PINKERTON: Coronavirus Has Taught Us That Undisciplined Globalism Is Dangerous

James P. Pinkerton Former Fox News Contributor
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Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that the pandemic has proven that globalism has run amok and is still a threat to the American economy and national security. You can find a counterpoint here, where Christopher Schroeder argues that globalization will continue after the coronavirus pandemic ends and the United States should participate in it.

Globalism is not a good idea in a time when international openness poses a danger to health and wealth. And this is such a time. So at least for now, we must reject globalism.

When an organism — biological or political — is endangered by an outside force, it defends itself. Or else.

This imperative of self-protection is, in the most literal sense, in our DNA. We might consider: cells have membranes to keep good things in and bad things out. Similarly, animals have shells, skin, fur or armor for self-protection. Moreover, all living things have instincts as to what to ingest and what to reject. And if their instincts fail them, well, they don’t last long; the Darwinians weren’t kidding when they talked about “survival of the fittest.”

In addition, homo sapiens has learned to build walls, as well as other kinds of demarcations, all for the purpose of individual and collective self-defense.

Indeed, throughout human history, people have thought in terms of security first, for one simple reason: they had to in order to survive. In situations where it seemed safe, they might let visitors, even strangers, into their midst, but the watchword had to be safety. When the Trojans let in that gift-horse, they learned the hard way what can happen when vigilance is relaxed.

To be sure, it’s been a long time since cities relied on walls for their defense, and yet virtually all the nations of the world make extensive efforts to defend themselves, deploying all manner of human and technological guardians.

So now we can ask: If common sense precautions are hard-wired into us, how is it that we so often let our guard down?  Why have we gotten careless?  We can cite many explanations, of course — including plain ol’ Murphy’s Law — and yet the explanation that’s most pertinent to our situation today is the age-old yearning for laxity and liberalism. That is, it’s the hope that if we’re lazy and nice, the world, in turn, will not take advantage of us.  After all, what it says in the Book of Isaiah — “The wolf will dwell with the lamb” — is deeply appealing to many.  (In fact, the same book in the Old Testament is careful to stipulate the exact circumstances when it’s okay to beat our swords into plowshares; the all-clear signal comes from God, not man.)

Yet over time, the promise of deliverance through faith and miracles became secularized and spun into utopian ideology.  For instance, back in 1846, English free trade advocate Richard Cobden preached his own kind of economically ordained utopianism: “I see in the Free-trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe, drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace.”

Ever since, the promise of peace has been a key part of the liberal/libertarian pitch for free trade, as well as for open borders to immigrants — and openness to everything and everyone.

So now today, after decades of free trade globalism, we see that the American body politic is in jeopardy.  For one thing, we’ve lost millions of jobs to cheap labor rivals, most notably to China. In fact, not only have we lost jobs, we’ve also lost intellectual property valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year. In addition, our own tech capacity has been palsied; the notion that we can safely design something in the U.S. and manufacture it overseas has been proven to be hollow. It’s the manufacturing country that ends up with all the truly valuable know-how.

Yet fortunately, in the past few years, the realization has grown that free-trading globalism often erodes national prosperity, as well as, of course, national security.

And now the coronavirus has taught us that globalism brings an even more immediate threat: death.  Death, that is, that’s just an airplane flight away.

In fact, just as we’ve known for a long time that strangers can bring disease, so we’ve also learned that globalization accelerates that risk. Just last year, the Center for Immigration Studies catalogued a long list of maladies being imported.  We might pause to note that strangers don’t necessarily have worse diseases than we already have. However, our population typically has little immunity to visiting pathogens. So at minimum, people from risky places should be identified, and, if need be, quarantined. To put the challenge another way, if people come here anonymously or illegally, all the goals of public health are defeated.

And if globalists say that such obvious precautions are inimical to their utopian ideology, then as a result we know everything we need to know about their too open thinking.

In carefully considered circumstances, globalism might be fine.  But if globalism is ill-considered and promiscuous, it will be the death of all of us.

James P. Pinkerton, a former White House domestic policy aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, has been a Fox News contributor since 1996. He is also the editor of CureStrategy.org.