THE SECOND REPUBLIC
What the world stands still to witness today, are the fallen gods of liberal ideals. The United States and its European camaraderie that for decades have helped uphold and coerce the principles of a progressive, open, democratic and morally binding society, today seem victims of its ideological lacuna. The neo-liberal induced deprivation and inability to recover from the existent global stagnation has called for a populist mandate towards an anti-establishment political discourse. In such a time, Marx argued, society would turn left, and displace the bourgeois to establish the proletariats claim. However, rather than leaning left, societies have turned to the right. Britain, Austria, Germany, France, Hungary, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland have all seen gradual rises for the right-wing parties. The United States today has a presidential nominee demonstrative of staunch nationalist affinities and far-right neo fascist agenda, while the other, is at best a conservative, establishment choice. Contrary to the popular rhetoric of European confinement, it is a global upsurge in tide that is lifting nationalist boats across the geographical spectrum. But the rationale behind the example of Europe standing out, is the genesis and advocacy of the liberal-left by European intellectuals. The populace seemingly disagrees. Despite there being a global consensus for Britain to remain, the people of the nation with the most favourable deal with the EU chose to leave. They have chosen to leave the now establishment oriented left, for the ‘reformist right’. It is a role that perhaps the right-wing themselves aren’t acquainted with, pushing them in favour of aggressive nationalist templates in order to remain politically insurgent.
The phenomenon being illustrated is two-fold. Firstly, the morals of liberal identity are indeed a higher virtue. As long as the left fail to acknowledge the glaring faults of their political realities they will no longer serve relevance as revolutionaries. As Maslow would put it, survival is the truest emotion. Faced with threats to national security and a rising economic systemic failure, citizens of Europe chose to ignore the principles of accommodation for refugees and human rights for the more appealing ‘self interest’. This tendency at an anthropological level is now being demonstrated by state policy. International relations is not simply between nations, but also between a nations constituents, such as its people. The central impetus still remains the realist paradigm of state interest. Morganthau had once argued that ‘free trade had become the shibboleth of liberalism’. Every nation accepts free trade of goods and services (immigration) only as long as it serves national interest. International law remains relevant only as long as it adheres to a ‘positive sum game’. Once nations fail to see their interests being served, foundations of the law are no longer binding. The economic foundation of the European Union is a prime example of this doctrine.
Secondly, we must also pay heed the cause behind this diversion to the right; Globalization and Democracy. Globalization has truly made us a ‘global village’, where the residents do not look towards their individual households in case of economic deprivation but towards relative gains of other households and the larger village at their cost. The neo-liberal proposition for changes in domestic policy towards more integrated markets has challenged the supremacy of these previously imperialistic powers. The citizenry no longer holds the domestic-bourgeois responsible for the economic inequality but a global one. Another reason behind this is that in democracy, the influence of public opinion on national governments and the conceptualization of a welfare state makes the state closely identifiable to the citizens themselves. Therefore the blame for any economic miscarriage is shifted towards immigrants and nations that are seemingly prospering at their cost. The rising unemployment in Britain and its fiscal deficit is by no means a direct outcome of the European union or the refugee crisis, but it has proven a scapegoat for the ineptitude of its domestic policy.
In such a scenario the growth of terrorism hasn’t provided respite. The unconventional means of violence seem to pose serious questions to the ability of the states to defend its citizens, as the example of France is now pointing out. Bulging concerns of national security have only accentuated the process of isolationism. In such a scenario the left-wing liberals have faced an ideological crisis. How can one promote International peace, integration and liberal ideals in the face of rising national interest? The answer is lies in acceptance. The liberal-left today is almost a resemblance of an intellectual, morality inflicting faction that shares no contemporary sense of belonging with the plight of the common man. Bernie Sanders was a great showman against this path. His acceptance to the inherent flaws of the banking system and rising disparities garnered him support beyond the wildest imagination of most democrats. Even his nominal failure wasn’t defeat. Hillary’s policy now must accommodate liberal principles if it is to administer loyalty amidst Bernie supporters. In his words, the revolution has just begun. This stands in sharp contrast to the other western liberals that seem blinded to the realities around them. The current ecosystem is so much a product of their imagination that they’re now the status quo revelry. And like any mother, blinded to the faults of her creation they stand unopposed to damning corporate interests or perils of policy.
The reason this issue is of relevance is because society needs the liberal-left to progress. it is a role that the right-wing is unacquainted with and a one that the left has seemingly forgotten. It would be easier to revive than to teach. The existence of peace and stability in the world since the end of the world wars is in major part owed to the administration of the western world. This is not to display servitude to the others, but rather the inevitable reality that international law and more importantly its enactment has depended on these nations. If they face an internal crisis or change of ideology towards isolationism the rest would share little optimism for damage control. Terrorist models of provoking fear would have registered their greatest triumph not in quantitative lives but in ideology. The very essence of human evolution rests towards our gradual shift towards peace and an egalitarian, cooperative living. To redraw the boundaries would be dangerously regressive. The liberal-left must therefore re-discover its relevance and accept political realities. In Plato’s essence, it is now time for the second republic.
Ameya Pratap Singh
London School of Economics and Political Science
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