According to The Guardian, which is promising (if ‘promising’ is the right word) to run a six month “investigative series” on populism, Jeremy Corbyn and UK Labour aren’t a part of the picture.
Which is odd given that The Guardian is working from the definition that “Populists tend to frame politics as a battle between the virtuous ‘ordinary’ masses and a nefarious or corrupt elite – and insist that the general will of the people must always triumph”.
See, I’d have thought the politics suggested by UK Labour’s slogan “For the many, not the few” would put Corbyn and UK Labour squarely within that definition.
But not according to The Guardian’s Diplomatic Editor Patrick Wintour. And far be it for me to suggest that excluding the leader of western Europes most popular party in terms of membership might mark a bit of an inauspicious start to a supposed six month investigation, apparently angling to unveil some mystery shrouding a thing that is sitting plain as day and right in front of their noses.
In part one they roll out the “senior centrist political figures”, (also referred to as “centrist heavyweights”) of Clinton, Blair and Renzi to expound on “why we lost and how to fight back”. The first thing that struck me was that I had no idea who Renzi was and had to look him up. The second was that seeking the wisdom and insight of incredibly unpopular political figures who represent a rejected politics, is an odd way to go about exploring the politics of populism. Why not talk to the politicians they think of as populist and explore their campaign platforms and (where relevant) stack that platform against policies they’ve enacted when in office? Or talk to people who voted for them and ask them why they voted for them, or why they voted against representatives of so-called centrism?
Not surprisingly, Clinton was yet again casting around for any reason that might explain her failed Presidential bid as long as it didn’t involve looking at the policies she promoted or her track record as a politician. (She’s still “absolutely dumbfounded” apparently). Which is fine. She’s deluded and is welcome to be deluded if that’s what gets her by.
What’s not fine is that she’s taking the racist and xenophobic bullshit that’s expressed by some populists and endorsing it. According to Clinton, a major reason the politics she represents was rejected was because it’s not racist enough. Her solution is to throw refugees under the bus. As she says in the Guardian interview, Europe’s leaders ought to
send out a stronger signal showing they are “not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support”.
Paint me cynical, but the woman who has agitated for war in various countries wants to wash her hands of the refugees that result from visiting military aggression on countries. And she’s happy to do that in order to secure power for herself and her political fellow travelers. If you read the linked pieces, you’ll see that Blair basically concurs.
But it gets better. According to Clinton – who of course would never condone fascism or authoritarianism given that she’s a child of “the centre” and so a champion of democracy and freedom to the extent of even delivering those things from bomb bays and missile launch sites if necessary – within the populace at large there’s
“a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do, and where to go, and how to live and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality.
Is Clinton suggesting that she and her political cronies should be the ones issuing instructions? It reads to me like that. Essentially she’s adopting and promoting some of the more infantile notions of fascism and then offering herself up as a safe pair of hands.
Laughingly or sickenly depending on your perspective, the Guardian piece then goes on to inform its readers, all or most of whom are presumably suffering from psychological and political yearnings to be subservient, that
All three politicians are concerned about the implications for liberal democracy if debate is infantilised, opponents are delegitimised and opinion is Balkanised, all of which can be hallmarks of rightwing populism.
I could go on, but I won’t. Go and read the pieces for yourself. But be prepared to encounter amazing feats of mental gymnastics that would defy logic and conclusions that only offer up willful blindness by way of illuminating and explaining the blindingly obvious.
Liberalism is collapsing.
From my perspective that’s a very good thing. And whatever your thoughts on that may be, surely you’d agree it’s a bad thing that liberal politicians, the “heavyweights” as the Guardian terms them, are hyping shades of fascism and fear, that they then promise they’ll ride in and save us from – or is it that they’ll save us from ourselves, given our “psychological and political yearning”?
This next paragraph could save the Guardian’s Diplomatic Editor six months of investigative toil and trouble.
It’s the job of a politician to be popular. If they aren’t, they won’t garner votes. If they are merely less unpopular than those they are politically engaged against, then there’s room for genuine politicians to step in and promise to provide meaningful political representation. Some of those who step into that space will be genuine and some will be charlatans. And some of those charlatans will be dangerous.
There’s your populism right there. It’s no mystery.
There’s something extra to be said on the dangerous charlatan front. They are being enabled by idiotic “liberal centrists” who like two of the three monkeys of lore, will neither see nor hear any self-reflective “evil” and an edifice of established news outlets that more or less (and certainly editorially) speak no “evil” of centrist thought, opinion or analysis.
That leaves the whole caboodle blind to the obvious and desperate to simultaneously dismiss and suppress any resurgence of politics to their left while conjuring demons that they might slay to their right – so for example, people aren’t desperately voting against erstwhile powerful politicians who represent the status quo because of disillusion, no. But because racist (Brexit) and/or stupid (Trump) and/or manipulated (by Russia).
Is it perhaps worth reflecting that like voodoo, bad shit tends to happen when shadows and demons are pushed to the extent that they become ever more reified in a collective conscience? If you’re a liberal bent on securing political power, probably not.
Footnote – after scheduling this post I came across an opinion piece in The Guardian by Nesrine Malik that’s echoing some of the sentiments expressed here. It’s better writing than I can manage and worth the read.