Sunday, June 26, 2016
City-states, Nation-states, and Globalism - Financial centers view the world differently
The vote on BREXIT caught many in the financial centers by surprise. I don't want to argue the merits of either side but to focus on why the surprise occurred. My thesis is that the city-states that represent the intelligentsia of the global service economy have a different view of the world than those that think in terms of a nation-state. The success of the global service economy which includes capital has surpassed trade in goods and commodities. The world view of those in these global service cities transcends the concept of nation and gives these citizens a different perspective from the rest of their country.
This dichotomy has been going on for centuries but the special connectedness of the world is through city-states which place them at odds with rest of a country's population. It is not just any cities, but those that flourish under the global service economy of financial, consulting, media, entertainment and education that have a different view of immigration, globalism, and world order. The wide difference in vote between London and the rest of the UK is manifestation of the difference between the city and nation state.
Cities at the crossroads of trade have always been the place for the mingling of culture, ideas, and people. It was natural that the citizens of the city were traders, artists, intellectuals, merchants, and those that wanted to hide from the oppression of rulers. City identities arose even before many of the current nation-states existed. The non-city-states, the rest of the nation, often looked askew at these cities as being at odds with the regional culture.
We can go back in time with Athens, key cities in the Roman empire, the Italian trade centers in the Renaissance, the Netherlands, and London as key trade centers. Today, the true city-states of globalism include New York, London, Singapore, Dubai, Los Angeles, and Shanghai to name just a few. These cities do not have to be the biggest cities but rather those that have connectedness and reach around the global. They are the way stations of globalism. They are the centers of finance, so it should not be surprising that traders were caught off guard by the vote. Their world view and community is different. How could the vote to continue globalism fail when everyone around you is thinking the same?