An more and more divided society, a supply of worldwide decline?*

AA / Mohamed Badine El Yattioui**

Never since the Civil War, let’s say the most pessimistic, has the United States seen its society so divided. American political scientist Carlos E. Juarez, a researcher at the East-West Center of Hawaii, explains that “immigration raises cultural and security concerns as well as fears of economic displacement and weakens the legitimacy of transnational institutions that prevent sovereign peoples from using national means of protection against threatening developments. He adds that it “also has to do with the long and growing shift between elites and masses as populists exploit widespread resentment of traditional political parties and regional integration projects.”

– Deep fractures

What happened on the Capitol in January 2021 is a very serious event, as everyone pointed out at the time and proved it. It demonstrated the deep fractures in American society. However, there are two interpretations. The first is to say that it is the definitive proof of the crisis of American democracy, between supporters of a liberal vision and who accept the result of the presidential election and others who have an “illiberal” vision that would like their candidate to remain in power at all costs. .

We are facing a fracture between two visions of what a democracy is. Americans can no longer agree on their own definition of democracy, which is actually far more worrisome than what we saw with the events on Capitol Hill. Society is polarized around two diametrically opposed models. As of January 2021, nearly 30% of people surveyed by different polls expressed support for political violence if it is “necessary”. Added to this is the fact that about 50% of the American population is suspicious of its electoral system, according to a survey released by the Morning Consult institute. So the attack on the Capitol was a mirror of a part of society.

The media is also in the crosshairs of a large part of the population. According to the Gallup pollster, about 40% of Americans have little or no trust in newspapers.

– The Proud Boys

The influence of a group like the Proud Boys proves the depth of mistrust. It is a paramilitary type organization, mainly pro-Trump. In November 2018, during his presidency, an internal memo from the Clark County Police mentioned that the FBI classified them as “an extremist group linked to white nationalism.” Information denied by an FBI official, claiming that the US Federal Police were simply monitoring this group. Note that Canada has classified them as a terrorist group. For Heidi Beirich, director of the “Global Project Against Hate and Extremism” project and a political scientist specializing in American and European extremist movements, taking on violence in such an exacerbated and uninhibited way, as the Proud Boys do, is not common to all distant countries. . right groups.

A lot of other people have joined this movement. They represent the strength of Trump’s electorate because as soon as he says something, they follow him. We are faced with something original in the American political system: the reference not to the party or ideology, but to the person. We have, in the face of the America that has won, an America that does not want to resign. It is that of white workers who felt protected by his program in 2016 and by everything he managed to implement in terms of economic protectionism. These people have a view of democracy at odds with the classical American liberal view. The strength of American institutions was the consensus they had enjoyed for two centuries. It seems to be disappearing.

– “legitimate” violence

The problem is that the use of violence is considered legitimate by some groups. They see themselves as victims of government violence. There is no more common ground, this is the real divide. Dominique Moïsi, political scientist and special adviser to the Institut Montaigne in Paris, explains the current situation very well when he writes that “despite the election of Joe Biden and the speeches of national unity given by the new president of the United States, American society remains more polarized than ever before and still deals with the racial question”. He adds that “the polarization of American society has reached such a level that the United States seems doomed to paralysis, if not irremediable decline.” The world’s leading power has to deal with China’s growing ambitions “when it finds itself in a state of near-civil war”.

Psychologist and professor of ethics and leadership at the Stern School of Business at New York University, Jonathan Haidt, argues that we are beyond classic ideological conflicts. To account for this, the word tribalism became permanently present in the media discourse. According to him, the country is moving from the stage of nation to the one of juxtaposition of tribes (or ethnicities) in conflict. Of course, this weakens the country internationally.

* The opinions expressed in this analysis involve only the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial line of Anadolu Agency.

** Dr. Mohamed Badine El Yattioui, Professor of International Relations at the University of the Americas in Puebla (Mexico).

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