John Rennie Short

John Rennie Short examines causes of resistance to globalization in wake of U.S., U.K. votes

In the wake of recent events such as the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s electoral victory, John Rennie Short explores the underlying causes of resistance to economic, political, and cultural globalization in a new article in The Conversation, republished by U.S. News and PBS Newshour.

Short, a professor of public policy at UMBC, traces the origins of globalization back to the end of World War II when the Allied countries set up a new order focused on free markets and trade, coupled with the establishment of international organizations, with an intent to decrease economic nationalism. He also explains how this approach led to money moving more freely around the world, with eventual global shifts in manufacturing and a loosening of trade restrictions.

“As a result, there was a global redistribution of wealth. In the West as factories shuttered, mechanized or moved overseas, the living standards of the working class declined. Meanwhile, in China prosperity grew, with the poverty rate falling from 84 percent in 1981 to only 12 percent by 2010,” Short writes. He adds, “the backlash against economic globalization is most marked in those countries such as the U.S. where economic dislocation unfolds with weak safety nets and limited government investment in job retraining or continuing and lifetime education.”

Short analyzes how expanding free markets, including the creation of the European Union and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have contributed in recent decades to the widespread resistance to globalization as more countries with a range of economic success are included in the process: “The EU is now at a point of inflexion where the previous decades of continual growth are coming up against popular resistance to EU enlargement into poorer and more peripheral countries. Newer entrants often have weaker economies and lower social welfare payments, prompting immigration to the richer members such as France and the U.K.”

However, Short argues that globalization now more than ever before should be a more connected, sustainable, and inclusive process that benefits everyone.

“The globalization project contains much that was desirable: improvements in living conditions through global trade, reducing conflict and threat of war through political globalization and encouraging cultural diversity in a widening cultural globalization,” explains Short. “The question now, in my view, is not whether we should accept or reject globalization but how we shape and guide it to these more progressive goals.”

Read the full article in The Conversation. For additional news coverage, see below.

Why there’s a globalization backlash (U.S. News and World Report) 
Column: Why there’s a backlash against globalization and what needs to change (PBS Newshour)
The new globalization: Brexit and Donald Trump represent a different backlash to free trade (Salon) 
What could the rise of ‘economic nationalism’ portend for the US? (Christian Science Monitor) 
Globalization and its discontents (The Millennium Post)     
Globalization and its discontents: Why there’s a backlash and how it needs to change (SF Gate) 

Image: John Rennie Short in his office. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.