global-citizenship

What’s happening to the concept of global citizenship?

Donald Trump said that he wanted to make America great again. To put it mildly, we are seeing a backlash against immigration.

But is this old-fashioned thinking?

At the recent Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May said: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

But is she right?

It may boil down to technology.

The Internet does not recognise international boundaries – the social media generation and indeed the Xbox/PlayStation generation are used to communicating across frontiers.

Technologies such as Hyperloop may be able to cut travelling times over long distances, technologies such as augmented reality may make it way easier to communicate with people on the other side of the planet, technologies such as virtual reality may enable us to dive into virtual worlds, sharing our domain with people across the world. But the political agenda seems to support pulling up drawbridges across the world.

One of the curiosities about the backlash against globalisation that has led to the rise of Trump or may have powered the Brexit vote, is that despite what its critics say, Globalisation has lowered global inequality. It has helped pull over a billion people out of poverty.

But in the west, while globalisation has helped boost western economies overall, its benefits have been less widespread.

And so we see a clash between national priorities and global priorities.

But climate change is clearly a global issue.

And as Anthony Hilton argued in the Standard a few weeks ago, Britain is suffering because politicians don’t get tech.

We are in the midst of a new technological revolution, and the UK’s senior politicians barely mention it – if indeed they do mention it.

Contrast that with Barack Obama, who happily admits he is a geek.

On the one hand, you have the technologists, who tend to have more sympathy with the concept of a global citizen. On the other hand, you have the more traditional way of thinking that sees a globalised world as a threat to a more traditional way of life.

The divide is partly generation based – and as the millennials mature into positions of responsibility and the generation to follow, so-called generation Z, reaches adulthood we may see a move towards the concept of the global citizen.