The New Global Anti-Reconstruction

The past two decades have seen a sharp rise in popularity for far right parties and groups in European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Greece and France. This rise in popularity coupled with the phenomenon of departure from the European common market of Britain – also called Brexit, and the election for president of Donald Trump in the United States of America, signifies a global rise of a new trans-Atlantic hegemony sharing a common historical and cultural streak. These common historical and cultural streaks can be attributed to the fissures inherent to the western democracies and the paradoxical outgrowths of both the successes and failures of the same western consensus.

Though I refrain from considering the phenomena across Europe and United States of America as homogenous, I would like to underline the basis of my assertion in the sociopolitical evolution that these developments share and the role populism is serving as the common venting channel for the values and interests in both cases. Analysts agree that populism, was at the heart of the 2016 presidential election campaign in the United States that brought Donald Trump to power 1, as it was at the heart of Britain’s anti-EU referendum, and at the heart of the rising momentum of far right parties in various European countries such as France.

Some political analysts even assert that if the personal beliefs and publicly held assertions of some of the people that president Trump has brought to the white house as advisors and councils are to be taken as the reflections of his future policies, the Clash of civilization thesis popularized by Samuel F. Huntington, in which a clash of civilizations will dominate global politics is finally reaching its climax. (2) According to Huntington the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future. (3)

However, seen from the perspective of not of the west but ‘the other’ or the nonwestern, or the minorities in the Western nations , the global revival of far right ideas, and search for hegemony between Europe and America, despite its various manifestations, share common characteristics, that could be referred to as the New Global anti-Reconstruction.

Riding the Populism Tide 

Cas Mudde defined populist as an ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ and ‘the corrupt elite’, and which argues that politics should be an expression of the general will of the people4. Thus, according to Mudde, populism movements share three core features: anti-establishment, authoritarianism, and nativism.

The common rallying cries of the various movements both in Europe and America, seen in light of Mudde’s definition, reflections of the anti-establishment voices clearly seen in the level of distrust that citizens reflect towards their governments signaling the ideological divide between the ‘corrupt elites’ who are labeled as the ‘other’ and are accused of conspiring with ‘the enemy of ‘the pure people’ i.e. the majority against the immigrants and the minorities, to swindle the pure people out of their economic and cultural dominance.

Cas Mudde further states that populism favors mono-culturalism over multiculturalism, national self-interest over international cooperation and development aid, closed borders over the free flow of peoples, ideas, labor and capital, and traditionalism over progressive and liberal social values. These features of populism are the major mantra that parties and individuals who are gathering more and more traction in various European countries rely on. These features are also seen in Donald Trump’s rhetoric that seeks to stir up a potent mix of racial resentment, intolerance of multiculturalism, nationalistic isolationism, nostalgia for past glories, and mistrust of outsiders, traditional misogyny and sexism, the appeal of forceful strong-man leadership, attack-dog politics, and racial and anti-Muslim animus.6

Throughout the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump had been using the perfect example of stirring resentment of the mass of his supporters on their economic situation through blaming it on ‘the other’. Most importantly the others are immigrants and or other countries like Mexico and China, and the corrupt politician in Washington Dc, who have reduced the “pure people’ of the nation down to the level, which he calls “disastrous”.  And the solution is isolationism, dismantling all progressive policies that previous administrations installed and most importantly returning the country to the ‘glorious past’ it had lost.7

As a result of the populism phenomenon, politics in the advanced democracies of Western Europe and United States of America is going through a period of profound transformation. The meaning to derive out of this transformation lends itself largely to the perspective it is seen from. As an evolutionary historical development, according to Hans Georg Betz, this transformation had largely been the result of marked changes in the relationship between parties and voters, attributed to growing access to higher education, overabundance of information, disintegration of traditional sub cultures leading to the progressive dissolution of traditional party loyalties.

Further examining the rationale behind voters’ behaviors towards populist parties and personalities, Inglehart & Norris 8 conclude that two propositions represent the majority of cases: the rise of economic insecurity among the electorate and the growing drive for cultural backlash towards ‘others’. These two theories shade light on why populist agenda are getting traction among voters across the Western world. The common denominator lies in the manner with which proponents of the movements portray and treat immigration and immigrants as well as the minorities in their own nations, for example African Americans and Muslims in the USA and the gypsies and immigrants in European countries. The reason, expressed as the supposed and actually threatened way of life of the host nation as a result of the proliferation of progressive, liberal policies and the rising number of immigrants. Conservative and nativist causes often cried out loud in France, Belgium, and now in America through Trump.

In the United States, populism often involves a “producerist” narrative that portrays a noble middle class of hard-working productive citizens being squeezed by a conspiracy involving secret elites above and lazy, sinful, and subversive parasites below. This often targets people of color and immigrants.9 Thus, the immediate recipient of the fury being the immigrants who are portrayed to have flooded the nation and snatched the jobs from the natives. The other, cultural aspect of the cry is the fear and dread that the new comers are not only here to exploit the system at the expense of the native but also to change the way of life of the natives.  While I share the soundness of both economic insecurity and cultural backlash thesis as viable explanations for the rising tides of populism and recognizant of the fact that, populism is not a phenomenon confined to western democracies, I would say that both economic insecurity and cultural backlash thesis meshed in one represent the same phenomenon only vented through different channels. The phenomenon is an attempt at reversing the supposed reconstructing tendencies of progressive liberal policies that western nations championed for long finally being portrayed as untenable by the same hegemonic forces in the Western nations.

Ideologies advanced by the West since the end of the Second World War and more aggressively so as the ultimate world order since the fall of the Berlin Wall, when it worked for the interest of the West, and now, western nations feeling the economic and cultural bite of the same policies, triggering a new global Western backlash against those same policies in an effort to stop their reconstructing tide. America and Europe, by virtue of being products of parallel cultural, religious, political and tribal histories; it would be a fitting framework to examine the cores of these current developments as global anti-reconstruction.

Pre-Reconstruction: Rise of New world order   

The current period has its historical parallel, both in its causes and effects in the major features and phases of the Era of Reconstruction in USA (1865-1877).

The first reconstruction period in America came in the wake of the American civil war which was the major turning point in the nation’s history. And the current new global reconstruction phenomenon can be seen as a reaction to developments in Europe and America that came in the wake of the Cold war and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

America can be taken as the epitome of the west, which was in reality the representation, dream destination, country, as well as colony and economic backyard of different European nations, before independence, and the leader of the Western world afterwards and especially after the Second World War.

And the African American in the USA could be taken as the epitome of global suppression and systemic marginalization in the midst of democratic systems.

The various entities representing various segments of Europe were nothing but the integral parts of the new world. Their arrival signified opportunity to explore the limits of the available prospects that were for the taking. However, for the entire time this glaring, beautiful reality of being a land of opportunity was maintained, for the Europeans, the country was the opposite of a dream land for the black population who were arriving in droves but barred from not only taking part in the opportunity of the nation, but from the minimal opportunity of being recognized as human beings.

The moment the European arrived in America he was not only offered the opportunity to explore the great wealth of the nation as far as his energy and dexterity allowed, but also the special opportunity of identification. This identification that crosses the national, religious and ethnic differences the Europeans brought, and offered a new identity: the opportunity to identify himself as white. This was important for the Europeans who already had the notion of race superiority writ through color difference, national Ethnic identities were also very important. Thus the French was ethnically French when he arrived in America as the Italian was Italian. However, the newly constructed identity of being white, was not only essential in distilling the ethnic, national and religious animosities the Europeans had amongst themselves and became one under the umbrella of the upper class provided by being the new White hegemony.

The Political ploy that served as the simple code of passage into the wealth of the nation also demanded the new White Europeans live with the obligatory allegiance to the oppressive system of the country that survived on the racial and color codes.  For the perks of being grouped along with the preferred upper-class both by association and provision, the New White was supposed to rationalize, accept, participate and justify the suppression, dehumanization and the dispossession of the nonwhite.  The non-white populations of the nation, the native Indians and especially the blacks labeled ‘the other’ were to be acceptable collateral damages. Thus, a parallel reality of a country with great opportunities and freedom on the on hand and the land of oppression and despair lived together. However, incompatible the two parallel realities were, they were allowed to exist for centuries with one common thread of equilibrium: the absolute reliance on the notion that what worked for the European–American hegemony, prosperity and wealth, is the absolute good and anything that deviated from this notion is a threat.

For every opportunity availed for the European, there was a hundred percent denial for the black population. For every pound of cotton exported at the expense of the black body, for every ounce of coal burned at the expense of the black, for every road built by the sweat of the black body, and for every sugarcane processed by the bondage black body, that made the economy of America work and the white hegemony grow in wealth and power, the black man was stripped of everything from being accepted as human to not being allowed to be visible in no way as deserving anything but disdain and exploitation. If lack and social problems in the social spheres, the political chambers, the senate and the congress is discussed, it was never the lack of the evident Black man.

The Black man was invisible. This is notwithstanding the many slave uprisings, antislavery and pro-abolition movements that were underway throughout. Most of these movements were not as significant as the aftermath of the America civil war. The civil war was among other reasons caused by the call for ending slavery that especially the southern states of America were dependent on for their economic survival.

Reconstruction: Mission thwarted 

It has been one hundred and twenty years since Reconstruction took place in the United States of America (1865-1877). The period that came right after Civil War, was rife with enthusiasm, positive expectations and sacrifice for the great ideals of, among others, freedom, citizenship and equality for the enslaved black population of the country. The black citizens of the United States, who for long were not only denied citizenship but their inalienable rights of being considered as humans saw hope in the defeat of the Confederate southern states. This was a hope woven in the grim fabric of the southern states whose black enslaved members were the unsung champions of the growth, development and affluence that they enjoyed.

The evident exploitation of the black body, held in bondage without a shred of right being the reason the Southern states become competitive on world stage through the exportation of commodities the enslaved produced.  For the confederates, the civil war was a war of survival to remain parasitic economic entities on the enslaved black body of millions. Thus, despite the northern goals of putting the country on a path to greatness, rage, disaffection and determination to hold on to the antithesis of human greatness were, both before and after the Civil War, the vowed stances of the American south.

After the war was won for the Unionist forces lead by the North, the south was supposed to pass through a period of reconstruction that was aimed at bringing justice for the enslaved bodies of millions, would fall short of many of its promises.

The progressive ideals of the northerner politicians that called for the abolishment of slavery, the amendment of the constitution, the granting of civil right to the freed ex-slaves right after the war was taken as an attack by the corrupt Elite in Washington on ‘the pure people of the South’. The attempt of the Federal government through the Congress, at enabling the black population own land of their own, was not only trashed of the table of considerations by southern resistance. But it also served as a riling spectacle for the southerners, who among being denied the inhuman hold of fellow human beings for profit, but also considered the progressive agenda as an attack on the southern way of life. Echoing the resentment of many former slave owners and the lavish life they had been stripped of because of the Civil War and the subsequent freedom of the enslaved.

In the early days of the aftermath of the Civil War, more than 1,500 blacks were elected to state legislative in various states in the south, most of them former escapees to the north while some were northern Blacks who came to take to serve in the opportunity the emancipation proclamation brought.10 

The influx of northern whites who came as Unionist soldiers as well as administrators as part of the new reconstruction plan first by Lincoln and then by his predecessor, were resented by the Southerners very much as being exploiters and opportunists who were there to take advantage of and of reducing the white southerner into near slavery. This was compounded by the north’s willingness to allow the newly freed Black man to vote. According to Dunning,  the four year war, that deprived the south of the free slave labor it used to take for granted was reduced to the lowest of lows and commercial system of the south was destroyed, an thus the life of even the well to do classes to a pitifully primitive almost barbarous level. 11

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the attempts of congress to advance changes that helped change the lives of millions of black citizens, were met with strong resistance, first from the Lincoln’s successor, and second by the southern states which were being slowly retaken by anti-black freedom, conservative politicians who called themselves The redeemers, coming to power from 1873- to 1877 on a populist platform. And the little hope that was flickering in the horizon in terms of change for the Black citizens of the country was dramatically puffed out.

Only 12 years after the emancipation proclamation, a serious of state laws that discouraged Black votes, reinstated a near slavery state of legal condition for the black millions was introduced. The early voter registration hurdles that took a subtle nature such as imposing literacy requirement over blacks, who in the life as enslaved were on the pain of death chased away from any semblance of learning and reading, started to grow into organized terror against the black voters.

 ‘Redemption’ of the South 

The little inconvenience in the parasitic lavish life style that the southern states suffered because people whose free labor and sweat used to provide them were free had to cry foul because they were deduced to near slavery12. An exaggeration that shows the root of the problem and the nature of the challenge, the system that defines only a certain kind of pain and legitimate pain, a certain kind of people as genuine problem, uncertain kind of culture are genuine culture would always blind spot of mora, political and psychological blunders.

South instituted laws known as Black Codes. These laws granted certain legal rights to blacks, including the right to marry, own property, and sue in court, but the Codes also made it illegal for blacks to serve on juries, testify against whites, or serve in state militias. The Black Codes also required black sharecroppers and tenant farmers to sign annual labor contracts with white landowners. If they refused they could be arrested and hired out for work.13

Underneath the retaliation and the so called redemption of the south from the authoritarianism of the North I.e. the federal government, was as much economical as it was cultural. The southern economy was highly dependent on the free labor of the enslaved black population. As a result the freedom of slaves was seen not only at an attack on the Southern way of life appealing to the nativism rhetoric and being subjected to the Northerners’ invasion of their rights.

To preserve the southern way of life, the White Supremacist and murderous Ku Klux Klan emerged in 1865 as the first regressive right-wing populist movement in the United States. The KKK was trailed and emulated by the white league and red shirt, in the same bid of preserving the southern way of life and reducing the black population to servitude and obedience 14.  And along with the defenseless blacks, the white supremacists groups were also unsympathetic towards those white politicians an citizen who advanced progressive ideals, inclusion, civil and human rights, and the end to the segregation laws of the south.

The much anticipated, potentially progressive and transformative moment in the history of the nation was ended in a disappointment after the so-called ‘redeemer’ conservatives took over power in southern states on populist platforms.

In just 12 years, the much awaited reconstruction was reduced into victory snatched where the southern politicians changed the little advancements that were made in terms of the right to vote and the citizenship of the blacks, as shattering impositions on the way of life of the South. Thus basically, rather than searching a cure for the original sin of the nation, that is chattel slavery , as Chimamanda would call slavery in The United States of America, the country chose a path of reinstating the old system into a new form of slavery in a different name.15  With successive laws and directives and systemic limitations, the place of the black population was not only officially reduced into a second class citizenship but also were put captives of the same southern powers who used them as and a source of labor for their farms. In a near slavery package of sharecropping and prison industrial complex that collaborated with plantation in the supply of free black labor through seasonal mass incarcerations. Through Jim Crow Law to segregation and till the civil rights era, the reversal of the reconstruction process was in effect the law of the land in the United States.

The Trans-Atlantic hegemony of world dominance  

America with the successful rollback of the reconstruction process, Europe vested in the Colonial domination of the rest of the world, seemed to find the unwavering hegemony of western white dominance over the rest of the world, and in what looked inalterable supremacy until the Second World War.

With the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish empires gone, and Germany reduced into a defeated power, America and Russia emerged as the two contending power ultimately at war with each other and a new era of tension and fragmentation of the colonial world emerged. The other consequence of the Second World War was the indication that the white domination that was reigning over the world was into tatters. And freedom struggles among the subjugated world both in America, and Africa and the rests of the colonized world started to proliferate. More countries started to get their freedom.

However, the world still was not free from domination. The only option available seemed to be choosing between the two blocs of white world. Even the continent of Africa, where many countries secured their freedom after years of struggle, were ultimately forced to choose between the West and East bloc of the political polarity representing the former colonizing western world.

Cold War and the Civil war Parallels

The cold war that was fought between the western nations that sided the United States of America and its allies around the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and those nations that sided with the Soviet Russia around the Warsaw pact was an ideological war that was characterized by wars, spies, coups, subversion.

The cold war had two similarities with the Civil war of the United States. First similarity is the war was waged for the interested of domination in the name of the freedom of the mass. Both wars had succeeded in failing to provide the full promises of their reason for being waged.  As the civil war was waged to subdue the separatist Southern states back into the union as any cost and in the process promising freedom for the millions of enslaved Blacks, the cold war waged to subdue the rise of communism in the world with the promise of freedom for the people of the world that is encapsulated in liberal democratic systems.

However, in both cases the wars were won and brought options that were nothing but complete as the freed slaves in the south were provided the much awaited freedom but not the opportunities they could use that freedom as free citizen. Land, political and economic opportunities were as inaccessible for the black as they were before the war, in most cases forcing some newly freed slaves to realm in the slave plantation they lived as deprived beings. The countries that were snatched form the grips of communism to the western democracy, during the cold war, were snatched through bloody coups sponsored by the leaders of the ‘Free world’ against popularly elected leaders. This was the case from toppling governments in South America, to Africa, to the Middle East in Chile, Nicaragua, Ghana and Iran to supporting despots and killers all over the world because it was done in the name of fighting against communism.

Thus, while the civil war was won for the North in the America civil war, it was later the southern ideal of color superiority, systemic incarceration and segregation that rule over the nation. Thus, in terms of the majority of blacks in America, the victory of partial victory, as their rights and opportunities were kept under the very ideal of color superiority laced policies that degraded them into servitude, subjects of incarcerations and segregation-an act that the south started through the so called Jim crew laws, which the north reluctantly joined.

While the Cold War was won for the Western democracy, however, despite the letup in civil wars and conflicts in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is the authoritarian tendencies of communism, fashioned and sold in liberal garbs, that took root in the way the Western treated treat the world. During the cold war era, communism and western democracy were presented as the two ultimate choices for the world. Choosing anyone of them was not a peaceful option for the sides meant that one would be the marked target for the other. To this end, almost half a century of many of the newly emerging African countries were stultified, but a surrogacy they played for either side of the political West and East.

After the Cold war, the same world, especially the third world was faced with the choice of liberal democracy or their sovereignty. This is not to say, democracy and especially liberal democracy was bad for the world but the foliage with-it it was presented to the third world i.e. through structural adjustments and near forced control of the market of the rest world nations by western interests was detrimental.

This treatment was especially true about the way the so called Washington Consensus used structural adjustments and globalization to intimidate, and straighten the majority of poor countries in the pack of ‘third world nations’ to the interest of Western nations. Following an ideology known as neoliberalism, and spearheaded institutions known as the Washington Consensus, Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) have been imposed to ensure debt repayment and economic restructuring. But the way it has happened has required poor countries to reduce spending on things like health, education and development, while debt repayment and other economic policies have been made the priority. In effect, the IMF and World Bank have demanded that poor nations lower the standard of living of their people. Investors obviously concerned about their assets and interests can then pull out very easily if things get tough (15)

Just as the poor slaves were free out of, to use martin Luther King’s words, the long nightmare of their captivity, 16 and just after a decade of reconstruction found themselves again under the brutal Jim Crew regime, the world that was supposedly snatched from the claws of the communist grip was given not much in the way of time before the clubs of IMF and World bank started to subdue it to the interested of the rich countries in the name of globalization and liberalizations of their economies.

In the words of John Perkins, who in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, states that wrote the  tools used to subdue nations to the interest of the few rich at the expense of the masses, included fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. And he further states that they play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.(17) Further explaining the phenomenon, Anup Shah States those when IMF donors keep the exchange rates in their favor, it often means that the poor nations remain poor, or get even poorer. Even the 1997/98/99 global financial crisis can be partly blamed on structural adjustment and early, overly aggressive deregulation for emerging economies.18

The time was not only marked by the polarizations, proliferation of civil wars along ideological lines, and anti-communist and anti-imperialism covert campaign and wars, but also by the sweeping curtailment of rights of the very citizens of the very nations in both sides of the ideological warfare. Russia in addition to supporting wars in various part of the world in support of those governments aligned towards it and it also conducted some of the shocking mass killing and total authoritarian governance. The USA, the leading country of the western world, had to pass through the fight against communism that furnished a blanket excuse for the government and various agencies to curtail the rights and freedoms of people. Communists and those accused of being communist sympathizers were the receivers of the brunt of the fight against communism inside USA. In what some calls as the communist witch hunt, a phenomenon of McCarthyism spread throughout the various aspect for the community.19

In the name of communism both internal and external covert and open campaigned against legitimate groups and governments. Peoples’ questions for freedom were continuously dashed. Reduced into invisibility their voices and outcries were snatched from them by the loudness of the ideological war. Internally, the black citizens of the nations remained the invisible mass, black human rights movements in the United States were growingly supposed as the threats for the nation, were silenced in the name of fighting communism and or their leaning towards communism.

The victory of the ‘free world’ – another thwarted dream 

Twenty five years passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1986. Beyond the fall of the physical wall, the moment was one of historical importance as it signified the defeat of one political ideology over another- after a protracted, ugly, cold war was waged for over half a century between the Western blocs rallying behind Liberal Democracy over the communist bloc rallying behind communism.

Historian, as well as politicians were optimistic, especially the proponents of Liberal democracy. For some, like Francis Fukuyama, the American political scientist, as argued in his book ‘The end of History and the Last Man’, the fall of the berlin wall amounted to nothing less than ‘The End of History’. According to Fukuyama what the world witnessed in the fall of the Berlin war was not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.20

And for others in political circle of the West the moment signified the beginning of the new world order. The political circles were echoes of the notion espoused by Francis Fukuyama, that the world has not only reached to the point celebrating an accepting liberal democracy, as defined and dictated by the western world, as the one and only political system, but as the end of the evolutionary line of political systems mankind could  possibly develop. According to the proponents, free trade and capitalism would have nuanced and dominant meanings and derivations in the dictionary of international relations. And globalization would be the shining trophy for the triumph of this assumption. At least that was what was supposed to have happened.

Hinting at what could be done to lessen or stop the impending war of civilizations that results out of globalization, Huntington (1996), suggested that non-Western countries can make an effort to balance Western power through modernization. They can develop economic, military power and cooperate with other non-Western countries against the West while still preserving their own values and institutions. Therefore, Western civilization will cease to be regarded as “universal” but different civilizations will learn to coexist and join to shape the future world.20

Echoing the importance of the Berlin Wall fall as a prelude to the new world of globalization, Thomas L. Friedman, stated the importance of the moment as one that signified the tipping of power to the West and democracy and freedom, becoming one of the key factors in what he calls the flattening of the world by bringing the former political to the global market. The event not only symbolized the end of the Cold war, it allowed people from other side of the wall to join the economic mainstream of the West. 21

Twenty five years after the fall of The Berlin Wall, twenty five years after the rallying cry of victory for the western democracy reverberated across the globe, the cry of victory is being replaced by whimper of despair across the western world. The idealism of liberal democracy as last political system is being challenged by its own inability to solve challenges that are inherent to its nature. The very call for open markets, gave way for the outsourcing, and offshoring, partly allowing third world nations like China to benefit from it while the proponent of the deal America kept losing millions of manufacturing jobs as the industries packed and moved to where they could get better deal in terms of cheap labors.

The medicine that the West was forcefully prescribing for the third world through structural adjustment came back home to bite the very citizens of the nations in western countries. The liberal policies of Civil Rights, women’s rights, the gay rights movement, and demands for LGBTG equality and respect, and the environmental movement that western democracies demanded of other nations as part of their aid and assistance packaged started to point at themselves to an outcry of oppositions from conservative elements of their populace.

And most importantly, the voices represented by president Reagan of USA that called for the tearing down of the berlin wall because its existence was like a blemish on the human conscience, now have taken a clear reversal of roles by the West being the new Berlin wall builders. To this reversal are attributed Trump’s calls for wall across USA-Mexico border and the America First policy as his key campaign promise and the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union.  And on the other side of this same agreement the new voices for tearing up the wall are the supposedly communist China rallying for the more economic liberalization and mutual cooperation with the west.

Jacques Derrida, 1994 in his critic of The end of History and the Last Man states that it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelize in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realized itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Thus, the world is now seeing a new clash of civilization or fight of the west and the rest but a fight that the failure of old ideal world hegemony through the tool of misguided neoliberalism and trying to regain power through decrying all that it used to preach when it was reaping the benefits.

Derrida states that Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth.22 

The destruction of Iraq is one mark of how the western world has lost direction in the manner it was handing its role of championing liberal democracy mixed with imperial corporate interests.

The New Anti-Reconstruction and the Obama presidency as the Tipping Point 

19 year after the fall of the berlin wall, America entertained the two most significant historical happenings of the current world. It causes the world economic crisis and economic crisis and it elected the first Black President Barack Obama.

Despite electing its black president, in the aftermath of an economic depression, it was easier for many opposing forces to paint the presidency of Obama for everything including for the loss of jobs triggered by the fault of the preceding administration. Populist voices were out and about the media was adamant in creating an enemy out of the situation. For many the election of Obama signified a step in the right direction for America in dealing with its race problems. Some even claimed this would bring beginning of a history in USA beyond race. However, for many it was the time that the very nature of America was threatened by his election. From the flourishing of the Tea Part movement, to the congress refusing to cooperate, to the effort to delegitimize the presidency through question his citizenship to media campaign that he is un-American. In the president the conservatives found their nemesis, the adversary of the American way of life, the Muslim, the communist the shippers of job oversees, and the weak leader.

From the normalization of disregard to the government, to claiming he was non-American, the rise in the killing of unarmed blacks by the police and the lack of justice, coupled with the many government shut downs, the public opinion was being tuned to a sense of populist manipulation that the facts mattered less than one’s political based said? In a manner that emulated the years of reconstruction and the way it was foiled, the political atmosphere in America preparing for the savior of the America way of life– the redeemers that the southern states got by curtailing the progressive views of granting freedom to the enslaved.

Trump became that image and voice filling the void created by rancor for the redeemer, the voice of the disadvantaged, the voice of the ripped off by the immigrants and the ‘Washington elites’.

Georg Betz suggests that socially disadvantaged groups are most prone to blame ethnic minorities and migrant populations for deteriorating conditions, loss of manufacturing jobs, and inadequate welfare services. This has made it relatively easy for the radical populist Right to evoke, focus, and reinforce preexisting xenophobic sentiments for political gain 23. This has been the case both in USA and Europe.

The first reconstruction that was launched by President Abraham Lincoln took a mere twelve years to fully falter and collapse under the weight of mishandling and terror but organized supremacists groups against the newly feed black population. Black Codes became the new tools the southern states used to keep the black population back into the near slavery Meeting its promises with regards to Black Americans who were freed to only find themselves second class citizens.

As contentious a historical time as it was America’s history, Reconstruction’s effects are manifest in the socio-economic status of the black population in America. While effects of the last reconstruction are still not settled among the proponents of each side, the second and global anti-reconstruction seems to be taking shape and heading to a dramatic conclusion.

The second global anti-reconstruction that started with the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty five years ago seems to be meeting its conclusion through election of Donald trump in the USA, the phenomenon of Brexit in Britain and the rise of the far right in various European countries. And this conclusion means the rollback of all rights and policies in the name of being progressive and the marginalization of the marginalized in the name of safeguarding the natives. While the true intent shrouded through the right wind populism that propelled the Brexit and Trump nothing but the old hegemony that wants to assert its place in the world through the language of color superiority and racial imperatives through exploiting the grievances of the mass that are its own making.

As this phenomenon echoes the voice of domination of a few connected, white moneyed men over the will of the rest of the world through appealing to nativism, exclusion, nostalgia for the past, hatred towards the other, and authoritarianism, as such moment that history has ever seen in the past, only the will of informed mass against these negative tendencies through insisting on checks and balances, through resolving to safeguard the rights of all and through exercising voting rights to fight back could give it a pause.

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Notes:

  1. Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash (Ronald F. Inglehart University of Michigan Pippa Norris Harvard Kennedy School)
  2. Faculty Research Working Paper Series (Ronald F. Inglehart) University of Michigan (Pippa Norris) Harvard Kennedy School
  3. Populism in Europe : the prime; Cas Mudde, 12 May 2015
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction_Era
  5. Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism: Economic Have-Nots and Cultural Backlash
  6. US History Groomed the Insidious Lure of Trump’s Bigoted Right-Wing Populism-By Chip Berlet
  7. Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1865-1877, Volume 22 By William Archibald Dunning
  8. Prelude to McCarthyism: The Making of a Blacklist Fall 2006, Vol. 38, No. 3 Prelude to McCarthyism: The Making of a Blacklist By Robert Justin Goldstein
  9. Anup Shah March 24, 2013
  10. GEORG BETZ xenophobia, identity politics and exclusionary populism in western europe hans
  11. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/1993-06-01/clash-civilizations
  12. Jacques Derrida (1994). Specters of Marx: State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning
  13. I have a dream speech: Martin Luther King Jr.
  14. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Interview

Tariku Abas Etenesh

Tariku Abas Etenesh is an Ethiopian author. His novel 'Eyes and Mist' made the 2014 IMPAC Dublin Award longlist in 2014.

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