The rise of new cultural identitarian movements is explained by changing politico-economic conditions at the global and the local level, which led to the decline of the secular elites. These movements are the result of the collapse of the state classes, which had been formed by the secular wings of the national liberation movements and had engaged in import-substituting industrialization on the basis of enhanced claims for better terms of trade. Cultural nationalists were marginalized by the retreating colonial powers but subsequently reemerged where import-substituting industrialization and state-led development were reasonably able to create new middle classes. The property-owning middle classes and a large stratum of the newly educated, often from hitherto uneducated, rural, middle strata, form the basis of the new cultural identitarian movements together with the marginal poor. Because of the diversity of possible coalitions bases, different orientations prevail in these cultural identitarian movements, from violent extremism to moral economy and moderate conservatism. The construction of large class alliances is facilitated as these movements reject any overall economic doctrine and engage in the market-oriented pragmatism they call moral economy or integral humanism. Taking examples from different cultural settings, Elsenhans’s article shows that we are heading for a world of diverse cultural identities incorporated by powers that defend their sovereignty but will not clash, as they are both saturated and interested in maintaining the emerging multipolar system.

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