The 'revolt of the masses' continues. After Brexit, Trump


With the victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential elections a new phase has commenced in the 'revolt of the masses' (the term comes from the Spanish conservative philosopher, Ortega y Gasset, in 1930). It is a revolt against the globalisation of the economy by which capital has terminated social protection by the state and instead has sought to create an open world market.
Money now flows to where it brings the highest yield and people flow to the places where their labour power is most competitive. That last aspect is being experienced, by those who still think or hope that they will be protected (against dismissal, during illness or old age) as a threat.
In the United States the Democratic Party since the 1930s was the party which together with the trade unions provided this protection, albeit always in conjunction with imperialist policies. Under Bill Clinton the party dropped the first aspect, social protection, and ever since, things went downhill for the Democrats. 

(table by Jonathan Webber)

Clinton expanded NATO, against all agreements, into the former Warsaw Pact area, Bush started the 'War on Terror' and withdrew the US from a series of arms control agreements with the USSR and Rusland. Obama, 'Yes We Can' (do what?) continued the War on Terror as a drone war; his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, during the NATO intervention travelled to Libya to press for a quick elimination of Gadaffi, who was promptly caught thanks to NATO intelligence and butchered by jihadists. Back in Washington Hillary can be seen in a video in which she brings a whole room to laughter with the remark, paraphrasing Julius Caesar), 'We came, we saw, he died'. In 2014 the Americans stage-managed a seizure of power that turned the new Cold War with Moscow, which had already been kindled by vital issues such as Pussy Riot, into a straightforward confrontation.

This had never been just an American issue. Very slowly the working population of the West has turned its back to parties that traditionalle had guaranteed social protection, albeit always in conjunction with imperialist policies. In the Netherlands the Labour Party PvdA, the party that secured the old age pension, was involved in the colonial war in Indonesia, it supported the war in Vietnam, and has since been the faithful ally in all the aforementioned American and NATO adventures.

All signals emanating from the population that it has enough of neoliberal desertification and of the globalisation of the economy that drives it forward, have been gently pushed aside. When in 2005 the 'European Constitution' that was to codify neoliberalism and NATO allegiance, was voted down in referendums in France and the Netherlands, it was simply rewritten as the 'Treaty of Lissabon' which was duly ratified by all parliaments and then introduced as if nothing happened.

After the crisis of 2008, for which the bill was presented to the population in the form of further demolition of social protection and rights (the 'reforms'), the revolt on both sides of the Atlantic has been switched into higher gear. In the Netherlands, the Ukraine referendum rejected the EU Association Treaty (laughed off by the media, politely shelved by the government), and then, Brexit in Britain. Now Trump. And who will still be surprised if Marine Le Pen wins next year's presidential election in France? Or if Wilders wins the elections here?

One should not underrate what this all means. There is a real revolt against global capital in progress, but then one that is being led by the populist Right. A current that has nothing, truly nothing to offer the people. True, Trump wants an end to starting new wars, and turn around the decay in the United States. But how to achieve that with lower taxes?

Our new man will soon be packaged safely, it is after all the ruling class that, per definition, rules and which will surround him with 'the right people', just as happened with Ronald Reagan. Or just as the Brexit in the UK has been called back by judges and placed before parliament, which is pro-EU by a large majority. Given a greater role, it will ensure that the economic programme that the people voted against, will survive so that only the nationalist slogans remain.

Because any constructive perspective is lacking, the resistance of the population against neoliberal capitalism is an anomic 'revolt of the masses' in which people are showing their worst side, driven by hatred and frustration.

Apparently nobody has felt the pulse of the masses which feel ignored and threatened, or answered the question why they are looking for solutions on 'the right'. Nobody understands that the established political parties and the media in the eyes of the large mass of the people come across as 'left , because they are constantly talking about solidarity and hiuman rights (for migrants, for sexual minorities, all of them people who deserve it, let there be no misunerstanding). However, that solidarity and those rights apparently are not valid in the case of people who are looking for place to live here, who lose their job here because of closures by companies moving to low wage countries, who have to find schools here, or may fall ill or grow old.

As long as no force arises which can credibly promise a real transformation of life, aimed at peace, preservation of the biosphere, and social justice, the mass of the population will remain an unchained horde and go from bad to worse.

Kees van der Pijl

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