Guy Rundle: French elections

Alrighty, then. Seems Razer was mistaken. So too, your Rundle. In the same wintry week, Crikey’s Cassandras delivered the same prophecy: the Yes vote would fail in Australia.

Well, it didn’t, did it? What failed, in fact, were our near-identical analyses, in which we applied, I guess, a fear that this survey would unfold like a tiny Trump; instead, what we saw was a mini-Macron.

I’ll make this comparison clear in a bit. But, first, a content warning: this will involve brief description of Western political economies. I understand many prefer to think of this moment as detached from politics; as arising purely from “love”, a quality, it is now broadly agreed, that “always wins”.  

The rest of you miserablists — those who believe mass political decisions are formed not only by the human heart but by social conditions — can return with me to November 2016.

Although the elevation to power of Trump is understood by some to be the work of the “Russians”, many political economists see his victory as part of a trend. For some decades, Western governments have busied themselves redistributing wealth to those who need it the least. This regime, often called neoliberalism, imposed austerity on the mass, or simply let the banks do it. Voters did not enjoy neoliberal inconveniences such as death, and could only hear so many expert promises about prosperity before they gave experts the flick.

Across Europe, we have seen the re-emergence of both economic leftists and wacko fascists. In mainstream publications, such parties or persons are often called “populist”, which I never thought was an apt word for UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a man who preserves his own fruit. Whatever the case, those afflicted by poverty, or an impending sense of it can go, to quote the old slogan, one of two ways: barbarism or socialism.  

Trump is not the West’s only successful barbarian. He’s not even the worst. Stick a pin anywhere in Europe and watch racist excess gush. Mainstream press, are tragically incapable of critiquing the right, other than to say, “Those guys are lame-o”. They’re aligned with the experts of the centre and incapable of taking a non-racist socialist alternative seriously. Condescension or derision toward these rising forces are preferred by most Western journalists. This works well for those who do not face or fear poverty; they agree that the “sensible centre” is our best bet. Those who do face or fear poverty often choose to do the opposite of what is sensibly prescribed.  

This was my fear: the sensible prescriptions of The Guardian et al would prompt voters to revolt. I mean, shit. This editorial might’ve been a nice positioning statement for the loving publication, but its hoity-toity in-group tone (we will not entertain the very idea of NO!) seemed such a faithful copy of all the uncritical pro-Clinton muck that ultimately served Trump. Actually, we had a Macron moment. Centrism had a victory, a moment of apparent progress, still concealing its ongoing descent.

This is not to malign queer people by calling all their concerns “centrist” — certainly, the fact of elder poverty is not a matter that the sensible centre would bother to address. It is to suggest that the LGBT category, through little fault of its own, has begun to function as an indicator of Western advancement. Press were at peculiar pains yesterday to point out those clashing with our “civilisation” on electoral maps yesterday. They said it was “multicultural” voters behind the times.

I voted Yes and am happy that a few folks get to enjoy something, even if it is no real extension of rights and mostly the imprimatur of the state. But I am not happy that liberal press continues its program of radical disdain for those who face other kinds of hardship and continues to publish apolitical inanity, such as this by David Marr. Ignoring our political economies is just too much of a risk.

Back in love with his country, is David. “Here’s a last truth about (Australia) we demonstrated today: we always come good in the end.”

Love wins every time. Which I am sure will be a great relief to the chaps on Manus Island, and all those who live with the denial of their basic liberties that used to be called the Emergency Response, but changed its name to Happy Pathways, or whatever.

Don’t worry, the centrists say. It will always come good in the end. And they will keep saying this and keep utilising their approved “diverse” category of that moment, even if it at the expense of another.

Next week: Helen Razer begins Up Yours a new occasional series of interviews with Australian insurgents, iconoclasts and ratbags. 

Peter Fray

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