G20 is desperately trying to save a failed world order

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This G20 will pitch the “strongmen” against the “moderates” – Merkel, Macron, Trudeau, writes Dearden [Matt Cardy/Getty Images]

08 July 2017 | Nick Dearden | Al Jazeera

The Hamburg G20 might go down in history as the moment the international elite just couldn’t hold it together any longer. For years, leaders of the most powerful countries have come together to cooperate on how to run the world: the G6, G7, G8, G20. Their watchword was stability.

Holding it together was far preferable to allowing an international free for all. Agreeing among themselves was preferable to cooperating with small, poor and troublesome nations at the United Nations. That’s why they invented this system of global policymaking.

But the global elite has fractured. In the run-up to the Hamburg G20, the talk was of the global strongmen who had taken centre stage, for whom diplomacy was simply war by other means. The power of Trump, Putin, Erdogan and their ilk derives from a form of nationalism that believes global rules are for the weak.

The G20 came to prominence in 2008 after the financial crash meant the richest G8 countries needed the wealth of emerging nations to stabilise the world economy. The likes of Saudi Arabia and Turkey were granted a seat at the table. In London in 2009, they patted themselves on the back on a job well done.

But their reforms were too timid, too beholden to the free-market ideology that caused the crash in the first place. Today that crash haunts this G20 like a ghost that won’t be exorcised.

The tectonic plates of global power are moving, and only a new politics can get us out of this mess.

The international elite are divided. This should scare us, as such divisions can plunge the world into violence and disorder. But the situation is not hopeless…

The international elite are divided. This should scare us, as such divisions can plunge the world into violence and disorder. But the situation is not hopeless…

This G20 will pitch the “strongmen” against the “moderates” – Merkel, Macron, Trudeau. The latter might look nicer, talk nicer and act nicer. Merkel has put climate change, migration and free trade on the agenda, much to the chagrin of Trump.

We shouldn’t be fooled. The G20 agenda utterly fails to break with the tired, broken policies of the free market. In other words, those very policies which, by increasing inequality and devastating communities, turning everyone into a self-interested individual, have unwittingly given rise to the likes of Trump. And that’s to ignore the “Trumpism” in European politics – the barbaric immigration policy at Europe’s borders through which thousands of desperate migrants die in the Mediterranean every year.

Sure, Merkel wants cooperation on climate change and thinks globalisation should work for the many, not the few. Who can disagree? But what does that really mean? A desperate attempt to restore the system that was destroyed on the day Lehman Brothers collapsed.

The G20 agenda talks about the need for structural reforms to reduce debt. Like those deeply anti-social policies the European Union has imposed on Greece for the last eight years, which have devastated that country and its people?

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