Friendship and Trumpist Nationalism

RP #4: Given the rising global waves of protectionism, neo-nationalism, and populist majoritarian politics resulting from the mounting tensions between neoliberal economics and globalization, how can friendship concepts help the state of domestic politics?

While reading The Great Regression this week, I found myself frustrated when both Bauman’s and Porta’s chapters simply end by urging patience in the challenge of fixing the divisiveness that the state of our current Trumpian politics has left us in. Of course, neoliberalism in the United States has profoundly impacted and influenced many other countries, but that is beyond the scope of this and will be discussed more in RP5.

Most essays in The Great Regression, tear apart neoliberalism and what it is doing to humanity without providing any real solution besides hope and the restructuring of our democracy. I don’t think we have time to wait for politicians. The rapid resurgence of neo-nationalism and populism since President Trump took office is not only concerning for its adverse effects on global politics but also for how it makes American citizens operate in society and view others. Friendship may not fix all the problems brought on by the specific policies of current neoliberalism and democracy fatigue, but shifting interpersonal attitudes and behaviors that these neoliberal ideas have engrained in many citizens is a fine place to start to fix things on an international scale and create peace across borders and inside the United States.

Neoliberalism breeds self-centeredness and competitiveness that, according to scientists, “runs counter to what comprises human nature.”1 When you are engaged in neoliberalism, as a consumer or an entrepreneur, everything becomes quantified, and everything becomes about getting ahead, leaving no room for friendship. Since “there is no pleasure or entertainment to gain in the past, so neoliberalism is not concerned with it”2 and, “communicating friendships are predominately of self-reflection and change,”3 then there is no room for a communicative friendship inside of neoliberalism. You have to be concerned with the past to self-reflect, and no one supporting neoliberalism, and the bigotry that comes along with it is concerned with history because of their stance on their right to this country over another person. President Trump’s neoliberalism is especially disturbing because of the surge of bigotry and xenophobia which “in the past was confined within the most extremist fringes of the nation but now has become legitimate in the mainstream.”4 Trump’s racism goes so far as to extend itself into his economics, blaming immigrants for not paying taxes or misusing welfare. Trump’s version of neoliberalism is constructed of the same privatization and deregulation associated with most neoliberalism, but instead of foreign treading, every principle is laced with bigotry.

The only way to solve the absence of friendship and the racism present in current neoliberal politics is through speech and early instruction on peace. In Bauman’s essay in The Great Regression, as Bauman dissects the separation of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and how we are meant to bridge that gap, he inserts an excerpt of a speech by Pope Francis remarking on the importance of conversation over many cultures:

“The culture of dialogue entails a true apprenticeship and a discipline that enables us to view others as valid dialogue partners, to respect the foreigner, the immigrant and people from different cultures as worthy of being listened to…This culture should be an integral part of the education imparted in our schools, cutting across disciplinary lines and helping to give young people the tools needed to settle conflicts differently than we are accustomed to do.”5

I agree that opening a dialogue breeds worth and respect for one another and therefore possibly a friendship or something that resembles one. I also entirely agree with the point that this culture of mutual understanding and openness is something that ought to be a mandatory, ongoing lesson put in place in schools to give the youth the skills needed to inspire peace in the world. To me, this is the most hopeful solution to the tensions arisen out of neoliberalism. If children are introduced to peaceful dialogue skills at a young age, they will understand that friendship “is not only based on happenstance, you must tend to it”6. If younger generations are learning how to converse with many different types of people, across many different borders and if the American citizens are willing to accept the reality of what consumerism does to deep friendship, we may be able to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in with communicative harmony.

I have adhered to the honor code on this assignment 

 

1 Monbiot, George. “Neoliberalism: The Deep Story That Lies beneath Donald Trump’s Triumph | George Monbiot.” The Guardian. November 14, 2016. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/neoliberalsim-donald-trump-george-monbiot.

2 Class notes

3 Class notes

4 Antonsich, Marco. “The Return of the Nation: When Neo-nationalism Becomes Mainstream.” Society & Space. June 19, 2017. Accessed April 06, 2018. http://societyandspace.org/2017/01/31/the-return-of-the-nation-when-neo-nationalism-becomes-mainstream/.

5 “Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize: Address of His Holiness Pope Francis’, 6 May 2016, at http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/may/documents/papa-francesco_20160506_premio-carlo-magno.html”

6 Class notes

Bibliography 

Geiselberger, Heinrich. The Great Regression. Cambridge: Polity, 2017.

“Conferral of the Charlemagne Prize: Address of His Holiness Pope Francis’, 6 May 2016, at http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2016/may/documents/papa-francesco_20160506_premio-carlo-magno.html”

Antonsich, Marco. “The Return of the Nation: When Neo-nationalism Becomes Mainstream.” Society & Space. June 19, 2017. Accessed April 06, 2018. http://societyandspace.org/2017/01/31/the-return-of-the-nation-when-neo-nationalism-becomes-mainstream/.

Monbiot, George. “Neoliberalism: The Deep Story That Lies beneath Donald Trump’s Triumph | George Monbiot.” The Guardian. November 14, 2016. Accessed April 06, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/14/neoliberalsim-donald-trump-george-monbiot.