A world collapsing

Posted in: Political ideologies, US politics

The measure of Donald Trump’s victory is given by those who have been first to welcome it: Marine Le Pen, Pauline Hanson, and David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Trump gave voice to deep wellsprings of racism in American society, and now stands as a global figurehead for nativist, far right movements. “Their world is collapsing. Ours is being built”, said the Front National’s Vice President, Florian Philippot. It is hard to disagree.

Trump’s insurgency will test James Madison’s institutional firewalls to destruction; the Republicans now control Congress and the Presidency, and will add the Supreme Court to the ledger in short order. The Republican mainstream will not be in charge, however. Trump was elected largely without its support, and he drew political energy from its most vociferous right wing critics. Worse, he campaigned against the institutions of American democracy itself: its systems, norms and laws. These institutions will need all the resilience they have possessed throughout the history of the United States of America to withstand him. As the political scientist David Runciman has remarked, “What if the shock that is capable of reforming the system is also capable of destroying it?" Glib talk of “post-liberalism” will not do now. Liberalism will need all the defenders it can get.

Once again, mainstream progressive politics has been found wanting. Obama delivered a stronger economy and healthy pay rises in the last year, but it wasn’t enough. Clinton couldn’t find the voice to animate progressive America; the curse of a bloodless, calculating and hollowed out politics on the mainstream centre-left has taken another victim. There can be no Third Way when you are up against the likes of Donald Trump. There is no triangulating Trumpism.

The European Union will now face massive challenges: defending its Eastern borders against an emboldened Putin; defending an embattled global economic order against rampant protectionism; and defending itself against resurgent fascism and the break-up of its historical project. It will likely find an ally in China, which will resist protectionism and global disorder, turning the axis of world politics in a new direction. But Eurozone leaders must also now urgently ask themselves why working class voters have turned so decisively against the economic order that has prevailed in the West since the 1980s – and change path before it is too late.

Posted in: Political ideologies, US politics


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  • "Trump gave voice to deep wellsprings of racism in American society". It would be interesting to see Nick Peace empirically justify this comment. Many of the swing voters in the Rust Belt states who voted for Trump had previously been voting Democrat and for Obama. If that is the case, then how can this be the "deep wellsprings of racism"?

  • It's a good question Chris. The media narrative that anyone who didn't vote for Clinton is automatically a reprehensible racist is precisely the attitude that won Trump the election, and over here, influenced the Brexit vote. Decent people are tired of pontifications about morality from people who seem incapable of offering a balanced view, or of comprehending that many people simply find the key tenets of progressive politics morally repugnant, and economically naive. Trump was, unquestionably, a terrible candidate. But so was Clinton. The idea that Clinton with the ongoing FBI 'investigation' into her obvious and well documented fellonies, allied to her decades-long track record of being an unpleasant, unconscionable liar, somehow represented a morally superior choice is a sojourn into fantasy. Personally I would have found myself unable to vote for either, but I fully understand the many Republican leaning friends I have who wrestled very seriously with the choice. Some voted third party, and some very reluctantly voted against Clinton as a damage limitation exercise, because around half of America is cognisant of the fact that the Obama administration of which Clinton would have led a de facto third term, has launched a sustained ideological assault on their way of life. The Democrats, like Remain, are simply reaping what they have sowed, which is rebellion against their elitism and moral bankruptcy.