Since the election of Donald Trump the FT has been a frothing pit of disbelief, angst, and bile - a festival of splenetic catharsis if you will...and that was just the journalists...
Until the 'get the blame in early' article by Martin Wolf, I let most of it sail past, except for one piece by Philip Stephens which I could not hold back from impolitely describing as 'cobblers from start to finish'. The earlier pieces by Edward 'Beltway Bollox' Luce and Gideon 'Never miss a chance to mention Hitler' Rachman...were best left alone.
So...we are where we are...but where are we?
The 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump was not a sign of the re-emergence of fascism; does not represent an unjust victory of the ‘deplorables’ over decent people, and is not a reflection of the triumph of ‘racism’, ‘sexism’, ‘narcissism’ or any other ‘ism’ except perhaps ‘we’ve had enough of your crapism’.
Those narratives are the half-baked bleatings of a bunch of pseudo-intellectual journalistic hacks who fall into two groups:
1. Those who don’t have the foggiest idea of what is going on
2. Those who do…but really, really, really…don’t like it
The election was none of those things. It was something far more fundamental and far-reaching - it was a referendum on the establishment. It was not the first, and it will not be the last - Brexit was also a referendum on the establishment. The rise of independence movements, and so-called ‘populist’ parties from the left and the right are all part of an unfolding process that is happening across the 'western world'. This is not about left vs. right, liberal vs. authoritarian, black vs. white or any other spurious binary choice – it is a backlash against the rule of a crony capitalistic, ersatz liberal elite that is neither capitalist, nor liberal, nor elite.
What is being rejected here is not a society based on universal suffrage, free trade, individual liberty, and the rule of law applied equally to all people - i.e. liberal democratic capitalism. What is being rejected is a political and financial establishment that has presided over:
- Twenty years of wealth transfer from the poor & the middle class to the richest 0.1%…
- Two decades of corporatism disguised as free trade - a process which has destroyed jobs, reduced competition, and emasculated the small & medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which are the lifeblood of any economy
- 15 years of foreign interventions and ‘regime change’ that have cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives…lives ‘donated’ by the poorest families, not the sons and daughters of the elite, who never find themselves at the sharp end of the west's war machine
- A political culture that draws it's permission from the people, its funding from vested interests and it's credibility from an obedient media and a slavish academia...but only serves the interests of three of those four groups
So…what just happened in the US?
1. The establishment candidate said ‘vote for me and I’ll give you another decade of the same, but we’ll call it ‘change’ because that’s what we always call it…just ignore the fact that you already feel totally ignored and look at how many part-time minimum wage jobs we’ve created’
2. The anti-establishment guy said ‘you are being taken for a ride’
3. Guy number 2 sounded more real to people who are sick and tired of the way things are...as measured against their experience of their daily lives
4. Sufficient of these voters, whatever their feelings about his many failings, decided to 'chuck out the bums'...Go figure
5. Having ignored the warnings of people who said 'it's about you', the establishment have descended into denial and blame (See Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' classic work on the grieving process).
In short...mirrors are still under-utilised in the halls of the elite.
And...yet...but...we are still near the beginning of this process. There is at least another year of this ahead, probably three. Albeit the US is ‘the big one’, the backlash will gather momentum from here. The December vote on constitutional change in Italy will be another referendum on the establishment; so will the 2017 elections in the Netherlands, in France and in Germany. No amount of bleating or finger pointing will change this – responding to the genuine concerns being expressed is what is required…or not…in which case incumbent politicians and parties should not be surprised when they get chucked out...the ass kickings will continue.
This has been a long time coming, and hubris is no longer a viable option for the establishment, or their poodle press. That doesn't mean they will 'get it' however, and I see no signs that they will.
So, I’ll allow myself the luxury of ending with an utterly cynical and sarcastic question: The mainstream media – complicit or just a bit thick?
Have a great weekend...MarkGB