The globalization debate is just beginning


The decisive victory of Emmanuel Macron for president of France over Marine Le Pen is being widely hailed as a victory of good over evil, and an affirmation of open migration flows and globalization. Certainly, the defeat of the odious National Front should be considered good news, but the global conflict over trade and immigration has barely begun.

On both sides of the Atlantic, there are now two distinct, utterly hostile, opposing views about globalization and multiculturalism. The world-wise policies of the former investment banker Macron play well in the Paris “bubble” — and its doppelgangers in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and London — but not so much in the struggling industrial and rural hinterlands.

The trade dilemma

For much of the past half-century, the capitalist powers, led by the United States, favored free trade, even with terms often vastly unbalanced. Now President Donald Trump has undermined this orthodoxy. But anti-globalism transcends conservatism. Besides the National Front, which won over a third of the vote, doubling its support from 2002, the other rising political force in the country, far-left socialist Jean-Luc Melenchon, is at least as hostile to free trade. Much the same can be said of the ascendant Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.

Globalists argue that the free trade regime, primarily promoted by the United States, has been a boon to the world economy. Certainly, the last half-century has seen enormous progress in some countries, most notably in East Asia, and led to a general decline in global poverty. It has also produced lower prices for consumers in America and elsewhere.

Yet, there has been a price to pay, perhaps not in Newport Beach or Beverly Hills, but definitely in areas such as Lille, France, or Rust Belt Ohio, where workers and communities suffered for free trade “principles.” The trade deficit with China alone, notes the labor backer Economic Policy Institute, has cost the country some 3.4 million jobs between 2001 and 2015.

Read the entire piece at the Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Photo: By Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States (French Election: Celebrations at The Louvre, Paris) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons