Division is an essential component of every healthy democracy, and efforts to end division and contention in political discussion invariably produce the same two cancers in the body politic. In the leadership it fosters an authoritarian attitude which tends towards autocracy and even totalitarianism, and in the mass movement it creates a sheepish dogmatism by which the individual abdicates his or her responsibility to think and reason for his or herself and fuels the impulse to reject every contradiction as heresy. Every so often we get glimpses of these things...
Regularly on social media I and others are called fifth-columnists for openly criticising the SNP, for having the audacity to air our disagreement with ‘Nicola.’ The suggestion is that by doing this we are undermining independence, the implication being that we are traitors or British government ‘plants’ sowing seeds of discord. Certainly, this has made my own commitment to independence one of the most frustrating and painful political experiences of my life – but it has not shaken my resolve.
There are plenty of open calls for violence against Muslims. “Punish a Muslim Day” was not a one-off, it was merely a call to action from the far-right that, thanks to the internet, came to more people’s attention. Theresa May and Boris Johnson know about these calls for pogroms and acts of violence. In fact, they are no longer threats. Muslims all over the United Kingdom are regular targets of violent attacks and routinely subjected to Islamophobic hate speech.
The economic philosophy of the libertarians, as UKIP has long understood, does not win elections. Ordinary voters are not interested in economic arguments. They are even less impressed with men in suits who remind them too much of “the establishment.” Successful libertarian parties quickly adopt populist arguments; they single out scapegoats, they manufacture fake narratives, and they offer easy and deceitful answers to complex problems. This was precisely what UKIP and the Leave campaign did during the Brexit referendum campaign – and they won.
This comes about through a process known as normalisation, in which the seemingly absurd is made acceptable over a protracted period of time. Wealthy and powerful corporate agendas, either by ownership or by influence, are packaged by the media and sold to an increasingly docile and depoliticised public – steadily changing public opinion. Ultimately this shift in opinion creates a rising political demand not being met by the establishment political parties.
That the Leave campaign thrived on these instruments explains why hate crime and racially motived violence have spiked in the wake of the Brexit victory. In the eyes of those whose racism has been unfettered and legitimised by this populist climate the vote has vindicated them
Truth – or what we have come to call the truth – is the narrative. Yet the term “post-truth” itself confuses these categories and in so doing misdirects our attention back to the less important facts, and facts have always been unimportant to politics.
Trump was the unavoidable outcome of the US presidential race once Hillary Clinton succeeded in her project of derailing the Bernie train. Now that we have to live with the reality of “the Donald” in the Oval Office, we better know who’s to blame.