Institutionalized neoliberal policies have left people out of jobs and living precariously. This lack of security has led towards the mass movement and support of right-wing nationalism.
Picture this- it’s 2017 and the permanent members of the United Nations’ security council gather around a table. Who do we lay plates out for? Theresa May, Vladimir Putin, Donald J Trump, Xi Jinping and (Potentially) Marine Le Pen. There are possibly only two reactions to this; a nauseating, crippling feeling of fear, or an urgent need to call Jay Roach, director of American comedy film Dinner for Schmucks, to shoot a sequel. Regardless, we are seeing an extremely overt trend- a mass movement towards the rise of the right wing.
In 1951, Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer attempted to map out the roots of mass political movements. Hoffer came to a conclusion- in the heart of genuine mass movement, there was always a deep frustration stewing within the people. Today, we can see the applicability of Hoffer’s ideas with the world’s almost sudden movement towards the right wing. The domino effect can be noted to have come into motion following Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union (EU). In more recent current affairs, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned after a referendum on constitutional reform fell through, pushing the Euro Zone’s third largest economy into political turmoil. Discourse claims that Renzi’s successor is going to want to pull Italy out of the EU as well. The French elections are underway early in 2017, with the top contender being the far right party’s Marine Le Pen.
(Picture credits: Politico)
Ofcourse not forgetting the result of the US elections; President-elect Donald J Trump. If I was asked about the state of the USA a year ago, I would’ve described a progressive and politically correct society, the heart of democracy, a country that had just seen the eight-year reign of their first Black president! However, just as Plato had once noted, perhaps tyranny is established out of no other regime than democracy. And so the question arises- can a country become so democratic that it forms a breeding ground for demagogues? More pressingly- are we witnessing the fall of liberalism?
Following the US elections and the surprising demise of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, there was a lot of pointing and blaming. Some are blaming the movement of “fake” news and are even putting Mark Zuckerberg under the spotlight. Some are blaming James Comey and the FBI for their convenient timing on their investigation of Clinton. If anyone is to blame in the US elections, it’s the Democratic National Convention (DNC) for allowing Hillary Clinton to be the democratic nominee. The American people saw Clinton as the personification of neoliberalism, the embodiment of everything they stood firmly against. The Clinton family is cosied up with Wall Street. The Clinton family is elite. And unfortunately, this stood taller and more frightening for the American people than any of the extreme policies under Trump.
I truly believe that the only criminal here is Neoliberalism. Neoliberal policies are the most prominent factor that caused both the win of Donald J Trump and the rise of the right wing across the world. Neoliberal policies of privatization and deregulation has people out of jobs, out of pensions and out of a safety net to fall back on. Additionally, after the infamous 2008 Financial Crisis, a global recession took place, and the only ones who got off scot-free were the big banks who caused the crisis in the first place. People have grown bitter, and this frustration has been festering within them for years now. When charismatic leaders, such as Donald J Trump and Marine Le Pen come forward, promising a reversal back to nationalist ideals, people jump on board. A large majority of people, including groups of minorities and People of Colour (POCs) are ready to look past their extreme ideologies in exchange for the assurance of security.
(Photo credits: USNews)
Right wing parties tend to pin point the people’s pain and spin it around to scapegoat minorities; under the suggestion that immigrants are coming in and “stealing” jobs. As Trump is always preaching, “We are going to bring the jobs back from China”. Especially in today’s globalized world, where we witnessed the mass movement of refugees in consequence of the war in Syria, people are scared. Following the series of terrorist attacks around the world, from France to Belgium, all the way to Turkey, people are scared. Following the rise of economic inequality and the concentration of wealth within the 1%, people are scared. The right wing is addressing the fears of the people, and suddenly, almost overnight- there seems to be no greater power than that that speaks directly to fear.
Hoffer, E. (2002). The true believer. 1st ed. New York: Harper and Row.
BBC News. (2016). Timeline: Attacks in France – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33288542
Lazar, Z. (2016). America Has Never Been So Ripe for Tyranny. [online] Daily Intelligencer. Available at: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/04/america-tyranny-donald-trump.html
BBC News. (2016). Gap between rich and poor ‘keeps growing’ – BBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32824770
Klein, N. (2016). Rise of the Davos Class | Naomi Klein. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/09/rise-of-the-davos-class-sealed-americas-fate?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other