The Long Arm of Western Crises

What seems a lifetime ago, I wrote a short essay for the newsletter of the International History and Politics section of the American Political Science Association. Here is how it begins:

The events of 2016 represent no less than a crisis of democracy and capitalism in the West. Not since the 1970s have the fundamental pillars of the post-war global economic order been so contested, and the future course of democracy so uncertain. A particular version of nativist populism that combines economic grievances with deep suspicion of regional institutions is now ascendant from the U.S. to Poland and Hungary. The parallels with the 1930s—also a time of economic hardship, challenges to democracy, and skepticism of international institutions—are all too evident.

At present, the focus of debate is mostly local: what are the consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency for U.S. politics; of Brexit for the U.K. economy; of Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Heinz-Christian Strache, Frauke Petry, and Viktor Orbán for the European project? What remains is geostrategic: what is the future of NATO; of U.S.-China relations; and of Russia as a Eurasian power? From the perspective of global history and politics, what interests me are the as-yet unanticipated consequences of this crisis beyond the borders of Europe, North America, and their great power rivals. The West’s political and economic crises tend to have long arms; witness, for example, the Latin American debt crises that followed from economic slowdowns in the U.S. and Europe in the early 1980s. In the context of the current crisis, what does the future hold beyond the borders of the North Atlantic community, in particular for the global South?

You can read the full thing, alongside thoughtful and interesting essays by Deborah Boucoyannis, Margaret Peters, and Stefanie Walter, here (PDF).

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