From the Viewsroom

Understanding Trump’s rise

A Srinivas | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 09, 2016

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He represents a popular backlash against ‘political correctness’

Revelations of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s misogyny have left many wondering how he got as far as this in the race for America’s highest office. But going by the upheavals of 2016, they shouldn’t have been surprised. This year has seen the repudiation of cultural, economic and political mores that are central to the globalisation project. This includes a certain notion of ‘political correctness’. The rejection of a particular socio-cultural framework explains the rise of loudmouths, from Trump in the US to Brexit ideologue Boris Johnson in the UK, to US-baiting Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.

Globalisation as a cultural enterprise entails the acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity and an implicit disavowal of patriarchal norms. While these values are unexceptionable, they have been appropriated by the globalised elites. Cloaked in the vocabulary of ‘political correctness’, these elites appear responsible and refined. This has led to a backlash; values that were embedded in the liberal humanist tradition are now viewed with suspicion as being part of the intellectual armoury of the rich and the powerful.

Such is the anger against these plutocrats that anyone, howsoever crass, who seizes upon their hypocrisy becomes a hero. This churn has not come about all of a sudden. It has become all the more clear after 2008 that the globalised elite — supra-national bureaucracies, corporations and ‘experts’ in academia and media — has become more powerful, leaving the rest to cope with rising uncertainty. Trump is too vain and duplicitous to challenge this order. Hillary Clinton, the suave globaliser, may prevail. Yet, the globalisation game seems over. As the world fumbles for a more just economic order, it is important that the Right does not prevail with an agenda of divisiveness. Globalisation needs a liberal-humanist riposte.

Senior Deputy Editor

Published on October 09, 2016
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