Can liberals actually fool all the people all the time? The Outsider writes.
Everybody wants to be cool. And liberal sounds like liberation which conjures up freedom and the will of the people. All cool stuff. So being liberal is definitely the way to be.
But Brexit was the will of the people. So was the election of Donald Trump. There are so many angles to the notion of liberal it’s not worth trying to look for a liberal consensus.
Liberal has become a bit of a compilation album including totalitarians like the disciples of the European “Project” or the UK’s Liberal Democrat Party – a party that seeks electoral reawakening by cynically opposing Brexit – the largest ever act of mass democracy in UK history – with the classic totalitarian justification that says the people are too dumb to be trusted.
Somewhere in that compilation you’ll find the dominant global trading sect led by China – a totalitarian-mercantilist state that has been singing globalist-liberal songs over a backing band of domestic protectionism, catastrophic environmental destruction, systemic labour abuses, territorial theft, cyberwar and violent oppression of personal freedom. Just look at the fanbase that turned up for the Xi Jinping gig at Davos earlier this year. The Chinese leader was feted by money-hoarding, wage-gouging lovers of other people’s economic insecurity in the shape of “liberal” corporate BSDs and their hangers-on. Self-proclaimed enlightened, liberal-elite publications like the FT and The Economist were all baying enthusiastically. Go Jinping Jack Flash.
Here’s a good example of the doublethink in liberal. Introducing the dialectic duet of Saint Angela of Merkel and (Sub)Marine Le Pen. So Merkel’s the liberal and Le Pen she’s obviously a fascist yes?
But didn’t Merkel financially invade Greece and then subjugate its people with debt bondage and economic depression on the grounds that German bankers shouldn’t bear the cost of the immoral profligacy of Greek teachers? And if globalisation doesn’t work for most of the people most of the time in France, then Le Pen is onto something that is arguably pretty liberal.
There’s progress to be made once we can see the fascist in the Merkels and the liberal in the Le Pens.
A snowdrift of discontent has buried established liberals since 2008. Despite this, and if we set aside the tab – represented by our gargantuan debt overhang plus a blizzard of other costs not factored into standard economics teaching – and ignore the use of some dodgy growth deflators, it’s clear that we are much wealthier than ever. Right?
Well it might seem that way for the comfortably-off folk who read The Mint, but it has come at the cost of mortgaging the future and piling too many less-fortunate people into a deep hole. And they are unhappy in their hole (who knew?). Their electoral behaviour last year in the US and the UK was the backlash. The better-off will join them in revolt soon enough when they awake to discover asset values aren’t what they thought – that’s 100% a when, not if.
We need a new analysis to understand why the proles lashed out and called time on the folly of denial presented by global political, intellectual and business elites. The lower half of society knows the truth about decline and its vote for Brexit and Trump may just save our in-denial, ersatz liberal hides.
The liberal (fascist?) narrative of unassailable global forces that we were cajoled into accepting and the nonsense that is free trade is a massive con. Its legacy is a growing, disenfranchised and progressively dehumanised slave class in an increasingly oppressive society governed by a be-knighted and, so far, unassailable financial rentier class.
Politicians, duped and bribed by the new rentiers, have ignored poor people for decades. Governments of differing political colours have outsourced their jobs, eroded living standards and closed the social mobility up-escalator. Today, uncertainty and anxiety is creeping far up the socioeconomic ladder…so much so in the UK that The Daily Mail and The Telegraph openly fret about it for the righteous Conservative middle classes.
A breaking point has been reached and Brexit-Trump was the sound of the non-liberal liberals being thrown to the ground in a people’s coup. So embrace the raw, awkward and fresh revolt taking place outside the EU and under The Donald. Those that deny it will rapidly become irrelevant. Brexiteers and Trumpeteers have gained because they were not blind like the established elites. Take for example Christine Lagarde at the exulted IMF. She has remained so far behind the curve I’ve begun to wonder whether she’s actually a satirist.
Meanwhile it is transparent that China competes with us on unfair terms and steals away from us the fruits of our invention – economically, socially and politically – while our old elite stands idly by. On this, Trump is more in the ballpark than the old elite and it is one of the many reasons he may turn out to be a great liberal leader. Liberal protectionism anyone? He has a better handle on what is wrong than virtually any other leader of the past three decades and that is partly why the increasingly discombobulated elite despises him so much.
A change was always inevitable following the still evolving catastrophe of 2008 and the failure of our intertwined political, economic and financial system. Wild fiscal policy from China and Hogwartian monetary policy from everywhere else has distracted us and delayed revolt for years but now that inevitable trajectory has started and there’s no going back. It will always be different. This is clearest in UK and US where Brexit and Trump means no return to “normal” is ever possible. Neither Brexit nor Trump is likely to be the answer but they both place the questions front and centre beyond our collective denial.
It is fascinating to watch the incumbent “liberal” elite launch its reactionary counterinsurgency against the messy democratic, enlightened and, probably, liberal revolt that is underway. Totalitarians always think they know better – the irony is painful. It is the panic and raw pain of people who have had their view of the world wrecked.
For the record, I say the liberal society is one that finds working compromises to the enduring tension between economic and social freedom and the perpetual insoluble class struggle without resort to coercion or extremism. Any takers?
How about we agree to jettison “liberal” and dive into the stramash together and work this stuff out.