Saturday, November 12, 2016

Donald Trump's win explained by unraveling of the social and political consensus on "embedded liberalism" in the United States as a consequence of globalization

I think Trump’s win and the Brexit vote can both be explained as resulting from an unraveled social and political domestic consensus of “embedded liberalism” within the US and the UK respectively, as a consequence of globalizing forces. Trump’s win is the reassertion of political voice by those in the US who have been left behind by globalization and is the beginning of the search for a new social and political domestic consensus on “embedded liberalism”. We are entering a period of increased nationalism globally and this will eventually be followed by the creation of a new world order, if we don’t end up destroying the world with wars before that.

Many of Trump’s election promises are intended to get US policy to step back from globalization and to focus instead on domestic problems and issues. This would mean less US intervention abroad which at the present time would be good, given how destructive US intervention overseas has become.

The real fight in the 2016 Presidential election and its aftermath seems to be over who controls US policy and for whose benefit. Should US policy work for banks, multinationals like GE, oil companies, and large Defense contractors which have global interests now, or should US policy work for disenfranchised, poor and marginalized American citizens. This is what this election was about and why Trump won. But to what extent Trump will get co-opted by global corporate and military interests, we will eventually find out.

For more on the idea of “embedded liberalism” read The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi and also John Ruggie on embedded liberalism at

And here is a more recent article by John Ruggie – The Principles of Embedded Liberalism: Social Legitimacy and Global Capitalism, Rawi Abdelal and John G. Ruggie at
which offers interesting insight into the origins of the issues which mattered in the 2016 US election and which led to Trump’s win. Trump’s shock victory is really a backlash against globalizing forces and an attempt by marginalized American citizens to wrest back control over US policy.

The US liberals or the Democrats as they call themselves are if anything even more hypocritical than the Republicans. The Republicans at least don’t lie to themselves and to others that US dealings with the rest of the world are not motivated only by greed and self-interest. This is why US liberal journalists paint Obama or Hillary as lesser threats to liberal values than Trump. The fact is that Obama and Hillary were far worse than anything they project Trump as capable of, except in two areas of only domestic concern – abortion and gay rights. And though a US President is relevant to US legal regimes on abortion or gay rights, I don’t think the deep state that was supporting Hillary cares much about either of these two issues. So, I don’t think the election in 2016 turned on either of these issues.

Another thing which is puzzling is the liberal (read Democratic) opposition to Trump’s positions on illegal immigration, the “wall” and greater terror related scrutiny on grant of visas. Why do the Democrats want and condone illegal immigration into the US, primarily from Mexico etc. Why are they against secure borders. Why did they not protest about how the US treated Muslims overseas and at home during Obama’s 8 years. Why are they so troubled instead by Trump’s statements that he would allow Muslims in only after a secure terror-based vetting process was in place. For most people in the world, getting a US visa is already subject to all kinds of vetting.

The Democratic party depends upon the Latino votes on the East and West coasts for power. Without the Latino vote, the Democrats would be politically weakened. Therefore, the Democrat stance on immigration is essentially a self-serving one which they need to adopt if they want to win elections and power. It is not an honest, objective position based upon respect for the US Constitution and rule of law.

I too had written about the idea of “embedded liberalism” in these three articles which are available on the internet.

Chapter titled ‘Domestic Politics and the Search for a New Social Purpose of Governance for the WTO: A Proposal for a Declaration on Domestic Consultation’ in Debra Steger (ed.) Redesigning the World Trade Organization for the Twenty-first Century, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009

Chapter titled ‘New Agendas for International Economic Law Teaching in India: Including an Agenda in Support of Reform’ in Colin B. Picker, Isabella Bunn & Douglas Arner, (ed.) INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW – THE STATE & FUTURE OF THE DISCIPLINE, Hart Publishing, 2008

‘Ideas of Embedded Liberalism and Current and Future Challenges for the WTO’, in Ortino and Ripinsky, WTO Law and Process, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2007. pg 330 – 352

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