Is globalisation working? We live together on a small planet, around 7.9 billion of us, different nationalities, religions & beliefs, but fundamentally, all people, clinging to a rock, spinning through space. It is only natural that we all try to get along, trade together, work together and coexist in harmony.
What happens however when that harmony is brought into question. I am sure that the powers that be, greater minds allegedly than yours and mine truly believe that if we are all interdependent on each other then harmony will be maintained.
As we have seen recently, that isn’t how human beings react. Instead, when one country becomes reliant on another for energy supply, defence, food etc. then that leaves one country at the mercy of another. Blackmail within international politics has become more common place, from France threatening to turn off Jerseys electricity during the post Brexit fishing dispute, to German and Italian reliance on Russian gas.
For a country to be independent & Sovereign, it needs to be able to maintain it’s own essential services. In the UK’s case this means, energy supply and indeed ownership. Since the 1980’s we have privatised our energy providers and infrastructure, we have the Chinese (CGN) & French (EDF) building or running nuclear plants already.
We depend on imported gas instead of pumping our own and fracking the 50+ year supply we have beneath our feet. Not only would fracking cut our gas cost from $25 per million thermal units to $5 which is how much gas costs in the US currently (march 2022).
Is it sensible to hope that our international suppliers will continue to behave reasonably, or should we build in a level of resilience?
Following 70 years of peace in Europe, we may have been lulled into a false sense of security. Maybe it would make sense to be self reliant for the essentials that we depend upon as a nation.
Let’s assume that we end up in a protracted war with a foreign power. Would we just seize back the assets we have sold off to the highest bidder? Where would that leave us going forwards?
In the same way that we can only use our fighter jets if the US give us permission, we are in hoc to many different countries for many different semi critical materials and supplies.
It turns out that globalisation is not a guarantee of peace. The only loser when Russia closes down Nordstream1 will be German and Italian people who won’t have any gas.
Here in the UK we were on the verge of offshoring ownership and control of our 5G communications network to the Chinese. This has allegedly been stopped but who really knows if that is the case or not? Imagine selling off the control of our main communications network. The network on which our economy is built?
I would have classed that as essential infrastructure that should at very least be owned by a British company, if not the Government. (although of course we do want it to work so Government ownership is probably not the best idea!).
In these interesting times it’s never been more important to stay connected with each other.
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Globalisation is Great Until it goes Wrong
Here in the UK we rely upon China for much of our goods. Over the last 30 years or so we have exported our emissions quite successfully, moving all that smog, smoke and pollution away from a heavily regulated country to one that doesn’t care so much about emissions, pollution or the environment. How clever are we?
While we sit here, all smug and happy about reducing our emissions in the UK by over 40% since 1990, we haven’t reduced global emissions by anything. It is all virtue signalling self indulgence. Utter nonsense.
In return we are rewarded with cheap clothing, goods and technology, but don’t dig too deep into the carbon footprint of those goods! Or expect prices to stay low forever.
Imagine now, a time in the future when let’s say Russia continue their land grab beyond Ukraine. At that point, Nato will be forced to step in. You would also expect that Russia isn’t grabbing that land in order to end life as we know it.
Despite their nuclear threatening, it is highly unlikely that their landgrab is designed purely to bring forward the end of civilisation. It is more likely that they would want to stick around to enjoy their new lands, which means that they wouldn’t choose the nuclear option.
Russia has friends around the world that side with them, China for example being the main one. If China were to cut us off from supply then it would destroy our economy overnight.
We are far more vulnerable that you might think, because of globalisation.
If we ever find ourselves on a war footing again, we will be in serious trouble in the short term. This vulnerability leaves us vulnerable to our suppliers needs and desires, it makes us weaker as a country.
We have chased lower and lower prices for years as a way to prop up an unsustainable economic model. Eventually there will be nowhere else to go to achieve cheaper prices. It is the result of short term planning, by successive short term UK Governments.
We need a steel industry, we need to own our own key infrastructure, energy supply, communications etc.
We need a Government to think in the long term, to think further than the next election.
It turns out that Globalisation isn’t perfect, far from it. It is fraught with pitfalls and hazards. An over reliance on any one country for any commodity creates an unnecessary vulnerability.
If our nearest neighbour France can attempt to use energy to blackmail our Government then surely there is little hope for less stable or more ambitious countries?