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  • Nadine Godehardt

Alternatives to Global Conflict Between the US and China

We are witnessing a period of great change in world politics. The old power structures still dominate daily politics but are no longer unchallenged. New ideas for a post-liberal order appear on the horizon.

The world order has indubitably entered an “interregnum” where, as Antonio Gramsci wrote, the masses “no longer believe what they used to believe previously.” Doubts and skepticism proliferate over the success of globalization, the idea of liberal progress and Francis Fukuyama’s influential theory that the collapse of the Soviet Union would lead to global dominance for democracy and market capitalism.

Two developments amplify the growing feeling disorientation in politics, economics and academia. Firstly, as the sociologist Bruno Latour puts it, the globe has grown too small for the demands of modern globalization and optimization. Tangible climate change affects everyone, clearly highlighting the limits to liberal modernization.

Secondly, the Western liberal narrative of progress has lost its momentum. Since the financial crisis of 2008, fractures have appeared in the US-led global economic system, with growing social inequality, privatization of digital markets and increasingly sharp political polarization.

In the words of the conservative political theorist Patrick J. Deneen, liberalism has failed because it was too successful. Equally pertinently, the political scientists Helge Jordheim and Einar Wigen note that the centuries-old self-image of Europe — and even more so the United States — as the global motor of political, sociocultural and economic progress is fading. In its place are contemporary experiences of crisis, stagnation and a world decidedly out of balance.


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