With Trump and Brexit, is the global economy in danger?
The popular mobilisation in Europe has given an immense impetus to the conservative polity who maintain the status quo in the world. The rise of ‘protectionist’ politics through democratic and populist processes has questioned the effectiveness and sustainability of the neoliberal economic order. Upon close observation, one can note how both Britain and the United States of America who have been the biggest players in the neoliberal economy are gradually seeking a different economic model. Both Brexit and the electoral victory of the infamous Donald Trump have exposed the inequities that the neoliberal economy had covered under the facade of a ‘competitive market economy’.
The neoliberal economy had often legitimised its imperialist instincts through the celebratory rhetoric of ‘globalisation’. The recent shift in the political rhetoric of the feudal lords of the global economy towards nationalism and majoritarian ethos against the promise of the ‘level playing field’ and multiculturalism has not only showed an ostensible defeat but also a cultural shift. However one must keep reminding oneself that the shift of agency from the ‘politico-cultural elite’ to the ‘strongmen’ of politics is against any rational sustainability requisite in the pursuit of political stability and human emancipation. The promises of neoliberalism seem empty; however, there is hardly any progressive political force that can provide an alternative development model that will be sustainable.
It is at this juncture in world history when the “conservative” polity is restructuring itself; we can imagine a dialectical or rather polyphonic opposition to the same. The white working classes will soon realise that though their political agents are guiding them towards a reactionary rationale and something is rotten in the foundation of this economic order. While this realisation dawns on them, their multicultural brethren will be required to build solidarities. If these solidarities are built organically without ideological assertions, one can presume that space for broad and democratic political activity will be found.
While this new politics is being sought, it is imperative that the developing world, the BRICS countries and especially South Asian countries take a leading role in the process. One of the central issues with neoliberal sustainability has been the consistent conflict between capital and labour. These countries, and here India deserves a special mention have always been labour-intensive economies. The fact that neoliberal capitalism has hardly been able to live up to its promises in India is now firmly established. Even with a fast-growing GDP, 50% of the second largest workforce in the world contributes only 17% to the nation’s growth. Something will happen and must happen to tip the scales here.
As for religious believers in the neoliberal capitalist India, they will face the brunt of two equally powerful agencies. While ‘protectionist’ policies in the West and the US will cause foreign investment to dwindle, inequities in the country with problems relating to employment generation will cause popular disenchantment. These aspects together seem to be enough, in a position where there is already a shift of popular opinion where leaders from right-wing have been elected to power with immense support.
The most important task for those who seek to pursue a political structuring that is egalitarian and emancipating will be to search for an alternative economic structure. A structure that is at its very foundation will have to ensure a bottom-up development in opposition to the trickle-down which never really worked.
The second largest workforce in the world will only be able to rise if the government invests heavily in human resource development and health care. While the reigning right-wing in India has successfully shifted the political onus to nationalism, questions will be raised when fundamental questions on food, clothing and shelter are raised. At that very juncture, a political organisation is required which can organise this popular discontent into the articulation of sustainable development that is sensitive to climate change and on the side of the disenfranchised.
Conclusively, we can observe the expectation of an alternative polity among the ‘toiling masses’. There is a raging discontent against the political elite, which though is currently being driven by political ‘strongmen’ and the pro-authoritarian right; a realisation of the reactionary nature of such pursuit is inevitable. The onus is now on the political agents who have argued for human emancipation under various shades of the non-liberal left to arise and act. We are on the brink of a new world order where labour will finally defeat the great chains of capital. One must act now, for best results.
Originally published at www.youthkiawaaz.com on November 21, 2016.