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IDENTITY-DEMOCRACY-POLITICS

The number of electoral democracies increased from the early 70`s to the first ten years of  the present century from about 35 to more than 110. The output throughout the world of goods and services quadrupled. The proportion of people in extreme poverty dropped from 42% in 1993 to 18% in 2008. But not all benefitted. In the developed democracies the benefits went primarily to the wealthy and well educated. There were many disruptive changes. The poorer countries saw change as well. People with no electricity moved to the city, watched T.V., connected to the internet. A huge middle class arose in China and India and the work they did replaced the work done by the older middle class in Europe and the U.S.. East Asia also benefitted and because of low labour costs, men were replaced by women in a labour market dominated by service industries, and low-skilled workers were replace by smart machines.  Liberalism  faltered with the global financial crisis of 2007-8 and especially in the U.S. and Europe. The number of democracies that seemed successful decreased such as Hungary, Poland, Thailand and Turkey, and China and Russia, not democratic in any way , became much more assertive . Civil war racked Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Most significant “Populism” arose in the E.U. with the U.S. electing Donald Trump and the United Kingdom voting to leave the E.U. Democracy as an institution is in trouble caused by the economic and technological shifts of globalization but there is another major factor called” IDENTITY POLITICS.”

Twentieth century politics was primarily about economic issues. Leftist parties rallied around workers, trade unions and social welfare. The right was more interested in reducing the size of government and promoting the private sector. Things have changed today. The left, less on creating economic equality, and more on promoting the interests of a wide variety of marginalized group. I refer to ethnic minorities, immigrants and refugees, women and the LGBT. The right has refined its mission with the patriotic protection of traditional national identity connected  to race, ethnicity or religion. I am talking about whites and the traditional Christian religions , Catholicism and Protestantism . It goes without saying that both groups want to win the next election and they use these issues to achieve this end. When in times past the Irish, Germans, Blacks,Ukrainians and Jews came to North America, while keeping some of their own traditions, wanted nothing more than to be fully accepted with the majority population. Changing to mirror the majority is not want minorities want now. They literally want to be accepted for who they are. The blacks have real issues, especially when some of their youth are killed by police, but “Black Lives Matter” is an organization about recognition of this group as a people. On college campuses and in offices around the U.S. women feel they their male fellow students and co-workers do not do not recognize them as equals. The Transgender people  who had no recognition previously became a”cause celebre”. Again and again, groups have come to believe that their identities–whether national, religious, ethnic, sexual, gender or whatever are not being recognized . Identity politics is now not a minor issue but is a master concept that explains what is going on in the world. The liberal democracies are facing major challenges  because of attitudes  in our society , and very diverse groups are demanding recognition. These demands have led to a backlash among other groups who feel a loss of status and a sense of displacement. Material goods are not enough for these formerly marginalized groups to accept. “DIGNITY” now counts more than ever.

The white working class has not benefitted from these changes. Life expectancy for white Americans fell between 2013 and 2014. Very unusual. The proportion of white working-class children growing up in a single-parent family rose from 22% in 2000 to 36% in 2017 .Trump got to the white house because of this phenomena and it drove the vote to leave the EU by the U.K. The resentful citizens blamed the rich elites to whom they are invisible and to the poor who they feel are favoured. Identity triumphed in the 1960`s in the liberal democracies. The Civil Rights movement demanded equality for all as written in the U.S. constitution. The feminists followed suit by demanding equality with men . Their numbers in the work force made their voice powerful. A new social revolution shattered the traditional world regarding sexuality and the environment. The disabled began to speak up, as well as native Americans and the gay men and women. But even when laws changed to give more opportunity it was not enough for the marginalized. It was not good enough to be treated equally as the dominate groups where there was still discrimination. These groups wanted to be treated differently from main-stream. They wanted to be recognized as equal but different. If you are following this article  you can understand we have major problems in the whole world world.

China and Russia two so called equal opportunity havens turned into real dictatorships. The Social Democratic Left reached a dead end with no more money for a Welfare State. There was inflation and a financial crisis. Incentives were created that discouraged work. The left and the right had lost control and had no solutions to all the problems that the divisions created.

Multiculturalism has become a Vision that turned into a nightmare. God only knows what to do and he is not talking.

Name of author

Name: Murray Rubin

Short Bio: I was born in Toronto in 1931 to a wonderful mother who divorced shortly before my birth. I owe a great deal of my success to her. I am Jewish but not at all religious, yet my culture plays an important part of my personality. I attended Harbord Collegiate and U. of T. Faculty of Pharmacy. A unique mail-order pharmacy was the first of my endeavours in the profession, followed by many stores throughout Ontario. I have a loving wife, 3 children and grand-children and I am now retired from pharmacy. But what do I write about? Everything! My topics are funny, serious, whimsical, timely, outrageous, inspiring, and inventive. I promise that if you take the time to read any one of these topics – you will not be sorry.

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