Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Metropolitan Elite Myth - Part 1 of 4

What connects Donald Trump, Theresa May, Marine Le pen, Geert Wilders, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Vladimir Putin? They are all hard right, authoritarian conservative politicians that lead parties they claim to be “Workers Parties”. The above is not an exhaustive list. To it could be added further politicians in Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, not to mention Erdogan in Turkey.

Besides the factor of pure propaganda, there is also a remarkably identical narrative presented by these politicians, to support their claim to be leaders of “workers' parties”. It is based on the idea that what have traditionally been considered workers' parties – Labour, Democrats, French Socialists etc. - have deserted workers, to become instead parties that represent a narrow, middle-class, metropolitan elite, usually framed vaguely around concepts of a group of people based in the capital.

As a consequence, that narrative continues, instead of the traditional workers' parties representing workers' real economic interests, they have become concerned only with a range of middle-class interests on sexuality, gender, the environment, human rights and so on. By creating this concept of a metropolitan elite, determining the politics of the old workers' parties - and this is extended to cover the politics of the other mainstream centre-right parties – the source of the problems of a large portion of the population is attributed to some ill-defined other.

For these hard right, conservative politicians, the narrative goes that the nation's problems are the fault of foreigners – Mexicans, Muslims, East Europeans, Chinese, Palestinians – and to address these problems, the narrative continues, we need to pull up the drawbridge – Brexit, America First, build a wall. But, the conservative right then says the old mainstream parties will not do that because they are more concerned with these other issues, which cut across the idea of such isolation.

As this Alt-Right frames the argument, the solutions are indeed collective solutions, as socialists have always argued, but those collective solutions are based not on class as the collective, but the nation. By this means, class and nation are fused together, the interests of the class are inseparable from the interests of the nation; the Alt-Right are the proponents of the national interest, and thereby represents the working-class interest, ergo they are the true workers' party, and socialism is national socialism.

It is, of course, bunkum, and nor is it new bunkum. The same snake oil was peddled by Henry Ford, in the 1930's, in the US, by Oswald Moseley in the UK, by Benito Mussolini in Italy, and Hitler in Germany, although more specifically by Otto Strasser and others, whose ideas now form a core element of National Bolshevism, and played a significant part in the ideas of those Zionists who established the modern state of Israel, for example via the Lehi Group) – whose members included Yitzhak Shamir, (Israeli Prime Minister in 1983-4 and 1986-92).

What is different, at the moment, compared to Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, is that these Alt-Right politicians, in the US and Western Europe, are not backed by paramilitary forces that go around smashing up the organisations of their opponents. They don't need to, because the real workers' organisations are weak, and it is simply sufficient to close down their voices by use of the media the Alt-Right controls, and by psychological bullying calling anyone who speaks out over Brexit a “Remoaner” and so on, or anyone who challenges Trump's ridiculous nonsense a purveyor of “fake news”.

Yet, in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, more or less paramilitary forces do back up these Alt-right politicians, who have been allowed to flout the basic norms of bourgeois democracy, and EU laws. In Russia, such force, along with political assassinations is carried out against the regime's opponents. Erdogan has responded to the supposed coup attempt, in Turkey, by a harsh crack down, the sacking of tens of thousands of potential opponents and so on. 

Netanyahu runs a militarised state, that routinely acts violently against not only Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, but against opponents within Israel's own borders. It has been further emboldened by the support given by Trump, who has now brought appearance and reality, at least, into alignment, by killing off the fantasy of the US pursuing a Two-State solution. Day by day, Trump closes down democratic life in the US, and undermines the basis of a free press, and he is backed up by a string of right-wing militia groups that possess around 90% of the firearms in private hands.

In the UK, there has been a spike in race hate incidents following the Brexit vote, and just as BNP members sank into UKIP, now they will sink back, along with UKIP members into a rapidly right moving Tory Party, as they have done on many previous occasions.

Forward To Part 2

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