At the end of the 20th century, the triumph of capitalism and democracy seemed at one stage so complete that an era of global economic liberalism appeared to beckon. Today the folly of that delusion has been made obvious by the financial crisis and its political consequences. –Martin Kettle
This world is on the threshold of a new phase in a decades-long larger change in the relation between capitalism and liberal democracy that initially emerged with the collapse of the USSR, though the shift went far beyond that specific collapse.Capitalist economic institutions that had been born under representative democracies in the 19th century were in the 1990s successfully deployed within non-democratic regimes, such as the newly “post-communist” nations (Russia, former Yugoslavia, etc.), China, Singapore, and importantly, many Islamic regimes. The historic connection between capitalism and democracy in the West turned out to be an accident of history, not a necessary interdependence.
As a somewhat predictable consequence of this changed global situation, manifestations of post-liberal politics now rise up within the Western birthplaces of capitalism, such as Brexit, Trump, resurgent white supremacy, and a new phase of the US Christian Right now driven by ideological forces that have overtaken its original moralistic politics. Calling this new phase a sort of neo-fascism is almost right, but does not capture the novelty and specificity of the moment. Calling it the “end of humanism” as some have, has an anachronistic ring, as much of the West rejected liberal humanism in the 80s and 90s with academic postmodernism being unequally yoked with religious anti-humanism. The “new atheists” tried to revive a sort of rational humanist ideology, but their alliance with anti-Muslim politics doomed them to merely echoing the dominant shift, if contradictorily.
There is some grim humor about in the face of Trump, as in the wry observation that instead of warp drive and flying cars, the world seems to be arriving at a cyberpunk dystopia. There is no humor in the return of blatant racism, especially as manifested in the upsurge in police murders of black men. Black Lives Matter is another manifestation of a potentially radical resistance to reactionary politics.
As perhaps never before, the fate of humanity and life on earth is threatened by the juggernaut of contemporary ruling class and its androcratic ecocidal white supremacist capitalist systems of death. The revolution has already begun, but it has a long bloody fight ahead.