Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Global Citizenry?


For John, BLUFThe world is on the road to perdition.  The experts agree.  In the mean time, the People turn populist, which means they reject the policies (and styles) of their leaders.  Nothing to see here; just move along.




from The Guardian, by Mr Rana Dasgupta, 5 April 2018.

Here is the lede plus three:

After decades of globalisation, our political system has become obsolete – and spasms of resurgent nationalism are a sign of its irreversible decline. What is happening to national politics? Every day in the US, events further exceed the imaginations of absurdist novelists and comedians; politics in the UK still shows few signs of recovery after the “national nervous breakdown” of Brexit.  France “narrowly escaped a heart attack” in last year’s elections, but the country’s leading daily feels this has done little to alter the “accelerated decomposition” of the political system.  In neighbouring Spain, El País goes so far as to say that “the rule of law, the democratic system and even the market economy are in doubt”; in Italy, “the collapse of the establishment” in the March elections has even brought talk of a “barbarian arrival”, as if Rome were falling once again. In Germany, meanwhile, neo-fascists are preparing to take up their role as official opposition, introducing anxious volatility into the bastion of European stability.

But the convulsions in national politics are not confined to the west.  Exhaustion, hopelessness, the dwindling effectiveness of old ways: these are the themes of politics all across the world.  This is why energetic authoritarian “solutions” are currently so popular: distraction by war (Russia, Turkey); ethno-religious “purification” (India, Hungary, Myanmar); the magnification of presidential powers and the corresponding abandonment of civil rights and the rule of law (China, Rwanda, Venezuela, Thailand, the Philippines and many more).

What is the relationship between these various upheavals? We tend to regard them as entirely separate – for, in political life, national solipsism is the rule.  In each country, the tendency is to blame “our” history, “our” populists, “our” media, “our” institutions, “our” lousy politicians.  And this is understandable, since the organs of modern political consciousness – public education and mass media – emerged in the 19th century from a globe-conquering ideology of unique national destinies.  When we discuss “politics”, we refer to what goes on inside sovereign states; everything else is “foreign affairs” or “international relations” – even in this era of global financial and technological integration.  We may buy the same products in every country of the world, we may all use Google and Facebook, but political life, curiously, is made of separate stuff and keeps the antique faith of borders.

Where to start?

Fortunately, the name of the source gave me a clue.  The Guardian.  Need I say more?  OK then.  Mr Dasgupta is a novelist and as a Fulbright Scholar, attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  That explains some things right there.

Is this just another anti-Brexit screed?

Sure looks like it, underneath.

At the ends, it says:

Third, and finally: we need to find new conceptions of citizenship. Citizenship is itself the primordial kind of injustice in the world. It functions as an extreme form of inherited property and, like other systems in which inherited privilege is overwhelmingly determinant, it arouses little allegiance in those who inherit nothing. Many countries have made efforts, through welfare and education policy, to neutralise the consequences of accidental advantages such as birth. But “accidental advantages” rule at the global level: 97% of citizenship is inherited, which means that the essential horizons of life on this planet are already determined at birth.
If you read Professor Amy Chua’s book, Political Tribes:  Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations, most of those European nations grant Citizenship based on birth, but the United States is a “super-group”.  You come here, follow the rules, and you are one of us. In this digital age you can be an e-Citizen of Estonia, but if you want clean water you have to either fix your own place or emigrate.  The problem is, there are certain limitations, such as carrying capacity and the ability to generate jobs.  Not everyone is a digital genius and some of us have to chop potatoes, so the rest can have dinner. And, the author loves to poke at US President Trump.  In one place he says:
It is not merely Donald Trump’s personality that causes him to act like a sociopathic CEO.
That is kind of tacky.  And, he puts President Trump on the same plane as President Erdoǧsan.  Let us have some sense of proportion here.
Several have noted the parallels in style and substance between leaders such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Ignored in all this is the fact that transnational financial dealings don’t mean we all think alike.  Yes, as Americans we believe all men are created equal, etc, but not everyone does.  Further, rather than the French Revolution having abolished God, it made room for new forms, where God, or the Party, is superior to the state.  While Islam was before the French Revolution, Communism was after it.  In both cases the Faith, and the Faith Leader (Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Kim 1, 2, 3) provides the Faith Wisdom to the secular government.  Much as happens in theocratic Islam, as in Iran.  The author is looking for trouble here.

If we can't unite Afghanistan, how are we going to unite the world?

A long analysis, but not a good analysis.

Regards  —  Cliff

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