This article is a post-modernist critique of ideas running the gamut of current political discourse attempting to explain the reasons for the British Exit from the European Union (BREXIT) and Donald Trump’s win at the US presidential election (TRUMPXIT). This is a descriptive narrative that is sceptical of the reasons given for the general shift to the support of Right wing political support in Europe and North America. There is a scramble to find an overarching reason for this sudden shift to the Political Right and a distrust that the political future of the west is now vulnerable to a neo-fascist’s onslaught. There is scaremongering in all quarters, mainly because of the bitter and polarising debates leading up to these two important political events; we have classified the argument so that they can be understood with more clarity. In concluding, we advise a sceptical approach to these overarching explanations/meta-narratives. We also advise caution, as history has a way of disproving theoretical explanations often parading as the truth.
Recent political events this year, such as BREXIT and Donald Trump winning the US election, have sent political analysts and commentators in overdrive to produce an urgent explanation. In this race to provide a swift plausible explanation a prevailing tripartite pattern has emerged from these commentators.
A manifestation view: Western democracy is sliding towards a right wing consensus driven mostly by ultra-right wing politicians in fear of immigration, xenophobia, racism and islamophobia.
A reactionary view: these election results are a backlash to the establishment politicians and their cosy relationship with the billionaire class while ignoring the yawning gap between the rich and the poor.
Anti-globalisation narratives: these views seem to suggest that the working class are unhappy with the intensity and negative impact of neo-liberal capitalism and the globalisation project. The quality of life of rural working class people in Europe and North America has been severely eroded by the decline of jobs from manufacturing industries due to outsourcing to places like China, India and Mexico. It is suggested that the rural unemployed and the ‘just about managing’ have been severely affected by international treaties such as NAFTA, the bureaucratic European Union and the promised TTP arrangement by President Obama. These neo-liberal project agendas are alleged to be driving the working classes of Europe and the Americas into the arms of two extreme brand of polity: the extreme fascist’s right wing nationalism and the extreme left of spectrum socialism.
In addition to the three streams of arguments are a number of other circulating ideas among establishment press commentators and influential bloggers. One argument being spouted is that we are entering a post truth society where ethics, credibility and fact checking is no longer important in political debates. Elections are now won and lost by those Politicians who are most adept at insulting, outfoxing and outspending their opponents and manipulating emotional feelings of antipathy towards race, sexuality, immigration or any other issues that stoke up fear.
Another nostrum being peddled is that the metropolitan elite and their capitalist outriders such as the establishment media, are rapidly losing the ability to manipulate public opinion as they are being undermined, especially by the new millennial generation. This generation is tech savvy and can negate the effects of manipulative poll results; they are able to counter expensive memes put out by the establishment media through social media. This view asserts that technology is being used to reject the political status quo’s attempt to hold political office by pretending to occupy the political centre ground in public but behind close door they create policies that favour the multinationals and billionaire classes who are their sponsors.
There is also debate about the democratic brand of political arrangement presided over by politicians who are out of touch with the expectations of their constituents; they ignore a growing call for curbs on immigration, a halt to huge and unnecessary military spending at the expense of well needed expenditure on health education and affordable housing. They resent NATO expansion and American exceptionalism which often falls on deaf ears.
The most notable circular arguement by Political commentators throughout Europe and North America is that the West is becoming more racially polarised. The consensus among some commentators is that President Obama’s victory as the first Black president of the US should have signalled a post-race era; the opposite has happened. Many seem resentful of issues such as a Black U.S. President or refugees and Muslims living next door to them. They argue that some white working class genuinely believe that immigrants and asylum seekers are coming to take their jobs in Western Europe and North America. Right wing Political Parties in the West, such as the Republicans, UKIP, New Dawn and infamous politicians like Marie Le Pen and Donald Trump have cashed in on these growing resentments.
These political meta-narratives often seem plausible on the surface. The arguments about political shifts to the far right or left of spectrum are bound to explode a number of absurd constructivist theories about our current political reality: some may be truth and others are value laden subjectivist ideas, some might be a gullible and lazy media generated response. The establishment media bewildered by the “BREXIT& TRUMPXIT!” results are craving for explanations as to why their reliance on polls for accurate election predictions will become a questionable project for the future.
There is an existential unease that a totalising or concrete explanation cannot be found to explain the sudden lurch to extreme Right wing politics in the west. There is also a feeling that the relationship between fear and political action at the ballot box needs a longitudinal study to decipher why people are placing their political and economic future on the shoulders of the extreme left and right of the political spectrum. The million dollar question is whether or not scientific research can capture the true essence of our behavioural choices.
Ever since the Brexit win, the Managing editor of Kingston- Mouth has pressed me for a rational explanation. Call me a coward; I have refrained from giving one. I take the post-modernist position that all arguments and theoretical deductions parading as facts should be bracketed. My contribution to the debate is to organise and present the explanations given in codified schools of thoughts. The realist position is there is a shift in voter pattern due to rejection of establishment politics. I take the position that views about political reality are often the product of someone’s interpretation of partial or incorrect information. Subsequently, these grand narratives that assert we are entering a period of post political truth are questionable. It is my belief that a longer period of introspection is necessary before we can arrive at a definite causation.
To conclude, I have offered a tripartite framework organsing a number of explanations for the rejection of liberal centre ground establishment politics in favour of extreme left and right wing bands of Politics in Western Europe and the USA. They are manifestation views, reactionary views and anti-globalisation narratives. Additionally, there are a number of other cross cutting ideas that seek to explain the current tide of resentment and a rejection of the establishment /status quo politics in the Anglo/American geopolitical domain. This is a purely descriptive narrative as we cautiously straddle sceptical post-modernist position. We contend therefore that these dubious forms of knowledge constructs might be valuable to the press but in the long term might be misleading to the public.
We may remind ourselves that when the Berlin wall- a symbol of the cold war – came down in 1989, it was heralded by political theorists as the definite end of the cold war. The proxy war between Russia and the West being fought over Syria is a painful reminder about the use of grand meta- narratives. In this new political era, where uncertainty of causation is painfully eminent, I would urge caution about fancy ideas labelled as the truth. Today’s offering of political explanations of” BREXIT and THRUMPXIT be it politics are often platitudes of grand narratives. We at Kingstonmouth.com are asserting today’s ‘truth, facts and reality’ from a postmodernist position should be placed in inverted commas.
Finally, we hold the position that knowledge and truths about political explanations are contextual and constructed from value laden positions that are not always accurate. We at Kingston-mouth do not believe that scepticism disillusions the heart. In fact, on the road to examining these arguments sceptically we have stumbled over arguments parading as the truth. Instead of hugging them, we buried them in the valley of scepticism. If those buried arguments needs validation in the future, history will exhume and validate them.
This article was written by Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing editor of Kingstonmouth.com. Donovan Reynolds is an Independent blogger and Human Right’s Activist of Jamaican descent and a legal Academic who has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development issues. Readers of this article are welcome to provide feedback at the space provided at the end of this article ar at firstname.lastname@example.org useful commentary made on our Facebook and Kingsonmouth@twitter pages.