X Close

Crisis is the new normal The Left's embrace of globalism has left Britain on life support

it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism (NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism (NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)


October 18, 2021   6 mins

Has any major political movement been as thoroughly expunged from popular memory as the anti-globalisation movement? Two decades ago, the dominant opinion on the Left was that globalisation was a destructive and exploitative innovation of international capitalism to be fought. In Seattle in 1999, and in Genoa in 2001, thousands of protestors from across the world gathered to protest against the signing of the transnational trade treaties that accelerated the spread of globalisation, cheered on by the organs of Left opinion.

A BBC article from 2001 notes that opponents of globalisation believe “it leads to exploitation of the world’s poor, workers, and the environment; “makes it easier for rich companies to act with less accountability: and “that countries’ individual cultures are becoming overpowered by Americanisation.” On the other hand, “those in favour of globalisation claim it “should make everyone richer… [while] trade links can encourage countries to respect human rights”.

Twenty years on, it is clear that the opponents of globalisation were entirely correct, and the supporters were utterly wrong. And yet, their brains broken by Brexit, Britain’s liberal commentariat continue to advocate globalised food supply chains purely as a result of Remainer tribalism.

The BBC’s neutral tone at the turn of the millennium is almost unimaginable in today’s hysterical discourse, where opposition to globalisation has been re-coded as a political signifier, entirely randomly, from a reasoned Left-wing argument to an irrational prejudice of reactionary and probably racist deplorables. Likewise, the Left has seemingly abandoned its commitment to localisation and the preservation of unionised, national labour in favour of cosmopolitan dreams of unfettered globalisation.

In Britain this bizarre polar inversion is manifest in the political discourse over the current supply chain crisis. The fundamental problem causing empty shelves in Britain today is not Brexit itself, but the over-complexity of supply chains maximised for efficiency in good times, but which are dangerously fragile whenever the system meets a shock. By over attenuating supply chains on a global scale, and centralising food production for the benefit of the supermarkets, the system was unable to cope with the pandemic’s cascading aftershocks, from energy crises to labour shortages, still working themselves through the global economy. 

This is a global supply chain crisis caused by a worldwide slow-motion, but accelerating collapse of globalisation. As the American economist Matt Stoller underlines, globalisation “has left us uniquely unprepared to manage a supply shock. Our hyper-efficient globalized supply chain, once romanticized by men like Tom Friedman in The World Is Flat, is the problem. Like the financial system before the 2008 crash, this kind of economic order hides its fragility. It seems to work quite well, until it doesn’t.” Now, we’re beginning to see what it looks like when it doesn’t. 

Take meat processing as an example. For decades, in search of efficiency, supermarkets have centralised the processing of meat in gigantic mega-abattoirs, forcing small regional abattoirs to close and crowding out local farmers. The working environment in these places is so appalling and exploitative, and the pay so low, that they can only be staffed by immigrants from poorer regions of the world. As a result, more than two thirds of Britain’s meat processing labour force is made up of migrants, making the nation’s food supply dependent on the free flow of foreign labour, and on the nationwide distribution of live animals and processed meat to a tiny number of centralised hubs.

This is an entirely unsustainable as well as immoral state of affairs. As the commentator Richard North, an expert on the meat industry, observes, the number of abattoirs in Britain has shrunk “from 3,326 units in the 1960s to a mere 156 in 2020”, with the result that “the meat industry structure in the UK is already so concentrated as to be unsustainable”. As soon as the system meets a shock, as it has now, it is unable to cope..

Yet even before the current shock, the centralisation of meat production was eroding the resilience of Britain’s food supply. In 2018, 34 separate organisations, from the National Trust to the Women’s Institute and the RSPCA, lobbied the Government to halt the collapse of Britain’s network of small regional abattoirs, “a huge national asset” closing “at an alarming rate”. As Christopher Price of the Rare Breed Survival Trust observes has noted, “large scale abattoirs require workers to carry out highly specific, often highly mechanised, procedures as part of the slaughtering process and employ relatively large numbers of narrower skilled, lower paid people in one location”. Instead, the Government should support the creation of more local and smaller abattoirs, “where each worker is required to be more highly and multi-skilled, with the flexibility for part-time work”. This would benefit rural areas where local employment is rare and “facilitate the creation of new premium markets for distinctive meat products from local breeds and the expansion of related businesses such as butchers and farm shops”.

But instead, this vital opportunity to reform the sector into one dependent on high-skilled, high-paid labour working in significantly better conditions is being squandered. Instead, cheered on by their useful idiots in Britain’s commentator class, the corporate food lobby has leaned on the Government to re-open the floodgates to low-paid migrant labour, keeping a broken and exploitative system on artificial life support. 

The current system is simply unsustainable and exploitative to agricultural workers. As the radical Left farming union the Landworkers’ Alliance noted in their 2016 manifesto, “the rural economy
 is vulnerable to competition from global markets and to aggressive price bargaining from cartels of processors and distributors (supermarkets)” with the result that “less than ten per cent of earnings from the UK food industry go to UK farmers and fishermen”. 

Already, the labour shortage is allowing farm workers to demand higher wages, a process which should be allowed to continue, not just because it’s fair but also because it builds resilience into the system. A Britain where the farming sector is forced into decline by global competition is a Britain highly vulnerable to global shocks of the kind we are experiencing now. And yet, as the Landworkers’ Alliance warned back in 2017, the corporate farming lobby is addicted to the current system, with organisations that have the Governments’ ear like the National Farmers Union “more focussed on developing super-efficient mega-farms capable of competing in a cut-throat global market, than in producing the bulk of the UK’s food supply through a network of secure family farms”. 

The globalisation of supply lines according to the logic of the free market is also a disaster for the environment. As a Greenpeace investigation revealed last week, the growing consolidation of Britain’s dairy industry into a handful of American-style megadairies is allowing global food corporations to feed cows soybeans sourced from Brazil’s endangered Cerrado ecoregion. The impact has been profound: it has accelerated deforestation and global warming, forced cows to live in miserable and unnatural indoors conditions in giant sheds and driven small dairy farmers here in Britain out of business. 

Yet aside from moral questions, the supply chain of soybeans is also extremely liable to disruption in times of crisis, such as the drought — the worst in over a century — currently devastating Brazil’s farming sector. Shortages of soybeans caused by environmental collapse in Brazil or by blockages in the global shipping system will mean future shortages of milk and cheese, an absurd situation in a country like Britain blessed with abundant rainfall and lush grass. 

Such built-in vulnerabilities are dangerous as we head into an era of permanent crisis. Indeed, as the Left-wing economist James Meadway warns, though Brexit has exacerbated Britain’s exposure to supply chain disruption, “it is a parochial mistake to single out Britain’s leaving the EU as the primary cause of the crisis”. Rather, what we are experiencing “is the first tremors of the generalised environmental collapse of this century. Gas prices are not going to come down any time soon, and the supply chain crisis will not be resolved this year — or even next.” 

Crisis is the new normal: and to sustain the very basic good of food security, Britain will have to become more self-reliant, decentralising supply chains in pursuit of resilience rather than efficiency and reshoring food production as far as is possible. This isn’t a leap back to the Middle Ages, as online critics howl: Britain was 78% self-sufficient in food as late as the 1980s, and returning to localised production and supply chains should be considered a vital strategic goal.

And yet, in a stunning example of cognitive dissonance, we see liberal commentators who warn of the looming catastrophe of climate collapse simultaneously arguing that fragile globalised supply chains are somehow both desirable and permanent. Like the famous quote that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, it seems it’s easier for these people to imagine total civilisational collapse than not being able to eat Kenyan strawberries in midwinter. 

The Left-wing anti-globalisation protestors of twenty years ago were right then, and their newly localist conservative successors are right now. Instead of mocking the Government’s tentative steps towards re-localisation of the nation’s food supply as the backwards fantasies of nostalgic Brexiteers, our stubbornly parochial Remainer comment class should for once step back and observe the changing world around them. 

The global supply chain crisis is forcing the Conservatives to abandon their free-trading dreams as neoliberal ideology gets crushed by stark reality. This is an unalloyed good, and should be supported and encouraged as far as possible. The Government is correct to say that today’s supply chain meltdown is “a failure of the free market and not of the state” and that businesses “have become drunk on cheap labour”. The current crisis is an opportunity to rebalance Britain’s food system into a fairer and more resilient model, and the Government, finally being forced towards good policy by events outside its control, needs to hold its nerve. 


Aris Roussinos is an UnHerd columnist and a former war reporter.

arisroussinos

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

115 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

A superb analysis of the effects of globalisation.
Ironically capitalism has been the driver of international communism’s aims in terms of lifting the world’s proletariat out of poverty. It has lifted out of absolute poverty millions in the third world as illustrated by Hans Rosling in Factfulness but at the relative expense of the working class in Western countries and at the expense of economic fragility when problems arise. The pandemic severely impacted garment workers in Bangladesh for example who did not have the benefit of furlough.
An international communist should welcome the relative enrichment of the third world proletariat. Embarrassingly those regretting the comparative effects on the workers of the West might all too easily be viewed as Nationalists. Whether National Socialist or National Capitalists or something else is more a matter of choosing the one the reader least objects to.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It was not superb at all. The writer defines Globalism as he wishes, and then argues that – but he takes huge liberties with what Globalism means. I just looked it up on WIKI – what a mess that source has become. Totally ‘Captured’ by the hard Liberal/Left Post Modernists. The internet is taken, and thought is now either ‘correct, and thus allowed and promoted – or ‘incorrect’, and thus hidden, deleted, buried, changed. Unherd is one of the few places where variety of thought still happens, but it cannot win against such a unified force.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Instead of constant ranting against liberals and the like, perhaps you’d like to offer a response as to why you think the points raised in the article are incorrect?
What has the author said about the industrialisation of farming (and many other industries) and the subsequent driving down of wages and reliance on cheap foreign labour that you disagree with?
What do you believe globalisation is, and do you think it’s a good thing for nation states to embrace it?
It’s easy to sit there and rave on about some leftist takeover conspiracy, a bit harder to point out what you believe are the problems and solutions to economic problems faced

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

You cannot just select mechanisation of farming and ignore it in other areas. Do you have any idea what farming was like before mechanisation? Farming is still hard work and I certainly agree that farmers are not treated well and part of that is we expect cheap food. We have foreign labour because the British will not do the work, not only because of lower wages. It tells you about the British, we have a sense of entitlement to the best but no idea about what it means to provide it for ourselves.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Successive governments have gentrified Britain’s society and economy.

Hence the problems with fruit-picking and so forth.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

I never said mechanisation, I said industrialisation, by which I meant the destruction of numerous much smaller farms in place of a few giant ones, which as mentioned in the article has resulted in much poorer wages and working conditions. This is why British people won’t do the work, it’s nothing to do with entitlement and everything to do with not paying a wage high enough to live on in this country. I personally don’t want a race to the bottom with wages

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

OK, it’s hard work.
Also, it’s badly paid unless you do piece work.

We are where we are at the moment. If you want British workers, they’ll be either unemployed or not working due to Covid. In eithercase, it’ll be very difficult to get a full day’s work from them.

Experience of people who’ve been unemployed for over 12 months (as furloghed folk are) take 2 years to be able to do a full day’s work.

Not good, eh?

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

We just finished watching Clarkson’s Farm, a film we had overlooked because of the name alone. But it is very wise about a system that awards an intelligent farmer with the equivalent of 40 pence a day for his labor. Something has to be done or overthrown, take your pick.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I agree with you. The article is mostly nonsense. I would prefer the UK to be more self-sufficient, especially in food, but that hasn’t been the case for many years. We were on the point of starvation in the last war. The reduction in the number of abattoirs has nothing to do with globalisation, it our internal failings. We cannot be self-sufficient in many areas and we need imports. Imports have to be paid for, so we need exports. Trade is essential, not only for goods, it also results in exchange of ideas. China and Japan have both isolated themselves in the past and look what happened when they did.

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

You seem to think Imports of food are a fact of life, like sunshine and rain.

What if the countries exporting food can’t – because of the food needs of their own populations or because of social / economic / political breakdown ?

In our coming era, we may HAVE to be self- sufficient; much more so than in the War.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

There’s also the point that trucking and shipping stuff all around the world just to make fatness a problem in Europe or the USA seems a bit daft.

Andrew Collingwood
Andrew Collingwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

The article addressed all of the arguments you made, and thoroughly refuted them. It said that we were largely self-sufficient right up until the eighties, for example. Equally, the essay highlighted extremely low pay and appalling conditions as the reason the industry was reliant on migrant labour from poorer nations. And again, you ignored it. Finally, Your point about the war is ludicrous. We do not have unrestricted U-boat warfare at present.

Dominic Campbell
Dominic Campbell
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

We were not “on the point of starvation in the last war.” Things were tight and luxuries few, but despite the best efforts of the U-Boats, people had enough to keep them going, even if it was mostly spuds and vegetables.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago

The government back then thought we would be had the two main periods of U Boat successes continued… once America came in, although initially that created more sinkings, the sheer ability to build faster than the Germans could sink meant the fear receded. But cities had greater experience of shortages than the country because back then the entire distribution system was light years different from today and in the country produce could be, and was, held back.

Eddie Johnson
Eddie Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You raise some interesting points, but fail to elaborate on them.
What “liberties” has the author taken, for example?

Last edited 2 years ago by Eddie Johnson
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You need to do better than that. You might be right but please explain how he got globalisation wrong.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It’s funny, I was about to write more or less exactly your second paragraph to make the point that this is another example of Roussinos undermining his own credibility by being over-the-top polemical. He says “Twenty years on, it is clear that the opponents of globalisation were entirely correct [in saying, inter alea, that it was bad for the world’s poorest], and the supporters were utterly wrong [in saying that it should make everyone richer].” And one of the biggest developments of those twenty years (although it was well underway already twenty years ago) has been the lifting of over a billion people out of the worst kind of poverty. Which he doesn’t even acknowledge.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jonathan Weil
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

I read the article hurriedly very early this morning and enjoyed his analysis but this passage: “Likewise, the Left has seemingly abandoned its commitment to localisation and the preservation of unionised, national labour in favour of cosmopolitan dreams of unfettered globalisation.” took me back to a time I used to tease the fervently socialist wife of a colleague who used to complain of wicked capitalists outsourcing jobs to cheaper foreign workers.
I couldn’t help but point out that the much poorer foreign workers would greatly benefit and surely if she wanted the workers of the world to be lifted out of poverty she should support this as the alternative was National socialism. She never accepted the analysis.
Of course, the problem is the tendency to look at these things through an ideological lens. Undoubtedly, there have been overall benefits from globalisation but the import of cheap foreign labour has had undesirable side effects and elaborate supply chains can suffer disruption but free market enterprises is likely to find a balance better than top down interference from government in the market. We the people will ultimately decide if we want to pay a bit more for locally produced stuff or not.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Bray
Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

All that Capitalism has achieved, has been at the expense of the global environment, notably via climate change.

And at that of the main Capitalist country the USA.

Capitalism is doomed – the weather will see to that.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

And as the world’s biggest CO emitter, how would you rate China? Is China a communist country? Or a “capitalist country with Chinese characteristics”?

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Capitalism is what will solve the problem…

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Capitalism as Adam Smith understood it, no longer exists except at small / medium-sized business level.

What we have globally is Corporate Socialism; a tyranny run by Big Business on behalf of banks and behemoth corporations – socialism for them, with cheap goods for the Plebs; many of whom live in vile, stinking mega-cities.

Which is a dire form of poverty your statistics ignore.

In the process, many Western countries, esp the US have been fatally divided – and will collapse. Partly because decades of Capitalism have ruined their populations (of all classes) spiritually and morally.

Capitalism being cruellest to prosperous nations, who – like the Roman Empire – die of their own success.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Buck

Since the neoliberal reforms of the 80’s and 90’s, inequality has grown massively throughout the western world, which is a strange kind of socialism. I’d describe much more as a crony capitalism, where the emergence of powerful oligopolies has led to a concentration of power amongst too few companies, which as a result has led to a stagnation of wages and working conditions

Nick Dougan
Nick Dougan
2 years ago

Excellent article. I often find myself agreeing with Aris’s diagnoses of where things are broken, but unsure of what future he recommends. Not so here.

There must surely be a Goldilocks area between unrestricted free trade promoted by multinationals seeking market dominance at one end, and autarky at the other. I’d like to find a way to protect strategic resources, of which food supply is surely on of the most important,
from the vagaries of an international market increasingly dominated by countries that do not, to say the least, mean us well.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Dougan

Good point. It doesn’t have to be all one or all the other. No one seems to want to engage in the boring business of finding a middle ground.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

I never understood the Left’s embrace of the freedom of movement and the associated flood of cheap labour into Britain from 2004, as it seemed obvious to me that this was a sure-fire way to compromise the living standards of their key clientele. Who then, unsurprisingly, started to vote with their feet when opposition to the new religion meant those voters being treated like idiots and heretics.
Even the arguments about opening up the floodgates again to EU workers is incredibly silly and short-sighted. Over the past 15 years or so, the UK has leant heavily on workers from Poland, the Baltics, Romania etc. As have many other Western European countries. However, living standards and wages in these countries are slowly rising, the rate of employment going up. Rational behaviour on the part of those workers means that they return home to take advantage of the improved opportunities available at home.
If you take that dynamic to its logical conclusion – even if the UK had stayed in the EU, at some point those workers would have left. And then companies would have been scratching around for the next batch of vulnerable workers who are willing to work for low pay in bad conditions because doing that in Western Europe still means they end up in a better position than if they’d stayed put at home. After workers from EU states in the east, that will mean Ukrainians, Belorussians, Kazakhs, Bosnians, Pakistanis…or anyone else for whom that basic equation works. Until stuff gets better at home and then they leave. And on it goes…one long, mucky, desperate cycle to make sure supermarkets are overstocked with cheap stuff, a significant part of which will be discarded anyway.
You may be able to advance arguments about transfers back to the home country helping to improve wealth and living standards there. However, the whole operation is based upon the continued exploitation of vulnerable people so that rich western consumers can go on consuming at an unsustainable rate. It perverts everything that the Left is supposed to be about. Maybe that goes some way to explaining the panic in the left-wing media – admitting that it may be healthier in the long term to switch to a more sustainable and dignified system (as the author also suggests – and the current supply chain shocks seems like as good a time as any to effect deep, systemic change) will be a tacit admission that they’ve basically spent the last 15 years killing their own movement. I don’t think they’re ready for that humiliation, or to give up the feeling of tribalism that has driven politics for the last 5 years.

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

“Twenty years on, it is clear that the opponents of globalisation were entirely correct, and the supporters were utterly wrong. “

And at that point I skimmed a bit, but really, TLDR, as that one sentence showed the writer was talking about something other than the issue of Globalism per se.

What Aris is calling ‘Globalism’ is actually The Global Elites out to take over the world by destroying the sovereign nations, and doing that by destroying the Middle Class and successful Working Class. Once that happens the Democracies are controlled by minority groups imported and created, and their votes being bought by government deficit spending. (which further destroys working people’s savings and income.) This is not actually Globalism – which can still have sovereign nations and people, but is the new totalitarianism Aris mistakes as Globalism.

WEF< World Economic Forum, those guys, IMF, Davos, the ‘Donor Class (who own all the Political Parties), The Military Industrial Complex, the Pharma/Medical Complex, the Banksters, the Tech/Social Media Complex, the MSM, the Education Industrial Complex…. you know, Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ are the problem. They are out to make the world a subject, feudal, kingdom for themselves.

Globalism is inter-connectivity – markets, ideas, environmental, Policing, Military alliances, treaties, visas, energy, fishing, patents, industrial standards, licensing, research, water, pollution, all can be excellent worked globally – The nations can remain sovereign wile doing this good stuff, migration be manage by every nation, borders managed, economies managed, democracy managed, social benefits, rule of law and justice managed by each sovereign entity.

Globalism is not bad – it is that the modern Politicians are all usefull idiots and servents to the Global Elites – the ones who open borders, cause such vast debt the economies break intentionally, devide the people, undermine democracy, destroy education, destroy morality, destroy Family, community, Patriotism, religion. It is not Globalism destroying the world – it is Global Elites using the guise of Globalism to destroy the societies so they may divide and rule..

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Your definition doesn’t sound like globalism at all, at least not how many people would understand it. A series of nation states looking after their own interest isn’t globalism, it’s how the world has always run. Globalism is free trade deals, supra national entities such as the EU, just in time supply chains and local wages being undercut by cheaper foreign industries or immigration. Globalism effectively makes the rich richer at the expense of the local working classes

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

How about the ~billion workers in the developing world that have been lifted out of dire poverty by globalisation?

Tony Buck
Tony Buck
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Who will soon die in heatwaves.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

That’s always a slightly misleading statistic due to the way poverty is measured. It’s calculated as a percentage of the countries median wage I believe, and many of those who have supposedly been lifted out are Chinese workers who have migrated from the country to the city, replacing their agrarian lifestyle in which little money changed hands to an urban one where they’re now working in sweatshops. Technically they’re now earning enough to not be classed as in poverty, however due to massively increased living costs it’s not clear as the whether they’re actually any better off than they were before

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

And destroyed their families and children in doing so.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Until somebody cheaper comes along. This isn’t new; it’s just an acceleration of the process begun by Colonialism and Empires. It’s called ‘exploitation.’

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Excellent comment. There is definitely a big difference between globalism and rule by the global elites and the three letter acronyms. Yes, there are big potential problems with globalism (some of which Billy Bob mentions in his reply) and I have many issues with it myself, but those problems pale into insignificance when compared to what is happening, which you accurately describe in your comment Galeti.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Indeed. The mistake made by many in the comments and the main mistake in the article is that nobody clearly defines what they mean. Globalism is neither good nor bad: it is how it is being used. Capitalism is probably better named ‘the freedom to enterprise’. Freedom to enterprise will raise many people out of misery… only if the other side of freedom to enterprise’ is filled: the guarantee that all of us can count on the same rights and a system that makes sure this is applied…… and there is the problem: it is indeed our governments who cannot make sure that we all have equal rights in the ‘world’ economy. Corruption (in the west called lobbying) is one of the main causes to stop people getting out of poverty.
People being exploited is partly a failure of the government to regulate and implement. It is also part due to the nature of humans (human nature)… hence I suspect it will always happen and is not due to capitalism/socialism/communism/fascism or whatever.
Freedom to enterprise becomes capitalism, with its bad connotation, when the freedom becomes squashed (or is perceived to be squashed).

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Once again, I agree entirely.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Very well said. Commentators who approve this article are falling for the left’s oldest game – pitting the economic against the cultural right. Globalism as practised under western or pro-western conventions worked – it worked spectacularly well between 1870 and 1914 and it worked similar wonders from 89 until 08 – see the superb work on this subject by the late Deepak Lal. It has no necessary connection with mass migration or demographic transformation. The rot set in, as you correctly observe, when a streamlined, cunning, ruthless new left accelerated its long march through the institutions and suspended the old, vestigial protectionist framework which applied to banned substances and cheap labour. Opening up the system to a dangerous and dishonest participant like the regime in Beijing was another spectacular mistake, typical of Marxists, lost in admiration for their one surviving power base. I am glad to see there is – yet again – a BTL contribution which corrects and eclipses the original article.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I get the impression that, just as the left are now championing a globalisation that they once despised, so the right – like you – want to divide globalisation, which was once largely a right wing, philosophy into “good” and “bad”. It’s a form of cognitive dissidence.

Globalisation always has had super national governance and institutions. Neoclassical economics has always supported the free movement of capital *and* people. The system has always been supported and propped up by the military industrial complex, mostly the US army.

The rant against (and I quote):

“WEF< World Economic Forum, those guys, IMF, Davos, the ‘Donor Class (who own all the Political Parties), The Military Industrial Complex, the Pharma/Medical Complex, the Banksters, the Tech/Social Media Complex, the MSM”

Would at one time have been a left wing diatribe.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
2 years ago

Nonsense – classical liberalism has in fact always championed two causes concurrently – the market and national independence – Mill and Mazzini. To say they “contradict” is a wild exaggeration. They are – sometimes – in tension; but these tensions are resolved, thanks to the flexibility of both capital and the nation. Some migration is balanced against some restriction. So your purist and absolute vision of classical liberalism is as much a phantom as purist nationalism; people can pick, choose, adjust and dilute according to taste – or “divide”, to use your exaggerated terminology. Take the flow of banned substances – drugs and so forth. Are you really pretending that this cannot be accommodated under a generally liberal economic order? If not, why can we not make the same exception to “free flow” when it comes to labour? Admit it: you set up this phantom of purity just because you want to accuse your opponents of inconsistency, don’t you? Hardly a worthy form of argument.

Paul Monk
Paul Monk
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

You’re describing the globalism we were promised. What we got is the globalism Roussinos described. I think maybe you don’t actually disagree with him all that much.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Monk

Precisely. All those neoliberal economic theories turned to dust when applied.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

A wonderful analysis by Mr Roussinos. I had not fully appreciated the supply chain issues at the heart of the shortages, but now that he outlines them, it’s quite sobering to contemplate.
On a separate note he raises the good point of the left and right flip-flopping over the years on many positions, simply because of what they imagine thwarts “the other side”:
1. 1930s:: Concern for the environment is a conservative issue. The left want to destroy it because they associated it with rich land owners and middleclass nature lovers.
2 .1960s. The left start embracing environmentalism as a backdoor to being anti-capitalist. At which point the majority of conservatives decide that the environment is no longer worth conserving and that data indicating environmental destruction is part of a leftwing conspiracy.
3. 1990s. Conservatives are pro globalisation and mass immigration because this is good for capitalism and will “make us all richer”. The Left oppose it unequivocally and want closed borders.
4. The 2000s. The left realise that their new culture war can pit immigrants against the “establishment”. Suddenly the conservatives want closed borders like the left did in the 1990s. And suddenly the left are gung-ho for all the open border policies that the conservatives pushed during the previous period.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

It is certainly interesting that all this point and counterpoint being bantered about, regardless of the subject, always comes down to the simple phrase, “Things work well until the point that they don’t.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Warren T
Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago

Excellent post.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago

Been telling my staunch right wing mate this for years. Nothing gets into these left/right people.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

Sounds plausible to me. I get my meat from a couple of small local farmer/butchers. You can visit their farms on open days. Lidl can sell me a chicken for ÂŁ3, but I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. I grow the bulk of my own veg. It isn’t rocket science. Why anyone would willingly eat anything produced through a globalised food chain astounds me. Be fussy about what you put in your mouth.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

For many people, especially the working poor they simply don’t have the space to grow their own food

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

or the time!

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

It was exactly the same last night with the lovies out for the ridiculous Earthshot awards. It featured a huge house covered in solar panels producing hydrogen. How do they think that will work when many people live in smaller properties in cities or in tower blocks? Who wants tanks of hydrogen in their house?

J Hop
J Hop
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I’ll never grow my own food, as it’s too time consuming and I don’t have the land, but the food I do buy is local. Locally raised and pastured eggs and meat, bakery bread, raw milk from a farm down the street and local in season produce with a few exceptions like avocados and banana which I could live without if need be. People say it’s expensive to eat this way but I think a lot of that is that we are just used to eating a lot of cheap junk, so when real food is offered at real prices, we balk at it, especially here in the States. A local pastured egg is like a different food item from a battery hen egg. Rich and deep orange yolk; firm white. So rich in flavor just scrambled in a bit of butter with sea salt. Just not even on the same planet as the pale yellow watery mess they sell for cheap at the local supermarket. Once you eat real food, the price is always worth it, even if you need to live in a smaller house or give up cable to get it. It’s how you nourish your family and your community! You can pay more for the pasture raised pork!

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  J Hop

Same over here

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

“Be fussy about what you put in your mouth.”

This always makes me think of Matthew 15:11, when Jesus was asked if eating pork was allowed…


Matthew 15:11, KJV: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.””

haha….

I get vegetarianism, organic, veganism, quality foods, family meals, festive foods, and so on – but really, this Globalism is not about food quality – people keep living longer all the time even with junk food and industrial foods – it is what is going on in our heads – the immorality, the vice and hedonism, the solipsism, Nihilism, atheism, helplessness, depression and loneliness and degeneracy of modern social mores which are the Real Problem.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What’s wrong with atheism?!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

‘Plausible’ possibly, but refuted by just about all the evidence we have on free trade, organic produce, improved yielding crops argues against his article.

You are entitled to make your own decisions, but there is absolutely no evidence those chickens would be bad for you (products are regulated) and you are fortunate to have the luxury of being able to pay the higher prices and the room to grow your own vegetables.

Imposing organic food, which is largely a western luxury and boutique product and ‘self sufficiency’, opposing GM crops etc would rapidly lead to enormous food shortages and famine.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Those chickens are clearly inferior. Tasteless and “melt in the mouth” junk. I do not impose anything on anyone. I merely advise people not to eat poor quality food. Contact Franklins of Thorncote or similar and buy a brace of pheasants – about ÂŁ4 a bird. They go further than a cheap chicken because the meat is denser and tastes of something. Pick one from the roadside if you are not squeamish about cleaning a bird – free!

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I love it, you always get a slightly nutty comment…
By the way I have just bought a new gadget: you put a ÂŁ2 chicken in the top (globalised or unglobalised, it really doesn`t matter ), turn the handle, and it comes out as a pheasant…
It’s a real game changer.
ps (now the poor can eat cake!)

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

What is nutty – it’s what I do. Sorry if this offends you but supermarket chicken is junk. Get yourself some taste buds.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Taste Bud was a single mum living on the 12th floor of a 1960s high rise.
Sadly, for her throughout her entire life to date she had never come across a road kill pheasant, although she lived in considerable hope. She could only dream.
But she had seen plenty of pigeons pooping all over her balcony washing line.Sometimes she even thought of trying to entrap them, as she had heard game was really tasty.
But Sunday lunches were always special because she made sure she cooked a roast chicken dinner for her two children, Rose Bud and her younger brother. That little ÂŁ 2 chicken from the local L-dl, a short walk around the corner, they had no car, meant all the difference to the family.
Later when the children were asleep, tummies full of junk chicken, she sat down with her copy of the Country Life and dreamed that one day restructuring of Britain`s food chains would one day mean pheasant for all…

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

My upbringing was no more privileged than yours.mother worked in the durex johnny factory and father was a fireman. So cut the holier than thou stuff.

Last edited 2 years ago by Terry Needham
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

sorry old boy i didnt mean to ruffle our feathers - no pun intended. I didnt mean to be unpheasant, sorry unpleasant but to go on on about pheasants under this set of comments does make me smile I just cannot help it
Taste Bud sends her love from the 12th floor ( you just dont get it do you ?)

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

I get it. Now f uck off

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Organic food is ‘largely a western luxury’? It’s the system of production of food used by the whole of human society throughout history – until the idea of ‘improving’ land, crops and livestock was distilled into the fine art of improving profits throughout the food supply chain.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Spot on! This article reflects exactly how I see globalisation and its failings and have done for some time.
It details very clearly that it should be impossible for thinking people to support globalism and also to support anti-climate change ideology (I must also insert needless waste and damage to environments, regardless of what one’s position on climate change is). If one didn’t realize this prior to the pandemic, the failure of supply chains in the pandemic became a stark lesson on the fragility of complex long, global supply chains.
The fact that this matter is politicised is just another example of the lunacy of identity politics and the inability of media and people to think through individual issues rationally.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Much food for thought here. In the olden times, it was quite clear that the working classes got their meat, their fish and their veg. Thousands of small abattoirs, there were, around, for instance. Probably a lot more fish markets and greengrocers, too. But money must be spent on the latest smart phones, the manufacturers of which must keep innovating, innovating, innovating. How on earth did the old telephone manufacturers survive? In the old days, people used their rotary dial telephones for thirty years or more, in many instances. People had to save for treats years and years ago. We still do, mind you. Silicon Valley tech executives wearing T-shirts at conferences tells me that they are signalling that you don’t need to save up for a suit, just spend your savings on yet another tech device.
In Granada, Spain, a very left-wing city, twenty years ago I saw lone graffiti on a wall in the city centre which said “El móvil no tiene nada que hacer con la libertad”: which means: the mobile phone has nothing to do with freedom. How quickly things turn around! Perhaps if one’s head stops spinning, it might luckily be facing the correct way.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

You have to earn ÂŁ40k a year* to be paying more in tax than you take in services and benefits payments. So every person on a lower salary detracts from the public purse.
It is a duty and a necessity (if we want to avoid revolution) to look after the lower paid in our society. But do we really want to be importing more of them from abroad?
*this is a 10 year old estimate, I couldn’t find anything more recent.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

“It is a duty and a necessity (if we want to avoid revolution) to look after the lower paid in our society.”
Absolutely. I would not describe myself as a leftie at all, but it doesn’t take Einstein to understand that it’s in everyone’s interests to make sure that the people at the bottom of the pile in society have a decent basic standard of living. And, in my view, that duty should be owed, first and foremost, to your own.

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
2 years ago

I work in a small/medium size food factory, and for what its worth can give some indication on whats actually happening in the industry. First and foremost inbound price are rocketing. We’ve just had the fourth >5% price rise for the humble cardboard box in 6 months, and the other local manufacturer isn’t taking new customers. The plastics we thermoform into packaging are shooting up in price too. Ingredients are also getting more expensive and harder to get hold of, although generally less so seriously. Specialist stock like a raising agent we source from Thailand or Germany are the worst, for obvious reasons. I naively thought that leaving the EU and its sugar protectionism would lead to oceans of cheap Brazilian granulated, the reverse has happened and the cheapest option is, bizarrely, to go British. It does seem, generally, that the shorter the supply chain the less the price shock.

Where this will all lead I dont know. It does take time for costs to feed through from farm to consumer, I do suspect inflation is coming. One reads articles acknowledging it but they read like those first opinion pieces where it was though the Afghan government was in trouble but could last a couple of years at least. Who knows, I just hope the people making the policy have a plan.

On a completely different tack, is there any way to find ones previous posts? I thought there was but can’t work it out.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tim Bartlett
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Go to “My Unherd” below in the main screen and then find “my comments”.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Interesting to have first hand insight Tim, thanks.
I didn’t understand the ‘generally less so’ bit of this sentence. Can you expand?
Ingredients are also getting more expensive and harder to get hold of, although generally less so. 

Tim Bartlett
Tim Bartlett
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt M

Bad English on my part, they aren’t experiencing quite the same price pressures, by and large, as packaging currently

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

got it! Thanks.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

Is this partly because of other pressures, do you think? Such as the environmental push towards sustainability and away from hydrocarbons? Everyone looking to replace oil-based plastics with ‘sustainable’ cardboard packaging, but also to avoid cutting down trees? And a worldwide leap back into production coming out of the pandemic resulting in a surge in demand for power, coinciding with the closure of ‘dirty’ energy production while renewables are not yet adequate or reliable enough to cope?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Tim Bartlett

I work for an engineering company that manufactures its own specialist products, and can confirm similar raw materials issues. A couple of examples in our case: polymers and sheet steel seeing 5-20% rises.

This is industry wide , internationally, and not related to domestic political issues such as Brexit..

The kind of inflation that will take a while to work its way through to everyday consumers, but surely will eventually.

The media is obsessed with food and fuel, shops and restaurants, since they don’t understand business, engineering or economics for that matter.

These price rises have been in the pipeline for months before the fuel crisis but I’ve yet to see mainstream media recognition of it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

This is what journalism should be.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“By over attenuating supply chains on a global scale, and centralising food production for the benefit of the supermarkets, the system was unable to cope with the pandemic’s cascading aftershocks, from energy crises to labour shortages, still working themselves through the global economy. ”

But surely this is not correct? We’ve seen empty shelves for SOME products SOME of the time. Nobody has actually gone hungry have they? Have we seen queues of people because there’s no bread or meat? Of course not: the reality is that the UK’s grocery industry has coped really rather well, adapting quickly to the new challenges and minimising disruption.

And further up the article is the claim that the defenders of globalisation 20 years ago were proven completely wrong in their view that it would make everyone richer: well in that at least they have been proven right, and in spades too: the effect of cheap imports has been enormous upon the UK economy: we would probably not have got through the banking crisis without inflation triggered by the interest rate cuts had it not been for the effect of cheap imports keeping inflation under control.

As for the rest of the article, it would be nice to localise food production in the UK and to restore some balance to the sector such that the whole thing isn’t dominated by corporate agri-business, but the article makes no reference to why the displacement in question was made possible in the first place: price competition. Most families in this country would struggle to feed themselves properly if they had to buy food at the sort of corner-shop prices that would exist without the economies of scale we presently have in our food production and distribution system. It is silly to conduct this debate as if such considerations aren’t important: they are crucial and cannot be avoided. If it is possible to preserve the price advantage while reversing some of the less welcome effects of globalisation then please explain it, otherwise this is just a wishlist having no real-world relevance.
One last point is the questionable defence of the government’s view that this is not a failure of the State, but of markets. That view may be correct or not, but there’s a rather awkwardly-large elephant in the room in the context of State vs markets and it’s the one relating to energy supply. This is the really big strategic f***-up that’s on the way and it’s entirely State-driven, and when it hits the fan the government is not going to be able to point to a few empty shelves in supermarkets and claim that free markets have their faults too.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Red Sanders
Red Sanders
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

John, you pretty much stole my lines!

At almost 80 years old, I have see great benefits from the movement of food production from old McDonald just down the road to large farms and goods transported to our local supermarket from far away.

I strongly suspect that the majority of folks that yearn for the return to the good old days of local production have ever tried to maintain a garden, tend to a flock of chickens or a herd of cattle. As a youngster, I watched my folks doing just that every day, rain or shine, sick or not – and it is not a glorious life as some make it out to be, nor very dependable.

When the cows went dry or ate a bunch of bitter weeds, we had a very limited supply of milk and butter. How many maintained a mule so as to plow the garden so we could have a sustainable supply of food?

When a cold snap killed much of the vegetable sets, we had to hope that we had time and weather to replant – or we went without, unless the local tiny market had some.

How many of those folks ever picked a crop and couldn’t stop to rest until the food was processed and preserved for sustance in winter?

And, how many of those folks had to chop wood so they could be warm and cook? How many ever had to hand sew quilts out of recycled cloth so as to stay warm.
My folks did! Thank God for the delivery of natural gas and inexpensive clothes.

And thank God for gasoline powered transportation for a multitude of reasons, including access to the few larger markets within driving distance, or receiving much improved médical care, far beyond what our old country doctor could deliver

No, the nostalgia for the good old days has no place in our home.

Every system has negatives and positives. Many today focus on the negatives of our current setting s without having experienced the negatives of alternates.

As for the critics of capitalism – I have yet to see an alternative spelled out in detail or implemented somewhere that still allows for freedom and a much improved standard of living.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
2 years ago

I agree with Roussinos. The pandemic has shown the vulnerability of extended global supply chains. The “rise of China” is shaping to be anything but peaceful. China’s hunger for fossil fuels (its increased exploration threatens the S China Sea littoral states) dwarfs its increase in renewables (wind and solar account for only 3% of energy consumption). The tensions between China and its Pacific neighbours is likely to threaten supply chains with extensive Chinese input. Making supply chains more resilient is not just shrewd geopolitically but has environmental and social benefits nearer to home as well.

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
2 years ago

An excellent article, except that I had no idea that anti-globalisation was a “left wing” thing since I have always seen the dangers and am anything but “left wing”!
It seems too, that the French farmers, who have always fiercely resisted change, have been right all along as well. In my local supermarket in the country that buys locally wherever possible, there have never been any empty shelves and only imported stuff is in short supply, but no-one seems to mind or even notice.
On the other hand, some friends have been waiting three months for a new AGA bought locally but has to come from the UK. They bought it having been told that it was “in stock” , but no-one mentioned that the stock was held in the UK! Normally it would have arrived inside a week.
The sooner imported goods return to being an expensive luxury, including and especially food, the better for local economies and also most particularly the environment, though I am no man-made global warming advocate either. The climate changes, we and everything else on earth adapts as it always has, but we cannot replace wasted and finite natural resources, and it will take a long time to clean up the environmental damage we have done.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

Even quite recently, there were two butchers in the next village. One closed years ago, the other quite recently. Such a butcher would do some work when there were no customers, and then more on serving, e.g. chopping chops.
In the nearest town, there used to be both an animal market and an abattoir. I have no idea where butchered meat comes from now, but it will be from many miles away, and of course local animals must travel from here to there; hence avoidable stress, traffic, CO2 and HGV drivers.
Of course, we know that supermarket buyers can be ruthless on price.
All of these changes have taken place little by little over many years. To return to the previous situation is difficult, probably requiring some of the causes such as EU directives to be revoked, and to do so instantly impossible.
This will apply equally to the fish trade.
(“……. their brains broken by Brexit”; good phrase.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

A brilliant article. Hope it gets read by many triablistic lefties. I thought this sentence was a bit simplistic, though maybe I just don’t understand the effects of globalsation as well as I think : “Twenty years on, it is clear that the opponents of globalisation were entirely correct, and the supporters were utterly wrong.”

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

The supporters weren’t wrong 20 years ago, it’s just that the reasons they were right were right-wing reasons.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

There is a good argument that we have become too dependent on a hostile adversary, China, but Roussinos appears to be going well beyond this in arguing against free trade and for economic autarky. This trade policy has always and everywhere led to extreme economic impoverishment, as you can see in Franco’s Spain, until (economic) liberalisation in the 1960s, and, of course even more dramatically in China in recent decades, and scores of other examples. We could add the Great Depression.

As far as agricultural self sufficiency goes, presumably Aris now supports the reinvigoration and intensification of the Common Agricultural Policy in the EU and increased tariffs on agricultural imports from the developing world, with the consequent mountains of butter, cheese etc. In Great Britain, the Corn Laws were repealed in the 1840s to the huge advantage of the industrialists and the working class, although to the detriment of landowners. That is usually considered a great social advance. It is true the UK boosted agricultural self sufficiency in the extreme conditions of World War 2 (which we managed to do in a remarkably short time), but then continued the same policies for decades afterwards because of course then we had created a strong lobbying producer interest.

To pick on a few anecdotal examples of the ‘worst’ aspects of today’s society and economy, while ignoring vast amounts of data to the contrary, is a very poor argumentative style that should not pass muster, but this is what commentators typically do; we follow ‘arguments’ far too much based on their emotional resonance rather than evidence. In our current reactive and polarised social and political climate, this leads to poor policy decision after poor policy decision, as is now happening again. (For example, the government can obviously direct investment wherever it likes, without any cost, and this policy has as we all know, been a notable success in the past!).

This way of thinking is understandable; it is human nature to believe every aspect of society and economic production can be micro-managed, we still don’t REALLY and fundamentally understand the basic insights of Adam Smith and others because they don’t appear to be ‘common sense’. Etc.

However we know enough to be able to do much better. Surely we should have learned by now that humans are good at engineering things, but extremely bad at engineering societies and economies. That is one of the best arguments you can have for free market economics and free trade. Ok, you can argue it doesn’t matter whether there is development in the third world, as it used to be called, who cares, it isn’t us, and anyway, poverty has been the lot of man for the vast majority of the existence of Homo Sapiens, especially since the agricultural revolution. But then why concern yourself with the lot of some abattoir workers (who by the way, are not being forced to work there)?

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Excellent comment.

Peter Branagan
Peter Branagan
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

It’s not China that’s being hostile – it’s the perpetual warmongers -the USofA and Brexadhi Britain. China hasn’t bombed the peoples of other countries. It has no territorial ambitions other than to regain de facto sovereignty over a renegade province. The de jure sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China over said renegade province has been recognised by the international community of nations since the early 1970s.
Furthermore China has repeatedly said that territorial disputes in the wider South China Sea will be resolved peacefully through negotiation with it’s neighbours.

China may well be a voracious competitor to Western hegemony economically but is NOT a hostile polity and has ZERO ambitions to impose it’s culture and values on others.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

Can’t mention the T word?
I’ll do it for you.

Taiwan was never a part of the Communist PRC. Never was, isn’t now and never wanted to be. Free, democratic, prosperous Taiwan.

The “community of nations” does not exist.
PRC bullies individual nations who dare to recognise Taiwan, except micro nations who don’t matter to them.

John Dewhirst
John Dewhirst
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

The grocer’s apostrophe undermines the credibility of the writer.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Branagan

‘Renegade province’? Do you mean Taiwan? When was Taiwan ever under the governance of Communist China? You seem unaware that the 20th-century fight for post-Imperial China (it was and is an empire, conquering and ruling territories well beyond its first borders) never did result in the Communists taking Taiwan.
As for China’s wish to resolve ‘territorial disputes peacefully through negotiation with its neighbours’, President Xi has made it abundantly clear that only one outcome of those ‘peaceful negotiations’ is acceptable and that annexation by force will follow if China’s ambitions are not realised.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
2 years ago

Why spoil a briliant critique of globalisation by banging on about ‘the Left’ as though it were a monolithic set of values? As the article clearly confirms there are many voices on the left as well as on the right committed to localism, high quality work and pay, and who see globalisation as a manifestation of 21st century capitalism not as some kind of new internationalist nirvana. There are (literally) millions of us out here, we’re just waiting for some political party to give us a voice. Not Labour, that’s for sure. At least not any time soon, though never say never. And not parties that see localism in xenophobic terms, either.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

I always feel that Aris is on some sort of a crusade in his articles. However, I do not know, for instance, if he is pro or anti-Brexit but feel that it is one or the other in an extreme way.
There are many strands to Globalisation and here are just a few that I can identify off the top of my head:
1)     Communication – the planet getting “wired up” with internet, Twitter, WhatsApp. The developments over the last 20 years are enormous.
2)     Large companies – like Google who can perhaps now threaten with their “walled gardens” to define the very parameters of what we experience. Again this is a far bigger and more acute issue than decades ago. I used to be totally sceptical and dismissive about conspiracy theories in the 1980’s when people referred to large multinationals controlling the world. I just never believed at the time that Coca Cola would ever agree with Pepsi (etc etc – they were competitors). Now Google, for instance, “alone as a company” can limit the world that we can witness through the internet. It is a huge concern.
3)     Transport – package holiday and flights. These have probably done 100 times more to keep European peace than the EU if indeed the EU achieves any degree of a function of maintaining European peace at all. At a single stroke Germany putting reliance on Russia for their gas supply has undermined any sense that EU provided peace. Russia may decide to flex its muscles, like, or perhaps even in response to the US or China or the Middle East oil nations (probably temporary just as posturing and soon step down). Package holidays have done more in securing peace than the EU.
4)     Globalised supply chains – Global food supply chains are referred to in the article as a central trend but I see these as less major “Globalisation” and almost just the very traditional global trading environment of “supply and demand” that we have operated in for centuries. If an industry in one country feels its supply of components is not reliable then it will develop alternative sources (e.g. the issue of silicon chip supply). The UK has lorry drivers to replace any lorry drivers that it may have lost and there are also UK produced blueberries on the supermarket shelves alongside the Argentinian ones not to mention “substitutes”. Things will adjust and be mobilised, maybe not overnight, but it will happen here.

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Well said Aris.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

‘what we are experiencing “is the first tremors of the generalised environmental collapse of this century. Gas prices are not going to come down any time soon, and the supply chain crisis will not be resolved this year — or even next.” What is the word ‘environmental’ doing in that sentence? If we want gas prices to come down, we have vast reserves of frackable gas under Surrey. All we have to do is take it. Given that we’ve failed to provide any workable alternatives to gas, we really ought to do that.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago

Having criticised other recent offerings from this writer I just felt I should say this was, in my humble view, one of his better efforts . For one thing I could understand it, I didnt have to refer to my collection of dictionaries more than once, and I didnt have to take a day off to finish it!
You could argue that Trade, throughout the ages, has been an essential to the development/advancement of human societies. And given that, I broadly agreed with Aris – that there is indeed an opportunity ( for the Government) to rebalance Britain’s food system, (in the widest sense covering source, methods, labour/wages,transport etc) into a,“fairer and more resilient model”.

Jim le Messurier
Jim le Messurier
2 years ago

Quite simply, thank you for this article. This was particularly brilliant:-
And yet, in a stunning example of cognitive dissonance, we see liberal commentators who warn of the looming catastrophe of climate collapse simultaneously arguing that fragile globalised supply chains are somehow both desirable and permanent. Like the famous quote that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, it seems it’s easier for these people to imagine total civilisational collapse than not being able to eat Kenyan strawberries in midwinter. 

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago

Excellent article. One thing that the proponents of immigration seem to forget is that it encourages racism by defining certain tasks as beneath the locals and which are only suitable for Eastern Europeans or certain Asians. Overheard by my wife few years ago: A man looking at a pressure washer in a shop was thinking of buying one. His wife asked what for and he said to wash the car, she said “Why waste the money when you have Lithuanians and Kurds to do that?”
Explain to me how that isn’t racist.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

I quote ‘blockages in the global shipping system will mean future shortages of milk and cheese, an absurd situation in a country like Britain blessed with abundant rainfall and lush grass‘. Our grass is being overlaid with concrete at a hefty pace nowadays, and our rainfall is not as evenly spread out as it used to be, with summers due to get hotter and hotter. Every day that we persist with IPAT growth economics we exacerbate climate and ecological breakdown. We operate at over three times our biocapacity, we would struggle to feed ourselves even with a maximum stretch of the imagination. You have no concept of the meaning of the word ‘crisis’. The crises have only just begun, and tragically they will never cease in your young life-time. For that I apologise – being a well-off baby-boomer who enjoyed the Great Acceleration until I realised what we had done and how bad things have now got. https://www.joboneforhumanity.org/what_most_people_do_not_understand

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

I’ve been saying just this for years. Anyone with half a brain could see it coming but that’s the worst flaw of neoliberal capitalism, a single minded focus on short term profits and shareholder returns to the detriment of everything else. Globalisation appears to mean little more than creating a state of total dependence on global corporations instead of national or local self sufficiency (and therefore autonomy) and the UK elites embraced it more than most. How could that ever be a good thing??

Will R
Will R
2 years ago

Another great article from Aris,

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

I don’t know what the left have to do with it. Not that I have nanoseconds for any of them.Remainers are not necessarily leftists and neither have they had any input into supply chains.It’s not that long since avocadoes in December or any caviar at all weren’t standard fare.
If people expected zero disturbance after Brexit (added to Covid) and are surprised at ‘adjustments’ they haven’t been paying attention.

Edward H
Edward H
2 years ago

Odd editorial decision around the title of this piece and accompanying image… the article turns out to be quite a specific discussion of food supply chains, yet the title and image connote all manner of potential topics.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago

Yawn. What “Left”? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_Ge2XgLs-g This article proceeds on a blatant category error.  Its straw-man basis is “The [British] Left’s embrace of globalism”, etc.  That’s a euphemism for what really happened; namely that what used to be the mainstream British Left de facto largely ceased to exist.  Post Blair, the British “Left” is mostly LINO – “left in name only”. Old-school left wing thinking has been a fringe pursuit in Britain for all of this century so far, and, under Starmer, its corpse will remain firmly buried.

Kate Heusser
Kate Heusser
2 years ago
Reply to  Bogman Star

Couldn’t agree more. Post-Blair, Britain has no ‘Left’ left – so the only place to get a hearing for insights that don’t support global capitalism is on the Right. Which is Wrong.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

The price of oil has gone from $45 to over $80 a barrel because Joe Biden’s regulatory changes turned the US from a net oil and natural gas exporter to an importer almost overnight. The Biden Administration is threatening to regulate fossil fuels out of existence, so small independent oil producers in the US are not willing to risk spending money on a lot of new drilling, even on private land.
The price of oil will come down in 2025 if any Republican takes the White House. In the meantime, enjoy the Green New Deal.
Since Socialist command and control brought you this mess, it really isn’t part of the solution. The UK government should consider removing its ban on fracking. There are a lot of drillers in the US with time on their hands, who would love to redeploy their idle rigs in Britain.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

The author writes:

This is a global supply chain crisis caused by a worldwide slow-motion, but accelerating collapse of globalisation.

It may be, but I don’t see much evidence of it in this article. It is focussed on one of millions of products, meat, and at an exceptional point in time of pandemic recovery, which may be of only short duration. The correctness or error of the opinions in this article will be better judged in a year or two, looking not only at meat and supermarkets but across the entire economy.

Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
2 years ago

Interesting article, even if spoiled by the odd choice of authorities being quoted, many of whom seem to be fringe extremists. I see no credible support for the assertion of an imminent and deep collapse in globalisation, requiring us immediately to revert to poverty-stricken self-sufficiency. I would entirely support an assertion that the recent globalisation based on assuming no supply chain shocks (shorthand just-in-time) will need a lot more resilience built in since China can no longer be assumed to provide cheap supplies without threatening to disrupt them in pursuit of greater Chinese power (ie blackmail of our democracies – who yet knows whether covid was a deliberate first assault on us, or an accident which has shown the CCP how easily it can mount future threats and assaults). More hopefully, we should be able to build the necessary extra resilience, without seriously damaging our economy and society. We have the know-how, we need good leadership.

robert stowells
robert stowells
2 years ago

You could be correct. However, on the other hand China could possibly be the “relative” innocents in the COVID thing given, for instance the Wuhan research was funded, and to some degree overseen or monitored by US and also given Obama’s strange “u-turn” apparently reversing an earlier decision to prohibit in the US the type of research going on at Wuhan, last minute before leaving office. China may actually be sitting presently nonplussed, bloodied but not beaten. It is difficult to know what to believe.

Last edited 2 years ago by robert stowells
Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

Great article.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
2 years ago

spot on article…

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

The overall polemic here is correct: there has been an inversion of left and right stances. But not entirely, in part because neither viewpoint ever really belonged only to one ‘side’.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt B
Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
2 years ago

has leaned on the Government to re-open the floodgates to low-paid migrant labour, keeping a broken and exploitative system on artificial life support.”
But keeping out foreign workers is not artificial? Or is it just an example of using state intervention to benefit one group over another? Is more expensive meat production cost great for everyone in UK? Maybe lowering regulatory over-management of the economy might be a better solution.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
2 years ago

This is common sense, which means it doesn’t have a chance of gaining any traction in the political classes.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago

Free trade only cost The West it’s culture of working for a fair days pay and other human rights. On top of that, rather than the liberation of other cultures free trade has led to greater authoritarianism, surveillance and the ideological pollution of our institutions.

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Juhnke
Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

Abatoirs were closing rapidly ~ 1990.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

I thought I was the only one to have noticed this inversion on globalisation. Somewhat reassuring to find I’m not dreaming, but it’s still a waking nightmare. How much longer must we forgo reason and sense on behalf of humankind, in the name of senseless moral grandstanding and bigoted left rightery?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Aris Roussinos is all too often a master of the sweeping, evidence-free (over-) statement. His articles are littered with poorly defined ‘boo’ words (neo-liberalism, globalism etc).
‘Twenty years on, it is clear that the opponents of globalisation were entirely correct, and the supporters were utterly wrong’.
A quite extraordinary statement, which simply ignores the vast evidence of the huge increase of world living standards in this period, probably only matched by the earlier periods of globalisation (which then ended in the Great Depression, and beggar-take-the-hindmost protectionism etc. The latter, we recall, did not by the way reduce the chances of global conflict! We could go back a lot further, to the 19th century Corn Laws, and their eventual abolition, at the cost of big landowners and the huge benefit of the middle class, industry and the workers.
There may well be a nuanced case to be made about some re-balancing, being less dependent on adversarial states, increased crisis resilience, more gas storage etc, but simply ripping up any support for free trade at all is not that case.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

This is an excellent article, very insightful and passionately written from a deeply committed moral stance.
Nevertheless, it has its limitations. This is not a criticism of the article; no single piece could hope to cover everything in these complex days.
So here is a broadening thought, written from the point of view of an enriching both/and, rather than a polarised, diseased, excluding either/or perspective. My aim is to add a small something to Roussinos’ brilliant piece.
One does not have to posit localised food production as mutually exclusive to globalised supply. The two can coexist harmoniously if one thing is taken into account.
The primary criticism of globalisation so far, from the point of view of those groups working spiritually for a positive human evolution into the future (groups to which I belong), is that so-called globalisation has not in fact been a proper globalisation in the full sense of the word.
Globalisation thus far has been overwhelmingly materialistic. It has focussed on exchange of goods.
Properly human considerations, such as individual human rights, the value of human labour, the value of human community, have been subjugated to a primary objective of acquisition of things. The human has been made secondary.
The mechanism of the free market has been coopted to this process, by allowing it unregulated operation. The free market, in its essential nature, is subhuman; it does not recognise the dignity of the human being.
An inversion of current priorities is required to set things right.
FIRST, posit the inviolable rights and dignity of the individual human being.
SECOND, and consequent on this, legislate the priority of communities of free human beings—of associations of human beings who join together voluntarily, on a shared basis in mutually recognised human rights, for a specific purpose. Recognise the priority of free human communities.
Then see what options present for trade in things—locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Possibilities will become apparent in all of these groupings. These possibilities will not be mutually exclusive, but rather, mutually enhancing.
Groups of local producers will have the value of their produce recognised for its unique contribution to the human planetary produce pool. Beginnings have been made in Europe by recognising that, for example, champagne is a French product unique to a community of producers in a specific region of France. This concept must apply equally to communities of producers in regions of Africa and Asia and everywhere else in the world. As human beings, we pool; we do not mutually annihilate.
SECOND, understand that true globalisation is indeed an evolutionary goal of the human race: it represents nothing less than recognition of our shared humanity. It is unequivocally a good thing.
So we have to add the globalised human dimension, explained above, to the globalised realm of material things in which we are mired at present.
Then, THIRD and finally, we have to add the globalised spiritual dimension to the project. This is nothing less than recognition spiritually of that element which constitutes our shared humanity. In the modern West, we call that element the Christ of Universal Love. But a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet
 and in fact it does
 the truth of this is being demonstrated right now, in multiple locations around our earth. Many others now know the Christ directly, by whatever name. And insofar as they know that Love, so also they know what unites us as human beings.