Trump, fascism, Putin and Wikileaks: the anatomy of a liberal nervous breakdown

Most presidential election cycles are dispiriting for the Left. As the official campaign begins, however, the hangover of a Sanders-induced optimism has added to this despair.

America is about to choose a president from the two most unpopular politicians in modern history. The Democrats have chided the Left and the ‘Bernie or Bust’ crowd for still not being ‘with her’ in the existential struggle against fascism. But it is worth considering how liberalism’s anti-fascism covers a libidinal lack. That is, an inability to define or, in Lacanian terms, ‘enjoy’ their political identity but through this fascist threat. Liberals are clearly not principled anti-fascists, the geopolitical compromises are too numerous to count, and there is an obvious cynical PR/fundraising logic to the fascist threat: ‘Can you spare $5 to defeat fascism?’ However, liberals are emotionally invested in the idea that they are the ones who can beat back the scourge of fascism. They construct anti-fascism as a class project but self-identify as the class of elites and experts that fascism uses to obfuscate actual class struggle.

Trump’s fascism may lack the militancy of brown- and blackshirts organised against socialist forces but he masters its rhetorical indeterminacy. His acceptance howl at the Republican National Convention was interspersed with appeals to the working class, denunciations of corporate political influence, free-trade deals, and interventionist foreign policy in Iraq and Libya. With Trump opportunistically left-flanking Hillary on trade and militarism, the liberal media and political class has been oscillating between catching the vapours and declaring American liberalism an unbridled success. In the face of a volatile populist electorate the Democrats have chosen Reagan-esque optimism and the refrain that ‘America is already great’, the liberal equivalent of ‘Jeb!’

This inability of liberals to understand the necessity of antagonism in politics and Trump’s mastery of psycho-political warfare could cost Hillary Clinton this election. While Trump’s own combustibility is overshadowing the entire campaign, it is far too close for liberals to convincingly argue that they are a bulwark against fascism. The polls and the electorate have been extremely volatile; the great wonk oracle Nate Silver has gone from declaring Trump an impossibility for the nomination to having a 40 per cent chance in the general. If Clinton limps to the finish line, liberals will undoubtedly draw all the wrong conclusions about their anti-fascism and the vigor of technocratic centrist politics.

What has been remarkable about the liberal political commentariat’s reaction to Trump’s outrages and Bernie Sanders’ successes has been its collective nature. Sanders’ social-democratic candidacy elicited horror as the progressive parallel to the Trump movement in the liberal nerve centers of Vox, Politico and Slate. The uniformity of this reaction in the liberal media and millennial online journalism spheres has been most perplexing as the Sanders campaign was objectively an extraordinary story. Thomas Frank convincingly advances the notion in his new book that American liberals function as a class, not in objective economic terms but in the devotion of professionals to the meritocracy. These are the people whose hearts bleed for diversity in boardrooms and Hollywood blockbusters, who believe entrepreneurs should get student loan debt forgiveness and that equality will be achieved through inner city youths learning how to code or attending a free performance of Hamilton. In constructing progressive politics as the combination of affect and technocracy, as opposed to ideology, struggle and justice, the rebellion of the Sanders youth and the surging fascism of Trump both represent the grubby politics of street fighting.

The release by Wikileaks of the Democratic National Convention’s internal emails has been a devastating blow to the liberal notions of process, merit and consensus. It has triggered wild deflections within the commentariat and the political class, filling columns and airtime with Glenn Beck-style conspiracies involving fascists, Russians and socialist useful idiots. The emails demonstrate what was self-evident to any impartial observer of the Democratic primary process: that faced with an insurgent social democratic outsider, neoliberal party officials closed ranks and conspired to undermine Sanders’ campaign, relying on a pliant media to accomplish this task. For a party convinced of its own progressive bona fides and who spent the campaign scolding Sanders supporters as cranks or entitled ‘bros’ silencing women and people of colour, this is surely an intolerable hypocrisy. Yet in the face of this corruption, liberals cling to their sense of merit and technocratic, process-oriented superiority.

To understand how this contradiction is overcome we have turn to psychoanalysis and the notion of fetishist disavowal. Liberals know very well that their process is corrupt, that they are incapable of defeating fascism, but nevertheless ‘Putin!’  As Žižek puts it, fetishism shields us from trauma, so the hacker logic of the big reveal will not persuade liberals to abandon their position but find an agent who is responsible for our loss of enjoyment. If Trump ascends to the presidency or lays the groundwork for an even fouler creature in 2020, it won’t be because liberals have kneecapped themselves through their venality, lack of vision or mocking the youth as hopelessly naive, it will be the work of a network of corrupting agents. It is easier to assume that Trump is a foreign agent than confront the fact that he is squarely within the tradition of American politics and preying on the Democrats’ class treachery. This also nicely augments the Democrat blackmail that the left has to support Clinton to defeat not only fascism but also Putin’s evil empire.

The hysterical Russophobia that has gripped the Democrats, the policy establishment and the liberal media is a form of fetishist disavowal and a collective liberal nervous breakdown. American democracy is now said to be fundamentally under threat, not from any internal corruption but from Russian interference looking to install a puppet regime and subvert the polls in November. This affair has elicited the usual shrieking headlines from liberal HuffPo but the star of this oeuvre is Franklin Foer who, when he could not find a brown paper bag to breathe into, wrote a piece entitled ‘The DNC Hack is Watergate, but Worse’. Foer, whose analysis has been cited by the Clinton campaign, argues that the hack reveals nothing of any news value. Apparently the public should not be surprised about the DNC’s attempts to Jew-bait Bernie Sanders but be ‘appalled by the publication of this minutiae’ for the benefit of a foreign despot.

The New York Times has been running daily front-page articles around Trump’s ties to Russia and the efforts of Russian military intelligence to intervene in the US elections. In the middle of the DNC Trump stole the headlines with a comically flippant, and I dare say brilliant, remark: ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing.’ The Times credulously reported that Trump was ‘urging a foreign adversary to conduct cyber-espionage’.

The psychodrama of the 2016 election is pitting the tortured liberal class against the spectre that haunts them. When liberals expose themselves as wracked by Trump’s vulgarity and concerned about ‘the discourse’, he is all too happy to feed these anxieties. Trump is nothing if not a master of politics as libidinal warfare. While many of his obscenities are well documented, I am partial to the time he taunted Bill O’Reilly live on-air with Melania and Eric in the week that O’Reilly lost a custody battle.

But what of the substance of the espionage claims? So far the basis for claiming Russia is behind the hack rests on cybersecurity experts contracted by the DNC – Crowdstrike and FireEye. Yasha Levine, a journalist on the national security tech beat and author of the forthcoming Surveillance Valley, wrote to me that these ‘independent’ experts are a ‘direct extension of the US National Security State’. One of these firms is bankrolled by the CIA’s venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, and all are filled with former NatSec agents who pine for their old lover/enemy. In these circles, Russia corresponds perfectly to the liberal paranoid imaginary. Levine describes the policy establishment as quite capable of Trump-style xenophobia ‘building since the Bush years … [that] the Russians are evil, they are not to be trusted, they are slippery and devious and are capable of anything.’

While tracing hacks to specific national and political actors or lulzy cypherpunks is a notoriously difficult exercise, the New York Times has reported, if misleadingly, that anonymous federal law officials are certain of Russian involvement. The FBI and CIA have refused to publically join this narrative and have acknowledged there is no evidence of a Russian plot to install Trump. If the NSA has proof of a Russian-directed hack, admitting to this publicly risks revealing how deeply the US has penetrated Russia’s networks. In other words, we are talking about a routine incident of cyber espionage at worst. Yes, Trump is of a certain ‘type’ and one imagines that he could get on well with Putin, Berlusconi or even Erdogan, but this does not reveal anything deeper. Julian Assange is prone to the ‘enemy of my enemy’ logic which sees nominal leftists elevate Putin into a quasi anti-imperialist. But this does not a security asset make.

Hillary Clinton’s general election pivot is also instructive of a deeper collective anxiety within the liberal, professional and political class. The Clinton campaign has been tying itself in knots to reach out to the ‘good’ Republicans; that is, people who think 47 per cent of the population are deadbeats, revere Charles Murray’s vile race science and are neocon architects of the Iraq War aghast at Trump’s fascism. To chase the good Republican unicorn, the DNC convention was turned into an RNC convention with generals, military families, a September 11 night, and supporters shouting down the peace movement with chants of ‘U-S-A’. This move has been effective in consolidating Clinton’s support from the likes of George Will, Meg Whitman and Michael Bloomberg, but it is not likely to win her many actual Republican voters. People rightfully hate these experts and welfare cases who have been nurtured in the fail-proof environment of Washington, where resumes and pedigree ensure no one will ever be held accountable for their egregious mistakes.

The liberal anti-fascism of Clinton has achieved a remarkable class solidarity, not through genuine worker and populist platform that would undercut Trump, but a solidarity of experts and the policy establishment terrified for their jobs. Trump might be right for the wrong reasons but it is incredibly instructive that he elicits horror in not being reflexively committed to NATO’s Article 5, supporting the nationalist/fascist alliance in Ukraine, or lauding Putin’s efforts in Syria. The responsible policy in this case is supposed to be Clinton’s ‘no-fly zone’ over Syria and refocusing the war on Assad, a brazen escalation of tensions with Russia.

What is truly the greatest horror of Trump’s fascism is that he will not employ the best and brightest in his administration. Trump was very clear about this in his first major foreign policy speech: ‘We have to have new people … because many of the old people frankly don’t know what they’re doing … [They] have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies.’ To the Thomas Friedmanns of the world, such rhetoric is a call for brownshirts to evict people of merit from their homes in Georgetown, Vienna and Bethesda, and consign them to fly over country as penance.

The problem with the liberal stand against fascism is that it is not an actual politics but a symptom of a libidinal deadlock. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not two sides of the same coin but libidinally necessary for one another. The horror of Trump manages to create the ultimate liberal fantasy of post-partisanship, consensus and respect for the discourse. We are actually seeing a class solidarity of Washington careerists, policy wonks, the national security state and the media. This open solidarity of the experts and elite is precisely what animates the fascist imaginary of the puppet masters undermining the American people’s natural order. Both obfuscate actual class antagonism, and until liberalism can antagonistically define itself with a genuine left conscience it will continue to be wracked by the fascist nightmare. For now, it appears that liberals would rather fight on behalf of the good Republicans than defeat fascism in a way that undermines their own fantasies.

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Olivier Jutel

Olivier Jutel is a lecturer in broadcast journalism at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. His research is concerned with populism, American politics, cyber-libertarianism, psychoanalysis and critical theory.

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  1. Interesting article, but this article fails where so many others in this vein have also failed: where is the evidence that Trump is preying on the Democrats’ alleged disavowal of the working class? See George Saunders’ admittedly anecdotal, but no less convincing than any other I’ve seen, article on Trump supporters.

    From what I’ve seen, it’s probably a more dangerous cocktail of racism, resentfulness towards identity politics & white privilege discourse (i.e., “political correctness”), and measure of disaffected working class people. But, this perspective is not as consistent with demonizing liberals as having lost the working class through their abhorrent neoliberalism. If it’s all class, why didn’t Bernie win?

    (and for the record, neither Bernie nor his top officials seem to believe he lost because the election was rigged by the Committee)

    Also, “…but it is not likely to win her many actual Republican voters” is nonsense. You don’t have to like it (I didn’t), but there’s no doubt that the DNC gave her a huge boost in the polls.

  2. Thanks for the comment Nathan.
    I want to be clear, Trump voters are not some virtuous working class whites that we need to win back. Many of them may fit a profile like the Tea Party, contractors, franchisees, small business people, Long Island Republicans, solidly middle class etc. The Trump phenomenon partnered with CLinton’s technocracy means the white working class will not vote. The Reagan democrat is largely a myth, sure some white WC will vote for Xenophboia/racism etc but that does not mean that they are irredeemable racists as a voting block.

    You can read some really good work on this here: and here:

    Why Bernie didn’t win is a big topic. At the end of the day Hillary has MASSIVE name recognition, virtually 99% of the party and the DNC dramatically tipping the scales in her favor. The fact that the candidate with the best political infrastructure ever limped home against a guy no one outside of Vermont had ever heard of is a massive embarassment. The fact that the young people that propelled him have been told to go pound sand by the CLinton campaign is self-destructive. Also Bernie is no class reductionist, he was for marriage equality in the 1970s and Burlington Vermont has some of the toughest civil rights legislation in the US. This in spite of the fact that there is a very small black population, meaning he pursued civil rights reform even when there was no political rewards for doing so. Anyway I am re-litigating the primary which is not good for my health.

    The DNC is totally rotten to the core, irregardless of whether that sent her over the top or not.

    My point about Republican voters is that they hate these RINOs (as they see it) falling behind Hillary.


    1. First, it is not “irregardless”, it is “regardless”. Second, Bernie was not a Democrat, he only became a party member before the run up to primaries.He brought in new and young voters to the Party granted. But they are new. There are also many, many young Democrats working indefatigably in the Party and Clintons were courting them as well as the Party clogs. And Bernie has announced that he will continue to be independent after the elections. Second, Hillary is a woman and the first woman presidential candidate in this country. Many women, daughters are proud of this fact. So should the young female Bernie supporters who are now standing on the shoulders of grandmothers and mothers. A little bit of acknowledgement of history please (I am male). Three, DNC is not rotten to the core. DNC worked hard. It would have done better with a more popular candidate. No one but Bernie supporters expected Bernie to win. And Bernie has been saying what is tantamount to “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. True. And leftward move of the DP will continue with increasing pace.

      1. Actually, the Green Party has been running women as presidential candidates for some time, so you must mean the ‘first woman presidential candidate of the Democratic or Republican party’. I have already had the chance to cast my vote for two women presidential candidates: Cynthia McKinney, an African American, and Jill Stein, who I will be voting for again this year, of Jewish descent. The Democrats lost my vote years ago! The republicans never had it….

  3. Oh, the marvel of science – you can find a like-minded friend on the other side of the planet sharing the same moment of epiphany despite the obvious differences.
    Is this circle of “creating the class of super rich” – “waiting for it to implode on itself” – “letting meritocracy take the wheel” will be the last? – or will the VR or global warming be a potent enough disruptor to inflate another post-Trump/Clinton political bubble in 2030s?

  4. You are calling Trump’s campaign fascist a lot in this article. What is your definition of fascism and how does it fit Donald Trump’s policies?

    1. This is a very tricky thing. OBviously the characteristics classical modern fascism of the 30s etc requires a mobilized para-military fighting against the reds in the name of the nation. We could try to have some typologies (petite-bourgeois etc…).

      Trump is obviously different. Does alt-right twitter equal army of Brown Shirts?

      But the thing about fascism is its appeal to a mythical people besieged by enemies and a contradictory web of evils (China, Mexicans, Isis, refugees, globalists etc). At a rhetorical level Trump is certainly a fascist. It remains to be seen how he’d govern. I don’t think he’d have the ability to change the institutions of American politics and doesn;t have the organized street violence but you never know.

      1. Agreed. To me the essential fascist appeal is the one Žižek outlines here, taking the antagonisms inherent in any capitalist system and projecting them onto the persona of a foreign intruder, whose presence disrupts what in their ideological fiction would otherwise be a stable and harmonious society under capitalism. Defining fascism this way also highlights the connection between liberalism and fascism: both ideologies valorize the myth of an antagonism-free American Dream or whatever, and disagree largely as to whether this mythical nation Is Already Great or must be Made Great Again. Either way, since any antagonisms that do exist couldn’t possibly be coming from irresoluble immanent tensions within this nation itself, they must be coming from an outside source that could be isolated behind a wall and/or shoved into a gas chamber.

        If any one moment from recent US electoral politics could encapsulate this maneuver in a nutshell, it was the nominally pro-LGBTQ bit from Trump’s RNC speech. In a sense it was incredible: all Trump had to do was insert the single word “foreign” between “hateful” and “ideology” when referring to violent homophobia, and suddenly a Republican audience could applaud what might have otherwise been a denunciation of evangelical Christianity in the name of Matthew Shepard et al. The hypocrisy from the GOP audience would make a good liberal talking point itself, except it also raises the possibility that a proto-fascist figurehead with slightly better identitarian street cred and slightly less flamboyant personal narcissism, like an American version of Pim Fortuyn, could have beaten Hillary in a cakewalk.

        1. Would this defn of fascism have described the characteristics of Franco or Mussolini’s regimes?

          I find Trump’s anti-Mexican statements to be appalling. But immigration controls do not fascism make. Mexicans aside, the H1-B tech visas actually were designed to drive down tech wages and have been for 20 years. Trump appears to oppose them, Clinton remains silent.

          We are seeing a political realignment in process here, where Democrat-ish and Republican-ish working people are responding to the deleterious economic consequences of neoliberalism in ways characteristic to their world view. These grievances are completely legitimate. The policy moorings that have defined the duopoly are in flux.

          What gets me is that after a Republican acceptance speech that did not mention abortion or bash queers, that rejected the “free trade” consensus, pledged to be the peace candidate and to protect social insurance from a grand bargain, is how policy seems to be transient to conservatives where shallow emotion is all that determines political orientation. All of that stuff we’ve been ramming down your throats for the past 30 years? Yeah, never mind all of that, look at this bright shiny object.

          The liberals, to their minds, appear ready to accept the trade off of reproductive rights in exchange for carte blanche on the neolib/neocon projects.

          1. Regarding H1-B, obviously driving down high-skilled wages in the US is a central goal, but the program is even more insidious than that. The way it’s set up, a worker’s visa depends on the ongoing approval of their employer, and if they quit or get fired they have a prohibitively short time period in which to find another H1-B sponsor (a deliberately difficult legal process to begin with) or else leave the country. So in essence the US state deliberately forces these immigrants to either lay down zero roots in their new country and be prepared to emigrate at a moment’s notice, or else forfeit all possible leverage in any labor dispute. A visa program with fewer restrictions, in which high-skilled immigrants could say no to an employer without uprooting the rest of their life in the process, would arguably be less disruptive to working conditions in the First-World tech sector than the H1-B program as it exists.

            But on the broader point of immigration and fascism, fascist regimes’ ideal foreign policy revolves around the idea of a natural aristocracy of nations: those nations that have united harmoniously under a fascist regime (perhaps due to their innate racial superiority or something along those lines) assert dominance over those nations that haven’t, and citizens benefit or suffer accordingly. In today’s world immigration controls are the major political battlefield on which this idea is being contested, with citizens of developed nations seeking to deny citizens of underdeveloped nations the right to advance as individuals from one end of the global wage/price disparity to the other. If you’re going to advance economically, the First-World anti-immigrant argument seems to say, do it by advancing as a nation and proving that your nation deserves to unseat ours as natural aristocrats of the Earth. It may not always be fully developed fascism, but the core commitments of fascism are at least present in embryo.

          2. One characteristic of neoliberalism has been a process of alienation of people from connection to place as part of the campaign to lower barriers to capital penetration. This has facilitated profit-making by smoothing the interface between capital and places and capital and people.

            If every place is functionally the same and everyone is functionally the same, then we are much easier to manage as interchangeable movable parts operating in interchangeable but fixed places.

            In local politics, I’ve seen this systematic exclusion of residents from the political process by neoliberal politicians. The only interests granted stakeholder status in local decision making are those with claims on public resources, those seeking entitlements for private profit-making and those receiving grant funding from the government. Many “left” activists have been neutralized by the latter, resigned to running interference for neoliberal policies promoting accumulation in exchange for their meal tickets.

            When connection to place is contested by exclusion from democracy, when connection to place is contested by imported labor and when labor mobility is promoted during a period of wealth concentration, then we are going to see outcomes like this.

            The delicate balance here is between celebrating and preserving diversity of place and of people in place in the face of the relentless onslaught of homogenization without degenerating into chauvanism, bigotry and worse.

            My prediction is that neoliberal policies spawn more Trumps the more you apply it. A Clinton II victory will be a pyrrhic for liberals, but as political BD/SM subs, they have come to not only enjoy it, but to stay with their abusive spouse and beg for more. It is ironic that the first viable female candidate is playing the role of abusive spouse, hectoring and shaming liberals to come back into the fold for more punishment.

            Foucault would be proud of them.

  5. Olivier: ungovernable in what sense? Deadlock amongst the sparring sides? Even though there are progressives, liberals, conservatives, Tea Partiers, and all kinds of other variations, if the Democrats win back the Senate and the House, then along with a Democratic president, many things should get moving again–not everything will be to many people’s liking, but that’s not exactly the definition of ungovernable, but rather the return of normal politics instead of the Republican-enforced deadlock of the past eight years. Hard to say, though, what will happen if the Democrats win back just the Senate or the House.

  6. “until liberalism can antagonistically define itself with a genuine left conscience it will continue to be wracked by the fascist nightmare” What. Ever.

    In the real world, Missouri is turning blue and Utah is becoming a swing state because Trump is Mussolini without the charm.

    In the real world, admittedly-stupid DNC emails written in mid-May had absolutely no effect on Bernie Sanders being all but mathematically eliminated in New York on April 27.

    In the real world, Clinton got millions more votes than Sanders because “a genuine left conscience” has a smaller natural constituency in America than Pokemon Go. If you insist that “THE MAN” must have rigged this election, then I am that man.

    In the real world, America’s governing coalitions are inside the two major political parties — as a result of math, not fascism or corproatism or any other -ism. One of those two parties has begun to spiral apart because Trumpolini is making its internal contradictions play out as defections.

    And in the real world, the Berniacs have been screeching for months that Hillary needed them to defeat fascism, but now that she doesn’t, they WHINE WHINE WHINE like a bunch of little children who expected trophies just for playing. They see the establishment swinging to Clinton and it makes them SOOOO MAD because this was supposed to be the Year of Revolution.

  7. This article would make sense if the author would replace the term “liberal” with the term “neoliberal.” Without that very important distinction, this article is way off base.

    1. How so? Since we’re not on a US-based site, we can’t expect this strange anti-intellectual American notion that “liberal” is synonymous with “left” to be the default political vocabulary. (Australia’s Liberal Party is actually their equivalent of the US GOP, with Labour assuming the role of Democrats.) Broadly speaking, in the intellectually civilized capitalist world “liberal” stands for centrist or even center-right, and “neoliberal” in part denotes a renewed commitment to the self-satisfied form of liberalism that existed before being sullied by the taint of Keynesianism, the major sin of which was to acknowledge the Marxist critique of capitalism as presenting real problems in need of liberal solutions. For all the reasons Olivier outlined, liberals seem to prefer engaging with those to their right, i.e. fascists, rather than those to their left, i.e. revolutionary socialists.

      1. Fair enough mate. You are right liberal in America has a totally different meaning. Because America has no history of a labour, social-democratic party “liberal” has come to be the master-signifier for a left politics. I think you can definitely make the case that Hillary and Clintonite Third Way neo-liberalism represents an alignment with what liberalism means historically. One of the great accomplishments of Bernie Sanders is that he really has torn the Left from liberalism as a term people identify with. I say long may that last.

  8. Finally the root of our idiot university leftist teachers has emerged.
    Who says Trump is fascist when clearly DP shows fascist characteristics on almost everything they do. Your writings Olivier Jutel are a threat to modern civilisation.

    1. From Benjamin on 14 August 2016 at 6.26 am

      Finally the root of our idiot university leftist teachers has emerged.
      Who says Trump is fascist when clearly DP shows fascist characteristics on almost everything they do. Your writings Olivier Jutel are a threat to modern civilisation.

      those labels are deceiving. we should stop using shorthand=buzzwords it’s misleading. Say what we mean in understandable terms. The Price of Freedom IS Granting it to Others. It would take a Donald Trump to buck the system. Ross Perot was scared off or we may never have suffered a Bush presidency. Media is spewing propaganda. sHillary offers her withered poisonous teat to the world, not to feed them but to enslave them. Taking away individual’s rights at every opportunity. Trump has warm blood but she does not. she is the Medusa! how come people allow her ?! {that is the question I want answered!
      are they hypnotized?

  9. Excellent, Olivier. You write about Trump: “I don’t think he’d have the ability to change the institutions of American politics and doesn’t have the organized street violence but you never know.” It’s another sign of the “liberal nervous breakdown” that they simply assert Trump will have the power to dissolve an institutional system built for deadlock, the same system that stymied Obama’s modest measures. I think a lot of the confusion about “liberals” in the American sense comes from glomming them together with small-d democrats. Historically, liberalism was about taming democracy, about checking and balancing it, about resisting broad-based power from below, about smearing it as mob rule or tyranny of the majority. Liberals are all about rights, about setting limits to the power of the state or the people. So liberal democracy is almost an oxymoron, a shotgun marriage that’s splitting apart into its separate antagonistic components. Hillary and her coterie are liberals (as well as being neoliberal); superdelegates, government by experts and technocrats (the credentialed), more education as the cure for all ills. Bernie’s people want more democracy. There is no resolution between these demands (see Germany v.s. Greece). Last, of course, liberalism is the enabler of capitalism; any kind of really-functioning democracy would probably provoke a coup (see Allende).

    1. Thanks Phillip. You are on the money with regards to liberalism. Take Hamilton for example, this character liberals so revere at the moment, a total elitist with contempt for the non-landed. What’s funny is that in order for left-liberals to revere the founders they often turn to Jefferson who was an agrarian populist. But if you read Jefferson he basically invented the real America/coastal America dichotomy. They way he talks about the Yeoman as “God’s most substantial deposit of virtue on this earth” sounds like Glenn Beck. Simultaneously he described cities and by extension the urban working class as “cankerous sours” on the body politic. Lovely fellow

  10. This was a fantastic piece of writing, Oliver. I will say that I think you covered “Trump’s fascism” a little simplistically in regards to why nationalist movements are rising around the world, and I think it would be a disservice to pin it down as solely xenophobia. I live in the UK and traditional working-class people aren’t getting their voices heard anymore and the political party system has clearly failed them. People do believe British values are getting dismissed in the favour of internationalism and that there’s a general consensus here whether you’re on the Left or Right that the country has its own domestic problems, is seeing its public services being cut in the name of privatization, losing that sense of sovereignty by following current American policy, and that the country once endeared more tradition and culture in what it meant to be British. The migration crisis in Calais and in Syria serve as a catalyst to pinpoint and allow the Government to get away with Draconian laws such as zero hour contracts. You could say Farage in the UK and Trump in America are running parallel with one another and that the “Make America Great Again” is a great campaign slogan. It has tied in economic struggle, with cultural concern, and given people a sense of freedom and hope. Trump has tapped into the working classes in the USA that the “Liberals” so foolishly left behind. UK would never have voted Brexit if the government wasn’t so hard on austerity. It shows that the political map has completely changed and that the current “moderate” politicians in power are completely devoted to POTUS, and that in reality the centre could now be defined as the Left in socialist movements such as Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. Although, in regards to that with the Trump phenomenon and the rise of far-left and far-right movements across the world, I think more and more people are smarting up to the idea that being “left” or “right” means very little and that actually it’s a more us versus them (the bureaucracy) problem that is allowing populist candidates to rise. But there is no doubt that there is elevated level of race wars in America now and I think that has to do with the fact that there is a real concern now that foreign powers are influencing policy-making and lobbyists in Israel and Qatar for example, are bribing politicians to preach their radical agendas. The fact that the Clinton Foundation received more money from foreign powers than in the USA sends out a message that these politicians are self-serving and have no interest in the heart of America, and Trump comes out as the traditional blissfully ignorant all-American figure. Forget a proxy war between USA and Russia, there is a continuous proxy war going on for the heart of America because institutions are being granted too much power with zero accountability. I thought this was a cracking article and I’ve been waiting for someone to tap into Liberal hypocrisy, in what is ironically becoming the most “brainwashed” sect of Western society, as their increasingly absurd desires for political correctness and diversity are actually infringing upon the rights of people. Ultimately, the economy will always be the main issue for voters and identity politics just serves as a distraction. Many would lament how hateful this election cycle has been, but I would argue it has been amazing because it’s completely shattered the elite’s control of the two-party system. I couldn’t have written this article better myself and having looked at your article history, I think you need to start writing some more! Found this via WikiLeaks on Twitter. Thank you.

  11. Stop confusing liberalism with Marxism. Bernie Sanders is not a liberal. He is a Marxist as evidence by his past statements. Even after the failures of the USSR were exposed he was still touting the success of Cuba

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