Two things make the world go round: ideas and money. You can trade ideas for money, to a certain extent. Money buys you power. Hence owning ideas is equal to having power. A worthy tandem.
For some decades now, ideas and money seemed to merge in what we call “the multicultural society”. This is the society in which money can buy everything. Against all its pompous claims, the multicultural society is not the gathering of cultures it pretends to be; it is the lack of any culture truly making a difference. When age, sex, ethnic origins, religious faith, nationality, or everything else make no longer a difference between human beings, as they say in human resources divisions, it becomes clear that only money can still make a difference. Human beings are stripped of anything like dignity, citizenship, and heritage. In a multicultural society, nothing as a genuine culture can survive. That means no culture at all can survive the multicultural totalitarism. And for some good reasons: culture means unity, transmission, hierarchy, respect for nature, and these go above money and above everything that money can buy. It seems like a burning hell for the neoliberals, this world where not everything was for sale!
The ruling idea is the free quest of individual interests by anyone, anywhere, anyway, at any cost, and at any price. The ruling class may call it “progress”, I call it a return to darkness. Its main product is the “Nix”, as Nathan Ellison coined them—the men of nowhere who are also the men of nothing—no faith, no origin, no citizenship, nothing distinctive or discriminating. Prominent thinkers and strong businessmen meet each others in the same pattern; at the end of the day, the billionaires George Soros or Peter Sutherland are imposing multi-billion ideas, to Hungary or to Pope Francis, meant to destroy any collective order that stands against their desires and any citizenship that hold its ground against their greed.
Some other ideas are paying billions to their bearers, not the last ones being some companies like Google, Apple and so on. The results were amazing; not only they got rich, richer than anyone could have imagined, but they got power against Nations, as well as a huge amount of moral capital. This moral capital is the bounty of the capitalism turned mad. The rightness, the goodness, and the niceness were given to its servants as new properties to enjoy and rejoice. They gave back to their new owners this amazing moral comfort that shapes the Davos summit, the IA gatherings, or the “Ted Talks” lectures. Sunny side up, no dark side on the screen; they
are no longer a problem—what are you talking about after you have entered the Wonderland of open society?
This global picture is about to change. Ideas and money are no longer going side by side. The idea of a common good, on a basis defined by political freedom and some collective bonds, swiftly takes the place individual interest has occupied. Against the miserable failure of global “disorder”, the comeback of national interest is strong, and the “great again” Trump’s America is just joining China, India, Russia, and a wide bunch of new nationalist nations.
Even across the European Union, the issue is hot; behind political movements improperly named “populists”, there are huge crowds of people with their flags, their national anthems, whose only motto is “we are national citizens, and we are at home”. They call it populism, I call it citizenship, and I mean a national citizen being more than an individual in his own country. Who has a problem with that? And what is this Nation which doesn’t place its national citizens first—except, of course, the European Union, with both no sovereignty and no citizenship.
The issue is also disturbing, because there is a price to pay for the past demise of national borders, national unity and national sovereignty, and this price is the return to identity politics. Identity politics are a very decent way to recognize the facts; ethnic groups, religious faith or shared ideology are shaping the world everywhere after the radical liberalism has destroyed the Nation state, everywhere after multiculturalism has burned to ashes culture, trust, loyalty, and fairness—and global safety. Some activists from African or Arab origins do not seem to understand they replicate the logic of white supremacists—with the same biases and risks. Minorities against minorities do not signify national pride or collective progress.
After three or four decades of globalization, universalism, and compliance to an US-shaped model, diversity is back. Diversity of “we, the people”, diversity of political regimes, diversity of economic systems, diversity as well for laws, for behavior, for culture. Diversity as the result of national unity. As Gladden Pappin said, “we have to reunify what liberalism has divided” (French Senate, oct. 2019).
Diversity as both the means and the result of freedom of nations, diversity as the sum of all singularities of human societies, the best they have to offer. This permanent feature from political societies analyzed by ethnologists like Margaret Mead or Evans-Pritchard: the ability of human groups, living in the same natural environment and technical conditions, to open entirely different and new ways to deal with this environment and this technical level is amazing. It is the very best expression of political freedom (the bright and young economist from Bulgarian origin, M. Stantcheva is not far from the same point when sharing this lesson from the past; national unity of a society has some economic benefits). And it still works now. No human is the same. Only slaves are the same, known only by their number, both in the Nazi camps or in the Gulags of the Soviets, and in the so-called performing tech giants.
Of course, some from the old world are frightened when facing the “shift”. This is what the likes of Emmanuel Macron call “collapse of civilization”, or “coming to the edge”, what others desperately try to prevent by suppressing democracy, polls, and the very idea of “We, the people” to preserve free rides for big business, billionaires and their moral capital. This is what is at stake behind the fight against Donald Trump and what they call “illiberal regimes” elsewhere, in Poland, Hungary, Russia or Turkey and China or India as well. Their time is over. They call themselves “progressists” just to destroy the families, the environment, the social patterns, the cultures and other national treasures for the sake of their own greed. They are giving way to the coming back of national unity. The coming leaders put first national interest, and they respect the free will of the people, not the orders from minorities or foreign multi-national corporations and NGOs. They do not comply with the order to disappear as free nations. Is this enough to condemn them?
Diversity is coming back, but with a vengeance. Diversity of political regimes, of economic organizations, of legal systems and cultures, was under strong attacks. The extinction of human languages, cultures, and traditions is threatening our survival on Earth as well as the biodiversity extinction. Jared Diamond in “The world before yesterday” or Paul Auster in The New York review of Books (autumn 2019) both said uncomfortable truths about it.
There is not enough place on Earth for three billion middle class American-style consumers—but there is far enough for twelve billion vegan Hindus! What is at stake is very clear; we will survive because all humans are not the same, because we don’t share the same consumption models, the same greed for the same things, we don’t dream the same dreams and raise children the same ways. This is why “development policies”, “structural adjustment” and “global liberalism” cherished by global institutions and financial greed will and should be next to be judged as crimes against humanity.
This is why one of the most precious statements from Donal Trump was its commitment not to export the American way of life everywhere and for anybody in the world—and it is also the true way to protect the environment! Borders, tariffs and national autonomy are the most ecological things! The political and social diversity of human nations is the delicious fruit of collective freedom, of separation and discrimination between those of somewhere and those of anywhere. And the more pressure is put against this human, ethnic, religious and national diversity, the more violence is unchained against the still-diverse regimes and traditions, the more the insurgency of diversity will burn any compliance code. As painful as it could be for those universalists, human diversity is a common good more valuable than human rights, democracy and development. Because there is some price to pay for human rights violations, autocracy and economic stagnation; but the price to pay for the collapse of diversity could be life itself.
Here comes the vengeance: so deep was the demise of the Nation state, so violent attacks against national borders and unity, that in many places, the return of diversity will not use the democratic and well-established form of the Nation-State, but the more basic but attracting patterns of ethnicity, religion, or ideology. Africa is the place for Africans, China is the country of the Hans, India the country of Hindus, and Pakistan the country of Sunni Muslims; who dare say what is France, of Europe, if they are not the places of Europeans and of French citizens?
With the return of identity politics and the demise of the Nation state, these powerful community makers called ethnicity, religion, ideology take the lead. Like it or not, it is the growing force that gives its momentum to Islam, to China, India and others from the OSC, but also put an end to the irrelevant call for exporting democracy, human rights and western civilization against the rest of the world—the rest is coming to be the world. And the rest is not welcoming the last Western generations and their foolish ideas of progress!
What the European Union and Emmanuel Macron called a threat to European nations, we call it a revival of political freedom. What they call risks, we call them opportunities. What they call demise, remoteness, backwardness, nostalgia; we call it democracy, progress, freedom, and ultimately, hope. Hope to regain trust, hope to give back control to “we, the people”, hope to value dignity, unity, and traditions more than money and wealth.
We have left behind both “the clash of civilisations” and “the end of history”. As far as the new political world is concerned, new divisions appear. The gap is not mainly between nationalists and globalists, between protectionists or free traders, between progressives or conservatives, liberals and anti-liberals. The gap is between those who think a community is better served by the free will of its citizens, shaping economy, social patterns and income distribution, and those who think everybody is better as a lone individual, leaving collective issues to experts and avoiding political decisions by techniques and systems, relentlessly chasing its own interest and unlimited wealth.
The gap is between those who recognize the failure of neoliberal economy to ensure collective progress, and those who still graze on the ruins of the inclusive societies. And the gap is growing between the collapse of free trade agreements, WTO and globalist institutions, and the promise of IA, universal connection of objects, 3D prints, that makes so many industrial products the next door issue—and put an end to these terrific supply-side chains that circle the world. The “woke ‘are the fashionable version of the “Nix”. Both have no past, no identity, and no future. Who wants to be a nobody?
We are still to recognize the nation state as the basic form of post globalization world. And we are still to learn some lessons from the past. Mutual recognition of national sovereignty is the path to peace. Mutual acceptation for political and religious differences is the condition for prosperity. No internal mix, no external pressure on national politics are either efficient or fruitful. We paid such heavy price for the folly of “Nation’s building” and “duty to protect”! Do not mix, do not interfere, do not help, is the new way for global peace and autonomous development. Let diversity flourish is the key for a better world, not the Western size fits all.
Hope has changed sides. It strongly rests on the side of the Nation State as the way of people’s freedom, the tradition as an expression of culture and identity, the borders as the means to keep diversity outside and maintain unity inside. It left behind “World inc.”, the Ponzi scheme of “pay-as-you go” models, unlimited debt, and the nightmare of the lonely individual being given absolute sovereignty. Those who dream of the old world must think of this: they do not condemn the new new world, they condemn themselves.