The rise of populism, which happens to be both of the left and right

A few good ones in today’s (tomorrow’s) WSJ:

Josef Josse writes that there are 3 losers in the Brexit saga:  the UK, the EU, and…

The biggest loser, though, is the New Class.Samuel Huntington called this new global elite the Davos Man. He has “little need for national loyalty, views national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and sees national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations.”  …

The experts and knowledge workers set the agenda and deliver the truth. They are “life’s officer class,” Mr. Frank quips. “They give the orders and write the prescriptions” for whatever ails society: global warming, LBGT discrimination, MBA women held back by the patriarchy. They preach one world and multiculturalism. And like any ruling class, they mobilize the state to enforce correct language and demeanor.

Yet they do not speak for the hoi polloi—the worker bees and the “soft middle” beset by globalization and, more brutally, by technology. Ages ago, America’s Democrats and Europe’s Social Democrats did. Now they talk workers’ rights in the Third World.

Their defection explains the rise of populism, which happens to be both of the left and right, as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump show. In Europe, it is Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage or Geert Wilders on the right. On the left, Die Linke in Germany, Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain are forging ahead. All of them were delighted to corner the market where injured pride, fear and frustration beckon…

So what now? Leave the insurgents to illiberal demagogues like Mr. Trump and Ms. Le Pen with their racist rhetoric?

Not at all. The rebellion of the voiceless screams: “Listen, liberal,” check your moral hauteur and accord us worth. Care as much about us as about LBGT. Pride in the nation is not xenophobia. Don’t bamboozle us by refusing to call terrorism “Islamic.” Keep our gates open, but insist on assimilation. Restore self-government, which has ebbed away to Brussels and Obama’s White House as it drowns out Congress with torrents of executive orders. Don’t censor speech.

The New Class deludes itself when it blames the revolt on economic inequality. If so, why has it erupted in egalitarian Scandinavia, in full-employment Germany, Britain and America? This class war isn’t about income, but culture. It’s about the civic faith.

Liberals should listen for their own sake. The middle is not the mob. Ceding the forgotten to the Mussolinis of the 21st century will speed the victory of illiberalism, the common enemy of us all, and a tragedy worse than Brexit.

In Who’s the Xenophobe Now? Bill McGurn writes about “the price of condescension in a society where the people are still sovereign.”

Xenophobia, of course, comes from the Greek for “stranger” and “fear.” The idea here is that the British—in particular, the older, more rural and working-class voters—rejected an enlightened arrangement with Europe because they are either too stupid or too blinded by their own ignorance and prejudice to understand how good a deal this is for them.

A question: How does this view of the majority of the British people—as a form of alien life with disgusting beliefs unfit for polite society—differ in substance from the view a bigoted British bricklayer might have toward the immigrants living in his midst?

Another question: How different is this portrait of the British as xenophobes from the picture of working-class Pennsylvanians presented by Barack Obama back when he was first running for president?

Bret Stephens takes the opposite point of view and writes that votes may Get what you thought you wanted. Get the opposite of what you really want.

If the result of Brexit is to force London to dial down its own big-state tendencies, so much the better. The likelier result is that the next prime minister will have to spend his political capital trying to keep the United Kingdom together and hoping a Brexit-related recession isn’t pinned on him. American conservatives who think Brexit will pave the way for the return of Margaret Thatcher’s spirit may find themselves disappointed when the ghost of Ted Heath shows up instead.

Something similar has happened in the Republican Party, too. Right-wing voters were stirred to frenzy into believing that John Boehner and his do-nothing Congress were the moral equivalent of Nancy Pelosi. The GOP “Establishment” became the object of Mark Levin’s very own Two Minutes Hate.

Lo, the Establishment was conquered—not least because it hadn’t really existed in the first place. Leading mainstream conservatives discovered previously invisible common ground with Donald J. Trump, on the optimistic assumption that he was an empty vessel into whom they could pour the sweet wine of standard GOP ideology on entitlements, taxes and foreign policy.

To those conservatives who see America approaching its end of days, the vanity of Never Trump quickly gave way to the exigency of Never-Ever-Hillary.

And now what?

 

 

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