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Centrist McCarthyism is taking hold It is far more dangerous than its Cold War version

"It is backed by senior politicians, government agencies, businesses, media and the academy"(JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

"It is backed by senior politicians, government agencies, businesses, media and the academy"(JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)


February 29, 2024   4 mins

Why are so many working-class voters rebelling against the centre-left? For those establishment politicians being spurned in favour of populist movements, there is a straightforward answer: the masses, in turning away, are ignorant, delusional and bigoted.

Nowhere is this more evident than in transatlantic debates over trade and immigration. Here the elite catechism goes something like this: trade and immigration benefit all citizens; as a result, those who claim to have suffered from their effects are delusional; moreover, not only are they delusional, but they are also guilty of scapegoating foreign workers and immigrants.

Note the anti-political implications of this orthodoxy. If policy disputes about trade and immigration have objective answers, like mathematical theorems or scientific equations, then public opinion is irrelevant. And if this is the case, how should a “democracy” treat its voters?

The most obvious remedy would be to introduce general-knowledge tests for voters, and those who give the wrong answer could be disfranchised. But this would be too reminiscent of the “literacy tests” once used by segregationists in the South to prevent black Americans from voting, and only academic libertarians who fantasise about “epistemocracy” truly dream of limiting the suffrage on the basis of education.

A second approach would be to appeal to technocratic authority figures, and hope that the electorate will defer to elite expertise. But this only works for those who share the elite consensus in the first place. And with increasing numbers of voters starting to dissent, elites on both sides of the Atlantic have been forced to try and mollify public opinion by two other methods: censorship and delegation of power.

During the Cold War, “disinformation” was an obscure term that referred to attempts by both the West and the Soviet bloc to trick each other with false information. In the middle of the past decade, however, the term became weaponised as part of a campaign to delegitimise Trump and other populists as subversive agents and fronts created by Vladimir Putin to destabilise Western democracies. A few years later, during the pandemic, the definition of “disinformation” was then expanded to mean any dissent from the ever-changing and contradictory edicts of centre-left national establishments.

Combined with the construction of a public-private surveillance system, which includes the monitoring of social media by government agencies, this constituted a new strain of McCarthyism, but with an obvious difference. This was a “McCarthyism of the Centre”, which is far more dangerous to liberty and democracy than the Right-wing Cold War version, because it is backed by many senior politicians, government agencies, social-media platforms, businesses, banks, media and the academy. Its enforcers are entirely insulated from public opinion: the civil services, appointed judiciaries, corporate and non-profit government contractors, and transnational bureaucracies such as the World Trade Organization and the European Commission.

“Its enforcers are entirely insulated from public opinion”

The logic of technocratic neoliberalism, then, is inherently apolitical and anti-political. It is, in effect, the triumph of de facto rule by unelected bureaucrats — public, private, non-profit. All of this follows from the belief that public opinion about certain issues, such as trade and immigration, is so wrong that it cannot be explained except as the result of a toxic mix of popular ignorance, irrationality and xenophobia.

The alternative is to treat the issues that the McCarthyites of the Centre want to remove from discussion as legitimate issues in public debate. And rather than explaining political differences in terms of education, rationality or virtue, this would require us to teach them as clashes of interests among different groups — clashes which can be ameliorated by compromise.

In the case of trade and immigration, this interest-based approach would produce something like the following counter-catechism: “Trade and immigration policies benefit some citizens, classes, occupations, and other interest groups, and harm others.”

This may only be one sentence, but it dynamites the entire foundation of technocratic neoliberalism. For if disputes over trade and immigration are a matter of conflicting group interests, then there is no single correct answer or solution that can be identified by experts. And if experts cannot dictate the correct public policy, then the conflicting interests of different groups in society must be resolved through the political process. At most, experts can play a useful advisory role, by measuring the benefits and harms of policies not to “the nation as a whole” (a non-existent group, except in political rhetoric) but to the differing groups that make up the nation. But when it comes to deciding how much weight should be assigned to the benefits for one group in comparison to the harms suffered by another, the opinion of the expert is of no more value than anybody else’s.

Like falling dominos, the rest of the technocratic neoliberal regime also comes toppling down, once it is admitted that working-class people may have legitimate interests that clash with those of their political rulers. In this world, the grievances of workers displaced by offshoring national production to low-wage workforces or forced to compete with immigrants for limited welfare services or low-wage jobs can no longer be dismissed as proof of their ignorance; their suffering is real and should be taken seriously. Nor can their complaints be dismissed as irrational scapegoating, motivated by racial prejudice or chauvinism.

None of this is to justify the demagogic anti-politics of populist tribunes such as Trump. On the contrary, the alternative to both technocratic anti-politics and demagogic anti-politics is democratic politics, defined as the balancing of legitimate but conflicting interests by elected officials accountable to ordinary voters. For both voters and the health of the nation, public policy is too important to be left to experts.


Michael Lind is a columnist at Tablet and a fellow at New America. His latest book is Hell to Pay: How the Suppression of Wages is Destroying America.


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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 months ago

My reaction to this essay, up until the last paragraph, was admiration for the author’s tightly-reasoned argument in favor of what should be self-evident common sense: Trade and immigration policies benefit some citizens, classes, occupations, and other interest groups, and harm others.
Then I reached the final paragraph and the sentence: “None of this is to justify the demagogic anti-politics of populist tribunes such as Trump.” Is Trump really guilty of “demagogic anti-politics”? His rhetoric is certainly extreme at times, but how did he govern and what policies did he advance? For one thing, he’s in favor of voters having to vote in person and show proof of identity, in contrast to the Democrats’ preference for mail-in ballots and a process that’s ripe for abuse. Surely, in this instance, it’s the Democrats’ policy that is a form of “anti-politics”?
And I would suggest the author, in his final paragraph, overlooked the most fundamental issue of all: we have almost certainly past the point where ordinary people can force, by democratic, political means, the elites, and their captive institutions, to listen to the voice of ordinary people. Sadly, what we need now is a wrecking ball to rebuild the system, and the only one we currently have is Trump.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It’s almost like you have to state your opposition to Trump to be accepted in polite society. This essay had nothing to do with Trump.

I can’t stand Trump either. He’s an obnoxious boor, but I don’t feel compelled to announce it all the time. And I would stand in the rain for 12 hours to vote him over Biden and the Dems.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I remember when the pro forma denunciation of Bush was the shouted hallelujah in the revivalist church that is the mass media. The names change, everything else stays the same.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

True enough to a point, but this is different. TDS produces a special intensity, both in his fervent supporters and fervent opponents.
Back on that guy again! How has he pulled this trick on us? A daily spotlight, whatever the lens, for 9 years now.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago

The MSM was right about Bush though. He was every bit the globalist tool Obama and Biden were and twice the warmonger. Bush Jr. was a truly awful President whose actual merits independent of his name and family fortune would probably have landed him somewhere between the manager of a Wendy’s and a clerk for the local post office on the ladder of life success. Still, being right for the wrong reasons isn’t much reason to sing the media’s praises. A broken clock is right twice a day.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Bush II is often blamed for 3 ostensible failures – the housing bust, the Gulf Wars, and Hurricane Katrina.
The housing boom and bust began in the Clinton era, when a combination of lax lending laws (“credit scores are racist”), near zero interest rates, and credit default swaps (“these mortgage bonds are backed by tangible, high value assets”) encouraged reckless behavior by borrowers and lenders alike.
A studio apartment in a not very nice area of Brooklyn just isn’t worth a million dollars, nor is a four bedroom house that’s two hours from Las Vegas. Nor should million dollar mortgages be given to bartenders and personal trainers.
The Gulf Wars were of course portrayed as American and allied soldiers blundering their way into a meat grinder, over non-existent weapons of mass destruction.
To some extent, that was also true. It’s also true that the Hussein family attacked six different countries, including US allies Saudi Arabia & Israel, used poison gas on their own citizens, and came very close to assassinating a former US President.
Those were the real reasons Iraq was invaded.
Afghanistan, pre invasion, was a vicious theocracy that happily sheltered Osama bin Laden, a man who sent pilots to martyrdom and thousands of Americans to their deaths. I remember almost a year later the heart wrenching sight of seeing signs in Grand Central for the missing, still hanging in the main concourse.
Years later, we then inexplicably surrendered both countries back to the wolves, birthing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and later rearming the Taliban with state of the art American helicopters, small arms, and field artillery.
Both countries could have been garrisoned easily enough with a few bases, and friendly regimes kept in place, at a relatively moderate if not minimal cost. After all, we still have bases in North Korea.
Hurricane Katrina is another reason why “Bush II was an awful President.” Billions have been spent on that city (which I am visiting in a few weeks) keeping it above water. Much of it is well below sea level.
Though one of my favorite cities, it’s always been one of America’s most dysfunctional ones, and when a 100 year storm roared over its narrow, near-peninsular landmass, a Democrat governor refused to federalize the state guard, while Bush II fretted over posse commitas. Thousands died as they feuded and dithered. The mayor (a Democrat, who later went to prison for corruption) fled, soon after authorizing policemen to commandeer any vehicle necessary.
Cadillac dealerships were soon stripped of their inventory.
Worst president ever?
Certainly he wasn’t as lucky as his predecessor, who reaped the boom times of the tech era, nor as fawned over (“a Nobel Prize, just for you being you!”) as his successor.
But based on the wars breaking out in Europe and the middle east, real inflation rates that far surpass real incomes, and sky rocketing crime and illegal immigration battering oir major cities?
I’d say the worst president we’ve ever had, barring Andrew Johnson, is currently sitting in Abraham Lincoln’s chair. Though given his senescence, he’s likely barely aware of it.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago

Just.. no. I grant that the media is awful and all and they would have beaten on Bush had he not been a spoiled rich kid who inherited 95% of his success, but that doesn’t change the fact that Bush started the two boondoggle wars that America’s military is still recovering from, presided over the worst years of outsourcing American manufacturing capacity to China while doing nothing, had a looser border policy than even Obama, and oversaw the bank bailouts of 2008. What more needs to be said really?
Andrew Johnson wasn’t bad at all. He was just loyal to Lincoln and the Constitution rather than his party bosses who wanted to punish the south for the civil war, and history proved him right twelve years later when Reconstruction was abandoned as impractical, expensive, and pointless. Turns out you can’t end racism and nation building and social engineering never did work anywhere.
The antebellum US had some truly bad leaders who are barely remembered with good reason, Fillmore, Tyler, Pierce, Buchanan, etc. Then there’s Warren G. Harding, who was the poster boy for corruption and plutocracy in a previous era. Still, none of them come close to being as bad as Woodrow Wilson, who won an election by promising to keep the US out of WWI, then entered the war anyway, then screwed up the peace treaty so badly to get everyone to agree to his beloved ‘League of Nations’ that it almost guaranteed another conflict down the road. Wilson was also among the most virulently racist persons ever to occupy the office including some who actually owned slaves. The last two years when he was basically incapacitated and his wife was running the country were the best of his two terms of office. He was the first globalist president, and the worst in US history. Go figure.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

While I like people who don’t tow some fashionable line on Bush, or even Blair, the idea that it would be easy to garrison some hostile Muslim countries seems to be contrary to all the evidence. By the way, the US does not have bases in “North” Korea.

Chipoko
Chipoko
2 months ago

An excellent analysis! Thank you!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

Not ALL the mass media surely?

Pat Davers
Pat Davers
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s almost like you have to state your opposition to Trump to be accepted in polite society.
It’s the “I ain’t racist or nuffing, but ” for the middle classes.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s certainly true that his case would have resonated better with the readership here if he’d left you-know-who unmentioned, or a least considered what he seems to represent against the downside of lifelong institutional politicians like Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell.
A tonal and rhetorical error by the author.

john boulter
john boulter
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Absolutey correct in all elements .

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 months ago
Reply to  john boulter

absolutely boring in all elements. I love your choice of orange champion to clear the Augean stable.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I like to consider Trump a badly-needed breathe of fresh air amidst our stale, corrupt, elitist, so-called leaders


patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

hilarious you think Trump is a worthy champion against the ills you list

Jae
Jae
2 months ago

Trump being seen as the champion against the “ills” of the establishment elites tells you how bad the ills of the establishment elites truly are. If you’re in favour of them, there’s no help for you.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’ve seen a number of instances in the past few months where an otherwise logical, complete, and persuasive article suddenly veered wildly into the realm of Trump and/or alt-right bashing, and here’s another. In this case, it’s tacked on at the very end, completely unsupported, and both the theme and the tone seem at odds with the rest of the article which seems to pointedly avoid unsupported statements of opinions as fact and criticize such statements as others make. If I had written this article and had someone point out how odd and out of place the last paragraph is in relation to the rest, I would facepalm at my own mistake.
I speculate, though, that such an error is too obvious for a professional writer to make in such an obvious way. Rather, I speculate that the addition of the last paragraph, discordant though it seems, is intentional. I think this author and others have maybe figured out the editors in the MSM who filter out ‘misinformation’ for their corporate overlords are basically bureaucrats who suffer from typical bureaucratic tendencies to reduce complexities down to a series of quick litmus tests and rules to be followed reflexively without much actual critical thought. In other words, they’ve figured out they can get an article with a clear and obvious anti-establishment bent published anywhere if they simply tack on a meaningless dismissal and/or schoolyard insult of Trump, populism, the alt right, or whatever other establishment bogeyman whether it has anything to do with the rest of the article or not. Virtue signaling is, among it’s other undesirable qualities, easy to fake. The art of getting crap past the radar is actually far older than the concept of radar. Authors have used such arts since time immemorial to tell people various things that the people in charge really didn’t want them to hear and insulated themselves from retaliation by using fake signals of loyalty such as a randomly placed dismissal of some public enemy or another.
If my speculation is correct, it doesn’t speak well for the mainstream media gatekeepers or the corporate overlords in charge of them, because hollow virtue signaling really shouldn’t look so obvious. If it’s that easy to fool the technocrats trying to run the world, they’re not going to survive any serious opposition for long.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

and this isn’t a case in point. all of you are so uptight you cant see it when a good point is being made

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago

No I agree the author has a good point to make. I liked the article. It’s actually really great, but the last paragraph just seems out of place to me, because it’s not really relevant to the rest, and it makes me wonder why it’s there at all, hence my speculation. I don’t like Trump either but I don’t feel compelled to mention it unless it’s relevant to what I’m saying and/or he’s the topic of conversation, but this article just name drops him at the end without mentioning him at all before then. I just think it’s weird is all.

Dana I
Dana I
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Nodding along to this and the comment above. That last paragraph was such an eye roll. “Just so you know, I think Trump is stupid.” Pathetic

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think his point about “the demagogic anti-politics of populist tribunes such as Trump” is central to this article and not some gratuitous attempt to be accepted in polite society. Trump is a populist manifestation of the problem the author defines so well in the article. the fact this pushed one of your buttons calls into question your own attempts to publicly distance yourself from trump.

ï»ż

Jae
Jae
2 months ago

Your opinion is in the minority and puts you in there with the condescending elites in the article. Well done.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Jae

It’s not in the minority in the US……

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Exactly! It was so good and then eye-roll. When intellectuals make gratuitous Trump references, it just looks like they’re just signaling to other academics that they’re still part of Establishment intellectualism…despite making a case against Establishment expertise.

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

How did (Trump) govern and what policies did he advance ?
Let’s look at a few salient examples.
– Stacked the Supreme Court with religious conservatives hellbent on ushering in a new form of anti-political catechism.
– Corporate tax cuts to embed the power of the current anti-political technocratic elite.
– Roll-back of environmental regulations to shore up the power of the anti-political resource sector elite.
You are right that we have passed the point of ordinary people ameliorating conflicting interests through politics. But Donald Trump did nothing to further the cause of so many working class people made insecure by globalization and the US technocrats’ decades long gift to China’s authoritarian, mercantilist governing party.
He is not the first politician “bold” enough to leverage America’s hegemony with the rest of the world to extract concessions; that has been the secret sauce of America’s economic statecraft for nearly a century. What would be really bold is if he dropped his pacifist posture and declares that China’s burgeoning hegemony with socialist characteristics can only be arrested with an all out economic war that risks military force and an even worse economic outcome for Americans in the short-medium term.
It’s one thing to flip rust-belt voters in service of your own vanity, one thing to truly take a wrecking ball to the economic framework (he won’t), but another thing to undo the effects of fifty years of swapping out America’s industrial base in favor of the Wall Street elites, the very kind that enriched Donald Trump himself.
It’s another thing altogether to avoid re-building an even more anti-democratic system which favors your own brand of new elites.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

For completeness, you might want to include

1/ Imposed 20% duties on many Chinese goods

2/ changed the tax code to allow US corporates to bring their profits back to America and there invest them

which stimulated US economy, labour market and real wages 2017-20.

I think recollection of this brief prosperity is the “secret sauce” that explains much of the strength of the support Trump enjoys from his base i.e. I am not sure that you are right in saying Trump did “nothing to further the cause of so many working class people made insecure by globalization and the US technocrats’ decades long gift to China’s authoritarian, mercantilist governing party.”

Trump may be a vain, deceitful, comic etc etc figure but – though the mainstream may ignore this point – his administration did speak up for and benefit the bottom half.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Unless they were not among those demographics who voted for him and were likely to do so a second time. A Divider-in-Chief.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Trump accomplished the Abraham Accords
.but best yet he deregulated really stupid regulations making kitchen appliances more efficient and showers nozzle that actually work.

Steven Carr
Steven Carr
2 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

‘Stacked the Supreme Court with religious conservatives hellbent on ushering in a new form of anti-political catechism.’
Thanks to Trump, abortion policy is now in the hands of voters in each state , rather than unelected judges.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

Or at least the hands of a council of male Elders going as extreme as they can before the voters can get their hands on referendum ballots at all.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

You do realize that there are women who hold elected office, too, and that some of these women are pro-life, right?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes, but not many among Republican supermajorities in state legislatures. Right?

Jae
Jae
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Women vote too you know, and they’re pro life. What a narrow world view you have.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

A move approved by Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg before she died so I guess some democrats do believe in democracy.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

They do love their totalitarianism don’t they.

Chipoko
Chipoko
2 months ago
Reply to  Steven Carr

What about the Democrats previously stacking the Supreme Court with Left-wing socialists hellbent on ushering in the pro-elitist, anti-working people Woke catechism of DEI/BLM hell?

Point of Information
Point of Information
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Really? I thought the description of Trump as a “populist tribune” was excellent and can be taken either way, connoting as it does a raft of historical comparisons from the flip-flopping Mark Anthony, the simulataneously worshipped and reviled Caesar, to the superior in both senses Coriolanus. Super!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You mean Voldemort?

Brian Lemon
Brian Lemon
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Any mention of Trump elicits a firestorm of commentary – for him, against him, and a lot in-between. So the author did indeed err in spoiling an excellent essay by indulging his apparent need to distance himself from any impression he supports Trump.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

My greatest fear is that in the end, Donald will fail to be the wrecking ball we truly need and the next one will have to be all the larger and more dangerous for his failure. That isn’t to say it won’t come, but the bigger the wrecking ball, the harder it will be to stop once it gets going, and the more collateral damage we’re likely to have to endure before the process comes to an end. I’m sort of the odd duck that is rooting for Donald to lose in 2024 for long-term strategic reasons because a few more years of lame duck can’t get anything done watered down globalism inflicting continued wounds upon itself with its manifest failures is preferable to Donald’s manifest unfitness causing him to somehow massively screw up the opportunity history has handed to him and creating a backlash that sets the populist cause back a decade or more.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Thumbs up for this phrase alone: “lame-duck-can’t- get-anything-done-watered-down-globalism” [hyphens added].
A wrecking ball is about the bluntest and most final imaginable instrument. 
“Judgment is Mine, saith the LORD”. In other words: be careful what you wish for and don’t play God.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I don’t mean to be playing God or to sound omniscient. I just have a tendency towards analyzing things in the most extremely emotionally distanced way, and I often don’t realize how this comes across. I’m also a fatalist who thinks we human beings have very little control over anything, so I hope for the best. In this case, I’m expecting we’ll need some sort of charismatic leader to break the power of global aristocrats. That’s what I mean with the term ‘wrecking ball’. I also know that can go badly with the wrong person. I’m hoping we get someone more like FDR and less like Hitler, who both guided their respective nations through the Great Depression and averted communist revolution, but I think we’d all agree which one was the preferable of the two.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I hear you, Steve. My response was more to the totality of comments on this article, which I should have made clear. I think charisma is important in a national or world leader, but that it should not eclipse character. Have a good weekend.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Your argument is becoming popular among intelligent Trump fans. It kind of says Trump is all ego and puff and we shouldn’t worry about the way he talks and behaves. I think this is naive. In a second coming he will be emboldened and less opposed by his own side, who in turn will be more zealous and adept in executing his agenda. The first steps will be the dismantling of the separation between the executive and the legal system. once you believe a wrecking ball is the only option you can justify anything. I would only point out that the wrecking balls of the 20th century did not solve anything. in each case they exploited a bad situation and made it worse. Germany was rescued from itself. The Russians weren’t so lucky and we are still paying the price. it seems odd to take such a gamble just as rising wage claims (labour empowerment) start to starve the technocrats of the free money they need to sustain their agenda. there is every chance some better options will show themselves.

Sane Scot
Sane Scot
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, I so agree. Yet again, after some very wise words, an author has to hasten to add, “Don’t worry folks, like all intelligent people, I too have Trump Derangement Syndrome.” Trump may not be all polite people’s idea of a great dinner guest, but he is the only 2024 candidate in realistic contention who has given the remotest impression that he actually wants to clean out the swamp. As even Michael Lind himself hints at understanding, the swamp is the problem. Trump, if the swamp creatures fail to jail him before November, and he gets elected, will probably AGAIN fail to clean it out, such is the immense difficulty of the problem, but he’s the best chance the West has got. Over here, our swamp is called The Blob, and after November, or sooner, it is sure to expand in number and in malevolence. God help us.

Chipoko
Chipoko
2 months ago
Reply to  Sane Scot

We in the UK also have a ‘Swamp’. We call it ‘The Blob’. It undermines elected politicians and ministers, and is the Oxbridge elite at the heart of the Woke machine in this country. It is extremely powerful and, so far, no politician has been able or had the courage to sort it out.

Chipoko
Chipoko
2 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree wholeheartedly with your response to this article. The final paragraph undermined everything that had been articulated up to that point. Why is it that people are so hasty to declare their dislike of Trum[p; and yet so few do the same for Biden, Hillary Clinton, etc.? Like Jim Veenbass, I to would stand in the rain for 12 hours to vote him over Biden and the Dems.

Ian_S
Ian_S
2 months ago

This is the article I wish I could shove down the throats of smarmy progressives who, exactly, hold a vision of the world where all political issues have a right answer (theirs of course) and a wrong, bigoted, racist and ignorant answer — that of anyone in disagreement.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Ian_S

You’re just doing a version of the same thing you attribute to Them.

Alan Groff
Alan Groff
2 months ago

We aren’t just a land of two beliefs or of working class versus technocrat; we’re a place of thirty, maybe sixty. We’ve shifted from broad universals to fine particulars. The elites faltered, their systems outdated by swift change. Adapting demands every nuanced perspective; it’s a chaotic necessity. Yet, in this, America finds its stride, confronting and adjusting to fearsome truths better than most. Life, like politics, is complex, not easily boxed into old categories. We face the vast, varied landscape ahead, not with fear, but resolve.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
2 months ago

None of this is to justify the demagogic anti-politics of populist tribunes such as Trump.
I assume he’s the tribunus plebis.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

The author repeatedly refers to the technocrat class as centre left. This is simply not the case today. The Dems were centre left about 15 years ago. Today, they are far left progressive. Same goes for the lapdog technocrats.

You know someone has been captured by ideology and dogma when they refuse to acknowledge that even the tiniest sliver of their belief system may be wrong, or even open to debate.

You see that when someone answers a question with slurs, invective, or sarcasm. Unfortunately, this is what we deal with on virtually all the big questions of the day – net zero, open borders, covid policy, DEI/CRT etc.

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think he’s right that the Center-Left is the base of Establishment power right now. I used to think there was a big gap between the Establishment Right and Left but they’re aligned on an awful lot. The only difference between having a Center-Left and a Center-Right ruling class is that in a Center-Left environment the culture tilts a more involved central planner.

Both sides cater to their donor constituencies but in a Center-Left environment all the compromise tilts toward government action which gives Left-wing activists more power. In a Center-Right country you don’t really have that issue because most of the Right just wants to be left alone.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Today, they are far left progressive. Same goes for the lapdog technocrats”.
I think Democrats over 25 in the non-coastal states are close to the sociopolitical centre (British spelling anyone?), as are old-school Republicans not all-in for MAGA. How many of each party fit into either of my qualified categories? Too few from where I sit.
But it’s not accurate to characterize Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin Democrats as “far Left” overall. Nor to call the all-in MAGA-crusader segment of Republican voters and office-holders moderate or centrist.
In my view–not shared by you or most here–the Republican Party is more sold out to its extremists than the Democrats are right now. Dems are more often the institutional incrementalists these days (not that that deserves praise) despite too-much deference to the head-on-fire wokesters & social engineers. The de facto leader of the Republican party promises to resort to dictatorship–only for a day–and make his possible re-election into an act (or series of acts) of “ultimate revenge”. True conservatives like John McCain and Liz Cheney are dead or voted out, and moderates like Mitt Romney are Lindsey Graham are pushed to the margins or caught up in MAGA fever themselves.
Certainly the Democrats have AOC and her “squad” etc., but how much influence do they currently have, how much attention do they receive outside of Right-leaning media? Does Joe Biden spend his sunset years worrying about pronouns and bathroom access?
I wish the old men would step aside, both fire-starting self-promotionist Donald and always-mediocre great-grandpa Joe. That would hardly cure us of our across-the-spectrum willingness to caricature and demonize the Other Side(s), but it might lighten the zeitgeist a little bit.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

the Republican Party is more sold out to its extremists than the Democrats are right now. — > In what way? Seriously. What are the examples of this selling out? One can plainly see the Dems’ capture by the far left, from DEI to non-stop race to grievance and victimhood to medical experimentation on children. What is the equivalent on the right?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

DEI is not part of the Democratic legislative agenda, nor are trans-rights and gender-identity extremism. That is a faction of the far left that only votes Democrat (if they vote at all) because it the closest they can get their to their wish list now–outside of a university campus. There are economic hard-lefties that vote with the Dems, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth, but very few governors or congresspersons that are ultra-progressive wokesters. The “Squad”…who else?
*To make DEI absolutism and race-grievance uprisings interchangeable with mainstream Democrat views is similar to claiming that Republicans, as a group, advocate a Second Civil War.
Lindsey Graham is an example of selling out to MAGA and its malevolent orange clown of a leader. So is Ted Cruz. JD Vance. Tim Scott now. Kevin McCarthy too, though he didn’t sell-out enough to Trump and MAGA extremism to stay in power. The Gilead-like activists on Republican supermajority state legislatures, hurting their own party at the national level. Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, and MTG have been loudmouth extremists since they first took office. Most of the other Republicans in the House and Senate have fallen in line with or at least shut their mouths about election denial, Jan. 6th minimization & rationalization too.
**Which elected Democrats call the George Floyd rioters “patriots”? (I’m not saying there are zero–I’m not sure one way or another–but that the whole picture is not as you’ve painted it).
Mitch McConnell has always been a hard liner, Liz Cheney too. But Cheney has solid principles and McConnell has kept his head–despite some decline and senior moments–if not much of his heart. After the death of John McCain and retirement of Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney is one of the few remaining outspoken moderates on his side of the aisle.
There are those who see any opposition to Trump as left-wing extremism or at least TDS. I don’t celebrate the political status quo ante (or present), nor the Corporate and Cultural Elites. But in my view, making a long enemies list and smashing everything you can reach is not a good way to improve on the status quo, or keep the skeleton of a functioning representative democracy intact. And it is definitely not conservative.
https://www.persuasion.community/p/moderate-republicans-continue-to?utm_campaign=email-half-post&r=7×231&utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Ok but as a student of History, you’re aware that development of a powerful Far-Right is always a reaction to the development of a powerful Far-Left.  So how has a Left-Wing DEI agenda taken control of every institution?

It seems the only explanation is the rapid expansion of an interventionist central government. In other words, the Central Bureacracy has become more active in the daily lives of citizens.  That’s a climate that favors the Left so the Center shifted.  The Establishment Right (McConnell, Romney, McCain, Bush, Cheney) have a governing ideology of compromise or “Consensus-building.”  So seeing the Center shifting to the Left, the Establishment Right responded by accepting the new terms and embracing domestic government largess in return for increased spending on military and foreign affairs. This  compromise which increases both spending and bureacracy was done in the interest of preserving civility and decorum. But in practice, its just creating a path of non-resistance for vast left-wing instititional entryism.

The compromise means that the Establishment Left gets total control over the domestic agenda while the Establishment Right gets to keep doing its thing overseas. I don’t think the Establishment-Left is “Woke” but when the institutions are filled with Left Wing activists, the Center-Left has no choice but to capitulate.  So we’re getting the worst of both worlds; unaccountable domestic spending and aggressive foreign militarism. It can’t possibly end until the “New Consensus” shifts it’s objective to reducing the role of the Administrative Bureacracy.

Campbell P
Campbell P
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I think you just hit the nail on the head.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

You’re sounding more one-sided to me of late, but I respect your intellect, good intentions, and overall level-headedness. I’ll give the most serious and thorough response I have time for right now.
“So how has a Left-Wing DEI agenda taken control of every institution?”
It hasn’t. Not the Congress, Senate, Governor’s mansions, state legislatures nor even the White House (Biden’s administration is not pursuing extremist policies except extreme ineptitude at the border). Not the FBI or CIA, not Silicon Valley nor Wall Street nor churches nor banks–despite hysterical claims from the panicked (or enraged) portion of the Right. Review the many and varied institutions I’ve listed and detail for me how the Left-Wing DEI agenda has taken control (a plausible case can be made in a few instances, I admit).
You can only accomplish the math needed for your blanket assertion by claiming that everyone who is not all-in for MAGA–or at least willing to support the chaotic disruption of Trump during a perceived urgent threat from the Left-wing–is somehow in league with the most extreme wokesters. This “new math” sometimes stretches its totals by counting traditional and moderate conservatives, and actual liberals who hate DEI mandates, as opponents and useful idiots in passive service to the Enemy–at best. This is binary thinking in which the split between ones and zeroes doesn’t even make any sense.
Does the fact that Right-wing reactionaries are reacting to something from the Other Side make their actions proportionate, let alone blameless? Left- wing revolutions make similar claims–an oppressive owner class, bourgeoisie indifference, serfdom(!)–about their motives. But it does not excuse their voluntary bloodletting either. How far back do you want to go? (I’m not an historical expert, but I like to read and listen to some who were/are–a student as you say).
Some may fear the ghouls of re-engineered education and gender-madness more than separatists with stockpiles of guns. Some may fear traditional religion, climate change, or hyper-concentrated wealth more than actual Marxist revolutionaries, let alone champagne socialists or tenured radicals. ***These categories have more intersection and crossover than many see, or are willing to admit.
I’m opposed to violence-ready extremists from either far-wing of the sociopolitical spectrum. Comparisons of authoritarian and bloodthirsty movements from either side of the historical or present-day ledger seem beside the point to me. I’m not saying there aren’t lessons, warnings, and distinctions to be made in that regard, but I choose: None of the above. And I refuse to select a favorite fire-starter or ideological thought tribe–at least for now (forever I pray!). Some of us can still communicate across real and superficial boundaries.

T Bone
T Bone
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I have a ton of respect for your mind, I just simply disagree with you.  Disagreements happen.  I appreciate the many valid points you make.  But let me lay this out.

On the first day of his term, Biden passed an Executive Order guiding the Federal Government called “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for the Underserved Communities Throughout the Federal Government.”  Check it out. Anybody that knows Critical Theory or Intersectionality knows what they’re reading because the language is unmistakable. 

Do I think Biden knew that? Of course not.  He has no idea.  He’s just going with the flow but that’s the point.  You have these so called “Centrists” just rolling with Intersectionality which is openly anti-empirical, anti-competitive and anti-conciliation.

Intersectionality is just an Applied Postmodernism or Postmodernism with Praxis.  Postmodernism analyzed power and didn’t privilege one perspective.  Intersectionality is Postmodernism that uses a neutral theory to privilege one perspective while still claiming to be a neutral theory.

You can’t have a functioning society if you’re creating uneven playing fields to remediate past unfair playing fields. Its completely implausible.  Intersectionality is now a guiding philosophy throughout Media, Business, Politics, Entertainment and even Religion.  The Methodist Church broke apart because of Intersectionality and the Southern Baptist Church is getting close.  Every institution has been affected by it.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

I’m flattered by your compliment. I’ll admit that I think you have a more detailed knowledge of political science and government than I do. Valid points on your side too. It sucks that Biden signed that and in some measure kowtowed to (or blindly went along with) DEI extremism at the federal level. In the previous administration, Trump appointed quite a few Right-wing extremists, and outright under-qualifieds & weirdos–as long as they supported him.
In any case, I don’t think raging radicalism, Left or Right, will work out well. Can you burn down a city to save it? What will rise from the ashes and how many years of violence and disorder, amid the charred remains, will follow the inferno?
Those of sensible temperament who hitch their figurative wagons to an Agent of Chaos rarely get anything close to what they hoped for.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

They need to fire half of the bureaucrats and see where they are.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Cmon AJ, Biden himself has said the DEI needs to be a “whole of govt” effort. It is infused throughout legislation and depts, including the military. That’s why climate change becomes climate justice.

Here’s what we know. The Dems today support and are implementing very dangerous and destructive policies – open borders, net zero, DEI/CRT, etc.

What policies is Trump supporting that threaten the wealth and privilege we all enjoy today?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You honestly think the military doesn’t still operate primarily according to merit and traditional conformity, Jim?
Snipers and Seals are chosen to fill demographic quotas?
Trump supports massive tax breaks for corporations and people who are ultra-wealthy, like he is and will remain if he can con his way into another term, go fully rogue, and make sure to pardon himself on the way out of the White House. Or who can be certain that an emboldened Trump won’t burn through part of the Constitution and take a third term, or appoint his own MAGA successor? Actual civil war could ensue. “Make America Great Again, like it was in 1861!”.
I’ll reiterate my informed claim: Right now the more dangerous extremism is connected to the Republican party, and centered in one man for whom many thousands currently “stand down and stand by”.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

“Diversity, equity and inclusion in the military are necessities for the United States, Bishop Garrison, the senior advisor to the secretary of defense for human capital and diversity, equity and inclusion said.”

https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/2929658/diversity-equity-inclusion-are-necessities-in-us-military/

This literally comes from the defence dept. It’s not some right winger’s interpretation. DEI under Biden, stated by Biden himself, is a whole of govt effort. It is part of the fabric of all govt policy, as stated by the president himself.

Tax cuts for the rich is meh. You might disagree with it, and I certainly think the rich should pay more, but it’s standard, white-bread politicking. It might be something I oppose, but it’s certainly not radical.

We are repeatedly told that Trump is a threat to democracy, yet no one can explain how this 82 year old man – after his term ends – will actually impose a third term, even though he has zero institutional power. Is he going to seize power over the military, even though military leadership is solidly Democrat?

The real threats to the prosperity and privilege we enjoy today are coming from the radical left – net zero, open borders, DEI/CRT. These are not theoretical threats. They are policies being implemented by the administration today. Trump may be an obnoxious boor who says stupid stuff, but if tax cuts for the rich are at the top of his radical agenda, I’ll take that any day over net zero and open borders.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I sure hope not too many people who get a vote buy your rationalizations. Do you think far Right lunatics are rare here in the States?
You cite a study but don’t effectively rebut my challenge: Do you think people will be advanced to position of high military authority according to DEI principles? Is this stated philosophy having much effect on what’s happening on the ground in the Armed Forces or just politically-correct lip service? Don’t get me wrong: I think it sucks that this was announced as some guiding light or whatever.
I still think that tax cuts for the ultra-rich are not “meh” as you dismissively put it. And what about thousands of separatists with guns–no legitimate threat? Some “meh” afterthought compared with racialist overreach that is already self-correcting?
The leader of the Republican is using openly authoritarian language, but you dismiss that too. The fact that he is even saying these things is plenty bad enough, and emboldens other that are ready for real mayhem, which Trump himself is well aware of.
We’ll probably just have to agree to disagree on this one, Jim. Have the last word here if you like.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

The military document I linked to was not a study, but the actual philosophy of the DoD. I don’t know what happens in the field, but DEI is the official policy of the military. There is no argument about that.

I’m not getting into a big thing about this. I believe you have TDS and there’s nothing I can do to change that. I’ll leave you with this. Trump could not be sued by Jean Carolle because the statute of limitations had passed. The New York State legislature changed the law so she could. Not a permanent change mind you – a six month change. Do you think this is normal and honest?

The AG campaigned on a platform to get Trump. This is not in question. Then she sued him for over inflating his assets for a loan, even though he repaid the loan and the lender didn’t file a complaint – and the lender testified on his behalf. The Financial Times did some research and could not find a similar case in 71 years of records. Do you think this is honest and normal?

Everyone on the left talks about Trump the fasc!st, yet the Dems donated $10 mill to the most extreme MAGA candidates in Republican primaries. Do you think this is honest and normal?

I wish the GOP would select anyone but Trump. That’s not happening. Yet I would wait 12 hours in the rain to vote Trump over any Dem candidate. I don’t hate the Dems. I don’t think they are evil. They have been captured by a self destructive progressive ideology that threatens our future. Why do I know this? Because they are implementing those policies today.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I know I offered you the last word but I didn’t expect you to conclude with such a cheap shot. You ought to examine whether you are developing TDS of the reverse variety.
Not that one can always accurately self-diagnose. After recovering from a moderate case from TDS about 2018, I think I now just have open eyes and ears. We’re all a bit biased toward our own beliefs though.
Many of your claims are absolute and overblown. How generous that you don’t think Democrats are evil, just “captured” en masse “by a self destructive progressive ideology that threatens our future” and all their policies reflect this, and nothing else worth mentioning. Wow. QED. Bye, Jim.
*I read the article you linked to more carefully this time. Just one statement by the DOD’s DEI officer. (“‘Diversity, equity and inclusion in the military are necessities for the United States’, Bishop Garrison, the senior advisor to the secretary of defense for human capital and diversity, equity and inclusion said”). How does that establish his statement as some binding general policy? Sensible answer: it doesn’t.
Imagine a DEI officer asserting the importance of DEI!!
Also, even Garrison’s own words contradict your characterization: “It’s not just something that has to be done because of some type of cultural ideology or culture wars that are going on — that’s not the case at all. It is, again, not diversity for diversity’s sake,” Garrison said.
Pretty extreme spin, or maybe a quasi-paranoid misreading on your part.
I’m done now.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’ll make this my last word then. Do an internet search – DEI in the DoD. It’s literally everywhere.

https://diversity.defense.gov

Do an internet search for Biden’s whole of government approach to DEI. He committed to this very early.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/25/fact-sheet-president-biden-signs-executive-order-advancing-diversity-equity-inclusion-and-accessibility-in-the-federal-government/

I’ve accused you of TDS so I suppose it’s fair to accuse me of being a Trump lover. Makes me chuckle a bit inside though.

However, when it comes to progressives, you will never find any statement from me that questions their motives. I’ve never called them evil, or leading some conspiracy. I think they are deluded, incompetent and captured by ideology. There’s no other way to explain Queers for Palestine or climate justice.

I will support any warm body that pushes back against the incompetent, deluded and ideologically captured clowns running the show today. If it’s Trump – less than ideal but much better than the alternative.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Ok, Jim. I’ll check out your links soon. But please continue to keep both eyes open, not just the one that sees to your Left.
I don’t think you’re a Trump lover–yet. But your tune is certainly changing.
See you next time.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Biden’s agency nominees – in America, these appointees have considerable power for agency rule making – were well left of the center.
Biden’s administration nominated a Russian American immigrant, who’d advocated for nationalizing banks under federal control, as Comptroller of the Currency. She also advocated for forbidding banking loans to oil and gas companies.
A convicted eco-terrorist was nominated for a senior position at the EPA.
Radically left wing feminists were nominated for deputy director positions at the DOJ. Literal SWAT teams have since been dispatched to arrest mainstream prolife activists, and DOJ memos targeting “traditional Roman Catholics” were last year disclosed by DOJ whistleblowers.
A literal Ministry of Truth was created within DHS, and likely still exists, to police the media and social media for “misinformation.” The woman nominated to lead it was herself described as a (left wing) “human geyser of misinformation.”
This is well beyond centrism.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago

Trump had actual Western Chauvinists Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon in his inner circle. That’s farther from any believable center.
You’re holding Biden directly to blame for anything that occurs under his administration and Trump to blame for nothing–even when he’s responsible for it first-hand, like denying his election loss, calling a riotous rabble patriots, bromancing with Putin, and choosing far-right actors like General Flynn for his cabinet.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Nah they are just cowardly and living from grant mandate to grant mandate.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago

Very interesting and logical – but perhaps a little too neat to provide an entirely plausible and fully satisfying explanation.

The essay captures the paradoxical reality that at least the bottom third of society – and probably a larger and growing fraction than that – has suffered stagnant or declining incomes since the 2008 financial crisis in the UK and the 1994 implementation of NAFTA in the US despite significant economic growth. This is in contrast to the steady growth in incomes from the 1950s to 1990s. It used to be the case that a growing economy led almost automatically to growing incomes for almost all groups but no longer. This seems very surprising in democracies that are supposed to respond to challenges to the interests of the electorate but that – until Trump appeared as a populist tribune of the plebs – were not doing so.

The mystery is not that much of the West adopted the policies of globalisation, technological innovation and mass migration that produced this situation – or that it developed suitable intellectual rationalisations – but that the political system failed to respond and make policy adjustments when the downside for much of the population became clear or even to accept that there was a problem.

The rationalisations deployed may be intellectually flawed as described but I do not think that gets to the core of the problem. It is that currently neither the UK nor especially the US are acting like democratic societies in the full sense. It was always naive to believe that the system was ever described accurately by Lincoln’s phrase “government of the people by the people and for the people” but in the last two decades the system has become significantly less responsive to public opinion. It has become more a case of “government of the people by a well rewarded professional political class and for a mix of corporates, NGOs and the 1%”. This shift was most pronounced as well as long standing in the US – which perhaps explains why the Trumpian reaction occurred there – but the UK is heading in the same direction. On current trends, London will soon be a “Washington on the Thames”.

One can think of many useful policies and reforms to address the income problem directly but none will succeed unless both the decision making system is made less money driven and political parties are made to focus less on wooing party members and more the broader electorate. A good start would be a determined attack of the escalating increase in “soft corruption” – the revolving door, transparency of lobbying, the proliferation of unaccountable regulators etc etc – together with a reduction in the number of safe seats / gerrymandering and a deliberate reduction in the role of party members / primaries in the selection of party leaders. In theory, such a program could be pushed through relatively easily in the UK but in the US it might require Constitutional amendments given the current Supreme Court seems to see part of its mission as being to defend institutionalised corruption..

If politicians and officials are freed of distracting pressures and motivated to focus once again on making as much as possible of the electorate as happy as possible then the intellectual rationalisations described in the essay will disappear like mist after dawn. On the other hand, without restoring this democratic feature then most relevant policy changes will soon wither or be reversed. It is, of course, far easier to describe what is necessary than to be optimistic that it will happen.

Terry M
Terry M
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

… in the US it might require Constitutional amendments given the current Supreme Court seems to see part of its mission as being to defend institutionalised corruption.
SCOTUS defers to Congress, the bureaucracy, and the President too frequently. The do not actively defend corruption, but they are not active enough in reining in the deep state (bureaucracy). Roberts, in particular, is afraid to make waves, hence, unconstitutional on its face, Obamacare. The ‘liberal’ justices are all in favor of the very big, very deep state.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

I was thinking of the Citizens United and similar cases which to my mind increased significantly the impact of money in politics. One needs to be clear on definitions. In US and UK law, corruption is very narrowly defined. The wider phenomenon of influence peddling and the diversion of public power and resources for private ends – sometimes called soft corruption – was my target.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I think your claim that only bottom third of Western societies suffers due to to globalisation and mass immigration is wide of the mark.
I doubt that more than top 20% in the West benefits from globalisation.
I am retired now but I was close to six figures income (so most likely top 10%).
There is no way someone in my position now can afford the lifestyle I had in 80s and 90s on much lower income earlier in my career.
I think explanation is quite simple in economic terms.
If you allow global market for labour either through offshoring of jobs or mass immigration, the everage income will fall.
Problem is that democracy can not solve this problem, because most major parties are signed up to globalisation agenda.
Any party which would try to propose alternative to current system would be punished by financial markets.
I have no idea what the solution is, but I am not optimistic about the future for our younger generation.

Jules Anjim
Jules Anjim
2 months ago

Well, elites have existed in the United States and elsewhere for pretty much all of our history, along with their associated catechisms. And the neoliberal experiment and rise of a specifically technocratic elite was a largely conservative project (albeit continued with some zeal by the ruling “left” when in power).
The amelioration of the accordant clashes between said elites and the working class very rarely tends to resolve in a compromise in favor of the former.    I do believe it was those original McCarthyites and Milton Friedman’s acolytes (among others) who put paid to that.  
It’s cute to suggest that the answer is now the kind of democratic politics that has never existed in the United States (nor will ever exist), a political and economic system which would never have allowed New America’s biggest donor (Bill Gates) from having a fair old romp in the old guard elite’s freshly bulldozed globalized free market.   

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago
Reply to  Jules Anjim

Elites are not the problem. Incompetent elites are the problem.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Incompetent elites guided by corrupt and incompetent ‘experts’, whose advice they take blindly on almost every subject because they don’t have strong opinions of their own.
In that sense Trump was an improvement, because his instincts were usually correct, especially on foreign policy. His problem was he didn’t articulate them well or succeed in implementing them fully against the opposition of the Deep State.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

As in replying to Jim, no one can be that wrong that often. Replace incompetent with intentional, and it starts to make more sense, no matter how counter-intuitive it may appear at first blush.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You may well be right, but I hesitate to credit them with enough intelligence to pull it off on a global scale. Occam’s razor seems to point to incompetence.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think we sell these people short by casting them as incompetent, poorly informed, or downright stupid. When people appear to be “wrong” at scale on multiple issues, it’s probably worth considering that the outcome was intentional, not accidental.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 months ago

Reading Kissinger’s Diplomacy I’ve just finished the chapter on the descent into Vietnam with Eisenhower followed by Kennedy followed by Johnson. Kissinger argues that our leaders were Klueless Klots that didn’t understand what they were getting into (including young Henry).
I’m inclined to believe that Klueless Klots applies to our present leaders. They are just reciting the Narrative and don’t have a klue what they are doing.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago

Why is Kissinger considered some sort of sage?
He is responsible for monumental blunder of opening to China.
Yes, he and Nixon thought they played clever and weakened Soviets but long term consequences are terrible for the West.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
2 months ago

No one, unfortunately, is practicing “democratic politics”. Democracy in America is in a death spiral, and I don’t see a person or movement out there that will pull us out of it. Maybe people like Mr. Lind, who write so astutely about our current predicament, should be starting a new political party.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago

“The most obvious remedy would be to introduce general-knowledge tests for voters, and those who give the wrong answer could be disfranchised. But this would be too reminiscent of the “literacy tests” once used by segregationists in the South to prevent black Americans from voting, and only academic libertarians who fantasise about “epistemocracy” truly dream of limiting the suffrage on the basis of education.”

I’m not an academic but I am a libertarian, and I have strong opposing views about this. I haven’t heard the phrase epistemocracy before, but if it is used to describe a system in which voter knowledge is the basis for deciding whether a vote is valid or not, then it fails not only in the sense of practical viability, but even on its own logical terms.

The reason I say so is this: democracy is (so far) more successful than alternative political systems for the same reason that market forces that depend on price signals are more efficient (so far) than any other economic system. When an individual makes a spending decision (including the decision not to spend at all), that forms part of a collective behaviour that results in more efficient macroeconomic resource allocation than any attempt at planning centrally can achieve.

Similarly, when a voter makes a choice on a ballot paper, that choice is the result not solely of common politically-informed knowledge about the choices in question (or indeed the lack of it), but also includes how those choices affect the individual in question, which depends upon a layer of information only available to that individual. This is the ultimate “why” democracy works despite being imperfect in so many other ways: it leverages the wisdom of crowds successfully and consequently includes knowledge and information that is not and cannot be available to any authority that would make decisions on other people’s behalf.

So I would argue, actually, that the implied definition in the article of epistemocracy is wrong: democracy as it presently operates is already a superior form of knowledge-based voting than is any academically self-serving definition along the lines described above.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I’d not heard the term “epistemocracy” either.
[Some context: “The term epistemocracy has many conflicting uses, generally designating someone of rank having some epistemic property or other. Nassim Nicholas Taleb used it in 2007 to designate a utopian type of society where the leadership possesses epistemic humility. He claims the French writer Michel de Montaigne was a modern epistemocrat. He points out, however, that it is difficult to assert authority on the basis of one’s uncertainty; leaders who are assertive, even if they are incorrect, still gather people together.[1]
However the term had already been used long before this, and as of 2010 Taleb’s usage has not caught on. Most uses of the word are unrelated or even opposite to this. For instance in reference to communism: “Maoism, like the Marxist- Leninist system upon which it modeled itself, was an epistemocracy,' rule by those possessed of that infallible wisdom embodied in theuniversal truth of Marxism'”[2] Or theocracy: “The model for this concentration of knowledge in the hands of a single group is the epistemocracy of the Old Testament priests…”[3]
Another use seems to be in relation to modern science or western technocracy: “…the social promotion and political em-powerment of a new class of experimental scientists … what sociologists of science like Blumenberg call an epistemocracy.”[4] Again this is more or less opposite to Taleb’s use. However it would be unfair to say that any of these have exactly caught on either. It remains a word used in an ad hoc manner.” –thanks Wikipedia!]

While I don’t take issue with your comment overall, I share only a milder strain of your emphatic libertarianism. Let me ask: Do voters currently have an effective, legal means of checking overreach by Market Forces such as those in Silicon Valley, Mega-corporations, or Wall Street? Is the Invisible Hand some nearly-infallible guide?
Can a majority of 50% plus one, or even 90%–let alone a single corporate “person”–justly vote to super-pollute the air, water, and soil–or to end democracy itself?
No further rhetorical questions at this time.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I’m going to provide a very short answer to all your rhetorical questions (yes, I know) by simply saying that in both the case of markets and democracy I was careful to emphasise that neither system is perfect or even close to perfect: they are merely preferable to every attempt so far to improve upon them, especially and ironically the attempts of utopians and idealists.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Fair enough and thanks for the ought-to-be-obvious qualification. Sincerely. I did nudge you for some acknowledgement to that effect.
On democracy I’m with you. And Churchill:

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said* that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time

*apparently Churchill’s source has not been identified

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
2 months ago
Reply to  John Riordan

People are really good at looking around and pointing out the slacker. 5 year olds especially and they don’t have a filter. That’s why democracy can work. I think the extent of the test could be go down to the vote station on the day of the vote, confirm your identity and pick up a pencil. No mail in votes or voting on your computer. Problem solved.

Point of Information
Point of Information
2 months ago

“Trade and immigration policies benefit some citizens, classes, occupations, and other interest groups, and harm others”.

Yes but not only this. Trade, as it currently functions, entrenches inequality between nations, as it relies on cheap labour and from unpleasant to appalling* working conditions in cheaper countries for the market to function. Allowing migration to wealthy countries does not address the inequality between nations which exploded over the 20th century.

Prior to globalisation, when most countries (or political entities) were relatively self-sufficient, populations experienced feast or famine due to climate (harvest), competent or otherwise governments, and regional developments in technology. Now all these factors are supra-national and the gap between the top and the bottom has never been wider.

*From workers in Chinese dormitory factories who see their kids only once a year to children working in Congolese cobalt mines.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago

I am not sure that your description of how globalisation works is correct.
Globalisation lowers living standards of the great majority of people in the West but benefits many people in developing countries.
Just quick look at income statistics of countries like China, India, South Korea, Vietnam etc would disprove your claim.
There are some countries, mostly in Africa which are failing disastrously.
But that is not fault of globalisation.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

Why are so many working-class voters rebelling against the centre-left? 
Because its ideas are counter to those voters’ self-interest?

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
2 months ago

“the conflicting interests of different groups in society must be resolved through the political process.”
Apparently we have to say this now.

Arthur King
Arthur King
2 months ago

It’s happening in canada as well. The new digital harms legislation being proposed is draconian.

Peter Samson
Peter Samson
2 months ago

Show me the evidence that immigration to the U.S. has reduced access to low wage jobs or welfare services by native-born Americans. I don’t believe such evidence exists.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Samson

Really? You don’t think that the influx of at least 8 million illegals has any effect on anything? Multiple sanctuary cities are screaming about the impact on their budgets.

John L Murphy
John L Murphy
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

The influx under Biden of ~8 million ‘refugees/migrants/asylum seekers/here without documentation/authorization/permission’ added to the 11-12 million already here. Plus their born-in-the-USA chlldren, offspring of PRC mothers at ‘birthing hotels’ in Southern California, chain-migration, student/travel visa AWOL…

Ben H
Ben H
2 months ago

Despite Trump’s rhetoric he govern as a pretty milk toast Republican President. He didn’t even make his big campaign promise a priority until the end of his term. I think he drowned in the swamp in the first few years he was there but finally found a float.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

What a great capture

Jae
Jae
2 months ago

Good article until the author revealed his TDS. Went in the boring yawn bin then, so old and trite.

John Lammi
John Lammi
2 months ago

There were thousands of people working in the Democratic administrations of Roosevelt and Truman who were working on behalf of the USSR according to the Soviet archives.

Sane Scot
Sane Scot
2 months ago

“None of this is to justify the demagogic anti-politics of populist tribunes such as Trump”. Sorry, but this is pathetic. Once again, after some very wise words, an author has to hasten to add, “Don’t worry folks, like all intelligent people, I too have Trump Derangement Syndrome.” Trump may not be all polite people’s idea of a great dinner guest, but he is the only 2024 candidate in realistic contention who has given the remotest impression that he actually wants to clean out the swamp. As even Michael Lind himself hints at understanding, the swamp is the problem. Trump, if the swamp creatures fail to jail him before November, and he gets elected, will probably AGAIN fail to clean it out, so stupendously difficult will be the task. But he’s the best chance the West has got. Here in the UK, our swamp – we call it The Blob – is on target to get bigger and filthier after November. God help us.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

I thought this was a good article but it’s more than ironic that the people who object to Trump being dragged into the argument then spend pages upon pages arguing about Trump!

For what it’s worth it never fails to amaze me what faith people on the Right seem to have in Trump as some kind of saviour. He is so clearly a self-interested, boorish and limited person, who endlessly falls out with people on his own supposed side. Trump actually isn’t even that interested in fighting the culture wars on behalf of conservative values, which as he is no kind of conservative I suppose it isn’t much of a surprise.

Why some parts of the Republican party are so obsessed with anti-abortionism I’m not sure. This is a dwindling political platform and doomed to defeat. practice it is likely to enable very liberal abortion laws being introduced, with the result of far more “babies” being killed – if that’s how you view it.