The Elites Anticipated Nationalism vs. Globalism
The fire rises. Not only are jihadis expressing their anger at Western universalism, but Yemenis have begun a fight against what they see as a top-down imposition of globalist aims. Yemen is not a solitary flashpoint, as Hungary, India, Russia, and China all have leaders who have expressed opposition or defiance of the globalist order. Western Europe and even the U.S. have seen stirrings of nationalist awakenings and an embrace of historical identities. Even simple pick-up artists have joined the bandwagon. The nationalist vs. globalist fight is in full swing. The rejection of the bland, 21st century progressive empire is growing worldwide. The bad news is that the global elite have anticipated this decades in advanced.
The globalist/nationalist fight was discussed after the fall of Soviet-style communism with two different takes on the subject: Christopher Lasch’s The Revolt of the Elites and Benjamin Barber’s Jihad vs. McWorld. Both books are really just outgrowths of prior magazine articles by the same authors. Both books discuss the betrayal of democracy, or the coming death of democracy, due to future conflicts. Both support democracy, as it is the reigning religion. Both describe a cultural environment infected by the idea of the triumph of Western liberalism, which is most comically expressed in Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and The Last Man. With twenty years between us and them, we can see that there are issues neither anticipated.
Lasch’s book expresses anger at the global elite’s betrayal of their own citizens. The “Davos Man” has an allegiance to global initiatives, rather than local interests. Dissidents mock him or her for their affiliation with an elite transnational culture, rather than their home culture. The Davos Man will often, if not always, push for greater centralization and control, appealing to global authorities and supposed universal values.
Lasch lucidly describes the divergence of the political, corporate and professional elites of the West from the masses that they have grown to mock. Lasch sees a global takeover and hopes the system can reform. Barber’s book evaluates the situation, more than the specific elites. Barber’s McWorld is the consumerist, corporate globalist approach focused on information and economics. Jihad is not just the Muslim concept of jihad, but a stand-in for any identity-based tribalism and struggle for a people to have a secure place and right to self-determination. Barber sees democracy as still existing, but does not see a future for it if either globalists or jihadis win.
Our elite have seen this coming. They knew there would be pushback on their globalist aims. Barber’s original essay considers the jihad threat as the “last deep sigh” before the boring “yawn of McWorld” is solidifed. Lasch and Barber both realized the seductive powers of mass entertainment and cheaply produced fast food for formerly starving and bored non-Westerners. What they did not see was that prolonged exposure to those same things would create a dulled and empty population. The emptiness would eat away at the leading populations of the First World, and prove vapid and tawdry to the emerging world. They did not see that the appeal of the fruits of multinational corporations would be considered threats to older orders, sparking autoimmune reactions.
These two men did not see how weak the West had become in the stew of McWorld under a treasonous leadership. Drugged and softened up so that the masses would pose no threat to the Western elites, the communities of the West have lost strength to fight off the foreign expression of Barber’s jihad (sometimes literal jihad), threatening the entire system. Neither Lasch nor Barber anticipated that Western elites would actively destroy their nations by importing third world foreigners under a false assumption that they, too, could be pacified with fast food, welfare, and Hollywood entertainment.
Lasch considerd the emptiness of the elite’s world as did Barber. Barber never considered the strength of a minority with asabiyyah and strong Schelling points versus a loose confederation of people connected by the dollar. Lasch had not lost touch with the power of religion and tradition, but Barber was enthralled by the ascendancy and victory of the secular Western world. Representing the elite well, Barber had lost touch with the power that religion has in binding people. This can create connections, as can shared historical struggle (prior jihad), to create incredibly strong message to sway a community in the face of a dull, bland McWorld marketing push.
The other critical item they missed was the problem of the Western elite overreaching: stretching both in economics and social aspects. The progressive pupu platter is forced on any nation that enter the West’s McWorld regardless of tradition or religion. The West has concentrated so much wealth in the hands of so few that the ladder up within their populations is now restricted to the politically connected. The West has done so by debasing the reserve currency and threatening the dollar system with a tsunami of debt. One can just walk through the McWorld shopping malls and wonder what connects people. Is it the strong identity that creates defenders of a nation and people vying for sovereignty, or is it a dollar that enables consumers to buy the goods of McWorld?
Barber’s description of this battle never considers the downside to democracy. Barber’s base assumption is that participatory democratic politics created the triumph of Western representative, capitalist funded government. He does not consider the private actions of individuals and groups, creatig institutions without government interference or patronage, as a cause or foundation for the West’s rise. Like any good, progressive thinker, he could never consider that the rights and freedom the West enjoyed was a product of the people, cultures and evolutionary process that created the West after the fall of Rome. Barber skips over the de-colonization process in Africa that saw one man, one vote, one time happen in nation after nation either coinciding with or preceding inter-tribal killing or ethnic cleansing. Like the other side of the Janus statue, Barber never considers that a homogeneous political entity would have so much in common that participatory politics of the finer points of policy and governance may arise since tribal security and cultural beliefs would be solid and shared.
Nationalism is just the first step, and one that even academic Marxist Michel Clouscard cited as the means for fighting back against capitalism and globalization. The elites anticipated this and stuffed the wealthy nations of the world with enough aliens and minorities to create easy to mold, yet too weak to fight grievance groups, to bloc nationalists like Marine LePen. They did not anticipate technology to weaken the very tools they use for implementing their progressive utopia or to create new jealousies and friction between populations, which solidify the identity of sub-groups.
Once the realization sets in that nations have betrayed their people, and that technology places in the hands of small groups power and capabilities formerly only in the domain of sovereign nations, fragmentation will spread. The democracy that Lasch and Barber professed love for may perish entirely, or it may find immortality in small city states and refined political units.