The most recent book from S. D. King can help make the culture of production more complete

 

To be conscious of what you are, what you are doing and the end goal of your mission. These are probably the most important qualities of any astute entrepreneur or manager. It is a question of your knowledge of the world, and therefore of the environment in which you operate. It also an important question of having an accomplished corporate culture. This is what the most recent book from Stephen D.King – economist and consultant for HSBC, is perfect for.

“Grave New World. The End of Globalisation, the Return of History” is one of those books you have to read if you want to know more about the context of the world you are living in. The book – not particularly brief but extremely readable – begins with the consideration that the strategy built on the principles of free trade and – from the 1980s onwards – free capital markets, is beginning to show signs of cracking. In the Western world, economic growth remains unsatisfactory, with many countries no longer willing to sacrifice national interests in the interests of global growth. Nor do their leaders seem capable of or willing to convince their citizens to work for an agenda which favours global wellbeing. National politics are re-emerging built on “us” and “them”, aiding an unwelcome return to isolationism and protectionism.Combining historical analysis with observations on the present, up to and including Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential elections, King is led to conclude that rejection of globalisation and the return of “autarchy” increases the risk of future economic and political conflict, while he also uses the lessons of history to understand how we can avoid the most unpleasant outcomes.

The author demonstrates these basic assumptions by taking the reader by the hand and leading them through the history of the last hundred or so years. He does so with precision but also enthusiasm and above all with a disillusioned, at times provocative, approach.

Other than the general charcteristics of globalisation, King also takes into consideration globalisation’s relationship with individual communities, nation states and the various “visions” derived from stories taken from every part of the world (Western, Chinese, Ottoman, Russia, Persian, African). The book then considers potential developments in the 21st century, with a particular focus on technology, currencies and markets.

The last section, titled “Globalisation in crisis”, takes an in depth look at the aspects which have in some way defined recent years, and especially at the aspects of isolationist and globalist forces which promise to dominate the future.

King writes towards the end of the book: “If the world gives in to the polemic between ‘us’ and ‘them’, it is but a short step from initial distrust to open conflict – economic, financial and even military. And the challenges to the globalisation process will only become more difficult in the years to come.” Comparing globalisation and isolationism, King explains that “Successful globalisation cannot be a process driven solely by the markets. It also has to include international support for those ideas and institutions which help us to mutually respect our duties and responsibilities,” while looking at the push for isolationism he adds: “And for those who want isolationism and protectionism, at the end of the day they have to ask themselves how they can possibly think that history is on their side. If their vision should prevail, it really would be the end of the new world.”

King’s book should be read free from distractions, though it’s also the kind of book you might well want to read all in one sitting.

 

Grave New World. The End of Globalisation, the Return of History

Stephen D. King

Franco Angeli, 2017

14/12/2017