I could not agree more with Yanis that the voluminous commentary by the so-called liberal establishment on both sides of the Atlantic on the rise of proto-fascist populism is missing, deliberately, any discussion or focus upon the long practiced class war against the working classes.
For the last four decades, the overarching message was that the unfettered expansion of a globalizing financial capitalism would deliver benefits that would accrue to all. This illusionary dream/myth was shattered, as Yanis makes clear, by the 2008 global economic crises and the still lingering effects for many of the Great Recession that followed. All governments quickly enacted policies devised by their respective central bankers to provide relief, not to the millions of persons losing jobs and homes, but rather, to a banking industry claimed to be “too big to fail”. Staggering amounts of additional sovereign debt was created through actions called “quantitative easing”. Despite the recent rise of stock markets to all time highs, and the substantial growth in corporate profits, the beneficiaries of this wealth generation is hugely concentrated into the hands of the very very few.
All the rhetoric and platitudes by the liberal establishment elites declaring the class wars as essentially over were wildly wrong and disingenuous. Shifting focus and embracing new labels to champion were precisely the cause of the abandonment by the working classes of the liberal crusade.
For all their self-image as progressives, the elite’s readiness to ignore widening class divisions, and to replace it with class-blind identity politics, was the greatest gift to toxic populism.
Trump’s ascendancy to the Presidency, the victory of Brexiters, the rise of a European alt-right gaining traction in the electoral processes of several states, all can be attributed to a failure of the centre-left to acknowledge and deliver on the needs of the working classes. These are not all “deplorables” requiring re-education and liberal guidance to the promised land of economic betterment, but their voices, and more particularly, their votes needed to be heard. And on that account, the liberal establishment elites have failed them miserably. Yanis is correct to conclude that these elites are more frightened of a renewed “progressivism” that squarely faces the realities experienced by working class persons than they are of surrendering the political stage and leadership of nations to the corporatist elites and their political puppets, like Trump.
The only prospect for civilizing society and detoxifying politics is a new political movement that harnesses on behalf of a new humanism the burning injustice that class war manufactures. Judging by its callous treatment of US Senator Bernie Sanders and Labour leader Jeremy Corbin, the liberal establishment seems to fear such a movement more than it does Trump and Brexit.