get yer ya-ya’s out

The New Heresy That Threatens the Entire European Continent
Alastair Crooke, Strategic Culture, Sep 16 2019

In all the hullabaloo of Brexit and its associated parliamentary infighting, little noticed has been how Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson are attempting to change the very nature of the UK political landscape. Of course, the Brexit angst is making the attempt to leverage a strategic political shift much more visible, and more acute. Yet, actually the changes are not wholly, or even predominantly Brexit related, but reflect underlying tectonic plates clashing. The point here is that the chaos in London is no parochial British, Brexit affair. It reflects something wider at work. Recognition of ‘plate’ movement already has been politically leveraged in Pindostan by Trump, and almost certainly the similar symptoms will present themselves across Europe too. These symptoms are here now, though they may not always be recognised as such, as one commentator already has noted. Daniel Capurro wrote:

The last Conservative MP in the seat of Newcastle-under-Lyme was Charles Donaldson-Hudson. A JP and member of the landed gentry, he held it from 1880 to 1885. Yet, when the autumn election finally arrives, Newcastle will be one of the Tory party’s top target seats. The targeting of such seats is not the madness it might first appear. It is, in fact, part of Boris Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings’ masterplan for the future of the Conservative Party.

A little back context is required. In the late 1990s, the Labour Party started to move away from its roots in the Trade Union and labour rights movement towards the ‘Faschingstein Consensus’ neolib stance epitomised by Tony Blair, who was drawing on the then-winning Clinton experience. Labour had begun to understand that the endorsement of Wall Street and the City of London was a perquisite for any return to office and that in any case the factory-based politics of the past simply would not propel the movement into power in the shiny new cosmopolitan world of the urban and suburban élite. At that moment, Labour wished to become a typical European social-democratic party, representing middle class voters who wanted to display their decency by voting for a party that espoused some notion of ‘social concern,’ albeit a quite restricted one. But as the preoccupations of the élite metropolitan consciousness turned more and more ‘globalist,’ espousing ‘disadvantaged’ groups such as ethnic minorities, women and gender nonconformists rather than showing empathy for the stresses of ordinary workers, whom they came to regard with contempt as Ludite backwoodsmen and racists, so the Party’s internal gap opened wide. This was the opening that Cummings and Johnson espied. They believed that the new demographics required the remapping of the electoral landscape. Out went the Conservative electoral coalition of the recent past, which married urban and suburban social liberals with rural small-c conservatives. That marriage was itself a cause of internal tension not dissimilar to that in the Labour Party, as witnessed by the Tory 21 ‘Remainer’ rebels who were expelled from the Party. In short, centrism is no longer seen as advantageous. In comes a working-class and socially-conservative politics targeted at non-graduates in the Midlands and the North of England, at the sixty-percenters as a whole. Capurro suggested:

In this viewing, an extraordinary array of Labour seats, from Wrexham and Wakefield to Stoke-on-Trent Central and North could tumble into the Tory column on election night, and send Mr Johnson into Downing Street with a commanding majority.

The price may involve the loss of Conservative seats in London and the South East, but in practice the urban middle class, the former electoral prize contested by both the main parties, is itself suffering stress from globalist dynamics as it bifurcates into new upper & lower middle classes. The Establishment élite sees the threat. In the long run, this might end with the enthronement of the politics of the ‘deplorables,’ and the ‘obsolescence’ of liberalism, in President Putin’s words. Hence the bitter counter-revolution being mounted by the Establishment in the UK Parliament and the media. Hence the deep Establishment distrust of Johnson, for although he may represent the epitome of Establishment in one sense, he has always tried to position himself as the archetypical ‘outsider.’ The Northern working-class votes are those which Johnson wants to capture most dearly. Dominic Cummings knows from the ‘Leave’ campaign and from Trump’s successes in states not traditionally regarded as voting Red that a focus on the culture war, on issues such as transgender rights and political correctness, can mobilise today’s voters more than traditional family party affiliations can. Cummings intends to lever the toxicity of globalism, not just with the deplorables but precisely with a middle class increasingly fearful of slipping into the abyss.

There are many problems to this evolving contestation of prevalent liberal millenarianism. A major problem is much more subtle and less amenable to solution than just the outbreak of the culture war, and it applies to all western economies. In this post-heavy-industry era, how can we maintain large-scale employment, particularly for those with low or no skills? Globalism unquestionably has contributed to the offshoring of jobs to other parts of the globe, but the reality is that many of those jobs are not coming back home. They are assimilated elsewhere. They are lost for good. The ‘new normal’ being touted by the Pindo Administration is one that is not particularly concerned to recapture mundane manufacturing processes and bring them home. It wants mainly, or only, the ultra-high-tech end of manufacturing, which it believes will represent the commanding heights of the new economics. This view is evidently orientated more towards the objective of maintaining Pindo hegemony, rather towards concern for the welfare of the Pindo creeple. Even if it were feasible to achieve, such an economy would face the issue of the 20% of Pindo peeps who then would become unnecessary and surplus to requirement. Do we really want to go there? Globalisation has had a great deal to do with this, but the decline of the factory-based economy in the West lies right at the very heart of our troubled political landscape. Trump’s appeal to the ‘deplorables’ from a stance on the nationalist Right rather than the globalist Left strongly suggests this. In Marianne, European director of the International Republican Institute Thibault Muzergues warns that the Establishment’s counter-action and its rhetorical flourishes in order to facilitate the crushing of the threat of the deplorables, such as describing the prorogation of the UK parliament as literally a coup d’état, precisely set the scene for more bitter internal European strife. Muzergues remarked:

Some boast the unwavering will of the British leader to do what is necessary (within the limits of his constitutional rights, at least until the British courts have proved him wrong) to end the debate on Brexit by respecting the Popular Will expressed in a referendum, others the virtue of the president of the council who saved parliamentary democracy from the risk of a Salvini government that is thought to have been a danger to it. It is true that in both cases there is a conflict between direct democracy and parliamentary democracy, but this is not necessarily what is at stake in the minds of the actors, let alone the citizens. For them, it is not so much a crisis of regime as a crisis around Brexit, or the person of Matteo Salvini.

The interviewer asked:

Do these two concurrent situations reflect a structural and paradoxical divorce between the people and their elected representatives, between democracy and its representatives?

Muzergues replied:

Of course, mainly because our institutions are in crisis and parliamentary democracy is no longer necessarily universally regarded as the only and best form of government by the people living in democratic countries, even if it is still popular with a majority, as the global survey on the state of our democracies published a few months ago by the Fondapol and the International Republican Institute shows. The problem is that politicians on each side (and with them their supporters) will be able to radically change their discourse on this issue of legitimacy according to their own interests. We will probably very soon see the supporters of the league praising parliamentarism on the day when their situation in the Assembly is reversed, just as we have seen a number of Brexiters who have campaigned to return Parliament’s sovereignty to question its legitimacy because it did not accede to its will. This is a very dangerous game because it prepares for the over–politicization of the institutions in a context of polarization of debates, and their use for partisan purposes only, which further undermines their legitimacy. Without these institutions to manage and even resolve our political conflicts, there is little that separates us from the civil war or, as Hobbes described it almost four centuries ago, from the bellum omnium contra omnes, the war of all against all. The slope we are currently following is therefore inevitably dangerous.

The Austrian newspaper Der Standard compared Johnson to Viktor Orban, its London correspondent writing:

Johnson and his henchmen clearly think Brexit is more important than democracy and the rule of law.

Deutsche Welle called him “Boris Johnson, the UK dictator” and Yascha Mounk in Le Monde called the prorogation “the most flagrant attack on democracy that Britain has ever known.” There is a distinct whiff of “destroying the village in order to save’it” in the sense of having a constitutionally legitimate British government overturned and destroyed in order ‘to save democracy itself,’ and to save Britain from elections which might not produce the correct outcome. an editorial in Le Monde said:

If populism blighted the most entrenched of democracies, it would be terrible news for the entire continent.

Welcome to the new Grand Inquisition! Does the prisoner Johnson confess before the Holy Inquisition that Parliament was suspended for heretical motives, or will he deny it and face being burnt at the stake?

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