The Western Question: How to win over the working class again?

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Text: Žikica Milošević

Before every huge disaster come hints and signs. Before fascism came protofascism. In this increasingly intolerant world, we have only few bright spots to focus on. And in the end, the bitter question is, what’s wrong with our world that we were reduced to populism?

ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A LEFTIST REBELLION

When we were young, we had heroes that exemplified the freedom of thought. The Smiths dared exclaim “The Queen is Dead” and “Margaret on the Gillotine”. Eduard Limonov took the post-Socialist countries by storm in 1992 with his book “It’s Me, Eddie” which got translated and published after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Limonov was a naturalist, rebel, bisexual, despising both the Soviet environment of censorship and the American consumerist anti-high-culture establishment. Morrissey was a rebel with a cause, leftist and the champion of working class Britain, sexually ambivalent, blatant in his showing of emotions. And we had Brigitte Bardot, the champion of the French sexual liberation in the 1960s, our teenage wet dream. And that was it! We were rebels together with the other leftist rebels.

THE 1990S AND THE U-TURN

All of a sudden, a few years later, Morrissey’s controversial album “defending” the National Front members came out, but nobody cared too much, since he defended all sorts of hooligans and underdogs all the time. Limonov was seen as firing at Sarajevo together with the Bosnian Serb Army, and Bardot stepped out as a defender of animals but staunchly against immigration, especially from Maghreb. Morrissey also came out as bisexual, veg(etari)an, animal rights defender, but a clear hater of immigration, longing for Britain from the 1970s and the 1980s. Limonov further supported all the possible secessions and paramilitaries in the post-Soviet area and even got convicted for terrorism. Morrissey showed his support of „For Britain“ (the right wing anti-immigration party), opponent of Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and so on. The world was baffled. Why and how did all of this happen? How the liberal minds turn from that to this right-wing rhaetorics? It is easy to say that Morrissey is like “a weird uncle we all love but who always says something terrible from time to time”, to quote Moby. This is something deeper, that coincides with the shift in the political allegiance of working class.

BLAME IT ON THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS

When Margaret Thatcher came to power, she championed the rich in her attempt to revive the rotten British economy from the 1970s under the Labour. At the same time, Jimmy Carter (universally acclaimed as the best American president around the world) got replaced by Ronald Reagan. Thatcherism and Reaganism, as well as neoliberalism, took over. But it was natural they would do so. The trouble came after that! When Bill Clinton came to power in 1993 and Tony Blair in 1997, everyone expected the reversal of the neoliberal agenda to the classical social democratic agenda, defending the empoverished working class. But they did little! On the contrary, they cemented neoliberalism, together with Gerhard Schröder in Germany, calling it “the Third Way”. When the disenfranchised masses finally, after Gordon Brown and even Barack Obama (a mixed-raced US president), realised that the Labour and Democrats don’t actually support them, but the liberal elites of Wall Street and London City, they rebelled with populism. We can see the result of it – Trump and Brexit!

IT IS EASY TO MAKE SOCIAL CHANGES

The world today is politically overcorrect, respecting all the social changes, like introducing the same-sex marriages, or immigration, but also defending “big money”. Even the laws regulating same-sex marriages are driven by government mercantilism – “pink pound”, “pink dollar”, “pink euro” and even “pink dinar” are strong enough that it is convenient to have LBGTQ money siding with the government and not the opposition. This is why the conservatives, like Tories, supported it. It is unfortunately all about money, even the women rights. They are rich enough now. Black lives matter? Well, they will matter when the liberal elites see them as rich enough and worth defending and even incorporating. Until then, well, too bad! And the rebellions keep piling up with some strange alliances being formed. At the same time, you can e rebel against immigration and champion sexual freedoms (Morrissey and Bardot) or vice versa, or whatever combination you deem appropriate. The ex-leftists have turned right and the ex-right wing is turning left. Mira Furlan said recently that the today’s young Americans are far more conservative than her grandmother in the 1940s. How, on earth, did the West come to this? The most powerful are the most responsible. Could life ever be same again? To quote Bowie: “I’m afraid of the world.”

IS ISLAMIC EXTREMISM A NEW PUNK?

Islamic extremism is yet another rebellion against the West, just like a child who believed their parents and the parents (West) betrayed them. The world is full of angry people – some are angry because of their poverty, some because of the immigrants, some are for or against sexual minorities.

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