Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Dr. Frankenstein, I presume

When the wealthy elite were looking to gain more political power in the 1970s, they realised that since they were a tiny minority, unless they gambled on bankrolling a military coup, their best bet was to come up with something that a large enough majority of the electorate might fall for.

Along came the creators of the New Right and their idea of political fusion. In short, they proposed to gather together motley parts from the electoral landscape and fuse them into an irresistible force. What these ideological Frankensteins set about cobbling together, with the financial backing of the superrich, was a political creature who would vote for anyone prepared to denounce all the horrid threats against ‘traditional values’, and never ask a single question about why the people they elect would make them poorer while helping the superrich get even richer.

So what are these threats against the ‘traditional values’ so beloved of the ‘moral majority’? Homosexuality, compassion for the poor, foreign customs, immigrants, any religion other than Christianity (or worse, no religion at all), women’s right to make decisions about their pregnancies, the evil of taxation, any preference for diplomacy over wars, scepticism about capital punishment, and additionally, in the US, any form of gun control.

Press the right buttons, and the progeny of the New Right will rise, shout down anyone presented as posing or backing one or more of the above threats, and vote without a second thought for the candidates financed by the plutocrats to enrich themselves further.

But while it worked up to a point for the Thatchers and the Reagans, everyone knows that Frankenstein experiments don’t tend to end well. So in the 2010s we witness in the campaigns that led to Brexit and Trump becoming the Republican Presidential nominee, signs that things are getting out of control.

Establishment Tories and Republicans identify above all with the interests of big business, and they have only gone along with the stoking of bigotry because it helped them win elections. But the monster they tactically unleashed, fuelled by ever more hatred and anger, was no longer following its master’s tactics.

As the economy is endangered by reckless demands, vital investment jeopardised, the contributions of migrant workers rejected, and the business environment undermined by extreme political uncertainties, New Right leaders in Westminster and Washington are beginning to get worried. Yet as the whirlwind of prejudices and rage wreak havoc everywhere, they are too afraid and incompetent to do anything.

In the UK, the Brexit vote emboldened bigotry and hate crime rose by 41% in the fortnight after the EU referendum [Note 1], accompanied by the pound sinking to a 31-year low as confidence in the British economy dissipates [Note 2]. In the US, Trump (vocally backed by Farage) not only endorsed violence perpetrated by his supporters, but actively promoted the notion that the Presidential election is rigged, leading to many of his followers openly discussing violent rebellion against Hilary Clinton [Note 3].

Many of us would indulge in a little schadenfreude given the self-inflicted plight of the New Right’s very own Dr. Frankensteins, if not for the fact that we too are afflicted by the chaos and misery they have brought about.

Note 1: Hate crime rose by 41% in the fortnight after the Brexit vote compared with the previous fortnight: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/brexit-hate-crimes-racism-eu-referendum-vote-attacks-increase-police-figures-official-a7358866.html

Note 2: Drop in the value of sterling post-Brexit vote: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/pound-sterling-value-dollar-brexit-euro-single-market-eu-withdrawal-cost-uk-a7355056.html

Note 3: Trump’s talk of rigged elections and his supporters’ reactions: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/10/15/1581936/-Trump-is-blaming-a-rigged-election-and-his-supporters-pivot-to-discussion-of-violent-rebellion

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