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November 27, 2016


DP Down South

My father made this comment on Nigel Farage last night: Political genius, my arse! The freak just got lucky.


Why not say what you would actually do rather than project opinions onto people you don't like and pick unproven causal sites which do social science a disservice (and that's saying something).

I voted Brexit and fit none of your caricatures.

Janice gets it. You don't.


The freak in the US got lucky because we have an electoral college

Peter K.

"And I’ve not had much support from those like Janice who now demand that I “understand” the right."

This is the key sentence in the blog post. But are the Janices the only people asking us to "understand" the right?

"Instead, they are just narcissists who found a ready market for their bigotry thanks to helpful socioeconomic conditions, a complicit media and cognitive biases among voters."

That's not the complete explanation for Trump's success. His message was very populist and anti-elite. People ignored the media and the experts who told them Trump would be a disaster. Part of it was a middle finger at the elite, even if they didn't buy into his racism, etc.

6 in 10 Americans are non-college educated and they voted for Trump. Democrats should be winning that vote but instead they'e lecturing us about how everyone needs a college education while Obama pushes the TPP corporate trade agreement.


Journos of all stripes have wasted no time mapping a narrative onto Brexit & Trump that fits their particular politics/readership/editorial policy. One thing they do (almost) unanimously agree on is that the media is completely blameless and any suggestion otherwise is completely untoward and unfair - funny that.


Peter K
"Democrats should be winning that vote..."
They did, albeit only by about 2 million.

Dennis Smith

If the left faces “three different types of opponent on the right” whose views are mutually incompatible, this strongly suggests that the whole idea of a single left-right continuum is mistaken. It is much more plausible to map politics as a multi-dimensional space with several different axes of difference – individualist/collectivist, libertarian/authoritarian, progressive/reactionary, utopian/pragmatic, to mention just four. None of these axes relates straightforwardly to any of the others.


I'm trying to understand the populist right. However it's really, really difficult - for several reasons:

1. As Nik says above, journalists and writers see the rise of the right through the prism of their own experiences and biases.
2. Journalists and other commentators are struggling to coherently aggregate the many reasons that "rightists" give for their viewpoints. Possibly because there are many reasons and also because they are incoherent, see point 4. below.
3. A right/left split is being subsumed by something else, by which I mean it's not just rightists rallying to a "rightist" populist cause.
4. "Rightist" writers frequently offer little in the way of reasoned, substantiated argument. I read the Telegraph, the Mail and Sunday Times to balance my FT(ish) and Guardian(ish) worldview. My observation is that the right wing press and its commentators offer supposition and insult but rarely much in the way of evidence. It's infuriating, as is their tendency to dismissed sources of evidence as biased.

For these reasons I feel it's impossible to get a clear view of the reasons why rightists have blown a gasket recently - beyond those offered by the blowhard down the pub. And I'm sorry Janice, I'm getting a bit tired of buying you pints!


@ Stuart - I can't prove what caused Brexit: I don't think anybody can given that we can't see alternative histories. But it's surely plausible that stagnant incomes contributed to a demand for change, which might have tipped the balance at the margin.
I'm NOT saying that everyone who voted Brexit is a populist: there were some good reasons for Brexit, advanced by reasonable people. I'll even grant that there might be reasonable grounds to be uncomfortable with high levels of immigration. But these seem to me to have been minority views.

Ralph Musgrave

Chris seems to agree with Ben Friedman’s claim that the right is intolerant. That a joke? What about the political left’s threat to arrest Le Pen. I seem to remember Hitler arrested his political opponents. Presumably Chris and Ben Friedman think Hitler was “tolerant”.

And then there’s those lovely Muslims the left is so in love with. They have a habit of murdering cartoonists and authors and those who quit Islam. That an example of “tolerance”?

Nine out of ten instances of political violence in Europe according to Europol are committed by lefties. That another example of leftie “tolerance”?

Ralph Musgrave

Part of the explanation for the rise of the political right is the rise of the loony left and political correctness: two forms of lunacy which are enough to make anyone vote for Trump or Farage. If the left had stuck to traditional and decent Labour values like advocating a decent NHS and state pension (supported by most people on the “far right”), Labour would have won every election for the last thirty years.


Ralph, your comments follow a fairly standard pattern of "rightist" writers: supposition, supposition and insult. As a rhetorical device there is frequent use of unvalidated and often unfalsifiable lines of argument and dog whistles - eg complaints about political correctness without ever defining what it is or providing examples thereof: "it's all just political correctness running wild" seems to resonate at a deeper almost religious level amongst many of the supporters of Brexit. I must confess that the lack of sensible discussion on the right is slowly sending me mad (note to self: stop reading Guido Fawkes!). What is particularly weird is that the Right used to be the more sensible and pragmatic and it seems to now be Utopian and emotional. Could someone explained what happened to the right?


I think to some degree both Brexit and trump are a failure of the left. "The loony left and political correctness" thesis is I think wrong as I think that this is just right wing sloganising. I do think "third way" politics has weakened the ability of the left to make traditional appeals to the majority of voters. The acceptance of rising inequality and a cuts agenda even when the economy was not doing too badly has left both the US democrats and Labour too dependent on middle class groups for support. Globalisation has been interpreted as an excuse to allow economic choices that are hostile to large segments of the electorate to go ahead. This has produced a negative reaction where groups of voters are acting to reject the status quo without a constructive alternative to it. Which is a problem...It is sad that it is people like Trump and Farge and their media backers who have exploited the vacuum.


Thank you for your comment Brian. I was looking up the Europol stats which are easily found, and then having read some I thought why bother, as it is not likely that Ralph is interested in facts.

I would like Ralph to just stfu (and no return)...... yes Ralph...please!

If not being nasty or violent towards women, foreigners, children or indeed anyone who is in any way different is "political correctness", and so to be fought against tooth and nail by people with their own "legitimate concerns" then I find this world of so called "populist" hatred and racism a very poor place to be.

I really have had enough of the "popular" drivel Ralph, and repeating it here in these comments is not going to change the minds of those of us that believed (mistakenly it seems) that mankind might have finally been freed from Plato's cave.


"But let’s be clear here. Trump and Farage do not understand the working class."

Addressing Trump only, I cannot speak to the UK though perhaps similar obtains - Economically, whether you examine Trump by counting his money or by his relationship to production, Trump is not at all working class. Social class though, Trump is of the lower social classes, and I think understands them excellently. Meanwhile the Democrats have been huge on upper social class white people shitting on lower social class white people. A few days before the election I ended up reading a pretty lengthy exchange online - in a general forum having a political discussion composed mostly of Hillary supporters, not a fashion forum - basically about how Trump purchases expensive, high quality, Italian ties, but being basically white trash, he ties them with the simple such and such knot. Apparently these fancy Italian ties are longer, allowing for more fabric to be used to tie the more complex this and that knot, but Trump, only slightly above a redneck, was doing it wrong, resulting in his ties hanging some inches too low. This was apparently revelatory of character and fitness to rule.

Not a Trump supporter, thought Hillary would win at the time, but all I could think was how much these people deserved to lose.



What happened to the right?

They won.

They then spent the next 30 years moving power from politics into safe, elite, moneyed hands. Now the weakness of government is becoming exposed. People blame this on outgroups, and shift towards authoritarianism.

Eventually, that too will fail (hopefully without the dictator stage). The left will be empowered again to placate the capital expropriators.

Miguel Madeira

"Nine out of ten instances of political violence in Europe according to Europol are committed by lefties. "


Go to page 44.

In the total of 211 terrorist acts, 13 are "left-wing" and 65 "separatists" (PKK, ETA, Resistencia Galega and dissidents of IRA). Then, the left is responsible for less than four of ten instances of political violence.


Ralph Musgrave makes one factual claim -
"Nine out of ten instances of political violence in Europe according to Europol are committed by lefties."
Where on earth did he get that statistic from (no link)? Doesn't correspond at all to my recent experience (I admit I live in Germany where attacks by Neo-nazis on foreigners or leftist are almost daily occurrences in the Eastern part of the country).


There is some Left wing violence in Spain and Greece (especially) but most violence is nationalist, separationist and religious.. which are generally associated with more rightist activities although not "defined" as such.....
Interestingly, although little reported in the UK, violence in NI still represented more than half of all political violence reported in Europe in 2014.......
The latest stats though are here:
Left wing attacks in 2015 =13 (in the UK =0)
Total attacks = 211
Of course the total for 2016 is likely to be much greater.
A new development is that right wing attacks (i.e. not reportable under any other group) are now being reported for the first time in 2015 =9 and that Europol are reporting right-wing weapons training camps discovered in France and the UK (see 2015 report)
Attacks reported by Europol are of course major incidents involving weapons, and not more general "thuggery".

Miguel Madeira

"There is some Left wing violence in Spain and Greece (especially) but most violence is nationalist, separationist and religious.. which are generally associated with more rightist activities"

Much of the nationalist/separatist comes from the left (PKK, ETA, the several IRAs).

Dave Timoney

Re "what happened to the right?"

As the revolutionary impetus of the left ran out of steam in the 60s, to be replaced by the tending of one's own garden in the form of identity politics, the right consciously adopted the style and modus operandi of revolution, from the rhetoric of "reform" to the creation of loyal cadres and the long march through the institutions. As part of this programme, it projected the negativity of conservatism ("dinosaurs", "enemies of change" etc) onto the left.

This was a repetition of a manoeuvre that has occurred periodically since 1789, and explains why there are conflicting varieties of conservatism. What is distinctive about this turn is that it tends to rely on nationalism as the organising principle, because real economic and social power is off the agenda. Brexit and Trump are both examples of conservativism's failure to resolve the contradictions of 2008. People want change (i.e. revolution), but what conservatives are offering is style over substance.

Enquiring Mind

Americans of many backgrounds became more disillusioned about the media during the recent election cycle. They knew enough about how the world works to see that they were being manipulated and lied to frequently. Some chose to double down on their favorite sources. Others tuned out many newspapers, magazines and television shows and turned to the internet for what were presented as more objective views. Whether those views were really objective or not was often debatable, but they found an audience.

To win back hearts and minds of citizens, including their acknowledgement and respect, will require greater focus on credibility. That may also require the retirement of perceived offenders. Fill in your choices.


Inexorably shrunken hardened world views follow stagnant working class incomes. This is not news. The idea of something having been missed simply promotes 'knowledge' of a lack of power so best ignored. Some of us have lived on the front line of this stagnation, this 'phenomenon' for decade upon decade – where understanding without being sympathetic towards scapegoating is, of necessity, a way of life. Trump and Farage don't need to understand the working class, they only need to understand people – we're not a subspecies. With corporate media support, they only ever had to seize the opportunity a major crash and piss poor statesmanship/uk plc afforded them. And in the short, the medium, and perhaps even the long term, it seems there's going to be little to worry them. Superior middle class idiots fighting the good fight with nothing other than their truly, deeply, ignorant bigoted pens are centre stage and numerous.

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