Donald Trump’s victory may be considered the tip of the iceberg in terms of social isolation, the rise of the centralized identity and the end of the era of globalization which boomed during the last 25 years of the 20th century. The political unrest in the Middle East and the economic problems which have affected everyone will influence societies’ relations with each other and this warns that we will enter a phase of isolation instead of communicating and bonding which gradually decreased since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Trump’s arrival to the White House is just a theme to an era where the effects will soon be revealed. This era’s signs can be seen in the retreat of the western leftist ideas and the rise of right-wing parties as many of them are working hard to rule especially in Germany and France.
The challenges posed by refugees and illegal migrants and the increase of divided ideas in the society are why the leftists revival is difficult. The revolutionary pressures in the region, the collapse of political institutions and the authorities’ weakness empower isolationist parties that enhance centralized identity and that distinguish native citizens from other citizens.
We can see that there is insistence on the leftists’ role in revolutionary change. For example, in his review of Trouble in Paradise by Slavoj Žižek, literary theorist Terry Eagleton writes: “Žižek argues in Trouble in Paradise that ‘if moderate liberal forces continue to ignore the radical left, they will generate an insurmountable fundamentalist wave.’ Toppling tyrants, which all good liberals applaud, is simply a prelude to the hard work of radical social transformation, without which fundamentalism will return. In a world everywhere under the heel of capital, only radical politics can retrieve what is worth saving in the liberal legacy.”
Have the leftists been defeated?
Some analyses state that the leftists have been defeated in several areas including in South America, though it’s a mild retreat there and it cannot be compared with what’s happening in Europe and the US. The western leftist ideology with its version that is amended from Leninism has become a meeting point among movements with different aims but it is currently witnessing a relapse on the western level - a relapse it’s known nothing like since it matured and spread in 1945.
The right-wing is rising due to a desire to impose power over what’s rightful. Meanwhile, many are adamant on achieving certain aims regardless of what the morals which lead to the aspired social pattern are. The goal is to achieve a social pattern within the laws which are protected by the political parties that want to decrease communication, shut down unifying spaces and curb globalization that undermines identity and destroys borders and that decreases conflicts between nations, civilizations, cultures and identities.
The rising conservative tendencies may be composed within a new formula that unites the history and legacy of communication with creating isolationist forms within specific liberal bases that are do not target what’s strange.
The most important point amid these political developments and the increased popularity of isolation and conservatism is that the globalized and welcoming space will not be the same in the futureFahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Dariush Shayegan, a thinker and cultural theorist, has discussed this in his newly published book “An identity with forty faces.” In the chapter entitled “How the world became a ghost,” he wrote: “Due to the lack of harmony of torn worlds, we are witnessing the emergence of completely new phenomena. There is a spiritual tendency that is developing in parallel to the amazing technological developments. Beliefs formulated by old civilizations - such as those which worshipped the sun and different religious deities and predicted the future and believed in the end of the world and the millennium secrets - have now emerged again. Chaos and confusion in our era are exactly what we can describe as the loss of coordinates.” All patterns are breaking and fixed forms are changing.
Isolation has caused a wind of change
The most important point amid these political developments and the increased popularity of isolation and conservatism is that the globalized and welcoming space will not be the same in the future. Movements which are more capable of protecting original identities and which have the tendency to discriminate and encourage inequality will emerge more. Political unrest will enhance the connection of one’s right to authority. This brings to mind Thomas Hobbes’ philosophy which links between authority and rights and which makes the state, the society and the individual as components of truth. His philosophy also stipulates that rights are only what result from the emergence of authority.
This is all due to the disappearance of revolutionary feasibility and the increase of burdens resulting from egalitarianism. One of the dismal things we may witness is “rationing surplus of human emotions” in order to protect the demographic structure. If this happens, it will be the result of migration due to political disintegration like in Libya, Syria and the African coast or due to economic crises like in North Africa or due to religious reasons if ISIS expands and occupies more areas outside Iraq and Syria. All this empowers conservatism and tempts society to believe in ideas that lead to more isolation. Leftist movements may not be understood as much as before because terrorist groups are linked to ideas which the leftists believe are rightful, such as considering some Palestinian movements as rightful groups of resistance. Meanwhile, massacres committed by other equivalent and parallel groups occur in cities such as Paris.
It’s a different time with new slogans and new names and it’s all due to the increase of unrest in political, social, economic and cultural fields. Everything we’re living through reflects withdrawal. The world is no longer seen through leftist eyes, as Eagleton said about Žižek’s vision.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on November 17, 2016.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.