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jerryking : post_globalization   1

The belle époque of the small nation is over
September 28, 2018 | Financial Times | by JANAN GANESH.

Globalisation has been the era of small countries but that time may now be passing. Ganesh raises an interesting point, what happens to small countries that, since the end of WW2, have enjoyed the protection of the rules-based system (UN, WTO, NATO, Pax Americana).

Singapore leaders were determined in their quest to that small nation be less small.....The paradox is that smallness has been an edge, not a curse, in the liberal age. For all the grandiloquence about a Washington Consensus and a Pax Americana, the US was never the principal profiteer from globalisation.....The real beneficiaries were the rapid enrichment of Ireland, the ethnic diversification of Sweden, the technological fecundity of Israel and the rise of Dubai from the sands as a shimmering entrepôt......1990-2010 was the golden age--the belle époque--of the small nation....Rules-based globalism was a precious equaliser for these places.... it also made advantages of their liabilities....Their shortage of domestic consumers was the ultimate incentive to cast around for other markets. Their lack of capital made them welcome foreign investors. Even the nicheness of their native languages (in some cases) obliged them to master English.

There is, without leaning too much on “national character”, a small-country hardiness acceptance of the outside world as a non-negotiable fact: a blend of fatalism and resourcefulness that makes for formidable migrants....If small countries have mastered the global age, it is a feat that goes beyond the economic. They also have a cultural reach that was hard to picture not long ago, when nations needed the brawn of a BBC or a Canal Plus to foist their creative wares on distant audiences....all attest to what we are now obliged to call the “soft power” of small countries....The mistake is to see this moment as eternal. For those who live in or care about these places, the dread is that the coming decades will be as harsh as the last few have been kind. Almost all the conditions that allowed small nations to bloom look precarious....growing protectionism...big states throwing their weight around....Peter Thiel, in his bid for NZ citizenship, said he found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. It was telling that such a prolific maker of sound bets backed a small, open, adaptable nation.
I am more optimistic and believe many small states will adjust just fine. Why? Think of Taleb's flexibility idea - small states are less fragile than bigger ones, more nimble, more homogenous, faster to change I like also to add that there are more smaller successful counties than the ones mentioned (e.g., Switzerland, Costa Rica).
The flip side is that small countries may have greater ability to act thoughtfully and coherently than larger peers. But I agree - it is likely to be tough ahead.

Here in Singapore, a senior politician summed it up very well: we are just a block of granite in the south china sea, and have no God-given right to exist as a country. The only way we can survive is by being paranoid and continuously reinventing ourselves.
city-states  globalization  Iceland  Janan_Ganesh  nimbleness  Peter_Thiel  post_globalization  rules-based  Singapore  small_states  soft_power  antifragility  Dubai  Ireland  punch-above-its-weight  paranoia  reinvention 
october 2018 by jerryking

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