Donald Trump’s victory marks the end of an era when a self-confident Establishment preached the end of history, the end of passion and the supremacy of a technocracy working on behalf of the 1%. But the era it ushers in is not new. It is a new variant of the 1930s, featuring deflationary economics, xenophobia and divide-and-rule politics.
Passion has returned to politics but not in a way that will help the 80% left behind since the 1970s. Passion is now fuelling misanthropy. Passion is exploiting the anger of the 80% to re-arrange power at the top, while leaving the 80% moribund, betrayed and divided. And it is our job to stop this. It is our job to harness passion in the cause of humanism.
The Establishment’s folly is causing its demise. Unable to come to terms with the economic crisis they created, they crushed the Greek Spring because they could. They pushed the majority of British families into austerity-induced hopelessness. They committed millions of Germans to mini-jobs. They conspired to keep Bernie Sanders at bay. And when Golden Dawn, Brexit, the Alternative für Deutschland and Donald Trump were the result, they responded with a mixture of condescension, denial and panic.
Politics is undergoing a shake-up that the world has not seen since the 1930s. A Great Deflation is now gripping both sides of the Atlantic, re-kindling political forces that had been dormant since the 1930s. President Trump’s use of Mussolini-like tactics and narratives is a mere symptom of the rendition of that bleak era.
What should we do?
The specter of a Nationalist International that is upon us (from Trump and the Brexiteers to Poland’s and Hungary’s governments, the Alternative für Deutschland, Austria’s next president, Marine Le Pen) can only be defeated by the Progressive International that the Democracy in Europe Movement, DiEM25, is building in Europe.
But, clearly, Europe is not enough. Progressives in the United States, those who supported Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, must band together with progressives in Canada and Latin America, to build a Democracy in the Americas Movement. Progressives in the Middle East, those who are shedding their blood against ISIS, against tyranny as well as against the West’s puppet regimes, must band together with progressive Palestinians and Israelis to build a Democracy in the Middle East Movement.
In 1930, our ancestors failed to reach out to other democrats across borders and political party lines to stop the rot. We must succeed where the others failed.
Today, on a day of victory for the politics of fear, loathing and division, we pledge to take the fight to the Nationalist International, to form an effective Progressive International and to bring passion back into the service of humanism.
- Greek economist and academic Yanis Varoufakis served as finance minister of Greece under the Syriza party-led government between January and July 2015. He launched his Democracy in Europe movement, DiEM25, in February 2016.
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