Tag Archives: Politics

Political Wave

I was watching a talk by economist Mark Blyth explaining Brexit and Trumpism (full speech is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWMmBG3Z4DI). It is very interesting. I recommend folks to watch it.

It leads us to the impending constitutional referendum in Italy, due on December 4. If this referendum fails for Italy’s PM Matteo Renzi (who is center of left in Italy’s politics to Silvio Berlusconi’s center right), i.e. if people vote NO (which is now leading slightly in the opinion polls), Renzi has vowed to resign. If he does, it could be a period of uncertainty and Italy may be out of EU, following UK’s vote in Brexit. That would in theory leave a vacuum which can be exploited by Berlusconi or someone to even his right (like Beppe Grillo, a comedian turned politician whose party is now leading the referendum).

Taken separately, it’s no big deal. But in France, Francois Hollande’s popularity is at 4%. Yes. FOUR percent. Let that sink in. Because there is a good chance that Marine Le Pen could succeed him to be France’s next President. She expelled her own dad from the National Front, a far right wing party whose policy is against immigration. They are on their own, mini versions of Trump. Again, this wouldn’t be a problem in itself because Merkel is stable in Germany. But in September, she lost her home state elections to the Social Democrats who are to her left. She can be considered centrist. But her party came third, behind the Alternative for Germany. AfG is an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim far right wing fascist party led by Frauke Petry whose party’s stand is to be able to shoot migrants in German borders. If they gain influence, think about the few million immigrants Germany has taken from Syria. Oops. Now, the direction in which France and Italy move could (not saying it will) influence the vote in Germany. If France and Italy swing right, Germany may (not saying it will) swing right too, in that curious phenomenon which can be called competitive nationalism. The last time that happened in the Western Europe was in the 1930s.

There are a few things to note here. AfG to power in Germany seems insane now. They are fringe. But so was Hitler in 1928. US went GOP for the White House, Senate and the House of Reps in 1928. They met with the Great Depression in 1929 (to be fair, a culmination of that decade’s policies). After that, it is only in 2016 that US has gone Republican in the White House, Senate and the House. Oops. If Trump bungles awfully, which he most certainly might, and US heads into a deep recession, it could impact world economics and it is here that the weakness of centrist parties could (not saying it will) crumble in Western Europe. Why?

Now Greece went proper left recently and shoved up the bailout referendum against EU asking them to bugger off. Brexit happened and UK (England more specifically) titled proper right. Canada has gone liberal left. But Trudeau is not anti-corporates (he could, not saying he would, but he could face a right wing backlash in the elections in 4 years). Obama, like Merkel and Matteo Renzi is largely centrist. Renzi unusually for his ideology (which is center left) but not unusually in the current climate, went right to pander to Berlusoni’s followers for their vote in the upcoming referendum promising to revive an infrastructure project of Berlusconi’s which he opposed in 2012.

And every influential EU member could tilt far right depending on how Italy and France tilt (and every possibility is there that they may tilt right/far right). Turkey and India are already on the right. Blaming all of this on racism/Islamophbia doesn’t make sense (that is one part). Rust Belt voted for Barrack Hussein Obama in 2008 and 2012. A black man with a Muslim name. It’s gone to Trump now. Now you can attribute it to sexism. That doesn’t however explain it fully. Like Michael Moore noted presciently, Rust Belt’s economics was at play. In what was the Manufacturing Hub of USA, Detroit, recession had corroded jobs and Detroit is literally in a state of decay. But if we look at the wage ratio of CEOs::workers in USA. It’s $475,000::$1. Boom. Trump simply went to Hillary’s left in economics, said no to TPP and NAFTA. And went ape shit right socially and courted all racists/bigots/Islamophobes/misogynists/homophobes. He won.

It is largely because the Democrats failed to stand up for the working class. And that is the trend across the globe. The centrists who are supposed to be center of left; Democrats, Labour Party, Indian National Congress, etc. were all sold to the corporates. And the middle class worker’s middle finger resonated/resonates. Now is it any surprise that INC got its ass handed to it by BJP in 2014? It’s just the larger trend. However, BJP is just as much in bed with the corporates like Ambani and Adani like the INC was, not withstanding their ‘fight against corruption’ which I deep down feel is snake oil they are selling to the voters. Which is exactly why in my opinion that Modi is still putting out rhetoric like he’s the opposition. He says ‘they’re coming after me’ like he’s still the anti-establishment opposition stud with the common man. As long as he’s able to sell his anti-establishment snake oil to the public, he’s safe despite the fact that he IS the establishment now. Which is why BJP was undone by the other charlatan, Kejriwal. Kejri just just went to his economic left, which Modi did to INC in 2014, and won with the resonating populist message in Delhi. But  Economic anxiety is the cause. Economic populism is the solution. Far right wing fascism is the vacuum created by corrupt centrists and exploited by fascists who co-opt economic populism.

Now this anti-establishment image Modi is trying to keep while simultaneously being the establishment is old snake oil sold by MGR in the 1980s when he’d bemoan that it was his ministers who were corrupt and that he’d fire them (he didn’t. ‘MGR: The Image Trap’ by MSS Pandian is a great reference book). And people bought that snake oil. It’s too early to say if people would buy Modi’s snake oil in 2019. Now Kejri would not have the wherewithal to take on the political machine of BJP on a pan-Indian scale. But unlike the real threat of right wing social fascism going unchecked unless the left regroups quickly in USA, Modi and BJP can be unseated faster in India (not saying they will be. They can be) by our multi-party democracy (a motley coalition so to say. We’ve been that road in the late 1990s. It wasn’t great. But that is one alternative (possibly the most viable one in the horizon with a feckless INC still yet to rise on it feet, getting nuked by BJP in every state where it is a straight contest). So you have to give it to Modi. He’s a clever man to still play the anti-establishment card.
But globally though, the last time Germany, France (Vichy France between 1940-42), Italy went right (oh and Japan has elections in 2018, 2 yrs into Trump and US is their biggest economic pillar now. Oh dear!), the Axis had more powerful antagonists in USA (under FDR, who was a Democratic Socialist. Now they’re under Donald Tiny Hands Trump. God save the free world). Soviet was under a megalomaniac totalitarian dictator (Stalin) and UK was a global power. Now it’s just the USA and they have more nukes than any nation with Tiny Hands having access to place his tiny hands on them. Oh and did I say Russia are pining for a Soviet era Russia and are seeing the kleptocratic authoritarianism of Putin attractive? (God save the free world).
I’m not saying it. But Edward Lutwak called it in 1994 about the effects of globalization, predatory capitalism and the centrist parties not standing up for the common man and selling out to corporates. He said Fascism is the wave of the future http://www.lrb.co.uk/v16/n07/edward-luttwak/why-fascism-is-the-wave-of-the-future
Now global politics is a complex maze and I’m an arm chair knucklehead who simply talks off his ass (notice how many may bes and coulds I’ve used). I’m too simple a guy to predict where every permutation and combination could take the world. But I just gave the worst case scenario (AND I DID NOT TOUCH UPON MAN MADE CLIMATE CHANGE AND ISLAMOFASCISM FROM ISIS ASSHOLES AND OMG THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD HADN’T FUCKED THE PLANET THIS MUCH 80 YEARS BACK AND MIDDLE EAST WAS UNDER FRENCH-ENGLISH CONTROL BACK THEN BUT NOW IT’S A CESSPOOL OF JIHADI TERROR).
And it isn’t just Italy, France and Germany that are tipping right. Norway, Serbia, Netherlands, Czech Republic and Austria may all end up on the insane right by the end of 2017.
fascism
(h/t @rayin for linking this image to me on Twitter.)
But there is a weak case for a best case scenario. Even if Renzi loses his referendum, he decides to stay for the time being, not creating a vacuum and even if Hollande loses, which is most certainly will, Le Pen does not rise to become President, Germany in response goes center leftist, giving time for the Democrats to regroup to take control of the Senate and White House by 2018 and 2020 and we’ll see what happens to India in 2019. Hey, that can (not saying it will *wink wink*) happen.
I’ll end with some food for the ears and thought, turning to art to provide an artistic mirror to the madness the globe could be staring into (I could share the climactic scene of Dr. Strangelove but I won’t) and as always, I shall plug in my most favorite artiste, Ilaiyaraaja. I am borrowing the words of a friend, @violinvicky, and what Victor Angel Ribero wrote on the album sleeve of Ilaiyaraaja’s private album Nothing But Wind (1989) for the title track.

Life can be defined biologically by those who understand its science. We call them the Doctors.

It can be (self) realized by those who walk the path. We call them the Philosophers.

But it can be expressed only as an art by those who interpret it. We call them Artists.

Ilaiyaraaja here powerfully expresses the conflict between
modern civilization and mankind. Inspired by the chirping of birds and crickets, and the rustling of the wind through bamboo thickets, man first cut himself a bamboo flute, and developed music. But those pastoral times passed as life became more complex and ever more industrialized; first the train, then the
plane, then the jet helped speed the process. Today, we hear the roar of rocket engines blasting off for the stars. On the one hand we seek relief from these pressures by reaching out to divinity through chants and mantras; on the other, we distract ourselves with disco music and earthly pleasures. Yet our society
will self-destruct; And after the inevitable
The musician will lay down his flute,
Unable any longer to play,
Convinced in spite of himself that
Music is, after all,
Nothing But Wind….”
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