At last, the Trump Presidency has crash landed and he is out of the White House. Now, we can all start dealing with ‘Trump trauma’ and shock. What did we live through over the past four years ? This is a planetary question. It is a question we are all grappling with because the world is now capitalist on a global scale and America is the leading power making that world. Post the Cold War we were all conscripted to be Americans and the ‘American Dream’ was declared the global dream. Even China bought into it in its own self interested and authoritarian way. They became so good at it that even Trump baulked. He wanted it back and declared : “Make America Great Again”. While we do not physically live in America, through the global media we are front-row spectators gazing into it, watching the theatrics of its leaders while grappling with its presence in our everyday lives. It has set the standards of ‘civilization’ by asserting a set of universals – democracy, progress, competition, individualism and free enterprise. These universals are the props of a mythic America, standing tall at the vanguard of the ‘free world’, and which reveals itself through the iconic hamburger, unthinking patriotism, voting in elections, the veneration of a masculine gun culture, Hollywood movies and mass consumption.
Eminent political economist and public intellectual, Prof Prabhat Patnaik, delivered the 7th Democracy Dialogues Series lecture on ‘From Neo-Liberalism to Neo-Fascism’ organised by the New Socialist Initiative on January 24, 2021, 6 PM IST
There has of late been a sudden and rapid growth of neo-fascism all over the world. The neo-fascists are not yet in a position to capture power in many countries; and even where they do, they are not yet in a position to make the transition to a fascist State. But they contribute everywhere towards a fascification of the society and the polity. This emergence of neo-fascism is the culmination of the global pursuit of the neo-liberal trajectory, which greatly widened income and wealth inequalities in every country and led even to an absolute immiserization of vast masses of the working people in third world countries like India. For a while the hope was entertained that the people would become better off in due course as rapid growth continued. But with the onset of the global economic crisis, itself a result of the widened economic inequalities, such hopes have been belied. The corporate-financial oligarchy therefore has to find a new prop for itself and forms an alliance with neo-fascist elements to shift the discourse away from conditions of material life towards vilifying the “other”, typically a hapless religious and ethnic minority.