Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, May 8, 2017


The recent results of elections in Europe - the Dutch and French elections - demonstrate that while right wing populism has legs, those legs are very short.

Some of this was due to the nature of elections.  If we had a majority vote system like the French, we likely avoid Trumpelthinskin.  If we had a parliamentary system like the Netherlands, we likely avoid Trumpelthinskin.  We shall see what the June Parliament elections in Britain bring, but the hopeless and hapless nature of today's Labour party suggest we will see large numbers of Conservative MPs.  What we won't see are large number of UKIP MPs.

Brexit and Trump share a calendar year (Someone suggested that Wilders and Le Pen would have won if the calendar said 2016.  That someone might have been my son.) but they also share the genetic link of Anglo-Saxonism.  Both Britain and America, as island and continental nations respectively, have always looked at the rest of the world with side-eyed suspicion.  The sense of exceptionalism that they share as being the pre-eminent world powers of the 19th and 20th centuries - again respectively - means that they see themselves above and apart from much of the rest of the world.

The people of France and Holland are not a people apart, the way Britains and Americans are - or at least the British and American country folk who revel in their history of empire without having been any further afield than that one trip to the Big City to see Cats in the '80s.

It is perhaps not wrong to see the current moment being less a conflict between the Christian/secular West and the Islamic East as it is between the Global "We" and the Tribal "I."  Between - as Barber put it 25 years ago - McWorld and Jihad, not the jihad of Islam, but the struggle of a tribal, particular group against the global whole.  Trump and Le Pen draw strength from Russia, because Putin hates the Global "We."  In this way, the Tribal "I" of Putin, Trump and Le Pen has more in common with ISIS than with the cosmopolitan French victims of an ISIS killer.

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