Former ICI Fellow L.H.M. Ling on Colonial Politics


We are pleased to share a recent post from former India China Fellow Lily Ling (2008-2010). Her latest article in the Huffington Post, “Colonial Fear and Desire in 2016”, raises important questions about the collapse of globalization discourse, white nationalist political resurgence, colonialism and the power of Othering.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, globalization seemed to augur the End of History. Globalization enabled “the free movement of capital, people and goods; trickle-down economics; a much diminished role for nation states; and a belief that market forces, now unleashed, were unstoppable.” What could be more liberal, democratic, and progressive?

But today, globalization has collapsed from within. What Lenin called the “labor aristocracy” has revolted. Workers in the “advanced” North have even less incentive than their predecessors a century ago to bear common cause with comrade-proletariats in the “underdeveloped” South. No longer supreme in skills or wages or even geopolitics, with terrorists bombing citadels of civilization like New York, London, and Paris, large segments of the middle class in the West have opted to reject globalization. It disenfranchises them, they decry. They’d rather build walls. These can come physically (e.g., along the US-Mexico border) and legislatively (e.g., outlaw immigrants/refugees).

And make no mistake. This Northern rejection of globalization forwards an explicitly pro-“white” agenda. Note, for example, the openness of white supremacist groups in British, European, and American politics since these signal events in 2016: Britain’s exit from the European Union (“Brexit”) in June; the election of Donald J. Trump to the US presidency in November; and the rise of Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front (NF) party, as a presidential candidate for France. These developments resurge an ethno-nationalism that targets anyone and anything from a non-white, non-Christian, and non-heteronormative background.

You can read her full post here.

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