THE US MAR­KET COL­LAPSE HAS REMADE OUR WORLD

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Think! - IAN BREM­MER Ian Brem­mer is the pres­i­dent of Eura­sia Group and au­thor of Us vs. Them: The Fail­ure of Glob­al­ism The views ex­pressed are per­sonal

Adecade ago, US fi­nan­cial ser­vices gi­ant Lehman Brothers col­lapsed. That event trig­gered the land­slide that be­came the most se­vere global fi­nan­cial cri­sis since the 1930s. Draw a line from that mo­ment—Septem­ber 15, 2008—to all that came next.

The US fi­nan­cial cri­sis trig­gered a global re­ces­sion and a Euro­pean sov­er­eign debt cri­sis se­vere enough to call the very sur­vival of the Eu­ro­zone into ques­tion. It also per­suaded China’s lead­ers that eco­nomic re­form could no longer wait.

A wave of un­rest swept across North Africa and West Asia. A street ven­dor in Tu­nisia set him­self on fire and within days the coun­try’s gov­ern­ment fell. Egypt’s Mubarak went to prison. Libya’s Qaddafi was ex­e­cuted in the street. Ye­men ex­ploded into vi­o­lence. Syria sank into a civil war that has killed or dis­placed half the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion. Oil prices fell from $147 per bar­rel in the sum­mer of 2008 to­ward $30 per bar­rel, shift­ing the in­ter­na­tional bal­ance of power. The un­rest in West Asia trig­gered a new cri­sis in Europe as more than two mil­lion mi­grants made their way north in search of safety and a bet­ter life—trans­form­ing Euro­pean pol­i­tics by gen­er­at­ing fear of in­se­cu­rity and lost Euro­pean iden­tity. An­gry, fear­ful vot­ers be­gan to re­ject es­tab­lish­ment po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

Faced with a Euro­pean fu­ture and a leap into the un­known, Bri­tish vot­ers chose to jump. The 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion then pushed aside a highly qual­i­fied and very fa­mil­iar can­di­date in favour of a brash busi­ness­man who had never be­fore run for of­fice. Trump is the first per­son ever elected US pres­i­dent who had never be­fore served in gov­ern­ment or the mil­i­tary.

In 2017, French vot­ers said no to the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment. The long-dom­i­nant po­lit­i­cal par­ties of cen­tre-right and cen­tre-left were swept aside in favour of a can­di­date who had never be­fore run for of­fice. Em­manuel Macron led a party he had cre­ated from noth­ing just one year be­fore. Ger­man vot­ers re-elected An­gela Merkel to a fourth term, but her cen­tre-right party and its cen­tre-left coali­tion part­ner posted their low­est vote per­cent­ages in decades. A party of the far-right won seats in the Bun­destag for the first time since WWII. It is now the sin­gle largest op­po­si­tion party in Ger­many.

In March 2018, Ital­ian vot­ers pushed aside the long-es­tab­lished par­ties of cen­tre-left and cen­tre-right to el­e­vate a party founded nine years ago by a pro­fes­sional co­me­dian and a re­branded sep­a­ratist party from the coun­try’s north. In July, vot­ers in Mex­ico elected the first leftist pres­i­dent since the 1930s, a man lead­ing a po­lit­i­cal party he cre­ated just four years ago. Then vot­ers in Pak­istan re­jected the long-dom­i­nant Bhutto and Sharif dy­nas­ties in favour of a man who be­came fa­mous as cap­tain of the coun­try’s 1992 World Cup-win­ning cricket team.

Where do we look next? Brazil is now on the verge of a fu­ture-defin­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Two can­di­dates have led in the polls for months. One, former pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, is in prison, and has now pulled out of elec­tions. The other, Jair Bol­sonaro, rep­re­sents a party he joined eight months ago, a party that holds just nine seats in Brazil’s 513-seat lower house.

What’s the big trend in to­day’s in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics? Out with the old, in with some­thing new. Vot­ers around the world are look­ing for some­one else. Any­one else. Some­one they be­lieve can help them re­gain con­trol of their lives and get them off the path they be­lieve they’re now on.

How do we pre­pare for a world where, two years from now, the coun­try you care most about may be gov­erned by some­one you’ve never heard of and a po­lit­i­cal party that doesn’t yet ex­ist? The pace of change is head-spin­ning. This global re­jec­tion of the known, and em­brace of the brand new, isn’t a shift to the right or left. Don­ald Trump is a na­tivist of the right. France’s Macron is a cen­trist. Mex­ico’s Lopez-Obrador is a leftist.

In­stead, this trend sim­ply re­flects the anx­i­ety and anger that drives peo­ple to leap off po­lit­i­cal cliffs. Where will to­mor­row’s jobs come from? How se­cure are our bor­ders? Is our coun­try chang­ing faster than our lead­ers can man­age? There are a hun­dred more such ques­tions. Ten years from the col­lapse that be­gan to re­make our world, the re­sult of this fear is a world of pro­found po­lit­i­cal dis­rup­tion. There is surely more to come.

THE BIG TREND IN TO­DAY’S POL­I­TICS? OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH SOME­THING NEW. VOT­ERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE LOOK­ING FOR SOME­ONE ELSE. ANY­ONE ELSE

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