The Illiberal American World Order: Why Americans Consider Themselves Victims of It
American views that paint the US as a victim of international institutions, such as NATO and the UN, free trade, and other features of the modern world order are perplexing to outside observers. While US President Donald Trump has come to champion the collective resentment of numerous American factions, particularly those on the Right, he is simply a personification of the frustrations many Americans have with the way the world works and their inability to shape their own futures. To outsiders, the liberal world order of the modern age is the American Dream. The US is the primary beneficiary of the International Community and global economy. As the focal point of its vast network of alliances, the United States has the power to essentially set the agenda of the International Community, shape the policies of all other nations, and suppress even the most critical interests of other nations. Free trade has likely been more been beneficial to the US than any other nation while world producers are driven by the demands of US consumers. Frankly, the modern world order was made by the America for America. The American world order has not, however, necessarily been as beneficial to average Americans.
The American world order is defined by an International Community and a global economy. The International Community is a steadily democratizing community of democratizing nation-states and cultures. Liberal governance in this new world order compels governments of the world to serve the interests of those they govern and empower them with civil liberties. In the past, government existed solely to serve the affluent who held all social power. When the United States began to emerge as the world’s first hegemonic superpower, its leaders pledged to export the liberal democratic ideals, freedoms, and, opportunities America represented to the world. The promise of the liberal American world order was a departure from the self-serving, corrupt, and oppressive governance that had dominated the planet since the beginning of man. Unfortunately, the liberal American world order is truly an illiberal American world order that has fallen short of the aspirations that inspired its birth.
The modern world is certainly a better place than it would have been under the continued rule of the European colonial powers or any of the emerging alternatives. For those who share anti-American sentiments and/or have experienced the devastation of America’s often erratic, heavy-handed foreign policy, particularly when it involves the utilization of the US military industrial complex, the illiberal nature of the American world order is obvious. Although the American world order is predicated on human rights and does a great deal to constraint the actions of tyrannical leaders, or at least more than people might appreciate, the US, European-centered nature of the International Community has often left the interests of disenfranchised populations around the world unheralded. Under the bipolar world order of the Cold War, all nations had to align their interests with the US or the Soviet Union. In the emerging multipolar post-Cold War era, more and more nations are able to express their views against the whims of the US and it allies, but the Peoples of the world still do not have a voice against their governments or world powers.
The American People, because they are citizens of the United States, are not beholden to the will of foreign governments. The same is true of many Europeans, the Peoples of other developed nations, and the affluent of the world. Due this empowerment, it would appear the American People are beneficiaries of a liberal world order that favors them. In reality, the US also suffers from illiberal tendencies. The illiberal tendencies of the US are most apparent when it comes to economics. For example, the US is approaching peak income inequality, which was reached in 1928, instead of retreating from it. Due to the illiberal nature of the US economy, the bulk of the American People are not benefiting substantially from economic growth. It is the same reason Americans do not see the financial benefits of the economic growth created by increased trade. The global economy is itself very illiberal. A significant part of the problem is that free trade, which diverts money from governments, social welfare spending, and tax cuts, tends to help boost the profits of wealthy international corporations and their investors at the expense of domestic wages and jobs.
Free trade is often hailed as a key component to the liberal world order. In reality, it is an illiberal practice that deleverages workers in wealthier countries as well as their foreign counterparts who must compete by perpetually suppressing their incomes and living standards even as their needs grow. It is a practice that cultivates a regressive global economy, thus it disenfranchises the Peoples of the world. Financial security and freedom, after all, impact every aspect of a person’s life. What free trade does do is help further enrich the already rich. It helps concentrate wealthy into the pockets of a global elite. Similarly, international governing bodies, such as the European Union, shift power from the leaders of multiple national governments into the hands of a few global leaders who allegedly represent the interests of all the world’s Peoples. In reality, the interests of individuals are overwhelmed by the aggregate interests of the global collective, which allows global elites to hijack global governance to their benefit. International governments should be catering to the interests of nations. Instead, nations are pressured to parrot the views and policies of the global elites, i.e. the illiberal world order.
Although most apparent among Right-wing factions, the American People gravitate toward local governance. They want governance as local as possible. Local government is most capable of representing an governed population’s interests. Clearly, local governments often lack expertise, professionalism, and resources, while they can easily suffer from corruption due to a lack of transparency, but the empowerment of local government gives people the power to have their interests represented in their communities. When the provisional, e.g. State, and national governments support local governments with their expertise, resources, and oversight in a manner that seeks to further empower individuals, overall governance becomes more representative and responsive to the needs of people, i.e. government becomes more liberal. When international governing bodies exist to bolster and serve the national governments of the world and Peoples of the world, not just the highly influential global elite, they too help empower individuals. They help foster a liberal world order that serves People and their needs. Americans are often highly suspect and critical of the modern world world, because it is actually an illiberal world order that they wish to change.
Read old posts