This Israeli journalist advocates a brand new globalization
The Appalachian miner, a replacement for the long-suffering white working class, plays a huge role in American politics. Coal miners, who lost their jobs when the US moved away from using coal as a source of energy, became a main target of Donald Trump’s mantra “Make America Great Again” in 2016. Headline from a week before the 2016 election read: “Hillary Clinton Might Lose Ohio For Making Coal Bad”.
Now an Israeli journalist claims that the American miner’s story goes beyond electoral politics and is, in fact, a haunting parable of our era of global unrest. In Revolt: The Worldwide Uprising Against Globalization, Yediot Aharonot’s Channel 13 columnist and commentator Nadav Eyal argues that disaffected Pennsylvania miners are only part of a global puzzle of vulnerable people crushed by globalization. The book, recently translated from the Hebrew original into English, argues that the solution does not lie in nationalism – but in better, more cooperative globalization.
In a Zoom interview with Jewish Insider, Eyal explained why he believed he was so well placed to predict Trump’s rise in front of many American commentators and political insiders: an “outside view,” he said. He drew on this perspective in a Hebrew documentary about the rise of the former president, which aired in Israel in June 2016, when his chance to win the presidency still seemed like a long shot to many in the United States
It was this documentary “Trumpland” that resulted in a book deal for Eyal, but from the start he decided that Trump would not be the centerpiece of his project. “The era of revolt is too momentous, too momentous to be defined by Trump or the media addiction to him,” writes Eyal in the introduction to the book.
The English edition of Revolt, which originally appeared in Hebrew in 2018, is not just a retelling of the conversations of American political experts about the so-called “white working class”. He links the political discontent of US industrial workers with Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe and even with radical climate activists. Rather than arguing about the recent rise of nationalist leaders like Trump or Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Eyal aims to focus on the people who feel left behind in the global economy.
While many authoritarian leaders around the world have recently wooed their citizens with appeals to nationalism, Eyal posits that this energy could be cultivated for other purposes.
“When I talk to my American friends, they want to believe it [Trump’s election was] an accident. It’s a coincidence. I don’t think it’s like that, ”Eyal said to JI. “I don’t want to say it’s a movement, but it’s a feeling: revolt. [But] it doesn’t have to go to the Trump side. It can lead to positive things. “
The people, organizations and movements that Eyal reports on in Revolt do not correspond to any particular political ideology, but rather reflect a general sentiment aimed at systems and governments that people believe have failed. “What we are seeing is a multilayered, leaderless revolt against porous structures that are considered corrupt, hollow or unrepresentative,” he explained.
Revolt’s non-Hebrew editions do not contain much coverage of the current political situation in Israel. Each version has local accents: the German edition focuses particularly on the country’s neo-Nazi problem, while the Italian one has a long section on COVID-19, as northern Italy was devastated in the early days of the pandemic. The book is also published and sold in the national languages in countries such as Brazil, Croatia, Spain and the Netherlands.
The original Hebrew edition tries to make it clear to the Israelis that there is “only one” at the present moment [model] that is really successful within globalization, at least in the west, and that model is a liberal democracy, ”Eyal told JI. If Israel moves too far to the right or too far towards the country’s ultra-Orthodox – in other words, if it abandons the principles of what Eyal sees as its liberal democracy – then Israel “simply” becomes its own partnership with the Destroy globalization. “
Eyal’s politics lean to the left, and his argument will make sense to progressives. He writes that expanding the social safety net and increasing taxes will help people like the miners in the Appalachians who are unemployed and may not want to learn a new trade. But he also argues that it is wrong to label people who feel left behind by globalization as racist or backward. “It’s about not delegitimizing the people who revolt, who feel that nothing is working for them,” he said.
When the only people who feel left behind only legitimize radicals, then they will be drawn to radical, authoritarian politicians. What Eyal wants to see is a “radical mainstream” in which more moderate politicians offer a solution to the very real problems of globalization, rather than “the radical side of your party”.