15.1 Introduction

John Wright

Prognostication is a mug’s game, particularly in the world of human affairs. There are numerous variables – which social scientists like to define as specific factors that affect outcomes. Many of these variables are at best fuzzy and ill-defined and are often hard to grasp and even harder to measure. Even more difficult to grasp is how these variables interact with each other to determine outcomes. Is one variable dependent on, independent from, or co-dependent with other variables? To what extent does a variable affect or effect an outcome? In short, human affairs are quixotic, and we have a hard time pointing to any one cause for a particular outcome.

But this does not mean that looking at something analytically will not have explanatory or even predictive power. There are patterns and structures to human behaviour in the aggregate that allow us to examine with some confidence the broad picture of human affairs at a given time.

The astute reader will notice that the title of this chapter actually conflates two issues that can act separately as well as together to affect – and to effect – ideological development. These two issues are “globalization” and “the future.” What the title is asking of us, colloquially, is the most basic of human questions: “Where do we go from here?” And in looking at the trajectory of individuals and human institutions in the contemporary world, how people conceive and construct their current reality today rests on the interaction of local, national and international political structures.

Put another way, many of the big questions that face us today – including on ideology – revolve around the interconnectedness of the world and our agency within it. For example:

  • How do we understand and handle climate change, which respects no national – or provincial – boundaries?
  • (How) Do we regulate the flow of capital and goods around the world through investment, free trade, taxation, etc.? And how does this affect what we do domestically?
  • (How) Do we handle the flow of labour (people) around the world?
  • Can we establish international norms (standards and definitions) that countries will abide by based on common interpretations?

Discussion Questions

Conduct a search of local media sources to find examples that write on the following:

  1. Which political parties and which geographical regions in Canada support or oppose implementing policies based on the belief that man-made climate change is real and an existential threat?
  2. Is it (more) important that India or Canada adhere to carbon emission limits?
  3. How should Canada react to an “America First” economic policy?
  4. What rules should Canada make on immigration and on refugees seeking residency?
  5. How should your home country react to the situation of the Uighur people in China?

All these questions come with profound moral, social, and economic consequences. These consequences challenge our belief systems about what our state and/or nation is (and therefore who you, the reader, and me, the author, identify) while imposing a constrained reality on our material well-being that demands compromise, yet also provides hope and a vision for a resolved future.

These brief examples inform us that globalization and the future, like ideology itself, are conceptually nebulous. They include terms that are used in different contexts to mean different things all the time. Equally as important: they are weighed by each individual differently and inconsistently. Sometimes one thing is more important, sometimes another [see Moy on inconsistent voting patterns (Moy, 2008)]. So how can we consider all of this uncertainty and complexity and then try to assess how ideology will develop from this point on?

But as we stated above, concepts, even fuzzy concepts, can be approached methodologically in order to understand what aspects we are actually discussing. Or, as political scientists love to say, we can unpack these ideas.



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