MUMBAI – I write this not as a professional economist but as a citizen of a tiny planet that is spinning through a vast universe that we barely understand. I write this “As the clever hopes expire / Of a low dishonest decade,” and as “Waves of anger and fear / Circulate over the bright / And darkened lands of the earth.” It was 80 years ago that W.H. Auden wrote those lines, in his poem “September 1, 1939.” We find ourselves in a similar position today.
Large parts of the world are mired in conflict, stable democracies have suddenly been knocked off kilter and societies are increasingly divided by race, religion and political ideology. And as the planet warms, millions of people are feeling compelled to move elsewhere in search of survival and opportunity. But new barriers, born of a renascent nationalism and narrow tribalism, are increasingly standing in their way.