An increasingly divided society, a source of international decay?*

AA / Mohamed Badine El Yattioui**

Never since the Civil War, say the most pessimistic, has the United States seen its society so divided. American political scientist Carlos E. Juarez, a researcher at the East-West Center in Hawaii, explains that “immigration raises cultural and security problems as well as fears of economic displacement and weakens the legitimacy of transnational institutions that prevent sovereign peoples from exploiting national political resources. to protect against threatening developments. He adds that “it also has to do with the long-standing and growing dislocation between the elites and the masses, as populists exploit the widespread resentment of traditional political parties and regional integration projects.”

– Deep fractures

What happened in the Capitol in January 2021 is a very serious event, as everyone pointed out and proved at the time. It showed the deep rifts in American society. However, there are two interpretations. The first is to say that it is the ultimate proof of the crisis of American democracy, between the supporters of a liberal view and who accept the results of the presidential election and others who have an “illiberal” view and want their candidate to remain. in power at all costs.

We face a rift between two visions of what a democracy is. Americans can no longer agree on the definition of democracy, which is actually much more concerning than what we saw with the events on Capitol Hill. Society is polarized around two diametrically opposed models. In January 2021, nearly 30% of people polled by various polls expressed support for political violence, if it is “necessary”. In addition, about 50% of the American population is wary of its electoral system, according to a survey by the Morning Consult Institute. For example, the attack on the Capitol was a mirror of part of society.

The media is also in the crosshairs of much of the population. According to the Gallup Research Institute, nearly 40% of Americans have little or no confidence in newspapers.

– The proud boys

The influence of a group like the Proud Boys proves the deep distrust. It is a paramilitary organization, mostly pro-Trump. In November 2018, during his presidency, an internal Clark County police memo stated that the FBI had classified them as “an extremist group tied to white nationalism.” Information denied by an FBI official, stating that the U.S. federal police were simply watching this group. Note that Canada has classified them as a terrorist group. For Heidi Beirich, director of the “Global Project Against Hate and Extremism” project and political scientist specializing in American and European extremist movements, violence in such aggravated and uninhibited way as the Proud Boys is not common to all far-flung groups.

A lot of other people have joined this movement. They represent the power of Trump’s electorate because as soon as he says something, they follow him. We are confronted with something original in the American political system: the reference not to the party or to the ideology, but to the person. We have, in the face of the America that has won, an America that will not resign. It is that of the white workers who felt protected by his program in 2016 and by everything he could introduce at the level of economic protectionism. These people have a view of democracy that is at odds with the classic American liberal view. The strength of American institutions was the consensus they had had for two centuries. It seems to disappear.

– “legitimate” violence

The problem is that the use of force is considered legitimate by some groups. They see themselves as victims of government violence. There is no longer a common ground, this is the real divide. Dominique Moïsi, political scientist and special adviser to the Institut Montaigne in Paris, explains the current situation very well when he writes that “despite the election of Joe Biden and the national unity speeches of the new president of the United States, American society remains more polarized than ever and still grapples with the racial issue.” He adds that “the polarization of American society has reached such a level that the United States appears doomed to cripple, if not irreversible decline.” The world’s leading power faces growing Chinese ambitions “when it finds itself in a state of quasi-civil war.”

The psychologist and professor of ethics and leadership at the New York University Stern School of Business, Jonathan Haidt, affirms that we are beyond the classic ideological conflicts. To explain this, the word tribalism is permanently present in the media discourse. According to him, the country is moving from the stage of a nation to that of a juxtaposition of tribes (or ethnic groups) in conflict. This, of course, weakens the country internationally.

* The opinions expressed in this analysis relate only to their author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial line of Anadolu Agency.

** dr. Mohamed Badine El Yattioui, professor of international relations at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico.

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