Monday, March 2, 2020

Roger Scruton, Where We Are: The State of Britain Now (Bloomsbury, 2017).

No matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum, you can’t help but notice a certain isolationist trend sweeping across the globe. In our own country, there are tariffs, the wall, and stronger immigration controls. One might reasonably conclude that these policies can be traced, more or less, to this condition.

The United States is by no means the only nation affected. Many observers argue that reaction to the open-border policy dictated by its membership in the European Union lies behind the narrow referendum victory supporting the United Kingdom’s secession from that organization. This, of course, is an over-simplified view of the arguments supporting Brexit.

In fact, as the late Roger Scruton argues in Where We Are, the resentments arising out of the EEC’s open-border policy are merely a symptom of globalization, driven by advances in technology and the boundary-free nature of cyberspace. Cyberspace is “everywhere and nowhere,” a “world of constant information” connecting people to “networks rather than places.”  The internet, Scruton tells us, “is an unpoliced nowhere, a kind of Hobbesian state of nature in cyberspace . . . that cannot compete with the trustworthy somewhere for which all people yearn.”

For the entrepreneur, the direction of the global economy is clear: “In 2006 only one of the six most valuable companies in the Fortune 500 index was an information technology company; in 2016 only one was not such a company.” The unanswered question is whether the yearning for a homogenous “home” is an unavoidable byproduct of globalization and transformation to an information economy. 

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