When Dutch politician Guy Verhofstadt rose to speak to the UK’s Liberal-Democrat party conference in 2019, he knew he was about to be controversial. Europe, he said, needed to become “an empire” to survive in the modern age. His vision of a very-near future is of a globalist world order of massive blocs – China, the USA, India, Russia and the EU. And yet, this vision is already seen as out-dated in some quarters. Long before the world faced the threat of coronavirus, globalisation was being pronounced dead in many respected quarters. The belief in open borders and the unrelenting pursuit of growth was out of control, said the critics. Extremist political movements from the right and the left have grasped this idea, blaming social ills from the financial crash of 2008 to mass migration from poor countries to rich ones, on globalisation. The Irish-born economist Michael O’Sullivan, a former investment banker and Princeton University economist, is the author of The Levelling: What’s Next After Globalization, which outlines his belief that globalisation has created an unbridgeable rift between the world’s political leaders and ordinary people. Inequality, he says, will lead to the breakdown of conventional structures and a restoration of power in the hands of those who feel disenfranchised by globalisation. Ian Goldin, a professor specialising in globalisation at Oxford University, sees the benefits of globalisation but warns of the dangers of growing inequality, which will lead to social disruption. He also sees risks in what he calls globalisation’s fragility – how an event in one corner of the world can quickly affect the rest of the globe, whether that’s a financial crash or a virulent disease. And while he recognises that technology is on the verge of a huge leap forwards, he fears that developments in technology and medicine could become available only to the richest in society, leading to further inequality and potential social disruption.

Behind the Scenes, Berlin and Beijing Are Forging a New World Order

Geopolitics are on the move with a possibly violent upheaval in the offing. Earlier this month,