By Jon Kofas
After four years of the Trump presidency, there are questions about the US, not necessarily as a ‘model’ or ‘the greatest’ democracy, but about the deeper structural problems at the root of the political turmoil behind “Trumpism” whose legacy will remain, just as Goldwater’slegacy sparked conservatism after the election of 1964. The diﬀerence is that in 1964, despite the disaster of the Vietnam War, the US was experiencing upward social mobility. In 2020, downward social mobility is symptomatic of serious structural problems that make it appear more like a Third World country. The concept of “Third World” came out of the Cold War, especially after the Bandung conference in Indonesia in 1955. Twenty-nine Asian and African countries formed the non-aligned bloc, distancing themselves from both the US-led bloc and USSR bloc. In the international political economy, ‘Third World’ was a concept that some scholars used to characterize economically underdeveloped or ‘periphery’ nations. Whereas China and India were once in the periphery, given their poverty levels and lack of economic development, in the last three decades China has moved to the core of the world capitalist system. Once the domain of the theUS-led ‘First World’ Western countries, along with their Asian allies Australia and Japan, the core capitalist countries pursue global economic integration under their aegis. China’s rapid rise to economic preeminence, based not on the nominal value of GDP, but purchasing power parity (PPP) and future prospect, coincided with a commensurate decline of the US at the core of the capitalist world system, despite the fall of the Soviet bloc.
Categories: American Decline