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Open versus closed: a question for the cosmopolitans among us

By Kristof Decoster
on August 4, 2016

Last week, the Economist spotted a new  political divide, at least in the US and many European countries, between  “open” versus “closed” types, or pro-globalization and anti-globalization politicians (and voters).

As the globalization backlash in “rich countries” (in outdated Economist jargon) is now pretty clear for everybody, with the Brexit of course as its most obvious signal, the journal is definitely not the only one making this new distinction that replaces left versus right in the journal’s trademark biased view. Or as they eloquently call it, “Anti-globalists and closed-world types are the gravest risk to the free world since communism.”

There’s clearly some truth to it, as headlines from the US, Poland, UK, France etc tell us, but there’s also a lot to be said about this ‘new political divide’. It’s a fairly simplistic view, especially when it comes to the causes of it.  Last week, Ann Pettifor made an obvious point in a tweet, “Before pontificating, the @theEconomist should ask: who created this world?

Here I just want to make another point. It’s more a very short reflection, actually.

How “cosmopolitan” and “open“ can we actually call ourselves, if we – as some of us do – keep  flying all over the world, while having all the knowledge needed about the grave danger of global warming? Of course, we all tell ourselves we do this to make the world a better place (while also taking care of our petty careers).  But how much evidence of ‘shared responsibility’ for future generations do we actually show, if we stubbornly ignore carbon inequality?

Put differently, how many ‘walls’, “barriers” and ‘fortresses’ for future generations will our current behavior cause in decades from now?

You tell me.

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