After I had criticised a comment on where we have gone wrong as being too generalised, I was asked to express my view. I did so as follows.
It is hard to avoid generalisation, but my sense – for what it is worth – is that the wounds inflicted on the less prosperous part of the middle class by the GFC, globalisation and technology have left them in a very disaffected condition. They have a big grievance about inequality – which is justified on both capital and income – and an equally justified sense of insecurity. There is a loss of faith in our pillars, and sustaining conventions go west. This drives them back on to what they see as their fundamentals – their nationality or even their race – and, as in Italy and Germany in the 1920’s, this leaves them sitting ducks for populists and their conspiracy theories and scapegoats. These people in turn fan the flames and increase division. The inescapable word is ‘polarisation.’ It still has some way to go in the US and UK, but it is not far from the surface in the rest of Europe. We have so far mostly avoided it – because we avoid politics. You can forget the rest of the world.
I would be sympathetic to the suggestion that the decline of religion is a major factor but for three things. The notion that you need God to be moral was blown up more two hundred years ago. The behaviour of some people claiming to have God – like evangelical supporters of Trump or Catholic defenders of Pell – is genuinely revolting. And a lot of the worst wars came out of religious schism.
They are what I see as the background to the moral catastrophe of people like Trump and Johnson. I have the firm but utterly unverifiable notion that a big part of the problem is that for many Americans, Trump is God’s answer to their putting a nigger into the White House. And I don’t think that too many supporters of Johnson are much better: Farage is shameless.
What we have at least now established is that when assessing a political leader it is fatuous to suggest you can ignore their moral character.
I would add two things. The populism embraced by people like Trump and Johnson is said to come from parties that were conservative. As I have said before, a populist is not a conservative. And these two were born with silver spoons in their mouths. They could not care less about the less privileged people they appeal to. Indeed, if either has ever met a working man, that would have been an accident of history.
The result is that these people don’t stand for much. They are in it just for themselves Rather they are defined by what they are against. Trump is against anything done by Obama, and people of a different colour or religious belief. Johnson is against Europe – or so he says. Both are against migrants –their scapegoats of choice. When your politics are defined by what you are against rather than what you are for, your recipe for bitter division – polarisation – is complete.
A related issue is that people don’t win elections – the other side loses them. That is an Oz specialty.
Something will have to give. Environmental awareness is one thing but outsourcing sovereignty is something else. Amazon fires have exposed what has long been suspected. Despite international agreements and peer group coercion, in the end nations will pursue their self-interest. With the passing of each survival deadline that decision becomes easier.
Maurice Newman, The Australian, 29 August, 2019
The man who wrote that was appointed Chair of the ABC.
In response to an ASX query about its 21% share price jump yesterday morning, OneMarket revealed it had ‘engaged in confidential discussions with a number of parties regarding potential corporate actions.’
‘Those discussions are not mature and there is no guarantee that those discussions will progress or will result in any corporate action,’ OneMarket said after the close of trade.
The Australian, 29 August, 2019
Would you buy a used share in that outfit? What ‘action’ of a corporation is not ‘corporate’?