The day after Brexit

by John Quiggin on November 28, 2016

Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by tribalism. But in most cases, including the US, this has so far amounted to little more than Trilling’s irritable mental gestures. To the extent that there is any policy program, it is little more than crony capitalism. Of all the tribalist groups that have achieved political power the only ones that have anything amounting to a political program are the Brexiteers.

The sustainability of tribalism as a political force will depend, in large measure, on the perceived success or failure of Brexit. So, what will the day after Brexit (presumably, sometime in March 2019) look like, and more importantly, feel like? I’ll rule out the so-called “soft Brexit” where Britain stays in the EU for all practical purposes, gaining some minor concessions on immigration restrictions. It seems unlikely and would be even more of an anti-climax than the case I want to think about.

It’s easy to imagine a disaster, and maybe that will happen. But suppose everything goes relatively smoothly. That is, Britain leaves the EU and the single market, but gets deals in place that keep trade flowing smoothly, retains visa-free travel for visitors and so on.

What will the day after feel like?

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is lowered, and the new national flag is raised. But, from what I can tell, the EU flag is hardly ever flown in the UK as it is. The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood.

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.

{ 126 comments }

1

Phil 11.28.16 at 11:50 pm

The day after the vote, German- and Polish-speakers were insulted in the street, Black and visibly Muslim people were assaulted and a Chinese doctor was asked (as she took someone’s blood pressure) “what she was still doing here”.

The day after Article 50 notification, I confidently expect more of the same. Also the day after the second anniversary of the Article 50 notification, even if we haven’t actually left the EU by then. And the day after the day we eventually do leave, of course.

Otherwise I don’t foresee much change – just years of slow-to-non-existent economic growth, low to zero inflation* and progressive erosion of public services. England’s turning into a cold, mean, vicious little country.

*Not a good thing if you’re running a massive debt.

2

Jake Gibson 11.29.16 at 1:09 am

So, the UK will be more like the US, except with posh accents.

3

T 11.29.16 at 1:12 am

JQ – Do you think the EU would help keeping the financial sector in the UK? That would be a big deal. No?

4

engels 11.29.16 at 1:41 am

It might well be a mistake to see neoliberalism and Trumpism (and Brexiteerism, and their international cousins) as sharply opposed. An alternative analysis (which I don’t necessarily endorse every word of but found thought-provoking):

The dominant economic ideas taken together created a framework in which deviation from declared orthodoxy would be punished by dynamics unleashed by globalization and financialization. The system depended not merely on actors having the specific interests attributed to them, but in believing in the theory that said that they did. [This is one of the reasons that Trumpism has generated confusion among economic actors, even as his victory produced an early bout of stock-market euphoria. It does not rebuke neoliberalism so much as replace it with its own heretical version, bastard neoliberalism, an orientation without a theory, whose tale has yet to be written.]

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/trumpism-has-dealt-a-mortal-blow-to-orthodox-economics-and-social-science.html

5

derrida derider 11.29.16 at 2:09 am

T’s right – the economic impact of Brexit on the UK will overwhelmingly depend on how the EU “passport” entitlements for the banks are negotiated. And of course the Germans (with Frankfurt) and the French (with Paris) have a strong incentive to make sure that a good slab of the City’s business goes to them.

The incomes of the financial sector are mostly pure rents so there are fewer gains from trade possible here than there are for more productive sectors. Trade negotiations on this are therefore more ‘win-lose’ rather than potentially ‘win-win’.

I think the result will certainly be lower aggregate GDP for the UK but it might well be better distributed (eg London property prices may be less absurd). The City has long made the rest of the UK economy suffer from a form of Dutch disease through an overvalued pound sterling. So those Sunderland Brexit voters might prove ultimately correct in their assessment of their economic interests – just not in the way they think.

6

likbez 11.29.16 at 2:17 am

John Quiggin on November 28, 2016:

Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by tribalism…

The sustainability of tribalism as a political force will depend, in large measure, on the perceived success or failure of Brexit.

I see it differently. I think tribalism is a bad term to describe this phenomenon. In reality what we see should be properly called “far right nationalism”. And in several countries this is a specific flavor of far right nationalism which is called neofascism, if we understand neofascism as

neofascism=fascism
– physical violence as the main tool of controlling opposition
– attempts to replace parliamentary democracy with the authoritarian rule
+ some degree of acceptance of “unearned income” and financial oligarchy
+weaker demands for social protection of middle class and Drang nach Osten

Brexit is just a symptom of growing resistance to neoliberalism, and the loss of power of neoliberal propaganda. Much like “Prague Spring” was in the past.

And the sustainability of modern far right nationalism depends mainly on continuation of austerity policies and uncontrolled neoliberal globalization with its outsourcing of local manufacturing, services and replacing well paying jobs with McJobs. Which cannot be stopped without betraying of fundamental tenets of neoliberalism as an ideology and economic theory.

Thanks to “neoliberalism achievements” far right nationalism already achieved the status of mass movement with own political party(ies) in most EU countries. Trumpism in the USA is pretty modest demonstration of the same trend in comparison with EuroMaydan (Yanukovich government was a typical corrupt neoliberal government). And first attempts might fail (as they failed in Ukraine)

In other words neoliberalism is digging its own grave, but not the way Marx assumed.

7

Placeholder 11.29.16 at 2:59 am

“The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood.”
Actually the passport will be the strikingly visible symbol of deunionisation. Most British people have one and it’s colour alone is their rallying point. https://twitter.com/YouGov/status/776107022114750464

Engels@4
That parenthetical aside in the article doesn’t quite explain what it means by it. But I think simply the point about the much contended ‘economic anxiety’ argument is this: ‘non-college whites/England-and-Ulster want there to be a national solution to an economic problem. People who believe that immigrants took their jobs are not going to abandon their blue passports for visa fees. The dream in psychosis did not represent trauma it could not repress it; if the patient could see the trauma in it it would not be repression. Likewise they rebel against Bain Capital by turning out for a man who ‘builds stuff’ – with his name on it. In both cases they want, in Robespierre’s terms, ‘a revolution – without a revolution’.

Therefore I think it will get worse, the day, the year and decade after. Whatever Anglo-Ulster pride was salved on June 23rd will roar with fury when Scotland and Ireland make their ‘Brixit’. It will be like ripping off a bandage.

8

nastywoman 11.29.16 at 4:42 am

‘What will the day after feel like?’

Like a Thanksgiving Dinner with young family members from all over GB – who voted against the Brexit because they want to keep their ‘European’ girl and boyfriends in their homeland.
-(and then there is already this wedding planned between a Greek – from the 40000 strong Greek community in London and a nice cook from the 700000 strong French community)
Some older family members who live outside London and had it with ‘the bankers’.
A crazy, racist uncle who voted for Brexit and hates Poles.
A crazy racist aunt who voted for Brexit and hates ‘them blacks’.
The oldest members of the family, who voted for Brexit because they are thinking: ‘Why are we at a Thanksgiving Dinner – That’s not British?’
The Swiss-Scottish Scientists – who invited for the Thanksgiving Dinner because the Father of the Swiss wife is an American – and her Scottish husband voted against the Brexit and much rather has bread pudding than a pumpkin pie for desert.

9

Hindu Friend 11.29.16 at 5:19 am

new rule for the “left”–can we discuss policy w/out invoking “racism”? seems if we continue down that path we just alienate white working class. Marginal gains feom anti-racism have been harvested, none left.

10

Adam Roberts 11.29.16 at 8:30 am

I’m going to follow Hindu Friend’s advice @9, not least because the xenophobia that informed some (not all) Brexiteers is complicated: some Brexiteers are simple racists, of course, but others are people who don’t like Polish shops on British high streets but would happily up the Commonwealth immigration quotas so Indian Restaurants can bring in chefs.

Otherwise I think we’ll see the Brexit supporters divide into two camps. Since, as John says in the OP, actual Brexit will be mostly disappointment and drizzly anticlimax, some supporters, especially those who believed it would make things materially better in the UK (say, those who believed the ‘an extra £350 million a week for the NHS’ slogan) will feel bitter, and blame either the politicians who lied to them during the referendum campaign or else the politicians who negotiated the actual Brexit for not doing a better job. They’ll be in the majority, I think, of former supporters of Vote Leave. Then there will be a second camp who accept that Brexit is eye-wateringly costly for the UK — hundreds of billions in extra borrowing, the economy shrinking 5%-10%, ordinary things more expensive bc of tarriffs and so on — but consider this ‘a price worth paying’ for leaving the EU. This absolutely was not the ground on which the Brexit camp fought the referendum, of course, so there’s something dishonest about it, but it’s a position some Brexit friends of mine hold. When pressed (I try not to get into flaming rows with friends on principle, but I was and am an earnest Bremainer) they don’t generally talk about immigration, but they will invoke other bugbears. The prospect of a brand new EU-wide army, controlled by Brussels and dragging us into a war with Russia is one such. To be clear, that strikes me as a chimera, but more than one person I know has mentioned it.

11

Nick Barnes 11.29.16 at 8:46 am

The week after the Brexit vote I bought flagpoles and a pair of flags: EU and UK. I fly them on the front of my home. Wish I’d done it years ago.

12

Stephen 11.29.16 at 8:50 am

Likbez@6
It’s not clear whether you mean to include the Brexit movement – supported by UKIP, some Tory and a few Labour politicians – among the right-wing neofascists you describe as having the characteristics of

“– physical violence as the main tool of controlling opposition
– attempts to replace parliamentary democracy with the authoritarian rule
+ some degree of acceptance of “unearned income” and financial oligarchy
+weaker demands for social protection of middle class and Drang nach Osten”

If you don’t, I can’t see how your post is particularly relevant to the topic.

If you do, you are obviously wrong on the first and second counts; the third has been, to some extent, true of all UK governments I can remember; the first part of the fourth is hard to understand, and the second part has no basis whatever in reality.

13

novakant 11.29.16 at 9:02 am

The sad thing is that the UK has a ton of massive problems already: NHS funding, no manufacturing / industry left to speak of, class society, divide between London / SE and the rest etc, etc, etc. – and Brexit will not help with any of that, but make it much worse. Add to that the increasing nativism/xenophobia/racism spectrum, the little England parochialism and the resurgent white English nationalism and the day after Brexit will feel awful – unless you’re a Sun / Mail / Torygraph / Express reader …

14

faustusnotes 11.29.16 at 9:27 am

Placeholder is right about the passport, if you pay attention to the conversations of older British travelers in airports you’re likely to hear someone complain about the colour of their passport. I certainly do whenever I’m at Heathrow or in the UK.

If Brexit unfolds as John Quiggin supposes (I think he’s completely wrong about what will happen, but whatever) then there will be a long period of further instability on the right, because a lot of little Englander Tory voters didn’t get the racist paradise they were dreaming of. UKIP will remain a threat to the Tory right, but now they won’t be able to appease it with dumb referendums and will need to become openly, nakedly racist to hold it off. This is why May is keeping her cards close during the lead up to the negotiations, because she and her senior colleagues know – in a way that idiots like Johnson didn’t seem to figure out – that the right wing electorate wants blood, and they aren’t going to be satisfied with business as usual.

The end of free movement is an absolute minimum requirement of Brexit – any Brexit that retains free movement will cause a rebellion against the mainstream right. By extension, the day after Brexit we’re going to see some kind of change in the status of EU citizens legally in the UK, and a big change to the way that new entrants are treated. This is going to likely mean passport control and full immigration checks for people traveling to Europe on holiday, and a long run of stories about the troubles EU citizens have getting their residency status updated. Anyone who has lived as a non-EU foreigner in the UK – or who worked with them – knows that the UK’s visa authorities are an absolute nightmare to deal with, and the chances that this incompetent government will put in place a functional or affordable system for current residents are slim to zero. So expect chaos in the immigration and residency status of these people.

And, expect further racism towards those who choose or are forced to remain in the UK after the walls go up.

15

Phil 11.29.16 at 9:42 am

#8 – I have never attended & earnestly hope I never do attend a British Thanksgiving dinner. The idea makes no sense; it would be the worst kind of unthinking copy-the-big-boys cultural cringe (it’s not even cultural imperialism as such). I’m 56 and voted Remain.

Incidentally, both of the Leave voters I know personally would tick something other than ‘white British’ on the census form. The evidence on racist attacks after the vote is what it is, though (I was looking at the police figures the other day).

16

MARTIN LUTH 11.29.16 at 10:11 am

nice

17

reason 11.29.16 at 10:35 am

I think part of the problem we have today is that politics is much more multi-dimensional than it used to be. We used to live in a world where people just voted their class interests and that mapped well on a single dimension. But things have changed, most people have a mix of interests (they own houses, they are concerned about the environment and sustainability, they own – mostly indirectly – shares, they travel internationally, they see news instantly from around the world). People are not only overwhelmed by the complexity, they don’t know how to map themselves on a one dimensional left-right scale. We see particular problems in old democracies with very old electoral systems, and in new democracies with no experience. Binary choices are not enough anymore (the Brexit referendum was giving people an impossibly vague binary choice which was nowhere precise enough to reflect their real preferences).

18

otto 11.29.16 at 11:49 am

“On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote.”

Those who arrive after actual Brexit will be more restricted however. Over time, it will make a difference from the previous outcome.

19

David 11.29.16 at 12:08 pm

I think there’s a real risk of confusing two things: on the one hand, ideology, on the other a mechanism for mobilizing political and electoral support.
Neoliberalism may be a smoking ruin intellectually, but it remains the default ideology today across most of the political spectrum, for lack of an articulated alternative. But it’s not a good way to mobilize electoral support (“vote for me and I’ll outsource your job to India”). Historically, that mobilizing role was played by divisions of wealth and power, but with the end of class politics, the only obvious alternative is tribalism, or whatever we want to call it, with it’s message “I represent your group interests, vote for me.” On the “right” this manifests itself through the tribalism of tradition, language, culture etc; on the “left” through the tribalism of identity politics. You can’t really construct functioning political parties around purely abstract ideas (tolerance, for example) – you need voters. This was perfectly well demonstrated by the Clinton election campaign, where the ideology was neoliberal, but the mobilizing device was tribalism (“you are X therefore you should vote for me”).
Much of the confusion in contemporary politics, therefore, results from competitive attempts to foist tribal identities on people, and the resistance of potential voters to this tactic. Now, traditional mobilizing factors did have the virtue of clarity; you were objectively poor, unemployed, property-owning, share-owning or whatever, and it was fairly obvious what the consequences of voting for this or that party would be. In the new dispensation, the “right” is doing better at this game at the moment than the “left” because its tribal markers (language, history, nation etc.), whilst not uncontested or unproblematic, mean more to people than the race and gender-based markers of the “left”. Someone with black skin may not feel that that defines the way they should vote, in preference to say, their economic interests. This is why in France, for example, the Socialists have effectively lost an increasingly prosperous and predominantly socially conservative immigrant vote to the Right.
Likbez@5 “Brexit is just a symptom of growing resistance to neoliberalism, and the loss of power of neoliberal propaganda.” Broadly agree. After all, neoliberalism (and its child, globalization) was created and is enforced by nations, and its destruction, if that happens, must begin at the national level. My own, totally unrealistic, hope is that if Brexit looks like happening and similar things follow elsewhere, the EU will be frightened enough that some of the neoliberal poison will seep out, and Europe will go back to being what it was, and always should have been. Some hope.

20

SusanC 11.29.16 at 12:19 pm

Most of us Brits most certainly do not do thanksgiving. (A few who have American relatives do).

Christmas serves the equivalent function, of an occasion where you are forced to meet relatives whise political views you might disagree with; the basic scenario is familiar.

November 5th is popular over here, even if some people are a little confused about exactly which side they are supposed to on with respect to Guido Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the houses of parliament.

21

John Quiggin 11.29.16 at 12:21 pm

T @3 I think it’s highly unlikely that the EU will let the City of London maintain its current access to the euro financial market. It’s hard enough to make a case that it is in the rational self interest of France and Germany to pass up the chance to grab this business. Even given such a case, it’s obvious that, having thrown a hissy fit and walked out, the British can’t expect their former partners to pursue rational self-interest and forgo revenge/deterrence.

But, for the purposes of the post, I wanted to give the Brexiteers the most favorable case possible.

22

nastywoman 11.29.16 at 12:25 pm

@8
‘I have never attended & earnestly hope I never do attend a British Thanksgiving dinner.’
@17
‘People are not only overwhelmed by the complexity, they don’t know how to map themselves on a one dimensional left-right scale’

It isn’t – and never was ‘a British’ Thanksgiving Dinner – it always was a Thanksgiving Dinner because it always is (was) – cooked by an American cook who does one of the juiciest turkeys I ever have tasted – and it is each year one of the most fun you can have with your clothes on because of the overwhelming complexity of the guests – where it is totally impossible to map themselves on a one dimensional left-right scale’.

And anyway London is the ‘Most European’ city in Europe – with such an amount of really yuuuge different European communities enjoying it there – that it is too late for anybody who want’s to exit from that.

23

SusanC 11.29.16 at 12:31 pm

It’s really unclear to me what the government will do with respect to visas for citizens of other EU states who currently have jobs here. I could imagine either outcome: either visas will be really easy to get, and there will be outcry from brexit right; or they will be hard to get, and there will be substantial chaos as a large number of current employees suddenly become illegal to employ, and finding replacements who are UK nationals with the right skills is very difficult.

(i think this us one of those posts where I should say I am not a lawyer, consult professional legal advice etc. I am sure my university will…)

24

Steve 11.29.16 at 12:39 pm

I remember watching Newsnight on the first day that various Eastern European nationals (including from Poland) were allowed to move to the UK for work, etc visa-free. There was a very sneery report, I think by Michael Crick, based at Calais or Heathrow showing that the tabloids’ predicted influx wasn’t happening. It was quite funny. It was also extremely misguided in the long run. I suspect that something similar is true of post-Brexit day: the day itself will seem anti-climactic. But the long term effects on the labour force, on Universities, on the city, on agriculture, etc will be massive.

25

John Quiggin 11.29.16 at 12:48 pm

@9 “new rule for the “left”–can we discuss policy w/out invoking “racism”? “

I can’t see how this is possible, other than by embracing racism ourselves. The right has capitulated almost entirely to tribalism. Tribalism is a complicated phenomenon, as Adam Roberts says, involving all kinds of prejudices against outgroups, as well as more positive forms of in-group solidarity. But racism (broadly defined to include prejudice against ethnic groups like Poles) is an essential part of it. Outright racists are at the core of the tribalist right, and they are allied with a much larger group who aren’t actively racist, but are more upset by any form of opposition to racism than by racism itself.

26

casmilus 11.29.16 at 12:58 pm

Before we get too carried away with the influence of UKIP, let’s see if it can make it into 2017:

http://www.conservativehome.com/ukip-watch/2016/11/nuttall-has-the-right-ideas-for-ukips-future-but-his-party-doesnt-look-up-to-the-job.html

It’s always been a shower of incompetents plus 1 posh bloke who could do soundbites and little else. Even with millionaire backers it struggles to break through anywhere, and they are losing interest. Their only MP is a Tory defector who will probably be defecting back soon, and they won’t miss him.

27

casmilus 11.29.16 at 12:59 pm

Here’s another source of the same message, this one from the left:

http://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/opinion/kevin-maguire-partys-over-ukip-and-nigel-farage-knows-it

28

nastywoman 11.29.16 at 1:13 pm

@9
‘(broadly defined to include prejudice against ethnic groups like Poles)’

So there is this crazy, racist uncle who voted for Brexit and hates Poles – but he actually doesn’t know why he hates Poles?
Does he hate poles – because each times he visits his little hometown in GB there are more Poles? –
and he jokingly once said: When I want to go to Polen I go to Polen – and I love Warsaw. And he actually really likes Warsaw and the Poles in Warsaw – and when his Swiss Wife voted in Switzerland in the Swiss minaret referendum against minarets and was accused to be a racist – she answered: ‘No I am an Architect – and Minarets are not indigenous to Swiss Architecture’.

29

Tom West 11.29.16 at 2:25 pm

> So there is this crazy, racist uncle who voted for Brexit and hates Poles – but
> he actually doesn’t know why he hates Poles?

I wonder whether Brexit and Trump are simply reactions against change, and since most change has been towards greater cultural diversity and social justice, this is perceived by me as racism, but by the voters themselves as simply preservation of their familiar culture and way of life.

30

Greg 11.29.16 at 2:38 pm

I’m skeptical of any analysis that assumes there will be some kind of backlash from Brexit voters if and when actual Brexit fails to deliver on promises. Because why would the demagogues stop being demagogues the day after art. 50 is invoked? And why would voters suddenly act “rationally” when this has never been a rational issue?

Any failure of Brexit to deliver on its promises, if acknowledged at all, will be blamed on some other policy, party, nation or out-group. The Daily Mail will not apologize. We will be told that things are better even though they are measurably worse, because our national pride has been restored.

Over the course of Brexit negotiations, the EU and its representatives will have been vilified and blamed, even if in fact and against all likelihood, agreements end up being economically favourable to the UK. Whatever happens, good or bad, we will have been stabbed in the back by the Germans and the French on our way out of the door. Or else the rise of the nationalist Right in France and elsewhere will be proof that the EU was no longer viable anyway. There are any number of ways to spin it.

31

SusanC 11.29.16 at 3:01 pm

@Steve. Even if, legally, it is a cliff, I would expect most organizations to do some kind of advance planning, so some effects would start to be felt before, and some might take a while after to come into full effect.

The _government_ on the other hand, is not showing as much sign of having a plan as one might have hoped.

In any case, it’s relatively unlikely that the typical employer is going to wake up one morning and go: “OMG! Brexit has actually happened and we have no plan! We’ll be committing a criminal offense if we even allow our non-UK employees onto the premises! Quick, put a security guard on the door to them they’re not allowed in! Oh crap, out security guard is a Polish guard and we’ll be committing a criminal if we let him either! Better see if we have someone in management who is a IK national who can do it. Now, wait, how are we going to operate out business.. I guess we’d better start advertising some job vacancies”

Well, someone is probably going to be that ill-prepared (never underestimate stupidity, as they say), but in general I would expect there to be some kind of contingency plan.

Meanwhile, from the perspective of an academic, we are already seeing problems getting EU-funded projects, so the effect of brexit (and associated job losses) is already being felt, so I would expect a gradual ramp-down over a couple of years rather than sudden cliff. We are already seeing moves along the lines of:
a) senior academic moves to new job elsewhere in the EU
b) senior academic takes grant application which would have gone in under the banner of a UK university and puts it in under the name of their new EU university
c) funding secured, RA jobs are advertised and research staff move out of the UK

32

dsquared 11.29.16 at 3:11 pm

It’s hard enough to make a case that it is in the rational self interest of France and Germany to pass up the chance to grab this business.

It’s not even really about “grabbing the business”. It’s an obvious risk to any currency zone having half the business and the main clearing centre being somewhere outside the scope of their regulation.

More generally, I think nothing happens. Except that ten years after Brexit, we have forgotten that we ever used to be a richer country than Ireland, and ten years after that, the main subject of our evening news is about how stingy France and Germany are being with work permits for our “expat” builders and care workers. While the Economist (by then, long since moved to New York) writes learned editorials about the unsustainability of “pension promises made back in the days when the euro and pound were worth roughly as much as each other”.

33

Peter K. 11.29.16 at 3:22 pm

What about Dean Baker’s speculation?

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/the-end-of-austerity-a-brexit-dividend

“Apparently, the conservative government has now abandoned its plans for further austerity and a balanced budget. It is expected to spend an additional $187 billion over the next five years (roughly 1.0 percent of GDP) to boost the economy and create jobs. According to the NYT, this spending is a direct response to concerns over the plight of working class people who voted for Brexit in large numbers.

This outcome is worth noting, because the boost to the economy from additional spending is likely to be larger than any drag on growth as a result of leaving the European Union. This would mean that the net effect of Brexit on growth would be positive. Of course the UK government could have abandoned its austerity path without Brexit, but probably would not have done so. Given the political context, working class voters who wanted to see more jobs and a stronger welfare state likely made the right vote by supporting Brexit. This doesn’t excuse the racist sentiments that motivated many Brexit supporters, but it is important to recognize the economic story here.

There is a deeper lesson in this story. The elites that derided Brexit were largely content with austerity policies that needlessly kept workers from getting jobs and also weakened the welfare state. Many were willing to push nonsense economic projections of recession in order to advance their political agenda. In this context, it is not surprising that large numbers of working class people would reject their argument that Brexit would be bad for the UK.”

34

Doug K 11.29.16 at 4:13 pm

Greg @30, “I’m skeptical of any analysis that assumes there will be some kind of backlash from Brexit voters if and when actual Brexit fails to deliver on promises. “

Exactly. Here in the US we’ve had decades of Republican obstruction of governance and failure to deliver on any of their promises, yet responsibility has been successfully evaded. The coming Trump catastrophes will be blamed on anyone but Trump and his vassals – Democrats that did not utterly capitulate to the kleptocracy, the Muslims that weren’t shipped back to hellmouth, ‘those people’, et cetera. There is always a handy other to blame, and new other-groups can be created as needed. The sleep of reason.. turns out we have reached the end of history, but it’s not liberal democracy that won.

SusanC, yes, hear that from all the UK scientists I follow on Twitter – funding disappearing and with it science jobs in the UK.

35

engels 11.29.16 at 4:48 pm

nothing happens. Except that ten years after Brexit, we have forgotten that we ever used to be a richer country than Ireland

Many people outside of London could be forgiven for forgetting that now

http://inequalitybriefing.org/brief/briefing-43-the-poorest-regions-of-the-uk-are-the-poorest-in-northern-

36

WLGR 11.29.16 at 5:06 pm

Rather than rehash my objections to “tribalism” as far as the racialized and imperialist connotations of the term itself, drawing off of likbez @ 6 and the recent sociobiology/evopsych thread, here’s another objection: to the extent that it relies on a vague idea of modern far-right nationalism as just a modern manifestation of some deeper general human tendency toward ingroup/outgroup moral reasoning, it goes much too far in naturalizing far-right nationalism, making it out to be a core aspect of immutable human nature instead of the historically contingent political and economic phenomenon it is. (Cf. Kevin Drum’s misapprehension of the term “white supremacy”, which doesn’t refer to any abstract idea that white people are or should be superior, but the historical reality of their tangible efforts to create and maintain a superior material position.) On a certain level fascists are fascists because they perceive the subjugation of other races and nationalities to be in their interest based on their understanding of how global capitalist society works, and in some sense their understanding of the subjugation and domination necessary for capitalism to function is much clearer than the understanding of a proverbial “bleeding-heart liberal”.

Accordingly, the ideological implication of “tribalism” that the guards at Auschwitz were doing fundamentally the same thing as the chimpanzees in 2001: A Space Odyssey, resembles what some old bearded leftist once described as an effort “to present production … as encased in eternal natural laws independent of history, at which opportunity bourgeois relations are then quietly smuggled in as the inviolable natural laws on which society in the abstract is founded”. No, fascism isn’t inevitable, or at least it’s only inevitable as long as capitalism is too.

37

Akshay 11.29.16 at 5:12 pm

PeterK@33: Baker seems to be using the very lowest estimates for the cost of Brexit, when you look, for instance, at costs of Brexit scenarios in studies performed by the LSE. These very low costs could occur with the softest possible Brexit implemented in the smoothest possible way. Even then it sounds like a stretch.

The idea of the Tories expanding the welfare state is even more of a stretch.

My own wild-assed guess would be to agree with dsquared, Greg and Doug. Assuming no disaster occurs, nothing much will happen except somewhat lower trend growth and some relocation of finance. However, compared to the Eurozone with its shrinking working age populations, UK total GDP growth could still look quite good: the UK has a growing population. It is only once you look at indicators like GDP/Capita, GDP/working age population, productivity growth and real wage growth, that you will notice problems. Easy to sell then, just look at total GDP growth, ignoring demographics, productivity and real wages. This is standard anyway in Anglo-American analysis of Japan, Germany, Finland and other occasional “sick men”. Overselling GDP numbers at the expense of real wages for the working class is also standard when analysing the UK or USA economies.

38

John Quiggin 11.29.16 at 5:23 pm

“making it out to be a core aspect of immutable human nature instead of the historically contingent political and economic phenomenon it is.”

I don’t know how I could have been clearer that the current upsurge of tribalism is a historically contingent political and economic phenomenon arising from the collapse of neoliberalism. You appear to have imported a whole bunch of evo-psych assumptions of your own.

But, if you have a term that describes the phenomenon better, feel free to suggest it. Both “fascism” and “far-right nationalism” are unsatisfactory in my view. The first is clearly inaccurate, while the second implicitly describes a minority fringe rather than the position of the mainstream political right.

39

engels 11.29.16 at 5:44 pm

Two cents: I dislike the word ‘tribalism’ and also disagree, I think, with the ‘tripartite analysis’, which seems idealist and to underplay the connections between the nationalist Right and the market Right.

In other news, Trump is meeting with Goldman’s COO today.

40

John Quiggin 11.29.16 at 5:52 pm

I think it’s more accurate to say “Goldman’s COO is meeting with Trump today”, which is the point of the analysis.

41

bob mcmanus 11.29.16 at 5:54 pm

But, if you have a term that describes the phenomenon better, feel free to suggest it.

Well, “The Big Sort” is dated starting from 1965, going strong from 1976, and peaking 2000-2004 with the decline of independents and massive increase in party identification. Included in Bill Bishop’s book are a lot of studies of accelerating cultural bifurcation, polarization, and extremism as populations become more homogenous and insulated. “Tribalism” isn’t too bad, as long as it is applied to both sides.

This is the US. From what little I know, I see some of this in Britain, but am very curious about other countries. Bishop starts with “landslide counties,” places with more than 20% difference in the Presidential votes in 2004.

42

Ronan(rf) 11.29.16 at 6:16 pm

We dont have to go with far right nationalism , so much as just good old ethnic nationalism. So what we’re seeing is the rise of (non civic) nationalism. (imo partly in response to other identity politics and cosmpolitanism, but that’s a different story)
Tribalism captures the nativist aspect of this; the reaction to demographic changes wrought by immigration. ‘White nationalism’ probably captures the more ideological core of the reaction. I dont know if that’s reducible to ‘tribalism’ as it’s more ideological coherent and concerned with power and domination rather than a poorly understood reaction to demographic and economic change.

“Rather than rehash my objections to “tribalism” as far as the racialized and imperialist connotations of the term itself, “

It’s not inherently racialised. It can be, but that doesnt mean every usage has “racialized and imperialist connotations”

43

Ronan(rf) 11.29.16 at 6:30 pm

44

The Temporary Name 11.29.16 at 6:51 pm

Given that Trump was eventually shut out by American banks who knew he was a bad risk, I wonder how civil such a meeting will be.

45

WLGR 11.29.16 at 7:24 pm

JQ: “I don’t know how I could have been clearer that the current upsurge of tribalism is a historically contingent political and economic phenomenon arising from the collapse of neoliberalism.”

Saying “the current upsurge of tribalism” isn’t the same thing as saying “tribalism”. The implication of the former is that tribalism has been here all along under the surface and our modern historical moment isn’t creating it so much as uncovering it, with the “it” in question implied to be something premodern and primitive to which we’re returning or even regressing. At best it’s a vague and partial metaphor that needs to be closely monitored to avoid implying any deeper comparison, and if it’s intended in any way as a pejorative, it works via our perception of something inherently wrong or even evil about “primitive” modes of social existence, something that demands a unilateral civilizing intervention by the enlightened imperialists of the mind. If you’re really searching for a proper response to “tribalism”, the ideology embedded in the term “tribalism” seems to itself imply the very same kind of paternalist liberal response you otherwise seem to rightly abhor.

Here’s a thought: why not “chauvinism”? Just because in recent years it’s widely become shorthand for “male chauvinism”, don’t forget it was originally coined for excessive and potentially bigoted nationalism, after a (likely apocryphal) Napoleonic-era French soldier named Nicolas Chauvin. As far as historical allusions for a tendency claimed to encompass everyone from Hitler to George Wallace to Donald Trump, using a word derived from the dictatorial personality-cultish nationalist reaction to the first true modern universalist revolution seems to be on solid ground, especially compared to a word that implies continuity between racist oppression in modern nation-states and the alleged backward savagery of the very populations being oppressed.

46

John Quiggin 11.29.16 at 7:41 pm

“Chauvinism” is a good thought, but you can see the problem. You read all manner of implications into “tribalism” that I don’t see at all, but want to read fifty years or so of usage out of “chauvinism”.

Trying Google, I find that just about all the top hits for “tribalism” are in the sense I use, and nearly all of the top hits for “chauvinism” are associated with male chauvinism, even in some dictionary definitions.

47

bruce wilder 11.29.16 at 7:46 pm

Brexit has not been defined in any detail, so calling for speculation is inviting any and all kinds of counterfactual speculative projection. That may be interesting, to the extent it reveals worldview or even more theoretical presupposition. But, what I get from the OP and many of the comments is that neoliberalism has not collapsed at all. Neoliberalism marches on in the centre-left critique of Brexit: Brexit’s political motivation is a racist nationalism, there is no good or practical alternative to the EU and its four freedoms of unmanaged movements of capital, people, goods. The great difficulty of renegotiating the Gordian knot of regulation tying the EU together looms large, as it would for the socio-economic class of people tasked with creating and recreating these sorts of systems, systems of finance, administrative process and supply chain that loom so large in our globalised economy — pay no attention to the sclerosis, please! How will we get visas?!?

The deep and persistent poverty that scars England and the struggles of local displacement that shadow the fantastic globalised wealth imported into the core of the Great Metropolis are mentioned by a few commenters as a dissent (my interpretation, alternative welcome). There is in this leftish discussion little skepticism expressed about how healthy it is that the UK is so invested in global and European finance. What is engaged is scorn for the idea of a Tory social conscience. (I have never seen one myself.) But what goes unmentioned is the absence of a Left economic conscience.

Which brings me back around to question the ostensible premise of the OP, the alleged collapse of neoliberalism. What has collapsed politically — as any reader of news headlines must surely know — is the social democratic left. (USA, France, Italy at any moment)

The essence of left neoliberalism was the collaboration of the educated, credentialed managerial classes in the plutocratic project and the abandonment of the cause of defending what used to be called the working classes and the poor from predatory capital. I do not yet see the left critique of Brexit departing from either the collaboration or the abandonment. In British politics, the continuing civil war in the Labour Party between the old leftists and the new membership on the one hand and the Blairite careerists in the PLP and their supporters among the cosmopolitans would seem to furnish a stark illustration of how disabled the left is at this juncture, mere spectators as a weak Tory Party bungles its way forward unimpeded.

Mumbling about “tribalism” says more about the neoliberal trap in which what passes for left politics appears fatally trapped than it does about right populism. Sure, we want to shout “fascism” but if this is the second coming of that incoherent political tendency, it is even more farce than it was the first time around. This very weak tea populism that is Trump or May’s one nation conservatism redux is only possible, imho, because there is no left populism to compete credibly for those “working class” constituencies, whose political worldviews and attitudes are — shall we say, unsophisticated? Rather than compete for the loyalty of those authoritarian followers (to use a term from political psychology), the left organizes its own form of “tribal” identity politics around scorning them as a morally alien out-group. And, the new (alt?) right leverages the evidence of class contempt and so on for their own populist mobilization. This right is not very credible as populists, but it is a matter of out running a bear in the woods – the bear is the loss of elite legitimacy – and it has only been necessary to outrun the left, which so far will not even tie its shoes.

Brexit may never happen or its management may be taken over by other hands in a further reversal of political fortune on one side or the other of the Channel. A Eurozone collapse can scarcely be ruled out as Italy crumbles and France chooses between a proud neoliberal unaware of that collapse thingee and a right-wing of the old school. That would create opportunities I can scarcely imagine; there might be an alternative after all.

48

nastywoman 11.29.16 at 8:40 pm

so about ‘tribalism’

– perhaps that’s why this whole ‘racism’ conversation is so confused – as it is much easier to call a Californian ‘racist’ when he says: ‘He had enough of these Mexican’ – than a ‘Brit’ who complains about ‘the changing neighborhood’.

As on the one side – ‘the changing neighborhood’ – could be code for being a ‘racist’ – but on the other hand – there is this theory -(in Switzerland) – that there is a limit for every ‘tribe’ – when the percentage of members of some foreign tribes immigrating -(whatever race or nationality) becomes ‘threatening’.

A bit of a absurd suggestion in a country like Switzerland which actually consists of four (foreign to each other) ‘tribes’ – who are so diverse that they even speak four different languages. (Swiss German – French – Italian and Rätoromanisch)
But anywhoo – a lot of Swiss think the ‘tolerable percentage of ‘foreigners’ – is around 20 percent of the total population -(currently at 23,3 percent) –

Which can’t be comparable to ‘States’- which were just ‘currently’ -(a few hundred years ago?) built on immigration – like California – where the percentage of all the members of all kind of ‘foreign tribes’ could be considered around 100 percent – as the ‘original tribes’ of the area had been nearly totally extinguished by ‘the White Man’?

And trying to get even more absurd – there is this joke in Southern California that ‘the Mexicans are only taking their country back from some Europeans who once stole it – and if one resides on the German-Swiss border – the tribalism can even disturb the ‘Sub-tribes’ where there is growing ‘resentment’ against ‘Germans’ who cross the border collecting the higher salaries in Switzerland – and then after work coming back ‘home’ – enjoying the more reasonable housing of their ‘main tribe’ – over a third cheaper than in Switzerland –
And what’s about the Scottish ‘tribe’ – who doesn’t like the English tribe but votes for the European tribes out of completely unrelated (political?) reasons.

What a mess – and it could have been that at the Scottish-English border some came up with the idea to call it tribalism – but not on the German-German Swiss border where they never called it neither ‘tribalism’ nor ‘racism’?

49

J-D 11.29.16 at 8:51 pm

Jake Gibson

Posh accents? Not many, uncle.

50

SamChevre 11.29.16 at 9:42 pm

Discussions of Brexit, and its economic effects, continues to remind me of this Chris Bertram post from 2014.

[I]inequality is deadly for democracy, and for the equal political status of citizens. Because the power and influence high earners derive from their income threatens such status equality, there is a strong public interest in constraining it, even if doing so raises no money at all….[W]e need to shift the balance of voice in favour of the unemployed teenager and against the City trader.

51

Hidari 11.29.16 at 9:44 pm

@47
Maybe not just the social democratic left. Maybe the whole left. This whole capitalist experiment is so new, historically speaking (in its industrialised form only going back a few centuries) we simply have no idea how it will play out long-term. Maybe what we have known as ‘the left’ was simply a ‘reactive formation’ to initial stages of capitalism, facilitated by wars and the early,’ factory’ model of capitalism. Maybe in our ‘post-modern’ era of capitalism (which might, after all, last for centuries), with low unionisation, high unemployment/underemployment, massive income inequality, slow growth, and a ‘bread and circuses’ media, the left simply no longer has any political role.

After all, the collapse of the social democratic left follows in the wake of the collapse of the radical left in the 1980s and 1990s, which (despite occasional ‘dead cat bounces’ as we have seen in Greece and Spain) shows no sign of returning. And the centre (e.g. the LibDems in the UK) died a long time ago.

As Owen Jones has been amongst the few to point out perhaps the future of Europe lies in Poland where the left and centre have simply ceased to exist, and all of political life consists of neo-Thatcherites fighting ethno-nationalists for a slice of the political pie.

52

Helen 11.29.16 at 10:07 pm

“Chauvinism” is a good thought, but you can see the problem. You read all manner of implications into “tribalism” that I don’t see at all, but want to read fifty years or so of usage out of “chauvinism”.

Trying Google, I find that just about all the top hits for “tribalism” are in the sense I use, and nearly all of the top hits for “chauvinism” are associated with male chauvinism, even in some dictionary definitions.

Ethnocentrism?

53

T 11.29.16 at 10:28 pm

@35 Engels & JQ

Well neo-liberalism worked for some. Guess you had to be in early enough. I wonder if Paris or Frankfurt will allow its banking jobs to be outsourced to India?

In the US, the pres-elect has just nominated a health secretary who is for killing Obamacare while Trump’s party is talking about privatizing (thereby killing) Medicare. So much for the complete death of neo-liberlism JQ. There’s always time for one final looting.

54

WLGR 11.29.16 at 10:30 pm

Point taken, although if we’re taking our intellectual cues from mainstream definitions now, someone should notify the laypeople confused about non-mainstream scholarly definitions of words like “liberalism” and “racism” that they were actually right all along. From my understanding, the typical scholarly view of “tribe” as a concept ranges from vague and essentialist on one end (cf. “feudalism”) to a racism-tinged pejorative on the other end (cf. “savage”), and in neither case is it considered particularly respectable to deliberately orient a theory of human society around the distinction between what is or isn’t “tribal”.

But if you’re not necessarily convinced that the term “tribalism” is offensive in itself, another line of attack might resemble this:

The instinct to explain the seemingly inexplicable rise of Trump by blaming a foreign influence–or likening it to something from non-white or Slavic countries–is as lazy as it is subtly racist. Trump is Trump. Trump is American. His bigotry, his xenophobia, his sexism, his contempt for the media, his desire to round up undesirables, all have American origins and American explanations. They don’t need to be “like” anything else. They are like us. While acknowledging this may be uncomfortable, doing so would go a lot further in combating Trump than treating him as anomalous or comparable only to those poor, backwards foreigners.

In other words, even if we assume there’s nothing inherently problematic about calling groups like the Sioux or the Igbo “tribes” (although tellingly enough it’s more common for such groups to self-identify with the term “nation”) the very act of casting fascists/ethnonationalists/whatevers in terms of a foreign type of social organization acts as a means of disavowal, intentionally or unintentionally letting ourselves off the hook for the extent to which the evil they express is entirely that of our own society. Which, I might add, at least somewhat resembles the ideological maneuver of the fascists/ethnonationalists/whatevers themselves: casting the antagonism and instability inherent to any capitalist society as the result of a foreign intruder, whose removal will render the nation peaceful and harmonious once again. Obviously the two aren’t comparable in many other ways, but the end result in either case is to avoid facing the immanent contradictions of one’s own national identity too directly.

55

engels 11.30.16 at 12:28 am

Tbh if anyone was going to kill neoliberalism, I wouldn’t really have expected it to be the host of The Apprentice.

56

bob mcmanus 11.30.16 at 12:49 am

although tellingly enough it’s more common for such groups to self-identify with the term “nation”

Yeah sure, just “nationalism” works instead of “tribalism”, with an informed historical understanding of what that concept means. How nation differs from state. That Republicans and Democrats now represent different nations, and what that implies.

“Nation” by definition marks borders and boundaries, with the intent to exclude and deny citizenship, sometimes racist, but Welsh, English, Scot? When such exclusionary intent reaches the extent of marking a nation, a sorority isn’t one, probably needs geography and physical borders, except for Appadurai’s ethnospheres, the Pakistani diaspora for instance, maybe a weak global nation.

Left nationalism was a huge argument for the Comintern. I myself am agin’ ’em, nations.

57

engels 11.30.16 at 1:00 am

Relatedly:

WASHINGTON — Steven Terner Mnuchin, a financier with deep roots on Wall Street and in Hollywood but no government experience, is expected to be named Donald J. Trump’s Treasury secretary as soon as Wednesday, people close to the transition say. Mr. Mnuchin, 53, was the national finance chairman for Mr. Trump’s campaign. He began his career at Goldman Sachs, where he became a partner, before creating his own hedge fund, moving to the West Coast and entering the first rank of movie financiers by bankrolling hits like the “X-Men” franchise and “Avatar.” …

…Mr. Mnuchin, the son of a Goldman Sachs partner, joined the firm after graduating from Yale University. He worked there for 17 years, rising to oversee trading in government securities and mortgage bonds. After leaving Goldman in 2002, he founded Dune Capital Management, a hedge fund named after the dunes near his beach house in the Hamptons…

58

likbez 11.30.16 at 1:36 am

@4
engels 11.29.16 at 1:41 am

I agree that Trumpism is a complicated phenomena, but the idea that

Trumpism = “bastard neoliberalism”

, while definitely a huge simplification, looks attractive to me, because it caches internal contradictions in Trump’s political and economic views. Trump’s neoliberalism is definitely “neoliberalism without globalization and offshoring of domestic manufacturing”.

He also reject neoliberal interventionism, which was the main reason people voted against Hillary with her crazy jingoism and attempts to outdo Senator McCain in anti Russian rhetoric.

But still Trump’s “bastard neoliberalism” is a pretty questionable political and economic platform, as you can’t be half-pregnant. On the other hand the return to New Deal capitalism is hardly possible. So somebody needs to find an alternative that works. That’s might spell troubles for Trump. Or may be not: in a way this looks similar to Stalin’s rejection of Trotsky idea of global proletarian revolution and put forward his idea of “Socialism in a single country”

I think Trump platform might be viewed as “Neoliberalism in a single country”.

BTW Trump rejection of neoliberalism goes belong globalization and includes some forms of privatization. For example, Trump used to be against privatizing Medicare — a part of the platform of most Republicans in Congress (the following quote from Trump book was taken verbatum from Amazon customer review
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2RP80CXZGIJ9W/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1621574954 )

“It’s not unreasonable for people who paid into a system for decades to expect to get their money’s worth — that’s not an “entitlement,” that’s honoring a deal. We as a society must also make an ironclad commitment to providing a safety net for those who can’t make one for themselves.”

This view is also not compatible with classic neoliberalism.

59

Gareth Wilson 11.30.16 at 4:19 am

“….[W]e need to shift the balance of voice in favour of the unemployed teenager and against the City trader.”

Donald Trump has helped to do this, by retweeting a literal unemployed teenager known as FiIibuster. Let’s see what he has to say:

“Pathetic – you have no sufficient evidence that Donald Trump did not suffer from voter fraud, shame!”

Never mind.

60

nastywoman 11.30.16 at 8:04 am

@58
‘I agree that Trumpism is a complicated phenomena,’

As is the Mannequin Challenge. –
So why don’t we analyze the Mannequin Challenge -(and Taylor Swift) instead? –
-(she soon will have 24-7 program) – which could lead us to Trilling’s irritable mental gestures and the theory that ‘of all the tribalist groups that have achieved political power the only ones that have anything amounting to a political program are the Brexiteers.

Which Brexiters?
The ones who hate the Poles – and don’t know why they hate the Poles or the ones who just want the Poles to stay in Poland?

And there is this other thing about (Taylor Swift) and London.
‘London used to be ‘ubercool’ – THE ‘borderless – nationless’- city not only in Europe but in the world – where you could in one day have the amazing experience to be a real ‘citizen of this world’ -(without being disturbed too much by ‘politics’ or any thoughts of ‘neoliberalism’or other outdated ‘tribalisms’ thoughts) – and now as some very small minded Brits have destroyed this awesome feeling – London is NOT ubercool anymore –
– talking about the day after Brexit.

61

Collin Street 11.30.16 at 8:11 am

“Nation” by definition marks borders and boundaries,

Err, no. “Natio”, remember: “nations” are defined by population, not by land. “Countries” are the ones defined geographically. [and “states” are defined by administrative structure.]

62

nastywoman 11.30.16 at 8:21 am

– or in other words – to analyze ‘bigly chaotic, anarchistic, or very small minded social phenomenas’ is probably NOT as useful as freezing for a few seconds and experiencing the awesome feeling to be just ‘a Mannequin’ – or is this trolling too?

63

nastywoman 11.30.16 at 8:32 am

– which could all remind us about the real damage F…face von Clownstick did to the whole US of A – that in perception – he changed it into the US of Trump – a unbelievable small-minded and stupid ‘phenomena’ not unlike the perception of the UK after Brexit.

64

RichardM 11.30.16 at 8:52 am

‘Identity politics’ is both more accurate, and more useful, a term than any alternative such as racism, fascism, ethnonationalism, etc. It’s just the identity in question is that of the majority.

Voters voted for Trump, or Brexit, because they identified with him, or it. In doing so, they found that whatever they wanted is what that represents.

But the action always comes before the consequences; you can’t get upset about Trump supporters being called racists unless you already identify with them. The action is the choice of identity, the consequence is the adoption of opinion.

65

nastywoman 11.30.16 at 11:15 am

– and while we were sleeping Carrier tweeted –

‘We are pleased to have reached a deal with President-elect Trump & VP-elect Pence to keep close to 1,000 jobs in Indy. More details soon.’

Do you guys know what that means?
It means – that one the almost small-minded idiot on the planet F…face von Clownstick is eating ‘our’ lunch – and if ‘the people’ in GB and in Italy and in Spain and even in Germany will start to believe – that all what a voter has to do – is to vote for small minded fascistic and racistic a…hole to keep – or getting (well payed) manufacturing jobs back – we ‘the analyzing people’ are completely and utterly toast -(Mannequin Challenge or not)

66

casmilus 11.30.16 at 12:00 pm

The best discussion of the “left behind” motivations I’ve heard in the weeks after Brexit was in a talk by Lisa McKenzie, who as it happens is a prominent member of the far left group Class War.

She’s already done a book about the impact of austerity policies:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Getting-Estates-Culture-Austerity-Britain/dp/1447309952/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480507068&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+mckenzie

and she was researching a new one this year. So she got to talk to a lot of the left-behind people during the referendum, and saw them get very keen to vote for Brexit, even though they knew perfectly well it wouldn’t make their lives better. It was simply a scream of protest, and that makes perfect sense if no other way of getting noticed seems to work.

67

MisterMr 11.30.16 at 12:50 pm

WARNING: Trump=Brexit=Fascism=theSkyIsFallingOnOurHeads wall of words incoming.

I think that, for a variety of reasons, there is a misunderstanding in what “fascism” is, and this somehow clouds our judgment on prsent day fascist-like movements.

In Italy, after WW2, an article was inserted in the new constitution that forbids the reconstruction of the fascist party.
However, shortly after the war, many people of obvious fascist opinions created their own parties; their opponents “sued” those parties as agaist the contitutions, whereas the “post-fascist” objected that they also had the right to vote and of freedom of opinion, and therefore that the ban on the reconstruction of the fascist party was in itself uncostitutional.
The italian constitutional court was caught between a rock (declaring that the ban on the recostruction of the fascist party was uncostitutional) and an hard place (declaring that “post-fascist” could not actually create their own party). The court weaseled out of the problem this way:
They declared that the ban on the fascist party meant “fascist” in the sense of an officially undemocratic party that wanted to rule the nation by military strenght, and that therefore post-fascist partyes that played by the rules of electoral democracy were not really “fascism”, thus making the “non recostruction of the fascist party” clause basically moot.
For this reason, even if in the italian costitution we still have a ban on the reconstruction of the fascist party, we have legal parties whith “fascist” in their name, for example the “fascism and freedom” party (from which website I did read the story about the ban on the reconstruction of the f.p.):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism_and_Freedom_Movement

(note: the use of some of fascism symbols might still be outlawed in Italy in some situations, because of antiracism legislation and the racist implication of those symbols)

I think that these parties are interesting because, if we focus only on fascist dictatorships, we get a sort of caricature of “fascism”, exactly as focusing only on Stalin gives a caricature of socialism/communism.

While there are many parties that I think are fascist-like, there is one that was “officially” the prosecution of the fascist party, the MSI, and another that is widely considered an hidden fascist party, the “common man front” (UQ):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Social_Movement
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Man%27s_Front

The common man’s front, in particular, really reminds very much trumpism (read the wikipedia page) and a certain right-leaning mindset. The interesting part is that, while the UQ described itself as “apolitical”, it really had a lot of policies in common with the MSI and in facts in the end merged with MSI.

From the wikipedia page:

“After the Christian Democracy ejected the Communists from the government coalition in 1947 and the stabilisation of the economic situation, most of the Front’s supporters became voters of the Christian Democrats, making them the dominant force in Italian politics.[1] In 1947 ten MPs left the party founding the National Union group, slowly moving towards the Italian Liberal Party. Later, the whole party accepted to join forces with the Liberals in the National Bloc, and fell into decline. Some of its initial proponents became adherents of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI).[1] The last remnants of the organisation merged into the MSI in 1972.[4]
_Qualunquismo_
Whereas the party’s history was quite short, it left one long-lasting influence in the Italian political discourse: even today, qualunquismo is a common derogatory term for a non-committal attitude, cynical political disinterest, lack of social responsibility or anti-political populism.[1][10][11]
Qualunquismo has been compared to the similar movement of Poujadism in France, named after Pierre Poujade, leader of the middle-class populist and anti-establishment “Union for the Defence of Shopkeepers and Craftsmen” (UDCA) that had its peak in the mid-1950s.[12][13][14]”

So we see that fascist see themselves as apolitical, and that their main selling point is anti-communism/anti-socialism. How can someone be an ant-socialist and think of him/hersels as “apolitical”?

My opinion is this:

The left has a fundamental theory: capitalists are stealing the lunch of workers. The government should limit this (in various ways depending on the brand of leftism), but sometimes goes on the side of capital. The main bad guy is capital, and the government is mostly an enabler; corrupted politicians are also a consequence of capital, since the capitalists are the ones corrupting politicians.

The right has a theory that is the opposite: politicians are stealing the lunch of workers and capitalists; some capitalists take advantage of this by entering in crooked relations with politicians. The main bad guy is the politician, and crooked capitalists are a consequence of politicians.

Note that the two theories are actually quite similar, the main difference is the direction of causality: for the leftists is from capitalists to politicians, for the righties is from politicians to capitalists.

Because the righties have this theory that “politicians” in general are the source of all evil, they see themselves as “apolitical”, however they are “apolitical” in the sense of being a small government, and implicitly anti-redistribution kind of guys, that in practice means they are very political, they just don’t see themselves this way.
They consequently mostly dislike lefties, because lefties are ususally pro-big government, pro redistribuition guys.

They also have an ideology that is based on the negation of class conflict, and so from their point of view they are still “apolitical”, common sense guys, whereas from the point of view of lefties they are very political and very ideological.
For this reason, for example, Mussolini said that fascism was a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, meaning that fascist were neither “pro rich men” neither “pro worker” (abolition/negation of class conflict), but this kind of approach from the point of view of a leftie is a pro capitalist approach, not a third way one (as the existing order disproportionately favours the capitalist).

It should be noted that abolition of class conflict, being basically anticommunists, and perceiving themselves as “apolitical”, are just three different faces of the same thing.

What distinguishes “fascists” (by which I mean this kind of democratic fascist parties, not just fascist dictatorships) from other right leaning tendencies is the fact that fascists are highly nationalistic.
When the economy goes bad, the remotion of class conflict becomes difficult, and fascist parties thus blame the problems on “foreigners”, that generally include “foreign bankers” or “international bankers”; this kind of ultranationalist mindset is a necessity because they can’t really blame people of their own country, otherwise they would end up in some sort of socialism. When they blame people in their own countries, they blame minorities or other groups that can easily hide the “class conflict” nature of the problem.
They therefore declare themselves the true representatives of “the people”, against elite estabilishment (the politicians) and “foreigners” of various kinds.

From this description I think that it is obvious that the american right always had some fascist tendencies (and so does the european one). This cames from the main characteristic of fascism, that is a cultural remotion of class conflict.
Also the classes that have the strongest affinity with fascism are the small burgoises (shopkeepers, artisans, small business owners of various kinds) that find themselves squeezed between socialists from one side, and big capital from the other.

Going back to brexit, it too has the characteristic of a remotion of class conflict:
IMO, the high wage share of the postwar “social-democratic” period was caused by the fact that governments had many very redistributive laws in place: high marginal taxes, wages and retirement strongly linked to inflation, big unions etc..
But these laws were then revoked, both for ideological reasons, and because increased international competition meant that governments had to compete one with the other to attract capital, so “structural reforms” based on making workers easier to fire, lower marginal taxes on the rich (often compensated by higer taxes on the lower and the middles) etc.
So “globalisation” and similar thingies like the EU single market did actually push in the direction of lower wages, higer inequality, but mostly because of their effects on national laws, not because of the direct effect of the trade flows, and in fact inequality rose almost everywhere, not only in net importing countries, or in countries with a lot of immigration.
But the recent bout of “anti-globalisers” like Trump or brexiters don’t see thigs this way (that is a “socialist” view because it says that the capitalists are eating the workers’ lunch) but instead say that the polish or chinese workers are eating the american or british workers’ lunch (that is manifestly false and, in addition, is the usual remotion of the class conflict).

So what will happen the day after brexit? Imho the government will go in a very “pro business” mode, for example by cutting taxes on the top and making “stimulus” that however will be mostly targeted to enrich business (see Trump or Berlusconi in Italy); meanwhile some of the price of brexit will fall on workers (for example higer tariffs on some goods) but this will be blamed politically on foreigners. In the EU it is likely that the same will happen.
The fact that the EU will take an increasingly anti-UK stance, and the UK an increasingly anti-EU stance, will make this very difficult to reverse (as both sides reinforce the other’s stance).

68

Akshay 11.30.16 at 4:26 pm

I would agree with the prediction that the UK moves to the right. This is the intention of the Tory rightwingers who originally created the Brexit movement. Unlike CT commenters, they do not criticise the EU for being “neoliberal”, but think it spreads French style “socialism”. The same goes for the millionaires who financed the Brexit campaign. Their anti-EU regulation propaganda is the same as deregulation propaganda everywhere: just replace “Brussels” with “Washington” and you can use it in the USA.

What’s more, they have weaponised Rodrik’s Trilemma for their purposes. For a given level of economic globalisation, you can regulate global capitalism through international federation / cooperation, or it will regulate you and put you in a “golden straitjacket”. The latter is pretty much the plan for the UK. Some on the left want to pick the third side of Rodrik’s trilemma by deglobalising. However, I have not seen a plausible Left-wing plan for substantially deglobalising a structurally import dependent, densely populated island, which is also a global centre for the financial and culture industries.

If the UK is going to keep on needing imports to eat, clothe itself, drive around and have tiny screens to look at all day, it will need to pay for these imports through exports or by attracting inward investment. As Brexit will make both harder to some extent, I suspect the UK will end up compensating for Brexit by attacking worker’s rights and pay, and cosying up to capital. We can see this happening already: the drop in the currency reduces real wages. The first major structural reform the Tories mooted was about lowering corporation taxes.

I guess above analysis will get me labelled “neoliberal”, but what I actually believe is Rodrik’s trilemma: you need to choose between autarky, neoliberalism, and (left) political cosmopolitanism. Much of contemporary EU “populist” demagogy is based on denying this choice. (I will also point out to Americans who want a little more autarky that they live in a giant, continent sized country, over twice the size of the entire EU, and blessed with infinite natural resources. For our tiny little countries on this side of the Atlantic, only the latter two options apply)

69

WLGR 11.30.16 at 5:20 pm

Collin: Err, no. “Natio”, remember: “nations” are defined by population, not by land. “Countries” are the ones defined geographically. [and “states” are defined by administrative structure.]

To me it seems clear that Bob is talking about boundaries much more ideologically rigid than mere state borders, he’s talking about the socialboundary between ingroup and outgroup embodied as membership in the nation, providing grounds for whether to affirm or deny entitlement to some form of basic human consideration. But I agree with him that nationalism as a specific and historically contingent form of ingroup/outgroup ethics (of so-called “tribalism”) seems difficult to sustain without the geographic and political structure of a nation-state, or at least without an organized movement fixated on obtaining these things. Much of 19th- and 20th-century European nationalist ideology is absolutely obsessed with notions of an innate, sacred connection between a people and its land as mediated by an ethnically exclusive state apparatus, logically culminating in the core Nazi ideological plank of “blut und boden”, blood and soil. (One can easily include zionism in this assessment: as Sam Kriss writes in one of my favorite assessments of the relationship between zionism and anti-Semitism, the actual ideological content of zionism is much more authentically European than it is authentically Jewish per se.)

70

nick j 11.30.16 at 7:28 pm

The demise of the eurozone will make brexit pale into insignficance?

71

bruce wilder 11.30.16 at 8:27 pm

fascism, nationalism, chauvinism, ethnocentrism, tribalism . . .

If you have this much difficulty finding the right name or the right historical resonant analogy, maybe the phenomenon is not what you are striving so hard to say it is.

In a more purely rationally instrumental politics, the collapse of neoliberalism as an intellectual project would point directly, as Wolfgang Munchau wrote in the Financial Times a few days ago, to a straightforward policy reversal: “The correct course of action would be to stop insulting voters and, more importantly, to solve the problems of an out-of-control financial sector, uncontrolled flows of people and capital, and unequal income distribution.”

Or not.

72

Ebenezer Scrooge 11.30.16 at 10:17 pm

What is this “Britain” and “UK” everybody is talking about? Will Scotland still tolerate union with the Sassenachs?

73

likbez 11.30.16 at 10:25 pm

@71
bruce wilder 11.30.16 at 8:27 pm

In a more purely rationally instrumental politics, the collapse of neoliberalism as an intellectual project would point directly, as Wolfgang Munchau wrote in the Financial Times a few days ago, to a straightforward policy reversal: “The correct course of action would be to stop insulting voters and, more importantly, to solve the problems of an out-of-control financial sector, uncontrolled flows of people and capital, and unequal income distribution.”

Looks like wishful thinking. In no society those who are on the top (the neoliberal elite, in our case) give up their position without fierce fight. Just think about all those hedge fund managers and associated professionals and suppliers.

That’s why currently we have no other choice then far right nationalism to fight neoliberalism, as left was completely emasculated after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

You fight the enemy with the army you have, not the one you wish to have.

Remember John Kenneth Galbraith quote:

“People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.”

It is perfectly applicable to the current situation.

74

nastywoman 11.30.16 at 10:57 pm

@70
‘The demise of the eurozone will make brexit pale into insignficance?’

As there can’t be a demise of the eurozone if the United States of Trump is going to boom every worldwide gambler suspects.

After the Tax cuts and the Infrastructure program F..face von Clownstick will initiate – there will be so much dough floating to all the eurozone countries which have something – anything – supposedly ‘valuable’ to sell – that there will be an amazing economical boom there too – but only in the eurozone countries which have something ‘valuable’ to sell for all these Dollars…

And as the UK already has sold London – it will be mainly the eurozone countries , which (still) have some ‘Crown Jewels’ and if they are being called Bugattis – and so the eurozone has to watch out that it doesn’t get ruined completely by too much money?

-(just read how F..face von Clownstick destroyed one of the ‘nicest’ beaches of Scotland with his dollars!)

75

John Prince 12.01.16 at 5:03 am

As this post notes, it appears that the right is responding to the collapse of the neoliberal consensus with tribalism; but neoliberalism was centered on a theory of how economic relations should be structured. What has always mystified me is how tribalism works for anyone as a response to the collapse of that economically based ideology, because tribalism appears to have no economic ideology at all. it seems to respond to the idea that “the system” is not working with the answer “let [fill in the blank with a group identity] people run things.”

Is tribalism, then, really just “neoliberalism” with the proviso that the system must be closed to people with the wrong ethnic backgrounds? As far as I can tell, that is more or less what these folks are saying. But I admit to being constitutionally incapable of understanding what is going on with tribalism, generally.

76

Sebastian H 12.01.16 at 6:26 am

John Prince, tribalism makes a sense of sorts with respect to the collapse of neoliberalism. You just have to diagnose the collapse more concretely than “neoliberalism doesn’t work”. I’m not a tribalist in the sense described above (though I hate the term, because I think everyone is a tribalist in terms of how they judge in and out groups). However I think this is how it works:

They say: Neoliberalism is failing because it lets other groups (say foreign bankers or foreign workers depending on the topic) game the system to take the fair fruits of our labor. We need to install people who will game the system in our favor.

That is why Trump looks favorable despite what the rest of us think should be obvious faults. He’s a con man. Yes, but he’s the con man who will work for us! (Of course he isn’t, but that is the really big con!)

77

Asteele 12.01.16 at 7:08 am

The problem is capitalism, but liberalism (small l) can’t admit that. But there is still a problem! And the space of what is the problem, still needs to be filled. White-tribalism fills this space with garbage racism, neoliberalism fills it with people “making bad choices”.

78

Hidari 12.01.16 at 7:24 am

@74 I strongly suspect this will not happen. Trump is an oligarch and, at least at first, his policies will help the United States to ‘boom’ by helping the very rich. This will, in the short term at least, help to strengthen the dollar, which will weaken the Euro. Not to mention the obvious fact that every American President since Nixon has been strongly in favour of EU integration (for obvious reasons of geopolitics): Trump is the first who doesn’t care. Finally, he already has emboldened ‘populist’ forces who loathe and despise the Euro.

In any case, where does the EU go from here? It’s already losing members, and I simply cannot make clear to you how much that was not meant to happen . The Euro is a busted flush. Further expansion is off the table: Turkey has already given up. Further integration seems to be difficult if not impossible, politically speaking. So where does it go? Stasis doesn’t exist in terms of entities like the EU. You are either moving forward or you are moving back. The EU isn’t moving forward.

Increasingly, the crushing of Syriza seems to have been, not just ‘a Greek crisis’ as we were regularly told, but the canary in the coalmine.

Will the EU exist, at least in its present form, in 2050? There is good reason to doubt it. Will the Euro still exist in 2030? Who knows?

79

faustusnotes 12.01.16 at 8:38 am

I would have thought that Trump’s initial appointments would dispel any notion that the “Tribalists” are not also arch neoliberals. Three ex-Goldman Sachs dudes, all beneficiaries of the financial crisis and the collapse of manufacturing, whose purpose in the new administration will be to deregulate finance and cut taxes on the rich and corporations… John’s analysis falls apart a bit if the “tribalists” make the “neoliberals” look like hardened communists.

Trump’s America will be the completion of the New Gilded Age, with the rich riding roughshod over everyone else. Interesting parallel with the architect of Brexit, Farage, who was also a neoliberal (remember UKIP’s policy platform was a lot of deregulation and loopy free market crap).

80

Jim Buck 12.01.16 at 8:39 am

Neotribalism?

81

nastywoman 12.01.16 at 9:30 am

@74
‘Will the EU exist, at least in its present form, in 2050? There is good reason to doubt it. Will the Euro still exist in 2030?’

This question always reminds me on the question a lot of tourists liked to ask for years and years about Italy -(especially before the Euro) – as Italy (supposedly) is such ‘a chaotic mess’ – that the country actually ‘works’ better -(judging ‘quality of life’) than any other country I know.
And that judgement is purely subjective for sure – but what is not subjective is the fact – that Italy still ‘exists’ – always changing for sure – not unlike the EU – by the judgement of some – ‘always a mess’ – but still in a completely different state of chaos – than the US – much more ’empathetic and social’ and much less ‘threatening’ in every effort to find a friendly life-work balance.

And so – Yes! – the EU will even survive the reign of F…face von Clownstick – and I’m about a 100 percent sure that I will pay my Pasta also in the next 30 years – even if Italy would want to get (official) out of the Euro – and then the Euro -(or the Dollar?) would become the preferred currency of every Italian -(just the way one also has to pay in Turkey
either with Euros or Dollars)

You got to ‘improvise’ man!

82

kidneystones 12.01.16 at 10:14 am

Just a quick reminder of the quality of prognostications to date:

83

nastywoman 12.01.16 at 12:22 pm

@82

Thank you – as it is really getting harder and harder to remind my fellow Americans that they really elected the Racist Birther F… face von Clownstick and have turned my beloved United States of America into the ‘United States of Trump’.

And it get’s harder and harder – as my fellow Americans have this incredible ability to adjust -(and laugh) about even the most challenging circumstances – like for example this dinner of F… face von Clownstick with that nice Mormon Man.
And as I absolutly loved the Book of Mormon -(the musical) – do you think we could improve the quality of prognostications concerning the question if ‘frog legs’ one day in the homeland will become as popular as ‘the Quiche’?

84

engels 12.01.16 at 1:22 pm

The problem is capitalism, but liberalism (small l) can’t admit that. But there is still a problem! And the space of what is the problem, still needs to be filled. White-tribalism fills this space with garbage racism, neoliberalism fills it with people “making bad choices”.

Yep, and there’s a lot of overlap between the two.

85

Jim Buck 12.01.16 at 3:43 pm

White-tribalism fills this space with garbage racism

Why not drop the “White-tribal” and begin calling them neotribals? Bleeding heart tribals is what they are.

86

WLGR 12.01.16 at 4:36 pm

Ah yes, “white-tribals” and “neotribals”, the hard-working 9-to-5 tribals, “Leave It To Beaver” tribals, lunchpail-and-hardhat tribals, plain old small-town Main Street tribals. As distinct from the regular kind of tribals: you know, jungle tribals, hip-hop-style tribals, spear-chucking tribals, “Heart of Darkness” tribals, fleet-footed urban tribals, dope-fiend tribals, welfare-queen tribals, superpredatory tribals…

See why we need a different word? Seriously, it’d be better to have no word at all than to keep using this not-very-faint dogwhistle shit.

87

Lee A. Arnold 12.01.16 at 5:55 pm

I think of them as The White Narcissist Movement.

88

Patrick 12.01.16 at 6:34 pm

“Since the collapse of faith in neoliberalism following the Global Financial Crisis, the political right has been increasingly dominated by tribalism. “

And the political left has been increasingly dominated by neoliberalism.

89

WLGR 12.01.16 at 7:02 pm

faustusnotes, to blur the divide between the neoliberal center and the socialist left is to fall totally and completely into the trap. At the end of the day Trump isn’t a real national-chauvinist, the compromise term I’ll settle for here instead of you-know-what. He’s a backbench member of the neoliberal ruling class, and a participant in the ongoing game in which two neoliberal electoral blocs make vague rhetorical overtures toward leftism and national-chauvinism while taking turns implementing different aspects of a thoroughly neoliberal governing agenda.

The fact that all these “never Trump” Republicans are now clamoring for roles in what’s predictably shaping up as a neoliberal administration with a national-chauvinist veneer should validate what the left has been saying all along: that Trump as a politician is not in any meaningful sense unprecedented, his rhetoric proceeds logically or even inevitably from the long (and bipartisan) tradition of national-chauvinist ideology in US electoral politics, and if anything the greater danger this US election season was Democrats’ decision to validate and legitimize the so-called “moderate Republicans” who for decades have been laying the groundwork for Trump and all the future Trumps to come. Nor did this greater danger end with the election, especially as long as Democrats continue to spin their rhetoric about dropping blue-collar constituents in exchange for moderate suburbanites as a move away from racism when in fact it was a move toward racism. A good number of the people whose economic distress they’ve decided to downplay are working-class people of color (who contrary to many mealy-mouthed “race not class” liberals’ implications actually do exist, and some are even leftists to boot!) whereas the people to whom they decided to reach out instead are a demographic pretty much entirely created by white flight. If we want to explain the depressed voter turnout among working-class people of color this election, attributing it to a correct perception that both campaigns were genuflecting to white racism in different ways seems far less patronizing than assuming they all reflexively said “no black guy on the ballot, guess I’ll stay home”.

In that vein, MisterMr touches on the crucial point that fascism or national-chauvinism is a tool purposefully utilized by the liberal center to divert economic discontent that might otherwise find a home on the left. So when Quiggin’s three-party system ultimately reduces itself to two, we need to insist on seeing the true dividing line between center and left, not the mystified one between center and right — any less means embracing a future that looks like a doughy short-fingered orange hand smashing a human face forever.

90

WLGR 12.01.16 at 7:21 pm

Also too: from what I can see, not only does every English dictionary entry I can find for “chauvinism” list the original definition primary and the “male chauvinism” definition as a brief addendum at most, but it also seems that (predictably enough) interpreting “chauvinism” to mean “male chauvinism” is largely an English-language tic. Google.fr for “chauvinisme” seems to yield few entries that mention sexism at all, and the French Wikipedia entry has a longer digression about “social chauvinism” (Lenin’s term for alleged socialists who supported their governments’ war efforts during WWI) than about “male chauvinism”.

91

Faustusnotes 12.02.16 at 3:18 am

WLGR, where is the democratic policy statement that they are “dropping” the interests of blue collar workers? This is paranoid rubbish, and it’s this failure of analysis that has so much of the hard lefts knickers in a twist. Democratic policy is way more positive for blue collar workers and their children and communities than republican, and they haven’t dropped or abandoned them.

If you can find a single example of democrats “spin[ing] their rhetoric about about dropping blue-collar constituents in favor of suburban moderates” I’ll eat my hat.

This is the most neoliberal republican administration ever, that beat the most left wing democratic contender in at least 20 years,coming on the heels of a left wing administration that oversaw the biggest expansion of welfare in fifty years – an expansion that was hobbled by opposition from its blue collar constituency because it was considered too radical. Until you can present an analysis that takes account of these facts, you’re talking nonsense.

92

kidneystones 12.02.16 at 4:22 am

Why won’t progressives reach out to the white working class in the US and the UK in election after election?

“Democrats were reassured by their friends in political science that they really had no problem with the working class and that they needn’t be concerned. With a few statistical sleights of hand and enormous heaps of professional contempt for the laity, academics helped to shut down that debate.”

CT allowed the debate to continue.

So, there’s that.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/29/how-the-democrats-could-win-again-if-they-wanted

93

Sebastian H 12.02.16 at 8:03 am

“WLGR, where is the democratic policy statement that they are “dropping” the interests of blue collar workers?”

This isn’t a clear way of analyzing the problem. Politics is about priorities. You don’t need a policy statement “dropping” someone to drop them. All you have to do is make them one of your lowest priorities.

94

nastywoman 12.02.16 at 8:16 am

@92
‘Why won’t progressives reach out to the white working class in the US and the UK in election after election?’

Well – Yes – and for somebody who asked this question since years on all kind of so called progressive blog – and getting no… ‘nice’ comments for it it is tremendously… sad.

And to read what one has written so many times in a much funnier way than:

‘the real swing voters are the working people who over the years have switched their loyalty from the Democrats to Trump’s Republicans. Their views are pretty much the reverse of the standard model. On certain matters they are open to conservative blandishments; on economic issues, however, they are pretty far to the left. They don’t admire free trade or balanced budgets or entitlement reform – the signature issues of centrism – they hate those things. And if Democrats want to reach them, they will have to turn away from the so-called center and back to the economic left.’

– IS… sad beyond believe but that’s still NO excuse for having voted for a Racist Birther F…face von Clownstick.

Not AT ALL!

the real swing voters are the working people who over the years have switched their loyalty from the Democrats to Trump’s Republicans. Their views are pretty much the reverse of the standard model. On certain matters they are open to conservative blandishments; on economic issues, however, they are pretty far to the left. They don’t admire free trade or balanced budgets or entitlement reform – the signature issues of centrism – they hate those things. And if Democrats want to reach them, they will have to turn away from the so-called center and back to the economic left.

95

Placeholder 12.02.16 at 9:03 am

Why won’t progressives reach out to the white working class in the US and the UK in election after election?

Jeremy Corbyn has proposed a program of nationalization of the utilities, rail and postal systems – backed by an astonishing 70% of the public – even 70% of UKIP voters. The new leader of UKIP wants to privatize the NHS.

The left can win again – but will the lying slandering filth liberal media let them?

96

faustusnotes 12.02.16 at 9:37 am

Sebastian H, WLGR states that the Dems were “spinning their rhetoric”. To the extent that his statement is not nonsense, it can only be interpreted as a sign that the Dems openly stated the dereliction of the working class. But even putting aside that meaningless statement, Clinton’s policies were all given in great detail on her website and over months of the constant accusations here that the dems were deserting the working class I have never seen a single person link to any evidence in Democratic policy to support that claim. Is it the Medicaid expansion? The regularization of healthcare plans to make them affordable for working people? The minimum wage? Obama’s NLRB appointments that subsequently decided franchise employees are still employees? Where is the Democratic policy in which they walk away from unions? Were the unions not supporting Clinton? The idea presented here is frankly ridiculous. There is no evidence in the stated policies or actions of the Democrats to support it, and more to the point no one who claims it ever presents evidence to support it.

So come on WLGR, give me some evidence. Not waffle about how Clinton is rich and gave talks to bankers, but actually policy evidence. Start with the medicaid expansion and the support for raising the minimum wage, and tell me how I can infer Democrats abandoned the working class.

97

engels 12.02.16 at 10:38 am

Maybe I’m missing the point but why is the word ‘tribalism’ preferable to nationalisn? (My main disagreement isn’t with the word, though, but the implication it’s incompatible with neoliberalism and/or represents a clear break with it.)

98

nastywoman 12.02.16 at 12:07 pm

@96
‘and tell me how I can infer Democrats abandoned the working class.’

Democrats NEVER ‘abandoned’ the working class and I say that as a US Democrat but like the way I treat my friends – I happen to have friends I like – and then there are my friends I truly love and sometimes the friends I just ‘like’ feel a bit… let’s not call it ‘abandoned’ but what’s about ‘a little less loved’ and then when in such a situation a F…face von Clownstick comes along and tells my friends who I like very, very much – that he likes them even more – or if he tells them that he will give them their jobs back…

What do you think will happen?

99

nastywoman 12.02.16 at 12:18 pm

– and two comments to Dean Bakers post about ‘Trade’

– shouldn’t you also finally add that we didn’t lose these manufacturing jobs through ‘trade’?
We lost them because US companies gave these jobs away while companies of other countries -(members of the same trade agreements) didn’t.

So please repeat after me:
We lost all of these manufacturing jobs BE-cause US companies gave them away -(outsourced them – killed them etc) while companies of other countries who weren’t as ‘greedy’ – ‘stupid’ or ‘shortsighted’ -(pick anyone you like) slowly exported US INTO THE F… Ground!!
-(and to add insult to injury the most successful ones are members of exactly the same trade deals as we are!!)

AND if you don’t get it? –
SEE – there are a lot of people in this world – who are too lazy to look anything up – and so they vote for a Brexit or a F…face von Clownstick because they think some nasty ‘gubernment’ had given their jobs away – and they don’t realize that some nasty private companies have used the efforts of openminded governments to create a ‘better’- more united and more peaceful world.
-(especially in Europe)

And then Fascistic and Racist Idiots came along and told the people that ALL of these efforts of governments to create a better – more united and more openminded world cost ‘their living’ and ‘their jobs’ – when actually there was for sure some ‘stuff’ in these trade agreements which (still) was unfair or not better –
BUT that should NOT HAVE BEEN the cause to vote for the idiotic small mindedness of a Brexit or the Racistic tribe of a F…face von Clownstick!!

Can’t you please agree???!

100

engels 12.02.16 at 3:47 pm

An example of how the two can intersect I was thinking about today was The Bell Curvw: managerialist individual-victim-blaming par excellence, in which underlying the pseudo-meritocratic values and pseudo-scientific approach is good ole American racism.

101

WLGR 12.02.16 at 4:34 pm

faustusnotes, it didn’t occur to me that anybody would try to dispute this on factual grounds since the Clinton campaign and its surrogates were very open about this strategy, but if you really insist, then Google is your friend; a simple search field with a combination of various relevant terms like “Clinton campaign white suburban moderate Republican” will be enough get you started. Here for instance is Chuck Schumer: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” In an almost identical vein, Ed Rendell: “For every one of those blue-collar Democrats [Trump] picks up, he will lose to Hillary two socially moderate Republicans and independents in suburban Cleveland, suburban Columbus, suburban Cincinnati, suburban Philadelphia, suburban Pittsburgh, places like that.” Paul Begala: “Trump’s dominance with older high school-educated white males is remarkable. That’s a group that’s been trending away from the Democrats and toward Republicans for a long time. He has driven away college-educated whites, so what [he’s] doing—and this will be his legacy when he loses—is handing the suburbs to the Democratic Party.” Here’s a New York Times description of the Clinton campaign’s internal debates: “[Clinton] ceded the white working-class voters who backed Mr. Clinton in 1992. Though she would never have won this demographic, her husband insisted that her campaign aides do more to try to cut into Mr. Trump’s support with these voters. They declined, reasoning that she was better off targeting college-educated suburban voters by hitting Mr. Trump on his temperament.” And here, here, here, here… is more of the Democrats’ endless talking-point blather about “college-educated suburban women” and “moderate suburban Republicans”, which I can’t seriously believe you missed.

You also seem to have missed something in the syntax of the quoted comment. The point is that “their rhetoric about dropping blue-collar constituents in favor of suburban moderates” is a pretty well established fact (or so I would have thought) and the spin is that this constitutes a move away from racism, when in fact it contains some not-so-subtle racism of its own. When they talk about blue-collar or working-class people, it’s exclusively in the sense of blue-collar or working-class white people, whereas they talk about people of color as if they’re a monolithic bloc for whom no differentiation between rich and poor (or any differentiation at all, really) could conceivably be worth parsing. Of course this is a mystification: wealthier people of color flocked to Clinton along with the rest of the liberal professional and elite classes, while poorer people of color stayed home in droves compared to past elections, even to the point of articulating this not as a reflexive response to a white candidate or a regrettable outcome of voter suppression but a deliberate rejection of the modern Democratic Party. If any Democratic campaign messaging strategy could ever be tailor-made to produce this kind of thinking, it’s the one-two punch of downplaying poor people of color’s economic concerns (Clinton’s “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism?”) while simultaneously leaning heavily on the very same politics of suburban white middle-class respectability and moderation that in practice have always been a core vehicle for white supremacy in the US.

Princeton historian Matt Karp writing for Jacobin sums up the problem nicely:

Election Day cataclysm or not, the Democrats remain a party of two distinct groups: a wealthy, motivated, and highly resourceful professional class that supplies the party its leadership and ideological compass; and an unenthusiastic, unorganized, and largely nonwhite working class, whose chief reason for voting Democratic is that the other major party is packed full of racists.

What are the implications of such a starkly bifurcated coalition? One consequence is the ongoing disfigurement of the liberal political imagination. In a world where Ivy League students — the sons and daughters of Fairfax and Marin — vote for Clinton at a clip of more than 80 percent, elite Democrats find it exceedingly difficult to identify any tangible common interests they share with most American workers.

Instead, their attitude toward working-class Americans tends to take two forms. On the one hand, a growing contempt for the (white) workers who have slowly drifted away from the Democratic Party; on the other, an essentially philanthropic if not paternalistic concern for “the most vulnerable” (nonwhite) workers who ostensibly remain within the Democratic camp.

This has given us an elite liberal discourse that grows eloquent about questions of “privilege” and “empathy,” but cannot seem to imagine a politics of power and solidarity. It has given us a liberalism that adores means-testing and looks askance at universal goods — not because universal goods are too expensive, but because they might benefit someone who isn’t deservingly deprived.

The Clinton campaign carried this brand of liberalism faithfully forward. It represented the apotheosis of a Democratic Party leadership that primarily envisions the working class as a downtrodden group in need of help, rather than a sleeping giant in need of organization. A leadership that views politics as a room where clever experts hash out benevolent policies for the neediest, rather than a field of mass struggle in which everybody’s basic welfare is at stake. A leadership that may be genuinely tolerant, inclusive, and compassionate, but whose own class blinders make it almost impossible for them to think about progressive politics in terms of collective self-interest.

102

Placeholder 12.02.16 at 5:02 pm

WLGR@89;faustnotes@91 Sebastian H@93;nastywoman@94 re:”dropping the interests of blue collar workers?”

This isn’t a clear way of analyzing the problem. Politics is about priorities. You don’t need a policy statement “dropping” someone to drop them. All you have to do is make them one of your lowest priorities.

I have a record for tangling with Sebastian H but when you’re right, you’re right. And the numbers are there.

“The data does not support that idea that the white working class was inevitably lost, as polls
showed fairly resilient support with white working class women, until the Clinton campaign
stopped talking about economic change and asked people to vote for unity, temperament and
experience and to continue on President Obama’s progress.”

http://rooseveltinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Dcor_PE_RTR_Ealert_11.15.2016_for-release.pdf

103

bruce wilder 12.02.16 at 5:05 pm

I do not object to the word, tribalism, though I am among those who think tribalism as a organizing pattern for partisan mobilization is extending neoliberalism’s reign rather than displacing it.

What rankles me is the implication that “tribalism” is more or less synonymous with the right’s reliance on racism as a primary rally cry, while the left’s anti-racist stance exempts the left’s identity politics from being a species of tribalism as well.

It seems to me that the emergence of “tribalism” in organizing and motivating partisan identity is driven by forces of partisan reaction in the context of increasing social atomization and the decline of social affiliation in all areas of life. In an American context, a long-standing theme of right-wing televised and on-line propaganda has aimed at motivating people on the basis of their resentments against the supposed contempt the hated libruls have for “God and guns” and the self-regarding moral superiority of those driving a Prius and listening to National Public Radio.

I would not want to be understood as saying that tribalism is symmetric between right and left; I do think what has been happening on the right has been driven by social reaction to what has been happening on the left, and the interpretation the left has of the right is just as driven by motivated reasoning, even if the motivations are different. The left’s sometime focus on language, micro aggression and personal experience cum personal justification thru enlightened attitudes is a manifestation of the decline of social affiliation, so there is an irony in naming the pseudo in-group conformity that results, “tribalism”. The “tribalism” of left identity politics has been very real and has contributed mightily in organizing a reactionary right “tribalism” around resentment and repulsion at being the left’s outgroup, the poorly educated flyover people.

The division over Brexit demonstrated the extent to which social membership in actual social organizations like clubs, unions, churches no longer matters as much as personal worldview, as the authoritarians divided from the cosmopolitans. The angry, uncomprehending reaction to the vote from cosmopolitans reinforced the “tribalism” of both, but to see that requires a modicum of detachment from the angry accusation that racism and lies was the whole case and denies the legitimacy of economic grievance.

One reason “tribalism” seems appropriate to characterize the eruption on right is that there is no coherent policy program corresponding to the resentments or grievances. It is voting on the basis of something personal, an emotional identification cum perception of sorts.

I am not so certain that the left, as it has sunk into a denial laden defense of the status quo, has not also been shedding its attachment to a policy program, Hillary’s proverbial website notwithstanding. Democrats associated with the party establishment especially in the 2016 campaign talked policy futility and never acted as if a concerted effort to, say, capture the Senate with an eye on opening a policy agenda mattered to them. And, many ordinary supporters of the Democrats seemed to be blithely unaware or apathetic about the policy record of war, economic predation, et cetera.

Without a policy agenda, the tribes cannot be proper constituencies demanding delivery on promises, which fits a continuation of neoliberal policy agenda just fine, but foretells, it seems to me, disillusion, apathy, violence and loss of legitimacy becoming acute. If mobilizing the tribes substitutes for a politics of coherent policy, it is hard to imagine any but ineffectual albeit authoritarian governance.

104

engels 12.02.16 at 5:07 pm

Democrats didn’t abandon the ‘white working class’, they abandoned the working class tout court.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/12/the_myth_of_the_rust_belt_revolt.html

105

Ronan(rf) 12.02.16 at 5:12 pm

“Why won’t progressives reach out to the white working class in the US and the UK in election after election?”

From what I can make out about the new strategy for reaching out to the ‘white working class’ in Britain, it goes something like this:

“we have run a series of regressions on world values surveys, developed this composite of the median WWC voter as someone who wants to bring back public hangings and kick out Muslims, therefore we should seek out this demographic, court them extensively, give priority to these admittedly idiotic sentiments, and then social democracy will return”

106

engels 12.02.16 at 9:18 pm

Goldman shares hit highest level since financial crisis in post-election rally
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN13P27Q

107

kidneystones 12.02.16 at 10:06 pm

Democrats outsources responsibility for engaging working-class and young voters to geriatric ‘part-time’ worker.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/11/16/senate-democrats-tap-bernie-sanders-lead-outreach/93960822/

Re: expansion of welfare. This perhaps sounds ‘ideal’ to some Brits, but sounds like permanent unemployment to many others. I expect most Brits would prefer jobs to welfare. That appears to be the case in the US.

I watched the Trump ‘thank you’ speech outlining the 100 days and an interview with Gingrich on the same topic. Contra CNN (which just got busted for an appalling live mic ‘joke’), the Trump message is entirely inclusive: all Americans are needed to ‘make America great,’ not just those who went to the right schools and live in the tonier zip-codes. Japan and Germany were devastated in 1946 and rebuilt with US help.

The Democrats were handed the same power in 2008, to transform America and build a more egalitarian and peaceful society. Democrats gave America the ACA and unemployment insurance for 2 years. The result? The devastation of the Democratic party at the state level which allowed Republicans to build their bench and their brand. Dems could and should have proposed the Marshall plan rebuilding project Trump is now rolling out.

President-elect Trump fills arenas with adoring crowds delighted that a rich guy from New York actually cares enough to show-up and listen to their concerns, as he has for the past year.

Meanwhile, Dems send Bernie Sanders to the hinterland to do the job that Dems either do not want or know how to do.

How’s that going to work out do you think?

108

Hidari 12.02.16 at 11:33 pm

@95

Imagine there are four discrete political entities: the far left, the soft left, the soft right and the hard right. Say, 25 percent of the vote/electorate to each of these groups….whatever….each.

So the hard left have 25 percent the soft left have 25 percent etc.

Now, it’s pretty obvious that 3 of those groups (the soft left, soft right and hard right) have something in common: they all want capitalism to continue, although in various, different forms. It’s only the hard left that wants a serious challenge to the system, and the end of capitalism. Therefore, the hard left will always be outnumbered. More than that, one could predict, from this scenario, that, when push comes to shove, the soft left will collaborate with the soft right (and maybe with the hard right) to crush the hard left: the common enemy.

And so we have seen. With the recent ‘revolt’ and with (for example) the vote on Yemen, we have seen the soft (Blairite) ‘section’ of the PLP give de facto suport to the soft right (and vice versa) to crush their common enemy (the hard left, or as we know it, the Corbynites).

This doesn’t of course mean the situation is impossible. No situation is impossible. But it does indicate why it’s so rare for radical left wing governments to come to power via democratic means.

The ferociously right wing British media doesn’t help. But the fact that, ceteris paribus, the Blairite left ‘objectively’ (as the Marxists would say) have more in common with the Tories than with Corbyn, indicates the depth of the problem.

The fact that most British people agree with Corbyn on specific issues is irrelevant: when have the concerns of the general public ever been of interest to the Westminster elite?

109

Faustusnotes 12.03.16 at 1:54 am

WLGR, those quotes are about a strategy to deal with uneducated whites who have abandoned the Democratic Party, not the other way around. They don’t describe a strategy to abandon working class voters, but a discussion of voter patterns. I want to see a political decision to abandon the working class, not discussion of whether some uneducated whites abandoning the dems is offset by shifts from other voting groups.

It appears you can’t tell the difference between policy decisions and discussion of tactical reality. Which is why all your conclusions are wrong. I gave you policy and in return you give me horse race discussion.

110

bob mcmanus 12.03.16 at 2:35 am

I want to see a political decision to abandon the working class

NAFTA & TPP etc, big bank bailout no prosecutions, no mortgage relief, grossly inadequate structured and targeted stimulus, low inflation low gov’t spending with many gov’t jobs cut, insurance and provider friendly whirlpool of an expensive health care plan

111

Peter T 12.03.16 at 5:24 am

Faustus

Surely it’s fair to ask where those voter patterns came from or why uneducated whites abandoned the Democratic Party, or why this, rather than something else, is the tactical reality? I know your answer is racism, and that may be true in large part but still not the whole answer.

112

Hidari 12.03.16 at 8:21 am

@104

I saw that article and it makes the point that simply cannot be made enough: that Trump did not win the election. Clinton lost it (to be fair, with the help of the racist Electoral College, which no Democrat has ever made any effort to change).

There was no (or not much) ‘working class surge’ for Trump. Instead, typical Democratic voters looked at Clinton, and decided….’naaah. Can’t be bothered to vote for her’.

If the Democrats had any sense, they would now be having a post-mortem as to what went wrong with their campaign, but I see that they are going to talk about how awful Bernie Sanders is instead.

As per my post at 108: if one take the ‘four section model’ as a highly idealised model of any political process, don’t be surprised when the ‘soft left’ (i.e. the Clintonites) enter into a de facto or de jure alliance with the ‘soft right’ (i.e. ‘moderate’ Republicans) to crush the common enemy (i.e. Bernie Sanders, and his fellow travellers). Indeed, don’t be surprised when the ‘soft left’ enter into a covert alliance with the Trumpians: ultimately they are always going to have more in common with them than with the working class wing of their party as represented by Sanders. Both the Trumpians and the soft left and the soft right have a commitment to ‘business as usual’ (Trump and his crew slightly less so, obviously). It’s only the Sanders crew who promise real change: so he is the real enemy of the establishment, and they will gang up on him.

(remember this picture? http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/us/politics/ex-ally-donald-trump-now-heaps-scorn-on-bill-clinton.html).

113

engels 12.03.16 at 9:50 am

Faustusnotes: given that you spend about every other thread ranting about how much you hate working class people maybe you should just read your own comments.

114

nastywoman 12.03.16 at 11:57 am

@112
‘I saw that article and it makes the point that simply cannot be made enough: that Trump did not win the election. Clinton lost it’

Which again – might remind US all on Taylor Swift when a rapper stormed the stage and yelled that Taylor Swift actually never won –
BE-cause it was just BE-cause Queen Be lost – which is one of the most epic points for a massive epic (philosophical?) battle

And i know some people who still think that Obama NEVER won.
Not one of his erections.

It was just that Mc Cain and Romney lost – which is no wonder – who would elect such an old dude and-or a Mormon?

Right?

115

Layman 12.03.16 at 12:07 pm

kidneystones: “Dems could and should have proposed the Marshall plan rebuilding project Trump is now rolling out.”

You should keep your comments shorter. Invariably, you include some bit like this which more or less undermines whatever you’re trying to say. Trump’s infrastructure plan is a bad joke, consisting of a scheme to get taxpayers to pay for private ‘infrastructure’ assets that were going to be built anyway using private funds. It’s a standard Republicans-in-power grift to funnel public money into the private hands of the 1%. Apparently, you think Clinton should have proposed offering to private enterprise 86% of the funding necessary to build a road – paid for by taxpayers – which road private enterprise would then own and charge people to use; and that this would have gained Clinton the votes of the white working class they didn’t otherwise get. Genius!

116

dave heasman 12.03.16 at 12:09 pm

Kidneystones – President-elect Trump fills arenas

actually – President-elect Trump half-fills arenas

117

kidneystones 12.03.16 at 1:01 pm

The Democratic left does not exist. Sanders is an independent who would never have been nominated except to help rubber-stamp the inauguration of the donor-class candidate.

The Democrats do not have a left-candidate, or a slate of ‘left candidates’ around whom a left might coalesce. That’s the consequence of national Democratic priorities and the take-over of the party by the Clinton crime family. There are no ‘up and coming’ Democrats. Those who are talented are spotted and co-opted into the Clinton-controlled machine. The quid pro quo manner of doing business is transparent. Very large sums change hands and almost always according to the laws, in so far as the actual pay-offs are ‘incidental’ rather than clearly causal.

How many doctoral candidates in their thirties get paid $600 k per year for part-time work and another $300 k per year plus stock options?

All of them, if the doctoral candidate happens to be named Chelsea Clinton. As I noted earlier, Democrats regard outsourcing their interactions with young people and rural voters to Bernie Sanders as a ‘solution.’

What people see in Clinton is a candidate willing to travel any distance at any time if the fee for showing up is $225 k for an hour of work, or so; but who couldn’t find the time or reason to visit Wisconsin before an election and actually ask people to vote for her.

Yes, it was close. But let’s not forget who won and why and how. The president-elect has already stolen parts of the Dem base and now he’s after the rest. The traditional Dem coalition is already fractured and if the new president does half as well as he did destroying two political dynasties then Democrats may find themselves in an even deeper whole in 2018.

Like Labour, Democrats need to figure out whether they are the party of the working class, or not.

118

bob mcmanus 12.03.16 at 4:00 pm

There was no (or not much) ‘working class surge’ for Trump.

Well, there was, in that the internal composition of the Republican vote changed to be more white non-college rural working class and a little less urban college-educated Republicans. I don’t know what the numbers are.

This does present possibilities, and was in fact the Clinton/DLC plan, although a plan dating back to the 1960s. The idea is to add to the identity groups that are currently the base of the Democratic Party college-educated urban professional socially progressive but economically moderate Republicans. This preserves the neoliberal system, but should create great economic opportunities for elite blacks, women, Latinos etc who really would rather get rich before socialism.

I am willing to now designate non-college rural whites as a valid minority, without real privilege except very locally, economically moderate but socially conservative. They have been up for grabs to a degree for a long time, and way too much a major topic of discussion, as nobody knows what to do with them, nobody really wants them, but they are very dangerous, as we can see.

I say ship them back to Ireland.

119

WLGR 12.03.16 at 4:46 pm

Hidari @ 108, Matt Christman of the podcast Chapo Trap House made almost this exact point in a recent interview with NYU historian David Parsons on Parsons’ podcast The Nostalgia Trap. (Both excellent podcasts, by the way.) The way he put it is that the neoliberal center-left’s long-term political project since the ’90s, as embodied in figures like the Clintons in the US and Blair in the UK, can be summed up as an effort to redefine the two-party system so that the nominally “left” party becomes a de facto ruling party representing the center-left and center-right, leaving the far right with a dangerously long leash to move the nominally “right” party ever closer toward an outright National Front-style fascist party, and ideally leaving a shattered and demoralized far left as what amounts to an ideological hostage of the center. Both Clinton’s failure to defeat Trump and the Blairites’ failure to take Labour back from Corbyn have been setbacks for this project, and in both countries the center-right has largely decided to remain for now in its old electoral bloc with the proto-fascists instead of jumping ship to a “left” party that hasn’t yet been fully transformed into a well-oiled machine for neoliberal centrism. (Of course this is also pretty close to Quiggin’s three-party system critique, depending on the extent to which one treats the distinction between center-left and center-right as ever having been particularly meaningful in the first place.)

Faustusnotes, bob mcmanus brings up more or less the same litany of actual tangible policy decisions that I and others have brought up in the past, a kind of litany to which a typical center-leftist response is obstinately ignoring it. Another point US leftists have been making for many months now is that Trump himself isn’t actually a fascist, he’s only pretending to be one, which you treated as a novel discovery at #79 and to which your response was that Trump’s neoliberal administration in practice will make neoliberal Democrats somehow leftist by comparison, which is absolutely incorrect. He’ll do many things more or less exactly the way a Clinton administration would have done them, perhaps in some cases with enough of a superficial far-right veneer to create the perception of contrast (for instance future Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who supports vouchers for religious private schools but otherwise might as well be a member of Democrats for Education Reform) and in some cases with red meat to the far right on issues the neoliberal center doesn’t particularly care about (i.e. who the hell knows what if anything he’ll do on issues like abortion rights, about which he’s been all over the map in the past depending what’s in his immediate opportunistic interest). But appointing figures from places like Goldman Sachs to positions of authority at institutions like the Treasury and the Fed is a thoroughly bipartisan commitment that doesn’t make either major US party look any more left-wing or right-wing than the other.

120

Sebastian H 12.04.16 at 2:57 am

“The left’s sometime focus on language, micro aggression and personal experience cum personal justification thru enlightened attitudes is a manifestation of the decline of social affiliation, so there is an irony in naming the pseudo in-group conformity that results, “tribalism”. The “tribalism” of left identity politics has been very real and has contributed mightily in organizing a reactionary right “tribalism” around resentment and repulsion at being the left’s outgroup, the poorly educated flyover people.

The division over Brexit demonstrated the extent to which social membership in actual social organizations like clubs, unions, churches no longer matters as much as personal worldview, as the authoritarians divided from the cosmopolitans. The angry, uncomprehending reaction to the vote from cosmopolitans reinforced the “tribalism” of both, but to see that requires a modicum of detachment from the angry accusation that racism and lies was the whole case and denies the legitimacy of economic grievance. “

That quote by bruce wilder deserves to be taken very seriously. It is one of the best distillations of the fact that there is a whole dynamic going on here, in which the left’s tribalism has factored strongly. It shouldn’t be taken to mean that the left ’caused the racism’ or something like that. But the dynamic by which each side further polarizes the other side is very real and very damaging.

121

nastywoman 12.04.16 at 7:54 am

@120
‘the cosmopolitans.’

So the word is ‘the cosmopolitans’?
That’a how somebody get’s called if she or he is against the mind boggling small mindedness of some idiots?

But how do one get called if she or he is and advocate of the ‘working class’ and the left and the liberals and the greens?

A Cosmopolitan Working Class Green Lefty?

And how do I have to argue in these bizarre and absurd arguments of a political cacophony which has nothing of any practical use anymore?

122

nastywoman 12.04.16 at 10:58 am

– but as I just saw SNL from last night and imagined that ‘there are four discrete political entities: the far left, the soft left, the soft right and the hard right and that – ‘say, 25 percent of the vote/electorate to each of these groups….whatever….each and so the hard left have 25 percent the soft left have 25 percent etc. and the soft left, soft right and hard right have something in common’ – I laughed so hard that I fell out of my bed and imagined these erections men might have if they talk about the soft left and the hard left…

But anyhoooo – just trolling…

123

Hidari 12.04.16 at 11:26 am

@119
thanks that’s interesting. Of course the Blairite/Clintonite mistake was to assume that the de facto alliance between the soft left and the soft right was anything other than an instrumental marriage of convenience from the point of view of the right. As soon as the soft-left began to collapse, they were immediately ditched by the soft right.

Blair’s adoration of Thatcher was sincere, but it wasn’t reciprocated: the ‘admiration’, such as it was, of the Tories for Blair, was just envy. As soon as they ‘cracked his code’ so to speak, and created their own version (Cameron) the ‘alliance’ was over, and the Tories went on back to attacking the left as whole (Blairites included).

Likewise the Clintonites spent much time appealing to the ‘soft right’ and assuming that the soft right would abandon a ‘hard right’ candidate like Trump.

Because that’s what they would have done, in an instant. You think the Clintonites would ever have ‘got behind’ a Sanders candidacy? Dream on. They would have been praying for a ‘moderate Republican’ to support.

(Again, note how, in the recent vote on Yemen, the Blairites in the PLP aligned themselves with the Tories: cf also the recent vote not to prosecute Blair, where something similar took place).

Indeed, most members of the soft left have spent literally their entire careers stabbing the ‘hard left’ in the back. Neil Kinnock’s reputation (such as it is) is based purely on purging the Labour party of ‘militants’. It’s not as if he has any other achievements to his name.

But the soft left have great difficulty in seeing that it doesn’t work the other way. The soft-right will, ultimately, always have tribal loyalty to the rest of the right even if they don’t particularly like the candidate (e.g. Trump). Mitt Romney didn’t look particularly happy to go for dinner with Trump but he did it. Blair would never in a million years accept a place in a Corbyn dominated cabinet, because (sorry to belabour the point) he has more in common with ‘one nation’ Tories or the LibDems than he does with the left of his own party.

And this is why the divisions in the Labour party are far more fundamental and unsolvable than the divisions in the Tory party.

124

novakant 12.04.16 at 12:31 pm

The angry, uncomprehending reaction to the vote from cosmopolitans reinforced the “tribalism” of both, but to see that requires a modicum of detachment from the angry accusation that racism and lies was the whole case and denies the legitimacy of economic grievance.

Yeah, those damn “rootless cosmopolitans” – you sound like Theresa May:

” “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere”

Good times

125

engels 12.04.16 at 12:50 pm

So the word is ‘the cosmopolitans’?
That’a how somebody get’s called if she or he is against the mind boggling small mindedness of some idiots?

But how do one get called if she or he is and advocate of the ‘working class’ and the left and the liberals and the greens?

That’s damned socialism and we don’t talk about it in the CT comments section. Because it doesn’t exist anymore. Or something.

126

nastywoman 12.04.16 at 1:39 pm

@123
‘thanks that’s interesting.’

-because what should we do if the soft left gets harder than the hard left?

Like by –
let’s say 25 percent?

Comments on this entry are closed.