Controversy Analysis Of This Article
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World in crisis or back to normal soon? I think I know...
Published in Guardian on 2016-11-12T18:15:00+00:00
1 days
Topicchina uk cohenchina uk cohenuk social china

Negative Comments

Can I just point out to all the poor rightwing snowflakes on here that illiberal opinion totally dominates British discourse through the tabloid and Murdoch press?

Look at that guy holding the anti Trump sign. He's the embodiement of everything wrong with the left. Latte liberal hipster with an ironic mustache

the posh white middle class elite taking 99% of the wealth - the poor people have had enough of being lectured

BBC going all Vichy today interviewing Le Pen. They continue to give oxygen to the far right like her and Farage

Funny how it was OK for others to be poor for decades and decades. When white middle class become poor, then they get angry.

Positive Comments

Budanevey........... the Guardian should think of employing you as a journo! Clarity and well reasoned arguments, like yours, will make a vast improvement and certainly a more balanced approach. Well done.

Reginald Side:
One emerging theme among new right leaders is their admiration for Vladimir Putin and their occasional use of Russia as a material resource. Commentators have poured cold water on this, written it off as Russian mischief, but it appears as a useful hinge for local nationalists, about as internationalist as they get - for now, anyway.

Time to change. Time to abandon neoliberal economics. Nick Cohen your elitist tribe will be swept away unless you start fighting for more a equal share of money and power. The comfortable liberal elite has to choose between fascism and socialism. Fascism may offer you the promise of retaining your privilege, but you risk annihilation. Better to give away a bit of your wealth and power in exchange for security.

I think the Liberalism, in it's pursuit of fairness for all, creates unfairness for many who are affected by the amount of effort it takes to please a few. If you look at a typical Liberal argument on say disability, a new building I had to install disabled toilets in with wheelchair access on every one of it's ten floors cost the owners £500k. The owners tell me that over the last year, only one of these toilets has been used a couple of times. It's an insane waste of money just to say that it complies to some liberal/social agenda. It stops people wanting to create new businesses because of the mass of equality red tape that the so-called progressives want.

The disconnect is seen very clearly in this article in the Guardian by John Podesta (Hillary's campaign manager) from 2013: He recognises the importance of work and jobs. The solution offered is a United Nations panel with a global development agenda full of consultation with "civil society, businesses, nonprofit organisations and individuals" and illustrative goals and targets. The result is a report on jobs and work that included discussing "ensuring sexual and reproductive health care and rights. They called for an end to child marriage. They sought equality for women and the LGBT community" - worthy causes, but a strange focus for a report on work and jobs. Something must be done says the article. And it seems the answer is another global conference or well-paid worthies and their officials far far away from what life is like on the ground. This is the disconnect that leads Trump to the White House. People want some doing that involves them and helps them, not more highfaluting talking.

Controversy Analysis

World in crisis or back to normal soon? I think I know...
Published in Guardian on 2016-11-12T18:15:00+00:00

When respectable commentators tell us the crisis will blow over, they are usually right. Most of the time, the shock passes and the status quo reasserts itself. Most of the time, men of the world can lie back in their comfortable chairs and guffaw at the Chicken Lickens who thought the sky was falling down.

But most of the time is not all of the time. And it most certainly is not our time. In the revolutionary years of 1914, 1917, 1929, 1933, 1939, 1979, 1989 and 2008, those who said we would soon be back to normal were historys fools. This year is a revolutionary year for the radical right. It is at once predictable and extraordinary that authoritative voices are telling us to keep calm and carry on.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, Donald Trump is just a traditional conservative, they say as they prettify venality and sanitise hatred. Great opportunities lie ahead, splutters Boris Johnson, Trumps British twin. The constitution will bind him and the media will check him, others insist, as they show they have no idea of how weak serious journalism has become. Like playing Russian roulette, those trying to minimise the shock of the revolution in American politics may be lucky. Trump may not have meant what he said in the campaign and will settle down to a presidency of indolent corruption. They cannot possibly know the revolver wont explode, however, and are being dishonest when they pretend they can.

The rest of us should ignore them and concentrate on what we know for sure. We know that a man who talks as if he was born to lie, who carries grudges like a gangster, whose sexual rapacity propels him to demean and assault women, who admires the Putin kleptocracy and who wants to impose bans on adherents of a global religion is now the president of a great power. We also know that, faced with an election they had to win, Americas liberals were too unpopular to stop him.

Related: Will Donald Trump destroy America?

If we were just talking about the United States, we could concentrate on the shocking irresponsibility of the Democratic party in running an establishment candidate in a country that was sick of the status quo. It is bizarre to see people who condemn cultural appropriation engage in political appropriation. But maybe US leftists are right to think that a portion of Trump supporters were secretly on their side and a more radical Democrat would have won them over.

Unfortunately, this is not just an argument about the wretched Clinton campaign. Not only in America, but across the democratic world, liberals and leftists are becoming used to waking up in the early hours and learning that they have lost. Again. They did not expect the Conservatives to win the British general election or the British to vote to leave the EU. They didnt see Trump coming. They wont see Le Pen coming. Poland may be the future. In a country that had a centre-left government within recent memory, not one member of the Polish parliament now calls himself or herself a social democrat or socialist. Debate is between the internationalist right in opposition and the authoritarian nationalists in power. Theirs may be our future too.

To suffer such calamitous defeats and not feel the need to change is to behave as irresponsibly as the US Democratic party. It is a myth that Trump and Brexit won because of overwhelming working-class support. Nevertheless, they could win only because a large chunk of the white working class moved rightwards. Debates about how to lure them back ought to reveal the difference between arguing with and arguing against your fellow citizens, which most middle-class leftists have not even begun to think about.

You can only argue against committed supporters of Trump. If they believe all Mexicans are rapists and Muslims terrorists, you cannot compromise without betraying your principles. Fair enough. But before you become self-righteous you must accept that the dominant faction on the western left uses language just as suggestive of collective punishment when they talk about their own white working class. Imagine how it must feel for a worker in Bruce Springsteens Youngstown to hear college-educated liberals condemn white privilege when he has a shit job and a miserable life. Or Google the number of times straight white males are denounced by public-school educated women in the liberal media and think how that sounds to an ex-miner coughing his guts up in a Yorkshire council flat.

Emotionally, as well as rationally, they sense the left, or at least the left they see and hear, is no longer their friend. They are men and women who could be argued with, if the middle classes were willing to treat them decently. You might change their minds. You might even find that they could change yours. Instead of hearing an argument, they see liberals who call the police to suppress not only genuine hate speech that incites violence but any uncouth or inappropriate transgression.

Related: Its not enough to moan about the new right resist it | Nick Cohen

For too many in the poor neighbourhoods of the west, middle-class liberals have become like their bosses at work. They tell you what you can and cant think. They warn that you must accept their superiority and you will be in no end of trouble if you do not.

In Spain, his great 1937 poem on political activism, WH Auden concluded with these grim lines: We are left alone with our day, and the time is short, and/ History to the defeated/ May say Alas but cannot help or pardon. George Orwell made an uncharacteristically incoherent attack. Auden had said earlier in the poem that soldiers fighting in the Spanish Civil War must engage in necessary murder and this proved he was a dilettante warmonger. Although necessary murders are what soldiers commit, Auden came to agree and disowned his poem for suggesting the ends justify the means.

For all that, Audens words hold true. There are times when your opponents must be defeated, whatever the cost. Defeating them today involves nothing so violent as necessary murders. Thinking about class, not instead of but along with gender and race, would be a step forward. Realising that every time you ban an opponent you prove you cannot win an argument would be another. I do not doubt history will look back on 2016 and say alas. But it will not pardon defeated liberals who never learned that to win they had to change.