Reading a couple of stories on Quartz about jobs and Trump on the day Oz votes seems mildly indulgent but political junkies have to get their fix somewhere.
The first one about post recession jobs in the US underlines the the new class boundaries emerging in the neoliberal world order. Essentially, all the new jobs in the US have gone to people with more than a basic education. So-called blue collar jobs have apparently disappeared.
Another piece of anecdotal evidence. apparently those who voted for Brexit were from regions most affected by structural unemployment, and to boot were predominantly older and less educated. Trump’s key demographics.
Trump is very keen to exploit the new class divide, those with jobs and those without. But a deeper irony exists beyond the public political arena. Lisandro Claudio highlights the role of intellectual discourse in the rise of Trump and political nihilism. Specifically, Claudio claims the intellectual elites are indirectly to blame because they have failed to offer a viable alternative to the dominant capitalist paradigm. In turn this has allowed people like Trump to exploit the rising tide of disaffection and anger. The anger is directed towards the so-called elites, the ones who have landed all the post recession jobs. The very people who seemingly have taken to heart the modern motto of personal responsibility.
In case you have missed it, one of the cornerstones of the capitalist model is the idea that it is up to the individual to make the most of their opportunities, the system rewards hard work and values competition in markets, especially the employment market. Yet according to the new politics of Trump and co the failure of the rising tide in capitalist model to lift all boats is because of others, be they elite or foreigners. The new politics avoids the inconvenient idea that the system is not in fact some natural consequence of immutable given laws which effect all equally by giving its supporters someone else to blame. In other words, it’s not your fault you have been made redundant, it’s the fault of others. The fact the system has rewarded them and not you is because they have conspired against you, but wait, the system can be great again. Once we get rid of the those pesky elites and meddling foreigners. All those jobs will suddenly go to the people who deserve them.
If it was a play you might be tempted to savour the irony. Unfortunately, like the politicians who grandly championed the Brexit campaign are discovering, simple minded appeals to populism open the door to some ugly consequences. It’s a pity the lessons of history are easily forgotten.