As we write these lines, the result of the US election is still in doubt. It’s possible that Biden could still squeeze a technical win. But it would be a Pyrrhic victory, for nothing less than a landslide would have served as a repudiation of Trump and a political base for the next four years. And that ain’t gonna happen.
We think that the defeat of progressive forces has two underlying causes. An utter underestimation of the power of ethno-nationalism in human affairs. And a deep confusion about goals and their own identities.
People who call themselves progressives are fond of sneering at ethno-nationalism and labelling its adherents as nothing more than ignorant bigots. This is folly, as repeated ballot results show. It would be more fruitful, and serve the human cause better, if they asked: what human needs does ethnic attachment serve? Is it safety? Is it communicative? Is it familiarity? Is it hierarchy? If these needs are universal to all people, what counter offer do progressives have to trade to make people give them up? And finally-if there is a human instinct to conserve, what is the psychological difference between conserving the ecological community of some sand dunes, or the human community of an ancient village? What is the difference between a Conservationist and a Conservative?
There is no force more destructive of settled communities than the free market. To survive, companies must grow until they reach the limits of the available market. World brands like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Samsung cannot afford ethno- nationalism, as it would utterly cripple their sales and recruitment. There is nothing so perplexing as being told off in the pub for not drinking English Ale by a Brexiteer who reads his news on a Korean phone and drives home in a Mercedes-Benz. Which leaves one group of Trump opponents, the Left, with an excruciating dilemma. The only force capable of bringing about a multi-ethnic multicultural society is Free Market Capitalism. Do you ally with it, and become its facilitators? Or do you retreat into some comfortable little cultural village of your own, where all things have a Corbyn-like purity?
Millions upon millions of people voted for things like Trump, and Brexit and Bolsonaro and Erdogan. Until their needs are understood and and addressed and predicted as well as those of urban female graduates, we will lose again, And again, And again. And deserve to.
Maria Sobolewska and Robert Ford Brexitland Cambridge University Press 2020
Ami Chua Political Tribes Bloomsbury 2018
Eric Kaufman Whiteshift Abrams 2019
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