Globalization – the new Secularization Thesis?

by Patrick J. Deneen on September 23, 2009 · 5 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

Greet the newest columnist for “The Hoya,” Georgetown’s biweekly student newspaper. In today’s column (which runs fortnightly), I question whether the current academic swooning over “globalization” is the newest iteration of “the secularization thesis,” i.e., a false and mistaken elite ideology that obscures essential countervailing facts out of a willful form of wishful thinking. Is our effort to prepare students for our “globalized” future an anticipation of our inevitable future, or a form of partisan cheerleading for a progressive apotheosis? Space constraints prevented me from making a lengthier case for the superiority of a countervailing “localization” thesis, but at least I may have caused slight cognitive dissonance over a few students’ coffee this morning. Read the whole thing here.

My first column noted that universities have addressed the economic crisis largely as a technical, financial or regulatory problem – and not as a moral failing. For that reason, our leading institutions have avoided examining their own complicity in fostering an atmosphere of competition-at-any-cost, implicitly encouraging many of our own graduates to cut necessary corners when it came to the pursuit of money-making. If we proudly lay claim to Rhodes scholars and other distinguished accomplishments of our graduates, doesn’t truth-in-advertising demand we also acknowledge responsibility for those graduates who helped bring about the near-collapse of the global financial system?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Nathan September 29, 2009 at 9:52 am

Excellent. As a fellow Hoya, I’ll be tracking your column regularly.

avatar D.W. Sabin September 29, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Come now Mr. Deneen, have you not heard? Discussing morality in relation to the larger issues of the day, and in such close proximity to the Federal district is bad form. Not to mention that in Academia, one is not supposed to bog one’s self down in the pursuit of knowledge with the importunate superfluities of mere morality.

avatar cecelia October 2, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Globalized trade and the migration of people is not exactly new. In the 500′s we know that the Welsh traded tin for Spanish wine, the Irish monks making their books got some of the material for their inks from Italy. We know silk from Byzantium made its way to Northumberland in England in the 600′s. Ya know – those Dark Ages.
We even find newly minted coins from Antioch in what is now Scotland from the 400′s.

Yes globalized trade is a laot larger now, but with our population everything is bigger.

So I would just suggest when considering the consequences of globalization one might want to consider how it functioned and affected human society in the past – cause it sure is nothing new.

avatar polistra October 8, 2009 at 3:57 pm

When secularism, globalism, egalitarianism, become central assumptions, the result is a remarkably primitive and selfish form of thinking. It’s the way a 3-month-old baby thinks, before he realizes that the world contains objects outside of ME. It’s all part of ME, therefore nothing can possibly exist which does not agree in every respect with MY present set of tastes and taboos.

When the leftist assumes everyone is alike, he doesn’t assume that everyone is Christian or everyone is Islamic; he assumes that everyone thinks exactly the same as this week’s New York orthodoxy. When the orthodoxy changes next week, everybody naturally follows along. Those who don’t follow are incomprehensible.

This is why “nobody expected” 9/11. Our elites had unilaterally disarmed their minds. Of course plenty of non-elites did expect something like 9/11, if not the exact timing and form of the attack.

avatar Jeffrey Polet October 15, 2009 at 7:32 pm

The piece you wrote for “The Hoya” was superb. I’ve liberally borrowed from your arguments to fight battles on my own campus. Kudos.

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