The media has been taken by the “surprise” election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Everyone is trying to understand. What happened to the female vote? The Latino vote? The number of abstentions, the highest in the past 20 years? Of course we have more answers than questions from the specialists and influential personalities. They are studying State by State, county by county, in order to find out what went wrong and why the result didn’t align with the polls. As if democracy were an algorithm that needed to be adjusted to get the search result they wanted!
Many can’t see the big picture. This is a worldwide phenomenon that can only be understood by looking at a global level and for general tendencies. Don’t we remember that we had exactly the same discussion a few months ago with Brexit in the UK and again in Colombia with the peace process referendum, where the NO vote won with a small margin and a 63% abstention? These are not isolated incidents. We are seeing a very clear direction in which the extreme Right is replacing a fallen global neoliberal system. The referendum in Hungary, the elections in the Philippines, and in Argentina and the situation in Brazil have shown this direction in a very dramatic way. In China the situation isn’t interesting either as people are forced into a consumer society on a monumental scale, transforming their old social fabric into a more Western model, creating the same desperate and meaningless conditions that we know too well in the West.
We are facing a decisive crisis that could be simplified in one sentence: either we continue in a violent and discriminatory direction, with terrible consequences for billions of people and the environment, or we intentionally take this opportunity to start the construction of the first human civilization. We are now living in one interconnected world; there is no other escape, no country, culture, religion that will arrive from outside to resolve the internal issues of our own societies.
We will not resolve or change the direction we are in with a few good ideas or some technological development. Nor can we resolve the problem by just letting this system die, concentrating solely on ourselves and disconnecting from society. And we are certainly done with patching up every dysfunctional issue with a humanitarian response that doesn’t address the root of the problem. Many people in the US felt the urge to react to the election of Trump by taking to the streets, protesting his inflammatory rhetoric about women, Latinos, Muslims, and LGBT people. But that will not be enough.
Our values need to shift from self-interest to something deeper, based on what it means to be human. What do I do in my daily life that is connected to me being human? Animals speak, work, have families, live in societies, have houses, play, and so on. Of course not every species has the same level of development but no one can deny these activities, which means none of them are specifically human.
What makes me different from other forms of life? What in my life is specifically human? What is my relationship with others? This is the discourse I need to have with myself and the discussion we need to have together. This is what will create the conditions to build the first truly human society. This work needs to start now and go beyond skin color, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, class – all of which are, for most part, unchosen. Many people have made incredible contributions during our history that could be studied and adapted to our present situation. We are not starting from zero. We left our caves and have made great progress; we are not at the end of human history.
No one will get out of this mess alone. We need to have the minimal understanding that “progress for a few ends up being progress for nobody” (Silo, 2004). If this election in the USA does not become a signal for “good and progressive” people to see the ultimate necessity of building a society based on a very different set of values, and with an aspiration toward a Universal Human Nation, then maybe Donald Trump didn’t just win the elections but our minds and hearts as well.