They have a vision of a world where not only capital and goods but people move freely across borders. Indeed, borders disappear. It is a vision of a ‘deep integration’ of the United States, Canada and Mexico in a North American Union, modeled on the European Union .... It is about the merger of nations into larger transnational entities and, ultimately, global governance. ....It’ll surprise few to learn that the author is erstwhile Republican presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan. (The column appeared in hard copy in today's San Francisco Chronicle, but only self-identified conservative sites've put it online.) That Buchanan so easily pushes nationalist hot buttons -- "European Union," "global governance," and "transnational elite," not to mention an omitted passage about "bright kids" from "Asia" who’ll take jobs from "middle-age U.S. workers" -- deserves attention.
It is about globalism – and about greed. But they have a problem. The nation has begun to awaken to the reality that the vision of the global corporation and the transnational elite cannot be realized without the death of the American republic. And so they are in a fight that is long overdue.
The costs and benefits of economic integration measures – NAFTA, for instance – indeed ought to be examined, and appropriate adjustments ought to be made. More fundamental is the need to address what Europeans well know to be, as Francesca E. Bignami among others has analyzed, the problem of democratic deficit. Essential sooner than later are examination and adjustment of how integration happens – assurances that the persons who "govern" new transnational institutions can be identified with the same ease that a citizen identifies her elected representatives, that decisions are made by an open and transparent transnational politics, and that the makers and implementers can be held to account by those in whose name they do their work. (As discussed below, the World Bank might be a good place to start.)
In writing of "global-ism" Buchanan implies that goods and people are moving across national borders in service of an ideology against which battle can be won. That sentiment has an ironic resonance with the "anti-globalization" critique of the wing well opposite Buchanan. The premise of both is, at best, dubious. Globalization is. Technology’s advanced to a degree that goods, people, and ideas move whether some "elite" likes it or not. The question, then, is not whether there ought to be such movements, but rather how such movements ought to occur. What is needed is not nihilist fueling of fear, not calls to a combat that cannot be won, but rather an other-globalization -- work toward fairer, more open, and more democratic ways for the world to move together.