A day of victory for the politics of fear, loathing and division

Trump won around breakfast time (in England) today.

This is the response of DiEM25. Do read, spread, and join DiEM25!

Donald Trump’s victory marks the end of an era when a self-confident Establishment preached the end of history, the end of passion and the supremacy of a technocracy working on behalf of the 1%. But the era it ushers in is not new. It is a new variant of the 1930s, featuring deflationary economics, xenophobia and divide-and-rule politics.

Passion has returned to politics but not in a way that will help the 80% left behind since the 1970s. Passion is now fuelling misanthropy. Passion is exploiting the anger of the 80% to re-arrange power at the top, while leaving the 80% moribund, betrayed and divided. And it is our job to stop this. It is our job to harness passion in the cause of humanism.

The Establishment’s folly is causing its demise. Unable to come to terms with the economic crisis they created, they crushed the Greek Spring because they could. They pushed the majority of British families into austerity-induced hopelessness. They committed millions of Germans to mini-jobs. They conspired to keep Bernie Sanders at bay. And when Golden Dawn, Brexit, the Alternative für Deutschland and Donald Trump were the result, they responded with a mixture of condescension, denial and panic.

Politics is undergoing a shake-up that the world has not seen since the 1930s. A Great Deflation is now gripping both sides of the Atlantic, re-kindling political forces that had been dormant since the 1930s. President Trump’s use of Mussolini-like tactics and narratives is a mere symptom of the rendition of that bleak era.

 

What should we do?

The spectre of a Nationalist International that is upon us (from Trump and the Brexiteers to Poland’s and Hungary’s governments, the Alternative für Deutschland, Austria’s next president, Marine Le Pen) can only be defeated by the Progressive International that the Democracy in Europe Movement, DiEM25, is building in Europe.

But, clearly, Europe is not enough. Progressives in the United States, those who supported Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, must band together with progressives in Canada and Latin America, to build a Democracy in the Americas Movement. Progressives in the Middle East, those who are shedding their blood against ISIS, against tyranny as well as against the West’s puppet regimes, must band together with progressive Palestinians and Israelis to build a Democracy in the Middle East Movement.

In 1930, our ancestors failed to reach out to other democrats across borders and political party lines to stop the rot. We must succeed where the others failed.

Today, on a day of victory for the politics of fear, loathing and division, we pledge to take the fight to the Nationalist International, to form an effective Progressive International and to bring passion back into the service of humanism. 

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Sleepwalking

Forgive a few weekend musings.

Germans voted for and supported Hitler. Were they mesmerised? Were good people silent, leaving “too few free spirits to do any good”?

I have today been reading Sarah Bakewell on the mid 16th Century essay ‘Voluntary Servitude’ which discusses “the ease with which tyrants dominate the masses, even though their power would evaporate instantly if those masses withdrew their support.” (The “too few free spirits” phrase above also comes from her life of Montaigne, as do all following quotes.)

Today we continue to vote for those who have our own worst interests at heart.

Montaigne’s friend La Boétie “simply says that the people need only stop co-operating, and supplying armies of slaves and sycophants to prop the tyrant up.” In today’s democracies we simply can stop voting for them. “Yet this almost never happens, even to those who maltreat their subjects monstrously.”

La Boétie (around 1545) writes “that tyrants somehow hypnotise their people. … They cannot wake from the dream. La Boétie makes it sound almost like a kind of witchcraft. If it occurred on a smaller scale, someone would probably be burned at the stake, but when bewitchment seizes a whole society, it goes unquestioned.”

Even George Osborne now compares that Farage poster to Nazi propaganda.

I think of carefully planned, slowly released, incitement to terrorism, in its new specificity. This is not attacking a ‘symbol’ – burning a flag, killing Lee Rigby in London simply because of his uniform, or aid workers and journalists for being ‘Western’. The terrorising murder of an important, singled-out, political actor is really different.

No one death is mourned any more, nor any less, than the other. But the issue of terrorism, of terrorist behaviour, is sharply different. Gangs of arms-length thugs marauded and murdered in the dark streets of inter-war Germany. But the socialist leaders were very specifically targeted.

Targeting an immigrant today is callous and totally indefensible. Targeting a prominent activist supporting immigrants is very different and far more dangerous.

We cannot all copy Spartacus’ colleagues and say “I am an immigrant.” But what if – to counter Hitler’s yellow star – everyone in Britain today, who has at least one grand-parent not born in this country, would wear a sign, say a white flower, and wear it with great pride. Would that not be something wonderful?

(I couldn’t take part, but today being Father’s Day, I note that my children’s grandparents, other than my own parents, are an anti-semitic Pole kidnapped by Russia as a young teenager, an Austrian Jew, an Arab Christian from Lebanon and a German Jew; all normal British citizens.)

A final thought. What if on one day – the day before the referendum, for example – every single British person with one grand-parent not born in Britain declined to work that day; downed tools, refused, was on strike for Britain and humanity. Then the country would notice.

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Building on the Built

Building on the Built 2This arrived by email yesterday, so I’ll now have to see what can be done for tomorrowBuilding on the Built

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