Decades of globalisation made the world a global village but in the last decade, especially since Donald Trump came to power, anti-globalisation tendencies have been gaining impetus all over the world. Changes are taking place in every sphere; politics, economics, and culture are no exception.

In the economic domain, the neoliberal model, which was a major driver of globalisation, is losing its charm. The ideology of Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher has, to much extent, failed to reduce grassroots income inequalities. Only in the United Kingdom, almost fourteen million people live under poverty. Brexit is a sign of simmering discomfort from multilateralism. The corona pandemic has further added fuel to the fire. Across the world, it has exposed the shallowness of neoliberalism and left the people at the mercy of feeble health structures. Public pressure is mounting, and the people want an alternative which would be more responsive and inclusive.

Unabated armament is taking the world towards a deglobalised system. Disarmament was a legacy of globalisation. In the post-World War II period, major powers including the US and the Soviet Union came to realise that unabated armament would bring nothing but catastrophe. The growing interdependence compelled the world to avoid risky adventures. Now, once again, since Trump came to power, the world has been witnessing the same jingoist tendencies that once culminated in the Second World War. Last year, Trump pulled out of a cold war-era armament treaty signed between Ronald Reagan, the then US president and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev. Moreover, the US has failed to bring China into trilateral negotiations on arms control. On one side, the US is decoupling from China while on the other side, it wants to bring her in an arms control treaty. Trump perhaps does not know that the two seldom agree.

Moreover, in major markets like India, China and the USA, a new dangerous trend has been gaining impetus. The mania of hatred against foreign products could decouple nations from each other and the world could go back to the nation state system once more. Slogans like “Be Indian, Buy Indian” are dangerous delusions which would ultimately leave states with little space to accommodate each other diplomatically. This would further encourage xenophobia as growing intolerance in the Indian and American societies is its clear manifestation.

Culture is also not exempt to these changes. All over the world, racial and ethnic consciousness are becoming sensitive. In India, the ruling elite under the auspice of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is following the footsteps of Nazi Germany. BJP believes in racial purity and to achieve this mission, it has established a nexus with an extremist organisation RSS (Rastriya Sevak Semaj). RSS is creating an environment of fear in India for minorities especially for Muslims so that they immigrate to the neighbouring countries to avoid persecution.

Far-right leaders are taking powers in some of the most important countries of the world. The current situation of the world has many similarities with that of the pre-WW2 period where in major countries jingoist leaders were in power. That jingoism culminated in the Second World War. Now the situation is no different. There will be very little chances of sanity if the situation between America and China gets worse.

Politically, all over the world, the general populace is losing confidence in democracy. Even in western countries, authoritarianism is making its way. China through its grand Belt and Road Initiative is exporting its centralised political model to the rest of the world. The recent pandemic has further exposed its vicious ambitions. China, by its initial success against the pandemic is giving an impression that its CCP (Chinese Communist Party) led model is best for the world to follow as the western led liberal democratic system has been crumbling.

Internationally, instead of multilateralism, bilateralism is taking place. International law is being discouraged to govern the relations among nations. Trump’s onslaught on the World Trade Organisation’s rules, pulling out of the Paris Peace Accord, dismantling NAFTA, JCOPA, Trans Pacific Partnership, and the INF treaty show that the US is no longer concerned with rule-based order which it once itself constructed.

To punish China, Donald Trump is leaving no stone unturned. Initially, he disparaged international law and started a tariff war against the US’ largest trading partner. Now he is using coronavirus as a pretext to fulfil the US’ agenda of containing China. Firstly, the US will have to decouple itself from China which would also not happen without a cost. The chained globalisation makes decoupling very difficult and could plunge both countries into protracted and costly proxies.

Today, the world stands at a critical juncture like once it stood before the world wars. A little spark may be turned into a conflagration if sane leadership does not come into play. The US will have to realise that containment does not work against China as the world today is more interdependent and entwined. The Chinese leadership will also have to address the genuine US’ concerns on unfair trade practices, intellectual property right issues, cyber warfare and the South China Sea.