There is no greater indication that our global economic system, the capitalist system, is immersed in a profound crisis than the current rise and spread of international fascism. From Narendra Modi in India and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, to Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Donald Trump in the USA, the success of populist, alt-right, nationalist leaders has punched its way through the fragile veneer of democracies throughout the global village. With their xenophobic and racist policies of state homogeny, ultra-right-wing governors enhance their power through lying, cheating and inveiglement, and through corruptions they threaten to install nightmarish, dystopian dictatorships in places which have always seemed impervious to radicalisms. And as the crisis of capitalism deepens with the coronavirus pandemic, the risk of a wave of goose-stepping, military-religious national-socialisms spreading across the globe’s political map is more and more a tangible possibility.
This capitalist crisis is not a simple readjustment of the marketplace, this glitch has uncovered a chronic, structural malevolence and a sense of unsustainability has wormed its way into the subconscious of the global-world populace, creating a general malaise based on a strong dose of incomprehension and peppered by a crippling sense of impotence.
The first great victim will have to be democracy. The ugly truth that is facing us is that this crisis is an infirmity that demands extirpation. A revaluation of all values is needed, and democracy is not an effective system at all for establishing systemic change.
The traditional democratic dance that sees a continual exchange of power between liberal-democrats and social-democrats (i.e. between conservative capitalists and progressive capitalists) is no longer viable. The make-up of most democratic, parliamentary systems today (or partial presidential republics) take the following, simplified form:
- There is a social democrat party that favours the capitalist economy but believes in a strong state-run public sector. Traditionally it is the left-wing party most voted for, and still is in many cases, although the existential threat of the capitalist crisis has created an anti-systemic consciousness in the left that has sparked the creation of radical rivals to the centre. These groups are …
- Ecological groups that have risen according to a vital need, the climate emergency, that has been looming for decades and which is the principle negative result of the capitalist policy of continual growth. However, the movement itself has failed to establish itself as a governable option as voters do not clearly see the way a green alternative would deal with day to day problems and many green parties have associated themselves with a broader platform …
- A broad radical-left amalgamation that has gathered and grown because of the social democrat’s impotence or tardiness in dealing with the reforms necessitated by the crises. These groups are fuelled by an awareness that systemic change is imperative, an attitude which frightens many centre-left voters and terrifies the right. To govern, these parties need to convince the electorate in the vital need for systemic change, but when it has been able to achieve democratic power, as in Greece with SYRIZA after the Grexit crisis, it is rendered largely impotent and unable to fulfil expectations.
- There is a conservative-liberal, pro-capitalist democratic party, that often has close ties to religious pressure groups and, because it is economically liberal, it supports the private sector and disdains the public sector. In most cases these parties still vie with the social democrat parties for the post of the party most voted for in the election race. However, the obvious capitalist crisis and the threat of an anti-systemic left-wing radicalism has drawn many disenchanted voters away from these parties into the lap of the alt-right.
- There is often a more-liberal-than-conservative pro-enterprise party that also draws votes away from the conservatives and represents more agnostic or atheistic entrepreneurs. They are neo-liberal in their roots and need to obtain support from the centre-right conservative electorate if they are to govern. In order to do that, however, they need to adopt a conservative mask which undermines their own identity.
- In the last decade alt-right forces have established themselves throughout most parliamentary systems. They vie with the conservative-liberal centre to appear the most patriotic of political parties and link their party image to church and the military with nationalist homogeneity being the centre of their agenda. They are therefore economically anti-globalisation and protectionist, and also racist and xenophobic. Once elected they distance themselves from all other parties and play a more disruptive role in parliament than any positive participatory role. They are not in politics to do the democratic dance of governorship. When they reach a position of power they want to stay, and they begin the process of rigging the system in their favour in order to make it difficult to remove them.
Over the last decade, parliamentary-system politics has become more and more a stressful struggle between these six main groups, usually spiced up by smaller local, regional groups making secessionist demands. In terms of making the necessary systemic reforms needed to replace capitalism or simply mitigate its malicious effects and defects, it seems unlikely that these parliamentary stews will be able to make significant headway. But, as the crisis thickens, and the political atmosphere becomes more densely charged with a necessity that seems impossible to satisfy, the simple solutions of building walls around our fears that is offered by the alt-right will become more and more politically appetising.
To counteract the fearmongering that will inevitably come from the right, the left must be able to be primarily seductive. But that will only be possible if they are also effective. The climate crisis and the restructuring of labour are systemic reforms that need to be implemented now wherever the left is still able to govern. Systemic change needs to be sold from, not just the radical but also the centre left as something beautiful and desirable. Green deals and more economic systems with more equative distributions of money have to be made if an alternative to the alt-right dystopia is going to be feasible, because, at the moment, for an ever larger part of the democratic world’s electorate, the only way out of the crisis of capitalism leans toward fascism.