By Clay Bennett
By Clay Bennett
The right took power in Britain, the United States and elsewhere throughout the west in 2016 because those who represent the left in electoral politics failed to provide a compelling vision of a better world, writes Gary Younge at The Guardian.
“This was a year in which vulgarity, divisiveness and exclusion won – a triumph for dystopian visions of race, nation and ethnicity,” Younge says. “Those thought dangerous and marginal are now not only mainstream, they have power. Immigrants and minorities are fearful, bigots are emboldened, discourse is coarsened. Progressive alternatives, while available, have yet to find a coherent electoral voice.”
But while the prospects for hope are scarce there is, none the less, one thing from which we might draw solace. The right is emboldened but it is not in the ascendancy. The problem is that the centre has collapsed, and liberalism is in retreat. There is nothing to celebrate in the latter but there is much to ponder in the former. It suggests that this moment is less the product of some unstoppable force than the desperate choice of last resort.
Americans did not turn their backs on a bright new future but on a candidate offering more of the same at a time when the gap between rich and poor and black and white is growing. Nor did most of them vote for Donald Trump. Not only did he get fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, but he got a lower proportion of the eligible vote than Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000 – all of whom lost.
Britain did back Brexit – no sugarcoating that. But voters didn’t reject the case for the EU because it was never really made. Nor was it a rejection of the case for immigration, because that was never made either. I don’t know whether remain would have prevailed if those cases had been made. Probably not. But since they weren’t made they could hardly have been defeated. Instead people were fed a diet of fear of the unknown from a political class that has failed them and gagged.
The right did not win the arguments: they won electoral contests because their principal opponents were too arrogant, complacent or contemptuous (and sometimes all three) to make an argument beyond “at least we’re not them”.
“This cloud is large, low, dark and pendulous,” Younge continues “The immediate forecasts are bleak. So we must prepare ourselves as best we can. For this is the climate in which we must now make our case, drawing what little comfort we can from the fact that people have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one.”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly
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By Andrew Bacevich / Moyers & Company
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Now that Scotland will have more power over its finances, the councils of Glasgow and Fife are eager to try out an economic plan already running successfully in parts of Finland, Netherlands, Africa, India and Canada: universal basic income.
Proponents of the concept, which would allow the state to allot a set amount of money to all inhabitants of a given place regardless of income, understand that it will require a significant shift in social thinking. However, Glaswegian councillor Matt Kerr insists, “It’s a time to be testing out new – or rather old – ideas for a welfare system that genuinely supports independence.” While Kerr means the time is ripe in Scotland with the upcoming transfer of powers to the Scottish government from the United Kingdom’s parliament, plenty of others outside of the British nation are starting to look to bold economic alternatives such as this.
From The Guardian:
Scotland looks set to be the first part of the UK to pilot a basic income for every citizen, as councils in Fife and Glasgow investigate trial schemes in 2017. … The concept of a universal basic income revolves around the idea of offering every individual, regardless of existing welfare benefits or earned income, a non-conditional flat-rate payment, with any income earned above that taxed progressively. The intention is to provide a basic economic platform on which people can build their lives, whether they choose to earn, learn, care or set up a business.
The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has suggested that it is likely to appear in his party’s next manifesto, while there has been a groundswell of interest among anti-poverty groups who see it as a means of changing not only the relationship between people and the state, but between workers and increasingly insecure employment in the gig economy. … Kerr accepts that, while he is hopeful of cross-party support in Glasgow, there are “months of work ahead”, including first arranging a feasibility study in order to present a strong enough evidence base for a pilot. “But if there is ever a case to be made then you need to test it in a place like Glasgow, with the sheer numbers and levels of health inequality. If you can make it work here then it can work anywhere.”
The idea has its roots in 16th-century humanist philosophy, when it was developed by the likes of Thomas More, but in its modern incarnation it has lately enjoyed successful pilots in India and Africa.
— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata
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