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Hazel Henderson's blog

New Globalization Trends: Nativist Patriotism v. Green Glocalization

The 2016 US election and similar trends in Europe all exhibited revolts against global corporate and financial dominance. In the US, Trump supporters, Tea Party members, Occupy Wall Street, Bernie Sanders supporters all targeted the unfairness the of elite Davos-Wall Street-London model of globalization. Many of the hand-lettered signs across this spectrum: "Where's My Bailout?", "No Corporate Trade Deals"; "Power to People" expressed the underlying outrage. As Trump and Sanders picked up these signals from across the spectrum, the grandees of both Republican and Democrat parties seemed tone deaf—still offering top-down approaches and think tank remedies from their traditional left and right ideologies.

Nativist Patriotism: This movement relied on nostalgia for the 19th century industrial revolution, the halcyon 1950’s and a simpler society. Trump galvanized the votes of those in pain in rural and rust-belt states, suffering what I described as Jobless Economic Growth "Building A Win-Win World".

In 2016, the millions of workers who lost their jobs when manufacturers migrated to Mexico and China became visible. The textbook model of globalization encouraged corporations to offshore.

Economists clung to their "free trade is a win-win" orthodoxy while inadequate re-training programs failed to address jobless manufacturing workers with viable alternatives. The ideology of economic fundamentalism went global in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher promoting deregulation of capital flows, free trade and privatization. Its metrics were taught in macroeconomics, based on currencies, cash flows and GDP. Money measures trumped all other values. Nature’s assets and humans were resources in the race for economic growth. GDP had no asset side in its cash flow accounting, so taxpayers’ investments in education, schools, infrastructure, scientific research and public goods were counted only as "debt" and "consumption".

Capital was freed from national borders while people still needed passports and visas. Environmentalists, humanists, educators and businesspeople joined with labor unions in asserting other traditional values at the Battle of Seattle against the WTO in 1999. But "Davos Man", the global casino of stock markets, the rule of money and free trade dominated, typified by President George H.W. Bush’s famous view that it didn’t matter if the USA made potato chips or computer chips!

‘Economism’, as I called this reigning ideology promoted by the economics profession, acted like a knife, cleaving nations into “rust belts" and their "losers" or Wall Street, corporate and knowledge "winners". The financial meltdown of 2008 and the bailouts of banks and financiers led to the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy movements and Breitbart, auguring the political revolts of 2016 and 2017.

Green Glocalization: Bernie Sanders and the Green Party gathered support of the 99% identified as victimized by corporate control of finance, and healthcare. They shared visions of alternatives: clean green energy, healthy food, communities, affordable education and smart cities, public transport, small enterprises, local decentralized power and fair not "free" trade. This "small is beautiful" vision was not based on nationalism but on global grassroots activism, linked on social media, supportive of the 2015 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, and COP21 climate agreements focused on creating low carbon and more inclusive economies.

This Green-Glocalization movement was harder to describe----a holistic multi-faceted vision of social transformation. It involved a paradigm shift across all sectors and demographics-which could not be reduced to a bumper sticker. These new trends cut across old political labels and boundaries. Such social shifts, based in deep structural changes in technologies, demographics and geopolitics are too complex for electoral politics. They became simplified in the distorted politics of scapegoating and stoking of deep fears, ancient conflicts and current resentments. Current brain science and behavioral psychology identifies human cognitive biases: tribalism, short-termism and vulnerability to advertising and political manipulation---breaking down trust in current institutions and leadership.

The next four years will determine whether the electoral politics of 2016 will continue dividing people and Congress along obsolete party lines under the "Nativist-Nationalist" agenda. This, paradoxically will try reviving 19th century fossilized sectors, and the special interests of big oil, big pharma, big agriculture and declining 20th century corporations, as described in The Economist, "In Retreat" (Jan. 28- Feb. 3). Yet, broad trans partisan coalitions exist, evident in the movement to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision that worsened the rule of money in elections. Can this deeper history of the 21st century re-unite our communities in a healing politics beyond money measures and GDP-growth, toward our shared deeper human values? Despite global big oil's efforts, the global green transition is on track and is creating opportunities for new coalitions as described by Clint Wilder of Clean Edge: The six states getting the highest percentage of clean electricity are red states, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Idaho. Texas, home of new Energy Secretary Rick Perry is leading the USA in wind power. Democrats can also help steer an infrastructure bill as I describe in "Greening Trump's Infrastructure Plan".

The electoral majority who did not vote for Trump can find a common ground for green decentralized economy, along with entrepreneurs and sustainable small businesses beyond corporate and financial goals of GDP. Today's global paradigm shift is broad and deep as I describe in "Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age (2014) Ethical Markets continue tracking this in private investments worldwide since 2007 in our Green Transition Scoreboard® currently at a cumulative $7.1 trillion. Responsible businesses need to coalesce around these more positive trends and showcase their own companies in this picture of a future with more jobs in these growth sectors.

Today there is much evidence corroborating our view that this green transition is now inevitable-the next stage in humanity's technological evolution. You might wish to read the following:

Hazel Henderson is CEO of Ethical Markets Media Certified B Corporation and Media Partner member of ASBC.

Want to Address Climate Change? We Need New Economic Models!

Robert Pollin, author of Greening the Global Economy and Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress, author of Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, are both influential in the USA but little known to global audiences.  Both argue that climate change generated by the burning of fossil fuels and other unsustainable human activities can best be addressed by more efficient use of all resources and an accelerated shift to renewable energy: solar, wind driven by the Sun, hydro and geothermal from within the Earth.

Joseph Romm reaches his conclusion as a physicist with deep scientific research and policy experience.  Robert Pollin reaches the same conclusions as an academic economist turned renewable energy entrepreneur and investor.  I and our researchers at Ethical Markets Media reached similar conclusions a decade earlier, based on my experience as a science policy wonk for the US Office of Technology Assessment (OTA); the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Engineering Policy  from1974 until 1980. My book, The Politics of the Solar Age (Doubleday, 1981) reviewed in the New York Times talked about a more sustainable energy path.

So, how then did it take 30 years to reach the new consensus in 2015 with the UN’s adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the December, Paris Outcome, signed by 195 nations at COP21?  This consensus comprises limiting CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out subsidies to fossil fuels (estimated by the IMF at $2.5 trillion annually) and shifting their economies to renewable energy and efficiency.  My answer to this question is my paper The Politics of the Solar Age 1975-2015 published simultaneously by Cadmus, the Journal of the World Academy of Art and Science and Sage’s World Future Review. 

Pollin and Romm recently addressed these issues before a C-Span audience in Washington D.C.  Romm saw the 30 years of denial of the mounting scientific evidence as a profoundly moral and ethical issue.  We are now aware that this denial was driven by the interests and global influence of the global fossil fuel apparatus underlying the 300-year evolution of the Industrial Revolution.  Most of the subsidies to fossilized sectors were put in place by compliant politicians and bureaucrats in many countries and continually renewed by generous financing of elections.  This led to Republicans shutting down the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in 1996.

Pollin and Romm explain how shifting to cleaner, greener, healthier and more efficient societies now mandated by the 2015 SDGs and COP21 agreements, represents a massive economic and financial opportunity, as well as an epochal cultural transformation. Why it took humans so long to recognize the need for changing course requires a deeper examination of the politics of knowledge, epistemology and the limitations of human cognition.  Brain and behavioral scientists are helping us understand ourselves, beyond our assumptions of instrumental rationality and belief in GDP-measured economic progress.  Author Pollin is one of a handful of pioneer economists facing up to the myopic inadequacy of most economics textbooks and leads the innovative Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  He still shies away from economic theory’s cardinal sin which sanctions the wholesale “externalizing” of costs from the balance sheets of companies and government accounts.  This battle between economists and physicists, as well as all life scientists is still to be won.  UN estimates by Britain’s Carbon Tracker conclude that these externalized costs of our economic activities amount to $6 trillion annually and by many other estimates few companies in the world could show a profit if such costs were fully internalized on their accounts.

So we humans are now faced with our past mistakes and our current economic paradigm still focused on narrow accounting of financial flows.  This impedes our progress and the massive shift needed from fossilized sectors and assets to the cleaner, greener, healthier knowledge-richer economies as we evolve into the next Solar Age.  This shift is still seen as a cost in conventional economics.  Yet, accounting for the avoided costs and co-benefits in better health show a huge opportunity in shifting to efficient societies based on the Sun’s daily shower of free photons.  Green economies will provide healthier jobs and lifestyles for both industrialized societies and all those in developing countries.  These millions left behind in poverty can leapfrog its technological mis-steps and proceed directly to prosperity in the Solar Age.

Beyond reforming economics and moving toward interdisciplinary systems and Earth Systems Science is the urgent need to reform finance, including ending subsidies of fossil fuels.  This is the primary mission of Ethical Markets Media, Certified B Corporation and our suite of intellectual products, research, books, articles, radio and TV series “Transforming Finance”.  Our standard-setting for reforming finance, economics, markets and metrics include the Green Transition Scoreboard®,  Ethical Biomimicry Finance, the EthicMark® Awards, the Ethical Money Directory, the Ethical Markets Quality of Life Indicators and EthicMark® GEMS.

A deeper dive into the politics of money-creation and credit-allocation is now essential.  For example, quantitative easing could move from bailing out past errors and propping up too-big-to-fail banks and instead finance new green infrastructure and help scale efficient renewable energy.  Author Pollin is knowledgeable on these issues and the need for monetary reform as in his interview in our “The Money Fix” TV.  Author Romm echoes the century-old critique of economics by Nobelist Frederick Soddy who explained why economists models were deficient: their factors of production: land, labor and capital were all based on energy and the laws of thermodynamics and that planet Earth is powered by the Sun, as I have emphasized to our ASBC colleagues in our workshop on “externalities” and promoting full-spectrum accounting.

These two books provide a useful roadmap for ASBC members to the accelerating growth of low-carbon, renewable energy, storage and efficiency sectors. still blind conventional markets to these new realities. 

Hazel Henderson is an economist and Founder of Ethical Markets Media (an ASBC member).