Ours is an age of hostile identity politics. These are not all directly referable to economic crises (even if they clearly have a relationship with the anxieties of globalisation), but they suggest something deeply troubling: that the world is rich in the kinds of xenophobic resources so easily amplified by economic turmoil.
Should the financial crisis become a global recession, there is no telling precisely what forms of extreme social politics might be unleashed. An explosion of anti-Americanism across Asia and Europe? Possibly. But what about America itself? Here, the seeds of xenophobic resentment are being sown.
Writing in The National Review, Michelle Malkin blames the crisis on illegal immigrants and Hispanics who were "greedy" enough to seek subprime loans. Blogging for the same publication, Mark Krikorian wonders if Washington Mutual's demise was caused by its propensity for employing Latinos and gays. On Fox News, Neil Cavuto blames congressmen who were "pushing for more minority lending" without disclosing that "loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster".
The audacity is extraordinary. Suddenly, this crisis is something poor blacks and Hispanics have inflicted on rich white people. That is beginning to sound, well, Germanic.
A reaction is inevitable: one that sees in the crisis the exploitation of poor black people who will lose their homes, by white fat cats who skip away from the rubble with millions. The potential cycle of conflictual identity politics is terrifying. And that is to say nothing of developments we cannot predict.