According to wikipedia, Globalisation is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture. However, over the last ten years there has been a sea change decline in all the indicators that would measure the success of this model. Democracy, economic growth, freedom and an interchange of world views and culture has all but been abandoned to a vice like grip of globalisation driven more by the corporate principles of power and greed resulting in war, terrorism, a biblical refugee crisis, fear and a fully co-opted media.
The Economist has just published its annual index on democracy. They found that out of 167 countries, only twenty are “full democracies”. Less than 13 per cent of the world’s countries can now claim to be a democracy. Given that America has graciously forced so much democracy on the world, one could be forgiven for thinking all is not well.
In the meantime, Freedom House have published their annual Freedom Index that makes for just as sobering reading. It found that the number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year, 72 to be precise, was the largest since the 10-year slide began. Over the past 10 years, 105 countries have seen a net decline. Think about that fact for a moment.
Unsurprisingly, ratings for the Middle East and North Africa region were the worst in the world during the course of 2015, followed closely by Eurasia. It also found that over the last decade, the most significant global reversals have been in the rule of law.
Not to be outdone, the World Press Freedom Index published recently found that most of the movement in the world press was indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests. The Index asserts that leaders across the world are now paranoid about journalists. And they don’t just mean the dictators and despots of countries many people have never heard of.
To make matters worse, the UNHCR Global Trends report finds 65.3 million people, or one person in 113, were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution during last year alone. There are now more people displaced from their homes by force than there was from the last cataclysmic episode in human history than at the end of the second world war.
The UNHCR report also finds that the wave of global displacements is now four times greater than it was just ten years ago.
In an environment or war and fear other distasteful acts of human depravity unfolds. The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are now subject to some form of modern slavery in the world today. This number is greater than at any time in history, let alone the last decade.
There are now many more slaves in the world than at the height of the slave trade in the 1800’s. Back then, the world only required eleven million slaves, today it’s over four times that number. Those countries with the highest absolute numbers of people in modern slavery are India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Uzbekistan. It should not be forgotten that these countries provide the low-cost labour that produces consumer goods for markets in Western Europe, Japan and North America.
Emergent in this new global climate are rival factions, belligerents, radical groups, extremists and governments behaving in an extreme fashion who are often highly adept at their own terror strategies. Amongst all this, innocent people are trapped in their millions.
Last year the Global Terrorism Index reported that “in 2014 the total number of deaths from terrorism increased by 80 per cent when compared to the prior year. This is the largest yearly increase in the last 15 years. In fact, since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been over a nine-fold increase in the number of deaths from terrorism, rising from 3,329 in 2000 to 32,685. Terrorism is spreading to more countries, with the number of countries experiencing more than 500 deaths increasing 120 per cent from the previous year with a 172 per cent increase in the deaths of private citizens.” The 2016 report will surely make depressing reading.
Across the West we are seeing counter-espionage and counter-terrorist measures being misused in the guise of security. Laws are being passed year after year allowing mass surveillance, previously considered illegal until Edward Snowden blew the whistle on this shadowy world. Civil liberties and civil rights are being dismantled all over the globe. In Britain, the most surveilled country in the world, the government even wants to discard the Human Rights Act.
Conflicts of interest have massively increased in the last decade. The West is now experiencing the vice like grip of increasing corporate power in the shape of trade agreements such as TTIP, TPP and CETA which have little to do with free trade and much more to do with profit leading to widespread corruption. Just 147 transnationals out of a total of 43,000 corporations operating worldwide now controls an eye-watering 40 per cent of global trade. In America, just ten companies controls almost all manufactured food.
Transnational organisations, huge as they are, employ less than 20 million people worldwide, less than one half of one per cent of the world population, whilst 1.8 billion adults remain unemployed.
Even the United Nations has been highjacked by a slow motion corporate coup d’tat that over the last ten years has seen the needs of people replaced by the demands of corporations.
The Panama Papers, Swiss leaks and Lux leaks have all combined to graphically demonstrate that what we have now is nothing more than anarchy by the rich and powerful. Social democracy is being dismembered by a surge of austerity where corporate power is usurping political power as revolving doors and lucrative contracts bribe politicians. At the same time we see unimaginable wealth being hidden in tax havens that is literally starving entire nations and depriving people of basics. It is estimated that well over $30 trillion of illegal cash is hidden from tax authorities, mostly by corporations who do not wish to contribute to the societies that raise, educate and provide healthcare for their own workers.
Authorities have tightened their grip on state media and in many cases privately-owned networks have swallowed up so much competition that they now drive national narratives, mainly for corporate interests. In the last ten years there has been a significant decline in media competition. Just one company, Google has an unassailable grip on what we see and hear. Combined with Facebook, we are now hearing of scientific evidence that these huge corporations can determine the outcome of elections. Governments are now fearful of their ability to silently swing opinion, hence both enjoy very low taxes and any form of real governance as their reward.
The world is being battered by wave after wave of crisis that has taken the form of aggression and fear resulting in a battle of states and corporations dependent on the acquisition and sale of natural resources. The principle of globalisation is now a win-at-all-costs scenario. This is globalisation at its shiniest.
The result of the sheer scale of conflict of interest, a piratical banking system, a fully controlled media and the creeping colonisation of nations by corporate domination is that over 70 per cent of the entire adult population of continental Europe now believes corruption by their government is endemic not just to their own country but that of the entire European Union.
And yet, one index, largely ignored by the global establishment press in this context is the Happy Planet Index. The HPI is the leading measure of sustainable wellbeing. It combines four elements – wellbeing, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological footprint. It aims to show how efficiently residents of different countries are using environmental resources to lead long, happy lives.
No G8 country appears in the top 30. The UK ranks 34th but it still comes out ahead of France (44th) and Germany (49th). For all of its grand-standing of exceptionalism and global lecturing, America limps in at a thoroughly miserable 108th.
The overall results highlight success stories in Latin America and Asia Pacific, where residents enjoy relatively high and equally distributed life expectancy and wellbeing, while leaving a smaller ecological footprint than other more advanced economies.
It might surprise you to now that the tiny tropical nation of Costa Rica made it to the number one position – for the third time in a row.
In Costa Rica, people are living longer, and are more satisfied with life than people living in all western societies. What really sets the country apart is that it has managed to combine long, happy lives with an environmental impact that’s little more than one third (per capita) of the USA’s.
You might ask how it has achieved such wellbeing. For a start, it abolished its army in 1949. Costa Rica then reallocated its entire defence budget to funding better quality education, health and pensions. In Britain, that would equate to about £55 billion every year, in the USA about $600 billion.
There has been a culture of forming solid social networks of friends, families and neighbourhoods and this has proved to be an invaluable factor contributing to Costa Rican’s high levels of overall wellbeing.
Costa Rica also stands out as a world leader when it comes to environmental protection. It has just managed to achieve over 95% of electricity from renewable sources and the government is way ahead of all other wealthier nations, having committed the country to becoming completely carbon neutral by 2021.
For so-called world leaders, surely, here lies a model that requires little explanation of a route to success whilst proving what a total disaster globalisation has been to billions of people across the world so far.