Friday, December 02, 2016


The world we thought we knew is falling apart. Although the signs may have been with us for a decade or more, 2016 has clearly been a year of unprecedented amplification if not outright rupture. Even if the World Value Survey still signals a shift from traditional values and parochial identities towards emancipative values and greater tolerance, this has not been a good year for “globalists” like myself who dream of a fully integrated world free from want and political oppression.

In a much discussed recent article in the Journal of Democracy, Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk reveal frightening new numbers of how young people in particular have come to abandon democracy. Of those born in the 1980’s in the United States, just above 30% consider it “essential” to live in a democracy.

This very weekend, Austria will have a rerun of its presidential election (potentially bringing the highest office of the country into the hands of the extreme right) while Italy is having a constitutional referendum which Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is likely to lose, opening the door for the anti-globalist populist Five Star Movement under Beppe Grillo.

In the past I always used to say that what the Left needs is a new forward looking global vision. While I still think that is true to some extent, I am less certain that such a vision would actually win any elections, at least in the short run. Having said that, more of the same corrosive identity politics is clearly not the way forward. Crucial as it is to recognize the historic crimes of colonialism and discrimination, the future we build must be one for all people of this world, a common vision which speaks in the same universal language to the highest in each individual, including those white male "left-behinders".


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