“Soon it may be a consensus. Britain could be thrust into talks under a lame-duck leader with no clear notion of what Brexit should look like or mandate to negotiate. All against a background of intensifying economic turmoil and increasingly ugly divides on Britain’s streets. The country is sailing into a storm. And no one is at the wheel.” This quote from The Economist (June 26, 2016) puts me in mind of the upcoming American election and the unthinkable possibilities in this part of the world that have now become a reality– to wit, the rise of Donald Trump to the Republican candidacy: basically another no one at the wheel situation. The similarities between a rudderless Great Britain and the possibility of an America led by a raving lunatic are too striking to ignore. Something is happening here; we are at a juncture of history unprecedented in the trajectory of what I shall call Western colonial-and-post/neo-colonialism. Donald Trump and his ilk are right about one thing: the glory days of America and the British-led West are coming to a close. Like Trump and Brexit supporters, we can try to deny the obvious; we can try to will back those “glory” days which, if you happen to ask people of Aboriginal, Asian, or African extraction, were really not all that glorious. In fact, they were a nadir in terms of our histories– brutal and violent for a great many of us who were on the receiving end of the savage and shameful shadow side of Western “democracy.” Those shadows are emerging fast now. Britain and America will have to reckon with them. So will the rest of us, whether we like it or not, simply because of the size of these behemoths in the global arena and the global imagination.
In the meantime, many countries of Asia, and many African-descended, and Aboriginal peoples all over the world are approaching a new period of possibility and agency in terms of global markets and/or self-mobilization. Witness the Black Lives Matter movement across North America. Or the Idle No More Movement and initiatives on the part of Canada’s Liberal government in conjunction with Aboriginal peoples across Canada to finally begin to honor the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Or the unsteady but inexorable rise of markets across East and South Asia. I don’t speak in terms of any kind of utopian futures here– just in terms of what facts seem to be emerging, as the West burns and some of its most prominent leaders fiddle. We might take interest in some of the new directions we see emerging. This isn’t the end of the world– an America potentially led by a lunatic, and a Britain unmoored and alone in a sea of uncertainty. It’s just the end of the (colonial and postcolonial) world as we know it. We need a new word for this age.