Monday, October 09, 2017

Unchartered territory

It is common to think that we are now in “unchartered territory” as the political extreme has quickly become the new normal. While no ammunition has been spared in attacking the rise of right-wing populism and nationalism, it would in many ways have been much stranger if the last couple of decades of rapid globalization had not given rise to some kind of counter reaction. The same can be said about feminism. Ask people to be grown-ups, and you can expect many to run in the opposite direction.

However, rather than belittling people, it seems fair to admit that there are deeper concerns at play here. The irrationalism propelling Trump to the presidency is not in any way surprising given what measures of responsibility and imagination that would be needed to articulate a meaningful alternative, in particular at the global level. Confronted by a worsening climate crisis, the room for political ambivalence but also private hypocrisy with regard to modernity is rapidly shrinking. As the world becomes more integrated, it becomes increasingly untenable to take the fruits of modernity for granted at a personal level yet not support the kind of technological innovation necessary to make these gains universally attainable, or worse, to use advanced information technology to romanticize rural poverty and subsistence farming from a distance.

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