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The World is Not Enough

Sept. 5, 2021
Globalism is failing badly. Governments weakened by the expansion of commercial bodies are seeking ways to contain them again. Individuals – consumers, customers, citizens – are withdrawing from the grip.

Any understanding of the metalcasting industry starts with the global picture – the competition, sources of capital, the cost structures, the raw materials, the supply chain, the quality standards, all of these based on global standards.  It’s the same in nearly every industry. There may be some market segments still defined by local demand and local supply (corn and tomatoes at a farmers’ market, perhaps) but the triumph of global commerce that theorists forecast and investors rooted for during the past several decades is complete. To compete as a metalcaster, or a metalcasting supplier, a business must conform to the global standards. For now.

The experience of globalization is rather different than the promises – which always emphasize economic efficiency and interdependence as the antidote to the political and social instability of the 20th Century. This happened more or less as predicted – but it turns out the inefficiencies in the local and regional economies had names. The theory never had anything to say about all the people and places, and assets, left idle in the push for efficiency, or cut off from the resources or support that may be their means for starting over once the successful enterprises had consolidated all the future growth prospect.

It’s all rather inhuman, of course, but if you want to see what globalism looks like, what it was promised to be and what it turns out to be, it’s all on television.

As I write, and for the next week or so, the 32nd Olympic Games are playing out every day and night on TV and cable, and various streaming platforms. The Olympics are meant to be the fulfillment of hope and idealism that’s possible in a global market and community… men and women competing joyfully, peacefully, together.

During the 20th Century the Olympics frequently provide some moments of such bliss, at least in the instances when individual competitors’ efforts were not overcome by politics or duplicity. But the Olympics are of the world not above it, and so like any commercial enterprise the games must eliminate anything it cannot incorporate. Money must be made. Careers must be established.

Now, the dream is available with a price, and sometimes the price is dignity. The organizers happily collaborate with totalitarians so as to maximize every opportunity for profit. The idealism that spawned the games has become a branding message, not a principle. 

It’s hardly surprising that the reckless disregard for the principles of sportsmanship would begin to show its effects. The boorish behavior of some competitors is justified by many as individual rights, and who can challenge such reasoning in an atmosphere as crass and unprincipled as the Olympic Games. The optimism and hopefulness that once were organizing principles are now just platitudes to be mouthed and not contradicted, lies in all but the name – just as brazen as insisting these are the 2020 Olympics at every commercial break.

Will all this improve by 2024? Can the goodwill be restored, ever? It’s impossible to know – but the beginning of such a recovery from globalism is found in recognizing and acknowledging the truth, which is that globalism is failing badly. Governments weakened by the expansion of commercial bodies are seeking ways to contain them again. Individuals – consumers, customers, citizens – are withdrawing from the grip. Like boorish athletes, they refuse to comply with the standard procedures.

People and businesses reacting against the insufficiencies of the globalist vision is an overlooked aspect of the social uneasiness plaguing the world right now. But if your participation in society and business casts you as part of the metalcasting industry, then imagining how it can grow stronger and flourish apart from the global market – locally, regionally – would be the best way to understand how metalcasters can succeed.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)