The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Johnathan Nicastro '23 RGLP Reflection: What aspects of globalism are most challenging to collaboration and why?

Article Type 

I believe that the hardest part of globalism is overcoming people’s innate collectivistic impulses. What I mean by this is that most people identify with a particular group of people at the exclusion of those whom they perceive to be outsiders. This collectivistic identification typically revolves around certain immutable qualities such as nationality, race, gender, religion (especially those that one is born into or is introduced to by authority figures at an early age), etc. As markets become freer, less encumbered by protectionism, and render national boundaries porous, people will increasingly engage with, though not necessarily encounter, those whom they perceive as “different,” i.e. part of a fictitious collective with which they do not identify themselves. Moreover, I believe that combating collectivistic antipathies is particularly challenging in those rural manufacturing regions that have borne the negative economic ramifications resulting from globalism.


To understand the differing reactions to globalism, I believe it is useful to compare attitudes towards foreigners between American cities and rural areas. Based on data compiled by Pew Research Center in 2018, 54% of rural Americans aligned with the Republican party vs. 62% of urbanites who leaned Democratic. Given the populist, protectionist immigration and trade policies supported by the Trump administration, it would not be too much of an extrapolation to conclude that the same rural voters who disproportionately lean Republican are also anti-immigration and anti-globalization. Meanwhile, the opposite would hold true for metropolitan Democrats. If this still seems like too much of a logical leap, here is more data from Pew on Republican versus Democratic attitudes on immigration. What’s more, the aforementioned Pew Research Center survey also found that, while urban areas have gained 7 million immigrants from 2000 to 2014, rural areas have only gained 600,000.


Based on this data, I believe that those Americans living in cosmopolitan centers like New York City, even if they are just as predisposed to collectivistic xenophobia as their rural counterparts, become increasingly pluralistic as they interact with and recognize that those from other countries, creeds, faiths, etc. are not threats to be avoided, but friends, romantic partners, and business associates to be treated with dignity and respect. However, those rural Americans who already face the negative distributional effects of the globalized economic system - i.e. the exportation of their once middle-class manufacturing jobs to cheaper, foreign markets - become increasingly rooted in their collectivistic protectionism due to their lack of exposure to migrants. Concerningly, the Coronavirus pandemic has increased xenophobic tendencies across both rural and urban populations across the U.S. 


In summary, hostility towards globalism and immigrants is particularly pronounced in those regions which have lost jobs due to the creative destruction of the market. I believe this collectivistic animosity can be dealt with through increasing exposure between subpopulations which perceive each other as irreconcilably different and/or in competition with each other. Sadly, I believe this already lofty aim has been further exacerbated by the Coronavirus and the aversion toward global supply chains and immigrants that has spread alongside it. 


Regardless, a good first step would be for people to view and treat themselves and others as individuals who happen to have been born into certain cultures, countries and bodies, and recognize that others, by mere dint of birth, have been born into different circumstances, outside of their choosing, and which ought not be held against them. In conclusion, the collectivism in conflict with globalism should be remedied by embracing the golden rule: treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Intellectualize it as much as you’d like; at the end of the day, it’s just that simple.



The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences