Monthly Archives: September 2018

Trade War and Obsolete Democracy.

trade-war(Source: Seeking Alpha)

Obviously, we’re heading to the era of global trade war. While Trump Administration has been enthusiastically pursuing to close all the doors of US market vis-a-vis foreign enterprises, the rest of the world can do almost nothing. Every time when international conferences on trade issues are held, the discussions are just heating up and never lead us to peaceful solutions of trade conflicts.

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe was allowed to meet US President Donald Trump face to face in New York, where they released a statement in terms of trade issues. Even though Japan managed to save part of her vital national interest in the automobile sector, she fell into a trap of Trump Administration, which could successfully force her to combat against PRC together in the trade war beyond the Pacific.

Having said that, I firmly believe we’re urged to achieve a “Copernican Revolution” to overcome the emerging crisis in the global community. Nobody doubts the fact the modern society is based on the following several principles: Liberalism, democracy and capitalism. The point is, from my viewpoint, we’re about to fail to tackle the on-going trade issues, because we just forget the inevitable discrepancy between “liberalism” and “democracy”, which Carl Schmitt once pointed out in his legendary works on the constitutionalism in the Weimar Republic in Germany.

As one of the Japanese experts in this field, I would say we should just get back to the reality this traditional discrepancy has showed in the world history. When you stick to “democracy”, you’re automatically obliged to exclude those who are (somehow) different from you. Instead of accepting them, you intentionally neglect them by calling them “minority”. According to the principle of democracy, only the majority is permitted to make the rules and execute.

Democracy is geographically limited, since we’re still incapable of making all the people on the globe vote in the same election technically. Even if such technological difficulties would be overcome in the very near future, democracy never ends in the geographically limited manner. Because nations state, where the principle of “democracy” is alway asked and accepted,  can exist, only when a circle is drawn around a certain territory. Democracy and nation state system are thus based on the famous principle of “friend-enemy decision (Freund und Feind Entscheidung (Carl Schmitt))”.

In this regard, all the measures Trump Administration have been taking are genuinely “democratic”, while they intend to differentiate “friends (national interest of US)” and enemies (favors for foreign countries). This is exactly why we, outsiders, can never understand why Donald Trump can still keep his popularity in US. His credo, “America First”, is nothing but the expression of this kind of modern democracy.

Being contradictory to this geographic (or sometimes alleged “ethnic”) limitaion of democracy, liberalism never stops being “unlimited”. Something is not “liberal”, where someone/something hinders it from being “unlimited”. In this context, those who want to remain “liberal” by all means, inevitabily have to become “globalists”, who don’t know national borders any more. They always regard all the obstacles, which block them to do something freely, as “structure” and “barrier” as well, which shall be, from their viewpoint, immediately abolished. For them, the nation state system must be abolished, while they are full of this kind of “structure” and “barrier”. In shotr, liberalism leads us to globalism, where no single limitation is allowed.

The theory of “comparative advantage” has been the traditional propaganda which has managed to hide the discrepancy between democracy and libaralism. However, the irony of the hisotry is we need (financial) capitalism which instinctively motivates to move forward. To earn much more in the market, we need volatilities, which then widens the difference between winners and losers. The latter seeks any opportunities to revenge, which accelerate instability and volatility of the world community. Once and where previous equivalence in the world vanishes, the above mentioned theory of “comparative advantage” comes to an end. That will then highlight the dicrepancy between nation state’s democracy and globalists’ liberalism, as we see right now.

So many leadres of the differents countries appeal for maintaining the peaceful world based on the free trade we’ve enjoyed since the end of WWII. Nevertheless, the dicrepancy is just widening up thanks to Trump’s counterappeal for “America First”. Antagonism against others are rapidly growing up everywhere, while the previous equivalence based on the theory of “comparative advantage” is being lost step by step. Instead of rescuing “libaralism” in domestic politics, democracy accelerates the tendency to differentiate someone from others, as we now see the growing popularity for “Alternative fuer Deutschland (Alternative for Germany)”, a new party in Germany.  All of us are urged to remember the historical fact the Nazi regime was completely “democratic”, when it reached the top of the power (“Machtergreifung”). As soon as the Nazi as symbol of emotional democracy won, liberalism died.

Not to make the history repeat itself, globalists such as ICC, World Bank and IMF are about to launch new approaches in the internet, where no geographic limitation due to national borders isn’t known. However, I personaly think it might be doomed to fail from the very beginning of the project, condionted that a kind of human collective consciousness won’t appear. Only this “human collective consciousness” can remind us of “oneness” and “compassion” which overcome the eternal discrepancy between democracy and liberalism.

The question is how the “human collective consciousness”, or the feeling of “oneness” will be nurtured and expanded in the world community. This is the very question I’ve been asking myself in Japan, the country where all the issues of the advanced economies accumulate and are about to explode in the very near future (maybe by the spring of 2020).

 

Sustainability is NOT Conservatism.

wadakura

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to enjoy a luncheon with a high ranking guest from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). I’ve been personally invited to the G20 CEO Advisory Group of the ICC, which discusses recommendations to the G-level on behalf of the global business community. This time, my colleague, who’s by the way an Australian, paid a visit to Tokyo to consult with his partners in Japan in terms of the Japanese presidency of G20 from the forthcoming December.

What he kindoy explained to me surprised me extremely. Within the framework of the B20, we’re used to organize task forces besides “plenary session”, which pick up global issues specifically for gathering collective wisdom of the global business community. However, based on his explanation, the Japanaese secretariat of B20 obviously intends to abandon task forces and hold just a plenary session called “B20 summit” on 14 and 15 March 2019. In addition, Japan never invites global consulting firms such as McKinsey and Co. to discussions under her B20/G20 presidency, which usually play signicant roles to hand over “narratives” of the global issues to the presidency every year. Without their intellectual assistance, Japan and her secretariat for B20 presidency, the Keidanren, obviously cut off any external “noises” to their own economic policies. This is exactly what the Abe Ministration has been doing for protectiong its own political and economic interest vis-a-vis any outsiders including the public.

“To my surprise”, my colleague from the ICC said, “the word ‘sustainability’ my Japanese counterparts enthusiastically used in his presentation seems to have other meaning and connotation than our usual understanding”. Even though his counterpart of the Keidanren enthusiastically pointed out to him that the Japanese B20 presidency will highlight the SDGs, he couldn’t fully grasp what the guy meant to say.

Having heard that, I spontaneously asked him a question: “The word ‘sustainability’, or ‘持続可能性’ in Japanese, only means ‘maintaining what is done’. But I’m wondering whether original meaning of ‘sustainability’ does have any other connotations.”

Laughing abruptly, my colleague from Paris knidly gave me a short explanation in this regard: “Sustainability doesn’t mean conservatism. To sustain a certain situation, we also need an improvement. Something innovative has to be done, so that the status quo remains. I’m afraid the Japanese misunderstand the word ‘sustainability'”. With a smile, I nicked.

The next year, 2019, will show you completely parallel worlds on the globe. The one is Japan where every interest and structure since 1945 still remains. Another one is the rest of the world under the western leadership, where everything has to be improved for the sustanability. Under the B20/G20 Presidency of Japan, this dichotomy will reveal dramatically, which will surely lead us to a fatal crash between Japan and other countries, particularly US and Europe. This will be the end of the conventional world order and kick off the new era with complete destruction of the “world of yesterday”. The battlefield ahead will not be in any other countries and regions, but Japan. Don’t forget it. Stay tuned.