Revolution is in the air

Posted 2.22.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The Brexit vote in Britain, Trump's win in the US, the Hungarian and Polish extreme-right regimes, plus Putin's promotion of Great Russia nationalism, all point to a political lurch to the right underway in the world today. There are many explanations, and most may be correct within their frame of reference, but the fact that these nationalisms seem to be rising everywhere at the same time should indicate that there's even more at play here than a single, local explanation.

These reactionary forces appeal to, and politicize, momentary displeasures or fears, often in reaction to race and immigration; but these appeals are also made to something more generic, something base in human nature. It is base, and not "angelic" because the leaders and policies gaining support today are not angelic in the slightest - - their hostility to outsiders and to ancient enemies, their appeal to fears - - of newcomers, of change, of other races, languages, religions, and fears of poverty and loss lacks all generosity.

Today's reactionary movements seem to have grown out of the shambles of the Financial Crash of 2007-08, just as the last big wave of Western xenophobia flowed from the Great Depression in the thirties, not to forget the hot and cold wars which followed.

"Change" includes changes for the worst, as wages drop or stagnate, as investments stall, and as good jobs remain out of reach.

It may be true that no one went to jail for the criminal activities and conspiracies which precipitated the Great Recession, and that the biggest players actually benefited more than they had anticipated from bailouts. Anyone who has seen the movie, The Big Short, chronicling those quite disgusting events will understand today's frustration and anger powering so much resentment against "big government" and soft officialdom.

The question which arises is "what's next?" The answer isn't "everyday business, " if we learn from history. The tolerance of the great masses has its limits and when that's reached, there's an out-of-control reaction. The Russian Revolution and the upheavals in Depression-era Europe and America, are historical examples.

This is a playing with fire which will have no good end, except for the wealthy 1 per cent who benefit, and then only in the very short run. We'd be foolish to expect that the economic distress of the Great Recession would have no carry-over into the rest of society, especially into the political arena (enter Mr Trump).

Who has heard the pundits ask, since we got the Russian Revolution from the disaster of World War I and got the Nazis, Fascists and Stalinists from the Great Depression, why would we expect nothing ill from the big finance-driven recession of 2007-08?

We hear that "history is a living thing". If so, the Great Recession made history and affected history's course, so why would we think we could escape further socio-political consequences of such an upheaval? Another revolution, of sorts? Why would these bankers expect to walk free for the rest of their lives? None of the rest of us are.


Copyright © 2017 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/2.17