There’s been something of a theme running through my reading recently around identity politics, particular after Hillary Clinton’s failure to defeat Donald Trump. Promoted by the modern left – particularly the neo-liberal leaning left in place of policies of radical economic change it has led the left into a dead end. The pursuit of neo-liberal economics have driven inequality to the point where those at the bottom of the heap are deserting the traditional left in droves in pursuit of someone with a stated opposition to the economic status quo. In other words, the left’s acceptance of neo-liberal economics and the replacement of economic struggle with an agenda based on political rights for minority groups has been a strategic failure.
This long quote from Owen Jones’ “Chavs” captures the point nicely. And “angry new right wing populism” seems like a reasonable description of Donald Trump.
“The demonization of the working class has also had a real role to play in the BNP’s success story. Although ruling elites have made it clear that there is nothing of worth in working-class culture, we have been (rightly) urged to celebrate the identities of minority groups. What’s more, liberal multiculturalism has understood inequality purely through the prism of race, disregarding that of class. Taken together, this has encouraged white working-class people to develop similar notions of ethnic pride, and to build an identity based on race so as to gain acceptance in multicultural society. The BNP has made the most of this disastrous redefinition of white working-class people as, effectively, another marginalized ethnic minority. ‘Treating the white working class as a new ethnic group only does the BNP a massive favour,’ says anthropologist Dr Gillian Evans, ‘and so does not talking about a multiracial working class.’ It is unlikely that the BNP will ever win significant power, not least because of chronic incompetence and infighting, of the kind that crippled the party after the 2010 general election. But its rise is like a warning shot. Unless working-class people are properly represented once again and their concerns taken seriously, Britain faces the prospect of an angry new right-wing populism.”