From left to right: a crisis of civilization and the neoliberal model

Neither an emerging new right nor an old left in retreat seem to have responses to a crisis rooted in a neoliberal model that is very difficult to counter or resist . Español

Beatriz Martínez Saavedra
3 October 2019, 12.00am
Trump and Modi, two of the main figures used to highlight the global turn to the right
Foto: TNS / SIPA USA / PA Images. Todos los derechos reservados

The advance of the right on a global level has caused alarm. Various regions of the world have seen the establishment of these types of regimes, that are underpinned by hostile agendas for human rights, migration, minorities or the environment.

The worry isn’t unjustified however, it is impossible not to see the factors that have led to this type of political expression. The support from broad sectors of the population of these regimes shows dissatisfaction with the inefficient leadership of the governments from centre or left.

Corruption, cronyism, influence peddling, unemployment and economic precariousness are elements that have rushed the turn to the right.

Anti-establishment right

In some respects, support for the global right is often referred to as an anti-establishment or anti-system, against the administrations that indebted to those they have governed. When observing the consolidation of power of three figures that have formed right-wing governments - Trump, Modi and Bolsonaro, you can see the that discontentment with their predecessors has been decisive in damaging democratic systems, through the growing support for authoritarian figures.

While Obama maintained notable levels of acceptance, many sectors of society felt excluded from his political program. The population of Midwest, far from the financial district of Wall Street, came together to underpin the triumph of Donald Trump.

As historian Morris Berman points out in The Roots of American Failure, the Obama government scheme, continued along the same line of reaganism, all the advantages and privileges fell to Wall Street which, in fact, subjugated the administration under its dictates and needs, increasingly deteriorating the middle and lower classes for the benefit of financial and business elites.

Similarly, Bolsonaro's victory in Brazil was forged by the mistakes of the left-wing governments. Accusations aimed at Lula Da Silva about brides from Odebrecht alongside the accusations towards Dilma Rousseff for corruption, diversion of resources of Petrobras for her campaign and the definitive “crimes of responsibility” that ended with her “impeachment” (which was considered as a coup status by some analysts).

These were relevant factors in the Brazilian presidential election and resulted in growing support for Bolsonaro, despite the dirty strategies of the current president such as the fabrication of false news against Fernando Haddad, the opposition candidate.

In the case of India, the arrival of Modi was also possible due to the incompetence of the Congress party and the corruption scandals that since 2011 had already led to the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, a 73-year-old activist who is compared to Gandhi.

In this sense, in 2014 and again in 2019, voters opted for a character with an ominous past relating to the anti-Muslim riots that took place in 2002, but with an effective developmentalist discourse that was well received by the population, who viewed the economic aspect of Modi’s government as more significant than to the issue of social justice for the Muslim minority.

The demands from the United States to Mexico to reduce migration in exchange for not applying disadvantageous tariffs is an example of blackmail from one of the strongest democracies, in theory.

Similarities and differences between the left and right

On the other side of the spectrum, when inquiring about whether there is a particular style of governance associated with right-wing governments, Thomas Blom Hansen, a student of nationalism and democracy in India, points out that there is not a big difference in policy implementation between the left and right. This is because of the converging trends relating to the economy of loot, corruption and diversion of public resources, which have now become common political practise.

However, the social agendas of the political spectrum would show greater divergences. As Noberto Bobbio points outs, the notion of the right comprises a broad ideological mosaic that has transformed its semantic load into different historical contexts.

The general conceptual framework suggests that conservative thought includes he affirmation of the inherent inequality of men, the importance of tradition in the articulation of social normativity, the rejection of radical changes and changes to private property.

Thus, it promotes the preservation of family, morals and property. When conservatism and authoritarianism are drawn together the right shows its most discouraging face.

In contrast, the left, represents the antithesis of that authoritarianism. Although in practice this is not always the case, such as Venezuela with Maduro. Remember that theoretical models, are typical-ideal constructs, as Max Weber calls them, reality doesn’t always stick to theory.

The demands, for example, from the United States to Mexico to reduce migration in exchange for not applying disadvantageous tariffs is an example of blackmail from one of the strongest democracies, in theory. This also occurs on the eve of elections and was used by an electoral strategy to co-opt voted by trump.

This is a civilian and global crisis

Neoliberal economic model at the base of the crisis

If democracy has a place for both ideologies and their political aims, including authoritarianism that reduces the quality of democracy itself, it may be necessary to also question the global economic model that frames democratic systems.

If both political tendencies have obvious weaknesses, although asymmetric, in terms of resource distribution, environmental conservation, respect for human rights. Is it perhaps because political systems - even democracy which is considered exemplary - are subject to the neoliberal economic paradigm, which accumulates and hordes resources of supreme value.

And it is this voracious and exclusive financial mortality that must be fought from all fronts: social, economic and political because our priorities are altered when what matters most is wealth and power at all costs.

This is a civilian and global crisis. It expresses itself, at all levels, in the indifference towards or attacking human rights, social agendas and the environment. It opens up the possibility of encircling tyrants in a neoliberal model that is not simply the context but is also the trigger for this deep crisis.

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