Robert Manne on the Eclipse of the Elites by James Reed
I vaguely recall that way back in the 1990s, when Pauline Hanson released her book, Professor Robert Manne was, among others, critical of the use made of conservative thought on the new class and the new class elites. Hanson’s supporters had pointed to an abyss between these primarily university educated progressives and the beliefs of the ordinary people.
Robert Manne, “Elites Smashed by ‘Parochials,’” (The Weekend Australian, November 19-20, 2016, p. 20), penned a good piece about the causes of the present populist revolt. First, there was the cultural revolution of the 1960s overturning Western values that had been held for centuries. Then, beginning in the 1970s was the economic revolution of neo-liberalism and free trade, all part of globalism. The cultural revolution was embraced whole-heartedly by Left-leaning cosmopolitans and the economic revolution by Right-leaning cosmopolitans linked to money and big business.
These revolutions were opposed by the “parochials,” ordinary people such as blue collar workers, who stood to lose from jobs being exported to the Third World, to Christian groups who resented the politically correct assault upon their values.
All of this produced a cleavage in Western, primarily Anglo societies, between the globalists and the parochials, or as I prefer, the localists/nationalists.
In the US this division was particularly sharp and Trump recognized this and attacked both political correctness and neo-liberalism. The localists arose, awakened by suddenly having a political leader and voted to put him into power.
Manne correctly observes that most media discussions of the Trump victory have focused on the revolt of the localists against neo-liberalism, and not political correctness. In a nutshell Trump’s triumph was based on a revolt against the two revolutions of the 1960s, and Hillary Clinton was the perfect symbol of both cultural and economic globalism/cosmopolitanism.
This is, I think, a perceptive analysis, but all of these points have been argued for over the years by journalists at this site, so it is no wonder that I am so sympathetic to Manne’s analysis. And to his credit he correctly distinguishes “Trumpism” from fascism because not all anti-liberal movements can be reduced to one form. He says that this newly-forming movement is set to reshape politics. I welcome this.
I would add one thing which is missing from this analysis: immigration. This issue unites both the cosmopolitan Left and Right who both want open borders.
The Left want it to destroy (1) the white race and (2) capitalism, so that an authoritarian world based on Third World peoples can be built.
The Right are more basic and rub their scaly hands with glee about all of the money they can make with cheap labour, a reserve army of the unemployed, and rising real estate prices. The two worlds come together often, with George Soros being a good example.
The relevance of immigration to the issue of populist revolt was discussed by David Aaronovitch in The Times “Migrant Crisis Ignited West’s Populist Revolt,” reprinted in The Australian, November 18, 2016, p. 10.
Apart from the Brexit victory, Marine Le Pen of France; Geert Wilders of the Netherlands; Frauke Petry of Germany; Matteo Salvini of the Northern League, Italy, and Norbert Hofer of Austria, all will contest upcoming ballots and challenge the pro-immigration Establishment.
A recent opinion poll carried out by Odoxa for French television station France Z, found that 72 percent of conservatives wanted Le Pen to play a more influential role in French politics, and her popularity is even growing among the Left: http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/717073/National-Front-party-Marine-Le-Pen-poll-France-anti-migration.
Some politicians in Australia are becoming aware of the dark side of neo-liberalism and economic globalism. Andrew Hastie, Federal Member for Canning, and previously, a courageous soldier who put his life on the line for his country, said (The Australian, November 23, 2016, p. 12):
“we have been given a rather blunt lesson that treating people as homo economicus — the idea that our political problems can be reduced to economic questions and that people act rationally to secure their interests — denies the existence of social and cultural capital inherent to Western polities. Not everything can be put up for sale.
The reflexive protectionism that defined the Brexit and Trump movement reminds politicians that, despite the benefits of globalisation, there are always losers in the transfer of labour and capital offshore. Loss of identity through vocational irrelevance is a real anxiety in communities that prize skilled labour.
People are also worried about their local customs and national identity. They are worried about the preservation of a shared inheritance — what Burke regarded as a line of obligation between the dead, the living and unborn. They see threats to their national identity from without and within. This is why immigration is such a fraught issue for people, especially when competing for employment with foreign workers.
The desire to preserve culture, tradition and history is not a bad thing. In a previous era we called it patriotism — the love of one’s country. Trump captured the spirit of this anxiety superbly: Make America Great Again.”
The same must be said for Australia.
The Aaronovitch article, while correctly understanding that immigration is the key to the present European populist revolt, still dismisses it as just based on groundless fear. Journalists at this site are busy at work on a special on the European refugee/migration crisis which will refute the likes of Aaronovitch, so stay tuned. There are real reasons to be afraid of mass migration, and the fear is not groundless.