Thursday, 12 June 2014

The pull of ultra-right populism

David Dayan in Naked Capitalism calls the shock ousting of Eric Cantor an expression of right-wing populism with a lengthy tradition in U.S. politics. He notes that William Jennings Bryan had a lot of great ideas and was also an anti-evolutionist blockhead. So the Tea Party uprising includes anger at Wall Street along with its more unsavory tendencies.

One certainly can sympathize with jobless and struggling Virginians correctly noting that their livelihoods have been undermined while Wall Street banks get the gravy. They blame Washington politicians for that, starting with Obama, whom they hate anyway, and then added Cantor. Dave Brat, the oddball college professor who crushed Cantor with 1/20 of his money, linked the Republican leadership with Obama on coziness with the banker elites, and he was dead right.

Brat’s nativist posture has got a lot of attention, and there’s certainly no shortage of anti-Mexican racism to tap into in rural Virginia, especially when you can associate, fairly or not, the heavy inflows of cheap foreign labor to the steady deterioration of the job market wrecked by globalization. In fact, the Virginia primary carries an eerie echo of the results of the just concluded European Parliament elections in which right-wing parties triumphed by offering a convincing, xenophobic dissent against the lunacy of German-led austerity. It’s perversely brilliant that the Eurozone elite’s has so manipulated the European project to protect its banker and political class, i.e. itself, that the only visible enemy blamed by much of the European populace for its sufferings is foreigners.

While Brat is not Marine Le Pen, and the Tea Party is not Golden Dawn, the possibility of a credible ultra-right revolt emerging against the failed economics of the Beltway is entirely real. That’s where Obama’s role is so key and so nefarious: he continues to co-opt the leftish side of the spectrum by pretending to take action against state capture by the Dimon/Blankfein set while making sure that his gestures are largely ineffective. This prevents the formation of a challenge to the Democrats’ from the left and leaves the field to the befuddled and the Bible thumpers eager to blame their very real economic ills on lazy blacks, aliens, fancy homos and downtown city slickers.

It won’t end until those with a lingering faith in Obama accept that the Democrats’ protests are window-dressing for the ongoing consolidation of the interests of their corporate-looter overlords. Otherwise, the inevitable backlash to the steady destruction of the well-being of the majority will have nowhere to go but right.

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