For years I’ve been mildly fascinated by Switzerland. In the US we mostly know it for a variety of banking scandals, but there’s a lot more going on there. It’s been independent for centuries, and is famous for being a very well run and boring place. I believe there is a lot in the model to admire. From the direct democracy, to the lack of personality driven politics, to the emphasis on the local, there’s a lot that I’d like to see more of in the United States.
Today I was lucky enough to chat with Quentin Adler, a Swiss attorney and political activist, about the Swiss system, its many benefits and few drawbacks. Quentin is the president of Service Citoyen, an association focused on reforming the Swiss obligation to serve the country. I learned a lot from our conversation, and I hope you do too.
Everybody loves Silicon Valley. I do too! They are building the future etc. etc. But when we set out to build a constituency for Globalism they present a real challenge. Disrupting things is nice, but if this past election taught us anything it’s that people are feeling just a bit too disrupted. A populace that is losing economic ground to a changing economy isn’t going to get excited about Amazon or Facebook’s commandeering of larger and larger slices of the economy.
We talk a lot about bubbles when it comes to politics. But they apply to economics too. If you’ve got a college education and a great job, it’s likely that you and your friends delight in the ease and convenience of every new service and app. Many outside of privileged circles do as well. But they’re just as likely to feel left out as their prospects steadily fade in the new economy.
People should be working to build the future. And not just to make money off of it. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took a crack at it recently. His manifesto has some interesting ideas, but it was disconcerting how closely it aligns what is good for the world with what is good for Facebook. We need to build a better, safer, more free world. Silicon valley is vital, but the Globalist effort can’t be left to Tech Utopians looking to make a buck. All we’ll find in that direction is dystopia and more electoral disaster…
I’m honestly not sure how serious I am about this one. But I am sure that our current party system is broken. The Republicans and Democrats simply don’t represent the true tensions of 21st century living. I’d like to use the discussion of Globalism to pick apart what parties that actually represented opposite sides of a discussion might look like.
“Globalist” as it stands now is mostly a term of abuse. It’s a catch all term used to describe the “transnational elites”, and depending on the flavor of conspiracy you prefer it can refer to the UN, the Elders of Zion, or telekinetic space lizards. The only people who take the term seriously are nuts. I think that’s a missed opportunity. In fact, “Globalist” is a neat way to describe one of the positions on the most important question posed by globalization: How do we strike the right balance between sovereignty and connection?
To what extent should each country cooperate with other countries? Where should the lines be drawn? What is international law? Where does each country draw the line? These questions are fascinating. On many issues I think Sovereignty should be respected more. But I also know that a country has to make allowances to international consensus if it wants to compete in the 21st century.
I can’t claim to have the answers here. I’ve got some thoughts. But we don’t discuss this stuff enough. The decisions just seem to get made, while the two major parties run around arguing about guns, abortion, and the methods we should use to bomb other countries into the stone age. The important conversations on globalization and sovereignty get left to cranks like Alex Jones. That’s too bad. The current plight of the EU should be a cautionary tale. For too long the folks in charge assumed that they could just get on with European integration, without really making the case for it. Well there are new folks in charge in the UK now… We can’t afford to leave this discussion to the nationalists and the cranks. With this series I hope to elevate the discussion a bit.