France is boiling. Politicians have been trying to understand enraged crowds that took to the streets. Intellectuals, academics and journalists have exerted a great deal of effort to comprehend what has been going on. Causes, conclusions, factors, actors, side effects… But it’s not only France.
Great Britain has fallen into political chaos. Exit the European Union or not… That’s the question! Wasn’t the Brexit referendum, which turned into a crisis, a reflection of social reaction to the political system?
Political parties inclined towards xenophobia, racism and discrimination are winning more points in almost every election in the West.
An increasing number of people are concerned that polarization in US politics has inflicted permanent scars on the social fabric because activities that were earlier regarded as discriminatory, racist or abuses of human rights are now becoming an ideology for some segments of American society.
The world is apparently experiencing a new and deep crisis.
Every crisis can be likened to the distress of delivering a baby, on the other hand.
The emergence of this new wave of protests in Western countries, which have been deemed a locus of stability in the world, is merely the sign of a birth. We need to have a series of stimulating brainstorms and reflective thinking to understand what is on the way.
The wreckage of the Cold War era fell onto Russia, one pole of the bipolar world order. A new unipolar system whose locomotive was globalism followed it.
It was believed that the world had turned into a global village, that the tools of mass communication shortened time and narrowed space. Information was supposed to be spread easily, technology was about to open up new horizons. In fact, most of these bright ideas of globalism were realized.
Even the very idea of the European Union, which has roots extending far back, has been accelerated by globalism’s glamour.
Britain’s exit from the EU was due to a referendum, namely a reaction on the part of the public. What had triggered that? The UK was already a privileged member of the bloc. It passed on becoming part of the Eurozone and retained its national currency. It constituted an exception by declining to enter the Schengen Area. There was no problem powerful enough to destroy the bridges between the UK and the EU. Then what was the reason for the public reaction that led to Brexit? Was that about the reaction to the new world order?
Even though the global order brought economic advantages to societies, it failed to produce fairness in international relations and domestic affairs. The victims were still victims, the privileged were still privileged. There was unfairness, unjust practices, corruption… While the periphery of societies was verging on a state of rage, the central elements were deaf to the voices. That was why French President Emmanuel Macron felt the need to reach out to the angry “yellow vest” protesters who took to the streets for weeks in reaction to fuel taxes.
The global economic crisis of 2008 was the tipping point for the global order. One of the first reactions came in 2011, when a group of young protestors was demonstrating in a park near Wall Street against the economic inequality that was initiated by the economic and social transformation.
Analyzing all these events as a sign of the Western world’s downfall is a shallow and vengeful approach. Many of those who applaud the so-called collapse of the West are actually standing on the ruins of a series of human rights abuses.
The emergence of an authoritarian regime in the ashes of the other pole of the old bipolar world order encouraged some leaders to develop autocratic tendencies. However, history shows that authoritarian rule can only gain short-term victories. In the long term they had terrifying adventures and tragic ends.
The world is heading toward a new phase. This is a tormented and maybe conflicted process. It will inflict pain on humanity. Societies around the world that have been suffering under elected dictators should have reflected on these issues in order to produce an up-to-date democracy, and now that is happening. Failing to see this is equivalent to estrangement from the spirit of the age.
Those intellectuals, social scientists and politicians who could not see that the world has entered a new phase are exhausted from working on tiny matters. Without asking about the most important problem of the age and without looking at local matters through this lens, no one can outline a roadmap for the future. Today, however, people need to create value, not talk.