It was ridiculous to live under the illusion that sooner or later, in a society so divided by inequality, there wouldn’t be a reaction that would profoundly shake the political framework. At least one person, at the outset of Trump’s adventure, began to realize this.
Michael Moore, among others, for months had predicted that the “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown” would be “alas — our president.”
The director, who better than anyone else depicted contemporary American society, had seen the sullen faces of blue collar workers ejected from the factories of the Rust Belt; he saw the no-longer-blackened faces of miners made redundant by blessed greening measures, but never accompanied by re-employment projects; he saw the new poverty of the young, squished by insecurity and hopeless for social advancement.
The establishment, with blind and arrogant self-confidence, dismissed the concerns of the people protesting in American squares with “Occupy Wall Street” against the 1 percent.
Yet it was clear that the demand for change could no longer be postponed, and a turning point was inevitable. It was clear that introducing, as Obama has tried to do, a little health care would not have been enough (polls tell us that 77 percent of voters considered health care reform too feeble); nor is it enough to have adopted an economic policy that has lowered the unemployment rate, but has continued to consign millions of young people to society’s ghettos.
Both the Democratic and the Republican establishment have become the enemy to vanquish because it holds the reigns of global financial capitalism, which green lights raids of capital and desertifies entire once-rich industrial regions.
It doesn’t help to justify the Trump revolution by saying that the troubles were derived from the economic crisis because the crisis was generated by this system. It didn’t just fall out of the sky.
The Democratic establishment (and the Republican, too, which wasn’t prepared for this candidate that it had to support ) didn’t get the radical nature of this request for change which demands that real suffering is taken care of.
The most acute observers from The New York Times had it right when, during the primaries, they wrote that the more extremist Bernie Sanders had more chance than the moderate Hillary Clinton.
The old socialist was, in fact, able to mobilize for the first time large segments that had not voted previously, and it’s possible many did not follow him when he asked them to converge behind Clinton. And when Sanders was gone, a large part of the energy mobilizing the Democrats was gone, thus contradicting the current orthodoxy that you’re more likely to win at the center.
This election was a helpful wake-up call for Europe’s leaders, both the Democrats or the Social Democrats, as in Germany, or the socialists in France, or the Italian ones (whom I don’t know much about).
If the left can’t propose a serious alternative to this desire to break with the establishment, then other parties will fuel the worst.
And there’s little else to offend you when the American champion is a person mocked by all the country’s most respectable figures for the ease with which he violates the rules of political correctness, with vulgarity that Americans call “locker room talk.”
The next elections in France are likely to replicate, with some cultural variation, the American scenario. The usual dangerous and deviant ingredients, which have always accompanied protests devoid of a truly alternative political outlet, will be found there too. Racism, first of all.
Those who always fear destabilization would do well to reflect on all this. (Right now, if No has a chance of winning the Italian referendum Dec. 4).
The danger is when social unrest does not find adequate political and democratic solutions.
In Italy, anti-politics has luckily found a less perverse outlet in the Five Stars Movement (only Eugenio Scalfari can think of equating them to Trump!).
Even though I’m distant from the culture of the Five Stars Movement, I know well that they are quite different even compared with Marine Le Pen and her associates.
We need much more than that, and we need to have the courage to continue to try to build a left alternative.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Your weekly briefing of progressive news.