Wednesday July 06, 2022

A better future

December 10, 2020

“The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born. This is the time of monsters.” Antonio Gramsci’s famous adage about the stormy 1920s is quoted often a century later to describe the world’s depressing current reality.

As we prepare to finally leave this disastrous year behind, many are relieved, however, that the world will be rid of at least two monsters in 2021 – Trump and Covid-19.

Indeed, Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election is about to deliver the world from the dangers posed by an authoritarian egomaniac occupying the White House. And with the invention of several effective vaccines, we are finally preparing to turn the page on the coronavirus pandemic.

So, there is reason to rejoice as this turbulent year draws to a close. And yet it is fair to ask: Is there a plan for when the monsters leave the world stage? What will replace the monsters?

With both Trump and Covid-19’s expected exit, we are faced with another, perhaps equally frightening threat: a return to normalcy.

Let us not forget: Donald Trump was elected on the back of Barack Obama’s allegedly progressive presidency. Obama came to power shortly after a global economic crisis and thanks to an extraordinary wave of public participation in politics. Many expected him to use this opportunity to break with a system in crisis benefitting just the privileged few.

But he chose to follow the old path. He appointed Tim Geithner and Larry Summers to the Treasury, the same individuals who, during the Clinton administration, had enthusiastically removed the last obstacles holding the financial sector in line and paved the way for the crisis that devastated the global economy in 2007-2008 This was no moral drama of penitence and redemption, but the reproduction of the same financial policies that had brought the world to the brink of the abyss in the first place.

As Tim Geithner put it, the primary aim of the state was to “foam the runway” for the banks in crisis. But the accumulation of inequalities foamed the runway for something else: right-wing populism.

After experiencing the unprecedented mayhem brought in by the Trump administration, it is easy to forget about these grave mistakes, look at the Obama years through rose-tinted glasses, and hope that Biden will bring competency and decency back into the White House. And yet, that will not be enough to fix a system that was in dramatic need of an overhaul even before the election of Trump.

After supporting Trump’s racist, xenophobic and divisive policies for four years, and most recently turning a blind eye to his efforts to undermine the integrity of American democracy through baseless allegations of election fraud, the Republican Party reduced itself to a clique of power-grabbing authoritarians with neither moral compass nor concern for decency.

Excerpted: ‘For anyone wishing for a better future, normalcy is the enemy’