A new era demands new ‘isms’

| Sep 16, 2018

By Mark Hannah, Senior Fellow

This article appeared in the Boston Globe on September 16, 2018.

Delegates from 195 countries are on their way to New York where the General Assembly of the United Nations will open its annual meeting this week. For three-quarters of a century, the UN has been a place where competing ideologies have squared off against each other. Capitalism battled communism. Nationalism shook off the vestiges of colonialism. And globalism began to encroach upon statism.

This year, diplomats will arrive disoriented. The organizing philosophies of the last century have faded in the rearview mirror, unable to keep pace with changes in the political reality they seek to understand.

Yet we cling to old “isms,” unarmed with a more current vocabulary. Populism, born of attempts to preserve local values, is now used to describe an international movement. Socialism may be back in the headlines, but nobody is making speeches about control over the means of production — that’s an industrial-era obsession. Today’s capitalism hardly resembles the “greed is good” Gordon Gecko of the 1987 film “Wall Street.” Looking to label a new wave of strongmen leaders, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright reverts to that golden oldie in the title of her new book: “Fascism: A Warning.”

Read more of Mark’s article in the Boston Globe.

Written by Mark Hannah

Mark is a senior fellow with the Independent America project at the Institute for Global Affairs and host of the podcast, None Of The Above.

Read more from Mark

This post is part of Independent America, a research project led out by IGA senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how US foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.

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