On the Crisis of Western Civilization, Yet Again

Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election came as a shock not only to the American elite but to the European ruling elite as well. The French newspaper Le Monde even compared the event to the shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Perhaps the comparison is justified.

The bottom line is that the results of the vote on Nov. 8, 2016 came as a sort of mirror that reflected, in all its fullness, the crisis of the Western political system and the deep social division cleaving society and all its constituent layers.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West became so convinced of its own strength and eternal world domination that it even began to speak of the end of history: The powerful societal counterweight to global capitalism had passed away. Then began the frantic, unrestrained race for profit. This race, having neither moral, ethical limitations nor restraining norms, led to unprecedented growth in the gap among the various strata of society in individual countries and in the world as a whole. An offensive began in Western countries against the middle class, which is a significant part of the population and the most morally stable part, besides. The time came when the living standards of its representatives had begun to fall. They realized that they were being cheated unscrupulously (their fathers had lived much better).

Over the past 25 years, the number of billionaires in the world has grown to 2,500, while the capital at their disposal has increased many times over and has begun to approach $8 trillion — that’s more than the GDP of many countries, with the exception of the U.S. and China.

Growing income inequality — and in the U.S., the level is approaching that of 1928 — has become the primary cause of the resentment of the political establishment, which carries out the will of the largest corporations. The newspaper Daily Mail, for example, writes that “the Obama years have seen income inequality at its highest level since 1928,” and that’s why “a substantial portion of its white citizens want to revert to the 19th [century].”

The demographic crisis in Europe — falling birth rates, an aging population and waves of immigration as well — has deepened even further the division within society. Many native-born Europeans see immigrants who are “taking away their jobs” as the root of evil in today’s situation.

For the U.S., the problem is more like the well-known situation in our country — “they’ve overrun us here.” The fact of the matter is that the size of the white population in the U.S. is quickly declining. Right now, according to various reports, white are 62 to 64 percent of the population, whereas the number not only of African-Americans but of immigrants from Latin America (above all from Mexico) and Asia is growing rapidly.

To a large extent, this is what Donald Trump’s harsh statements regarding building a wall on the border with Mexico and calls to impose a ban on the arrival of new Muslims to the U.S. are all about. It’s not surprising that Trump’s campaign promises to deal with immigrants were met with such enthusiasm by the white population, which is already seriously concerned that in a few years it may end up a minority in its own country.

Similar sentiments were typical of the middle class in the U.K., and the working class there, having given it some thought and considered all the pros and cons, decided that it’s better off being outside of the European Union.

The key point is that the U.S. and other Western powers’ ruling elite continue to think in terms of the 20th or even 19th century, when their dominance in the world was of an absolute nature. But times are changing, and the balance of power in the world has changed qualitatively on them. Confidently coming onto the world’s political scene are other civilizations, associations of states that demand fair, respectful treatment and the consideration of their interests.

At present, the “great ones of the world” — which is what they consider themselves — don’t want to face up to this in any way. They’re trying in every way possible to preserve their absolute domination and, for their own sake, plunge other countries and regions into the nightmares of new bloody wars and conflicts. At the same time, the elites’ inability to deal with their own problems, problems like, for example, immigration or mending relations with their own minorities — above all, Muslims — is provoking a powerful surge of protest movements in these very countries.

The aforementioned Le Monde admits outright that “the ruling class can’t come up with an adequate solution to the refugee problem or to income inequality.” The short-sighted and reckless foreign policy of Europe’s current leaders and their inability to look beyond the horizon has already led to terrible chaos in the Middle East and Africa and to the crisis in Ukraine.

The “political earthquake” in Washington, which is what Europe is calling Trump’s victory in the presidential election, has puzzled and frightened European elites. They felt the earth seemingly coming loose under their feet and feared that something like what occurred on Nov. 8 in America might happen in their comfortable European homes.

Thus, the West’s ruling class received a serious forewarning: The world has changed radically. Today there are so many global problems that multilateral cooperation on a basis of equality is becoming not a matter of free choice but of strict necessity.

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About Jeffrey Fredrich 199 Articles
Jeffrey studied Russian language at Northwestern University and at the Russian State University for the Humanities. He spent one year in Moscow doing independent research as a Fulbright fellow from 2007 to 2008.

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