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In Bolivia's footsteps: structural change and political disintegration in the West

Faguet, Jean-Paul (2018) In Bolivia's footsteps: structural change and political disintegration in the West. . Lodon School of Economics and Political Science, International Development, London, UK.

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Abstract

The rise of outside, populist, and nativist politicians across the West is no coincidence. It is symptomatic of political party systems disintegration from the bottom up, as structural changes in the economy and society unmoor them from the major social cleavages that defined political contestation throughout the twentieth century. We can open an analytical window into the future by examining the experience of Bolivia, were politics was much less institutionalized than the West, allowing disintegration and realignment to happen much earlier and faster. A first lesson is that left/worker vs. right/capital politics is probably doomed in societies where industrial workers as a self-conscious group have dwindled to a small fraction of the workforce. What will replace it? The current front-runner is the politics of identity, anchored in social cleavages of ethnicity, religion, language and place. This is a danger not just for affected societies, but for democracy as an ideal, as identity politics revolves much more than class politics around exclusionary categories and zero-sum games. In the UK and Europe, realignment would likely be triggered by Brexit, and the (partial) collapse of the Eurozone. The demise of left-right politics, and the rise of identity clashes, threatens to alienate us from each other even as it removes the means for finding agreement. It is a sad an dangerous turn for the West that may forever change who we are.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > International Development
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2018 16:02
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 05:08
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/90494

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