WHAT SHOULD THE LEFT DO TO COUNTER THE RISE OF THE POLITICAL RIGHT?

by Faizal Nor Izham

We live in turbulent times. Just months after Britain decided to leave the EU, as well as the recurring popularity of Australian anti-immigration pundit Pauline Hanson, it was now America’s turn to tread down a similar right-wing path — this time by electing everyone’s favourite media darling, Donald Trump, as President.

As President. Of the United States. Oh how far we’ve sunk.

But is there actually a rational reason for wanting to elect a racist, scare-mongering serial womaniser out of sheer desperation of the times we’re living in? Or maybe there are other things everyday people are getting fed up of as well. Perhaps people have even become jaded with liberal culture as well. Nowadays it is often a shallow parody of its former self. It’s often hollow, intellectually-sterile, idealistic, immobile and sometimes even commercialised in the media.

While people of various backgrounds have no doubt been clamouring for a Bernie Sanders/Corbyn-esque intervention in the West, identity politics may have ended up muddying the political landscape, despite having the best of intentions at heart. For one thing, there are many contradictions that often arise from it. To generalise, for example, liberals may often be supportive of taking in refugees and economic migrants, while the working class and unemployed are often against it. But the real issue that has yet to be properly tackled is that wealth generated is not being shared equally, and some of it is being spent on things most ordinary people don’t want. Like war.

identity politics may have ended up muddying the political landscape, despite having the best of intentions at heart.

This is not by any means an attack on identity politics. What I’m trying to say is that, alongside the consistently inane media coverage of otherwise crucial political events in the West, it’s the real issues that continue to be side-lined altogether. Perhaps this jadedness is what might be contributing to people steering back to the political right again. Liberal culture today is often hollow and lacking in solid direction. People now want pragmatism, not idealism. They demand a real sense of order and stability amidst all this social, political and economic chaos. And, when things start to get desperate, people will often seek out the easiest available path in order to turn things back around again. Such measures involved voting for Brexit, as well as electing Trump as President.

(Still / The Man in the High Castle, via Variety)

(Still / The Man in the High Castle, via Variety)

Ten years ago, the idea of doing either would have been laughable. But now it has become a reality worthy of a sci-fi dystopia. So, perhaps it’s time liberal culture started to reassess how to approach political issues pragmatically. Instead of mere sloganeering, let’s see the good old days of students actively striving for real change in the world. Reading books, going to rallies, attending conferences. Let’s go back to genuinely educating ourselves for the better, instead of lazily falling back on millennial PC culture in order to dictate how things should be. Let’s not be too rigid in applying identity politics without a healthy dose of common sense.

To paraphrase Adam Smith, society tends to regulate itself anyway. The invisible hand of common sense and morality will eventually swoop in to set things straight if ever an individual says or does anything genuinely offensive. But let’s not constrain genuine political ideas from being expressed intelligently either. Handle things politely, but maturely. Talk to each other. The more people communicate, the more likely it is that their ideas will grow and may be used to achieve great things later on.

The more people communicate, the more likely it is that their ideas will grow

Let’s not repeat this right-wing nightmare again. Let’s not continue this trend of voting them in in order to set things straight again. Let’s re-focus our priorities and try to tackle political issues head-on instead. Let’s stop being a shallow parody of left-wing culture, and mobilise. We have to make the right collective strategy in order to properly fight back against the rise of the political right in the Western world. And that time is now.

Featured image: illustration © Greg Kletsel

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