Globalists and Other Traitors

II. Globalists and Other Traitors

Likely it was in the late 1970s when I saw my first “Think Globally, Act Locally” bumper sticker, and like many a young environmentalist, I thought the sentiment might guide my actions—my politics, my purchases, ultimately my decision to adopt a personal “one-child” policy and raise my lone and darling offspring a certain way. In a vague manner, I considered myself a “globalist” who happened just then to live in Austin, Texas. (To clarify: I certainly did not call myself a Texan then; I knew better.)

But while I wasn’t paying attention, globalist became a curse word, an epithet for all manner of obscene practices, like caring more about a philosophy or a faith than about one’s nation. Well, I reflected, guilty as charged. I found the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more pertinent to my personal beliefs than the U.S. Constitution. When I drove past the rare but earnest “U.N-Free Zone” sign, I laughed a little.

That is, until the world began to tilt on its axis during the last few years.

I woke up to find, for instance, that globalist had become a more acceptable, less hateful way to refer to Jewish people in a post-Holocaust world. When Chief White House Economic Advisor Gary Cohn (see his entry in the Jewish Virtual Library) resigned during the second year of the Trump Presidency, his boss bid him farewell with this parting “compliment”: “He may be a globalist, but I still like him.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, noted the origin of the term globalist. “Where the term originates from is a reference to Jewish people who are seen as having allegiances not to their countries of origin like the United States, but to some global conspiracy” (

The same charge was waged against “Papists” in another era, of course. As a lapsed Unitarian Universalist, I myself barely escaped the snares of another globalist religious conspiracy. I wonder: would the Union of Concerned Scientists or Doctors Without Borders be considered “global conspiracies” as well?

In the less coded reign of the Third Reich, Hitler referred to European Jews as “international elements” who “conduct their business everywhere” and in so doing undermine “traditional Germans” who were, in Hitler’s words, “bounded to their soil, to the Fatherland” (

The Führer’s Italian comrade-in-arms spoke more belligerently. Mussolini’s Fascists rejected outright the peace that the devastated nations of Europe sought after the First World War. In The Doctrine of Fascism, Mussolini and his co-author Giovanni Gentile declared, “Fascism does not … believe in the possibility or utility of perpetual peace. It therefore discards pacifism as a cloak for cowardly supine renunciation in contradistinction to self-sacrifice. … War alone keys up all human energies to their maximum tension and sets the seal of nobility on those peoples who have the courage to face it.”

Mussolini’s veneration of youth was rooted in a belief that over-50 citizens no longer possessed sufficiently “belligerent desires.” For Mussolini, these doddering seniors sought only the “quiet life, ready for compromises, peace” (

The 1930s were hard times for peace-seeking globalists. Misery was their lot as the rough beast Fascism rose in the post-war desert, “its gaze blank and pitiless as the sun.” They stood by helplessly as the nascent League of Nations was dismembered before their eyes. As noble a vision as the League had been, it proved ineffective when Mussolini’s armies invaded Ethiopia. The League’s economic sanctions alone could not deter the Italian Fascists, and the United States’ unwillingness to commit to collective security meant this early experiment in globalism was doomed.

Recent attacks on globalism have arisen not only among the ranks of racist reactionaries, but from potent critics on the left as well. Vigorous and sometimes violent antiglobalism protests in Seattle (1999), in Washington and Prague (2000), and Quebec City (2001) took aim at the privatization of health care, of education, of water, of identity, of human relationships in general. The protestors aimed their protests against capitalism, perhaps because capitalists had championed the globalist project more vigorously than political leaders had.