There can be no doubt that in the past year, politics has changed dramatically. The global zeitgeist seems to be accelerating away from a neo-liberal populism towards one that involves right-wing candidates, usually achieving their ideological goals through a concoction of post-factualism and populism. One popular left-wing magazine, the American ‘Jacobin’ publication, has argued in a recent article that the way to solve the democratic process that have so failed the downtrodden and oppressed is to embrace this process wholeheartedly, allowing such failures to continue, while blaming ‘elites’.
The magazine’s article caused much consternation on Twitter, with many thinking that the diluted, non-committed tone that the article struck did not invite any further solutions to problems or ways of protecting those under threat. A more appropriate way of dealing with the gamut of problems presented by Trump and his administration would be means in which to resist his regime as it happens, along with explicit endorsement a specific political ideology. It doesn’t help anyone to suggest that readers of an inherently political publication need to align themselves more closely with the idea of politics itself. Informing people that the best way to protest an authoritarian government is through disruption of the process of the government and the civil service through direction action (sit-ins, blocking highways, the occupation of civic buildings) is far better than holding candlelit vigils or wearing safety pins to show ‘solidarity’.
It has been argued by many that hatred and consternation of those in positions of power, particularly in spheres of media and politics did much to galvanise support for people who claim to be outside of the political sphere. This is nothing other than ironic, with Trump being an international property mogul and golf club owner, and Farage being an ex-city trading public schoolboy. Both of these white middle aged men claim to exist outside of the establishment, although one only needs to look at the gilded and gaudy towers of Donald Trump to know that such a claim is unfounded and untrue.
Furthermore, the whole situation has worsened due to the emergence of what could be called the “post-political” world. Following the fall of the Berlin wall, we entered a post-political consensus based on free-markets and basic democratic “freedoms.” This has led to substantial politics being weakened and turned into merely variations on how to bureaucratically manage a state, rather than the political direction of a state, thus heralding the ‘death of politics’. This explains the neoliberal and neoconservative movements seen in Blair’s ‘New Labour’, and Clinton’s revival of the Democratic Party after the collapse of the party under Jimmy Carter.
This is a world in which political propaganda from all sides is seldom held up to scrutiny by general public, as seen with the ‘promise’ of spending £350 million that would otherwise be spent on EU membership on funding the NHS. This creation of a post-factual political landscape, a word so relevant it has become the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year, is dangerous to the concept of representative democracy. Representative democracy relies on the distribution of facts so a voter can decide, based on personal preference, who represents their best interests or ideologies. Without the claims of either side being verified during elections, or calls to verification by voters, politicians have free reign to claim what they choose without consequence and because politics is becoming so stratified, with the rift between left and right increasing, one side is very likely to wholeheartedly believe and endorse the side which they align with. This post-factual age is mostly due to the creation of massive closed ideology echo chambers where, instead of searching for the opposite view, people find what they agree with and simply incubate and develop that personal ideology. This leads to the stratification of ideas, and the inability to listen or to engage with arguments from the opposition.
Many cries from the supporters of Trump and Brexit were of “You lost. Get over it!” and “Stop whinging”, perpetuating the idea that people had no right to be upset after a narrow defeat in one of the most personal and contentious Presidential elections in history, or an equally narrow defeat in what has been proven to be a time of economic and democratic uncertainty for the young people of Britain, in a decision taken by the old. It’s incredibly understandable that people would be upset by such results that were so close, and the news that Clinton was the more popular candidate in the polling booths with two million more votes than Trump justifies the upset of many.
To conclude, the solution of “politics” given by the Jacobin article is one that is weak and needs more explaining in order for the readers of the magazine to truly grasp the many problems and solutions of our modern day political situations.