As West is plagued with economic stagnation, indebtedness, lack of required jobs and demographic crisis made symptoms of civilization’s downfall vivid, after the domination of more than 500 years. Alternative Right Movement, emerged as trademark for ultra nationalist, white racists grabbed much attention during the American Presidential Election 2016, which is called direct result of demographic crisis and debt crisis that West has been facing and both of them are outcomes of the Western civilization progress.
Rise of West
Rise of the Western civilization can traced back in 500 AD when western Roman empire has fallen to German invaders. Since than Western people gradually transformed themselves into Christian feudal agrarian society from Pagan tribal hunting society. Arabian domination and Viking forays made Westerners inward looking with little interest in trade and commerce. In the middle of 11th century Arabs weakened and Vikings were Christianised. Then Westerners began to show interest in international trade and expansion beyond West. The first expansion drive was Crusades. Though defeated, Westerners got aware of non-West world during Crusades and worked on them. Westerners finally made breakthrough in 1490s when they were able find sea routes skipping Muslim dominated Silk Road and reached American continent on one hand and Asian producers on the other.
In sixteenth century, Western domination of seas and international trade was complete with the aid of supreme ship-building-naval technology. This era was called mercantile capitalism. Later on, in nineteenth century, Westerners were dominating global production as well with the help of automated machines is called industrial capitalism. Capitalism brought with it demand for market, raw materials, labour and hence West created colonies across the non-West world. Famous political scientist Angus Maddison noted that between 1000 and 1820, population grew 5-fold in the West, but less than 4-fold in the Rest. Between 1770 and 1937, Western population grew from 150 million to 750 million and 30 million Westerners migrated to Americas.
Impact of Industrial Capitalism
The continuous profit seeking nature of industrial capitalism led to three results:
- Economies of scale made bigger ownership more competitive compared to the smaller ownership and this resulted in ownership distribution of means of production highly skewed.
- Continuous automation is done in a specific industry to reduce the demand for labour and increase profit of capital owners. This made room for class-struggle and working class emerged as most important anti-capitalist advocate.
- More complex machines needed more educated workers to work with and so education became primary variables in determining effective workers of a society. Everyone was expected to get education since childhood. Thus cost of raising children rose dramatically.
These three gave rise to again two outcomes:
- Most of society’s income became concentrated among few property owners and hence growth of consumption capacity failed to match the growth of production capacity. This implied over accumulation crisis or lack of effective demand crisis.
- Higher cost of raising children forced people to reduce birth rates. Less birth entailed further less effective demand.
Impact of Lack of Effective Demand Crisis
Demand is of two types: demand for consumer goods called consumption and demand for capital goods called investment. Now as demand crisis plagued the West, its capital started to be invested in both comparatively lesser developed Western countries and also non West colonies. Thus more West countries and even non-West Japan started getting developed.Thus fight for market of consumer goods, capital goods and raw materials further intensified among already developed and newly developed industrialised nations. This finally led to two World Wars and a Great Depression in Western economy.
Industrial capitalism was discredited and anti-capitalist concepts like anti-colonialism, socialism and communism gained momentum throughout the world after Russian Revolution. Finally, after World-War-II, the West gradually stripped most of its colonial possessions in non-West. Socialism gained huge popularity both in the West and non-West.
Age of Socialism
Post-World-War-II years often seen as the most prosperous and optimist age in the entire world. The bases of socialism is effective demand crisis of capitalism so socialism advocates resource allocation not for profit maximization but for some pre-determined social goals. West started to use state expenditure as a way to create extra demand by which lack of demand in the market will be neutralised. Non-Westerns viewed socialism as an effective tool by which state will be used to allocate resources to modernise and industrialise its economy and society. Working class emerged as the most important advocate of socialism and working class rights were looked after by nationalising key industries, health and education.
Women Emancipation and Sex Revolution
Another important factor during this period was “emancipation” of women. In late nineteenth century, Western families were already having lower birth rates. Hence, Western women got chance to go for outdoor jobs. In 1960s, women were a formidable part of Western working class and so desires of women can no longer go unheeded. Western women use the contraceptive revolution of 1960s to reduce birth rate and spend more time in outdoor jobs. This was associated with gay rights movement. Hence 1960s saw sex revolution throughout the West.
Age of Financial Capitalism
The elite bankers and big capitalists were struggling against socialist advocacy for more state role in resource allocation. By 1970s, the Western elite class came up with financial capitalism to counter effective demand crisis. In this system, asset price will be inflated through debt channelization in asset market and profit will be sought by trading in assets. These financial profits became main source of demand and state was no longer needed to create demand. Gradually, the West began to specialize in finance and exported its production base to the non-Western world where more profits can be made by using non-Western cheap labor. This process was termed as neo-liberal globalization.
Moreover, women’s desire for more outdoor activities was used by the Western elites to increase labor pool and destroy working class bargaining power considerably. Feminism was used as a tool by the elites to make look worker husbands as the exploiter of their home maker wives and employment giver capitalists-bankers as the liberator. But Feminism resulted in breakdown of families and less than replacement rate fertility rate among the Westerners. Consumerism became the new religion of the society.
With the passage of time non-West countries especially China start becoming industrialized at the cost of deindustrialization of most advanced Western country U.S. which specializes in finance with debt provided by non-West industrializing producers. Other Western countries could not succeeded in developing financial base are suffering economic stagnation. In 2007-09, global financial crisis devastated the Western financial base as well. All of a sudden the West finds itself indebted to non-West and its financial base is in disarray.This economic disaster is accompanied by four decades of less than replacement rate birth rate among white Westerners. Hence West relies on migration flow from non-West world to tackle this demographic crisis among Western whites.
Rise of Alternative Right
So by 2010, the West is plagued with economic stagnation, indebtedness, lack of desirable jobs and demographic crisis. Moreover, immigration from non-West to West and relatively higher fertility rate among non-West immigrant women compared to Western women were threatening the core of the social fabric of the Western society. As a result of this economic agony and demographic threat, a huge section of white West finds salvation in ultra nationalism, white racism, etc. which is designated as alternative right movement.
Hence, alternative right movement accuses globalization for the West’s economic woes and non-West migrants for destroying the Western society. Point is to counter globalization their economic policies are anti profit maximization and to counter demographic threat their social values are racist, anti-feminist, anti-consumerist and pro-family. As a result, alternative rightists are coming into contradiction with banker-capitalist neo-liberal elites.
The urge for expansion in the West appeared as early as 11th century. Since this time its population growth was more than non-West which entailed migration from West to non-West and colonialism. Colonialism led to industrial capitalism which decelerated the birth rate of the West. Since mid-20th century, lower birth rate helped Western women to go out-door which further reduced birth rate in a cyclical way. This cycle of demographic crisis forced the West to accept non-West migrants and this divided the Western society between those who want to assimilate with migrants and those who do not.
Regarding economic crisis, it is clear that the journey from industrial capitalism to indebtedness of financial capitalism is mainly driven by lack of demand crisis. Moreover, demand crisis and demographic crisis reinforces each other.An important point is the non-West emulating the West is bound to fall into same cycle of demographic crisis and demand crisis as proved by East Asia and Slavic world. Hence, the non-West must take these irreversible crises of the West into account before copying it.