Brexit and Trump are only the beginning
I cannot move into another week without recording my thoughts concerning the one which has just passed. Something astounding happened.
A man was democratically elected to the most powerful job on the planet who defied all the norms of what is considered to be acceptable behaviour. This man made no concessions whatsoever to the sensibilities of the electorate he was appealing to and came right out to lay before it his brazen take on the world. In view of the outrage caused in so many quarters, how did such a man persuade that electorate to set aside the shock of his message and, most of all, the way it was delivered? He has now not only been handed the keys to all our futures, but he will be given the nuclear codes as well.
The story goes back a long way, perhaps half a century. At that time a world existed of nation states and of families within those states. Most had functioned for a long time – Germany was the exception – and people had grown surprisingly fond of them. They saw them as an extension of their own, close family and it gave them a strong sense of belonging. Almost without exception they were immensely proud of them. When troubled times came, it turned out they were prepared to die for them, much as a mother would die for her child.
Then came those two terrible world wars which, with the help of perverted science, made war deadly to the point of being suicidal. Humanity recoiled in horror and said never again. Agencies were put in place, starting with the United Nations and followed up by a multitude of other such as the World Bank, IMF, WTO, various NGOs, NATO and many, many more, all designed to govern the conduct of man and his disputes in a peaceable manner.
The bogeyman identified as being behind past conflicts was the selfish, jingoistic nation state. That, along with its borders, had to be downgraded and erased, over time, into irrelevance. Europe began the charge with what morphed, with the utmost stealth, into the European Union.
Also a new, more humane way had to be found to deal with individual misfortune and the Welfare State was born. The old were to receive decent pensions and they, along with everybody else, were to be medically cared for. The four great plagues of want, idleness, poverty and disease identified in the Beveridge Report were to be tackled wholesale for the first time.
But this was not enough. The architects decided that they must complete the work with what became known as political correctness. They must criminalise beastliness towards minorities – all minorities – however obscure. Eventually this extended to the very utterances which people made. A revolution was in the making and, like all revolutions, it needed its cadre of zealots to force it through. Step forward to carry out this work the intellectuals, the academics, the lawyers, the industrialists, the politicos, the entertainment luvvies and eventually the bulk of the media itself. Oh, and don’t let’s ever forget, perhaps the most culpable of the lot, the bankers.
The EU proved the perfect vehicle for making this revolution possible. It also made it respectable even though, indeed, most of it was anyway. While noble in its concept, the EU began the process of subsuming its patchwork of nation states into a homogenised whole. Globalisation and multiculturalism became the new buzzwords and the developed world was urged to indulge in an orgy of consumerism. This had the effect of ratcheting up debt to unsustainable levels and soon the bubble burst with the financial crisis of 2008 – the worst in living memory. Luckily lessons had been learned from the last catastrophic crisis, the 1929 Wall Street crash, and a much more joined up world was able to climb out of it with a fraction of the misery of before.
But, like all things, it came at a price and that price is the one which propelled Trump to power and is propelling us out of the EU. The little man who had listened to his “betters” for fifty years had had enough. He had developed a deep and bitter antipathy for those whose greed had brought the misfortune upon him yet walked off smelling of roses and richer than ever. He had watched, with silent rage, the power brokers ship his jobs to sweatshops abroad and saw his warm and loving communities decimated and turned into wastelands. All the while the men who had done it grew richer by the billion while the poor bloody infantry saw their wages frozen and their living standards plummet. Adding salt to the wound, as the little man saw it, was the multiculturalism which the know-alls had forced on him.
What unites the two seismic events of Trump and Brexit is a deep disdain, felt by many ordinary people in the Western world, for a ruling class which, without consultation, sought to change forever the very nature of their societies. But it has not gone unnoticed that this privileged elite have never been an active or even visible part of the societies they are busily changing. Theirs is a cloistered world of high gates and security guards where the hoi polloi are well and truly kept at arm’s length.
Their insular world now trembles before the forces currently ranged against it. But watch this space: Trump and Brexit are only the beginning. Fresh earthquakes can be expected right across Europe in the months ahead.