Longtime outspoken critic of globalism and what he calls the "rationalist elite", John Ralston Saul argues it's time for a big shift in our political and corporate thinking. Despite the promise of a shiny new world order of globalism for the past forty years, he argues, 19th century European ideas of progress borne out in the industrial revolution continue to dominate the direction of the world.
To a packed house at Melbourne's RMIT Capitol Theatre, Ralston Saul argues that the worldwide reliance on and faith in globalism has led to war, financial meltdown and a failure to find solutions to important challenges such as climate change.
Along the way, he disputes some of the fundamental tenets of globalism such as the diminution of the nation state. He asks why, despite the promise of a global community, nations such as Australia and Canada have only survived the GFC on the back of national industries such as mining, and questions the culture of managerialism promulgated by universities worldwide.
The event was hosted by Melbourne Writers' Festival in association with The Sydney Writers' Festival and Melbourne PEN Centre.
John Ralston Saul is a Canadian essayist and novelist who is the current President of International PEN, a worldwide association of writers that promotes freedom of expression and intellectual cooperation. Saul has become increasingly influential as a writer of philosophical essays such as Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West (1993) which argued that Voltaire's utopian vision had been usurped by the technocratic elite . In his 2005 novel The Collapse of Globalism: And the Reinvention of the World he warned that, like it or not, globalism was already collapsing and that if we did not act quickly we would be caught in a crisis and limited to emergency reactions.
Declared a "prophet" by TIME magazine, his works have been translated into 22 languages in 30 countries. In his most recent novel, A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada (2008), he suggests a rethinking of the penchant "peace, order, and good government" that supposedly defines Canada, arguing that it is a distortion of the country's true nature