When reason guides the minds of men and women, free-market capitalism and prosperity follow. Reason can either be beaten down or, alternatively, elevated by cultural norms. Islamic cultural norms provide an example of the former; Christian norms an example of the latter. Reason is the enemy of progressive politics. That is why Islamists and the Left find common cause.
Progressive policies are disastrous. They produce human misery: debt, dependency, and division. Debt emerges pari passu with unfillable promises of free stuff. Dependency emerges as regulatory obstacles are put in the way of full employment and the unemployed and the dispossessed are seduced with baubles. Division emerges as sets of citizens are pitted against each other in desperate acts of vote-buying.
But surely progressives aren’t bad people? I will leave the question open. It is an open question when supposed good intentions are not informed by bad experience after bad experience. Okay I have gone too far. They are not bad people. I will settle for deluded or self-serving.
Left-wing prescriptions have a use by date. The use by date transpires when, as Margaret Thatcher so aptly put it, “you run out of other people’s money.” What the heck do progressives do then? In the best of all worlds they convert to conservatism, as I did, or at least take their bat and ball, go home and sulk. We don’t live in this world so, for the most part, progressives double down.
Their difficulty is that their rationale of the past, representing working people seeking a better deal, no longer holds water. Working people have long since got the better deal. Capitalism has given it to them. Result: constituency gone. The conclusion: target and build up other, motley constituencies of special interests.
These constituencies are those serially dependent on taxpayer support; those who value the habitat of yakka skinks over people’s livelihoods; those who hold the wellbeing of refugees higher than those of citizens; and those who form ethnic minorities. Who is left behind? Those left behind are the white working class; those who in former days formed the left’s core constituency. But it’s worse than that. Policies which benefit special interests almost always damage and marginalize the interests of the white working class.
Enter Donald Trump, brazenly appealing to the newly marginalized. Seven out of ten whites without college degrees voted for Trump according to exit polling (Edison Research). This was roughly the same proportion as Latino women voting for Hillary Clinton. And by the way, white women overall (53%) voted for Trump. Those misogyny charges didn’t cut it.
One of the frustrations of the coverage of the US elections was the overwhelming focus on the candidates’ personalities rather than on their policies. Expect no change in future US elections. The press is in the pocket of the Democrats and the Democrats have no credible policies. Ergo, the press will continue to focus on digging dirt on Republicans. The Washington Post had twenty reporters gunning for Trump. It is a wonder they found so little on a flamboyant rich guy when you think about it.
No left-wing parties across the globe have credible policies. They are out of other people’s money to spend. A claim of inequality is their last desperate economic cause du jour. But it is a blind alley for the left. The only way to produce less inequality without devastating the economy is to adopt conservative policies of less government and less regulation. Inequality rises when economies struggle and falls when they are buoyant, as competition for labour drives up wages.
The only viable future path to power for the left is via identity politics (and, I should add, competing with the greens in scaring people about global warming or whatever comes next after that scare cools down). Clinton got an estimated 88% of the black vote, 65% of Latinos and 78% of the LGBT community. My question is whether these people were swayed by policies or by their minority status. I think the latter and this is problematic for the left. Their loyalty too has a use by date. You can only fool minorities for so long.
Trump has the opportunity (which he forged uniquely himself) to show that conservative policies of deregulation and low taxation work to create jobs and prosperity. The ties that bind minority groups to the Democrats, I predict, will fray under the onslaught of economic progress. With any luck this will be contagious beyond US borders. But, in any event, sooner or later, the left will need to morph again as the current profile of identity politics loses its traction.
The likely direction of this morphing is towards Islam. Muslim identity will withstand economic progress. “Islam and modernization do not clash, says Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilisations) as, in different words, does Peter Berger (Islam and Secularism in the Middle East): “it is often the daughters of secularised professionals who are putting on the veil and other accoutrements expressing so-called Islamic modesty.”
Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission provides a template for a future grand Left/Muslim alliance. Judging by the Left’s enthusiasm for importing Muslim refugees they have already grasped the point.
Watch the agenda develop as Muslims take leadership roles in left-wing parties. London Labour Party mayor Sadiq Kahn is a prime example. Keith Ellison is another. Touted as the next chair of the Democratic National Committee (Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s old job), he has plenty of radical Islamic links in his past. The only way to counter this threat is to limit the size of Muslim populations in the West by stopping further Muslim immigration. That is one of the prime reasons that the Democrats, and the left more generally in the West, are so bitterly opposed to Trump.