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How Globalism Became Public Enemy Number One For Both Left And Right

Originally Published 4-14-00

New America Media, Commentary, Franz Schurmann Posted: Jan 02, 2007

Until recently, the left saw capitalism as its ideological enemy while for the right it was socialism. Today both left and right see globalism as their main enemy. PNS editor Franz Schurmann argues that there is more to this coming together than semantics. Schurmann is a professor emeritus of history and sociology at UC-Berkeley and author of numerous books on global politics.

First in Seattle and now in Washington, DC, left and right have come together to trash globalism. Strange bedfellows or just bedfellows? An answer can be found by looking at the word globalism. Widely used -ism words give a sense of how public opinion interprets the flows of contemporary history. The wide usage of the word globalism suggests public opinion believes there is a driving force that is replacing the USA with one world.

Both left and right now see globalism as their main enemy. Noam Chomsky freely uses the word as does Pat Buchanan. That means they believe there are powerful forces driving the globalization. Both agree it is the multinational corporations and agencies like the IMF that promote multinationalization.

Not so long ago left and right used very different -ism words to describe their ideological enemies. For the left the main enemy was capitalism and for the right it was socialism. The two were irreconcilable opposites. The root word of capitalism, "capital," meant money to acquire means of production in order to reap a profit. The suffix -ism made it an ideology that operated through free markets.

The left called for an eventual abolition of capitalism and its replacement by socialism. Under socialism strong government representing the working class would bring equality and equity into the country's economic life. The right regarded socialism as an ideology that stunted economic growth. Look at the Soviet Union, they said. It has a strong socialist government but can't feed its own people. Bring freedom and free markets to Russia and soon enough prosperity would arise.

The main ideological code word for the left was class; for the right it was economic freedom. But now with globalism their common foe both code words have been left behind. Left and right agree the multinational corporations that dominate the New World Order undermine the power both of the working class and of God-fearing patriotic citizens. Over the last two decades both left and right have been moving in new ideological and political directions that have narrowed the gap between them. By advocating diversity and multiculturalism, the left has taken over a key concept of the right: identity. Identity implies identity groups. And identity groups are those marked by racial, ethnic and religious differences.

The right has always believed in differences. It rejected the left's contention that regardless of identity differences, in the end we are all human beings. The only differences that remain, the left contended, are those of class. Yet now various right-wing groups have been moving in directions once advocated by the left.

The religious right, which historically was racist and exclusionary, has lately been proselytizing among people of every race, culture and language. For example, people of color from all over the world have been flocking to the Mormon Church which not so long ago had racial restrictions. And for years now, Pat Buchanan has been courting the working class. In Washington the Teamsters are among his most ardent boosters. At the same time the left has been moving towards nationalism. Leftists call for a strong government to not only protect the rights of workers but also protect the environment, advance human rights, and broaden entitlements. Many leftist intellectuals have hoped that one world would break up into three -- Europe, East Asia and America. So much for the great slogan of the Communist Manifesto: "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains."

Besides agreeing on globalism, both left and right agree on two other -ism words now popularized in America: racism and terrorism. Racism began as a left concept. In the 1960s the worst racists were Southern segregationists. The left played a leadership role in the Civil Rights movement. But now just about the entire right -- except for fringe neo-Nazi groups -- accepts the concept of racial equality. Even Bob Jones University had to modify its stubborn racism. So as the left concentrates its oppositional stance on globalist, environmentalist and human rights issues, the right finishes cleaning out the last vestiges of racism in its ranks.

Terrorism, practically speaking, refers mainly to neo-Nazi and Islamic fundamentalist violence. There is little if any sympathy for either on the right and nothing but loathing for both on the left. So globalism remains the one driving issue for both left and right. Buchanan keeps moving towards endangered American workers and the left moves away from its third world affiliations. It is not inconceivable that left and right will, in the coming years, fuse into a single national front in opposition to the globalist establishment that runs the country.

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