I find it exhilarating – both fascinating and appalling – to be a witness to the enormous events of the past few months, now culminating in Trump’s triumph. These events are called seismic, because, like earthquakes, they burst out and demolished much of the old political order. First we had Brexit, and now we have Trump (Brexit, Brexit plus plus as he himself said). Brexit was bad enough to deal with, and many of us, me included, are still unable properly to deal with it (which is why I now wear a badger proudly proclaiming “Brexit does not mean Brexit”, to be obtained from Joy Gerrard at firstname.lastname@example.org, who very kindly designed this at my request).
Being appalled by what is happening in this country and the US is, in my view, easy – but to see this as forming part of some kind of important trend in the history of the world is much harder to envisage. This only became possible for me after I heard Madeleine Albright, the US Senator and former Secretary of State, giving a very illuminating talk on the BBC Today programme yesterday. Among other things, she said that “the social contract has been broken. People are talking to their government with 21st century technology, the government hears them with 20th century technology, and answers them with 19th century technology.” I interpret this as meaning that there is a huge disconnect between how we are now governed and how we need to be governed in this new world of ours. And what can be seen as the protest votes of all those who supported Jeremy Corbyn or voted for Brexit or have sent Trump to the White House are all signs of this huge disconnect.
Perhaps we are now seeing the last dying struggles of the old order, in which the money and power of the elite 1% has dominated over the feelings of inadequacy and abandonment of the remaining 99%. Seen from this viewpoint, the triumphs of Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexiteers and Trump represent a powerful uprising of those who feel dispossessed and marginalized against an established order which has so far always favoured the advantaged, a sad symbol of this being the mantra of “austerity” imposed for many years upon the disadvantaged in many countries from Greece to this country.
Maybe, then, what we are seeing happening now are the death throes of one world order and the inevitable birth pangs of another hopefully more enlightened one. It may be fanciful of me to hope that this is so, but hope is what we need when what has seemed to be a dark pall of despair has hung over us for so long. We need now to hope for a breakthrough to a better world which will build itself slowly on the ruins of the breakdown we are witnessing today.
This is why I like to read the blog written by Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance Minister., to be found at https://yanisvaroufakis.eu, because he and those working with him throughout the world are endeavouring to make the case for a new world order. This gives me hope that there are enough people out there not content just to complain about the state of the world but to do something about it. ,