Why I Spoilt the Ballot in the 2017 General Election

Throughout this election, I have never wavered on my belief that the entire option provided by the Conservatives is unsatisfactory. Even before the election campaign I knew how weak and timid Theresa May was as a leader, since her dreadful campaigning skills have come to light those perceptions of her have only been reinforced. While being PM, Theresa May’s strength has not come from her own leadership skill but the willingness of the opposition to sabotage itself. She has exemplified poor judgment throughout her time as both Prime Minister and Home Secretary, she also has a worrying authoritarian impulse who always sees the need to increase the powers of a state when a state of emergency arises. It is deeply concerning that she has agenda that wishes to pit human rights legislation against the security interests of the UK. In a time when authoritarians and national populists are on the rise, we must be wary of the dangers posed by the state to its fellow citizens.

The Conservatives policies regards Brexit are politically and economically illiterate. It is nonsensical to assert that not agreeing a Brexit deal would be better than accepting a bad one, not coming to an agreement would create a profound hostility between the UK and the EU which would only damage the UK more in the long run when it comes to negotiating a trade deal. If Theresa May wanted to demonstrate strong leadership she would insist that the negotiations wouldn’t fail, and make it clear she would accept no nonsense from EU leaders if they decided to play political games to suit their own personal vested interests. Indicating that she will walk out from the negotiations is in fact a sign of a weak leader who wishes to portray themselves as being stronger than they are, a strong leader would not doubt their confidence to achieve a deal that will benefit the UK and the EU in the long run. Leaving the Single Market would damage the long-term economic prospects of the nation, unless a significant plan was in place to drastically restructure the UK economy was put in place. No such plan exists within the Conservative manifesto, quite simply the Conservatives wish to drastically change our geopolitical relations which has played a significant part in the development of the UK economy for the last four decades while being in denial about how to navigate such a profound change in our trading relationships. The issue of the economy has barely featured in the election campaign yet it remains the most important electoral matter that will influence he livelihoods of every British citizen.

Just like the economic policies of the Conservatives, their campaign has been disastrous. The whole point of this General Election was to strengthen Theresa May’s political capital before the difficult set of negotiations with the EU begun. She wanted to translate the authority that the public felt she had into an authority that MPs in the House of Commons could respect. The campaign has been so bad that she has diminished in stature and even her supporters will have less respect for the calibre of her leadership. This is troublesome for Theresa May because it means she will have less leverage over her own MPs when the compromises that will dissatisfy many of them arise. Now her MPs will know that it wouldn’t take much to undermine her authority if she decided to go down an unintended path to achieve success, she has shown herself to not be particularly good at defending a mediocre record at best. The ideologues in the Conservative Party know exactly where to hit her if they felt they needed to gain leverage over, or even dispose of, her. Before the election, her authority resided not within herself but with the desire to give what the Hard Brexiteers what they want, after the election nothing will have changed.

Like Ed Miliband Theresa May’s crowning achievement has been to ensure her respective party has remained united, despite her own MPs being divided between economic nationalists and free traders within the party. As the negotiations become more complex and the realities of Brexit set in, she will find it more difficult keeping this coalition of the right ongoing. Eventually she will have to choose as to which faction should have their interests and desires given priority over. The tendency so far has been to accommodate the economic nationalists, over time Theresa May has turned from a remainer to a supporter of the exact opposite position. She has managed to get her white paper passed into law without any major amendments, otherwise she has been blighted by U-turns om both the campaign trail and the spring budget. Her record as PM doesn’t inspire confidence that she’s suited to deal with the great challenges ahead, her approach to Brexit and her willingness to flirt with economic nationalists both in her party and to a certain US President mean I will not be voting for Conservatives under any circumstance.

Labour are also thwart with the very same issues of incompetence as the Conservatives, even they both share a lack of political talent the underlying reasons behind Labour’s incompetence is different to the Conservatives. Currently the Labour Party is in a Cold Civil War and its leaders lack any skill in the art of realpolitik. The civil war has undermined Jeremy Corbyn’s authority over the party even though he has won two leadership campaigns convincingly. Jeremy Corbyn has managed to cling to enough authority to ensure he has not been ousted by his rivals though, leaving the party in a state of attrition. The war between the two factions had been heating up in the run up to the election, but cooled down when electoral oblivion was a possibility to be reckoned with. In turn the election has shown what Labour is capable of if it were united, but it also has given a false impression of the state of the party to the electorate.

Throughout the last two years Labour has been in a permanent state of crisis in which many suggested the party could suffer its worse electoral defeat since 1935, which for the historical curious was in fact a successful election for Labour after the travesty of the 1931 election. Labour has lacked leadership by both Jeremy Corbyn and big-hitters in the party who are opposed to Corbyn. The mess the party found itself in was the fault of all within the party, if Labour gets crushed because of its divisions it would well deserved. There are no innocents in this civil war that has blighted the party.

Inevitably we must ask whether Labour is in fact prepared or able to run the country? Just like with the Conservatives the answer is a categorical no. Its leader lacks the competence, knowhow and desire to navigate through the corridors of Whitehall to ensure that his ideas and values become reality. Those in the party that do know how to navigate Whitehall will work with civil servants to water down his proposals until they lack any radicalism at all. This will create conflicts within government that would cripple its ability to function at a time when we need a functioning government more than ever, the Civil Service is working beyond its capacity as it is. We do not need someone in charge of that machine who doesn’t have a clue what they are doing. There is little hope from the moderates either. When the going gets tough great leaders emerge, the big-hitters though have shied away from the public light when they needed it most. The moderates have also demonstrated a remarkable ability to misread the mood of the public and fail to deliver radical progressive policies to captivate them. Credit must go to Jeremy Corbyn for at least managing to get a manifesto published that has captivated sections of the public. There’s more to leadership though than writing manifesto that lifts the party fortunes.

The state of the Labour party is one the main reasons I’ve struggled stomached voting for Labour despite liking certain aspects of their manifesto. The values and principles within the manifesto are generally fine but it is also representative of the left failing to address the problems that arose because of the post-war consensus. Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism is a counter-revolution to the one initiated by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, he wants to establish the post-war consensus once again. Opposing the values of Thatcher is unproblematic, but not addressing why her revolution was even possible in the first place is.

Why did the socialism of the post-war consensus fail? It failed because it was unsustainable, in fact one of the reasons that economic liberals came into ascendancy is because they partially got to the heart of why the post-war consensus was unsustainable. Having such a large state managing the markets gave little room for manoeuvre when the economy hit trouble. One of the great advantages of markets is that they are adaptable when innovation, cooperation and competition can thrive. The trouble with innovation is that it involves a process called creative destruction, this poses trouble when the state has a large managing influence because innovating involves the state destroying parts of itself to create new parts. When voters who are reliant on the state for their livelihoods come under threat from this process, the state cannot allow innovation to occur without causing a lot of unrest which itself would contradict socialist principles. Instead the state ends up preserving the interests of those in dying industries even though innovation needs to occur, hence the system becomes unsustainable.

Collective bargaining was also a major systemic problem for socialism. The reason is twofold. First, going back to the above trade unions made it even harder for the state to allow creative destruction to occur. The social democracy of the post-war consensus relied on strong trade unions to ensure workers’ rights were upheld as well as ensuring workers got satisfactory pay rises for their endeavour. Yet the needs of social democracy to be adaptable requires that the state be stringent on trade unions to ensure they never become too powerful, which the Labour party failed to do in the late 1960s. Second, collective bargaining acknowledged that a discrepancy exists between the interests of capitalists and workers. The key to socialism is to align the interests of workers and capitalists so the distinction between them becomes blurred. Collective bargaining does not do that, leaving the system vulnerable to be taken over by capitalists.

Jeremy Corbyn’s attitudes suggest he hasn’t learnt from these problems. The Labour manifesto wants to substantially increase the influence of trade unions. The UK has some of the most repressive trade union laws in the world as a result I’m not opposed to reducing regulations on trade unions. My worry is that Labour will seek to bring back collective bargaining which there are strong hints of in the manifesto. Likewise, Labour’s industrial strategy contains hints that planning, or economic management, could be established, the hints may be innocent though. If you want to restructure the economy you’re going to have to some idea of what the new economy would broadly look like, which involves making plans of how to achieve. This form of strategic planning is different to economic management. There’s a difference between planning an election, which all parties must do to maximise their chance of victory, and managing one, which would in fact be an example of an illiberal democracy.

Socialists must understand that economic management is not an essential ingredient of the socialist cause. In fact, socialists should oppose economic management for similar reasons that Hayek, Friedman and Thatcher did: that it reduces freedom. When the government manages the economy, people have less control over their own affairs. Where the socialist differs from the right is that granting to much freedom to capitalist structures within a market economy reduces the freedom of workers to control their own affairs, because a worker’s labour becomes increasingly managed by the capitalists. Socialists must also realise that state ownership of natural monopolies is not the same as mutual ownership in which the electorate directly decide on how to run the rail, water, electric etc. companies. The trouble with Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism is that it is statist, he wants to structurally increase the size of the state.

To conclude, I am not convinced that Labour is able to turn the stimulus plan to encourage investment in the economy into a reality. Even though a stimulus would see an increase in the size of the state, it would not be a structural increase because eventually the stimulus spending would be reversed. I also think that the type of socialism that Corbyn may wish to promote if he got hold of the clutches of power is outdated and unsustainable. He also suffers the fault of Theresa May that he isn’t fit to govern. As a result, I spoilt the ballot, despite being sympathetic to certain aspects of the Labour manifesto.

The Cruel Election

The Independent has reported that Jeremy Corbyn may very well try stay on as leader of the Labour party even after Labour suffer the inevitable hammering on June 8. In lieu of this information, it is outright essential that the Labour party suffers such a humiliating defeat that those who support Jeremy Corbyn can have no option but to admit that they are wrong. They must accept that Jeremy Corbyn is an utterly incompetent “leader” whose main accomplishment was to cripple, and potentially kill, the Labour party and ensure that the left would be admonished from being anywhere near the leverages of power for two generations at the very least.

However such a coarse of events is thwart with dangers that I personally find utterly repulsive. The first being a hard right Conservative government dominating British politics in the absolute with any opposition being dismissed as treacherous dissent in both parliament and the media. Britain will become a demagogic democracy ruled by an incompetent politician whose chief distinction from Margaret Thatcher is the miraculous ability to perform u-turns. Napoleon said, “I would rather have a general who was lucky than one who was good”. Theresa May is an exceptionally lucky Prime Minister who is greatly lacking in talent. She’s in a strong position because she has exploited the fact that committed Leavers are united in ensuring Britain does deliver on leaving the EU and those wanting to remain in the Single Market are both fragmented by party lies and divided between those who want to accept the referendum result and those that want to remain in the EU.

The second is that if Labour isn’t decimated enough it may not head what needs shoving down the party throat, even worse it may end up in a weakened enough state to not be able effectively rebuild itself like it did after the disastrous defeats in the 1980s. Yet it may stay strong enough that no other party could replace it as an opposition. This raises the possibility that we lose our adversarial democracy which is the central pillar to British democracy, we would end up being a one-party state. The electoral dynamics make this a distinct possibility because it will be difficult for any opposition party to win enough seats in parliament while they are excluded from having access to Scotland, the only viable opposition to the Tories in Scotland is a party exclusive to that region of Britain.

The third is that it is decimated so much that it is impossible for it to recover, yet another party is unable to gather enough support to ever become a viable alternative to the Conservatives to attain power. Again the one-party state option but this time it won’t be a self-indulgent labour party protected by the FPTP electoral system. The alternative options currently are UKIP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. We can dismiss the first and latter immediately for differing reasons.

The Conservatives are aiming to squeeze UKIP out of existence now thats its influence on British politics has led to Britain leaving the EU. UKIP will most likely still exist as a right-wing protest party which will gain popularity among the right-leaning when the Conservatives inevitably become complacent and more inept over time. If the Overton window in UK politics shifts dramatically to the right then it is also possible that UKIP could act as a steering window directing the future ideological outlook of the country, in a similar fashion to the Liberals between 1918-2010.

The Greens could get a boost in support among hard-left Labour members, especially if they lost control over the Labour party. Whether the Greens would appreciate the new support is a whole different matter, it would immediately leave the Greens languishing with no future possibility of saving the environment from too much carbon pollution. It would be tarnished by gaining supporters who are very unpopular with the rest of the population, plus Green party supporters could resent the new recruits who were so incompetent in challenging the Tories in the first place especially if they tried taking over the mechanisms inside the Green party.

There is the Liberal Democrats who are the most promising alternative to Labour for holding the crown of being HM Loyal Opposition. They are sufficiently distinct from the Conservatives, especially on the matter of Europe, to be an opposition party. As a result of entering a coalition with the Conservatives, they do have experience of being a party of government. They also are the only other non-regional party outside the big two to have won enough seats in the House of Commons in the past to upset the power of balance between the Conservatives and Labour.

The coalition also created a big problem for the Liberal Democrats, many voters despise the party and distrust it fellow politicians. The issue of tuition fees was the killer for the Lib Dems, if it hadn’t renegaded on that promise it could have had a core young vote on its side which the party could use as a base to expand from. Instead it lost the trust of many younger voters, who are more likely to be pro-European, and the families of those effected. It signalled to voters that there pledges meant nothing and they easily became the fodder for the blame for eery perceived negative caused by the coalition both from the left and the right of the political spectrum.

There is also the problem that Labour is a tribalistic party whose core voters are less likely to consider voting for a party that aligned itself with the Tories. If these obstacles can’t be addressed the Liberal Democrats will struggle to build a platform that could eventually lead it to becoming an opposition party that can remove the Conservatives from 10 Downing Street.

We also can’t ignore the problem the electoral system which heavily favours the big two parties over minority parties, unless they’re the SNP. This will make it difficult for any of the above parties, as well as potential new parties, to break the status quo.
Which leaves me with a very difficult conundrum of what I want from this election. It’s clear that the UK isn’t voting in a government that wants to remain in the Single Market. It’s also clear that a hard-right Conservative government is going to take power with a significant margin. Ideally, the Labour party needs a bit of shock treatment to be applied to it. The shock could destroy the party, in all likelihood a civil war would erupt between moderates and the hard-left. Neither faction is in a clear position to win such a contest, in which case the party could implode leading to some high-profile defections to either the Liberal Democrats or an alternative Labour faction. There is also the chance that Labour will get its house in order and begin acting as an opposition party again. Whatever happens an opposition worthy of the name must be begetter from this cruel election in which I can only hope for the pyrrhic victory of the emergence of a blossoming opposition.

Labour Must Find Its Raison d’Être or Die

In a constituency were the Conservatives are utterly screwing up the local NHS service Labour still couldn’t defend a seat that it has held since 1931. Labour’s crowning political achievement was the establishment of the NHS after the Second World War, yet its desecration by the Tories isn’t sufficient to get its lifeblood to vote for Labour. The party of the labourer is being deserted by the labourers. This crisis goes far beyond the incompetence of Jeremy Corbyn. Since the post-war consensus collapsed Labour has been unsure of its identity. Its only success electorally after that collapse is reviled by current Labour members who have a large say in the direction of the party. Yet even that success sowed the seeds for the current crisis they are in, Labour has been shedding votes since 2001.

The fact that it was in power throughout the late 90s and the entirety of the 00s has ensured this identity crisis was somewhat suppressed on the national scene. Ed Miliband’s main achievement as leader of the party was to keep suppressing this identity crisis, he tried appetising the soft left of the party but he ultimately failed to convince the British public of its merits. This primary was down to the fact he offered such a bland soft left agenda, while failing to address Labour’s perceived economic incompetence that there wasn’t much merit for the populace to see in it. The hope the new Labour faithful placed in Jeremy Corbyn was that the left would be bold, exciting, honest, scrupulous and most importantly of all that he would be firmly anti-Tory, even to those “Tory stooges” within the Labour party itself. They wanted to return to the Labour of the past, yet many remained ignorant about the nature of Old Labour. The left decided to indulge itself in both ideological purity and nostalgia of the benefits of the post-war consensus.

What many have not realised is that the socialist movement has slowly been divorcing itself from the labour movement, this started during the 1980s when some working class voters were appetised by Margaret Thatcher’s promise of a home-owning democracy and most importantly her want for people to become better than they were. Through strife you could get the very same riches as those born in higher privilege. For some it wasn’t a dream, it was the truth. Many among the left will scoff at what was just said, but this is a prime example of socialism failing to connect to the labour movement. The promises of capitalism were more appetising than socialism to many labourers, those labourers who suffered from the appalling consequences of the Thatcherite revolution were more than happy to vote Labour and let their blood be filled with a vilification of anything associated with the Conservatives. Tony Blair’s success in getting Labour elected into power was the result of Thatcher’s excesses as well as the trouble the Europe question was posing to the Conservatives. Blair was able to communicate to those with the aspirations fostered by Thatcher, but realised how damaging the consequences of her policies were.

This is the reason why the left of Labour loathe Tony Blair, they dislike the ethos of aspiration that surrounded him. The Iraq War provided all the ammunition they needed to destroy him and his reputation among the Labour faithful. This is why those who want to accommodate pragmatism, more commonly known nowadays as being a Blairite (even if you substantially disagree with him) in Labour circles, is such a crime. The pragmatic Labour supporter knows people have aspirations, that they want the means to fulfil it and that you have to speak the language of aspiration. The Labour left don’t like that not because they think people shouldn’t have aspiration, a common but mistaken criticism put onto them by the right, but because it sounds right-wing. Its like they are being infected by a dose of Thatcherism. Alas, many on the left define themselves by what they would do at Thatcher’s grave rather than what they actually stand for. When you ask them what they are for it doesn’t take long before they start speaking negatively, the typical response of those whose politics is defined by the want to protest something. Just look at how boring Jeremy Corbyn’s policy platform is. He’s only had three decades to come up with an agenda of how to reverse the Thatcherite revolution that was unleashed when he became Islington North’s MP in 1983. One thing Jeremy Corbyn isn’t is stupid, so what’s with the dearth of substance?

The left dislike the language of aspiration because such language has connotations of accepting that it is acceptable for people to get filthy rich. The left don’t associate aspiration with getting filthy rich, they associate greed with the desire to get filthy rich. Once you’ve got a certain amount of wealth, do you actually need it? The right dismiss this as the politics of envy, the left dislike the rich because of their own failures to get to the top of the ladder. In other words, the left want the top of the ladder to be closer to their state of affairs (let’s not forget these left liberals tend to be beneficiaries of privilege) and the language of equality is designed to hide as well as justify that envy. The likes of Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson were happy with people getting filthy rich, which is why many on the left think of them as Tories in red clothing.

The biggest problem the left has is reconciling the notion that the aspirations of the many get hindered when the greed of a select few is allowed to run riot with the language of aspiration as well as policy. When dealing with the greed of the select few, the left immediately assert the need to tax them at higher rates than before. The logic behind this position is simple, it tends to be a popular sentiment among the public (funnily enough they tend to happily vote for the arty that directly opposes that sentiment) and it is simple to understand. Take what the rich owe to the rest of us back to the rest of us in order than we can have a cohesive and equal society. We justify such redistributive taxation by the need to pay for public services, such as the NHS, and the welfare state, the safety net everyone needs when they fall into bad times. That is essentially the whole motive behind the support for social democracy in the Labour party. Democratic socialists go further by being more stringent on capitalism as well as proposing more state interference in the economy through nationalising certain services or industries.

All these models have failed though. The end of the post-war consensus ended the motivation to support statist democratic socialist policies, such as the advocacy of nationalisation and high levels of taxation, while the public are becoming less sympathetic to the conservation of the welfare state. The public need the welfare state and know it is important that we should have one, but they don’t want one. The reason they don’t want the welfare state, at least as it currently stands, is because they don’t want welfarism. They want the welfare state to be the safety net for the needy and deserving, but the doctrine of welfarism associated with left-wing politics has created a welfare state which helps the undeserving but more importantly it creates dependency. People want their work to pay so that they can be autonomous. David Cameron hit the nail on the head when he said, “Make Work Pay”. It was such a shame that his policies did a great job of doing the exact opposite, underemployment is rife and many are in employment without guaranteed hours. The left can only respond by wanting to conserve the welfare state, expressing outrage at the cuts to benefits the government is implementing and ruing the fact that government isn’t spending money on creating jobs.

Socialism and welfarism have become synonymous, yet they shouldn’t be. The reason why they have become synonymous is the reason social democracy has failed. Social democracies crowning achievement has been establishing welfare states to humanise the harsh and punishing effects capitalism has, this crowning achievement was established during the post-war consensus. It was meant to be a step in the gradual transformation of our economies away from capitalism towards socialism. Since that consensus collapsed, social democrats have become conservatives trying to preserve what is good about the past from the forces of change. Democratic socialists have become paleo-conservatives wanting to turn the clock back to the days of the post-war consensus. This is the inherent problem with the socialist tradition that has dominated the Labour party, it seeks to preserve itself. Once something has stopped accomplishing its aims and is preserving its achievements, it has failed. Social democracy was in the ascendancy once because it stood for progress and change, not any longer. Social democracy no longer has any sense of how to achieve socialism, as a result it no longer is a force of change. So it has been reduced to an ideology of utilising the welfare state to stay relevant, hence the birth of welfarism. Welfarism is borne out of the paternalistic instinct running through the party, paternalism is fundamentally an elitist agenda.

Now we come to the key issue of what the raison d’être of Labour is. The interests of the working classes and the socialist movement has diverged. If Labour cannot reconcile the two then its purpose has been utterly lost. If Labour has abandoned the cause of socialism it has no purpose, it might as well let the Liberals become the opposition again. Labour has no right to survive, it has no right to be the main opposer of the Conservatives.

If Labour is to reconcile socialism and the interests of the working classes it needs to broaden its perspective of socialism. There used to be a libertarian tradition within the Labour party, the state need not be pillar of Labour ideology. Paternalism can be eradicated in favour of liberation and autonomy. Tackling the land issue was important to the socialist movement and is going to be very important in the future, the injustice many young people face in not having affordable access to land is killing social mobility and creating intergenerational inequality. We tax sources of productive activity too highly, yet unearned income goes largely untaxed. Perhaps a Labour party should advocate taxing those who generate their income without being productive, such as landlords who have no desire to occupy or develop the land they are on. Workers have little participation in the conditions of their workplace, despite the fact workers have great insights to how the company they could work for could improve. Modern corporations are highly inefficient because of imposed hierarchical structures that don’t necessarily help the company. The UK has severe shortage of productive efficiency in the workplace, this is the result of a lack of intrinsic motivation in the work they do as well as many finding themselves underemployed. A lack of loyalty exists in he workplace in both directions, which is costing our country billions of pounds a year. Workers only gain money from income, but why not get a share of the divided of the profits go align the workers interests to those organisations that create wealth. Markets have their problems, but while resources are scarce they will always be a necessity. Perhaps the left can embrace the importance of markets and free cooperative enterprise rather than using the flaws of markets as an excuse to be hostile to them. A new reinvigorated socialism could very well create new wealth and new technology better than the currently existing capitalism can.

The Threat to Democracy

Supposedly the strength of democracy and the libertarian ideal is that it allows you to stop thinking about politics and just let you get on with your life. Discussing policy is just an expression of the vanity of political wonks who want to prove how clever they are and how they ‘care’ about the issues of the day. Ordinary people just get along keeping their families secure, paying their bills and everything else that constitutes normality.

The trouble with democracy, or any political system for that matter, is this contemptible desire to be normal. It breeds complacency and kills the life spirit of ambition. People don’t focus on what they can become but on what sort of normal they want to be. So deluded are the seekers of normality that they can’t distinguish between them, the previous sentence becomes some mere tautology deemed banal.
Such banality is a mere reflection upon their own though patterns though. People who become great become representative of ideas, whether those ideas be good or ill. Mahatma Gandhi became the personification of civil disobedience, while Napoleon Bonaparte became the personification of Imperialist ambition. Likewise our societies which achieve greatness become representative of ideas, the US is meant to represent the values of liberty and prosperity born out of capitalist endeavour. Britain, likewise, represents a synthesis of US values and the virtues of social democracy best represented by the National Health Service.

To love the normal is to resist the glamour to explore the realm and value of ideas, it is a resistance against going beyond the confines of yourself and the networks you reside in. As the value of ideas decreases to zero so does the appreciation of abstract values. The importance of appreciating abstract values is a necessity in advanced societies, because they are the founding pillars. We descend into primitivism when abstract values are reduced to platitudes being used in a game of showmanship. The rise of the far right and the return of ethnic nationalism as a political force exemplifies the failure of democracy to encourage thinking.

Here lies the threat of democracy, its success breeds the complacency that leads to it decay. As politicians familiarise themselves with the system and the value of abstract ideas depreciates, voters lose trust within the system and eventually decide that not only someone else but something else must represent them. The decay is now at the forefront of our sight, we’ll need more than vigilance to save democracy. We must return to philosophy to reorientate ourselves to the realm of ideas and substantive rigorous thought.

The Left Must Reject the Regressive Left

It used to be the case that left were the champions of freedom and equality. The desire to achieve social equality was to enhance the freedoms of people who have faced centuries of discrimination and bigotry, ensuring they remained fodder to be enslaved, hated and segregated. Political correctness was meant to be a weapon that eroded people’s sensibilities to think it is acceptable to behave in deplorable ways to certain people within society. It was meant to educate and enlighten everyone to be aware that our human beings aren’t always, if at all, treat with the same respect as others. These differences in how we treat others are systematic and need combatting to ensure our society becomes inclusive, political correctness was meant to highlight this in our discourses.

Alas, an aberration has been born from this desire to achieve social equality. It’s born out of the influence of postmodernism, specifically the school of post-structuralism, has had on left-wing thinking since the 1960s. The ideals of the enlightenment that defined the original left back in the 19th century have been utterly abandoned in favour of reducing all notions of truth and validity to being associated with the mere context we live in. The most radical proposition of postmodernism is that all our knowledge is derived from the socio-cultural context that we live in, rationality and reason are themselves social constructions designed to promote the interests of certain groups within society. We can only understand the “truth” relative to the social context it lives within. Objectivity is replaced by relativism. This is not a critique of reason, but an outright rejection of it.

The home of postmodernist left lies within university departments who just love the influence that critical studies has had in the humanities and social sciences. The analysis of these “critical theorists” will inevitably conclude that the subject of analysis is yet another example of social constructions that undermine the identities of certain groups within society, whether they be racial minorities, women or LGBT folk. The subtlest case scenarios are microaggression’s; the sort of action, thought process or utterance that by itself seems perfectly innocent but when looked at on a larger scale is just an example of one section of society putting another one down.

For example, asking “Where are you from?” at first seems like an innocent question. When that question is repeatedly asked to an UK born Asian living in the UK on a frequent enough basis by different people, it is implied the UK citizen is in fact an alien within their own country. Microaggressions act as evidence of structures existing in society that are discriminatory to certain identities, the evidence is derived from interpreting language so that assumptions are discovered that point to the existence of structures. In the example above the assumption underlying the language is that Asians aren’t native to the UK.

Here comes the insidious postmodern influence. You don’t need to be influenced by postmodernism to recognise that those assumptions may be held by some. By renouncing reason, however, you renounce the idea that we ought to attempt to measure how prevalent the assumption is held in society. Postmodernism essentially allows critical theorists to define the context they write in as the actual reality we live in, without any need to verify if it is actual reality based on objective criteria. Postmodernism essentially rejects the notion that there can be objective criteria to define reality by, as those criteria are themselves a product of some existing construct which is only true for the context it lives in.

Postmodernism, therefore, allows zealous supporters of the social justice movement to, potentially, exaggerate the extent of the discrimination certain groups face. Efforts to denounce such zealousness by the appeal to rationality can be dismissed as those people themselves acting as a product of the discriminatory forces which try to deny the fact certain groups face discrimination. When zealousness and morality collide, authoritarian tendencies form. When authoritarianism and a total disregard for objective rationality fuse together, we get totalitarianism.

We begin to see the poison of postmodern thought. When truth is relativised to the socio-cultural context it exists in, the malleability of the context plays a large role in shaping what is true in a given society. Truth ends up being derived from the manipulation of context, the ability to reinterpret is the ability to manipulate context. The difference between a social construct and propaganda becomes negligible.

Significantly if truth is relative to social context, what reason do we have to take the values of social equality as being universally true?

How do you police microaggression’s though? They can be so subtle that the only effective way would be to enforce a set of stringent social regulations that forces people to behave certain ways to people. The stringent regulations would exist to force people to acknowledge the hidden assumptions lurking behind their speech and actions. Every aspect of one’s activities would have to be monitored and regulated in order that society could be reorganised to combat the discriminatory structures in society.

Anyone who has headed the lesson of George Orwell’s 1984 will know that I’m not merely describing authoritarianism, itself a belief system that contradicts systems that value liberty and freedom as a virtue. Making truth relative to context allows language to be manipulated and transformed so words end up taking their contradictory meanings, like war is peace or prosperity is destitution. The regressive left who are heavily influenced by postmodern concepts such as relativism and post-structuralism are the apostles of totalitarianism. Even if they explicitly oppose totalitarianism, they infuse totalitarian thought patterns into the public sphere making society vulnerable to authoritarians willing to exploit the disorientation that results.

Those on the liberal left who are influenced by postmodernism are also apostles of totalitarianism. They are supportive of regulations to police speech based upon postmodern justifications of the validity and extent of the assumptions in society. The extremities of totalitarianism will appal them; they are not advocates of totalitarianism and they would oppose an actual totalitarian coming to power to enforce a far more rigorous and radical set of regulations to tackle the injustices. As Owen Jones is beginning to discover though, the liberal left can create their own subculture in which their constructs of social justice are held to be true and valid. Such a subculture will alienate the mainstream left from the concerns of those who don’t want to be part of the subculture. The left will stop being inclusive and the possibility of a socially equal society becomes non-existent, particularly when the values of the left face an existential threat from the populist right.

The desire to regulate social activity, even for a sound motivation, is an authoritarian tendency. Students want educational institutions to be safe spaces for those who feel vulnerable about the state of their identity, how these spaces are conceived have a clear authoritarian line to it. Educational institutions are slowly becoming places were ideas aren’t tossed around and debated with rationality acting as a corrosive acid to the bad ones. Rationality involves confronting appalling ideas, rather than protecting people from them. Safe spaces are yet another example of a mechanism designed to manipulate context to define truth.

The danger of safe spaces is the role they play in defining what is considered truth on a university campus, that is a role they shouldn’t play. The purpose of safe spaces is to protect students from abuse, particularly fostered by discriminatory forces. Nothing special should be required though as educational institutions should be concerned with the welfare of their students. Special measures only need to be taken when some forms of abuse aren’t acknowledged as abuse, but having to confront ideas which imply a rejection of your identity, whether partially or wholly, in an academic setting isn’t abuse. Again, safe spaces act as a mechanism to segregate the left from the rest of society, the discriminated segregate themselves.

Safe spaces also encourage another danger for those fighting for social equality. With the rise of right-wing populism, it may very well be necessary for another civil rights movement to assert itself, such a movement will involve confronting the forces of bigotry head on with violent repercussions entirely possible. Encouraging university campuses to act as safe spaces doesn’t provide a safe environment for confrontation to occur, the first encounter of confrontation discriminated groups will face will be in the real world full of dangers. Campuses’ should be safe areas for confrontation to occur for it is here that the discriminated will sharpen their teeth to try kill the monolith of bigotry. Safe spaces encourage students to wrap themselves in cotton wool, but cotton wool is not good protection from the spears of bigots.

Perhaps now is a good time to define what the regressive left is. The regressive left aren’t those on the left who support political correctness and identity politics. It is those which incorporate postmodern thinking and influences to define what political correctness and identity politics is about. In concrete terms, this definition ends up being close to the definition provided by Maajid Nawiz. The regressive left end up supporting reactionary thinking and values in promoting social equality, whether by supporting postmodernism or defending homophobic and misogynistic tendencies among specific religious groups in the name of cultural relativism. This is significant for the task of the left, at least in the social sphere, is to divorce political correctness and identity politics from the influences of post-structuralism and relativism.

Certain terms in languages are derogatory epithets towards certain groups, these terms can be known to be discriminatory. Educating the population of the connotations of these words is the role political correctness ought to play in political discourse. Political correctness is a pedagogical tool the left should be using to ensure that language, and any subsequent behaviour that follows from using language a certain way, does not cause systemic harm to the welfare of groups in society. Colloquially political correctness simply means encouraging people to be respectful of others who differ from themselves in some way by breeding tolerance and encouraging empathy to be developed towards discriminated groups. Political correctness counters bigotry by humanising the dehumanised.

For the sake of clarification, political correctness is not a tool that enforces people to be respectful to others. There can be very good reasons why people ought to ridicule and disrespect others. Such ridicule may be levied against discriminated groups. The Qur’an is no doubt a homophobic and misogynistic document, detesting those bigotries will inevitably lead to harsh criticisms of Islam. Denouncing all Muslims as being backward, though, is bigotry considering some Muslims will hold liberal values. Affirming Christian values simultaneously is downright hypocritical considering the “tolerance” it has shown to women and homosexuals down the years.

Harshly criticising and offending discriminated groups isn’t necessarily pandering to bigotry. Such criticisms are pandering to bigotry if done in such a manner to appeal to people’s ignorance and prejudices about Muslims, in other words the criticisms are the result of irrational and illogical views about the group. Bigotry may be fostered by criticism even if the critic had no intention to exploit bigotry, again political correctness can be a useful tool to educate speakers that they must be wary that a poor choice of words could have unintended toxic consequences. Criticism of those who ignore advice when it turns out the advice is correct is a perfectly legitimate use of free speech.

The use of Islam in this piece is deliberate. Criticising mainstream currents within Islam is exactly the sort of thing the left should be doing, just like the left should be criticising conservative Christian values on a consistent basis. Rejecting the influences of post-structuralism and cultural relativism is integral to allowing the left to do this.

By rejecting cultural relativism, the left has no reason to accept Islamic values on their own terms, but on the lefts. The process of rational thought is the insurance policy the left has to ensure they remain fair to whatever is the subject of analysis. Rational thought requires checks to exist to ensure that the biases of the thinker do not determine the truth of a proposition. That is not to say the biases does not exist nor that they have no influence on discovering truth. All intellectual activity has a subjective element to it; the key is that the subjective element exists simply because we are human. Subjectivity does not determine truth; objective truth emerges from subjective processes.

Poststructuralism challenges us by highlighting assumptions we either do not see or do not want to see. The trouble with post-structuralism is that it cannot establish the truth, in the objective sense, of the assumptions lurking behind our criticism and appraisal of Islam. Ultimately what is the source of truth that harshly criticising Islamic cultural tendencies represents an oppression of their way of life? Is it grounded in a reality that can be measured using empirical methods, or constructed by zealous academics looking for societal institutions to overturn? Rejecting post-structuralism allows the left to ignore those concerns, we will try to empirically verify that injustice happens. Even though the probability of tolerating prejudice increases, so the totalitarian thought processes being infused into our discourse start becoming minimised. Likewise, it will be harder for reactionary forces to oppose the existence of such discrimination when solid evidence points heavily towards it rather than postmodern social constructs. They won’t be opposing social constructs that could be imagined by over enthusiastic academics, but hard evidence. Rationality lacks value in politics currently, but that’s because reasoned discourse is not granting hope that stagnated incomes in the Western world will begin to rise.

The use of post-structuralism in feminist discourse has been deeply troubling. The fusion of it with the demands and aims of identity politics has created a section of the feminist movement that contradicts the desire for inclusivity, an essential characteristic of a socially equal environment. A common characteristic of some feminists is to insist that men can have little valuable input in the affairs of women, some radical feminists even go so far to deny that men can be feminists. Of course, on sensitive matters a man will never be able to fully empathise with the concerns women face, likewise men have no right to make decisions for women. Men would be foolish to think they know better than women on matters relating to women, that doesn’t imply men can’t have any valuable contribution. It also shouldn’t be implied that men attempting to help women is part of a social structure that just reinforces the privileges men have over women.

Such thought patterns undermine the entire feminist movement because the negativity of some feminists towards the role men can play in the movement is exclusionary. Men aren’t encouraged to empathise with the concerns with women because those attempts can be construed as men asserting their privilege. The rejection some men face is likely to foster resentment towards the whole feminist movement including the parts that are open to the men taking part. Ironically this resentment is likely to lead to forces that enhance male privilege, because men have less reason to sympathise with the concerns women face. Making unnecessary enemies is never a good strategy to achieving a worthwhile goal.

Likewise, similar thought patterns exist when talking about racial and cultural matters. We get a scenario where identity politics focusses less on trying to solve the difficulties certain groups in society face. Instead identity party ends up focussing on who exclusively has the right to claim what issues their group faces. Alternative perspectives from outsiders end up getting rejected out of hand since they have not had to face the discrimination that others have, even though outsiders may be able to point to similarities with problems other faces. This approach to identity politics enforces the idea that the concerns a group faces is unique to that group; the postmodern way of thinking can easily turn this uniqueness into a social construct. The fact the troubles are unique isn’t problematic, it is the fact that only those affected by the unique troubles are qualified to tackle them. Social equality emerges from tolerance; this corrupt form of identity politics encourages social fragmentation instead.

Some of these criticisms in this piece have been aired by the right already, but they’ve seized this as an opportunity to undermine the entire motivation lurking behind these troublesome concerns. The left desire social equality simply because it should be an inalienable right that everyone should have the same access to the rights and liberties granted to everyone else; which is not the case when LGBT partners cannot marry one another on legal grounds, or black people must sit at the back of the bus, or minority groups cannot vote due to efforts making it incredibly difficult for them to get to polling booths. The right sense that confusing the problems caused by postmodernism with the desire to achieve social equality is a successful strategy to undermine the latter. The emergence of the alt-right and the populist right in the Western world reflects that they are successfully exploiting a weakness, a weakness that shouldn’t exist if the left stuck true to its roots.

The left need to take aim at the real culprit for all this nonsense, postmodernism. The left need to reject postmodernism outright as a philosophy because its sole purpose is to act as a left-wing reactionary force fighting against the virtue of reason. Postmodernism is the reason why the values of the left in the social sphere are losing their influence, it is the reason why certain sections of our young population are becoming increasingly authoritarian. It is the reason why we can’t distinguish between offensive, but valid, criticism and discrimination. It is the reason why the left is becoming socially exclusive to those who don’t share its social constructs, undermining the very aim of achieving social equality. It is also the reason the left is being self-indulgent in other areas; the left has a “sophisticated” set of tools to justify taking the blind approach to other people’s concerns. There’s nothing like alienation to make you feel special. It’s time the left began to assert the values of reason, liberty and equality.

What will Donald Trump be like as President of the United States?

Many are worried that an authoritarian, with racist and homophobic tendencies, is the most powerful man in the world. He exhibits all the properties of being a proto-fascist, given the right influences his presidency could turn America into a fascist democracy. Anyone who is a liberal, libertarian, centrist and conservative who is deemed worthy of being supporters of those ideologies should be opposed to a Trump presidency partisanly. His radical and extremist tendencies mean that an ultra-conservative agenda being thrown on America is the best we can hope for.

When Ronald Reagan became president, many overreacted thinking this was a disaster in the waiting. Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency has drawn comparisons to Reagan. The fundamental difference between the two is that, though, both were on the right one was a conservative while the other is an authoritarian. The authoritarian will pretend to be a Republican conservative, but this is merely to woo gullible conservatives who are looking for their next Reagan.

Trump has also been wooing the far-right into supporting him, he’ll be delighted the support alt-right “news” agency Breitbart has shown to him. He has already rewarded Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, with the position of being his Chief Strategist. This should be highly concerning to Republicans as he as avowed to destroy Paul Ryan, the leader of the Republican Party in Congress, who represents what the fiscal and social conservatism that the party is renowned for. He’s interested in turning the Republican party into a right-wing European-like nationalist party, this isn’t someone interested in preserving either the Constitution or small government.

Elsewhere he has appointed figures you’d associate with being more friendly to the establishment Republican party. Most of the factions within the are represented. At first this may seem like an attempt by Trump to act as the unifier of the party, the person who can unify the right so that they can shape America in their image. Conventional wisdom would say this suggests Donald Trump is open to moderating influences, that the far-right of the Republican party wont get its whole way.

Such thinking is dangerous, primarily because it underestimates how much of an influence the alt-right will have over policy. The alt-right and Steve Bannon will not play the political game in a conventional manner, their approach will be very aggressive using bully tactics to force more timid members of Trump’s team to fall in line. This aggressiveness will play off Trump who’ll feel he’ll have to be the person who lays down the law in his administration, this will encourage Trump to become radical and extreme as he asserts his authority over those beneath him. It will also ensure a highly competitive element exists between those representing the factions of the Republican party to gain influence over Trump. The competition will encourage more extremist policies to be proposed as each group tries to demonstrate to Trump that their policies will ensure Trump is a strong leader reshaping America dramatically, this will only play into hands of the alt-right though.

Trump isn’t an experienced political leader who is in the know about how the US governs itself. This increases the likelihood that he will be more open to be influenced, even manipulated, by subordinates who see Trump as a vessel to enforce their interpretation of conservatism or nationalism on the country. Trump being the narcissistic he is will play on to anything that appears to strengthen and consolidates his own power and interests, even if at the expense of the common good for the country.

Some key areas will influence how Trump governs. First, we have Breitbart factor. If Trump shows signs of becoming cozy with the establishment Republican party, Breitbart will certainly play up which will undermine Trump significantly. The presence of Steve Bannon as Trump’s political strategist indicates this scenario will not occur. The scenario to really worry about is Breitbart undermining Trump for not being radical enough. Breitbart can quite simply escalate the extremity of their stances forcing Trump further and further to the right.

There are limitations to Breitbart’s influence. Congress could oppose Trump if he became more extreme without due consideration to the conditions facing the country. Conservatives who start getting weary that Trump is the sort of President that will seek to undermine the Constitution when it becomes an obstacle can not only obstruct the extreme proposals, but become obstructionist against the use of any proposals by the executive. Trump must keep Congress and the Senate on side, which will moderate Breitbart’s influence as long as those in Congress and the Senate aren’t pressurred by the far-right.

Suppose a terror attack were to occur on American soil, suppose further than it is on par with 9/11. Such an attack will encourage extremist elements to pursue more radical proposals to deal with Muslims and immigrants. Islamaphobia and xenophobia in particular will be stoked up which could provide the necessary pressure on establishment Republican to be seen as Strong on Defence. Daesh know this would further help their cause making the possibility of an attack under Trump’s presidency more probable. Even successive minor terrorist attacks could be used to raise the fear gauge of the American public, with Breitbart ready at hand to exploit it for political gain.

Second, we have the authoritarian factor which is closely related to the first. Conservatism has always been about law and order, but the Trump administration will essentially give the police free rein to abuse their power. Given the vindictiveness of Trump himself, it’s entirely possible the police and other domestic security agencies, including the FBI, could be used to settle grievances. Such events would be a clear abuse of power, the question would be whether Congress and the Senate felt they were powerful enough to challenge the administration.

If such abuse of power were to lead to indications that Republicans could lose a significant amount of seats in 2018, it is plausible to think Republicans will fight Trump on this. Republicans may tolerate such abuse if it occurs against useful enemies, such as the Democrats and institutions associated with liberalism. Despite all the rhetoric, Republicans are not on principle adherents to the Constitution. They are quite happy to gerrymandering Congress districts to give them power by default. Could they go further if they thought it could aid their electoral chances?

Going back to our scenario of a major terrorist attack occurring in the US, would it be possible that Trump would try implement emergency measures which further enhance the power of the executive. Again Republicans weren’t opposed to expansions of executive power during the reign of George W. Bush, now a Republican is president would their opposition to the expansion of executive power cease? It would convenient, to say the least, if Republicans opposed expanding the powers of the President simply because the President was a black Democrat. A major terrorist attack would give more incentives for Republicans to ignore their previous criticisms of Obama in the “interests of national security”.

Even without a terrorist attack, Barack Obama has overseen the expansion of the surveillance state in the fight against Daesh and Islamic extremism. This is something I have been very critical of over the years, libertarians and liberals who have rightly protested the growing influence of the NSA will now feel vindicated with Trump as President. The Home of Liberty may have no sense of privacy by the time the 2020 Presidential Election comes around. Worse the surveillance of citizens could be used to identify political enemies who have tried to damage Trump, or those in his administration.

After all this, we have Mike Pence who has shown willingness to torture gay people in order to covert them into straight people. We have his promises to deport 3 million illegal immigrants, which will involve a large expansion in police activity. Whether the mysterious exclusion of Trump’s promise to ban all Muslims entering the US from his website on election day is indicating a change of tact is questionable, but we should expect measures being put in place to tackle extremism from Daesh.

The third factor will be the economy. Trump’s economic policies involve introducing massive tax cuts particularly for the wealthy that will dwarf the Bush tax cuts, introduce a stimulus bill by building infrastructure and introducing protectionist measures regards trade and immigration. If the stimulus is an euphemism for building the wall along Mexico’s border and not an sign that we will see widespread improvement in the building of houses, apartments and office buildings in areas that have been hurt particularly bad by the 2008 financial crisis; it will be clear his economic policies will be disastrous. The tax cuts will see a severe increase in both the budget and trade deficit of the US, even with excessive spending cuts proposed by the likes of Paul Ryan. The wall will create jobs but investors and entrepreneurs will lose confidence in setting up businesses in America.

Which brings us to his protectionist policies, which we fundamentally damage the US economy. Silicon Valley will be hit hard as they’ll see a dearth of talented developers immigrating to California to work for companies like Apple and Google. As I said in the previous paragraph, entrepreneurs will less keen of setting up startups. Multinational companies will be hit hard as their internal costs will definitely rise. The introduction of tariffs will increase inflation, which will hit the poor hardest, and likely cause similar tariffs to be imposed on exported goods, which will hinder America’s industrial prospects and resultant job growth.

Trump has indicated that measures within Obamacare that make sure insurance companies can’t deny insurance to sick people is a positive indication and consistent with his utterance during the Presidential Nomination Debates that he’d be opposed to seeing people die on the streets due to lack of insurance. Despite that, it’s likely that Congressional Republicans will have a large say in ensuring many do get their insurance taken away from them. Republicans have been vehemently opposed to any measure that promotes “socialised medicine”, even when Republicans initially proposed it.

The most dangerous part of his economic policies would be the introduction of tariffs. It would most likely start a set of trade wars hailing in a new era of global protectionism, which will make a significant proportion of the globe poorer. This is worrying because it will further promote the conditions for rises in political extremism throughout Europe, the Middle East and even the East. The last time trade wars were initiated was during the 1930s, which helped set up the conditions for the Second World War.

Looking at events and trends now, there is a scary parallel to the 1930s. The rise of nativism, nationalism and higher levels of support for protectionism are very similar to the rise of Nazism and the far-right in certain parts of Europe during the 30s. The world would be a much more dangerous world after Trump introduces tariffs. The struggles the European Union is having staying united, particularly after the Brexit result, could destabilise and deteriorate the world sufficiently that the fires of hell could upon us.

Fourth we have his foreign policy. Trump has emphasised that he wants friendlier relations with Russia. The two countries have had tense relations for a while which has destabilised the global order. In theory friendlier relations should be a good thing, it would indicate that the two most major military powers on the planet were willing to collaborate to tackle threats like Daesh.

In practice Putin’s aim as President of Russia is to increase Russia’s global standing with particular focus on its military power, given the Russian economy is neither performing well, nor has major opportunities to see Chinese levels of growth. Putin’s strategy is to weaken NATO by encouraging factions to emerge within it that are more complimentary to Russia. The rise of the alt-right in the western world fits into Putin’s strategy perfectly, many leaders of the movement from Trump, Nigel Farage and Marie Le Pen have admitted their admiration for Putin.

Given the closer relations between a Trump administration and Putin, it will allow Putin more security against a growing superpower it does deem a threat. The rise of China has been remarkable, its growth rates are enormous and it has a massive population allowing it to produce en masse on a scale no country, other than India, can conceive of. China and Russia are next door neighbours, given Russia’s economic struggles it makes sense for it to try ally itself with an economic superpower.

Key for Putin, though, is that America would be there for him. Putin will woo Trump to implement policy that will hinder the Chinese, such as introducing trade tariffs. Closer ties between America and Russia will also offer Putin to spread his own philosophy of governance, which is incompatible with liberal democracy. The West’s insistence of the superiority of the model of liberal democracy has been one of the areas that has encouraged a divergence between the Wests interests and Russia’s, alongside the fact the west is troubled with the idea of being reliant on Russia for its energy demands.

Essentially Putin isn’t interested in the US because he wants to reconcile with liberal democracy, instead it is about expanding Russia’s sphere of influence to counter America’s and China’s. If Putin’s strategy works, it will hinder the United States geopolitical power base due to the facts is natural allies own power base will have been undermined. The European Union is facing an existential threat which will hurt the US and NATO, while giving impetus for Russia to gain allies in the south of Europe, who’ll be very unhappy with the manner the Northern European states, particularly Germany, has dealt with them during the Eurozone crisis.

Russia may just get enough help from the Trump administration to give Russia the chance to get a spurt of growth, while damaging a Chinese economy that is increasingly limping along nowadays.

Trump, therefore, will be a disastrous President because his foreign and economic policies will only enable Russia to take advantage of the chaos caused as a result. The national interests of the US and their natural allies in the West will be severely undermined in both the short and long-term. His tendencies of being gullible, potentially even baited, could undermine his ability to project strength internationally which will thrill Putin. Without realising it, he may find himself a pawn in a larger chess game which he lacks the sophistication to compete in.

Finally, we have the Republican party itself. The party was split only earlier this year because of the rise of Trump. There will be a large proportion of Republicans who are uncomfortable with the President-elect, that leaves room for his presidency to be undermined or even impeachment procedures being passed if Trump finds himself in a scandal. The Republicans still have to cater to their voters as well, they will not want to support a Trump administration that goes of the rails.

The Republican in Congress and the Senate don’t have as much power as they’d like to oppose Trump. First the base of the Republican party voters for Trump for the nomination. The manner and tactics used in winning has also granted the base to exercise racism, sexism and homophobia more openly. This increases the likelihood that the more extreme elements who support supremacist policies could have greater sway over Republicans.

Essentially if the Republican party is getting more radicalised, then Republican congressman and senators who have to appeal to such demographics, that are getting radicalised, which will only encourage more radicalisation among Republicans. Inevitably it will be Breitbart and other radical right news outlets that will encourage this radicalisation.

If the base starts to turn against Trump, realising he is in fact a fascist and not the next Ronald Reagan then that will give a great impetus for Republicans in Washington to act as the necessary check on Trump to make sure he doesn’t abuse his power. Not only that but it will undermine the alt-right’s hold over the Republican party and further may lead conservatives within the party to question how someone like Trump could even become President. There’s a chance Trump will end up being a lame duck President with substantial opposition from Republicans and Democrats.

However Republicans in the senate do in fact have to thank Trump for their performances, except for Marco Rubio who outperformed Trump anyway. This gives Trump leverage over some senators, which could very well last given the proneness for the use of intimidation tactics among certain members of his choice of staff.

In the early days of his presidency, expect him to accomplish a lot as there will be a fear among Republicans that opposing Trump could be seen as being disloyal, and not a principled protest. How long Trump can keep that fear instilled among Republicans will be key to determining whether Trump, and the nativist-populist right, sets the agenda in Washington, or whether Trump ends up legislating policies traditionally associated with the current Republican party while lambasting the “corruption” of his Republican congressman and senators.

The key for sensible Republicans is to win the battle of influence over Trump, play to his narcissism by demonstrating to him that merely following a traditional Republican platform will be sufficient to him being seen as a great president. Alienating Trump from Bannon will be key to the political survival of Paul Ryan and his supporters. Who wins these, and many other, battles in the competitive game his staff, Congress and te Senate will be playing will determine what type of president Trump will be. The alt-right are better prepared for this battle compared to establishment Republicans, worryingly, but the establishment currently just about holds the keys to power.

Conclusion

Without a shadow of a doubt Donald Trump will be a blight on America. Many considered George W. Bush to be a moronic president, we are about to find out that he may have been a more thoughtful person than he let on with a very poor sense of judgement. Trump is a national and international disgrace who’ll only encourage the rise of the far right throughout Western Europe.

In the Land of Liberty, authoritarianism will reign. The Presidency of Trump will be a big test on whether the Constitution does in fact have the necessary checks to ensure people’s inalienable rights are secured. It will also test whether American conservatives are truly motivated by preserving the Constitution, or whether it is a front to hide a sinister agenda.

In my opinion Trump will either be an incompetent proto-fascist president who is heavily restricted in his ability to enforce his agenda, while using demonising and abusive tactics to compensate for his lack of authority and to be vindictive to Republicans who are brave enough to take the heat. He’ll get his victories as some Republicans cowardly support Trump.

Alternatively the Republican party will move further to the right ensuring that the projection of power Trump will want to show both domestically and internationally will have a highly authoritarian base with a tendency to adopt more extremist policies the longer his reign as President continues.

It’s incredibly likely that he will end up being a pawn to Vladimir Putin, even signals of strength will be coaxed by Putin to appeal to Trump’s narcisstic desire to appear as the World’s Most Powerful Man while in fact furthering Putin’s own agenda.

Ultimately sensible people all around the world can only hope he ends up being a lame duck President with little power whose vindictive streak will ultimately leave a sour enough taste in the minds of voters to vote the distasteful President out of office.

At worse, America becomes a fascist democracy in which conservatives, liberals, centrists and even libertarians (hopefully) unite to oppose and undo the damage he will inflict domestically and globally. Hopefully his policies don’t lead up to a repeat of the 1930s, that it is just scare-mongering drawn about by the parallel events. But with a fragmented Europe which could break apart politically and economically in a sudden and violent fashion, pray that Trump’s bombastic tendencies have been seasoned out of him by then. Escalation may result in a hell no one would want to witness.

Trump is a proto-fascist who has decided to appoint a fascist and white supremacist as his chief political strategist. Those close to Trump will influence him greatly, given his lack of political knowhow. Trump’s appointment, plus the chance Breitbart will increase their ever-growing influence, suggests that Trump will have far-right elements to his policies at the very least.

Will there be a middle ground? Most likely not, then again his victory at the election was also unexpected. Maybe, just maybe, he might surprise us all while still being an appalling President.

Donald Trump: The Next President of the United States

Americans have recklessly decided to elect a misogynistic, racist, narcisstic, and demagogic psychopath as their next Commander in Chief. Americans want change and that is most certainly what they’ll get. The concern one must acknowledge is whether they’ll get more change than they bargained for.

His campaign for the Presidency and the Republican nomination was blighted by conspiracy theories, paranoia, bullying, bigotry, narcissism and psychopathy. This wasn’t under the cuff either, he’s explicitly made racist utterances and explicitly called into the question the result of a democractic election that was unfavourable to him. His temperant for the Presidency is non-existent and the campaign trail did little to make us believe he’s capable of tempering it. During the Presidential debates, he was easily baited by Hillary Clinton and he’s got to tackle with Vladimir Putin who’ll find it even easier.

His policy utterances have been vague. All we do know is that we can expect mass deportations of immigrants, the repeal of Obamacare, a wall near Mexico being built, large tax cuts for the wealthy, infrastructure projects and a protectionist trade policy. A lot of these policies are Republican orthodoxy, other than his protectionist trade policy.

The desire for Amercians to want change is legitimate, the person to offer that change as president should have been Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders would have made America again, without having to use racism and misogyny to enthuse his vote base. If Americans wanted protectionism, he’d have given it to them. Want cheap college education for your child, Sanders would be your man. Given the resources of the Democratic National Convention, he’d have a great chance of building a coalition that appeals to white blue-collar workers and minority groups.

Sadly that option wasn’t available to Americans on the ballot. They had to choose between Trump or Hillary Clinton, who was the personification of the establishment. Hillary Clinton has to be the second most controversial candidate to run in an election, after Donald Trump himself. She was the typical technocrat who expertly knew the operations of Washington, she didn’t know how to transform America. Her policies were hacks of the current system rather than grand redesigns attempting the solve certain problems head on. This, her personality and the email scandal that plagued most of her presidential campaign undermined her capacity to touch the sentiment of a key demographic that she needed to win a few more votes from. Ultimately she was hated by a large segment of the population, if a candidate stood against him with favourable ratings they would have destroyed Donald Trump.

The troubles associated with Hillary Clinton do not justify a vote for Trump. Donald Trump’s sins far outweigh Clinmton’s in seriousness, Hillary Clinton also has the right temperant unlike Trump. Donald Trump, moreover, has told conspiracy theories about how the election was rigged if he were to lose and has shown willingness to abandon a key principle of the American political system: the rule of law. His narcisstic and antisocial behavioural tendencies make him a demagogue, yet he is gullible to new suggestions and fueled by bigotry. It’s feasible to think of Trump radicalising his already extreme proposals over his tenure as president to fuel his dark personality traits.

Ultimately the electorate should voted Hillary Clinton, not as an indication of support for the direction she wanted to take the US down, but rather because Donald Trump shouldn’t get anywhere near the White House. I don’t normally advocate negative voting, i.e. when you vote against a candidate rather than voting because you agree with their agenda, but in this election it was a must. The Americans ultimately didn’t have the sense to do it in the key battleground states, despite it becoming clearer Clinton will have won the popular vote.

He’s most certainly the worst candidate to run for the Presidency in American history, yet he has the potential to shape American politics for a generation due to the need to make appointments on the Supreme Court. He now has the opportunity to ensure the Supreme Court has a conservative edge to it for a generation, which will make it much harder for liberals to influence the social agenda of the country.

His demagogic and racist tendencies ensure that Trump (and quite a few of his followers) are not conservatives, but authoritarians. He has shown willingness to ignore international diplomatic conventions as well as the very constitution of his country. He is a proto-fascist. Given the right conditions he could develop further behavioural traits that you’d associate with fascists.

Donald Trump is a threat to the interests of the US, it is up to him to prove otherwise.

This is my first blog post in a while. Please forgive me if the quality of the post isn’t up to scratch.

Explaining “Who Should Lead the Labour Party?” article

“That which cannot be said must be passed over in silence” is a aphorism that demonstrates the wisdom of the twentieth century’s greatest philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. In 21st century politics silence is yet another utterance open to misinterpretation. This is my post to ensure my previous silence isn’t laced with ambiguity.

My silence is an indication that Labour lacks any sort of figure capable of leading it. No one has shown their capable of grabbing the national agenda by the scruff of the neck and then defining it how they want it defining, the hallmark of a great political leader. The party has effectively split, obviously not formally, and in troubling times like this leaders announce themselves. They don’t wait in hiding, waiting for the opportune moment. They make the opportune moment. The dearth of leadership in Labour has meant only one thing, that the left have demonstrated the resolve to reclaim the Labour party. The left doesn’t contain leaders, but opportunists.

I’m not a supporter of any factions within the Labour party currently. All bring shame to what they’re supposed to promote. Hence the silence of my last blog post, it’s a silence not of ignorance, nor of despair, but of contempt towards the current state of Labour.

Who should lead the Labour Party?

Libertarians and Climate Denial

Dogmatic libertarians are predominately climate deniers, they are willing to deny that human beings are directly causing an increasing of the global average temperature through greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence in favour of climate change is clear. Multiple readings of temperatures all over the world show a trend that temperatures are increasing when taking as a global average. The vast majority of those who deny anthropogenic global warming acknowledge that the global climate is warming. When we analyse the principles of what could cause such an increase, the only satisfactory explanation is that it is caused by human endeavour. Alternative explanations, such as our location in the one of the arms of the Milky Way leads to increase in stellar particles bombarding our atmosphere and a more active Sun, just aren’t consistent with the observable evidence we would expect to see if those explanations were in fact true.

Now why are libertarians all too willing to deny climate change? One obvious reason is that many partisan bodies that promote libertarians are reliant on funding from companies and families, in particular the Koch brothers, who have vested interested in promoting denial of climate change. The Koch Brothers are in the oil and gas industries. If our economies are to become carbon-free, then the oil and gas industries are going to have to either find ways to dig for oil, extract gas and modify other production methods used so greenhouse gases aren’t emitted at all; or they will have to go out of business. The latter is an obvious threat to the business interests and it is also the most likely to be one that has to occur to ensure our economies become carbon-free.

This reason though is unsatisfactory as it portrays the vast majority of libertarians as automatons who lack any will to think for themselves, I doubt many libertarians are in fact like that even though some most certainly are. Instead other reasons must exist. These other reasons are to be found within the ideology of libertarianism itself and also, partly, the psychology of those willing to accept it. There are two main reasons why libertarians don’t accept climate change.

First, those who promote solutions to it press the need for large intervention from the state to influence the market, and individuals, to build technologies that will allow us to become carbon-free but also to manipulate, influence and even coerce people to behave in a manner that makes the reduction of greenhouse emissions plausible. In other words, solving climate change means contradicting the principles of libertarianism. Libertarians are unwilling to acknowledge that their philosophy is either wrong, or needs significant amending to accommodate such action. So instead climate change gets rejected rather than libertarians. This is evidenced by the number of conspiracies stipulating that climate change is a myth used to justify further infringement in the liberties of individuals.

However, a new branch of libertarianism has formed which in fact believe that through libertarian ideals, humans can mitigate global warming to the level necessary to ensure a climate catastrophe doesn’t occur. This branch of libertarianism certainly doesn’t reject climate change, instead it opts for the virtuous approach of trying to show how libertarians means can produce green ends. Green libertarianism is ultimately flawed because its essentially saying that spontaneous order can spontaneously produce an order that will see a carbon-free economy in the time frame that scientists have laid out. The trouble is that if this order is spontaneous, there is no reason to think it will happen in the time frame the scientific community has laid out to mitigate warming to the 2°C target laid out by governments and scientists. Of coarse it could happen, but then again probably not. Mitigating climate change requires planning on such a scale that the apparatus of the state must be used to mobilise resources in sufficient quantity and quality in the specified amount of time, particularly if the private sector is incapable of administering the costs of this.

Second, libertarians are fiercely individualistic to the point that only individual concerns matter. What I mean by this is that everything in life is looked through an individualistic lens for the most part. Moderate libertarians and libertarian socialists will rightfully deny this claim, but they are not the target of this criticism in particular.

Essentially libertarians are adherents to methodological individualism. Methodological individualism analyses events and structures in terms of the individuals that exist within the given events and structure under study. Analysing the climate, on the other hand, ignores any focus on the individual because the actions of any one given individual is irrelevant to the climate system as a whole. Climatologists are increasingly open to treating the climate as an example of a chaotic and complex system, while acknowledging that it’s at the collective level, both nationally and transnationally, that we begin seeing humans exert a significant influence on the climate.

Naturally the scientific study of the climate at the methodological level contradicts the methodology libertarians use to analyse things. This makes libertarianism ill-suited to tackling climate change morally. Methodological individualism treats injustices happening, essentially directly, towards specific individuals. So a libertarian has no problem acknowledging that setting a fire in your garden would be wrong if there was a good risk that the fire would lead to the destruction of another persons property. There is a simple causal link between one set of individuals and another. The causal link is essential in the libertarian analysis to determine who is morally responsible for what, when and how.

In complex systems it is not always clear whether such links exist and if they do it may be very convoluted compared to the example just given. This not only makes it harder to assign responsibility to specific individuals, but it may be impossible to do in a way that would satisfy methodological individualists. In complex systems emergent phenomena can to come to arise, a methodological individualist would ask how can we say an individual is responsible for such occurrences?

This question raises an important issue which gets to the heart of why libertarianism, morally, is simply inadequate. A libertarian should answer this question, however the answer to the question will be no, not as a result of a matter of principle, but because the methodology used by libertarians lacks the power to assign truth values to moral propositions to certain situations. Libertarians become climate deniers, not necessarily as the scientific level, but at the moral level. They ultimately don’t think it is the individuals concern to tackle the issue because you can’t assign responsibility to specific individuals, because they don’t matter as such in the climate models. To avoid confusion, it’s important to distinguish from what I’ve just said and a libertarian saying that individuals don’t have any responsibility to look after the environment. The libertarian may very well say it, but due to the limitations of methodological individualism, they are incapable of expressing what ought to be done to actually ensure the environment is looked after at higher levels of social organisation, i.e. collections of individuals, etc. The libertarian, though, can say that an individual ought to do X to ensure the environment is secure, assuming the act is voluntary of coarse, when we can draw a picture of the causal chain of events to determine who is responsible for what.

The point of the last paragraph is that libertarianism is inadequate as a moral theory because it doesn’t have sufficient explanatory and normative power to determine whether something is right or wrong. Basically everything we’d want a moral philosophy to do, i.e. prescribe normative statements to any scenario that warrants them, libertarianism can’t.