Imperial Globalism, its Forms and Discontents

Despite the redemptive efforts of such scholars as Nigel Biggar (Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, 2023), colonialism has a shockingly bad reputation among those with little understanding of history and who harbour a victim-driven ideology. Hence, we see the smashing and removal of statues.  Calls for a(nother) voice for the indigenous.  The attack on historic figures like Captain Cook, Cecil Rhodes and any Brit who was ever in India.  Or anyone who ever owned a slave.  Global history is a tale of endless invasion.  Picking on one sub-category of “invaders” who ranged over the globe for a mere couple of hundred years and who both wreaked havoc and did immeasurable good is absurd, as we shall see.

On closer inspection, however, it turns out that colonialism (defined by settlement of another land) and its much older relation, imperialism (defined by domination without settlement), aren’t really the main culprits (assuming you think colonialism is a bad thing).  It happens that colonialism is but one model, one example, of what we might call “imperial globalism”, which is a far bigger phenomenon than colonialism.  Imperial globalism is also much larger than its current, very topical, yet fairly narrow definition, of “globalism” — the belief in world governance and the diminution of the nation state.  Colonialism is merely one species of the imperial globalist genus, among many.  In the broad sweep of history, it was a relatively minor one, too.  Moreover, imperial globalism predated the rise of the nation state by several millennia.  It also pre-dates the current, bizarre obsession with racism and white guilt that seems to be infecting just about everything and everyone.

Ever since man discovered that he could move more than a few miles from his abode, he has done so, with various motives, mostly nefarious and often involving the subjugation of distant others, and with far-reaching consequences.  As soon as we had transportation, we got imperial globalism.  Much more recently, when we acquired the capacity for instantaneous global communication, we also acquired new, turbo-charged forms of imperial globalism.

Think of the different forms of imperial globalism.  We have had invasions and occupations since the year dot.  From the Persian invasions of Greece around 500 BC and the Peloponnesian War to Ukraine in 2022.  Wikipedia’s list of invasions runs to several hundred. Down the centuries we have had new empires established.  Nations conquered.  “Spheres of influence” created.  Resources exploited.  Foreign cultures imposed.  Lives changed forever.  The Vikings, of course, mastered the dark arts of rape and pillage.  The Romans put a bit of stick about, as the fictional Francis Urquhart might have said.  The Hun.  The Mongols.  The Maori, even. 

In the twentieth century, we had the Nazis and the Communists.  We have the Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande and heading, en masse, “up north”.  We have Africans and Middle Easterners occupying Europe, many illegally.  Humans are notorious for not staying in their own lanes.

Now, also, we have Bill Gates, Klaus Schwab, the World Health Organisation and a clutch of other globalist institutions which in our time have taken over national institutions without physical occupation with stealth and their very own brand of imperialism. Sadly, this has been often with the connivance of national governments infected with the globalist virus.  This new form of imperial globalism demonstrates that it isn’t only nations that take over other nations, global institutions and woke corporations do it as well.  They are all at it, and their technology-enabled capacity for wielding totalitarian-level power, their effective reach, is far greater than anything that has gone before.

Think also of the stages of imperial globalism and its evolution – invasions, military conquests, occupations, the age of discovery and the global explorers, aboard their clippers sailing for “the new world”, the creation of colonial outposts, the settlement of foreign lands with or without negotiation with native peoples, military interventions in foreign wars, economic globalisation and trade, ideologically driven expansion (Nazism and communism), economic imperialism (China, capitalist multinationals), reverse colonialism, mass migration and the contemporary global governance movement.

Then there are the motivations for foreign adventuring down the years.  The need for (more or better) land.  The spirit of discovery and exploration.  Curiosity.  The economics of trade.  The imperialist urge.  The white man’s burden.  The Christian missionary imperative engineered by Jesus Christ, “go forth and teach all nations”.  Revenge and reverse colonialism.  The desire (of refugees, true and faux) for a better life somewhere else.  Escaping oppression, like the Puritans.  The desire for a homeland, as with Israel.  And today, corporations are motivated by power and control as well as the desire for wealth accumulation and mere greed.

As we see played out every day now in Australian politics, it is, perhaps oddly, one particular form of imperial globalist enterprise that seems to cause outsized and endless grief to self-described victims and self-described intellectuals.  This is, of course, the often benign British and European colonialism from the 1600s to the 1800s.  This resulted in the white settlement of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada.  Let’s face it, the main motivation of most whites supporting the Voice is the expiation of colonial guilt, something that the Voice is utterly ill-equipped to sate.  The main motivation for the indigenous supporters of the Voice is, arguably, power and revenge.

Most of the other forms of global aggression, many of which continue in our times and some of which are, indeed, accelerating, are largely ignored by political, economic and cultural elites.  In some cases, because they are driven by those very same elites.  And, as we will see, not all forms of geographical takeover have involved occupation or invasion.  At some point, too, and certainly not in the era of Western, trade-driven colonialism, globalism became a neo-imperialist project.


The Twentieth Century and Economic Globalisation

The twentieth century has brought forth several new modes of imperial globalism.  Think of the various stages of economic globalisation, defined as the breaking down of all barriers to the free movement of people, goods, services and capital across national boundaries, and the consequent integration of the world’s economies.  Currencies were floated, tariffs were cut, border controls were lifted, especially for financial transactions, jobs were outsourced to what we used to call Third World countries, home industries such as manufacturing were decimated.  It was a whole new global economy.  Multinationals sprang forth.  Again, this was economic colonisation, without invasions.  The East India Company brought up to date.

Much of what might be considered as “the right” of politics and economics – certainly the neo-liberals – were unabashed defenders of globalisation.  They saw it as reducing poverty in developing countries, as well as driving the creation of new cross-border industries and promoting trade.  The old left, represented by people like Joseph Stiglitz, saw only downside.  Ironically, it is now the right, loosely defined, that opposes globalism as an attack on national and individual sovereignty, while the new left just loves it, for the same reason. 

The outcomes and legacy of late twentieth century globalisation have been mixed.  Asian call centres are merely the most annoying.  The financialisation of everything has been the most significant.  The loss of domestic jobs and the crushing of communities dependent on old industries has caused the most pain.  The creation of “global cities” with more connection to other global cities than to their own hinterlands has been perhaps the most culturally and geographically telling.  The whole technological revolution has combined with globalisation to deliver permanent revolution in economies.  Tech has given globalisation the shape and the reach it has assumed.  It all peaked in the 1990s. Edward Luttwak put it in a nutshell in his book, Turbo Capitalism, in 1998:

It enriches industrializing poor countries, impoverishes the semi-affluent majority in rich countries, and greatly adds to the incomes of the top 1 percent on both sides who are managing the arbitrage.

(For a masterful account of the recent period of globalisation, see Christopher Caldwell’s book review of Richard Baldwin’s The Great Convergence, 2016).

Is globalisation a form of imperialism?  It certainly is.  Again, without invasion or occupation, it has meant the end of economic nationalism, it has removed jobs from one country to others, it has enabled the creation of a new kind of tentacled multinational corporation, and has eliminated the sanctity of borders, with all of the citizen protections they once provided.

The late Sir Roger Scruton identified one aspect of the globalisation process that was particularly imperialist.  This was the decision to allow foreign nationals to own property in Britain, which Scruton named as a key turning point in the decline of local economies and communities in his beloved homeland.  A place that John Cleese has said (to his cost) is “unrecognisable”.  The resistance to globalisation was led by Donald Trump, the MAGA-man, and its ongoing battles are fought by politicians like JD Vance in the US Senate and by the writers of Compact magazine.


The Current Forms of Imperial Globalism

There are four core elements of the current and perhaps final phase of imperial globalism.  They are the Chinese model of economic imperialism, the drive for global governance, reverse colonialism and mass immigration.  Together, they are achieving the control of nations by other nations, the control of citizens by supra-national bodies and global elites, the occupation and takeover of former colonial powers by their former subjects, and the inexorable march of global mass migration.  Each is imperialist, and yet none involve forced occupation of another land.

First, to China.

Alert leftists such as Clive Hamilton (Silent Invasion, 2018, and Hidden Hand, 2020) and international trade specialists like Stewart Patterson (China, Trade and Power: Why the West’s Economic Engagement Has Failed, 200) have done a sterling job analysing the way China has taken over much of the world’s economy without invading anyone.  Hamilton focused on China’s methods of infiltrating other countries, while Patterson detailed the West’s massive error in welcoming China to the World Trade Organisation in 2001.  This has been textbook economic imperialism with a fresh, twenty-first century Asian face.  Foolishly, the West politely held the door ajar for the Chinese Communist Party and in it marched.  A second long march, you might say.  China has simply copied the multinational capitalist model, already well established.  Indeed, it might be said to have perfected it.

Then we have the drive for global governance and the new world order, perhaps the most talked about form of imperial globalism today. 

Certainly, this is the case for what Laurence Fox has called “conspiracy factualists”, who focus their attention upon the efforts of the World Economic Forum and other supra-national institutions with global reach, Big Tech oligarchs and private equity firms (such as Vanguard and BlackRock), to impose global control over nations and their peoples through what they openly call “the great reset”.  This is not about military might.  It is about using a global public-private-partnership model of global-institution strength to overthrow democracy and liberty in individual nations, typically by the use of hard and soft power during manufactured “crises” that are said to require “global solutions”.  Think COVID and climate change.  This model effectively removes the rights of citizens to control their political systems and to live the lives they have taken for granted.  That this process is currently proceeding apace with the active support of sovereign nations is simply staggering, and shows just how much of a hold the globalist mindset has over political and business elites.

This push (putsch?) is not exactly new, either.  You can go back to earlier generations of the Rockefellers, for example.  Corporate titans whose trajectory was big business (oil in the case of the Rockefellers) to philanthropy to saving the world to creating a new world in their image.  And a new world with far, far fewer people — 90 per cent fewer, Jane Goodall thinks. 

We had the Club of Rome (The Limits to Growth, 1972), the Bilderberg Group and the emerging, UN-based sustainability-greens of the 1970s.  Not to mention Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Trilateral Commission, also in the 70s, then Bush 41 with his pie-in-the-sky ideas of a liberal new world order, post the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  It is not new, but it is now embedded at the highest levels of the corporatist State and across all the institutions atop the commanding heights of society.

It has been a case of “technocracy rising”.  For it will be the technocrats who will rule the world and enforce the diktats of the globalist corporate class and their serfs and fellow travellers in politics.  For the latter, think Macron, Trudeau, Boris Johnson, Jacinda Ardern, Merkel, Helen Clark, Malcolm Turnbull, Ursula von de Leyen and the rest.  Then there is the corporate media, imposing a “cone of silence” on any debate about imperial globalism, other than that over colonialism, of course.  About which there is endless “debate”.  And for debate, read “noise”.

The third element of the current imperial globalism is what we might call “reverse colonialism”. 

This involves two processes.  One is the invasion of former colonial Western nations by those who were once the “victims” of the colonial period.  Think of the Algerians and others who now occupy what are effectively no-go zones in the banlieues of Paris and the Pakistani child rapists of Rotherham, Oxford and other townships of Britain.  Europe has seen wave after wave of mass immigration by people they once ruled.  The two most obvious examples are the recent invasion of Britain by boat people and the decision by Angela Merkel in 2015 to open the German borders “refuges” from the Global South.  The second is the internal, reverse takeover of governance by indigenous groups; think of our very own advocates for the Voice.  The second, of course, doesn’t involve any invasions, merely the occupation of seats of power within nations.  Each form is equally effective in changing the face of former colonial powers, and this is their intention.  Payback time.

Mass migration is the fourth and, perhaps, the last great stage of the imperial globalism project. 

There can be little doubt that government-directed mass migration and its ultimate purpose, multiculturalism and the elimination of “whiteness”, is a form of imperialism, certainly of globalism.  If we can’t get rid of nations, well, we will get rid of the national identities upon which those nations were based.  Paul Keating famously (if erroneously, in these days of the UniParty) once said that “change the government, and you change the country”.  Well, how about changing the population?  That certainly changes the country.  Far more, I would have thought, than changing the government.  As Christopher Caldwell put it, “can Europe be the same with different people in it?”  Can Australia, under the weight of mass immigration?

Lenin famously described imperialism as “the highest stage of capitalism”.  He was ignoring, either wilfully or through ignorance, much of the long history of globalism, and failing to anticipate globalism’s future trajectory and forms.  He wanted to pin it all on capitalism — an absurd claim and an especially ironic one, given that the Soviet Union made Eastern Europe its plaything a few short decades later, after World War Two.  Soviet imperialism created the Cold War, and on at least one occasion (the Cuban Missile Crisis) this nearly led to nuclear war. 

To isolate and punish the Western colonialism of the 1600s to the 1800s, as the current Black Lives Matter brigade do, is a massive failure of historical understanding.

3 thoughts on “Imperial Globalism, its Forms and Discontents

  • Sindri says:

    “Now, also, we have Bill Gates, Klaus Schwab . . . [who] in our time have taken over national institutions . .
    Paul, lots of good points in your piece. However, please state – with precision – which “national institutions” Bill Gates and Klaus Schwab have “taken over”, and how they have taken those institutions over.
    And for that matter, which “national institutions” has the WHO “taken over”?
    You can despise these individuals and organisations all you like, but to assert that Bill Gates or Klaus Schwab have “taken over national institutions” is a scattergun statement, lazy thinking, equally lazily expressed.
    Conspiracy theories ought to have no place in Quadrant.

  • rod.stuart says:

    As for Kalus Schwab, I think that the cabinets of Western governments count as “institiutions”.

  • Watchman Williams says:

    An excellent summary of the catastrophic results of the Fabian agenda implemented during the last fifty years. But I think that you err, Paul, in attributing the response of Western Parliamentarians to “reducing poverty in developing countries, as well as driving the creation of new cross-border industries and promoting trade”. There were no moral objectives involved in the surrender, by politicians, of national integrity and sovereignty.
    The whole globalist push is driven by greed – the lust for more – and has just two goals; the accumulation of more wealth and power by those who already have it. This has seen the wholesale bribery of politicians of every party so that, irrespective of the party in power, the national interest, and the wishes of citizens, are abandoned in favour of the globalist agenda.
    It is the triumph of two false doctrines that emerged in the eighties – “Greed is good” and “Big is beautiful” – and the people of the West, having sown the wind, must now reap the whirlwind.

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