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Return to Babel

The temptation of globalism persists despite historic failures


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Return to Babel
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In mid-January, the global titans of commerce, industry, and government will gather on the snow-covered slopes of Davos, Switzerland, to plot a new strategy for world domination. That’s not how they would describe the event, of course. But that’s how many on both the right and the left see the work of the annual conference put on by the World Economic Forum.

German economist Klaus Schwab founded the organization in 1971 “to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.” But the push to impose international control over nations for “the greater good” started nearly two ­centuries earlier.

The word globalism itself is distasteful on both the left and the right. For the left, it describes a capitalist world order that subverts to the Davos cabal legal protections for workers, consumers, and the environment. To the right, globalism embodies a similarly nefarious order that tilts heavily collectivist, anti-family, and anti-population growth. This version subverts faith and the sovereignty of nations in favor of a paganistic world order run by people like Bill Gates and Klaus Schwab.

The globalist effort has taken on many forms—monarchical globalism at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15); ­diplomatic globalism at the Versailles Conference (1919-20); economic globalism with Bretton Woods (1944), scientific globalism under the United Nations at the end of World War II; the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; and medical globalism with the COVID-19 pandemic.

We'll look more at this unfolding history below, but where many see in it a growing system of globalist control, the historian sees nearly 200 years of failure. This pattern has tended to push the perpetrators toward new, more ­drastic attempts to define “the greater good” and to build the ­apparatus to achieve it. Yet as the globalists themselves have discovered, the people of the world still get a vote, and history has an impetus of its own.

Spiritual warfare

In noting the decline of globalist programs, it is important to acknowledge the paganism inherent in the global spirit. It is the same spirit of hubris that motivated those building the Tower of Babel—which itself is an interesting reference, given that the Strasbourg Parliament building is based almost exactly on artistic renditions of the Tower itself.

The ubiquity of demonic and satanic imagery in the elites’ projects is at the very least disconcerting: Recently erected outside the Appellate Court in New York City is a golden statue with horns and tentacles that could easily be mistaken for Medusa. In front of the CERN Hadron Collider is a statue of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction or emptiness. Even more recently, the state of Iowa allowed members of the Satanic Temple to place a statue in the Statehouse, where a private citizen literally beheaded it.

Certainly paganism is nothing new among the globalists: The Congress of Vienna had a heavy dose of it, along with Greek and Roman gods, in its celebrations.

The flags of the member states of the European Union fly in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

The flags of the member states of the European Union fly in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The Congress of Vienna

The idea for globalism began after Napoleon Bonaparte ran roughshod over Europe from about 1800 to 1814. The alliance formed against him convened in Vienna to organize the “world,” as they saw it, upon his certain defeat. With Napoleon shuffled off to exile in Elba and supposedly safely confined, monarchs, ministers, and emissaries descended on Vienna, Austria, to create a new world order. The primary players included Czar Alexander I of Russia, convinced he was on a mission to rescue all of Europe’s Christians; Baron Klemens von Metternich of Austria, who sought to maintain a delicate balance of power; Robert Stewart (Viscount Castlereagh) of England, whose interests lay in keeping England from entangling alliances; and Charles de Talleyrand, the ultimate survivor, a French foreign minister who had lasted through the Revolution, Napoleon, and the new monarchy.

These men attempted to ensure the peace of Europe with very different visions of what that looked like. Castlereagh approached the Congress with a clear-eyed realpolitik, seeking to set up coalitions among nations that looked eerily like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Metternich also had in mind coalitions—but of a different sort, aimed less at keeping the peace and more at keeping Austria from getting torn to pieces. He boasted an ego unmatched at Vienna, insisting it “was I alone who has vanquished everything—hatred, prejudice, petty interest—to unite all Germans under one and the same banner!” Czar Alexander arrived, intending to act as the hand of God in Europe. The Duke of Wellington called his behavior “sublime mysticism and nonsense.”

But what did the people of Europe think of the Congress? “People were confident of a general reform of the political system of Europe, of a guarantee of eternal peace,” said Metternich’s aide, Friedrich von Gentz.

For the first time in history, discussions about the “good of the Continent” surfaced, and even Metternich acknowledged, “Public opinion … is one of the most powerful weapons.” But as sociologist Harriet Martineau wrote, “The peace of 1815 was constructed without the slightest effort to secure its perpetuity by something larger than conventions and protocols—by uniting mankind in a bond of common interests.”

Instead of seeking to “conquer hearts,” the Congress simply bundled and moved entire nations, placing masses of people within new borders with no regard for common culture, language, or allegiance. Gentz would look back in disgust: “Never have the expectations of the general public been as excited as they were before the opening of the solemn assembly. … Yet it produced only restitutions decided beforehand by force of arms, arrangements between the great powers unfavorable to the future balance and the maintenance of people in Europe.”

Within the next century, the five major signatories to the peace treaty in Vienna found themselves at war—twice. The monarchs had failed to implement globalism. After the next war—World War I—it was the diplomats’ turn.

Caricature on the Congress of Vienna, 1815: “The Congress dissolved before the cake was cut up.”

Caricature on the Congress of Vienna, 1815: “The Congress dissolved before the cake was cut up.” Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Versailles Conference

What was most shocking about the new globalists was that they seemed to have learned nothing from either the failures of the Congress of Vienna or the causes of the new war itself. By the time the United States entered World War I in 1917, progressive President Woodrow Wilson was already at work imagining a global organization that would prevent the next war. He arrived in January 1919 in France, greeted by 2 million people at the Champs-Elysees. Many of them wept and carried flowers, sensing a prince of peace had arrived.

Wilson brought his Fourteen Points, which included “open diplomacy without secret treaties.” It was a premise already violated by the time the Germans were presented the Fourteen Points as a fait accompli. Wilson’s points also included a decrease in armaments and free trade on the high seas. In practice, that meant only the United States and England would have truly free trade, as only they had fleets capable of enforcing it. Most important for the globalist vision, Wilson’s points included a League of Nations that would act as a world negotiating body and serve as the world’s policeman.

The American people, especially in the Senate, did not relish new foreign entanglements. U.S. lawmakers eventually voted for the treaty but only with stipulations known as the Lodge Reservations that made the United States a spectator in the league, rather than an active participant. The Russians didn’t join either. It made little difference. When reality arrived to test globalist theory, no nation wished to commit troops or money to fight the Japanese for the Chinese or to fight the Italians for the Ethiopians.

But the league did have a critical and lasting effect. Globalists had inaugurated a new doctrine: that an international body somehow had a “moral force” superior to those of individual nations. This moral force got to work cobbling together new nations and breaking established ones apart. Austria-Hungary, for example, had survived for centuries with a functioning polity that included 12 million Germans, 10 million Magyars, 8.5 million Czechs, and so on. The Austrians had done so by crafting policies of intermarriage, ethnic power-sharing, and compromise. (A situation much resembling Yugoslavia in the 1990s or Iraq in the 2000s.) Once “moral force” supplanted these very practical, localized relationships, chaos broke loose in every case.

At any rate, the Armistice at Versailles was not conveyed to the Germans or Austro-Hungarians in its final form—with all advantages and bargaining points for the Central Powers removed—until it was too late. When the Germans signed, they looked like “men being called to sign their own death warrants,” according to one of Wilson’s entourage.

Peace as established by the Versailles Conference lasted less than 20 years. Japan launched incursions into Manchuria in 1931, and the entire world would be at war again eight years later.

Instead of seeking to “conquer hearts,” the Congress simply bundled and moved entire nations, placing masses of people within new borders with no regard for common culture, language, or allegiance.

Scientific globalism

At the end of WWII, efforts at globalism found new allies—­scientists—because of a terrifying new weapon: the atomic bomb. Oddly, polls showed 65 percent of Americans weren’t too concerned about atomic weapons at the end of the war. Asked to name the most unsettling issues, fewer than 20 percent even mentioned the bomb.

This attitude shocked scientists, particularly those who had helped create the weapon. Many thought, with physical chemist Harold Urey, that “the only way out” of atomic ­warfare was “a superior world government of some kind.” Atomic scientist Leo Szilard echoed Urey: “Permanent peace cannot be established without a world government.”

Already the United Nations was being crafted at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks. And when President Harry Truman, a devout evangelical, met with the new UN delegates in June 1946, even he said it was God who’d brought us “so far in our search for peace through world organization.”

Scientists believed they should run the United Nations, and by doing so, the world government. Szilard said “many of the men who influence public opinion … come from a small class of people—the class of people who have the advantage of higher education. … Their attitudes and their loyalties will, in the long run, affect the set of values accepted throughout the whole community.”

Americans, however, strongly opposed the UN, and elites found they could not shame this nation of rugged individualists into submission. When Truman became president in April 1945, he still might have gone along with many of the globalist schemes if not for Josef Stalin.

News surfaced that the Soviet dictator’s allies had slaughtered 20,000 in Bulgaria, set up a dictatorship in Hungary, and arrested and tried dozens of noncommunist politicians in Poland, all in defiance of UN goals. But diplomatic momentum still tilted toward sharing atomic weapons in an international setting—that is, until the Soviet Union exploded its own atomic bomb in 1949. After that, virtually all discussion of international control of atomic weapons governed by intellectuals and scientists ceased.

With hat in hand, President Woodrow Wilson leads a procession following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

With hat in hand, President Woodrow Wilson leads a procession following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Bettmann/Getty Images

Economic globalism

While the United Nations was being established, a gathering of economists at Bretton Woods, a New Hampshire ski resort (what is it with globalists and snow?), was designing an equally important structure. Under this form of international economic globalism, the U.S. dollar would become the measuring stick for all transactions. The delegates put together a tacit agreement: The world (or most of it, except for the communist countries) would accept free trade, and nations would reduce their own expenditures on defense. In this conception, the Bretton Woods economists conscripted the U.S. Navy to enforce the Wilsonian dream of “freedom of the seas.”

This economic globalism depended not only on the dollar as the world reserve currency but on the creation of bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Created primarily to lend money to underdeveloped countries (backstopped by Uncle Sam) in what would be called “foreign aid,” these organizations would soon run into a problem: a phenomenon called Triffin’s Dilemma. For the dollar to be the reserve currency of the free world, it had to retain its value. But with increasing demands for U.S.-supplied foreign aid and commitments to international financial aid, the dollar began to lose its value through inflation.

If foreign aid had been the only demand eroding the ­dollar, the Bretton Woods plan might have lasted longer. But two other factors accelerated the structure’s decline. First, foreign wars added billions of dollars to overseas foreign aid commitments. Second, domestic spending, beginning with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs and escalating from there, rapidly increased inflation.

Globalism’s failure should have been obvious: Nations do not share the same worldviews, cultures, or goals.

Modern times

By the time America launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, ­followed by massive peacetime budgets, Bretton Woods was basically finished. The dollar was no longer sufficiently sound to function as the world’s reserve currency. More importantly, perhaps, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars gave rise to a growing noninterventionist spirit.

Americans, outraged over the 9/11 attacks, at first supported those wars, but they soon grew weary of being the world’s policeman. When combined with slowed military spending, the effect was to render Bretton Woods null and void.

Meanwhile, the World Bank and IMF found themselves caught between not lending at all to broken or corrupt regimes such as some in the Middle East, or lending while knowing the money would not go for intended purposes. Ironically, developing countries also began to view First World aid as a form of “neo-colonialism,” a view that produced powerful countermovements.

Then, just as economic globalism seemed to be on life support, the COVID-19 pandemic—and responses to it—seemed to resuscitate hope for international control. Public health officials pushed vaccination cards as a way to make sure people were “safe.” The cards failed to gain acceptance, and the damaging effects of the lockdowns became clear.

From left: World Bank President Ajay Banga, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and U.S. President Joe Biden pose during the 2023 G20 Summit in New Delhi, India.

From left: World Bank President Ajay Banga, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and U.S. President Joe Biden pose during the 2023 G20 Summit in New Delhi, India. Evan Vucci/AP

Final failure

For the last few decades, globalists have invoked “climate change” as a mechanism to force national governments under their aegis. It’s a newer twist that takes a typical globalist gambit—an appeal for power in order to save the world—and wraps it in an apocalyptic view that can only properly be called theology. Climate activists issue dire warnings of the consequences of disobedience. And they enforce climate orthodoxy with religious fervor, branding dissenters as “science deniers” and flogging them publicly on Instagram.

Yet even as the climate clerics gird their loins in pleather, more reasonable Americans are pushing back. Drawing on a polity—and some, an eschatology—grounded in the Judeo-Christian ethic, Americans display a growing reluctance to fully embrace international climate-control agreements. Most know the two biggest obstacles to any accord are the free-market polluters India and China. So, to submit to international control in the name of saving the planet would be a bit like selling our birthright for a bowl of tofu.

Today, the biggest challenge to globalism is that several powerful nations have simply refused to play the game. China’s Xi Jinping has no intention of joining any international structure run by Western elites. Then there is Russia. Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin, it’s clear that in ­relations with other nations he puts Russia’s interests first.

In short, we may well have seen the high tide of globalism. During last year’s G20 meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated “global governance has failed.” Investment analysts have already started informing investors that gains in productivity from globalism not only peaked, but have now reversed. According to the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2040 report, the world has already reached the third of predicted destinations—“separate silos”—precisely where futurist Peter Zeihan had the world when he wrote The Accidental Superpower in 2016. Now the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—have more combined wealth than that of G7 countries.

Globalism’s failure should have been obvious: Nations do not share the same worldviews, cultures, or goals. Those ­desperate to grow are not going to substitute “green” policies for cheaper and more reliable fossil fuels. Further, an international resistance against control by Davos elites is now clear. Recent elections confirm this, from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, to America’s Donald Trump, to Javier Milei in Argentina, to European governments from Slovakia and Hungary to Holland and Finland.

Cambridge law professor Antara Haldar noted that if Davos, where the globalist elites still gather, has demonstrated anything, it is the futility of their posturing. None of the World Economic Forum members can truly affect India, China, Russia, and increasingly, South Africa, Argentina, or rogue states such as Iran.

The globalists would tell you their motives are altruistic. But it is God who made the nations and ordained government as a national, not global, enterprise—which is perhaps why attempts to assert central control keep collapsing. Having failed to unseat major world leaders who oppose its grasp, globalism appears to be in decline once again. But history shows that the spirit of Babel is never far off.


Larry Schweikart

Larry Schweikart is co-author of A Patriot’s History of the United States and author of Reagan: The American President.

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