THE BLOG

2016: Brexit, Trump And The Year That Changed Everything

11/11/2016 12:35
scarletsails via Getty Images

On Wednesday morning we learnt of one of the greatest upsets in modern political history - except that it was the second one this year. 2016 will go down in history as one of the most shocking years in politics that we've seen, but I believe it will actually go down in history as a little more than that. 2016 has been a year which has challenged even the most talented political commentators and analysts to explain this behaviour, and the direction it sends us, and so naturally it is now my turn.

What the vote to leave the EU in June meant and what Trump's election to the Whitehouse this month means is something the jury has still not quite come in on, however, it signals an end to the globalised capitalism which has been seen to hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. The rise of the TNC and the trading bloc over the latter half of the 20th century has left the unskilled or semi-skilled workers here in Britain and in America feel like they've been handed the thin end of the wedge. The withdrawal from the EU, seen as the face of globalisation and the TNC, and the vote for Trump, a man openly skeptical of NAFTA, the WTO and many other trade plans, has proven that not only is it a bad year for acronyms (NATO/IMF/UN all included) but that people in the working classes have finally buckled under the constant pressure on their lives from rising living costs, shrinking wages and lack of job security. These people place the blame for this situation roundly on outsourcing to China and other cheaper production markets and see these international organisations as the reason this has occurred. These so called unpredictable outcomes have been a long time coming because the working people have needed a reaction to their modern predicament and they have found it in rejecting globalised capitalism.

However, this rejection of capitalism has not gone how Marx expected. Globalised capitalism has been rejected for isolationist capitalism, not socialism. There are some who despair at why the workers have not turned to socialism, but the answer comes from Trump's slogan. To "make America great again" refers to a time where socialism was a dirty word - in summary, capitalism has not failed for these brexiteers and trumpites, but it is globalisation that has.

Furthermore, the internationalist consensus which has been adopted by Britain and America since the second world war has been shattered. People have opted to favour a little (new) Englander mentality over the interventionist and globalist precedent which has been set over the last 50 years. Coupled hand in hand with the attack on globalisation is the attack on America's "world police" attitude. Trump's arguments of "America first," to bring troops home, is one that sells well with nationalist Americans (or is that tautology?), but also for the first time since the beginning of the cold war could see America take a back seat in geopolitics. With Trump tabling the idea of withdrawing troops from South Korea, Eastern Europe and all other external military bases with the aim of focusing on US defence we could see a more unstable world, but, Trump and his supporter's point is that it doesn't matter to him. America should be the Commander-in-Chiefs priority - which is something Americans from all over the political spectrum could get behind, probably to their own shock.

So what does this (un)shocking redirection of western policy-making mean? It could and is spelling disaster for much of the traditional political elite (you've heard this one before I know, but with a snap election on the cards, the pro-capitalist, nationalist, anti-globalisation brexiteers/trump voters could shake things up on this sceptred isle). Every European country has a right anti-immigration populist in prominent polling positions, and with elections in France, Germany and Italy next year expected to give them positive results, our political world is going through a seismic self-destruction - although after President-elect Trump, I don't think anything could surprise us anymore.

Or at least I hope not...

Comments

CONVERSATIONS