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The Great Disruption

Understanding the Populist Forces Behind Trump, Brexit, and LePen

Anil Hira

The Great Disruption: Understanding the Populist Forces Behind Trump, Brexit, and LePen aims to put the shocking events of 2016–17 into a long-term, historical perspective. The seemingly disparate and separately discussed election of Donald Trump, Brexit vote, success of Marine LePen’s National Front Party, and the wider spread of populism have an overlooked commonality: They all start with a similar core constituency of disaffected older blue collar workers. Using a data-driven analysis, author Anil Hira shows that racism and xenophobia are linked to economic populism—xenophobia becoming widespread under conditions of economic stress. Hira shows further that since economic stress is felt very deeply, conventional solutions are inadequate. There is a perception among the affected group that politicians can not offer "normal" solutions and thus turn to populism. The Great Disruption traces long-term and largely un-linked shifts in the economy from globalization to automation to uncover the deeper sources of populist outbreaks. This book demonstrates that racial and immigrant attitudes have not changed, rather any backlash is a scapegoating effect of economic loss and dislocation. Populism not only misdiagnoses the situation but also misses the wider long-term threats of climate change, demographic shifts, and the rise of China. Recognizing the transformational nature of such threats depends on the maturation of the Millennial generation and its willingness to evolve towards a more global style of governance, in the process rejecting the shallow promises of populism.

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Chapter 9. Force Number 5: Demographics and the Raw Deal Given to Millennials


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Demographics and the Raw Deal Given to Millennials

Over the past half century, the population mix of the world has been shifting in important ways as we relate based on our analysis of UN Population Division statistics. Consider that the world population was just 2.5 billion in 1950, doubling by 1990, and projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. How much population can the world’s fragile environment and ecosystems carry? If we break down shares of the population by region, we see that Asia’s share of population increases from 55% to 60% by 2010; of that 55%, China accounts for about 22% in 1950 and India 15%. By 2010, China drops to about 20% while India balloons to 18%, reflecting the diverging directions of population growth in the two countries based on policy differences. Africa increases its share from 1950–2010 from 9 to 15%, and is expected to reach 20% in 2030. Latin America increases its share modestly from 6.7% to 8.6%. Europe declines from 22% to 11% over the period, while the US declines from 6.3% to 4.4%. Unfortunately, there are no clear figures for the Middle East. However, if we combine the figures for Western Asia and Northern Africa, the share of world population in this part of the world increases from 4% to 6.3%.

Consider that, since the 1950s, the highest population growth rates were in the Middle East, selected parts...

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