Is there a need for a rethink of the 21st century direction of travel of globalisation, the concept of a global village, 4IR, communitarianism and supranationalism, as conceived at the end of the previous century?
Vulnerabilities of scale
The devastating impact of the pandemic on economics, trade, logistics and the global supply chain, plus the implications and results of Russian sanctions, disruption in Ukrainian trade ad a gradual disengagement from dependence on unstable, unfriendly or potentially untrustworthy regimes, however powerful, is highlighting vulnerabilities and resulting in states reshoring, re-establishing local supply routes, emphasising and moving away from external sources of supply.
The container crisis has meant that manufacturers can no longer rely on 'just in time' logistics and time-critical long-distance supply chains for vital raw materials and components.
The spectre of a return to a cold-war supply chain and economic relationships is increasingly apparent.
There may be a need for a global plan B that can be applied locally. A systemic application of holistic economics. A return to 1960s-70s national self-sufficiency, self- and local-reliance and cooperation at a human level. Or is there a path through that makes use of the technology, strategies and systems of the present to go forward rather than back?
Tightening of the belt and road
Just as the West is quickly disengaging from reliance on Russia, so it is starting to disengage from reliance on China and others. Australia is starting to ensure it keeps control over its mining for rare earths for example. Meanwhile China is ramping up coal production to reduce imports and ensure its energy security. Energy security and food security are quickly becoming vital national and regional interests.
The danger is that panic-driven contraction could make the situation worse.
The 1973 oil crisis and the need for energy security due to diminishing resources increasingly outside of the control of the West, was the origin of the steady move away from fossil fuels towards other energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro and hydrogen, not climate change!
This led to massive investment in energy storage, especially battery technology, with the necessity to make it efficient, powerful, safe and cheap. That investment and requirements continued to the point when the necessity of both practical near-universal application and a proper return on the investment into research and development became pressing when faced with public reluctance alongside ongoing technical problems. The paradoxes associate with alternative energy generation
A shift, or rather a shift back, from carbon neutral to energy neutral would seem to be preferable to continuing regardless of recent events and what they have highlighted. Mitigation of pollution and energy self-, or local-generation being more achievable and practical than carbon targets.
Free and fair?
There has been a myth of inevitability based on planning, modelling and ideology. The ancient debate between free-will and predestinarianism just adapted to more secular interpretations. The free market fits into a concept of individuality and freedom of expression that has been challenged by globalisation.
A new paradigm would require systemic resilience, a systemic application of holistic economics. A fresh approach is overdue. Recent approaches having appeared to be 4th industrial revolution and tech-enabled bolt-ons to old socio-economic ideas and ideologies.For example, the conceptions of a new capitalism as put forward recently in Japan and elsewhere resemble a high-tech application of old-school Marxism based on Chinese and other non-Western-democratic models of commercial interaction that are easily interpreted and applied by non-human digital agencies.
A re-imagining of commercial relationships
Hayek's distrust of planners can be extended to modelling. Global perspectives are not dependent on the eradication of national perspectives, but may require bifocalism at least, if not brand-new perspectives unsullied by ideology or prejudice.
Something is happening now, which will have wide-ranging effects and will need careful handling and imagination. The models and assumptions are no longer applicable and so trade and policy are suddenly vulnerable and raw. There is a huge debate ahead. Maybe we should be seen to initiate it or be ahead of the curve?