The Left No Longer Speaks For The Working-Class
One aspect of interest in the underlying shift in Western politics we have witnessed in recent years has been the change in the working-class vote. Historically, these voters tended to support the conventional left which traditionally was an advocate for labour rights and social programs that they were the primary beneficiary of. In recent years, though, there has been an undeniable migration of a very significant portion of this vote towards the right. Witness how Donald Trump, the GOP’s apparently hard right bogeyman of a candidate, has racked up an impressive list of wins in State primaries throughout New England and the Rust Belt that have not historically been associated with the typical conservative identity of the GOP base. One can also see multiple cases of this in Europe, ranging from Poland to France to Britain, where hard right and far right parties have been surging to new highs, often on the backs of voters who historically voted for parties of the left. UKIP has run strong showings in seats that historically have been bastions of Labour. The Front National have captured mayoralties and town councils in regions that have overwhelmingly voted Socialist in days of yore. This trend is not universal, as newly sprung parties of the radical left such as Spain’s Podemos and Syriza in Greece have also managed to achieve some success as well, but it is clearly there.
In part, this can be attributed to the fact that the conventional left itself doesn’t seem to particularly desire the votes of the working class these days. Here in Canada, only days ago we saw the annual convention of the New Democratic Party (the historical stalwarts of the progressivism here in the Great White North), where party delegates voted to all but embrace a radical new set of policies called “the Leap Manifesto”. Authored by the notorious power-couple of the anti-capitalist, environmentalist left, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, the Manifesto calls for a total end to all carbon based energy production within a generation, along with less publicized points like a cessation of heavy industry, the imposition of new taxes on carbon and general consumption, a rejection of free trade deals, and the building of “community-owned” green energy projects across the country. It is the kind of champagne socialist drivel loved by those of the “creative class” and discussed without end on the cocktail circuit that would be an utter disaster for most working people in this country. What would happen to the legions of workers from the oil, auto, mining, manufacturing, and forestry industries that would be put out of work by this transformative shift? Aside from a few glib words about offering retraining to these folks there is nary a word or iota of concern on the subject. Clearly such matters are beneath the concern of dear Mr. Lewis, the trust-fund heir to a political dynasty, and Ms. Klein, a best-selling international author.
This is the root of the shift we are seeing in working-class votes away from their traditional home within the centre-left; it is a realization on their part that they are no longer of much concern by the parties of the conventional left, which have largely moved beyond class-oriented politics in favour of identity-based factionalism and the promotion of the grievance industry. Indeed, they appear to no longer be particularly wanted either. Blue collar folk do not fit in very well with the world desired by the aspiring Social Justice Warriors and ivory towered academics and journalists that dominate left of centre politics; they tell off colour jokes, and cling to rather dated (in the eyes of the aforementioned) concepts of masculinity and gender, and are rather inconveniently nostalgic for such old fashioned concepts as nation and sovereignty and identity. Just as the former serfs turned peasant farmers of Russia rallied to the banners of Kolchak and his White Armies against the Bolsheviks out of an irrational loyalty bordering on reverence for the deposed and martyred Romanov Tsar so too do today’s factory workers and tradesmen tend to be most annoyingly opposed to the left’s agenda of a globalism and borderless societies devoid of any tradition or historical identity, largely out of a stubborn refusal to forget on a subliminal level who they are and where they came from unlike our ever so “enlightened” elites.
Of course, parties of the right should not celebrate prematurely. It cannot be taken as a given that simply because an increasingly large part of the working class has realized they no longer have a place at the table of the mainstream left that they will automatically shift their allegiance to that of the conventional right. In some instances such as Greece or Spain the disillusioned proletariat have eagerly joined ranks with fringe movements offering up reheated leftovers socialist drivel if not outright Marxism. Voters of this demographic may have little time for environmentalist zealots but they likely have even less for hedge fund managers and corporate tycoons. Indeed, on many of the issues that have uprooted this segment of the electorate such as globalism and unrestricted migration many politicians of the conventional right are interchangeable with those on the left; like the Avi Lewis’s and Naomi Klein’s of this world they are insulated largely from themore poisonous effects through their gated communities and chauffeured drivers and instead associate such things with cheap live in caretakers and trendy ethnic fusion restaurants. It will take the right kind of candidate offering the right elixir of policies to exploit this fissure in the left.
The opportunity is there though, and the right is better placed to adjust itself to appeal to this new realignment than the left will be to try and woo their old base of working-class voters back. For all that many of its adherents have also drunk the Kool-Aid of the philosophes; conservatism still has lingering traces of respect for history and knowledge of identity to it that if crafted correctly and combined with the right’s existing ethos of lauding the laurels of hard work and self-sufficiency could prove to be a very appealing message. The left for their part seem to have completely abandoned such concepts as home and blood and obligation in favour of the nihilistic platitudes of equity and multilateralism and the empty relativism of modernity, and increasingly seem more concerned with cannibalizing themselves in a ritualistic act of harikari to appease the false gods they have sworn themselves to.
What is clear though is that this can be taken as yet more evidence of a rupturing of the Enlightenment consensus that has dominated Western thought and ideology for the past seven decades. Despite this odious creed having near total dominance of the media, academia, the wider educational system, popular culture, and virtually the entire accepted political class, the people themselves are starting to slip away like sand through the fingers of a clenched fist. The cracks are piling up, and however desperately the architects try to pave them over with plaster and cheap paint it is becoming harder to deny that the foundations of the Cathedral have become infested with dry rot. To repair it would be unthinkable, for it would involve acknowledgement by our dear progressive elites not just that they were wrong (all but the most thoroughly narcissistic fools can do), but that we were right and that they will never do; they would rather have the whole entity come crashing down on their heads or see it torn down by outsiders than bring themselves to admit the horrible truth that all along we were right. That may still be the ultimate result, but it may just perhaps not.