Dividing lines

The left-right split no longer holds in today’s politics. It’s more a matter of being for or against globalization.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the political spectrum was neatly divided into left and right. But those categories are no longer valid, says geographer Christophe Guilluy in an interview with French magazine Le Point. There is a new dividing line: between those who are for globalization and immigration and those who are against. The divide also applies to cities and rural areas. Whether in France, the US, Sweden, Denmark or Austria, the same forces are at work. “Cities are becoming citadels — a closed world that you cannot access without an entry ticket,” says Guilluy. “It’s impossible for people from the popular classes to buy housing in cities and renting is complicated unless you live in areas where there is social housing. They say the digital revolution has erased all the differences between New York and the Cantal [a region in France], but that’s not true. The upper classes are taking refuge in the areas that are benefitting from globalization, while the middle class is disappearing.”

France’s presidential election showed the declining relevance of the old left and right parties. Both candidates, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, claimed they were neither on the left nor the right. In fact, it was a matter of being for or against globalization. And behind this divide, there’s another: between top and bottom. The upper classes are secure in their global perspective, while at the bottom, people are losing their jobs to relocation, offshoring and immigration. These are the people who are seduced by “fascists” like Marine Le Pen. And the prevailing attitude is that you “don’t talk to fascists,” says Guilluy.