What’s Next? Cont’d.

Both in the US and in Europe, the part of the nation-state that people seem interested in preserving is not the one that has to do with economic security provided by the state. Probably the reason is that the price for it is perceived as being too high.

Instead, people are very clearly and even aggressively signaling that the remnant of the nation-state they want to preserve is the one that offers an opportunity to imagine a shared national identity, morality and culture. The nation-state used to force its subjects into shared identity and Co but now people are choosing that on their own and placing it above all.

The political and administrative units that are going to matter from now on are small. Cities, towns, residential neighborhoods. Local politics matters more than anything. And by local I mean the tinier the better. Global politics is crucial, too. “National” politics is valuable only in terms of its symbolism. People who are comfortable with globalization and fluidity and who aim to belong to exterritorial (or not linked to any territory) elites and people who want to live in pockets of (mainly artificial) solidity will stop communicating at all. Until now, they’ve been trying to open each other’s eyes to the “correct” way of perceiving reality but I’m not seeing many opportunities even for this kind of a stilted dialogue.

7 thoughts on “What’s Next? Cont’d.

  1. Who”s voting AGAINST economic security? The Sanders supporters wanted social democracy, the Trump supporters a strongman who will look out for them. You write as if cultural nationalism and opposition to immigration is inconsistent with economic nationalism.


    1. Have you seen Trump’s cabinet picks? Do you know anything about Paul Ryan? Have you followed the ideas that Republicans have stood for for the past 40 years? Anybody who has any interest in the welfare state wouldn’t vote for this party.


    2. I just read some of your post-election posts and you mention some Trump supporters who were middle-class, and conservative or religious, and who felt alienated by progressive radicalism. So maybe I now see what you mean by saying that it’s about cultural alienation.

      My perspective came from this year’s federal elections in Australia. I didn’t like the right because they were led by yet another Goldman Sachs alumnus, but I didn’t trust the left on border control. Ugly things have happened with Australia’s hardline border policy, there must be a better way; but the last time the policy was abandoned, thousands of people drowned trying to get here. This was in the late 00s, years before the recent European experience.

      Also I just hated the mainstream party candidates, both of whom had knifed a sitting prime minister from their own party (one of them twice) – and their colleagues supported them in these actions, in my estimation, out of fear of Rupert Murdoch, and his ability to sway public opinion. And they were also working together in various ways to shut out the possibility of a third-party challenge.

      It really felt like our political choices were being foreclosed by a supra-political alliance of oligarchs and progressive ideologues. I ended up voting for Australia’s Trump, Clive Palmer, even though his party had long since imploded, partly because he is an economic nationalist, but mostly because I thought it was what “they” didn’t want us to do.

      In the end, the protest vote did make a difference, in the Senate. The election was called partly to purge the Senate of troublesome third parties, but they ended up stronger than ever, and led by One Nation, who were chased from national politics 20 years ago after protesting Asian immigration, and whose issue now is Islam.

      Your thesis has made me think a little more about who might have voted for One Nation. Australia is a pretty irreligious society, so that aspect of cultural alienation from the left may not be too strong, but I can certainly imagine a few affluent social conservatives making a protest vote for One Nation.

      Nonetheless, in Australia at least, if you wanted to vote against the welfare state, you wouldn’t go for these third parties, you’d vote for the mainstream center-right, because that’s where the neoliberals are.


      1. Very interesting information about Australia, thank you.

        In the US, border control is an entirely irrelevant issue to the people of Wisconsin, rural Pennsylvania, Iowa, etc. These are people who haven’t seen an immigrant except on TV. They were duped into thinking that immigrants stand on their way to finally enjoying all the stuff they keep buying. But that’s an illusion, a trick. Immigrants are their problem like outer space is mine.


        1. Wall Street Journal has articles saying the exact opposite, e.g. “small towns in the Midwest diversified more quickly than almost any part of the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. Most was a result of Latinos moving into heavily white areas, particularly in Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. Although southern border states have drawn a far greater number of Mexican and other Central American immigrants during this century’s immigration wave, their diversity changed little because they have long had racially mixed populations.”


          1. I lived in different parts of the Midwest and haven’t seen a Hispanic person except on TV. In Illinois where I am now, all the Hispanics live in the heavily liberal Cook County. The red areas like mine, are a different world.


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