TED's Chris Anderson on Reframing the 'Nationalism vs. Globalism' Debate

The traditional left-right dichotomy that long defined political life received a twin shock in 2016 with Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. These events, combined with the rise of populist movements across the world, have led to a new divide between "globalists" who favor a more interconnected world and "nationalists" who do not.

Chris Anderson is firmly in the "globalist" camp. The curator of the world-famous TED series of lectures and presentations, Anderson has devoted his life to forging connections between people from different parts of the world. In a conversation at Asia Society with his wife Jacqueline Novogratz, the president and CEO of Acumen, Anderson said that attacks on globalism "really went to the heart of [his] worldview, and felt extraordinarily dangerous."

Anderson acknowledged that "the people who raised a fist against the forces of globalism had a point." Opponents of globalization in countries like the United States have argued that widespread immigration, corporate offshoring, and liberal trade laws have done tremendous damage to economic prospects in the country, particularly for American workers in the manufacturing sector.

Others have argued that globalization's benefits outweigh the costs. Anderson believes that globalism's biggest problem may be in how it is portrayed as "big, fat, faceless corporations" rather than connections between people.

"We have to come back to telling a story about people, and about the fact that when any two humans, anywhere in the world, know each other’s story, they can believe in each other, understand each other, feed each other’s needs, learn from each other, and find joy and delight in each other," he said.

"I don't want a homogeneous world at all."

Watch the complete video below.

About the Author

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Matt Schiavenza is the Senior Content Manager at Asia Society. Previously, he worked as an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he helped launch and then oversee the China Channel.