Singapore 13. March 2016.
Donald Trump in the U.S., Front National in France, and UKIP in Britain calls to arms. They promise to roll back the erosion of the privileged position gathered by the White Northern European MALE over 200 years of industrialization.
Industrialization was his age of. He had the skills, the devotion to work, the discipline required, the ability to organize and the entrepreneurial spirit. Colonialism and imperialism brought him a phenomenal increase in global wealth. Until around 1950 the picture looked rosy. Then things started to change.
Economically, colonialism and imperialism was replaced by globalization. Suddenly he was squeezed. Somebody else in faraway countries could and did produce cheaper, but he hung on for a while still enjoying superior skills and profiting from new technology.
Transfer of jobs to Asia, women entering the workforce, technology -- productivity -- robotics, the decline of manufacturing plus rise of services, and minorities competing for jobs coalesced to undermine his supremacy. He was fighting on all fronts to maintain a competitive advantage, but losing. Instead of master of the game, he turned into a kind of prey for predators hitherto dismissed as not capable of doing what he was doing, at least not with the same quality, consistency and cost-efficiency -- but they were.
Politically, gender equality and removal of discrimination between races topped the agenda as politically correct, adding to the feeling of being sidelined -- loser instead of winner!
Bewildered and baffled, he looked around for an explanation, and not finding it left him full of anger and resentment, fueling a rising determination to fight back, throw political correctness into the dustbin and regain his privileges. The rest of humanity regarded the drive for equal rights irrespective of gender, race, religion and other cultural factors as major achievements over the last 50 years, but it was imposed from above -- not because the dominating class felt it morally right. Donald Trump says there is "tremendous hatred" towards America from Muslims. Do not be misled. He uses Muslims as a proxy for all non-white and non-male persons. Politically, his best friend seems to Russia's President Putin, another resentful and angry white male.
The political movements tapping into this anger and resentment will -- if they get into power -- administer a frightful roll back dividing nation-states and communities along racial and religious lines. It won't be like it used to be. The minorities will not accept such a roll back. They will fight to maintain what they have gained after so much pain, suffering, and humiliation.
What might be in store for us is not a conflict among civilizations as predicted by Samuel Huntington, but a kind of civil war inside nation-states and communities between those who lose their privileged position and those who will not give up the fight for equal rights. The influence and effect of the National Rifle Association in the U.S. makes you shudder to think what might happen.
There may still be time to avoid a confrontation. There may still be a sufficient number of white males who do not subscribe to this political movement, but so far a fair guess is that in the U.S. and in some European nation-states the number feeling beleaguered, discarded and robbed of privileges can be as high as 20 - 25 percent of the electorate. This figure may not be enough to bring them into power, but it is enough to make political systems close to dysfunctional blocking attempts to solve the problems.
AND Donald Trump is the spokesman for a rebellion that whatever happens to him does not go away. Even Bernie Sanders profits from this state of commotion although his policies do not have much in common with the Trump platform.
Joergen Oerstroem Moeller
Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.
Adjunct Professor Singapore Management University & Copenhagen Business School.
Honorary Alumni, University of Copenhagen.