The Collapse of Globalism: And the Reinvention of the World


309 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-670-06367-3
DDC 330.9'049




Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


This highly readable book is the antithesis to a volume that tops many
of the same bestseller lists: Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat.
Friedman argues that enlightened globalism provides jobs to Third World
countries, enables them to buy goods and services from the First World,
and liberates First World people for even better undertakings. Saul
emphasizes the negative. He rejects the idea that privatization and
globalization are inevitable. National governments, he insists, still
have a major role to play. China and India have thrived because of
government action. Countries that could not enjoy their independence
until 1989 will not willingly surrender it. At the same time, Saul
regards a resurgence in 19th-century nationalism and protectionism as
“the last thing we need.” Both Friedman and Saul present well-argued

According to Saul, the negative consequences of globalism include Third
World debt, failure of airline deregulation, increased poverty for many,
an absentee underclass, and indifference to one’s own society. New
Zealand’s and Russia’s stagflation and currency crises exemplify
globalism’s horrors. Many who believe in the domination of the
marketplace see no point in voting, yet governments remain relevant.
Europe’s borders seemed open before World War I, and they closed. They
could close again. There is more to life than economics and economic

Throughout the treatise, Saul offers literary flourishes.
State-controlled gambling, he considers, is a stealth tax on the poor.
He notes: “Civilizations, religions, languages, cultures, nations,
even nation-states tend to last centuries. For economic theories a
quarter-century is a good run.” From page 36 comes this wisdom: “The
weakness of the market place ... is the possession of a memory somewhat
longer than a dog’s, slightly shorter than a cat’s.” On page 186
he notes that “the assets of the world’s wealthiest 358 people
surpass the combined earnings of countries with 45% of the global


Saul, John Ralston., “The Collapse of Globalism: And the Reinvention of the World,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,