A gloomy report on the end of globalization featuring a unique thesis that harkens back to 17th-century England.
O’Sullivan, the chief investment officer in the international wealth management division at Credit Suisse, first imparts a wealth of historical information to explain how the current sense of a “world turned upside down” is actually a transition phase not unlike the tail end of the previous period of global growth that occurred just before World War I. Globalization, in short, is defunct, and following a huge expansion in world markets, trade, and financial institutions, it is all coming apart—as in the early decades of the previous century—due to protectionism, tariffs, rise in poverty, debt, ill-health, unemployment, inequality, protest voting, and right-wing policies. The author begins his study with the depressing state of current affairs and then addresses the challenge of “darker scenarios that threaten the world we live in.” He delineates a fascinating grassroots movement that erupted during the throes of the English civil war, one that might lend practical solutions for today. The Levellers emerged as a democratic faction of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, a “mongrel” group of regular people, soldiers, and tradespeople, both men and women, as opposed to the “Grandees” who held the power in Parliament. Over the course of several so-called Putney Debates in St. Mary’s Church in London in the 1640s, they laid out a case for “repairing the broken contract of trust between elected representatives and their electorates,” pleading for equality, accountability, responsibility, and transparency in government, along with unfettered trade and debt relief. The ramifications of the Levellers’ demands later appeared in the revolutionary constitutions of America and France, and O’Sullivan also examines what Alexander Hamilton might have suggested as a solution for our current mess. With a generous nod to the work of previous authors and experts, the author offers a solid synthesis of prognosis and practical solutions.
While the book is somewhat of a structural patchwork, the concept of O’Sullivan’s Levelling presentation is fresh and thought-provoking.