The Two Ways

THE TWO WAYS

Nationalism and globalism represent two fundamental life outlooks in our word: “Zero Sum Game” vs. “We prosper together.” “Zero Sum Game” assumes that if you win, I lose (and vice-versa). It is a philosophy of conquest. “We prosper together” assumes that we’re more likely to win if we work together and compete with gusto. It is a philosophy of both friendly competition and cooperation.

This is not a right-left dichotomy, but a worldview that goes way beyond politics. Trump is obviously a zero-sum-game person, which is what John Bolton is, as well as Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross and Carl Icahn. The old liberal “soak the rich” philosophy is a zero-sum-game approach also, since it assumes that, in order for the poor to prosper, the rich must suffer. Or, it applies to those on the left who sometimes assume that, in order to help people, you need to have victims to help. For Trump and his crowd, China must lose in order for the U.S. to win. For Icahn to win, his competitors must lose (or more accurately, he must crush them). In sports, Vince Lombardi subscribed to this. That’s their view.

What some call globalism assumes that nations and businesses prosper when we all prosper. If China is successful, we will succeed (and vice-versa). For a business to succeed, it helps to have competitors to keep one honest and growing. Competition is not the enemy, but a friendly adversary who pushes us to do our best. McMaster belongs to this, as does Larry Kudlow (even though I think he’s an idiot), Warren Buffet, and Barack Obama. In sports, Greg Popovich subscribes to this.

This is the conflict we face. It’s really simple. As you can guess, I am on the side of “We prosper together,” and I have no doubt that that is the only way forward. But both sides have strong and weak advocates who can both help and hurt their causes. Just remember that, when you feel that we’re losing, that’s the time when you have the greatest opportunities to make your case. Trump is making his, and his lack of character will taint his side for many decades to come. It’s time for those of us who believe differently to make ours and do so in a persuasive and humane way.

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