowardice. “I realize these are hard conversations, but the reason we left Milford is they were never willing to have the conversation,” Jeff said. “They were just trying to keep everybody happy. Paul is a conservative, but his conservatism has no teeth.”
  • a strictly apolitical approach can be counterproductive; their unwillingness to engage only invites more scrutiny. The whisper campaigns brand conservative pastors as moderate, and moderate pastors as Marxists. In this environment, a church leader’s stance on biblical inerrancy is less important than whether he is considered “woke.
  • “A pastor asked me the other day, ‘What percentage of churches would you say are grappling with these issues?’ And I said, ‘One hundred percent. All of them,’ ”
  • “It may sound like Chicken Little. But I’m telling you, there is a serious effort to turn this ‘two countries’ talk into something real. There are Christians taking all the populist passions and adding a transcendent authority to it.”
  • More than a few times, I’ve heard casual talk of civil war inside places that purport to worship the Prince of Peace. And, far from feeling misplaced, these conversations draw legitimacy from a sense of divine justice.
  • The Church is not a victim of America’s civic strife. Instead, it is one of the principal catalysts.
  • “Back when I believed there was an honorable alliance between Republicans and evangelicals, it was because I believed that our values would ultimately prevail, come what may on this Earth, whether we win or lose some election,” Brown said. “But over time, there was a shift. Losing was no longer an option. It became all about winning.”
  • And then,” Brown said, “came Barack Obama.”It felt silly at first—jokes about Obama’s birth certificate, comments about his faith. But over time, the discourse inside the church became more worrisome.
  • The cultural climate was getting chilly for evangelicals; the Great Recession was squeezing his blue-collar congregation. But much of the anxiety felt amorphous, cryptic—and manufactured. However effective Brown might be at soothing his congregants for 45 minutes on a Sunday morning, “Rush [Limbaugh] had them for three hours a day, five days a week, and Fox News had them every single night.”
  • Brown kept reminding his people that scripture’s most cited command is “Fear not.” But he couldn’t break through. Looking back, he understands why.
  • “Biblically, fear is primarily reverence and awe. We revere God; we hold him in awe,” Brown told me. “You can also have reverence and awe for other things—really, anything you put great value on. I think, in conservative-Christian circles, we place a lot of value on the life we’ve known. The earthly life we have known. The American life we’ve known …
  • If we see threats to something we value, we fear—that is, we revere, we hold in inappropriate awe—those who can take it away. That’s Barack Obama. That’s the left.”
  • For white evangelicals, the only thing more galvanizing than perceptions of their idealized nation slipping away was the conviction that their favored political party was unwilling to fight for the country’s survival.
  • “There was this sense that America is under siege, that the barbarians were at the gates,” Brown said. “Then along comes Donald Trump, who says he can make America great again. And for evangelicals, it was time to play for keeps.”
  • The Trump conversion experience—having once been certain of his darkness, suddenly awakening to see his light—is not to be underestimated, especially when it touches people whose lives revolve around notions of transformation.
  • Modern evangelicalism is defined by a certain fatalism about the nation’s character. The result is not merely a willingness to act with desperation and embrace what is wrong; it can be a belief, bordering on a certainty, that what is wrong is actually right.
  • This downward spiral owes principally to two phenomena: the constant stench of scandal, with megachurches and prominent leaders imploding on what seems like a weekly basis; and the growing perception that Christians are embracing extremist views.
  • Tony DeFelice is another new arrival at FloodGate—and another Christian who got tired of his pastor lacking teeth. At his previous church, in the Democratic-leaning Detroit suburb of Plymouth, “they did not speak a single word about politics. Not on a single issue,” he told me. “When we got to FloodGate, it confirmed for us what we’d been missing.”
  • “We didn’t leave the church. The church left us,” Tony told me. “COVID, the whole thing, is the biggest lie perpetrated on humanity that we’re ever going to see in our lifetime. And they fell for it.”
  • Tony and Linda say FloodGate’s style—and Bolin’s fiery messages on topics like vaccines and voter fraud—has changed the way they view their responsibilities as Christians. “This is about good against evil. That’s the world we live in. It’s a spiritual battle, and we are right at the precipice of it,” Tony said.
  • With the country on the brink of defeat at the hands of secularists and liberals, Tony no longer distinguishes between the political and the spiritual. An attack on Donald Trump is an attack on Christians. He believes the 2020 election was stolen as part of a “demonic” plot against Christian America. And he’s confident that righteousness will prevail: States are going to begin decertifying the results of the last election, he says, and Trump will be returned to office.
  • He is just as convinced that Trump won the 2020 election, he said, as he is that Jesus rose from the dead 2,000 years ago.
  • Most evangelicals don’t think of themselves as Locke’s target demographic. The pastor has suggested that autistic children are oppressed by demons. He organized a book-burning event to destroy occult-promoting Harry Potter novels and other books and games. He has called President Biden a “sex-trafficking, demon-possessed mongrel.”
  • Not long ago, Locke was a small-time Tennessee preacher. Then, in 2016, he went viral with a selfie video, shot outside his local Target, skewering the company’s policies on bathrooms and gender identity. The video has collected 18 million views, and it launched Locke as a distinct evangelical brand. He cast himself on social media as a lone voice of courage within Christendom. He aligned himself with figures like Dinesh D’Souza and Charlie Kirk to gain clout as one of the Christian right’s staunchest Trump supporters. All the while, his congregation swelled—moving from their old church building, which seated 250, into a large outdoor tent, then into an even bigger tent, and eventually into the current colossus. The tent holds 3,000 people and would be the envy of Barnum & Bailey.
  • “We are born for such a time as this. God is calling you to do something,” Schneider says. “We have a country to get back. And if that fails, we have a country—yes, I’ll say it—to take back.”
  • “I really don’t. No. Not too much. I don’t,” Bolin says, shaking his head. “Firebrand statements have been part of the pulpit, and part of politics, for as long as we’ve been a nation. And there is a long history of both sides exaggerating—like in a post like that.”
  • How many pastors at smaller right-wing churches—pastors like Bolin—would have felt uneasy sitting inside this tent? The answer, I suspect, is very few. Global Vision and FloodGate may be different in degree, but they are not different in kind.
  • his mission creep inside evangelicalism is why some churches have taken an absolutist approach: no preaching on elections, no sermons about current events.
  • “What’s coming is going to be brutal. There’s no way around that,” Bingham told me. “Churches are breaking apart everywhere. My only hope is that, when the time comes, our people can separate without shattering.”
  • At one point, I show Bolin a Facebook post he wrote months earlier: “I’m still wondering how 154,000,000 votes were counted in a country where there are only 133,000,000 registered voters.” This was written, I tell him, well after the Census Bureau had published data showing that more than 168 million Americans were registered to vote in 2020. A quick Google search would have given Bolin the accurate numbers.
  • “Yeah, that’s one I regret,” he tells me, explaining that he subsequently learned that the numbers he’d posted were incorrect. (The post was still active. Bolin texted me the following day saying he’d deleted it.)
  • Doesn’t he worry that if people see him getting the easy things wrong, they might suspect he’s also getting the hard things wrong? Things like sanctity and salvation?
  • Let’s be clear: Locke belongs to a category of his own. He recently accused multiple women at his church of being witches (his source: a demon he encountered during an exorcism). That makes it easy for evangelicals to dismiss Global Vision as an outlier, the same way they did Westboro Baptist. It’s much harder to scrutinize the extremism that has infiltrated their own church and ponder its logical end point. Ten years ago, Global Vision would have been dismissed as a blip on Christianity’s radar. These days, Locke preaches to 2.2 million Facebook followers and has posed for photos with Franklin Graham at the White House.
  • Bolin says FloodGate and churches like it have grown in direct proportion to how many Christians “felt betrayed by their pastors.” That trend looks to be holding steady. More people will leave churches that refuse to identify with a tribe and will find pastors who confirm their own partisan views. The erosion of confidence in the institution of American Christianity will accelerate. The caricature of evangelicals will get uglier. And the actual work of evangelizing will get much, much harder.
Javier E

The One Parenting Decision That Really Matters - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • Hillary Clinton, then the first lady of the United States, published It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. Clinton’s book—and the proverb the title referenced—argue that children’s lives are shaped by many people in their neighborhood: firefighters and police officers, garbage collectors, teachers and coaches.
  • Dole said, “I am here to tell you: It does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.” The crowd roared.
  • So who was right, Bob Dole or Hillary Clinton?
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  • some neighborhoods produce more successful kids: One in every 864 Baby Boomers born in Washtenaw, Michigan, the county that includes the University of Michigan, did something notable enough to warrant an entry in Wikipedia, while just one in 31,167 kids born in Harlan County, Kentucky, achieved that distinction
  • The results showed that some large metropolitan areas give kids an edge. They get a better education. They earn more money: The best cities can increase a child’s future income by about 12 percent. They found that the five best metropolitan areas are: Seattle; Minneapolis; Salt Lake City; Reading, Pennsylvania; and Madison, Wisconsin.
  • a website, The Opportunity Atlas, that allows anyone to find out how beneficial any neighborhood is expected to be for kids of different income levels, genders, and races.
  • We find that one factor about a home—its location—accounts for a significant fraction of the total effect of that home.
  • I have estimated that some 25 percent—and possibly more—of the overall effects of a parent are driven by where that parent raises their child. In other words, this one parenting decision has much more impact than many thousands of others.
  • Three of the biggest predictors that a neighborhood will increase a child’s success are the percent of households in which there are two parents, the percent of residents who are college graduates, and the percent of residents who return their census forms.
  • These are neighborhoods, in other words, with many role models: adults who are smart, accomplished, engaged in their community, and committed to stable family lives.
  • Data can be liberating. It can’t make decisions for us, but it can tell us which decisions really matter. When it comes to parenting, the data tells us, moms and dads should put more thought into the neighbors they surround their children with—and lighten up about everything else.
Javier E

Opinion | Overturning Roe Is a Radical, Not Conservative, Choice - The New York Times - 0 views

  • What is conservative? It is, above all, the conviction that abrupt and profound changes to established laws and common expectations are utterly destructive to respect for the law and the institutions established to uphold it — especially when those changes are instigated from above, with neither democratic consent nor broad consensus.
  • As conservatives, you are philosophically bound to give considerable weight to judicial precedents, particularly when they have been ratified and refined — as Roe was by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision — over a long period.
  • It’s also a matter of originalism. “To avoid an arbitrary discretion in the courts,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, “it is indispensable that they” — the judges — “should be bound down by strict rules and precedents, which serve to define and point out their duty in every particular case that comes before them.”
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  • the core purpose of the courts isn’t to engage in (unavoidably selective) textual exegetics to arrive at preferred conclusions. It’s to avoid an arbitrary discretion — to resist the temptation to seek to reshape the entire moral landscape of a vast society based on the preferences of two or three people at a single moment.
  • Beware of unintended consequences. Those include the return of the old, often unsafe, illegal abortion (or abortions in Mexico), the entrenchment of pro-choice majorities in blue states and the likely consolidation of pro-choice majorities in many purple states, driven by voters newly anxious over their reproductive rights.
  • In reality, you will be lighting another cultural fire — one that took decades to get under control — in a country already ablaze over racial issues, school curriculums, criminal justice, election laws, sundry conspiracy theories and so on.
  • And what will the effect be on the court itself? Here, again, you may be tempted to think that overturning Roe is an act of judicial modesty that puts abortion disputes in the hands of legislatures. Maybe — after 30 years of division and mayhem.
  • Yet the decision will also discredit the court as a steward of whatever is left of American steadiness and sanity, and as a bulwark against our fast-depleting respect for institutions and tradition.
  • A court that betrays the trust of Americans on an issue that affects so many, so personally, will lose their trust on every other issue as well.
  • The word “conservative” encompasses many ideas and habits, none more important than prudence. Justices: Be prudent.
Javier E

War in Ukraine Has Russia's Putin, Xi Jinping Changing the World Order - Bloomberg - 0 views

  • at the beginning of 2022, many of us shared the assumptions of Keynes’s Londoner. We ordered exotic goods in the confident expectation that Amazon would deliver them to our doors the next day. We invested in emerging-market stocks, purchased Bitcoin, and chatted with people on the other side of the world via Zoom. Many of us dismissed Covid-19 as a temporary suspension of our global lifestyle. Vladimir Putin’s “projects and politics of militarism” seemed like diversions in the loonier regions of the Twittersphere. 
  • just as World War I mattered for reasons beyond the slaughter of millions of human beings, this conflict could mark a lasting change in the way the world economy works — and the way we all live our lives, however far we are from the carnage in Eastern Europe.
  • That doesn’t mean that globalization is an unalloyed good. By its nature, economic liberalism exaggerates the downsides of capitalism as well as the upsides: Inequality increases, companies sever their local roots, losers fall further behind, and — without global regulations — environmental problems multiply
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  • Right now, the outcome that we have been sliding toward seems one in which an autocratic East gradually divides from — and then potentially accelerates past — a democratic but divided West. 
  • Seizing that opportunity will require an understanding of both economics and history.
  • By any economic measure the West is significantly more powerful than the East, using the terms “West” and “East” to mean political alliances rather than just geographical regions. The U.S. and its allies account for 60% of global gross domestic product at current exchange rates; China, Russia and the autocracies amount to barely a third of that. And for the first time in years, the West is coming together rather than falling apart.
  • The question for Biden and the European leaders he will meet this week is simple: What sort of world do they want to build in the future? Ukraine could well mark the end of one great episode in human history. It could also be the time that the free world comes together and creates another, more united, more interconnected and more sustainable one than ever before
  • the answer to globalization’s woes isn’t to abandon economic liberalism, but to redesign it. And the coming weeks offer a golden opportunity to redesign the global economic order.
  • Yet once politicians got out of the way, globalization sped up, driven by technology and commerce.
  • Only after the Second World War did economic integration resume its advance — and then only on the Western half of the map
  • What most of us today think of as globalization only began in the 1980s, with the arrival of Thatcherism and Reaganism, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reintegration of China into the world economy, and, in 1992, the creation of the European single market.
  • When the guns finally fell silent in 1918 and peace was forced on Germany at Versailles (in the Carthaginian terms that Keynes decried so eloquently), the Bidens, Johnsons and Macrons of the time tried to restore the old world order of free trade and liberal harmony — and comprehensively failed. 
  • As the new century dawned and an unknown “pro-Western” bureaucrat called Vladimir Putin came to power in Russia, the daily volume of foreign-exchange transactions reached $15 trillion. 
  • More recently, as the attacks on globalization have mounted, economic integration has slowed and in some cases gone into reverse.
  • Meanwhile in the West, Ukraine has already prompted a great rethink. As German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has proclaimed, we are at a Zeitenwende — a turning point. Under his leadership, pacifist Germany has already proposed a defense budget that’s larger than Russia’s. Meanwhile, Ukrainian immigrants are being welcomed by nations that only a few months ago were shunning foreigners, and, after a decade of slumber in Brussels, the momentum for integration is increasing.
  • But this turning point can still lead in several directions.
  • the invasion of Ukraine is accelerating changes in both geopolitics and the capitalist mindset that are deeply inimical to globalization.
  • The changes in geopolitics come down to one word: China, whose rapid and seemingly inexorable rise is the central geopolitical fact of our time.  
  • absent any decisive action by the West, geopolitics is definitively moving against globalization — toward a world dominated by two or three great trading blocs: an Asian one with China at its heart and perhaps Russia as its energy supplier; an American-led bloc; and perhaps a third centered on the European Union, with the Europeans broadly sympathetic to the U.S. but nervous about the possible return of an America-First isolationist to the White House and irked by America’s approach to digital and media regulation.
  • World trade in manufactured goods doubled in the 1990s and doubled again in the 2000s. Inflationary pressures have been kept low despite loose monetary policies.
  • From a CEO’s viewpoint, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has done more than unleash Western embargoes and boost inflation. It is burying most of the basic assumptions that have underlain business thinking about the world for the past 40 years. 
  • Commercially speaking, this bet paid off spectacularly. Over the past 50 years multinationals have turned themselves from federations of national companies into truly integrated organizations that could take full advantage of global economies of scale and scope (and, of course, global loopholes in taxes and regulations)
  • Just as important as this geopolitical shift is the change in the capitalist mindset. If the current age of globalization was facilitated by politicians, it has been driven by businesspeople. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher didn’t decide that the components of an iPhone should come from 40 countries. Facebook wasn’t created by senior politicians — not even by Al Gore. Uber wasn’t an arm of the Department of Transportation. 
  • profits have remained high, as the cost of inputs (such as energy and labor) have been kept low.
  • Now what might be called the Capitalist Grand Illusion is under assault in Kyiv — just as Norman Angell’s version was machine-gunned on the Western Front.
  • Militarism and cultural rivalries keep trumping economic logic.
  • The second is Biden’s long experience
  • Every Western company is now wondering how exposed it is to political risk. Capitalists are all Huntingtonians now.
  • Greed is also acquiring an anti-global tint. CEOs are rationally asking how they can profit from what Keynes called “monopolies, restrictions and exclusions.
  • So the second age of globalization is fading fast. Unless something is done quickly and decisively, the world will divide into hostile camps, regardless of what happens in Ukraine.
  • this divided world will not suit the West. Look at the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The most trumpeted figure is that only 40 countries did not vote for this (35 abstained, and five voted against it), compared with 141 countries who voted in favor. But those 40 countries, which include India and China, account for the majority of the world’s population.
  • we still have time to shape a very different future: one in which global wealth is increased and the Western alliance bolstered.
  • One of the great problems with modern liberalism for the past few decades has been its lack of a gripping narrative and a compelling cast of heroes and villains
  • Now Putin has inadvertently reversed all that. Freedom is the creed of heroes such as Zelenskiy; anti-liberalism is the creed of monsters who drop bombs on children.
  • Biden can soften that message at home by adding a political dimension to his trade agenda. “Build back better” applies to globalization, too. A global new deal should certainly include a focus on making multinational companies pay their taxes, and the environment should be to the fore. But Biden should also talk about the true cost of protectionism in terms of higher prices, worse products and less innovation.
  • So far, Biden’s handling of the Ukraine invasion has been similarly nuanced. He has drawn a line between supplying the resistance and becoming involved in the war (or giving others an excuse to claim the U.S. is involved). And he has put firm pressure on China to stay out of the conflict.
  • Biden needs to recognize that expanding economic interdependence among his allies is a geostrategic imperative. He should offer Europe a comprehensive free-trade deal to bind the West together
  • It is not difficult to imagine Europe or democratic Asia signing up for these sorts of pacts, given the shock of Putin’s aggression and their fear of China. Biden’s problem is at home. Why should the Democratic left accept this? Because, Biden should say, Ukraine, China and America’s security matter more than union votes.
  • Biden should pursue a two-stage strategy: First, deepen economic integration among like-minded nations; but leave the door open to autocracies if they become more flexible.
  • CEOs who used to build empires based on just-in-time production are now looking at just-in-case: adding inefficient production closer to home in case their foreign plants are cut off.
  • Constructing such a “new world order” will be laborious work. But the alternative is a division of the world into hostile economic and political blocs that comes straight out of the 1930s
  • Biden, Johnson, Scholz and Macron should think hard about how history will judge them. Do they want to be compared to the policymakers in the aftermath of World War I, who stood by impassively as the world fragmented and monsters seized the reins of power? Or would they rather be compared to their peers after World War II, policymakers who built a much more stable and interconnected world?
  • The Western policymakers meeting this week will say they have no intention of closing down the global order. All this economic savagery is to punish Putin’s aggression precisely in order to restore the rules-based system that he is bent on destroying — and with it, the free flow of commerce and finance. In an ideal world, Putin would be toppled — the victim of his own delusions and paranoia — and the Russian people would sweep away the kleptocracy in the Kremlin. 
  • In this optimistic scenario, Putin’s humiliation would do more than bring Russia back to its senses. It would bring the West back as well. The U.S. would abandon its Trumpian isolationism while Europe would start taking its own defense seriously. The culture warriors on both sides of the Atlantic would simmer down, and the woke and unwoke alike would celebrate their collective belief in freedom and democracy.
  • There’s a chance this could happen. Putin wouldn’t be the first czar to fall because of a misjudged and mishandled war.
  • Regardless of whether China’s leader decides to ditch Putin, the invasion has surely sped up Xi’s medium-term imperative of “decoupling” — insulating his country from dependence on the West.
  • For the “wolf pack” of young Chinese nationalists around Xi, the reaction to Ukraine is another powerful argument for self-sufficiency. China’s vast holdings of dollar assets now look like a liability given America’s willingness to confiscate Russia’s assets,
  • Some Americans are equally keen on decoupling, a sentiment that bridged Republicans and Democrats before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • In the great intellectual battle of the 1990s between Francis Fukuyama, who wrote “The End of History and the Last Man” (1992), and his Harvard teacher Samuel Huntington, who wrote “The Clash of Civilizations” (1996), CEOs have generally sided with Fukuyama.
  • Biden needs to go further in the coming weeks. He needs to reinforce the Western alliance so that it can withstand the potential storms to come
  • Keynes, no longer a protectionist, played a leading role in designing the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the infrastructure of the postwar Western order of stable exchange rates. He helped persuade the U.S. to lead the world rather than retreating into itself. He helped create the America of the Marshall Plan. This Bretton Woods settlement created the regime that eventually won the Cold War and laid the foundations for the second age of globalization.
  • At the closing banquet on July 22, the great man was greeted with a standing ovation. Within two years he was dead — but the world that he did so much to create lived on. That world does not need to die in the streets of Kyiv. But it is on course to do so, unless the leaders meeting this week seize the moment to create something better. 
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