Saturday, 21 January 2017

Bigotry towards the working classes, plusTrump, Brexit and climate change

I'm a huge fan of John Michael Greer's blog, even though his politics are way to the right of mine economically. His latest post focused on the bigotry of the liberal middle classes towards the working classes, a bigotry felt keenly by them and that helped to put trump in the White House yesterday and is also responsible for taking the UK out of the EU.

While the liberal middle classes rightly talk of liberation groups, they often ignore or worse still deliberately exclude the poorer people in society, those who simply want a decent job that pays enough to live on or alternatively need enough support from the state as they are unable to work. I'm sure other's remember Emily Thornberry's tweet of a picture of a house in Strood a couple of years ago: a Labour MP seemingly belittling a working class household for flying the St George Cross.

The bigotry is perhaps best demonstrated by Clinton's attempt to 'break through the glass ceiling' rather than focusing on the problems that the working class women were facing. While the glass ceiling is a common theme in feminism, it plays to the 1% rather than the 99%. Quite a few years ago I remember a discussion with Natalie Bennett when she talked of poverty being a feminist issue and it struck me then that this was a more urgent and widespread problem than the glass ceiling. Had Clinton focused her campaign on the working classes rather than being a representative of the elite, the result may have been quite different.

Instead we have a hyper nationalist leader of the formerly free world talking of America First and removing all reference to climate change from the White House website as one of his first acts of hatred against the planet. Of course I very much doubt that he will help the working classes either despite his election rhetoric.

But there is a chance that Trump may have a very positive effect on reducing CO2 emissions... Should his rhetoric against free trade introduce barriers that stifle the global economy or even crash it, then this will reduce emissions far faster than a UN COP agreement could blink. Of course if the crash was managed in a way that meant the 1% took the economic hit and if there was a fundamental redistribution of wealth, then this could be a truly good thing. Can't see those latter points happening though!

Which brings me neatly to my problem with the anti-brexit discussions, they often talk about the need for free trade as if somehow that was the most necessary part of the EU, (which is clearly is for many economists and corporate people). But 2016 was the hottest year on record and climate change is the biggest global threat to humans and the planet generally. There is only a tiny sliver of hope to prevent runaway climate change which will make the problems in the Middle East look like a rainy day compared to the approaching storm. Runaway climate change will devastate people and planet and there are clear signs that the feedback loops are starting such as the very low arctic ice and the methane from the tundra.

So campaigning to keep free trade when a massive shift in the way we consume is the only thing that will stop climate change seems a real failure to seize a final chance. Leaving the EU will be the wrong thing to do but continuing to grow the global economy will be far worse.

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