One way to map today’s debates is in terms of Nationalists versus Globalists. We’re to see the former as eager to close borders and stem any tide of immigration whereas the latter want greater international collaboration through trade, meaning shorter queues at borders, if any, especially for trucks. Globalists tend to focus on infrastructure projects such as One Band One Road. A subset is focused on hyperloop, or at least high speed trains.
I think of Lyndon LaRouche as a globalist. He casts himself as contra the British Empire, and anyone psychologically countering empire is ipso facto a globalist. However, that brings up a question about mutual dependence between these two teams (Nationalists and Globalists): aren’t ardent nationalists thinking globally (while acting locally) too?
I suppose we might say both globalists and nationalists think globally, but come up with different world domination agendas about what to do locally. Globalists want to build border-crossing freeways without long queues, such as the federation of states in North America mostly enjoy. The EU promised Eurasian continental drivers a similar experience. Border stops along train routes are equally dreary. Software engineers see the stupidity of using paper documentation and needing to serialize all these paper checks.
The metaphors used in thinking globally involve grids, including transportation and electrical grids, and packet switching. The TCP/IP protocol, backbone of the internet, reminds everyone of cargo containers and indeed the maritime and telecommunications industries have always worked together closely, more recently as aerospace. Software developers have adopted a technology called Docker, which is all about self-contained containers with well-defined APIs. Rust programmers (Rust being a language), use “cargo” as a build tool, and swap code around in “crates”.
Nationalists tend to come from the censorship side, when it comes to the free flow of packets on a global grid. Public charter school systems in the US may choose to block RT, or Al Jazeera, or whatever content, much to the consternation of debate teams struggling to explore all sides of any issue. Liberal arts colleges are less likely to get caught blocking content, but still reserve a right to monitor IP traffic. A lot of universities just want to help the intellectual property (another meaning of IP) police crack down on BitTorrent and such. This has been a theme since the days of Napster.
What do nationalists in other zip codes censor? What would be interesting to code is a public service that listed all jurisdictions in which a given URL could not be accessed. Cut and paste the URL into an engine, and get back a map of where said URL might be viewed or not viewed. The application would require bots to ping URLs from numerous internet service subscribers around the world. If not a public service, then perhaps a pay to play service marketed to journalists especially. Let the New York Times share world maps of where this or that URL would not work.
I bring up the blocking of RT and Al Jazeera in particular as I think creating firewalls in cyberspace is what Nationalists are most interested in doing, and yet have the weakest case.
Al Jazeera was singled out by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for countering the Pentagon’s propaganda too effectively. An award-winning documentary, Control Room (2004), chronicled these tensions. Many cable TV services in the US chose to exclude the English language version. Those with internet access would have an edge.
By 2016, the same establishment was deeply concerned by RT’s directly reaching into the echo chambers and participating in the process of stirring public opinion. The DNI report, synthesizing the findings of the IC (intelligence community), suggested to those reading between the lines that IC professionals, including in and around the District of Columbia, watched a lot of RT, available on Youtube (except in some schools).
Nationalists don’t want aliens poisoning the minds of little children, future citizens; that should be their prerogative and protected market.
Geographic borders are indeed a hallmark attribute of nation-states, what with Customs Houses and the need for substance control. Protecting native agriculture is a big part of what these screening stations are about. Airports confiscate huge amounts of fruits and vegetables that passengers hope to get through with.
But electrons bouncing to satellites are harder to control and encode only bits, not DNA. Packet switching finds ways to route around the censors. Military grade encryption may be used. Globalists tend to exult in the new freedoms the sharing of a cyberspace affords, whereas Nationalists view it with some trepidation. Yes, these are broad brush stereotypes I realize.
As you’ve no doubt realized, I’m an out of the closet globalist myself. However I realize I was born into a World of Nations (united or not) and since I have no desire to play dictator or tyrant, I’m the first to admit I’m vastly outnumbered, by true believers in nation-states. So when it comes to Truckers for Peace, which I’ve been designing on the model of the Peace Corps, I’m thinking in terms of keeping border queues short to non-existent where feasible. Some crossings may be specifically for trucks hauling shipping containers. Passenger vehicles queue elsewhere. Truckers cannot afford to keep refrigeration units running hour after hour as they sit in line to be inspected.
Say I’m a trucker based in Texas and have a lot of experience in the middle states. A kind of matching service might let me try some alternative routes, some of which might actually be on different continents. These assignments require people skills as well as driving skills and on a first adventure, I might ride shotgun (as a passenger) much of the time, swapping with my more experienced local guide along specific stretches.
I’m an apprentice, taking in different cultures and different truck stop experiences. I may be earning academic credit while my resume is reflecting my having learned some more ropes. Shippers love me, because I’m able to identify more opportunities for trade. Folks back home in Texas would just love these specialty items from some bazaar or souk. Immigrants may gain a way to take working vacations back in the homeland. Work for the Chinese Peace Corps driving from Cape Town to Maseru, just like old times.
I mentioned Lyndon LaRouche up above, which may have seemed somewhat strange and out of context. He’s run as a candidate for US president a few times, and has a Quaker background, like Nixon did. My family joined Friends (Quakers) in the 1950s, as both my parents were questioning the need for violent outward wars in the Space Age. I was born at the height of the Cold War when many citizens were concerned about the immanent prospect of Armageddon.
I share these autobiographical details to maybe better explain my tendency to track LaRouche rather than George Soros, the latter being cast as the paradigm globalist villain in most contemporary taxonomies. Bannon and Trump were held up as paradigm nationalists, with Ann Coulter supporting closing borders more. Nationalists were credited for Brexit and for whipping up hysteria about refugees and the need to protect local economies.
Another globalist I write about, and link to Quakerism, by way of New England Transcendentalism, is R. Buckminster Fuller (RBF). He taught his students to think in terms of electrical grids and telecommunications infrastructure. Various articles in WIRED, such as a famous one by Neal Stephenson, of Cryptonomicon fame, come to mind. Geeks saw themselves as part of a design science revolution that would feature changing ideas about intellectual property and collaboration.
I don’t think many found the time to read RBF’s Grunch of Giants published around the time he was awarded the Medal of Freedom, but here was an influential set of blueprints nonetheless. RBF has a following in the intelligence community to this day, tracing back to radomes (the DEW line) and early Expo days. The geodesic dome at the World’s Fair in Kabul attracted Khrushchev’s attention, which in turn helped further propel Fuller’s career as a jet setter citizen diplomat.
Given Fuller’s influence, geeks of my ilk are therefore typically looking at the electrical grid implications, when it comes to repairing war-torn societies. The US Army Corps of Engineers shared some data about the Iran-Iraq grid connections back in the day. Google Earth may not be up to date yet.
Nowadays we’re looking at the Korean peninsula, and plans for better grid integration there. Where do the electrons come from, when you turn on a light switch? Where do they come from when you enter a specific URL? Electrical power and information don’t usually share the same circuits, yet each needs the other and they’re deeply intermixed. Electrons rule.