James Traub, the writer of the following article in Foreign Policy magazine, is angry that the unwashed masses would even question elites like himself, and is convinced their actions are completely the result of abject stupidity. Actually, it is the result of self-interest and the recognition that prigs such as Traub have exhibited an elite snobbery and desire to jam all nations under a huge one-world-government mess where these elites would sit atop the power and wealth of nations without having to worry about picky things like nationality and borders. How could the commoners possibly object to a plan like that? Let them eat cake and then get back to work!
British Prime Minister David Cameron thought that voters would defer to the near-universal opinion of experts; that only shows how utterly he misjudged his own people.
Both the Conservative and the Labour parties in Britain are now in crisis. The British have had their day of reckoning; the American one looms. If Donald Trump loses, and loses badly (forgive me my reckless optimism, but I believe he will) the Republican Party may endure a historic split between its know-nothing base and its K Street/Chamber of Commerce leadership class. The Socialist government of France may face a similar fiasco in national elections next spring: Polls indicate that President François Hollande would not even make it to the final round of voting. Right-wing parties all over Europe are clamoring for an exit vote of their own.
The issue, at bottom, is globalization. Brexit, Trump, the National Front, and so on show that political elites have misjudged the depth of the anger at global forces and thus the demand that someone, somehow, restore the status quo ante. It may seem strange that the reaction has come today rather than immediately after the economic crisis of 2008, but the ebbing of the crisis has led to a new sense of stagnation. With prospects of flat growth in Europe and minimal income growth in the United States, voters are rebelling against their dismal long-term prospects. And globalization means culture as well as economics: Older people whose familiar world is vanishing beneath a welter of foreign tongues and multicultural celebrations are waving their fists at cosmopolitan elites. I was recently in Poland, where a far-right party appealing to nationalism and tradition has gained power despite years of undeniable prosperity under a centrist regime. Supporters use the same words again and again to explain their vote: “values and tradition.” They voted for Polishness against the modernity of Western Europe.
The schism we see opening before us is not just about policies, but about reality. The Brexit forces won because cynical leaders were prepared to cater to voters’ paranoia, lying to them about the dangers of immigration and the costs of membership in the EU. Some of those leaders have already begun to admit that they were lying. Donald Trump has, of course, set a new standard for disingenuousness and catering to voters’ fears, whether over immigration or foreign trade or anything else he can think of. The Republican Party, already rife with science-deniers and economic reality-deniers, has thrown itself into the embrace of a man who fabricates realities that ignorant people like to inhabit.
Did I say “ignorant”? Yes, I did. It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them. Is that “elitist”? Maybe it is; maybe we have become so inclined to celebrate the authenticity of all personal conviction that it is now elitist to believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history. If so, the party of accepting reality must be prepared to take on the party of denying reality, and its enablers among those who know better. If that is the coming realignment, we should embrace it.
As with all statists, Traub is sure that the problem lies in the fact that the masses are stupid and do not recognize that their betters are more equipped to manage world affairs and direct and control the small lives of ordinary people.
One-world-government, run by the elites is the solution, of course. But to get the people to lay back down and acquiesce, they must first be disunited. That will be accomplished by focusing on income inequality, racial differences, and the purging of religion from society. The answer will then be offered, and it will be socialism/Marxism, because it has worked so incredibly well where ever it has been tried. The long-term goal, of course, will be to make the masses once again listen to the elites, and for the elites to gather to themselves all the power and wealth that they can. The little people must learn they have no right to fight for their own self interest, because the elites always know the best course for all.