Most know the story of Francis Fukuyama’s end of history. It was meant to signal the marching of liberal democracy into a new age. The fall of the Berlin wall was the symbolic death of communism, leading to the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union. The equally poisonous ideology of fascism was defeated in Germany and Italy. This new age would be one in which the two horrific wars previous would never occur again. What in reality did it herald? It depends on viewpoint. For some, the free movement of capital and persons is a virtue. Both of which are seen as signs of cooperation and a successful mechanism for the pooling of sovereignty. The ever ceaseless tide of stability; aided by the perpetuity of liberalism. For others, the supposed end of the nation state is a terrible thing to behold. They see this endeavour to be the venture of a self – serving establishment class who derive all possible benefits from this enterprise at the expense of the masses.
The particular facet of liberalism that has proved to be problematic is tolerance. Although, a noble idea, in theory, one that seems difficult to abide by. The reason for which is because the political environment of the Western world in which people have lived in causes strife. This strife seems to arise from a perception of too much change. A change that was not asked for but thrown upon people. This change is captured in widely-held sentiments, such as, ‘things aren’t the same anymore’, ‘this country has lost its way’ and ‘politicians are all the same’. Ultimately, it must be fair to say that not everyone is content with this globalised and pluralistic world.
Why are individuals who feel this way not content? A plethora of reasons: wage decline, increasing wealth inequality, jobs which have been typically held by the working classes have become de-skilled and societal changes and people’s perception of their nation’s culture becoming diluted.
What then becomes the measured response? An electorate emboldened and fired up, who may rebel against the perceived consensus. The buzzwords attributed to this group are many: ‘silent majority’, ‘silent voter’ etc. It appears across the Western world that these people are on the right side of politics, demonstrated by the election of Trump and of course, Brexit. A vacuum has been created due to a failure of ‘career politicians’ to find a solution to those problems. Furthermore, it is a failure of the left to debate with individuals who feel this way.
The culture war has already been won by the left. This victory has been profoundly consequential, to the extent where those who have voiced opinions associated with the right of politics have been labelled as ‘stupid’ or ‘ignorant’ because of their views. Think of prevalent labels such as ‘Tory scum’ or ‘Redneck.’ There are numerous examples of this in academia with particular politicians, academics, journalists and others being banned. They are almost always on the right of the political spectrum. In popular media, some have chosen to respond to the shock election of Donald Trump by narrowly blaming racism, hatred, misogyny and privilege.
Those who feel discontent with politics and the general consensus can still vote in a democracy. To vote is a powerful statement. It is true that some supporters of Donald Trump are racist, misogynistic and xenophobic. However, there will be others amongst their ranks who have felt left behind. They will feel that the traditional parties and their politics have forsaken them. Some may think that if I’m hurting in respect to my situation then so should others. They may feel that Trump represents a terrifying change, but a change nonetheless. They long for a vision and an articulation that their own individual future matters to the President.
You may think that Trump was clearly not the man to represent these individuals. However, he animated people who have been in a stupor. Individuals who don’t have faith in politics or the political system as a whole. If you happen to dislike people being enthused with populist rhetoric then you ought to make a stand.
The left and the ruling parties of the respected nations in which this phenomenon is occurring can do one of two things. They can either debate these individuals to persuade them of their own viewpoints. Or they can continue to label these individuals, seek to quell their concerns and stifle debate. However, this is problematic as it seems for the moment they will rise and rise again until lambs become lions.