what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Fatal Detachment

Last Sunday’s blogpost – before the Trump victory which was so obvious for those with eyes to see – focussed on populism and on the rage which one finds in Europe and northern America. Bernie Sanders was a self-confessed socialist but such was the people’s rage and need for a champion that they were somehow able (even with America’s visceral hatred for the word) to take that in their stride……
The same was true of Trump – the precariat and the left-behind whites forgave him his offensiveness (even relishing his political un-correctness) since he shared and championed their revulsion of free trade and movement of labour

Scales are beginning to fall from some eyes as the bubble in which the media lives (in their own company and that of the elites) is exposed – with few journalists having bothered to survey life in small-town America. John Harris, with Gary Younge, one of the few who bothered, used a wonderful phrase about “a fatal detachment from the place where politics is actually played out

We know about the trivialisation of politics but have not quite fathomed perhaps the extent to which even the “higher” journalism indulges in it, with its fixation on personalities rather than issues. Citizens may not be policy geeks but they are experts in the problems/issues they see and feel around them….. 

There are two articles I would urge people to read who wish to have a depth understanding of what is currently going on – first Glenn Greenwald’s piece of 9 November - 
The parallels between the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’s even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president Tuesday night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational.
In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory.
Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

But the article which really helped connect the dots for me was this long one a few weeks ago in The Atlantic titled How Democrats killed their Populist soul.  I’ve read a lot about the “neo-liberal capture” of our political and government institutions but this is the single article that helped me understand (a) how crucial in the post-war period was the continuing commitment to anti-monopoly policies; (b) how the “Watergate babies” broke that in 1975 in the post-Vietnam and Nixon eras; and (c) the role played in that break by such writers as Lester Thurow and even the great JK Galbraith…
Basically that’s when the pass was sold on globalisation and equality; that’s when my generation lost whatever commitment it had retained to small-town civilisation….

Ina future post, I hope to expand on that…….
in the meantime the painting which heads the post is one from Tony Todoroff's latest exhibition in Vihra's superb Astry Gallery

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