Former President Barack Obama admitted Thursday that “globalization” has “disrupted a lot of traditional societies.”
Speaking to Comedy Central host Trevor Noah on “The Daily Show,” the 44th president acknowledged that globalism and “modernity” have forced a lot of change down many traditional societies’ throats.
He claimed that this is one of the big reasons that there is a rise of “autocracies” throughout the globe, as they are a response to the uncomfortable changes of a world being knit closer together via a “global economy.”
Though the former president wasn’t admitting that globalization was a mistake for these reasons, he just expressed that people selling global democracy need to come up with a better “story” to bring resistors on board.
The topic came up on the Thursday episode of the political talk show after both Obama and Noah discussed the midterms, “election deniers” on the ballot, and “democracy” in general.
Noah then brought up his concern that “now I think 70% of the world is living in a state where they’re either ruled – where it’s a complete autocracy or it isn’t a democracy.” Obama responded, “Right.”
Noah then asked, “One, why do you think the world has gotten there?” and asked a second question: “What can we do, or why should we then try to get back to this democracy?”
The former president responded by mentioning there are a variety of factors but spoke to “globalization” specifically.
He replied, “Globalization, the global economy disrupted a lot of traditional societies.” When asked what he meant by “disrupted,” he replied, “Well, uh, the global supply chain eliminates industries, eliminates jobs, increases the wealth gap not only between countries but within countries.”
He also acknowledged “modernity” being at odds with those societies’ traditional beliefs. He claimed, “And then modernity challenges people’s traditional notions of religion and family and gender roles. And you’ve got these culture clashes, right?”
Providing an example, he said, “You’re in some village in Yemen and suddenly your kid has a phone and is looking at the Kardashians.”
Obama continued, “What you’ve seen happen, I think, in a whole bunch of places, is essentially a pushback, a backlash to change that is happening too fast for their comfort. And when people are pushing back against change, then they’re vulnerable to politicians who say, ‘You know what? I can make things just like it was back then, when you were feeling more important.’”
After making that subtle jab at Trumpian politicians, Obama answered Noah’s second question, talking about how to smooth over these backlashes. He said, “And so part of what I think we have to do is to stand fast on the principles of equality and self-governance and representation, and ‘everybody gets a seat at the table.’”
He added, “But I think we have to also find a language and a story – a way of telling the story about how we can get together that does not threaten people who are aren’t as comfortable with change as much. And that’s gonna be different for different countries.”