Globalism in crisis: has Davos Man had his day?

Battle of Ideas festival 2022, Sunday 16 October, Church House, London


The ‘double whammy’ of the Covid pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have shattered the faith many had in the globalist world order. Covid – with its accompanying lockdowns, travel restrictions and supply-chain disruptions – shook the belief in the idea of an ever-converging world, with goods, people and money only ever a short flight away. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shook the idea that, after the Cold War, confrontation between major powers was impossible in a closely integrated world. Both shook faith in the global institutions, systems, and regulatory bodies that were supposed to prevent these crises.

Yet even before these shocks, the populist revolts of Trumpism and Brexit suggested that many across the West were unhappy with the march of globalisation and the rise of international technocrats.

Even if the economic processes underpinning globalisation are unlikely to ever subside, the ideology of ‘Globalism’ – that decisions are better made by global leaders, businesses, technocrats and experts rather than national elites or ordinary people – seems deeply weakened. The pronouncements of the World Economic Forum – with Davos as the natural habitat of globalist movers and shakers – are now widely and routinely mocked online. The pandemic and energy crises have forced renewed attention on national politicians rather than globe-trotting technocrats. Even the international reaction to the invasion of Ukraine has been more dominated by national leaders like Biden, Johnson and Zelensky than by leading lights in the UN or EU.

Yet, when talk returns to the ‘climate crisis’, international cooperation, global organisations and experts return to the fore. When it comes to inflation, too, central bankers are careful to coordinate their policies internationally. Technologies like the internet continue to forge a sense of connection across national boundaries. Even the ‘onshoring’ of supply chains is carefully coordinated by global corporations.

Is Globalism really finished? Can it survive the populist challenges of the present? And what is Globalism anyway?


Lord Maurice Glasman
Labour life peer; author, Blue Labour: the politics of the common good; director, the Common Good Foundation

Joan Hoey
Europe director and editor, the Democracy Index, EIU; regional director for Europe, Economist Intelligence’s Country Analysis division

Eric Kaufmann
professor of politics, Birkbeck College, University of London; Advisory Council member, Free Speech Union; author, The Political Culture of Young Britain and The Politics of the Culture Wars in Contemporary Britain

Professor Vicky Pryce
chief economic adviser and board member, Centre for Economics and Business Research; author, Women vs Capitalism


Phil Mullan
Writer, lecturer and business manager; author, Beyond Confrontation: globalists, nationalists and their discontents