Contemporary globalization has facilitated the creation of a relatively small, often privileged class, sometimes called “global citizens” who cross the world for work, business, and/or leisure. They have no great difficulty in moving from one side of the world to another for better career opportunities. Sometimes they stay a large number of years in a particular country, but sometimes they move between different places in short periods of time. These citizens have no real sense of belonging to the countries or territories in which they live.
From the point of view of organizing societies, this category of citizens, who often leave their countries at a young age and who are often qualified, raise two important questions.
The first is the draining of talent from the national economic fabric. Now, this question only arises if the talent that leaves is not compensated for by the talent that enters. For example in the case of the UK (and with no firm data to prove it) I am convinced that departing citizens, many of them to the US and Canada, are compensated more than incoming global citizens, largely from Europe. In the case of Portugal this is an effective problem. I have no doubt that our balance is negative, that is, much more talent goes out than goes in. And since we don’t want to cut off opportunities for our young people to get better jobs, better wages, and broader prospects for the future, I think we should think very seriously about our ability to attract talent from the rest of the world. In other words, the discourse should not only focus on retaining (which is also important) our talent, but on attracting international talent.
The second issue relates specifically to uprooting. Without this sense of belonging, these citizens of the world neither care nor participate in the political or civic ecosystem of the countries they pass through. Lack of attention can have dire consequences in a world where authoritarian regimes and “illiberal democracies” are increasingly prevalent, often dominated by violations of the fundamental rights of all or some. But more than that, even without the extreme positions of certain regimes, uprooting does not help build a world in which the most qualified and talented people participate actively in creating more just and inclusive societies. Globally, this departure also has significant implications. Geopolitical equilibrium is gained only if citizens participate in each geographical area, and that participation is effectively inclusive. This indifference of the population, in the face of power, reduces the control over that power, exacerbates international conflicts and tensions, and unleashes ambitious dictators to establish and maintain authoritarian and authoritarian regimes, with systematic violations of individual liberties.
It is difficult to find solutions that allow the globalization of citizens, with the undeniable advantages of multiculturalism (which increases tolerance in general) and with benefits for each individual, but that does not create citizens who are apathetic in the face of the political and social reality in which they live.
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