this shouldn’t be the change you were hoping for

I don’t think for the moment that anyone is seriously predicting this sort of outcome, however it must be remembered, [difficult as it is in our ahistorical post modern era] that plenty of successful twentieth century tyrants leaned heavily on populist movements generated under economic duress and creating and leveraging fears prompted by uncertain futures:

The writer Webster Tarpley has argued that classical fascism is not just a police state imposed by a powerful elite, though it may end up that way.  To cement the new order, fascism relies upon a widespread mass movement from below in which the people throw their enthusiastic support behind an apparent saviour.”  and

——

One of the more ominous results of the Bush years was a steady concentration of power in the hands of the president.  For one man to hold such power, and with legions of followers doing his bidding, is anathema to a system of checks and balances.  And when a nation crippled by war and economic disaster is told that it must unite behind a messianic leader who will save it from destruction, history tends to provide a grim view on the future of that nation’s democratic political institutions.  

Although I tend to disagree with the author – rather I expect the next populist authoritarian movement to be located, not in the USA [due to no particular skill attributable to Obama] but rather to one of the European tribes, especially if this particular economic downturn turns out to be both lengthy, exacerbated by a protectionist trade war [buy american anyone?] and immune to the ‘stimulus’ of corporatist europe.

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2 thoughts on “this shouldn’t be the change you were hoping for

  1. France – possibly, but only after another European country shows the way. Both France and Germany are protected to a certain extent – in that while they may eventually experience the economic maelstrom, membership in the EU benefits them more than say those on the periphery. I think if the strongman re-appears in Europe (puting notwithstanding), he will emerge first in one of the former Warsaw Pact countries. More dangerous for the EU could be what happens in Spain, Italy or Greece. These countries have had their per unit labour costs quadruple in the last 20 years, whilst productivity has not kept pace. Consequently they are now (all three + Ireland) undergoing rapid and deep unemployment. These are conditions for the populist demagogue to appear.

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