The Sunday Mail
Chris Chenga: Open Economy
What was encouraging was the way in which many Zimbabweans put time into following diverse narratives. Obviously, what stood out the most was the portrayal of each candidate.Perhaps the most prominent narrative, not by coincidence, as it seemed western media decided to focus on the personality contrast between both candidates.More astute audiences in Zimbabwe remained engaged and took the opportunity to study the electoral system of the US which ultimately played the most determining factor in the eventual outcome. As part of our national discourse, it is encouraging that we create more space for external events and observe their dynamics in an educational context that enhances our own nation building capacity.
Particularly, there is a bad tendency in Zimbabwe to perceive some of governance reforms and socio-economic developmental agendas as unique circumstances that hardly occur in other regions.
For instance, at the start of the year, an exaggerated dispute between Finance Minister Chinamasa and Indigenisation Minister Zhuwao was interpreted as unconventional Zimbabwean politicking; yet concurrent to that stand-off, Poland and Hungary politicians were in similar deadlock over the re-nationalisation of their financial sectors, much so engaging in similar rhetoric one would suspect the Visegrad Group of nations were arguing over black empowerment and socio-economic transformation.
Likewise, wealth redistribution and land reform are not unique to Zimbabwe; not more than half a century before us similar re-distributive policy was implemented in Asia and Eastern Europe. Very few governance and socio-economic issues are unique to Zimbabwe, thus, a greater observance of worldly events would enrich our capacity for governance reform and societal development.
To revert back to the US election, my personal emphasis was in the manner in which the dominant media establishments in the western world dilute real socio-economic matters of existential relevance to the electorate with the intention of protecting superficially progressive philosophies that are in fact depressing the welfare of many citizens.
Over the course of the US election campaign, much focus was placed on the perceived malevolence and prejudice of Donald Trump. Concededly, his chosen mannerisms were indeed aggressive. However, his convictions were not much more malevolent and prejudicial as the socio-economic effects of unfettered progressive philosophies of liberal economics and free movement globalization.
What became lost in the US election cycle, which also remains sorely overlooked in influencing the Brexit outcome, was the socio-economic consequence of uncontrolled liberal economics and laissez-faire globalissation.
It is fact that real household incomes in the US have decreased to their lowest in the US since 1987. The distribution of US household income has become more unequal since the same time series.
While US economic growth is evident in GDP, it is not translating into higher median family incomes. While unemployment has decreased since 2009, the real median income per household has also decreased, showing a trend of lowering real wages and greater income inequality.
The trend is worse off in the UK where only 20 percent of income earners in 2015 were able to start making payments on a new home before the age of 30, compared to over 60 percent in 2005.
This is all declining real wages. Structurally, the greatest effecting dynamics behind this income trajectory is increased globalisation and liberal economic policy-making — concededly, technology is a significant factor by not necessarily structurally intentional in its influence.
Interestingly, a map outline of the US election is similar to that of the Brexit vote as both showed a clear geographic pattern of Trump voters and Leave voters corresponding to the least economically developing regions.
Moreover, voter sentiment in both the US election and Brexit referendum was significantly leveraged on the perception of divided economic attention given by governance to their respective constituents. Globalisation has had the effect of dis-enfranchising communal voters as most policy making and governance decisions of existential concern are increasingly becoming centralized to governance that is not directly elected by constituents in diverse regions.
For example, Ohio in the USA has seen considerable job losses as factories have shut down due to global production competition. While residents have shared their concerns with their local politicians, ultimately their fate is decided by global leaders in secretive regional dialogue such as the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP).
Donald Trump appeals to Ohio constituents as he directly promises representation to these disenfranchised citizens. This was exactly the same constituent discontent that influenced the Brexit vote. Local constituents felt their politicians were secondary to the European parliament in terms of being consequential to their welfare.
Not only are these matters not being attended to, but they are only made worse by dismissive media rhetoric that citizens who share in the aforementioned sentiment are non-progressive and intolerant.
Why do western media portray the election map as indicative of racial or prejudicial regions when in fact election maps more scientifically prove economic and political disenfranchisement of citizens? The notion of populism is often thrown around, but how does one distinguish populism from popular will?
The problem of the world today is not perceived demagogues like Donald Trump or the rise of nationalist sentiment per se. The more pressing problem is that the world is being pressed into accepting unfettered liberal economic policy-making and laissez faire globalisation.
It is trying to be instilled an arrogant ideology that liberal economics and globalisation are the standard of enlightenment and progressive humanity.
The danger of this continued adamancy is that we are failing to structure modern equitable economics and properly structure the free movement of people and goods across the world in a manner that upholds the sanctity of constituency, economic and political. The real danger to the world today is false progressivism, which just may be as malevolent and prejudicial itself as the media portrays Donald Trump and the rise of nationalist movements.