The world-economy is being fundamentally transformed. After the financial crisis of 2008, the Chinese economy has grown dramatically—by some measures it has already surpassed the United States—and Beijing is now flexing its military and political muscle. In February 2022, almost 50 years to the day since President Richard Nixon visited the Forbidden City, President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jingping signed a pact signaling their resolve to oppose President Joseph Biden’s faltering efforts to revive Cold War alliances. With the collapse and/or transformation of socialist states and social democratic parties, anger and resentment against increasing class and status inequalities has led to the rise of authoritarian and violent populists like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, Narendra Modi in India, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and Donald Trump in the United States and to Brexit. The rise of these new nationalisms and new right movements threaten democratic norms and had led, in the U.S., to attempts to disenfranchise African Americans in many states, and violence against migrants and minorities has also been manifested elsewhere. At the same time, powerful opposition movements—from new trade unions to anti-black racism insurgences like Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall, through land and farmer movements from India to Zimbabwe, to shack dweller uprisings worldwide—have also with varying degrees of success challenged the new right and state power. In short: the contours, faultlines, and struggles marking the path towards a new global order are increasingly evident.
This conference brings together scholars to address these major contemporary issues:
1. The Rise of China and its implications for a new world order: The growth of China and its increasing investments in Africa and Latin America and its creation of new
international financial institutions—the New Development Bank, Asia Infrastructure
Investment Bank, the China Silk Road Fund—provides the nucleus for a new financial
infrastructure to challenge the institutions dominated by the Atlantic Alliance. The proxy war between Russia and NATO has also initiated elements for an alternate international financial structure that may challenge the dominance of the dollar.
2. A New Fascism? The rise of the new right across the world also signals a political transformation thatmobilizes anger and resentment against deepening inequalities and channels these sentiments against ethnic minorities, migrants, and liberal elites. The demand for a return to a mythical past—"Make America Great Again” (Trump), “France for the French” (Le Pen and the National Front), “Take Back Control” (Brexit), “Our Culture, Our Home, Our Germany.” (Alternative for Germany), “Pure Poland, White Poland” (Poland’s Law and Justice Party), “Keep Sweden Swedish” (Swedish Democrats), Hindu nationalism in India, Amhara nationalism in Ethiopia, Islamic nationalism in West Asia—is distinctive because the base of these movements have been mobilized by its leaders, who in turn are supported by, and are supportive of, big capital. These movements challenge existing structures of government often by furthering the oppression of marginalized populations.
3. Radical responses: The disruption of the Atlantic world order has been equally accompanied by new movements that challenge the new right and repressive state power, most notably by rising racial, ethnic, and gender movements. Rising inequality, precarity, and the power of Northern, white, and male elites has led to new calls that challenge long-existing structures of oppression and marginalization. These range from community-based movements to protect the environment and state-sponsored corporate segregation in housing and anti-Black, anti-Muslim, and anti-Asian racism in Europe and North America, through the decolonization of the state and\nationalist histories across the Global South, to the burgeoning worldwide movements to end police and domestic violence. The disciplining of labor through pressures on social reproduction has also been challenged by new waves of labor mobilizations.
Ravi Arvind Palat, Sociology Department, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA