[Marxism] Boris Johnson and the Coming Trump Victory in 2020
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 14 10:43:02 MST 2019
(Strictly for information purposes.)
NY Times Op-Ed, Dec. 14, 2019
Boris Johnson and the Coming Trump Victory in 2020
By Roger Cohen
Donald Trump, in his telling, could have shot somebody on Fifth Avenue
and won. Boris Johnson could mislead the queen. He could break his
promise to get Britain out of Europe by Oct. 31. He could lie about
Turks invading Britain and the cost of European Union membership. He
could make up stories about building 40 new hospitals. He could double
down on the phantom $460 million a week that Brexit would deliver to the
National Health Service — and still win a landslide Tory electoral
victory not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s triumph in 1987.
The British, or at least the English, did not care. Truth is so 20th
century. They wanted Brexit done; and, formally speaking, Johnson will
now take Britain out of Europe by Jan. 31, 2020, even if all the tough
decisions on relations with the union will remain. Johnson was lucky. In
the pathetic, emetic Jeremy Corbyn, the soon-to-depart Labour Party
leader, he faced perhaps the worst opposition candidate ever. In the
Tory press, he had a ferocious friend prepared to overlook every
failing. In Brexit-weary British subjects, whiplashed since the 2016
referendum, he had the perfect receptacle for his “get Brexit done.”
Johnson was also skillful, blunting Nigel Farage’s far-right Brexit
Party, which stood down in many seats, took a lot of Labour votes in the
seats where it did run, and ended up with nothing. The British working
class, concentrated in the Midlands and the North, abandoned Labour and
Corbyn’s socialism for the Tories and Johnson’s nationalism.
In the depressed provinces of institutionalized precariousness, workers
embraced an old Etonian mouthing about unleashed British potential. Not
a million miles from blue-collar heartland Democrats migrating to Trump
the millionaire and America First demagogy.
That’s not the only parallel with American politics less than 11 months
from the election. Johnson concentrated all the Brexit votes. By
contrast, the pro-Remain vote was split between Corbyn’s internally
divided Labour Party, the hapless Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish
National Party. For anybody contemplating the divisions of the
Democratic Party as compared with the Trump movement’s fanatical
singleness of purpose, now reinforced by the impeachment proceedings,
this can only be worrying.
The clear rejection of Labour’s big-government socialism also looks
ominous for Democrats who believe the party can lurch left and win. The
British working class did not buy nationalized railways, electricity
distribution and water utilities when they could stick it to some
faceless bureaucrat in Brussels and — in that phrase as immortal as it
is meaningless — take back their country.
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It’s a whole new world. To win, liberals have to touch people’s emotions
rather than give earnest lessons. They have to cease being arid. They
have to refresh and connect. It’s not easy.
Facebook reaches about one-third of humanity. It is more powerful than
any political party — and it’s full of untruths, bigotry and nonsense.
As Sacha Baron Cohen, the British actor, said last month of the social
media behemoths: “The truth is that these companies won’t fundamentally
change because their entire business model relies on generating more
engagement, and nothing generates more engagement than lies, fear and
That’s the story of Brexit, a national tragedy. That’s the story of
Johnson, the man of no convictions. That’s the story of Trump, who makes
puppets of people through manipulation of outrage and disregard for
truth. That’s the story of our times. Johnson gets and fits those times
better than most. He’s a natural.
“Brexit and Trump were inextricably linked in 2016, and they are
inextricably linked today,” Steve Bannon told me. “Johnson foreshadows a
big Trump win. Working-class people are tired of their ‘betters’ in New
York, London, Brussels telling them how to live and what to do. Corbyn
the socialist program, not Corbyn the man, got crushed. If Democrats
don’t take the lesson, Trump is headed for a Reagan-like ’84 victory.”
I still think Trump can be beaten, but not from way out left and not
without recognition that, as Hugo Dixon, a leader of the now defeated
fight for a second British referendum, put it: “There is a crisis of
liberalism because we have not found a way to connect to the lives of
people in the small towns of the postindustrial wasteland whose
traditional culture has been torn away.”
Johnson, even with his 80-seat majority, has problems. His victory
reconciled the irreconcilable. His moneyed coterie wants to turn Britain
into free-market Singapore on the Thames. His new working-class
constituency wants rule-Britannia greatness combined with state-funded
support. That’s a delicate balancing act. The breakup of Britain has
become more likely. The strong Scottish National Party showing portends
a possible second Scottish referendum on independence.
This time I would bet on the Scots bidding farewell to little England.
And then there’s the small matter of what Brexit actually means. Johnson
will need all his luck with that.
As my readers know, I am a passionate European patriot who sees the
union as the greatest achievement of the second half of the 20th
century, and Britain’s exit as an appalling act of self-harm. But I also
believe in democracy. Johnson took the decision back to the people and
won. His victory must be respected. The fight for freedom, pluralism,
the rule of law, human rights, a free press, independent judiciaries,
breathable air, peace, decency and humanity continues — and has only
become more critical now that Britain has marginalized itself
irreversibly in a fit of nationalist delusion.
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