When one combines or interrelates recent events and circumstances such as the war in Ukraine, global inflation, parliamentary election results in France, and presidential election results in Colombia, these events and circumstances are combined and interrelated by virtue of a broader political and social phenomenon. That political and social phenomenon which combines or interrelates what are seemingly disparate events and circumstances is the breakdown, decline, or disintegration of what is known as the “neoliberal” and “neoconservative” global order. As the Cambridge scholar Gary Gerstle wrote:
“The neoliberal order persuaded a large majority of Americans that free markets would unleash capitalism from unnecessary state controls and spread prosperity and personal freedom throughout the world. Neither of these propositions today commands the support or authority that they once possessed. Political disorder and dysfunction reign. What comes next is the most important question the United States, and the world, now face.”
Rather than ensuring prosperity and personal freedom for most people, the neoliberal and neoconservative order gave the world a series of wars and a global financial crisis. Now, one of the byproducts or consequences of the self-inflicted decline or disintegration of the neoliberal and neoconservative global order is that it is now “safe to openly challenge Washington” out of all corners of the world. Latin America is perhaps the first region of the world to have openly challenged Washington, even before the breakdown, decline, or disintegration of the neoliberal and neoconservative global order fully manifested itself. The challenge out of Latin America towards Washington started in Cuba and Venezuela, only to then move to places like Mexico, El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and now Colombia, which elected its first left-wing president yesterday. And in Brazil, a resurgence of Lula is in the cards.
Political and social manifestations of a breakdown in the neoliberal and neoconservative global order have also emerged in the United States. Although the elite of the Democratic Party in the United States seeks to stonewall the rise of a left-wing figure like Bernie Sanders – who arguably, if not subject to stonewalling from within his own party, would win a presidential election outright – stonewalling the left creates a strategic opportunity for the far right and Donald Trump in upcoming American elections. Of the two major options which come to the fore in the midst of a breakdown in the traditional political and social order – namely, the left and the far right – the one which advances education, health care, and basic income is perhaps a far better option than “Drain the Swamp” or “Lock Them Up.”
But the level of brainwashing from the top over the course of many generations in America – whereby social welfare is made to look like a bogeyman or monster – means the rise of the far right in America is far likelier than the rise of a leftist entity or figure which advances social welfare items such as education, health care, and basic income. However, the brainwashing from the top over the course of many generations has now been reversed with novel developments such as globalization, the internet, and technology in many parts of the world.
And as Peter Zeihan has argued, the breakdown of the status quo and traditional order means that those who were aligned with the status quo and traditional order are now the losers, whereas those who challenged the status quo and traditional order and refused to align with it are now the winners. For one, Zeihan’s argument is evinced by those who were aligned with the Washington-backed government in Kabul which was overthrown by the Taliban in August of last year. For now, we are in the early stages of the breakdown. Nevertheless, there are certain events and circumstances which can ensure that the breakdown which had long been theorized and conceived abstractly is actually occurring now.