I’ve been reading a lot about globalization lately. Friedman’s World is Flat. Scheve and Slaughter’s New Deal for Globalization. Haass’ Age of Non-polarity. Diamond’s Democratic Rollback: The Resurgence of the Predatory State. And Mandelbaum’s Democracy Without America. All have been interesting. All have done well to paint a picture of an America that is declining, if not in absolute power (denoted, crudely, by the volume of guns, money, and ideas that a society has), then certainly in influence. A picture of an international system set up, by, and for America and her co-travellers that is in jeopardy. A mental image of how the technology of democracy…thought by some Neo-Kantian theorists like Fukuyama and Friedman to be the magic bullet that brings peace and prosperity to the whole world, if the unwashed would just accept it…is stopped in its tracks, and in some places is being rolled back in favor of less disorganized and more coherent (and authoritarian) political systems. And a picture about how international upstarts are gaining in a world that is most certainly not going to be unipolar or mutli-polar but apolar, at least for the short run. What will the world look like when the American Empire, must like the Athenian or Roman empires that preceded it, collapses under the weight of the infrastructure needed to keep it all together, and multiple competitors emerge each with their own ideas of what the new world order should look like? More pertinently for many of my readers, what will such a world look like for us as mortal, solidly beta guys?
One feature of the new world we are entering is that the heyday of our fathers, that featured good-paying jobs for (comparatively) not much labor and fat defined-benefit pensions, is no more. The last gasp of that old-school system died when GM, the daddy rabbit of big-name industrial behemoths that, in its later years, was derided as a health care company that made cars, was finally nationalized earlier this year. The IT revolution that ushered in this economic transformation that killed GM and Chrysler and scores of other staid, lumbering American industries, has accelerated to breakneck pace now that the relatively closed economic systems that characterized the post WWII era and much of the Cold War era have opened up to market competition. As a result, the high standards of living enjoyed by Americans, by virtue of their status of being the only survivor of a worldwide Thunderdome deathmatch in the 1940s and consequent exporter to the world, have been arbitraged away to places like China and India, which are full of 3 billion educated workers hungry for a bite of the good life. Friedman documents this process well…for as long as protectionism is out of style, the best American workers, mostly men, must compete head-to-head in Drucker’s knowledge economy with the best that Brazil, Russia, India, and China have to offer, to say nothing of lesser economic powers who will each claim their own pounds of flesh: Israelis, Irish, Finns, Estonians, and Singaporeans.
The result of such a competition will be rude and uncomfortable for many, I think. Perhaps not in this corner of the blogosphere, which allegedly boasts much higher than average IQs, but our less gifted brothers across the country will fail to reap their proportional share of the wealth as more talented Jews, Northeast Asians, and Nordic whites occupy the highest rungs of the social ladder, condemning a majority of NAMs to lower economic strata. Scheve and Slaughter in their article document rising income inequality in the country, something that I think is an excellent symptom of this globalization process that snuck up on us all while our country was sleeping. As the reader can see from the graph drawn from the Scheve article, incomes have only risen for the top few percent of the population, while those who have foolishly bought into the education industry’s marketing pitch have suffered from the double-whammy of falling incomes and heavy student debt. Interestingly, those that didn’t attend college at all have not seen their incomes fall, which suggests that non-portable service jobs which do not have high barriers to entry (i.e. marginally useful yet expensive sheepskins) such as plumbers and automotive technicians have remained steady. If those people kept their financial portfolios clear of debt from unnecessary consumption, they probably do okay. HS dropouts, of course, fall in the bottom of the pile, forced as they are to compete with Pedro for stoop labor jobs in places like the Imperial Valley or in the meat-packing plants of Colorado, Iowa, or Nebraska.
Speaking of Pedro, one thing I noted is that the majority of the pro-globalization, free marketeer literature features a blithe promotion of open borders. While those folks probably have the free movement of labor across borders in mind when they promote this concept, I suspect they don’t think much about what happens when third world laborers come to the US and stay, the social costs they incur (welfare, ER visits, crime, food stamps), the wage scales they lower, and the not insignificant adverse cultural impacts that is inevitable when mass migrations of aliens are injected into a host culture. If they had paid some heed to this issue, they may rethink their support, as this diversity of cultures reduces social cohesion, which then undermines the civic institutions that authors such as Mandelbaum cite as vital to the creation and sustainment of a free society (the thinking being that the government can’t be everywhere, and the government that tried to be everywhere–as would be the case when parallel civic institutions are ineffective or nonexistent–would erode freedom indeed). In other words, their support of open borders undermines the very economy that they are trying to “help” with an open borders policy. Therefore the debate really isn’t economics vs. security, as Scheve and Slaughter derisively dismissed critics of globalization’s impact on homeland security. No, it’s security and governance first, upon which all else rests, as Diamond pointed out.
Another men-impacting feature of globalization to consider is that globalization tends to benefit alphas and other apex-dwellers the most, while leaving betas and other lesser classes of men behind. We can see this phenomenon by noting who globalization selects to reward with the best incomes. It grants money and wealth to those who, in the global marketplace, add the most to the value chain of their corner of the knowledge economy, commensurate with their contribution.* Those who cannot or do not contribute to the knowledge economy on par with their peers are pushed lower on the pay scale, maybe even banished from the knowledge sector entirely. Manufacturing, according to Drucker, will eventually be nearly entirely performed overseas and, according to Friedman, will shrink radically as capital replaces labor and labor becomes more and more productive, meaning progressively less and less of it is needed. Those displaced by the shift away from manufacturing, or those who note the complexion of the knowledge-service divide, will likely be quite unhappy about their newfound lower standard of living and drop on the social scale. This will have the effect of exacerbating the already marked income inequality that Drucker warned us about, which I contend will inevitably lead to calls (such as that made by Scheve and Slaughter) for more progressive taxation policies and forced income redistribution to balance the condition of the haves to the have-nots. (Given how some of the rich are fleeing New York and other high tax places, somehow I don’t think that such a strategy will work.) The end result of all this displacement is that many traditionally “male” jobs will disappear, the good jobs somewhat predominantly occupied by alpha men, and the really good jobs occupied nearly exclusively by alpha men. The rest of the men, and nearly all the women, will sell their labor for cash in the service sector.
Demographically, the haves and have nots will tend to split along class lines, which is to say that they’ll tend to split along racial lines (and to a lesser extent, sex lines, but more on the gender factor later). The resulting black/brown vs. white social instability will be a terribly difficult problem for the government to handle, for in a global economy, American industries can ill afford the parasite drag from inefficiencies induced by government-sponsored anti-white, anti-Asian racism. They simply cannot afford, in the pure meritocracy that is a free market, such social overhead, in addition to the other onerous social burdens that government is wont to place upon companies. Companies will try to for a time, but the inevitable result is that many of those companies will eventually move offshore to places that do not require such burdensome practices. I don’t know how this will play out, but I do not think that the eloi will be tolerated well by the descamisado morlock underclass they dominate, not when obvious racial and ethnic differences only serve to accentuate and sharpen the envy and covetousness of those less wealthy than they.
Women, for their part, will benefit disproportionately in the globalized economy by the confluence of two phenomena: the glass floor, through which women rarely fall to the basement, and a gynocentric society optimized for females at the expense of males. One consequence of said gynocentrism is to retard academic development for men, which will artificially depress their ability to compete in the globalized economy with foreign men or women. Another consequence, alluded to earlier, is government-sponsored sexism that artificially infuses the labor market with underqualified women who displace better-qualified men for coveted high-paying jobs. That said, while their participation in the upper strata of society is unnaturally skewed upward, a larger proportion of women, compared to men, will occupy the service sector. But here’s where things get interesting. The present dating market is optimized for the pleasure of hypergamous many-to-one women and for promiscuous one-to-many men. The trend of globalization will tend to reinforce this primitive social ecology to the detriment of beta men, producing steadily more disaffected and disinvested men who will feel, not without some justification, that the blessings of the globalized economy have passed them by. Unfortunately, the one institution that would go a long way toward alleviating their condition, enduring marriage and family, is completely off the scope of all of the writers I’ve read thus far. While a few, notably Haass, warn of the hazards that unintegrated, alienated men and women pose to the stability of a society, all overlook the family, the fundamental building block of a free society, the pre-eminent and first-order civic institution and “counterweight to the machinery of government” that Diamond and Mandelbaum emphasize so much.
When all these factors are taken into consideration, the future for non-apex men looks rather bleak indeed.
Stay tuned for the next installment: A Couple Reasons for Optimism and A Conclusion.
* Now I’m not talking about the money-changers or the parasitic executive class. When I’m talking about workers, I’m referring to those who exchange value for value, who trade an honest day’s labor for an honest day’s pay.