TWO Washington Post columnists I like have come out in The Manila Times discussing how recent events have knocked down theories espousing that global economic growth would automatically bring about world peace.
The first of these columnist is Anne Applebaum, whose “Russia’s blow to globalization” column that came out in The Times on August 10 told readers of the fallacy of the “McDonald’s theory of international relations.”
She wrote: “The idea was that no country with a McDonald’s restaurant would ever go to war with another country with a McDonald’s restaurant, because in order to have a McDonald’s restaurant you had to be thoroughly integrated into the global economy, and if you were integrated into the global economy you would never attack another one of its other members. This theory of “McPeace” was exploded, literally, by the American bombardment of Belgrade, the city which in 1988 had opened the first McDonald’s restaurant in the whole of what was about to become the ex-communist bloc.”
Despite that early 1988 debunking of the “McPeace Theory” the hope that “it might be true somehow lingered on.”
Alas, Applebaum continues, in early August, “as Russia, a country with 433 McDonald’s, ramps up its attack on Ukraine, a country with 77 McDonald’s, I think we can finally now declare the McPeace theory officially null and void. Indeed, the future of McDonald’s in Russia, which once seemed so bright—remember the long lines in Moscow for Big Macs?—has itself grown dim. In July, the Russian consumer protection agency sued McDonald’s for supposedly violating health regulations. This same consumer protection agency also banned Georgian wine and mineral water ‘for sanitary reasons’ before the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, and it periodically lashes out at Lithuanian cheese, Polish meat and other politically unacceptable products as well.”
The idea that globalization and more-or-less happy trade relations between countries will ensure world peace and that once McPeace has been installed it becomes irreversible comes with the much desired “win-win” solution to any conflict. Everyone has been made to think that there’s a “win-win” formula waiting to be discovered in any conflict situation. Anne Applebaum wrote that the theory has made people believe during these past two decades that “Surely the binding ties of trade would last forever because they were mutually advantageous. No country which had seriously begun to play this ‘win-win’ game would ever be able to abandon it, because the political costs of doing so would be too high. Trade wars were meant to be a thing of the past.”
In today’s OpEd section the Samuelson column on page 5 also recalls what Anne Applebaum wrote last week. He writes in “The post-euphoric world” that “we are witnessing in the spreading turmoil around the world—in Iraq, in Ukraine, in Gaza—is the silent rejection of a central tenet of U.S. post-World War II foreign policy: that global prosperity would foster peace and stability. Countries would rather trade than fight. Promoting economic growth would suppress the divisive forces of nationalism, ideology, religion and culture. So we thought.”
‘End of history’ theory debunked
Samuelson reminds us that in 1989 “Francis Fukuyama had written a famous (and naive) essay arguing that we had reached ‘the end of history.’ Most countries would march toward democratic political systems and relatively free-market economies, he said.”
After only two decades Fukuyama’s thesis is now proved to be a Pollyanna view of mankind. Unfortunately, I still hear some Filipino intellectuals who must have stopped reading at the end of the Ronald Reagan presidency, talking about “the end of history” as if it were still a valid theory.
So, do all these mean that Mao is right? Except that his disobedient heirs now ruling the People’s Republic of China are correctly upsetting the Western Powers by carrying out the Marxist-Leninist doctrine in the capitalist world, playing the game the way the Europeans, the Japanese and the Americans do—except that their cards are state-owned corporations allowed to behave like private-sector ones?
Then, how do poor countries, like the Philippines, deal with this problem of a world not enjoying McPeace but instead suffering from the revival of trade wars between nations and aggressive moves by the rich and mighty, like Communist-Party-ruled China, taking over our islands, shoals and reefs?
That’s a very hard question to answer.
But I have a way for us Filipinos to have peace—in our hearts. And probably contribute to making a world that is less stressed by conflicts and wars.
Principles of solidarity and subsidiarity
We have to listen to what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about the dignity of every human being. This immediately removes the lack of peace between individuals. It immediately begins to solve our—and other countries’ problems—of having leaders whose capacity to govern is deficient. Their deficiencies— morally, managerially and technically—arise from their lack of an ethical vision.
If they were guided by what they probably consider the corny vision that John Paul II and Benedict XVI were offering—the vision of a “Civilization of Love”—we would not have the horrors of corruption and hypocrisy we see hiding behind tarps proclaiming “Tuwid na Daan.”
This vision requires a belief that we are God’s creatures, specially endowed with rationality and souls that “feel” sick when they do not love their Creator and their fellow men.
This vision requires a belief and commitment to promote solidarity—unity—with every other human being because the common origin of our existence is God and our common destiny is God, like Jesus Christ Himself.
Therefore, we citizens and our leaders would be concerned with the welfare of others in everything we do.
Then, arising from the commitment to respect the dignity of every human being, our leaders must also be guided by the principle of respecting the lower members of society in assigning work and responsibility to create a prosperous and happy society. This is the principle of subsidiarity.
This means the mighty must respect the dignity of the lowly.
The higher and more capable segments of society must not take away the power, functions and responsibility to do good work, attain goals and achievements, from the lesser segments below them.
This removes dictatorships from the minds of leaders.