Governments stung by the political backlash from disgruntled voters left worse off by three decades of globalisation are now scrambling for solutions, but there is no easy fix and the populist remedies on offer risk making things even worse, analysts say.
Globalisation has been a boon for many, but western elites should have addressed its inequalities much earlier instead of sweeping them under the rug.
“Rich countries have too often forgotten those who lost out, the workers threatened by imports from low-cost countries,” Radu Vranceanu, a professor at the French Essec business school, told AFP.
More than 20 years ago the man behind the annual Davos forum, Klaus Schwab, warned of a “mounting backlash” which could threaten economic activity and social stability.
“You have to listen to the people who have entrusted you with leadership,” the founder of the World Economic Forum wrote in the New York Times. “But in the end, it’s not enough just to listen. You have to solve the issues. You have to address… the root causes.”
Two decades on, the chickens have come home to roost: Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s US election victory are seen as a cry of protest by voters who feel they are getting poorer while the rich get richer.
The revolution against globalism is, well, global. Britain may be leading the charge, but insurgents and rebels from D.C to Berlin are also hard at work tormenting their elitist overlords.
Needless to say, leftists fascist are quite mad. They’re now calling for old people to be stopped from voting, simply because they wanted to protect the youngsters from having to dress in hijabs.
For years, global elites and their allies in the commentariat have tried to brand their opponents as kooks, conspiracy theorists and, failing that, as racists, sexists homophobes and so on. But it’s not working any more. In both the U.S. and Europe, such tactics are now likely to backfire, driving more support to populists.
The blindness of globalists to difference has been disastrous to western culture. The refusal of elites to acknowledge, for instance, that the Muslim world is dominated by one of the most hate-filled, bigoted ideologies in human history is a major reason for their current predicament, and certainly a motivating force behind Brexit.
Angela Merkel’s policy of importing millions of Muslims to Europe is an act of cultural suicide. It’s much like a capitalist country opening its borders to millions of working-class Russians in 1917. Sure, they might not all be Bolsheviks, but it’s still not a clever thing to do.
Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon said on radio the week before the American election. “People want more control of their country. They’re very proud of their countries. They want borders. They want sovereignty. It’s not just a thing that’s happening in any one geographic space.”
“We literally have lost our sovereignty, lost our borders, lost our ability to regulate,” said Nigel Farage, a leader of Britain’s xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party, on the floor of the European parliament in June. “The problem you’ve got in the U.S. is illegal immigration. Our problem is legal immigration to half a billion people.”
But even if Islamic countries had peaceful cultures, the Western people would still rebel at having to accept millions of people from foreign cultures hostile to assimilation. Because that would still be a challenge to their distinctiveness — the connection between national identity, national sovereignty, and a culture built up over thousands of years.
For millions of increasingly angry, and freshly politically motivated people, that’s more important than the strength of the pound. And that’s why the globalists will lose.