Globalism vs Nationalism: A Debate and Discussion

Globalism vs Nationalism: A Debate and Discussion

by | Apr 19, 2018

More than 600 people attended a highly-publicized debate on Thursday April 5th at the University of Maryland. The debate, between Nigel Farage, architect of Brexit, and Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, was held in a lecture hall at the Edward St. John Teaching and Learning Center. The line to get in wrapped around the building, and many attendees could not be seated inside the main hall, but instead filled an overflow room where they watched the speakers on livestream.

Fox and Farage were there to debate two opposing philosophies – nationalism and globalism. When University president Wallace Loh spoke before this controversial event, he told the audience that he had received numerous emails requesting that he cancel the event. Loh explained why he thinks this would have been a mistake. “The role of a university is not to make ideas safe for students,” Loh said. “It is to educate students to be safe for ideas, even ideas that they disagree with.” And Loh ended his speech by sharing the notion that the event would be a success only if ‘minds are enlightened today.’

Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, is known for orchestrating the referendum for the U.K.’s departure from the European Union and argued for nationalism.

Fox held office from 2000 to 2006 and was the first opposition party candidate to win the presidency in decades. Mary Kissel moderated the debate. She’s a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board and host of the Journal’s foreign policy podcast.

The debate covered economics, politics and immigration. It also featured questions from the audience which were submitted on index cards and chosen by Kissel. Farage mainly focused on political issues while Fox discussed economics.

Farage began the debate critiquing the European Union and defending Brexit. He argued that while trade between nation-states is beneficial, organizations such as the E.U. pose a threat to national sovereignty. “You cannot be an independent democratic nation-state and a member of the European Union,” he said.

Fox argued that economic alliances are key to competing in today’s economy. He pointed out that it was the U.S. that forced Mexico to open its markets but is now closing its own. “Now that [American corporations] are not being able to compete … now you say, ‘let’s build a wall!’ … Economy doesn’t work by executive order,” Fox said.

On immigration, Fox claimed that those in need would cross any barrier to reach safety, whether fleeing poverty or terrorism. He advocated for fixing the problems causing migrants to leave their homes rather than cracking down on them at the border. “The subject of migration and the subject of borders should be discussed in economic terms,” he said.

Farage, on migration, focused on border security rather than economics. He referred to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow Syrian refugees into Germany. “Free movement of people … sounds absolutely lovely, but…what voters across the West want is for their governments to protect them,” Farage said.

The debate was organized by the non-partisan Ed Snider Center for Enterprise & Markets, and the Colorado-based conservative nonprofit, the Steamboat Institute.

Several students protested in front the Edward St. John building the night of the debate. One individual, who declined to comment on the record, handed out flyers claiming that the debate was scripted and calling Farage a “fascist” and Fox a “fundamentalist conservative.” Another held a sign calling Farage a “racist xenophobe.”

Ed Snider Center director, Rajshree Agarwal said that the event was “part of our initiative to bring reasoned and respectful discourse to campus.”

“I hope [this] is the most thought-provoking event you have attended in a long time,” Agarwal said.

You can see the entire debate here.


Nathan Stiff is a University of Maryland student and a freelance reporter.