I wish people would stop using this idea of ‘post truth politics’ as an explanation for Brexit and Trump, and take responsibility for what really happened. For a start off when did politicians ever get the reputation of telling the truth?! For thousands of years politicians have been renowned for being duplicitous, conniving, careerists who would say anything to get elected. All that is different in the Brexit and Trump campaigns is that the politicians are now so emboldened by the lack of resistance that they lied openly and blatantly. Secondly, people didn’t vote for Brexit because of the lies of the Brexiteers. Most people had adopted their voting positions long before the campaign began, same with Trump.
Politics is not a scientific activity based on objective fact, it is a cultural activity based on values. There is no way of objectively saying whether it is better to be in the EU or not! You can say unemployment will increase or decrease if we stay in or if we leave, or whatever, but even those figures are not ‘facts’ only predictions, and in any case such things will not ultimately convince most people one way or the other because most Remainers are driven by a cultural identification with middle-class ‘civilised’ Europe and most Brexiteers by the wish for national autonomy – neither of which have much to do with ‘objective facts’ but are based on values.
The post 1979 neoliberal consensus and the failure of the centre-left to protect the interests of their core voters is what has created this mess. Tony Blair claimed to be a post-ideology, pragmatist, responding to the reality of the real-world. But this is nonsense. Blair had accepted the TINA narrative and the ideological difference between him and Thatcher was paper thin. Ideologically Blair was a neoliberal capitalist and as such he carried out policies that made sense using the logic of neoliberal capitalism. This resulted in falling living standards for the many and obscene wealth for the few. Same with Clintonian Democrats in the USA. It is true that these New Labour capitalists were and still are, ‘liberal’ in the sense of ‘identity politics’ i.e. they believe in equal rights for minorities facing oppression based on race, creed or sexuality. BUT the identity politics agenda has resulted in a perception among the white majority that minorities (immigrants particularly) were/are being privileged over the indigenous population. Which in fact they are. The joke that to get access to public money these days you need to be a one-legged, black, muslim, transexual, lesbian, is based in reality. A reality that is justifiable in the sense that oppressed minorities have been and still are, genuinely oppressed and are entitled to public resources to overcome their oppression. But in terms of public resources oppressed minorities are perceived as being privileged while the ‘white’ majority struggles endlessly to make a life while their real incomes fall and they are endlessly vilified in the media. And note I do not say the white working class majority because this sense of being sneered at and alienated in your own society applies equally to the middle-classes.
If you are a heterosexual economically struggling white man, especially a middle-aged struggling white man (regardless of class) it has become as if you are a pariah in your own country! You are under immense financial stress, the demands on you seem endless and you have no little or no autonomy, yet your own country treats you as if you have everything going for you and that you are the ‘bad guy’ oppressor of everyone else. It might make sense in a sociology text book to say that ‘middle-aged white men’ rule the world and are profoundly ‘priviliged’ but experientially for most of us living the lives of powerless, impoverished middle-aged white men it sounds pretty ludicrous!
And this is because economic ‘class’ has been omitted from the Clintonian/New Labour ‘liberal’ analysis. Blair claimed that ‘we are all middle-class now’. Yet a billionaire Asian lesbian has far more in common with a billionaire middle aged white man than she does with a poor Asian lesbian. Indeed they don’t live in the same world. And the billionaire Asian lesbian (or billionaire black gay guy, or disabled woman, or whatever) will exploit the poor Asian lesbian as soon as look at her and will have dinner on the white middle-aged billionaire’s yacht and discuss their new private jets over champagne and caviar.
So I would say to all those metropolitan, middle-class, liberals out there, stop whining about our supposed descent into post-truth politics and look at look at what is really happenning!