Dear friends, Donald Trump’s candidacy – with its simplistic policy positions and its undercurrent of racism and sexism – left most of us believing he couldn’t possibly win. Now his victory is a visceral shock from which many have still not recovered. To better understand what happened – and why – we need to broaden our horizons. If we zoom out a bit, it becomes clear that Trump is not an isolated phenomenon; the forces that put him in the White House have been growing throughout the Western world for some time. Earlier this year, the Brexit vote in the UK was also based on fear and narrow-minded nationalism, not on a sophisticated critique of EU economic policy.
Right-wing extremism is on the rise in many other parts of Europe; even in my native country of Sweden, where racism was all but absent during my younger years. If we zoom out even further, a broader pattern emerges. Almost everywhere in the world, unemployment is increasing, the gap between rich and poor is widening, environmental devastation is worsening, and a spiritual crisis – revealed in substance abuse, domestic assaults, and teenage suicide – is deepening.
By looking from a global perspective it becomes apparent that these many crises – including the rise of right-wing sentiments – share a common root cause: an increasingly corporatized and globalized economic system that is devastating not only planetary ecosystems, but the lives of hundreds of millions of people.