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Driveth Razo

Goodbye Uncle Sam?

- Today Uncle Sam is no longer in a position to maintain his world hegemony.

Goodbye Uncle Sam?

From the crisis developed in the 1930s, as well as the economic consequences and the territorial and hegemonic reconfiguration brought about by the Second World War, a new international order was prevailing that could face the economic situation that was looming not only in Europe. The Bretton Woods Agreements, whose conference was held in 1944, brought with it a program of economic policies for development and stabilization policies for economies damaged by the war.

Of the 44 countries that attended the conference, the strategies presented by Great Britain and the United States were the ones that had the greatest influence among the participants. The United States ended up prevailing over the proposal of Great Britain, by proposing to restore the gold standard as the basis of an international monetary system, as well as to arbitrate some type of international financial institution that would offer credits on favorable terms. This last proposal brought about the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund[1].

Due to the status in which the dollar was positioned, as a currency, the United States was confident and came to consume more than it produced, printing as many bills as it wanted. Therefore, it is not surprising that Nixon terminated the link between the dollar and gold in 1971, eventually collapsing the system but without completely disappearing[2]. To remedy the problems derived from the debt crisis, another structural adjustment program was presented, which was first designed for Latin America and then adapted to any other region that needed it. The same institutions that originated from Bretton Woods were the main promoters of what is now known as the Washington Consensus.

According to John Williamson, the first measures implemented by the Consensus did not work because they did not place emphasis on avoiding the crisis, but instead promoted the liberalization of the capital account, which resulted in the currency being overvalued; without forgetting its zero regard for the institutions and their role in international society, even when these were among its main promoters[3]. For this reason, the reforms that followed took into account the importance of institutions, the labor market and poverty. In itself, the Washington Consensus was designed under a neoliberal framework, in which priority was given to macroeconomic stability, trade and capital liberalization, as well as the diminishing role of the State in the economy.

Although all these reforms worked at the time, today Uncle Sam is no longer in a position to maintain his world hegemony. While the Bretton Woods Agreements functioned as the beginning of a hegemonic discourse, the policies implemented by Bush and Obama began to deteriorate their domination[4]. Not counting the support for this with the attitude taken by Trump towards various international organizations, such as his proposal to withdraw from NATO and redirect those resources towards internal development, or the rejection of the Trans-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement. Trump is not the only one dedicated to feeding an authoritarian and exclusive populism, nor is he the only one dedicated to fragmenting the masses. Several international leaders are falling into this practice, just look at the current president of Mexico.

As a result of the positions that are being taken at present, the world market is looking to coexist with strong tendencies of economic nationalism and regionalization. Although the substitution industrialization process, which emerged after the Second World War, underwent important modifications at the end of the last century, these modifications were left behind. New transformations have to be carried out in order to face the three structural revolutions that have been permeating the current international scenario: the return of Asia, the acceleration of globalization, and the disruptions caused by modern technology[5]

The local agenda has been positioning itself against the global one as a viable option to face these transformations. Finding ourselves in a moment of tension between continuity and rupture, globalization is not going to end, but rather that it has to be transformed to satisfy the needs that most concern us in the present. The liberal order, established in the last century, has stopped responding to these needs. Free trade, customs agreements and the dominance of capitalism have ceased to be profitable for today's society.

Today, urban cosmopolitanism represents the perfect opportunity "to reinterpret sovereignty, revitalize the exercise of democracy, and promote effective cooperation in global policies, such as economic development to mitigate inequality or climate change above the ontological standard of the state." -nation”[6]. Although, as a consequence of neoliberal globalization, the State had to gradually abandon its function of producing and guaranteeing social welfare, thus becoming one more actor[7]; cities have become the intermediate powers to improve global governance with concrete, effective solutions close to the citizen. Alliances between cities, in the international sphere, bring greater cohesion in the proposals. Among the most representative alliances is that of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the C40 network aimed at fighting climate change, and the World Mayor Summit on Climate Change.

In the midst of the globalizing fever, the glocal is positioning itself, not as the only alternative, but as the best. It is not about deglobalizing movements as many would come to believe, but about finding new balances “between consumption and austerity, industrialism and neo-rurality, technology and tradition, globalization and relocation or reterritorialization[8].

As a result of what has been mentioned throughout this writing, it is not surprising to believe that, although the past and present have been Western, the future, at least the near one, will be Eastern, led by more conscious individuals and leading communities, where the local mixes with the global, thus achieving glocality.

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Razo, Driveth. “¿Adiós al Tío Sam?.” CEMERI, 14 ago. 2023,