Weekend Roundup: Anti-Global Backlash Is Realigning Politics Across the West


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

The great sociologist Max Weber postulated that the birth act of modern capitalism was the secession of business from the household and thus the web of moral and ethical obligations that intimate form of human organization entailed. Zygmunt Bauman has called globalization the “‘second secession’” in which unleashed capitalism has “‘flown away’” from the constraints of the nation-state, in effect the larger household. Now, national households are clawing back their claims, reasserting sovereignty in an anti-globalization backlash that is profoundly realigning politics.

“Across the West,” Nouriel Roubini writes, “establishment parties of the right and the left are being disrupted — if not destroyed from the inside. Within such parties, the losers from globalization are finding champions of anti-globalization that are challenging the formal mainstream orthodoxy. Thus, the traditional distinction between center-right and center-left is breaking down.” In the U.S. and Britain, he notes, working class voters traditionally aligned with the left, are joining the ranks of Trump and Brexit. In continental Europe, discontent with immigration and austerity has given rise to new parties on both the far right and the far left. “A new political alignment,’ Roubini concludes, “erases the old left and right paradigms of labor versus capital, workers versus business, taxes and regulation versus free enterprise. Instead, the new alignment will be organized around pro and anti-global integration forces.” As Roubini points out, support for globalization these days comes mainly from the emerging economies, which have largely benefited from foreign investment and access to global markets. While inequality has grown within the West, he notes, it has diminished on a global scale.

To the extent global integration has touched Brazil, pride rises with greater prosperity. As the Olympics wound down, Adriana Caitano vents her anger in an open letter from Brazil “to people who love to come here to enjoy the beaches and stare at women in bikinis, but disrespect the country that hosts them.” She imagines what the “American swimmers [involved in the faux robbery scandal] must have thought: Of course it would be very possible for four foreign, white, tall, Olympians to be assaulted in Rio de Janeiro. Who would not believe it? This underdeveloped country can’t even clean a pool the right way. They would never be able to find the truth. So we’ll just go back to the American dream with our medals.”

One can’t speak these days of bikinis in Brazil without bringing to mind the controversy over banning the burkini in France, where local police this week forced a woman on a Nice beach to show more skin in her bathing wardrobe. Willa Frej reports on a man in France who has been paying the fines for women ticketed under the burkini ban. Nick Robins-Early examines what many regard as the weak reasoning behind the ban. And, indeed, by week’s end, France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, suspended the ban in an initial ruling in a case brought by a human rights group. At the same time, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for office again, pledged he would implement a nationwide ban on the burkini if elected.

During a visit to the beach in Izmir Province, Turkey, Ilgin Yorulmaz surveys opinion in that Muslim-majority country with a modern secular history. “With historical ties to France,” she reports, “Turks are divided over their opinions of the burkini both in France and in their own country.” Despite Canada’s historic links to France, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made clear his country doesn’t share France’s secular fundamentalism. “We should be past tolerance,” he says, and move toward embracing diversity. In a post from HuffPost Maghreb, Akram Belkaïd calls for, “open debate about this implicit requirement of total assimilation” behind the burkini ban. Writing from Germany where a debate is underway about banning the burqa, Christian Democratic Union politician Ruprecht Polenz similarly argues that, “underlying the burqa debate is the fear that we can never eliminate the differences in our society.”

The repercussions of the Turkish coup continue to roil the geopolitical landscape. As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey this week in an effort to temper rising anti-Americanism fueled by a belated and tepid response by U.S. authorities to the failed coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan doubled down on the demand to hand over Fethullah Gülen, who lives in the U.S. and whom he sees as the culprit behind the attempted overthrow of the government. Reviewing these developments, David Hearst asks, “Is America losing Turkey?” Doug Bandow thinks that it would be a good idea if America did lose Turkey. “The growth of Putinism in Ankara today is a terrible embarrassment, with no corresponding security benefit for America as compensation,” he writes. “The U.S. should change its approach to reflect changing circumstances. Turkey’s membership in NATO no longer serves America’s and Europe’s interests.” Farah Mohamed examines the impact of the coup attempt on the long-festering conflict between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus. Resolution of that conflict is seen by many as a key stepping stone in Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, a relationship now even more fraught as Europe is deeply wary of Erdoğan’s even sharper post-coup turn toward authoritarianism. As one Cypriot told Mohamed, some islanders, “feel caught up in a fight that does not belong to them.”

In an essay titled “Why China Fears a ‘Color Revolution’ Incited by the West,” I argue that the U.S. should appreciate the resonances of China’s history as a unitary state present in today’s one-party system. By recognizing that system’s legitimacy, the U.S. would allay the suspicion of China’s leaders that it is seeking to foment regime change through the promotion and support of human rights activists. I further argue that, for the first time in the long history of China’s “institutional civilization,” an autonomous civil society is emerging because everyone now has the same information as those who rule them. “Whether China ends up on the wrong side of history or not depends on its ability to find a balance between rule from the top and an emergent civil society from below,” I conclude. “We in the West should encourage China’s effort to forge a new equilibrium out of its own experience, not seek to project our legacy onto their future.”

Writing from Beijing, Peiran Wei asks, “Why are Chinese companies, which have long been playing catch-up with their U.S. counterparts, now leading the way?”

Finally, our Singularity series this week looks at how Harvard scientists have “radically rewritten” the E. coli genome, heralding a major step forward in synthetic biology.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Suzanne Gaber is the Editorial Assistant of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is News Director at The Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s news coverage. Nick Robins-Early is a World Reporter. Rowaida Abdelaziz is World Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media), Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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