After Trump, will a more dangerous demagogue arrive?
It's worth contemplating what a more competent populist could achieve
Thomas Friedman, author of The World Is Flat, is known as a booster of globalisation. However, one of his recent columns for The New York Times reads like a denunciation of everything that Davos Man stands for:
Yep. That’s what happens when you pursue the politics of open versus closed as a proxy for good versus evil. As current events make clear, this false equivalence is one of the great ideological errors of our time.
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However, in contemplating the meltdown of the neoliberal order, Friedman’s most interesting point is that great catastrophes are often preceded by little catastrophes — events that seem quite big at the time, but are in fact warnings of much worse to come:
Friedman gives a number of examples:
- The World Trade Centre bombing in 1993, which, though an atrocity in which six people were killed, would be overshadowed by the devastation of 9/11.
- The collapse of Long-Term Capital Management (a hedge fund) in 1998 — a dress rehearsal for the hugely more damaging Global Financial Crisis a decade later.
- The SARS epidemic of 2003 (caused by the SARS-CoV-1 virus) — a prequel to the current pandemic (caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus).
Look at what happened before any of the shock events of the 21st century and you will, most likely, find a prior warning. Note, that I don’t mean a mere historical parallel — but a forerunner event arising out of the same underlying factors.
The result of the Brexit referendum, for instance, was foreshadowed by the AV referendum of 2011 — which exposed the gulf between popular and metropolitan liberal opinion. The Brexit vote was much closer, of course — but there were clear commonalities in the voting patterns and the winning tactics.
Consumed by bitterness, the losers of the AV referendum failed to apply the lessons of their defeat to the Brexit referendum. Liberals, being attached to notions of fairness and progress, tend to overlook two possibilities; (1) that when they lose, it isn’t necessarily because the winners cheated; and (2) that things can always get worse.
In any case, what all of us need to ask of any setback is whether it is the main event or, in fact, a portent of a bigger disaster that could yet be averted.
I wonder if the warning staring us in the face right now is the presidency of Donald Trump. As appalled as many people are by his behaviour, it’s worth contemplating what a more disciplined, competent populist could achieve — a demagogue concerned not just with his own ego, but the execution of some carefully-planned vision for America and the world.
For the media to retain even a slither of credibility it will have to stop referring to Trump as a ‘demagogue’. He came to office promising to get out of all the pointless wars, to get control of the borders, to stand up to China, and to stop bankrolling the NATO and other such rackets. These are positions that most Americans agree with – 79% of Americans want less immigration.
Thus his positions are generally popular, not ‘populist’. But the media and academic classes are so blind – and often so corrupt in that they take money from China – that they simply cannot acknowledge this.
From Day One they have attacked him with all manner of demonstrably fake accusations (Russiagate etc) revealing themselves to be as vile as they are incompetent. To be sure, we all have problems with the way Trump behaves and communicates, but at least he has been right on some of the big things, whereas every other western politician I can think of has been wrong on EVERYTHING for almost 30 years.
The media is utterly unable or willing to see any of this, which is why it is now so hated and distrusted.
Certainly agree with this. The only people threatened by populism are those that wish to see structural inequalities persist. This of course applies to the Liberal Establishment who have maxed out on media manipulation and now invest all their resources and energies into installing liberal establishment stooges like Starmer and subverting our democratic freedoms.
The same can’t be said of the Conservative Establishment just yet because they know full well that populism which is the popular, not distinguished by rank, point of view (see Chambers Dictionary for a politically impartial definition) currently holds the balance of power in the UK.
So as you point out, demagoguery is just another projected slur arising from a fearful ego that rejects the popular (common sense) point of view.
Agree with all of this. The so-called metropolitian ‘elitists’ (whether EU, USA, or UK) are certainly “distrusted” by a majority of well-educated, thinking, UK citizens over a certain age – in my quite wide-ranging experience- the age of 50.
This fits with the Blairite ‘Common Purpose’ Globalist/EU plan/plot? to eradicate the 1944 British Education Act and all consciousness of National Identity. To eradicate width of knowledge and social mobility based in ability and vocation.
To replace that ideal with an educational system designed to ‘brainwash’ new generations into confusion and ‘guilt’ for this Nation’s history. Those of us who spent a lifetime dedicated to enabling scholarship, critical thinking, and the encouragement of ‘original’ thinking, are currently a despised ‘class’. Unfortunately for the intellectually retarded, ego-maniac, narcissists of today’s media, thousands of us are in regular communication and agree the majority of today’s ‘rabble-rousing’, morally corrupt, media deserve only cold contempt. I think ‘hatred’ is too emotive a word.
Like your ‘good self’ FB, the majority of those I reference above deal in evidence, words on the page, calm assessment. The hysterical posturing of Emily M, Piers M, Robert P and too many others, provokes only frigid, rational, distain.
Judging my conversations with Scottish Nationalists on another UnHerd site, the damage to the 1944 British Education Act is already terminal.
Perhaps we should be using the term self hating Britons (SHB) for these cretins you refer to above?
Agree to a point but …. without exception, these are self-aggrandising individuals. So a psychological conflict is evidenced. They are Nation-hating Britons. Ergo being at one with the Globalist agenda, they truly believe the cultures of the UK are beneath their personal aspirations. They hate all four cultures as ‘inferior’ to their ‘elitist’ narcissistic view of themsleves. They imagine (despite the historical achievements of four united small nations), that true appreciation of their worth can only be found elsewhere in the world.
Europe for example …. not of course, the Eastern Europeans (in their view) ‘failures’ but the perennial aspirations of Germany to ‘rule’ the continent of Europe.
I have often remarked, after listening to the easily identifiable Quislings in the media: ‘These people would have been quite at home in the cultural distinctions and moral decadence of Nazi Germany.
Agreed on all points. The title of the article would impute that the
author thinks of President Trump as a dangerous demagogue. Only of
course if you believe the constant outpourings of the MSM on both
sides of the Atlantic. Thankyou for your regular contributions, they
very much reflect my (and many others) world view.
I wonder just how far removed from reality this author can get?
Trump has been the single most competent President in decades, but his enemies try and undermine everything he puts in place. Who are his enemies?, Well, this hack for a start, and thousands like him. They have become “our” enemies, because they don’t want him to carry out the job he was elected to do. The media are a threat to the stability of the US.
I’ve been wondering this for a while. Had Trump been even a tiny bit more disciplined and empathetic he’d be walking to re-election even with the Covid 19 outbreak. The point about liberals being unable to accept they can lose without someone else cheating is an excellent one, it’s why they won’t see Trump Mark 2 coming. I guess this is what happens when you abandon reason and turn your political beliefs into a religion, you lose the capacity to think yourself into your opponent’s position.
In answer to your question.
Obama can’t serve a third term, and Hillary will be too old, so likely not.
Unfortunately I can’t give you more than one uptick sir!
An increase in the size of the prizes on offer, and an elite losing touch with its ancestral mores led in Rome first to Sulla and then Caesar and Augustus. Of course, for the average Roman in the forum, the 400 years of peace the latter ushered in were probably to be preferred to continual Civil War.
Dives in omnia! or as they said in Colonia Marciana,Traiana, Ulpia, Thamugadi:
“Venari Lavari, Ludere, Ridere, Occ est Vivere!
400 years of peace ?? Wasn’t the Roman Empire ,especially in 3rd century. racked by civil wars between rival generals seeking supreme authority?
It is appalling that specific scientific research should be closed down because of the woke mob. How can we stop this before we find ourselves imprisoned completely in a new dark age of the Inquisition?
“it’s safe to say that most people who identify as transgender have or had gender dysphoria”
Most people? Not really. The truly gender dysphoric are a tiny minority of the population. What has exploded in recent years is transgender life and activism as a trendy way to get attention, particularly among teenage girls.
In years to come our descendants will be asking what madness overtook us in this century.
“…only a very particular, very narrow storyline is allowed ” and if you deviate from it, you risk professional and reputational damage. In the long run, this sort of science-by-petition, in which activists who can make a loud enough racket can get research retracted that wouldn’t be retracted otherwise, is exceptionally harmful.”
This type of leftist hijacking of science has been familiar to anyone who questions anthropogenic climate change for many years. As soon as fanaticism turns any field into a religion, balanced research and reporting are finished.
As someone who rather likes populism (it’s far preferable to the counterfactual, unpopulism, or the imposition of government disliked by the populace), I hope this is true. Progress depends on the actions of the unreasonable man (or woman); thus, first-wave populists can be outliers in terms of personality and personal conduct. But they form the bridgehead that allows for the adoption of the best of their ideas by characters who are more palatable, and who may be executionally more capable.
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