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Climate change, mass migration, racist backlash – Donald Trump first demagogue of the Anthropocene

Yet the second trend—the combination of mass migration and racist backlash—could push even more polities toward authoritarianism. Migration is also harder to predict than inequality: Wars and exoduses are not as easy to model as flood damage and agricultural yields.

Climate mitigation is a worthy goal in itself. It is all the more important when understood as one more type of long-term anti-fascism.

Book AnthropoceneDonald Trump Is the First Demagogue of the Anthropocene He won’t be the dictatorlast. The Atlantic, ROBINSON MEYER OCT 19, 2016   

“………I want to propose a new way of understanding Donald Trump. He not only represents a white racial backlash, and he has not only opened the way for an American extension of the European far right. Insofar as his supporters are drawn to him by a sense of global calamity, and insofar as his rhetoric singles out the refugee as yet another black and brown intruder trying to violate the nation’s cherished borders, Trump is the first demagogue of the Anthropocene.

We should take Trump at his word when he calls Syrian refugees “one of the great Trojan horses,” or when his son bizarrely describes them as Skittles that “will kill you.” In Europe, Trump’s far-right kin have long blurred the differences between legal immigration, Islamist terrorism, and the refugees fleeting the Syrian War. After the Paris attacks last year, one leader of the French far-right National Front said, “Today, we can see that immigration has become favorable terrain for the development of Islamism.”

This xenophobia is grounded in real-life trends. I will focus on two in particular: moribund economic growth and the mass migration of non-white people. Both will likely intensify as the planet warms. (A third vital trend—the political and cultural upheaval of the U.S. racial hierarchy—will not vary with climate change.)

First, climate change could easily worsen the inequality that has already hollowed out the Western middle class. A recent analysis in Nature projected that the effects of climate change will reduce the average person’s income by 23 percentby the end of the century. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency predicts that unmitigated global warming could cost the American economy $200 billion this century. (Some climate researchers think the EPA undercounts these estimates.)

Future consumers will not register these costs so cleanly, though—there will not be a single climate-change debit exacted on everyone’s budgets at year’s end. Instead, the costs will seep in through many sources: storm damage, higher power rates, real-estate depreciation, unreliable and expensive food. Climate change could get laundered, in other words, becoming just one more symptom of a stagnant and unequal economy. As quality of life declines, and insurance premiums rise, people could feel that they’re being robbed by an aloof elite.

They won’t even be wrong. It’s just that due to the chemistry of climate change, many members of that elite will have died 30 or 50 years prior.

Yet the second trend—the combination of mass migration and racist backlash—could push even more polities toward authoritarianism. Migration is also harder to predict than inequality: Wars and exoduses are not as easy to model as flood damage and agricultural yields.

 But academics are trying. Jürgen Scheffran, a professor of geography at the University of Hamburg, has been investigating whether climate change makes armed conflict more likely for more than a decade. In 2012, he worked on a team that analyzed all 27 empirical studies investigating the link between war and climate change………
climate change may already be driving mass migrations. Last year, the Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley was mocked for suggesting that a climate-change-intensified drought in the Levant—the worst drought in 900 years—helped incite the Syrian Civil War, thus kickstarting the Islamic State. The evidence tentatively supports him. Since the outbreak of the conflict, some scholars have recognized that this drought pushed once-prosperous farmers into Syria’s cities. Many became unemployed and destitute, aggravating internal divisions in the run-up to the war………

Climate change could push Western politics toward demagoguery and authoritarianism in two ways, then. First, it could devastate agricultural yields and raise food prices; destroy coastal real estate and wash away amily wealth; transform old commodities into luxury goods. Second, it could create a wave of migration—likely from conflict, but possibly from environmental ruination—that stresses international reception systems and risks fomenting regional resource disputes.

 In effect, it could erode people’s sense of security, pushing them toward authoritarianism.
If this model of authoritarian response seems simplistic, that’s because it is. Economic strife and mass migration have produced far-right authoritarianism in the past, so I assume they could in the future. Empirically speaking, financial crises especially seem to cause a flight to the extremes. But they do not guarantee anything, and I’ve focused on the questions of contributors—mass migration and conflict—because they are easier to predict than politics……..

Trump is, in essence, a double case—a preview of what’s to come and a way to practice dealing with it. He represents a test that the leaders of a major American political party are failing, and that the electorate may only narrowly pass. He is showing us how ill-prepared the United States is for post-climate demagoguery, and he gives us an opportunity to improve our societal immune response.

How might we do that? His rise also suggests a number of defense mechanisms. Obviously, the first is that climate change must be mitigated with all deliberate speed. But he also suggests certain cultural mechanisms. Some Americans may favor more restrictive immigration policies, but—in order to withstand against future waves of mass migration (and humanely deal with the victims of climate change)—racist fears must be unhooked from immigration restrictionism. In other words, as a matter of survival against future authoritarians, white supremacy must be rejected and defeated……

Climate mitigation is a worthy goal in itself. It is all the more important when understood as one more type of long-term anti-fascism. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/10/trump-the-first-demagogue-of-the-anthropocene/504134/

 

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October 22, 2016 - Posted by | general

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