Where will chaos lead US in new era of racial and class upheaval?

By Zhao Kejin Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/16 19:33:40

An aerial view of Hollywood Boulevard painted with the words "Black Lives Matter" as protests continue in the wake of George Floyd's death on Saturday in Los Angeles, California Photo: AFP

The novel coronavirus pandemic is interwoven with political virus. The battle against COVID-19 has overlapped with protests in the US, seeing the nation plunged into turmoil.

The entire international community has been paying attention to US domestic situation for some time now. This situation merits our analysis over the nature of the current chaos and where US strategy is headed to in the future.

There is no doubt that the US is witnessing turbulence. 

As a matter of fact, though, since the founding of this country in 1776, political chaos has been the norm there. Americans are fond of interfering in other countries' internal affairs and arguing with other countries. Street protests or even riots are normal activities in many Americans' eyes.

When we look back into the past chaos, the US would forge a fresh social consensus, or even kick started new movements of social reforms.

From this perspective, the US present turmoil is a result of its political polarization and political conservatism. 

The root cause leading to the current mess is Americans' confusion over democracy. Americans regard themselves as a model of liberal democracy. They have spared no efforts to export democracy to other parts of the world. However, for the US democratic strategy, whose main banners are the Washington Consensus and color revolutions, it has failed to bring blessings to other countries. Not only that, it has also caused more chaos in regions such as Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.

In recent years, voices demanding to rethink US democratic practices have been loud. US political scientist Francis Fukuyam, who once wrote "The End of History," also raised concerns about political decay in the US. A few experts have taken extreme positions. They have become anti-democratic and sought to cancel elections.

Meanwhile, it has become apparent that the majority of US policies are controlled by billionaires, which means democracy is enslaved to money. This is not only a tragedy of the US, but for democracy as well.

Recently, many Americans have been struggling to explore a way to address their democratic confusion. Even today, US society has failed to reach a consensus. 

The US confusion of democracy comes from its political system, not from foreign threats hyped up by US politicians. In a bid to resolve Americans' confusion over democracy, the US needs a liberation movement. It needs to explore a new path to develop its political system.

The US chaos is only a superficial phenomenon. A profound social change is lurking. Whether the change will occur depends on efforts made by all walks of life of American society. There are three possible scenarios in the foreseeable future.

The first one may be new progressive reforms. US mainstream establishments might return to the same page in terms of politics. They might respond to polarization and proactively promote reforms and innovation of democratic mechanisms. They could boost inclusiveness toward the low- and middle-income groups and minorities. They could address domestic issues such as racism and the widening gap between rich and poor. 

A second possible scenario is a new set of socialist reforms. If US society can reach a consensus on transforming US social system - setting up a proposal accepted by the whites, the minorities and new social groups, many problems of the US may be addressed within new social frameworks. Americans will usher in new socialist reforms.

A third potential outcome might be neofascism. Many US political scientists worry about this possibility. If US political forces and society are unable to reach a consensus, a group of political leaders with highly centralized power might rise with populism to maintain US social order. 

It is apparent that current US problems cannot be fully tackled by existing mechanisms. This may lead the US to eventually become mired with neofascism.

The author is deputy director at the Institute of International Studies of Tsinghua University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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