To the Left and Right. Guest post by Tullio Pontecorvo

spectrum

We are witnessing a polarization of politics, both left and right, and not only in the United States, but in the entirety of the West. Sometimes I feel there are historical reasons for this: the 90s are over, and with them, the dream that we had reached the end of history. That was a decade we lived in a stupor.

 

Expanding markets, peace (at least apparently), McDonald’s in Red Square, the electorate shifting towards centrist, moderate parties.

 

 

 

2016-04-27_11-13-26
Click to see an interactive map by country and year. Freedom of the press is one of the many factors involved in the political spectrum.

As it turns out, history isn’t over, in fact it hasn’t even slowed down. The international order is mutating rapidly, and the secular stagnation of interest rates has deprived countries with the traditional solution to economic recessions.

 

I suspect there are two main demographics that are driving the polarization of politics: one of them is the anxious sector of the middle class. It’s been long predicted that the middle class produces more sons than there are jobs to welcome them.

political_wing_map_political_spectrum_world_2014_by_saint_tepes-d7pyivv
2014 Global Political Spectrum

This surplus today faces the reality of a downward adjustment of its lifestyle. Some of them resort to liberal identity politics to try and stem the tide, others look to the right.

 

 

martirena_italy-elections
Italian voters’ simple message in 2013:             We don’t understand a thing. (S. Kornelius)

The second demographic, particularly visible when it comes to authoritarian parties like the Italian Five Star Movement is that of the people that liberal democracies left behind: maybe the education system failed them, or their economic insecurity has heightened under the recession, or they simply feel social alienation.

 

come-back

My advice to the left is to step down from the ivory tower and come back to participatory politics:

It does not serve to tell your political opponents that they don’t belong in history anymore, and the elitism often displayed by the liberal left has pushed many into the arms of protest movements, be they Trump or UKIP or the Five Star Movement.

gop-fear-platform-810My advice to the right is, for the championing of pluralism, to take distance from protest candidates and movements like those listed above, and build a more credible platform for their ideas that can participate in public discourse.

 

 

rein-it-inMy advice to both would be to identify the emotional reasons behind this polarization, and rein them in. A better historical, economic and social awareness can lead to a calmer political climate.

Given the tough choices the West faces today, we all need it.

Follow Tullio Pontecorvo on his blog and Facebook.

** The pictures are my personal take-away from Tullio’s geopolitical assessment and may not reflect his own opinions. JR Creaden**

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