The issue many people are wondering about is this: how big is the change that is going on? Is it merely – and I use that word ironically – the election of Trump, the vote for Brexit, and associated political changes that will likely follow in Europe? Or is it bigger? And if bigger, of what does it consist?
Caol Islay held forth at lunch yesterday that what we were witnessing was akin to the would-be revolutions of 1968, which did not succeed, but which marked the breakup of the consensus of post-World War 2 societies. Are we witnessing the beginnings of a vast mood change? And what would happen if we were having one?
Take Obama’s recent meditations with David Remnick of the New Yorker, as quoted in Breitbart:
What frustrated Obama and his staff [in the 2016 campaign] was the knowledge that, in large measure, they were reaching their own people but no further. They spoke to the networks and the major cable outlets, the major papers and the mainstream Web sites, and, in an attempt to find people “where they are,” forums such as Bill Maher’s and Samantha Bee’s late-night cable shows, and Marc Maron’s podcast. But they would never reach the collective readerships of Breitbart News, the Drudge Report, WND, Newsmax, InfoWars, and lesser-knowns like Western Journalism—not to mention the closed loop of peer-to-peer right-wing rumor-mongering.
… That marked a decisive change from previous political eras, [Obama] maintained. “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that , because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” he said. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that” …
“I have complete confidence in the American people—that if I can have a conversation with them they’ll choose what’s right. At an emotional level, they want to do the right thing if they have the information.” And yet in an age of filter bubbles and social-media silos, he knew, the “information” that reached people was increasingly shaped by what they wanted to be true. And that was no longer in his hands or anyone else’s.
- The liberal media could not reach those who were not already persuaded.
- Obama remains convinced that “climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior.” No discussion no debate, it is a fact.
- If he could only speak to the American people they would see the wisdom of his positions: “if I can have a conversation with them they’ll choose what’s right”.
Let us start with that hideous word “conversation”. It is not a conversation with one person holding the megaphone and when the listener is hounded, defunded, reviled and attacked for disagreeing – see global warming as the archetypal liberal “conversation”.
Hence it is only to be expected that, when the issue is a matter of fact, and one side holds it out to be a question of religious belief, there can be no error, there can only be heresy.
The Left has been treating dissent as heresy for decades. The number of undiscussable items is only added to with every passing year. You name it: ecology, crime, race, IQ differentials, heritability of traits, and the adequacy of Darwin to explain everything, the nature of Islam, the benefits of multiculturalism. You could think of four or five additional major areas of life where the Left treats disagreement about facts as worthy of social shunning and job loss. Of being labeled a racist, exist, fascist, homophobe etc.
They have been shouting through megaphones for decades, and the noise level only got more intense under Obama. But Trump elicited yet further disparagement from the bien-pensants. The surprize for me was the extent to which apparently well educated people, not usually associated with politically correct persecutions, have completely lost their minds about both Trump, his supporters, and nationalist economics.
To the constantly growing chorus of PC was added the upper-middle class howls about free trade. Personally I support free trade. I think it makes us richer, but while it makes us some of us richer it clearly has negative effects on our domestic working class. It was perfectly within Trump’s right to speak for the displaced and the disadvantaged in this titanic economic transformation. There was an element in the financial press that continues to shriek “How dare he?!” “Who are these peasants and how dare they revolt?”
So in answer to my question, I see that something is going on larger than the immediate policy changes consequent to nationalist electoral victories. I see a vast mood change. Once you lift the lid of political correctness in one place, it will be lifted everywhere. That is my belief. We can only hope.