Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Facism or just chaos?

In the current rightwing populism many see a danger for a return to fascism.

But seen apart from small groups like the German NPD, this danger is probably not real, at least not in the developped world. We are in another phase in history, a phase characterized by other political manifestations than we saw in the last century. We are no longer in what I have called mature modernity, but in late or declining modernity. See my post "Decline of Modernity". Mature modernity was characterized by long standing ideologies like Liberalism, Communism and Fascism. It may sound strange to call Fascism a sign of a "mature" modernity. But the word does not imply something good or bad. It is just a name for the fully developped part of modernity with all its good, neutral and bad phenomena.

The character of the three phases of a modernity of a civilization are determined both by the general tendencies of modernities and by the character of the civilization. I have earlier talked about the tendency for certain civilizations to invert to the opposite certain parts of their character during their modernity, typically mostly in the late declining part. We see old China and the West loosing their otherwise typical historical consciousness, dynasticism and elitism. And the Greco-Roman world in its modernity turn toward exactly these traits, which this civilization otherwise does not possess. After modernity the normal old traits come back.

The West like old Egypt and old China were politically and in other respects characterized by long term thinking, and planning ahead. The Greek-Roman civilization was more random with short-sighted decisions only serving the here and now purpose. This is part of the explanation of the somewhat chaotic picture of this civilization with a history marked by an infinite number of internal and external conflicts and wars.

It looks almost like it is the destiny of the Western civilization to approach the traits of this predecessor civilization more and more toward its late modernity: anti-elitism, anti-dynasticism and lack of historical sense. And in addition we see the same chaotic democracy and lack of long term thinking and planning.

These developments are one of the reasons why we cannot view Trump, Marine Le Pen and Orbán as new Hitlers or Francos. Even Hitler had his frightening grandiose very long term plans for the future. Franco's rule was stable for decades.

The new populists, right or leftwing, are opportunists and only thinking and acting for the immediate. The worst is that thiese traits infect the whole pilitical spectrum. Old respectable political parties with proud traditions also begin to behave like this. Politicians  are only  fighting for short term gains: winning over the public oppinion and catch voters. A media campaign or a shit storm can change politics. And worse, such politicians often promote and abuse degrading and xenophobic sentiments.

A functioning bureaucratic administrative system can to a certain extent secure a degree of continuity. But more and more we see politicians interfering with or abusing such systems. Often in the form of incessant changes and reforms or ad hoc measures after public outcries over single cases of bad treatment of a citizen.

It is in this light the new populist parties must be seen. The main danger is not new fascism, but the fact that the inconsistent short term oriented behavior is taking over main stream politics and this even more when populist parties are allowed to take part in governing. And politics conducted this way can have detrimental consequences. Limited planning, ever changing initiatives, crazy measures. Countries that are able to avoid this will have an advantage both internally and in relation to other countries. Perhaps, as said in the last post, a USA ruled by changing populists  could in a random way through adventurous actions take over countries. But confronted with a determined well organized big power the United States could lose the competition for world leadership.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

We've Got a Bigger Problem Now

The results of one Super-Tuesday do not bring the Apocalypse. But together with other new phenomena it points to a frightening change in politics within and between countries and powers.

The decline of politics  was predictable, but I had not foreseen that it should proceed with such a speed. It has been underway for a long time, but has suddenly accelerated over the last two years, partly furthered by the terror from the Islamic State, the related influx of refugees from Syria and the efforts by Mr. Trump.

1) Europe has seen a decisive turn to the worse. Right wing parties profit from the fear of refugees. East Europe sees the same racist and in addition new autocratic tendencies. Also the old hitherto responsible political parties in Europe are more and more infected by shortsighted populism. The EU is viewed with hostility, the UK could even be on the way out. And the whole Union is weakened by these developments and by general centrifugal tendencies to a degree rendering decisions almost impossible.

2) In the USA the Tea Party people and obstruction from the right wing in Congress already seen for some years was bad enough. Now we have Mr. Trump, who makes even Mr. Cruz look responsible. We can just hope there is substance inside even if judging from his oral behavior there is none. That a self-declared Socialist like Sanders wins so many votes in the Land of the Free is also a sign of the changes, even if he looks infinitely much more sympathetic than Trump.

The changes in the American political landscape are beyond anything seen before and cannot simply be viewed as the known occasional anti-establishment tendencies having popped up from time to time before. A type like Trump may not become president in 2017. But the way is now open for this kind of men. And also from outside the presidency such politicians can have a very obstructive and destabilizing influence.

3) Other countries typically, but not only in the Middle East, like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia are also affected by the decline inn both internal and external matters with unpleasant consequences for the stability inn their regions.

The only major bastions of institutionalized functioning stability left could soon be China and Germany. Germany is also on the wrong way. A limit to the influx of refugees seems necessary to stop parts of the population from turning to right wing racist parties.

Instability in a major power can lead to, but does not necessarily imply less power in the world. For competitors to the USA: do not expect advantages from its destabilzation. Its power is not as totally dominant as that of Rome 2100 years ago, but still is tremendous. The Roman picture of simultaneous competing leaders fighting each other, each conquering new provinces, is unlikely, but changing populist US presidents could launch rows of new  adventures abroad both political, on the Internet and even military, destabilizing the world and swallowing new areas into the American sphere.

Through a Europe dissolving into particularism and right wing populism, a Unites States dominated by erratic irresponsible politicians and other countries behaving like children we may be entering a world much more chaotic than the one we know. A world where it takes much talent to navigate.