Home / General / The Rise of “Embedded Nationalism”

The Rise of “Embedded Nationalism”

Comments
/
/
/
174 Views

Moonhawk Kim has a terrific post that much better articulates some of the things that I’ve been trying to put into words. It also raises a number of important wagers that had never crossed my mind. An excerpt:

One way to interpret the triumph of Donald Trump is that the long-standing social bargain within the U.S. underlying Pax Americana—and thus the whole post-war international order—has unraveled. The bargain is moving toward hyper-priotization of domestic political economy over a liberal international economy. This interpretation is consistent with the broad observation about the characteristics of voters who voted for Trump (losers from globalization, broadly defined to include those that confront a high level of economic uncertainty if not low income) and Trump’s nationalistic economic policies, now taking the first step in the form of withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership.

The only thing it leaves out, I think, is the transnational—such as linkages among national right-populist parties—and power-political dimensions—such as Russian tactics—of these developments.

Read, you should.

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • n00chness

    I think that it is tempting, especially given that we are possibly living through Peak Trump at the moment, to draw the conclusion that Trumpism is some kind of irresistible and unstoppable global force and that everyone needs to accept that arrival of new realities. That is certainly possible. But, it is also equally possible that we are experiencing a temporary backlash, and that the arc of history will continue to bend towards justice, although haltingly so at times.

    • Ramon A. Clef

      “The arc of history” will bend in whatever direction we pull it.

    • Nick never Nick

      I don’t think Trump is going to be something that the USA recovers from easily. You know when your uncle marries an unstable meth addict in Vegas, even if they get divorced three weeks later, it’s not something that you just shrug off — the basic issues are still there, and the repercussions of that affect him going forward. Trump is awful, but he’s the culmination of a lot of Republican phenomena that people have been pointing out for decades — these are still going to be here when he’s gone.

      • n00chness

        True. But at the same time, demographics is destiny even if the change we are predicting is not arriving as quickly as we would like.

        In my view, the kind of scorched-earth wrecking ball politics we are seeing right now will be unthinkable 20 or 30 years from now.

        • Steve LaBonne

          Swell, when I’m 81 or 91 I can live my last few days in a decent country.

        • Nick never Nick

          Demographically, the United States has been 50% female for all of its history — so we’ve had 22 women Presidents?

          22% of Americans are Catholic — but we’ve had one Catholic President?

          ‘Demographics is destiny’ is stupid.

        • CP

          I can’t understand how anyone can possibly take “demographics is destiny” seriously in the wake of 2016.

          There are plenty of examples of a numerical minority, especially a slight minority, maintaining rule over the majority through a whole variety of procedural mechanisms plus outright terror and repression. The South before, during, and after the Civil War is the most blatant example. The system here is already rigged to discourage or mitigate turnout from liberal demographics in too many ways to count (electoral college, election day on a weekday, several states with voter ID laws, and all the veto points that happen after people are elected), and we know that they’re about to make a gigantic voter-suppression push to bring us back to poll-tax era standards.

          No, that’s not to say that they’ll succeed, necessarily, or that other factors won’t overrule them, but simply trusting in demographics even over the long term is simply naive.

          • n00chness

            I am looking 20 to 30 years down the road, once the Baby Boomers have died off. What is really going to change politics (for the better) is that the younger conservatives are not nearly as radical as their Baby Boom elders. Trump is their death rattle. And yes he can certainly can and will do plenty of damage but the same would be true of a generic Republican like Pence and it seems likely to me that after the bluster and braggadocio fails to yield results, he will be a no-show for the rest of his term – 3-day workweeks, lengthy stays at Mar-a-Lago, etc.

            • jam

              What is really going to change politics (for the better) is that the younger conservatives are not nearly as radical as their Baby Boom elders.

              Facts not in evidence. In 20-30 years time those people will hold different views and attitudes.

              • n00chness

                The research I have read indicates that political beliefs are formed in adolescence and rarely change.

                • jam

                  How does it agree with reality, in which permanent coalitions and party structures don’t actually exist and Republicans now have unified control over the federal government?

            • lunaticllama

              I don’t know how you can know that younger conservatives won’t get more radical, especially in the wake of Trump and the current iteration of the Republican party.

              • n00chness

                Trump could just as easily be a catalyst that causes the younger conservatives to abandon radicalism – an example of an awful thing they must avoid once they take control of the party. A lot of my thinking on this is informed by social cycles theory – the idea that the Boomers were idealistic and prone to radicalism but the Millennials will be pragmatic and focused on reconciliation. You also have the inevitable browning of the country that works in the Democrats favor, as well.

          • Srsly Dad Y

            The South before, during, and after the Civil War

            Blacks were a minority in the South throughout that period. The numbers were only even close in the deep, deep South at the height of slavery.

    • jam

      especially given that we are possibly living through Peak Trump at the moment

      This contains two wrong assumptions.

      1) That the present moment is Peak Trump (it probably isn’t close to the peak).

      2) That we will live through it (Trumpery will cost lives before it ends).

      (Perhaps I misinterpreted you and you meant possibly to modify living rather than Peak.)

      To reply to your post below, demographics are only destiny to the extent that elections are fair and open and that a minimally-functional media exists.

      • n00chness

        “Peak Trump” IMO is the alt-right Trumpian tendencies over and above what you would have gotten in a generic Republican candidate. Most Republicans didn’t vote for that shit and it doesn’t have a ton of support in Congress. We very well could be at Peak Trump in that respect, though he of course is still very dangerous as a rubber stamp on generic Republican policies.

        • jam

          Politics gets done by work and pressure from people. It’s not a tide that peaks and recedes, it’s a battle between people with different ideas.

          Most Republicans will say and vote for what they think will get them elected/re-elected. Threaten their chances of election/re-election and they’ll act differently.

          • Dennis Orphen

            Most Republicans will say and vote for what they think will get them elected/re-elected. Threaten their chances of election/re-election and they’ll act differently.

            Only if both sides are using the same pair of dice.

            • jam

              Precisely why I call it a battle that requires everyday work and pressure by advocates. Daily phone calls, regular protests, letters to the editor — politics, activism, and pressure are what Republicans used to win their current position.

              We should adopt those tactics.

    • Sebastian_h

      Demographics isn’t destiny unless a bunch of people from California move to Pennsylvannia. The Senate isn’t going anywhere without a civil war the electoral college isn’t likely to go either. So we either need a way to appeal to mid-America voters or we need a lot of CA voters to move to middle America. We need to accept the contours of the system that we can’t change and learn to work them.

  • AMK

    Pax Americana is based on military-political unity of the democratic West under NATO, ANZUS, US-Japan, US-South Korea, etc. Only in the past 20 years or so–with NAFTA, the Euro and the various smaller free trade deals–have people started equating free trade with the first element.

    Trump is profoundly disturbing because he seems to have little use for the western alliance system and the democratic values that it is supposed to defend. That’s the fundamental problem, not trade policy or some kind of insufficient deference toward the “international economy.” If we can’t separate Western democratic values from the Davos free trade platform, we are going to lose.

  • Crusty

    In a strange way, I see some of this as related to no longer having a draft. While having a strong domestic economy is important, people also used to live with the threat of massive world wars and one of the things that was bad about those is that you might get drafted and have to go fight or die in one. And to avoid those wars, we supported organizations like NATO and the UN and also things like free trade and foreign aid, believing that those helped to prevent large wars. With a professional soldier class (drawn in large part from the working class), why bother with those sorts of things?

  • Dilan Esper

    The nation state is a powerful idea. It wasn’t going to be abolished by some trade agreements and military alliances.

    There was just a ton of naiveté about a lot of the things we did. Expanding NATO is the most obvious. People really thought that we could bend the Russians over and make them take it. Those chickens just came home to roost.

    But even free trade agreements- MAYBE there would have been little political backlash if we poured a good part of the money generated into the Rust Belt and other such places. But no, it was “we can do this, we read all those Thomas Friedman books, we are the future”.

    We are seeing something unravel that should unravel. However the world will be governed in the future, it won’t be by the diktat of the US and a class of rich coastal elites who trade with each other while their countries’ workers lose good paying jobs.

    We need to think of a new system, one that allows other countries to be great powers and provides for the people who are left behind.

    • lunaticllama

      I don’t really understand the skepticism of NATO. There’s peace in Western Europe for the first time in recorded history. The expansion was an attempt to continue marching the democratic Western order further east. Do you seriously believe that Russia would be less aggressive were it not for NATO expansion in to the Baltic states? That it wouldn’t have invaded Georgia or the Crimean peninsula and Ukraine but for NATO?

      Russia has been an insecure great power that has continually tormented the people in what they consider their Near Abroad for hundreds of years. I don’t think trying to stop that is a bad thing.

      • Dilan Esper

        There’s peace in Southeast Asia too. And yet SEATO was a failure.

        NATO is a post hoc fallacy writ large.

        As for trying to stop Russia- even if you like the idea from a moral point of view, it was not possible to do it because they are powerful enough to push back and in the end we are bluffing and will not start a war with Russia to stop them.

        • lunaticllama

          I don’t know that you can so easily say it’s a post hoc fallacy writ large. That basically completely whitewashes the entire history of intra-European international relations during the Cold War. At the same time pushing for Western liberal democracy in an ever-greater number of nations seems like in our interests as well as a beneficial development. Extending our security umbrella to the Baltic states is one way of helping that process along.

          I pointed out Russia’s invasions, because I think NATO expansion is overblown as a cause of the problems for the West’s relationship with Russia.

          • ΧΤΠΔ

            David Remnick actually uses a stronger version of “NATO expansion” w/r/t Russian actions, indicating that it actually started Putin’s slide into reactionary government. The caveats are that a) Remnick emphatically does not excuse Putin’s actions, and b) this implicitly acknowledges that any show of Russian-satellite independence would’ve triggered the same reaction. I won’t go so far as to say that Putin has always been a fundamentally bad person…but given the circumspection about Russian influence in Eastern Europe, reactionary Putin seems to be more or less an eventuality (cf: Ivan IV Vasilievich).

      • Dilan Esper

        One other point. When are we rescinding the Monroe Doctrine?

        • Aaron Morrow

          April 1982, during the Falklands War?

          • Linnaeus

            Yeah, but the US and UK were firm allies in 1982, whereas they weren’t in 1820.

            Even if you could find a few exceptions, the general tendency for the US to view the Caribbean and Latin America as its backyard in which it would seek to oppose the influence of other powers has still pretty much held. The US certainly wasn’t disposed to allow Soviet influence in Latin America, and I doubt that it would look kindly upon greater Russian or Chinese influence in Latin America now.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            Wrong. April 1917, when we entered WWI.

      • Just_Dropping_By

        Russia has been an insecure great power that has continually tormented the people in what they consider their Near Abroad for hundreds of years. I don’t think trying to stop that is a bad thing.

        The first sentence of that statement shows why your second sentence is stupid (to be blunt). A sane foreign policy recognizes that other great powers are going to seek to assert spheres of influence over nearby countries and prioritizes confrontation only where those spheres of influence unavoidably intersect. Picking a fight with Russia — which is the only country on Earth that can pose a genuine existential threat to the United States — over its treatment of Ukraine or Georgia, or any other likely flashpoints where Russia is going to have considerable national interests, does not reasonably serve the American national interest.

      • imwithher

        You could just as easily attribute the peace in Europe since 1945 to the Warsaw Pact as to NATO! Maybe we should revive the former!

        In reality, there was and still is peace in Europe because the Soviets, and now just the plain old Russians, never had any desire for a general war after WWII. Indeed, the Soviets, and now the Russians, would have been quite happy to have a nice, neutral buffer zone between their sphere of influence and that of the West. That is what Stalin wanted, viz a viz Germany. The USSR was content with, and never seriously contested (although it easily could have), Finnish and Austrian neutrality. And grew to accept Yugoslavian neutrality as well. Stalin wanted a neutral Germany, too. And, if the West had gone along with it, that would have meant that there was basically no direct border, no “flashpoint,” no army-facing-army standoff, with regards to the Soviet and the Anglo-American spheres of influence.

        The entire “Cold War” was more or less a product of hyper threat inflation on the part of Western politicians (Churchill, the Republicans, etc). Something much less than NATO, in terms of area, and rhetoric, would have just as easily have “kept the peace” as NATO did.

        As for what Russia is historically, a good case could be made (and Russians often make it), that it has been on the receiving end of Western European aggression for centuries, rather than the other way.

        And the “democratic Western order” is by no means the same thing as NATO. Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Switzerland are surely part of that order, and yet are not in NATO. Whereas Francos’s Spain, and Greece under the Colonels, were in NATO.

        In any event, after the hyperbolic, clash of civilizations, nonsense of the Cold War ended in the early 90’s, the West was presented with a window in which NATO could have been wound down. Russia could have been integrated into the EU and Europe generally.

        NATO, like all military alliances, is NOT something like the UN, which is intended to encompass all nations, and is not aimed at anyone in particular. NATO, as seen from Russia, is an aggressive agglomeration of the Western military powers, aimed at Russia itself. Not content with half of Europe, as during the Cold War, the West, kicking Russia when it was down, pushed NATO further East, gobbling up East Germany, and then the other five Warsaw Pact partners. And yet the USA and its allies was still not content with that. It pushed its military alliance into the Baltic States, and made noises about pushing it even further, into Ukraine and Georgia and Moldova.

        Some pushback from a revived Russia was inevitable.

        Bill Clinton was too politically insecure as a draft dodgin’, soft on America’s “enemies,” liberal Democrat to do the right thing, which was, rather than expand NATO eastward, work towards getting rid of it altogether.

      • imwithher

        And another thing…your characterization of Russia as an “insecure great power” which has “tormented” its neighbors for hundreds of years smacks of essentialism. Russia does bad things cuz it is bad, or, if you like, “insecure.” Somehow, the context of Russia’s actions, over the centuries, doesn’t enter into it. Like, to use a recent example, it desiring a buffer zone between itself and Germany owed nothing to Hitler’s invasion and wholesale destruction and slaughter. And like its intervention in Georgia and Ukraine was completely unprovoked as well.

        The West had a chance to remake relations with Russia after the Soviet Union fell. Instead, it pushed NATO as far as east as it could.

        “Do you seriously believe that Russia would be less aggressive were it not for NATO expansion in to the Baltic states? That it wouldn’t have invaded Georgia or the Crimean peninsula and Ukraine but for NATO?”

        Yes and yes. Russia does not act in a vacuum.

    • econoclast

      If Russia can interfere in our elections, why wouldn’t they? Great-power politics isn’t a game of ultimate frisbee. If they have a lever of power, why wouldn’t they use it?

  • marcel proust

    I am waiting to hear the definitive analysis/identification of Trump voters. I’ve been hearing repeated invocations of the White Working Class, at the same time that I’ve been hearing that the median income of Trump voters is above the median income of the US. I cannot quite wrap my head around and around enough to understand how these two statements can both be correct.

    • jam

      The “White Working Class” thing is a con. Older, whiter, more conservative, higher-income folks voted for Trump. It turns out they like voting for bigots.

      There’s always lots of squinting and weasel words around attempts to associate Trumpery with lower-income folks.

      • CP

        The “White Working Class” thing is a con. Older, whiter, more conservative, higher-income folks voted for Trump. It turns out they like voting for bigots.

        Yep.

        IIRC, even the original Nazis (who had the strength of a Great Depression behind them) did less well among working class voters than their higher income peers. But the idea of fascism as a working class movement seems to have a lot of staying power.

        • jam

          the idea of fascism as a working class movement seems to have a lot of staying power.

          It’s very convenient to blame the poor and powerless for every evil.

          • CP

            It’s very convenient to blame the poor and powerless for every evil.

            That, partly, but there’s a whole lot of people who’ve gravitated to the “economically anxious working class = fascism” narrative over the years for various reasons;

            Traditional conservatives like it because it allows them to paint fascism as just another version of communism and socialism, a rabble of losers who screwed up their lives and now want your money, and thereby distance themselves from it both intellectually and in the public eye.

            The extreme left likes it because it confirms their views on the inherent failure of bourgeois free-market democracy and helps them feel good about its downfall, as well as crow about how if they hadn’t been suppressed they’d be the ones leading us to a glorious workers’ paradise.

            Rationalists of all stripes like it because it allows them to think of fascism as a “problem” that can be “solved” in a way that they understand – if fascism comes from economic distress, then just keep the nation prosperous and spread the prosperity around, and no fascism.

            And probably most of all, ordinary people in general gravitate to it because it allows them to explain fascism as a sort of temporary mass insanity brought on by extreme conditions – rather than facing the possibility that at any given time, there are far more people in the country who would cheerfully load thousands of their neighbors onto cattle cars than anyone’s comfortable admitting.

            • Linnaeus

              And probably most of all, ordinary people in general gravitate to it because it allows them to explain fascism as a sort of temporary mass insanity brought on by extreme conditions

              I might add to this, “…mass insanity of people who are not like them…”

            • ΧΤΠΔ

              The Nazis didn’t even win the majority vote in Germany.

      • econoclast

        Trump really did do worse among more educated voters than less. That’s what everyone is calling “working class” — non-college educated. I’m not sure that I buy the identification, but it points at a real difference.

        • jam

          Only among white people, and non-college-educated need not mean working class.

          Non-college-educated could easily be a stand-in for older or more rural people, or maybe white collar vs. blue collar, but white collar people are working class — so are people in the service industry.

        • CP

          He did worse among more educated voters, but also among low income voters, including whites, IIRC. Near as I can tell, the GOP base is the uneducated middle class.

          • tonycpsu

            Also known as “the set intersection between union members/former union members and Rush Limbaugh listeners.”

            • CP

              Not necessarily. A huge chunk of voters, especially in the South, were never unionized. And you’ve got plenty of small businessmen and other middle class suburban and exurban professionals who’re also on the Gooper train.

              • so-in-so

                Isn’t this basically the “bourgeoisie”?

                • CP

                  Maybe. Depends how heavily you factor higher education into your definition of “bourgeoisie.” A lot of these people don’t have one.

                • so-in-so

                  I’m not enough of a student of this. Maybe the term as applied in Europe included more education because that is more highly valued in Europe, and the U.S. flavor has to account for the long-standing disdain many hold for it in this country (valuing the man who “makes it” without formal schooling much more highly than the schooled).

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Trump did best among higher income groups. But the key _marginal_ voters (where he made gains over Romney in 2012) were among the working class. Clinton won the working class, but not by enough to win the states she had to win in.

      • Sebastian_h

        This is the part that armchair analysts don’t see. The general rule is that people vote for the same party as last time. Close elections are decided on the swing of voters who change from one party to the other. Overwhelmingly the swing was in the working class who shifted from Obama in the last election to Trump in this one.

        Talking about the bulk of people who voted the same way they always do (more poor people voted for Democrats, more rich people voted for Republicans) totally misses the intersectionality of the the big SHIFTS in voting patterns.

    • Nick never Nick

      White Authoritarian Toadies (WATs) is the term you are searching for.

      Trump voters are WATs.

    • CP

      “White Working Class” seems to be similar to “moderate Republican,” a construct the media relies on heavily to describe something they wish were true rather than something that actually is.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    I think one factor is missing from Moonhawk Kim’s analysis. Public support for free trade has been eroding for a couple genertations, but unlike earlier moments in US history, when tariff policy divided the two parties, the leadership of both parties has been pro-free trade (it was called the Washington consensus for a reason). Both parties had loud and restive factioms critical of the international regime, but these factions didn’t come close to controlling either party. Trade was thus an issue in a lot of primary campaigns, but many fewer general elections. I think this situation bred a certain amount of political laziness on the part of the leadership of both parties. And despite Ross Perot issuing a wake-up call in the early ’90s (prompting then VP Gore to go on national tv and debate NAFTA against Perot), the laziness quickly set in again, even as grassroots opposition to NAFTA, the TPP, and so forth has continued to grow. Suddenly this year it was big enough to get Trump nominated (and elected, with a little help from Putin, Comey, and the Framers) and to force Clinton to pitch the TPP overboard in a successful effort to hold on to the nomination.

    • Ronan

      deleted.

  • Sebastian_h

    “One way to interpret the triumph of Donald Trump is that the long-standing social bargain within the U.S. underlying Pax Americana—and thus the whole post-war international order—has unraveled. The bargain is moving toward hyper-priotization of domestic political economy over a liberal international economy.”

    The article doesn’t put it strongly enough. The bargain didn’t ‘unravel’. The bargain wasn’t kept.

    The article says:

    When an international order works—works really well, as it did in the post-war era—it becomes taken for granted. People and states simply come to think “this is how it is” and fail to realize the institutions and the effort underlying it. That’s actually the indication of the most institutionalized institutions, at least according to sociologists. However, when the taken-for-grantedness leads to desires for dismantling the institution in question, it becomes a problem.

    This is wrong because the international order DIDN’T WORK REALLY WELL FOR THE PEOPLE WHO WERE ASKED TO BEAR ITS COSTS.

    The post touches on the real problem, but weights it vastly less than it should be weighted:

    “#1 and #2 led to an increasing emphasis on the liberal economic order over domestic political economic stability. The gap in real income growth in the U.S. over the last four decades is the best evidence of this.”

    This is the crux of the problem. This led a very large percentage of the middle class and lower class to view the standard economic story as a pack of lies–and therefore the politicians like Clinton who supported it as vicious liars.

    I’m not saying that the dynamic correctly diagnosed the problem, but they did correctly diagnose the outcomes of the problems, and the fact that the rehashed answers were going to continue to fuck them over.

    I strongly suspect that they are going to get fucked over even harder by the Trump regime, but the failure to understand why they were willing to risk the Trump regime is a deep failure of modern centrist politics. (See also Brexit).

It is main inner container footer text