The Globalization of Rage

Foreign Affairs

I’m not sure how to deal with this after I wrote The World Cannot be Understood – and For This Reason, Must be Destroyed this morning.

This is saying much the same thing – but puts it in a global context – starting in 1919, in Italy – at the beginning of the Fascist movement, that wrecked Italy and Germany, in the Thirties and Forties.

Here are some quotes:


We want to glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive act of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas for which one dies, and contempt for women. We want to destroy museums, libraries, and academies of all kinds, and to fight against moralism, feminism, and every utilitarian or opportunistic cowardice.

In the hopeful period that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union two years later, the universal triumph of liberal capitalism and democracy seemed assured. A combination of free markets and representative government appeared to be the right formula for the billions trying to overcome degrading poverty and political oppression. Many economies grew rapidly; new nation-states appeared across a broad swath of Africa, Asia, and Europe; the European Union took shape; peace was declared in Northern Ireland; apartheid ended in South Africa; and it seemed only a matter of time before Tibet, too, might be free.

Hundreds of millions of people have emerged from rural poverty and moved to urban areas, only to find life outside traditional communities to be burdened with fear, uncertainty, and unfulfillable fantasies of self-aggrandizement. Their social isolation has also been intensified in many countries by the decline or abandonment of postcolonial nation-building ideologies and projects and by their leaders’ embrace of a global neoliberal economy that imposes constant improvisation and adjustment—and, frequently, rapid obsolescence. As Tocqueville wrote, “To live in freedom one must grow used to a life full of agitation, change and danger.” Otherwise, one will move quickly, he warned, from savoring unlimited freedom to craving unlimited despotism.

Demagogues of all kinds—from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to France’s right-wing leader Marine Le Pen, to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to the GOP candidate in the current U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump—have tapped into the simmering reservoirs of discontent.


You should read the whole thing – it’s an easy read.

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