Are all nationalisms the same in the 2020s?

Elsewhere, @johncoate pointed us to the yearly tradition of the State of the World online debate on the WELL. This is a long and deep forum thread led by Bruce Sterling (here as @bruces) and Jon Lebkowsky.

I would strongly encourage @Jan, @Richard, @amelia and all our curious POPRebels to check it out and ponder, because this years’s SOTW is a lot about populism. Bruce tackles it especially in posts 5 to 10 (start here). The money quote:

People like to focus their attention on The Donald, because the actual media is in abject collapse, so there’s nothing but demagogic social media and the right-wing TV machine, and The Donald is great
at that. However, this sensibility I’m describing is not merely American or Trumpian, it really is the State of the World. Other nations have more advanced versions of it than Americans do.

There used to be certain planetary regions and polities that were markedly different from the rest, but in MMXX, even though everybody claims they’re antiglobal, sovereign and patriotic, everybody’s very the-same.

He then goes on to enumerate: Russia, India, South Africa, Britain, Estonia…

Do you think it is true that anti-global age is more global than globalism? In what sense? Bruce seems to have a sort of economic theory lurking in the background:

Mainstream consumer capitalism is dying, fast and silent and for good, like its shopping malls. There aren’t any “consumers,” there are just oligarchs and the rabble. (post 7).


(Happy new year to everyone… actually, happy MMXX, to maintain the SOTW way of writing it :slight_smile: )


(I also sent a question about where, in Bruce’s and Jon’s opinion, this leaves the EU. No reply so far.)

And how does extreme nationalism work with so many goods and services brought to us via multinational corporations who seem to have no particular national allegiance, but rather loyalty to their shareholders and stock price, and to each other in wanting to maintain the status quo?

A big theme of this year’s State of the World is oligarchy as a global condition. Certainly in the US Presidential election Bernie Sanders rails against the oligarchy constantly. And it seems he is the only candidate who uses the term. But I think it does best describe the world we live in today.

So with a guy like Trump we have someone who talks a populist game, but whose actions all seem designed to perpetuate his ruling class.

And what about Putin? My understanding is that during his time in office he has amassed a gigantic personal fortune. Is this the price people pay for national pride? Leaders who placate them with words but rip them off anyway? (Meet the new boss - same as the old boss.)