April 28, 2018
The news today is not good for the world. A 19-year-old neo-Nazi opens fire yesterday on a Jewish synagogue in California, far-right nationalists have won seats in Spain’s parliament, Hindu nationalists are waging a violent campaign against Muslims in India, far-right nationalists just came in second in Finland’s national election, and while the members of the Chabad of Poway synagogue were being shot, a group of white nationalists stormed a bookstore in Washington DC, chanting “This land is our land!” to an audience listening to an author speak about the rise of white nationalism. Fascists in the streets in Germany, anti-gay murders in the Congo, and neo-Nazis “emboldened” in America.
What the hell is happening?
First of all, this isn’t something we can just blame on Donald Trump. Trump, like Brexit in the UK, is a manifestation of the problem. He has just added fuel to the flames of a fire destined to leave the world in ashes.
One of my first jobs as a graduate student at Emory University, before I dove into the world of white supremacy, was analyzing the birth of the global economy. Working as a research assistant for the late, great Dr. Terry Boswell, one of the leading authorities on World Systems Theory, I was running computer regressions on the shipping patterns of Dutch traders in the 1500s to find the moment that money became more important than nations. For the last 500 years, we’ve worked on a global economic model. World War I was the last gasp of the old empires and now everything we have comes from somewhere else. If you wonder where our manufacturing jobs went, consider this statistic – 10% of every product exported out of China is headed to a Walmart store. The price of tea in China has mattered for centuries, as does the Nikkei index does now.
Globalization has been the norm for a while. It’s an inherently complex web of social and economic interactions that makes the world a smaller but more interconnected place. Some people’s brains can’t handle complexity, so they grunt “America first!” or “Leave!” and quit important international treaties because their little boy impulse is to take their toys, go home, and build a wall. The reality is that globalization has both benefits and harms. The workers of Thailand have better labor protections but the first world is dumping all its toxic plastic trash in Thailand’s formerly lush forests. Sorry.
There is a direct connection between the pushback against globalization and the rise of Trump and the other nationalist movements, each surrounded by waves of hate-motivated violence, like yesterday’s synagogue shooting. World Systems Theory has demonstrated that nations get about a hundred year tenure as “king of the hill,” whether it’s Spain and its massive armada, the British Empire (where the sun never sets), or the American Century. At the end that period, there’s usually an economic crash, and a new king (or “global hegemon”) is crowned. Since the American Century is generally viewed as beginning at the end of WWI (November 11, 1918), our hundred years is ending and look forward to a period of fascist isolationists pulling up their drawbridges until a new global power (China?) assumes the thrown. Donald Trump will have succeeded in making the USA a second string country. If we’re lucky.
The neo-Nazis who organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2016 (who Trump still claims included some “very fine people”) are anti-globalists. They see the world controlled by a cabal of “international Jews” (as Henry Ford called them), destined to destroy “white society.” Earlier today I was lurking on 4chan, a haven for white nationalist boys. I wanted to get a feel for their reaction to the (latest) synagogue shooting. It didn’t take long to see the standard sociopathic anti-Semitism:
“The only solution to the Jewish Problem is extermination, that is to say genocide, which the Germans were too nice to do. Those genes are too harmful to everyone else. The second half of the 20th century demonstrates the need for Jewish extermination.” – posted on 4chan at 10:48 am on 4/28/19
The posts on 8chan, where the synagogue shooter posted his manifesto were even worse, complaining how whites have become “Jew-cucked” making it “OKAY TO KILL JEWS.” It is endless bile from fragile boys building walls in a world that thrives by opening doors.
To be fair, there’s plenty of anti-globalization from the left who see the global forces of capitalism destroying worker rights, as well as the earth itself, as multi-national corporations push for profits. The renewed campaign by the global media to make “socialism” a dirty word is certainly evidence for their position. “We are the World” doesn’t get sung much anymore.
Right-wingers have scapegoated refugees, the media, civil rights activists, feminists, transgendered kids who have to use the bathroom, and anyone who challenges the “God-given privilege” of straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied males. The global move to equality feels like oppression to them, whether they are “Incels” in America killing women in yoga studios or Saudi Arabian religious officials cutting off the heads of gay men. Hate crimes have surged in America along with Trump’s “Make America great again” campaign. If by “again,” he means 1949, we are well on our way.
Walls are going up all around the world as those who don’t know how to manage the complexity of globalization retreat into simple “us verses them” nationalism. They will wage violent war against those who represent that complexity (like any non-White Anglo Saxon Protestants, including Muslims and Latinx immigrants) as well as those they think are agents of the push toward globalization (including Jews, the media, and any international partnerships, like the UN, NATO, and the Paris Climate Agreement). They hug flags and want their tax dollars to go straight to the military.
Buckle your seatbelts because the American Century is crashing to a close as the world’s tribes pull up stakes and get ready to go it alone, waging war on anyone who they think doesn’t belong in their camp. We are quite literally at a turning point in human history where we fall into a dark chasm of endless dystopian fascism. Or we could find a better, catchier version of “We Are the World” and banish these troglodytes to their caves. It’s that or start learning how to speak Mandarin Chinese. 我们是世界。