By Carlos Alberto Montaner
The current crisis began in an open-air market where live animals were sold, in a remote corner of the world. Covid-19 spread from China’s Wuhan province to the rest of the planet. It seems that it originated from the habit of eating bat soup that the Chinese have, or at least some Chinese.
The New York and London Stock Exchanges plummeted. Cinemas, theaters and concerts around the world were closed. Many shopping centers and restaurants were also closed. Experts announced that unemployment would increase exponentially. In the United States it could reach 20% of the population. Chaos. Armageddon.
The anecdote will result in several million deaths, even more than two million in the United States, according to The Economist magazine. It must end the idiotic debate between “nationalists” and “globalists.”
Nationalism is not only stupid. It is even worse: it is impossible, despite what Brexit supporters say or vote. It is an incontrovertible fact; globalism, that is, the notion that we are all interrelated and must shelter behind supranational institutions, although many of them are frustrating, however perfectible, and we must behave as human beings beyond flags and hymns.
That was the dilemma posed to the United States after the end of World War II – trying to rebuild the planet and help even the defeated countries, or risk another similar conflict as a result of resentment and nationalism, that explosive mixture that had burst only two decades after the end of the First War.
Fortunately, the F. D. Roosevelt and H. Truman tandem was in the White House and they both understood their country’s contemporary history. After Roosevelt died and the war was won, a journalist asked Truman if it made sense to rebuild Germany and the rest of Europe at the cost of $13 billion through the Marshall Plan. “That figure is infinitely less than what the war cost us,” the president replied. He was right.
The idea of “put America (or England, Russia, China or Germany) first” is foolish. It is true that globalism slows down the processes of wealth creation due to the clumsiness of international organizations; and it is no less true that abuses are committed against some key nations such as the United States, but the cost of abandoning the path of solidarity and internationalism is too high to assume.
Globalism arose, in an embryonic way, thousands of years ago, when two people belonging to different tribes established a kind of exchange beyond their respective languages. Those were the remote antecedents of the U.N., the European Union and the fight to mitigate the problems of climate change that are being debated today.
At the end of the 15th century, globalism gained a new momentum with the discovery of the Americas in 1492. The Kingdom of Castile, chance and marriages of convenience within the royalty allowed the arid plateau -- then determined to reconquer the territory that had been taken by the Arabs many centuries before -- to transform into a formidable imperial power that ruled the world for a century with the help of the Church, the Genoese bankers and the trading instruments devised in the Netherlands.
Finally, since the 17th and 18th centuries France and Germany (which became a nation unified by Prussia in the 19th century) picked up the baton, as England unleashed the industrial revolution and rose to the top of the world, spawning in America thirteen colonies that ended up becoming independent and, as they took into account the thought of the Scottish Enlightenment, ended up becoming the most successful republic in history.
None of this would have happened without a globalist mindset. Nationalism must be forgotten. After all, states, as we know them, are only a few hundred years old. Little by little, the planet is unifying in the most successful expressions. Overcoming many obstacles, with ups and downs, representative democracy, the cult of human rights, the market and freedom are gradually prevailing. That is also globalization. Put the planet first.Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is Sin ir más lejos (Memories), published by Debate, a label of Penguin-Random House.