News of the Weird #5 – Faux Populist Edition

August 15, 2019 at 9:02 pm (Uncategorized)

Populism. In Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani defined populism as a politics that “refuses to recognize the prevailing common sense in managing the economy.” Bastani was likely thinking of a leftist populism, but it can hardly be denied that in recent times, populist has been associated with a rightist version. Yet, more rightly (ouch), the new populism is a faux-populism because despite the lip service paid to “the people” it is committed to keeping the same elites in power (and it might well be argued, this is the core of populism philosophy anyway – but let’s take a look) how it works in practice

1 Donald Trump.

A few weeks back, I mused about whether Trump should be called a fascist because of the racism of “go back to  your own country” tweets. A few days later, the warning signs were even more apparent. Trump gave a proto-fascist rally performance worthy of Mussolini. As the crowd, whipped up and incited by his behaviour, chanted “Send Her Back” Trump basked in their adoration. The following day, a little sheepishly, he walked it back claiming it was the crowd that said it, lying that he disagreed and had tried to stop them “Very quickly.” (Ron Howard voice: No he didn’t) The following day he announced once again the crowd were wonderful people.

In the week so so since, we witnessed a blur a blur of vintage Trump nonsense (“American wine is better than French wine because it looks better) and more of the same racist nonsense, but at a subsequent rally, there was no “Send her back” but rather the old classic “Lock her up.”  Trump has tweeted several times that he is the least racist person on the planet (although on one occasion, he simply quoted himself)  Edging towards it, but not there yet.

This week however, Turmp presented further evidence that it is not a drive to fascism that motivates him, but narcissism, racism, ignorance and, well, more narcissism: Following the mass shootings of last weekend. Trump visited El Paso and Dayton (not California though) where he bragged about crowd sizes, and staged what might be the most grotesque photo-op in history: Posing with a two month old orphan while grinning and flashing a thumbs-up sign. On Saturday, Trump spoke at a fundraiser in the Hamptons where he claimed the Democrats used the racism argument because they had no other weapons, insisted they were the real racists, and then mocked Asian accents when talking about Japan and Korea. And in the aftermath of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory suggested the Clintons had had him killed.

Oh, and it should also be mentioned, as a final faux populist note, in a tweet the other day, he argued that Liberals weren’t the elite it was people like him. (Sorry, Donny, the real elite don’t consider you one of them)

Too lazy and stupid to be a fascist…Stephen Miller on the other hand.

2. Boris Johnson

To no-one’s surprise Boris Johnson was chosen as Theresa May’s replacement as British Prime minister. Almost everything that needs to be said about Johnson can be found in the appropriate epsidoe of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, but it should also be noted that despite the rhetoric, there is not populism. Something like 6% of the British population attend private schools. In Johnson’s cabinet, the number is close to 70%.

3. Doug Ford

Ontario’s third favourite Ford brother (I hear Randy is making a comeback), Doug Ford has been quiet of late. With the recess in the Ontario Legislature, Doug Ford has slipped below the surface of the public radar, and yet he still has an impact. It is widely believed that the extra-long break was at the request of Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, who saw Ford’s widespread unpopularity as a potential kiss of death for his own chances (at a recent press conference in Toronto, Scheer tirelessly avoided using Ford’s name) . It’s odd though because Ford, despite is disavowals, appears to have federal ambitions, and with Scheer crushed he could swoop in – Ford Nation goes national! It could be argued though that given Ford’s populist “For the People” rhetoric, he might have a more ideological home in Maxime Bernier’s People”s Party, except  for a couple of facts. The PPC is polling around 1% currently. Why would Ford want to tie himself to the Titanic? Also, the Good Ship PPC already has a captain destined to go down with the ship in Max Max. And lastly, Ford’s estranged sister-in-law Renata is running as a PPC candidate in the upcoming Federal election. So, it’s clear to the Man of the People, Scheer has to go. A few days ago, Ford gave a radio interview in which he opined that violent mental patients should “be dealt with in prison.” Not at all sinister that.

3. Andrew Scheer

Scheer is the leader of the Conservative Party in Canada. It should have been Maxime Bernier, who led 12 of the 13 ballots to replace previous leader Stephen Harper. At the end of the day though, there were just too many people who thought Mad Max was electoral suicide and opted for blandy Andy. As Bernier has taken on political correctness, global warming and a bunch of wacky fringe causes, Scheer has boldly taking to attacking…the Canada Food Guide. (“Chocolate milk saved my son’s life”)

5. Maxime Bernier

The American Trotskyist James P Cannon once said if you look yourself in a small room long enough with a small group of people, you can convince yourself of anything. Bernier seems to be the living proof. Bernier is a legend in his pwn lunch hour, and while it is possible he will retain his seat (he has been a popular MP for a number of years), the idea that his  party will repeat the rewards of a population tired of political correctness , yearning for the right to be as racist as they like (er…) is at this point simply a fantasy.

And so it goes.

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