The world is fixated on the past
The Economist | Tue, Dec 18, 2018
by The Economist
Politicians have always exploited the past. But just now, rich countries and emerging economies are experiencing an outbreak of nostalgia. Right and left, democracies and autocracies, all are harking back to the glories of yesteryear. Even as President Donald Trump vows to “Make America great again”, President Xi Jinping is using his “Chinese dream” to banish a century of humiliation and return China to its golden age. Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has a mission to withstand global capitalism and restore his country’s economic sovereignty. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the most powerful politician in Poland, wants to purge the last traces of Soviet communism to bring about a renaissance of old-fashioned Polish values.
This orgy of reminiscence has different causes in different countries. In emerging markets past glories are often a foretaste of future triumphs. China, which has enjoyed 40 years of transformative growth, senses that it is on the threshold of something great. Under Narendra Modi, India has been celebrating its growing geopolitical heft with a Hindu-nationalist revival.