back to article Kotkin on who made Trump and Brexit: Look in the mirror, it's you

Two American writers have attempted to grapple with the rise of “populism” exemplified by Donald Trump and Brexit, with both starting (if not finishing) from the Left. Both Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges and The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin both make uncomfortable reading for the complacent chatterati. Both …

  1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Really?

    Kotkin's comments about the Left suggests to me that he lives in an élitist bubble himself and doesn't mix with ordinary people of left wing views. The people so visible on social media are mostly not representative of the people who I encounter and who are now joining the Labour Party again. I would suggest that their views are very varied and, at least around here, they are very involved in social inclusion.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Really?

      I'm a massive lefty and I'll happily have a conversation with someone who holds differing views. That is, as long as that person is also capable of having a rational conversation, rather than shouting "IMMIGRANTS, IMMIGRANTS, FARAGE FOR PRIME MINISTER, IMMIGRANTS" at me.

    2. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: Really?

      It does look like he's isolated himself and doesn't understand, or won't see, different views...

      " I don’t understand what the benefits of EU membership are supposed to be"

      Apart from workers rights, human rights, a free trade bloc, a free travel zone, a more stable Europe, and who could forget... cheaper roaming charges! Then there was the (arguably) greater economic stability. And intangibles such as being part of a European community.

      It doesn't matter if you don't agree with any of these, they are all supposed benefits of EU membership. His lack of understanding points to a very narrow view of the world.

      1. Chicken Marengo
        Facepalm

        Re: Really?

        Ah, you've met my mum? Sorry

      2. Kumar2012
        Big Brother

        Re: Really?

        "Apart from workers rights, human rights, a free trade bloc, a free travel zone, a more stable Europe, and who could forget... cheaper roaming charges! Then there was the (arguably) greater economic stability. And intangibles such as being part of a European community." --- You mean the UK had no workers rights, human rights, trade, etc. before the EU... wow how did you all survive... oh wait, that's all loser remain BS...

        You may be familiar with a phrase from the past... "no taxation without representation"... the very essence of why the EU is a failure; un-elected bureaucrats dictating to people what they can and cannot do.

        But you got to love the left bending themselves into pretzels to support billionaires' wishes to remain in the EU...top kek

        1. Richard 81

          Re: Really?

          "no taxation without representation"

          What is it MEPs do then? Maybe if we didn't elect the likes of Farage as our MEPs, since he can't be bothered to show up half the time, we'd get better representation.

          1. David Beck

            Re: Really?

            I think you will find that MEPs don't actually initiate legislation,. Their job is to vote on what is passed to them by the Commission (unelected). You only get what the Commission wants. So you MEPs job is to rubber stamp Commission policy by definition. That's what MEPs do.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Really?

              Just a passing comment since this is now an old thread (>2 days since last post). How many UK parliament members get a chance to even suggest, let alone propose, new legislation?

              They have to win a little lottery to even try. And then rarely get as far as a vote.

        2. You aint sin me, roit
          FAIL

          Re: Really?

          In your rush to hark on about unelected officials, you appear to have missed my point completely...

          "It doesn't matter if you don't agree with any of these, they are all supposed benefits of EU membership."

          The point is that, regardless of my position or your position or even Nigel Farage's position, there are many "supposed benefits" of EU membership. I could name several off the top of my head - so why couldn't he?

          We can debate whether they really are benefits, but that's a different matter completely :)

        3. h4rm0ny

          Re: Really?

          >>"You may be familiar with a phrase from the past... "no taxation without representation"... the very essence of why the EU is a failure; un-elected bureaucrats dictating to people what they can and cannot do."

          The rallying cry of the Brexiteer: "Unelected bureaucrats!"

          We have those in the UK. Tonnes of them. Did you vote for the director of the NHS? No? How about the chairman of the Bank of England? Or the person who monitors fishing quotas? None of these? It's the same process in the EU. You vote for representatives who appoint these people because direct voting for every "bureaucrat" is neither desirable nor feasible. Of course there is one notable difference with the EU - you have in addition to the elected house, a non-elected house (a bit like the Lords). And they are there because individual nations didn't want to yield total sovereignty and wished to appoint their own national representatives. Which we do.

          I'm tired of reading "unelected bureaucrats" from people who think that's some odd, tyrannical system.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Really?

            The rallying cry of the Brexiteer: "Unelected bureaucrats!"

            We have those in the UK. Tonnes of them. Did you vote for the director of the NHS? No? How about the chairman of the Bank of England?

            Well, I DID vote directly for May to be Prime Minister!

            Oh wait, no I didn't.....

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really?

          "EU is a failure; un-elected bureaucrats dictating"

          Erm... Britain has 70 elected MEPs in Europe. And it's not like the EU forbids the UK holding election for the (two?) UK Commissioner posts. It's just that Blair decided to send his mate Mandleson, Cameron sent Lord Hill.

          Of course, now that the UK has left the EU, there will be *no* UK MEPs or Commissioners. The UK will still have to follow the EU laws, of course, because mostly they cover the Common Market. Just now UK citizens won't have any say.

          Taking back democratic control :)

          1. Syntax Error

            Re: Really?

            You do not understand the issue. There is a big difference between a bureaucrat who works for the NHS and a commissioner who works in the EU. The NHS bureaucrat is employed by the NHS and under NHS control. The commissioner is a politician and has significantly more power than an NHS bureaucrat. They are controlled by the Council of Ministers. Think of Ann Ashton. She helped start a war in Ukraine. Nobody voted for her.

            1. h4rm0ny
              Mushroom

              Re: Really?

              >>"You do not understand the issue. There is a big difference between a bureaucrat who works for the NHS and a commissioner who works in the EU"

              You both shifted my terms and I also addressed the latter in my post as well. Firstly, I referred to appointees. I didn't use anyone who works for the NHS as my example, I used the Chief Executive who is appointed by the Health Secretary (an elected MP). These are the "Unelected Bureaucrats" that we have in both Britain and the EU and it's the only workable system as we can't vote for everybody. Some random manager HIRED by the NHS as an employee is not what is being referred to as an "unelected bureaucrat".

              Now if by "unelected bureaucrat" you're trying to refer to EU commissioners as you appear to be, then those are political leaders, no more "bureaucrats" than May, Gove or Corbyn. I covered those in the post you replied so I'll just repeat - the executive body is a second house of the EU parliament much like we have the House of Lords. It exists not to take away power from the member countries, but was created at the insistence of the member countries so that each had the ability to put a direct representative in there for their country, appointed by the elected government of that country. If you like, it's a bulwark to preserve individual national sovereignty rather than throw everything open to pure voting by an undifferentiated European population. That is very far from the impression created by throwing around the phrase "unelected bureaucrats" which implies that the 28 Commissioners are not politicians but faceless bureaucrats and got there without being put there by our own elected governments - one for each country.

              And on some remote chance you're trying to refer to the entire commission including its civil service, then I wonder how on Earth you think the UK government functions? Or is it okay for the UK to have a civil service but EU commissioners are supposed to be omniscient and never sleeping?

              In short, when you're throwing around Faragisms like "Unelected bureaucrats" you're referring to one of three things:

              1. Political appointees - which we have in the UK as well (e.g. Chief Executive of the NHS)

              2. The EU commissioners themselves - politicians not bureaucrats and nominated by national government as a measure for sovereignty and have parallels with the two-house system in many countries including our own.

              3. The civil service of the EU Commission - which unless you expect the 28 commissioners to do everything themselves is an entirely reasonable and necessary thing.

              In short, complaining about "unelected bureaucrats" is at best misinformed, at worst wilful misrepresentation.

          2. David Beck

            Re: Really?

            The UK just voted to leave the EU. If the negotiations for access the "Common Market" are acceptable to the UK it would remain a favoured trading partner, if not then it will just have to deal with the rest of the world instead. Lexus not Mercedes, Dyson not Miele, UK milk not Polish. Exports to India, China and the other BRICKs as well as the US. The EU has had 6 years to make a trade treaty with India and hasn't. Do you really think the UK cannot have a treaty ready for the day after exit?

            1. WageSlave

              Re: Really?

              Anyone who thinks we can simply swap our EU trade into the rest of the world is smoking something that I want a toke of ! There's cost of sale, acquiring new customers, export costs, delays, the whole thing would take years to achieve anywhere near similar levels of what we have today running relatively smoothly throughout Europe.

              Heh, and have you SEEN the latest state of the UK/India trade discussions?

              Last I heard India was moaning like crazy that we're allowing more Chinese visas, and charging India twice as much. India has a LOT of trade leverage - just their middle class is bigger than the working population of the UK.

              The UK has very few natural resources that India needs, apart from IP rights to Bertie Wooster, and a mild hankering for the Good Old Days.

              So I don't think we're in any kind of strong negotiating position with them to agree to anything other than their key desire for a large hike in UK working visas, which I suspect may not be at the front of most Brexiter's wish list.

              And if you've tried to navigate your way through their notoriously labyrinthine import processes, you'd know that you can't just turn off a simple road shipment to France/Germany/Holland, and turn it on again via sea or air into India without becoming dangerously uncompetitive - whether subject to trade levies or not.

      3. NotBob

        Re: Really?

        So there weren't worker's rights or human rights in the UK pre-EU? Free trade sounds great until your job freely goes to a cheaper country (as mine did). Free travel sounds great until it undermines national security (as has happened elsewhere). Not sure about your intangibles, but it looks like you're buying a bill of goods to lower your cell phone bill...

      4. Long John Brass Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Really?

        Apart from workers rights, human rights, a free trade bloc, a free travel zone, a more stable Europe, and who could forget... cheaper roaming charges! Then there was the (arguably) greater economic stability. And intangibles such as being part of a European community.

        Yeah but apart from that what have the Romans EU ever done for us?

    3. John Sanders
      Holmes

      Re: Really?

      This:

      "This 'gives rise to a new Utopianism' that mistakenly treats human nature as something that can be engineered and corrected by instruction from their enlightened betters"

      Perfect definition of Marxist ideology int he 21st century.

      And yes the Left is corrosive to everything it touches.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      Agree about the bubble Kotkin is in. I doubt if he really understands how things work now in the real world. I don't think it is much to do with hipsterism.

      IMHO, many young-ish people are now childless because it is simply not financially possible to have a family and an apartment (not even a house) at the same time, never mind a car, hence the inner-city living and flat-sharing.

      To make it perfectly clear, thins is because the salaries are s**t compared to what people were earning relatively 30 years or more ago for the same level job.

      Additionally buy-to-let and privatisation of the housing stock mean that housing is a total ripoff, regardless of low interest rates. This investment in property and constant recycling of brownfield sites into (as f***king usual) execu-shoeboxes mean there is also f**k-all industry to employ anyone in a decent job.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really?

        ....mean there is also f**k-all industry to employ anyone in a decent job.

        The reason there's so few decent everyday manufacturing jobs is not because of property markets, but because the political elite willingly embraced globalisation. The right in a misinterpretation of Adam Smith's theories of competitive advantage, the left even more so in the belief that offshoring industry somehow reduced emissions.

        That's the sort of elite that Kotkin is referring to. Sadly, I must say I'm unsurprised by the lefties queuing up in this thread to say how wrong he is.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          "The right in a misinterpretation of Adam Smith's theories of competitive advantage, the left even more so in the belief that offshoring industry somehow reduced emissions."

          Remind me of when we had a left wing government promoting offshoring? From when offshoring started to be a thing we had Majorism (soft, pro-manufacturing right), Blairism (business-friendly pro-American centre right), Coalitionism (business-friendly-ish less pro-American medium right) and Cockupism.

          During the Major years there was an argument being developed in the EU and this country that we needed to move more into advanced products and design, and less into widget making. I know about this because I read the papers and discussed it at meetings, and at the time I generally agreed - though the idea was that we would move the widget bashing to less developed EU economies. People were not talking about call centres, they were talking about making nuts and bolts for British cars in Czechoslovakia, as it was then.

          The idea of offshoring to reduce emissions was a general developed world fudge promoted in the US and Germany. Germany had a big problem with Kerntechnik, nein, danke which put limits on their energy generation. But Germany had a centre-right government. The unions didn't want offshoring, even as far as Skoda.

          Perhaps you can provide some justification for your remarks.

    5. DougS Silver badge

      Comments about the Left

      From what I can see he's spot on as far as the Sanders wing of the democrats in the US. They think he's correct on everything and if you disagree you're told in no uncertain terms how wrong you are for doubting him. To me at least that's new to the democrats in the US, who were previously a lot more inclusive, realizing they needed moderates to be able to win elections.

      This reminds me of how republicans have been in the US for a long time, where if you disagreed on any of their length list of "no compromise" social or economic issues you are a liberal (if they're being nice) or "libtard". With Trump straying from these views here and there (depending on the day of the week) a lot of them seem confused and retreat from the "all of nothing" viewpoint. The ones with strong religious convictions still back those, the ones with strong economic convictions still back those, but I sense the religious ones are relieved to be free of defending the economic convictions and the economic ones free of defending the social issues!

      So from where I sit (as one who does not identify with either the republicans/conservatives or democrats/liberals, but with the libertarian party - though not their ridiculous extremist ideas like privatizing roads) the democrats look to risk hardening their viewpoint to the uncompromising stance the republicans have had the past 20 years, just at the time the republicans are softening theirs. Perhaps this was bound to happen, as demographics have been helping the democrats and hurting the republicans, so the time is ripe for the republicans to open up the tent while the democrats - probably feeling that with Trump as the nominee they have the republicans by the throat - seem to be operating under the belief that they will win this and future elections by landslides and thus can afford to cast out the nonbelievers who stand in the way of Sanders progressivism.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    It ain't me

    Leaving the clickbait headline aside, the disconnect between people and the political classes is getting too wide to paper over any more in both the UK and US. Here's something I read about a way of making democracy more democratic, which is involving people in decision making instead of making them elect a dictator every four or five years:

    Why elections are bad for democracy (Yes, it's the Gruaniad.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It ain't me

      Now that I understood (see "I'm lost" below) and it ties in with a number of vague, ill-formed thoughts I've had on the issue in recent times.

      Thanks for that - one upvote!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It ain't me

      An interesting thought, yes, but it still raises the problem that elections bring up. Your typical person is not just stupid but too stupid to know he's stupid. What was that saying again? "A little knowledge can be dangerous." And now you want these "know-it-alls" to help deliberate long-term policy? This can't end well. Either they agree on something imbecilic, or the rare smart one in the group finds the charisma to steer them in the direction he or she wants. Before you go about this scheme, you should do something about the median level of education and skills first.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: It ain't me

        That's addressed in the article. People could have more help available than they do at an election.

        "Juries for criminal trials that are chosen by lot prove that people generally take their task extremely seriously. The fear of a chamber that behaves recklessly or irresponsibly is unfounded. If we agree that 12 people can decide in good faith about the freedom or imprisonment of a fellow citizen, then we can be confident that a number of them can and will serve the interests of the community in a responsible manner."

        "The most common argument against sortition is the supposed incompetence of the those who have not been elected. A body of elected representatives undoubtedly has more technical competencies than a body chosen by lot. But what is the use of a parliament full of highly educated lawyers if few of them know the price of bread?

        Besides, the elected do not know everything. They need staff and researchers to fill the gaps in their expertise. In much the same way, a representative body chosen by lot would not stand alone. It could invite experts, rely on professionals to moderate debates and put questions to citizens. Legislation could arise from the interaction between it and an elected chamber."

  3. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Wrong analysis from the get-go

    The working class no longer have any organisation. I can take you to estates and blocks of flats where not only is there 60% unemployment, but there has been no one in the families with a permanent job for 3 generations. These people aren't within the folds of the Trade Unions, what contact they may have has been further eroded as the Working Mens Clubs have closed down.

    It wasn't Polish, or Romanian workers that were displacing jobs some 30 years ago. It wasn't these workers that made it difficult to get the work they are now doing 10 years ago. Yet still we had complaints about immigrants taking jobs. Its not immigrants that caused 3 generations of a family not to have permanent employment. Today those people are being sanctioned by the DWP for failing to get jobs that they are unskilled for and don't really want. It is no surprise that they blame the immigrants for the situation. There are issues with housing and schools due to years of neglect of the infrastructure, again immigrants are an easy scapegoat.

    One wonders who has wrecked this country most bankers, mega corporate tax avoiders, or Bulgarian fruit pickers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrong analysis from the get-go

      There has been countries that happily started to kill their manufacturing industry in the late 1970s (while trade unions kept on trying to defend the inefficiencies, instead of true jobs and salaries) with the promise that a New Dawn made of services and wealth for everyone was close. White collar jobs for everybody (maybe in government offices), the "dirty work" somewhere far away.

      You may wonder to whom you sell services, and how many could be employed in a service-oriented labour market, when manufacturing disappear.

      So you got shopping centers instead of factories, labourers instead of skilled workers - while manufacturing was mostly offshored, and then most services as welll - just to serve the lifestyle of the few who actually took advantage of the few high-end services that may have a worldwide market (i.e. the financial sector). It is true for IT services as well - you need someone to sell them to. By themselves, they are of little use, but for entertainment. And we see an IT industry that moved to the entertainment side. Facebook, Netflix, no real product and no real wealth produced. They consume wealth produced elsewhere - but how long?

      Politicians never asked themselves how what could work for Switzerland (8 million citizens, which nevertheless has strong manufacturing in some sectors) or Luxembourg (500.000) could work for countries with tens or hundreds of millions of citizens.

      It's interesting to note that countries who kept a strong manufacturing industry, i.e. Germany and Japan, have very low unemployment rates - and even that rate alone doesn't tell everything, there's a difference in being, for example, an highly skilled mechanical worker (with a strong union behind), and a fast food waiter (or moving boxed at an online retailer warehouse outsourcer).

      It's also interesting how the school system work in those countries. Very selective. In other parts of the world requiring high standards became "wrong", and it even didn't help to counter drop outs and teenager issues. It just created generations of little prepared men and women, probably because elites believed they were easier to master through media. Just, even media can't always tell people what to think... and every true democracy has self-destroy button built-in. Sometimes, it gets triggered.

    2. Syntax Error

      Re: Wrong analysis from the get-go

      "I can take you to estates and blocks of flats where not only is there 60% unemployment, but there has been no one in the families with a permanent job for 3 generations."

      Where? 60% unemployment? 3 generations who have not had a job? How do you know that? Do you work for the DWP or Tory central office? How many housing estates do you know which have 60% unemployment?

      Immigrants from eastern Europe have definately been taking jobs and work from Brits especially if you are self-employed. There are way too many East Europeans in our country and as soon as they are required to have a visa the better. Our population has risen 20% in 10 years which is shocking.

      It was Tony Blair who invited these people to live here in 2005 unlike the the rest of the non East European EU.

  4. h4rm0ny

    Left-wing ideologues.

    >>“I can disagree with conservatives. They don’t like it, but they’ll say other things that are interesting. But on the Left, it's almost impossible to disagree. If you don't buy every single part of their agenda, you’re an outcast"

    The above is for the most part my experience, too. I argue with people on both the Left and Right (about different things, and occasionally about the same thing ;) ) and as a general rule, the Right-wingers try to refute me based on individual issues. The Left-wingers usually try to refute me by slapping some label on me. The reason being, so far as I can tell, is that they consider the label itself to be the conclusion of the argument. Once you've proven someone is X, they think that this is 'job done'. And if you try to push on whether X is actually wrong, you tend to get a "It's not worth talking to you if you don't understand that X is wrong".

    It's not exclusive to the Left Wing but it's a pattern that I recognize in the author's words. I think it's because so much of Left-wing debate is an echo chamber, taking place in particular academic circles or certain forums, that establishing one's intellectual superiority (the primary goal of most in both Academia and online forums), that it becomes this aggressive scramble to who can look down on who and for what. Primarily determined by what labels one can get to stick to the other. When that cyst bursts and those within flood out into the real word, you get this interaction the author speaks of - a refusal to work on an issue by issue basis, but on a camp by camp basis. Right-wing hierarchy is determined mostly by results and turning out to be right. Left-wing hierarchy is determined largely by establishing moral superiority.

    A right-winger will usually try to prove you wrong on something. A left-winger will usually try to prove you are a wrong something.

    Of course, the more educated they are, the fancier that will be dressed up. ;)

    1. Bogle

      Re: Left-wing ideologues.

      I'm not sure that our Commentards personal experiences of debating points amongst both Left and the Right-leaning people is borne out by the UK's more reliable yardsticks of political thought along this single axis: the daily rags.

      The press on the Right, tabloid and broadsheet, is considerably less able to have a rational discussion than that on the Left and quite a bit more likely to resort to labelling, caricature and stereotyping. Of course. there's not a lot of press actually *on* the left.

      1. John Sanders
        Trollface

        Re: Left-wing ideologues.

        I had no idea you could argue with a tabloid, I tried to but the pages just stare back at me and say nothing.

        Jokes aside, there is plenty of brainwashing for the masses everywhere, however the control of academia that the left exerts is to me much worrying than the tabloids.

        I have had to undo serious de-programming on my children over the years.

        It is sad that the first serious dad conversation I had to have with a 12 year old boy is to explain what propaganda is.

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: Left-wing ideologues.

        >>"I'm not sure that our Commentards personal experiences of debating points amongst both Left and the Right-leaning people is borne out by the UK's more reliable yardsticks of political thought along this single axis: the daily rags."

        Well the subject is about methods of debate between people, not newspapers, so you're off-topic. Plus newspapers are primarily read by older people so not the best "yardstick" for active discussion between people today (old people are generally more insular than young people). However, I'll take up your comment and dispute it. The majority of papers sold (The Sun, the Daily Heil) don't construct arguments in the first place - they tell the reader what they should think with the occasional editorial throwing in some soundbite reasons. The standard is extremely low. Of the papers that do attempt to actually argue their points as if to an unconvinced reader, I would pit any of The Times (right-wing), the Telegraph (it's nickname is the Torygraph so...) or the Financial Times (de facto Right-Wing just through correlation of interests) against The Guardian - the pages of which have contained such delightful arguments as how a US judge shouldn't make their decisions based on evidence but on what feels right.

        Honestly, I think only the Guardian can pretend to be an intellectual paper on the Left and my impression would be that it is noticeably more likely to descend to label-arguments than The Times or the FT.

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Left-wing ideologues.

      Very good!

      Yep, I'm considered Conservative yet I've had some flamewars over twitter where I've been banned by both sides of the argument. Just because I like to play devil's advocate from time to time and start shooting at sacred balloons of both sides, reminds me of the late 90's newsgroup flamewars.

      However, I also believe we're in a very dangerous place right now in the US. Read a story the other day about there has not been this amount of polarization in the US since 1859/1860.... NOT a good comparison.

      I reckon we shall see, eh?

      :|

    3. SophiaS

      Re: Left-wing ideologues.

      According to the latest fad of the chatterati I am a virtue-signalers dream. I tick every box that their twitter feeds tell them to worship (or pretend to for the hipster cred). Yet when, horrors, their little doll speaks, and points out politely that they are talking out of their as&es....the room always falls silent. Shh puppet shh...

  5. gr00001000

    For Kotkin, at the heart of Brexit was the calculated decision to respond to low birth rates by importing cheap labour :

    Yes, it was lazy economics, Gov don't fix the issues, instead allow migration to give us economic growth.

    But now, our population will not get to the 80 million with no space on the roads and STEM jobs handed to immigrants with degrees. Its the one potential hope that comes from the mess of Brexit. Fix the STEM shortage by funding STEM degrees. Promote and train staff to advanced positions.

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      "the heart of Brexit was the calculated decision to respond to low birth rates by importing cheap labour"

      So forty years ago someone predicted that the UK would have low birth rates, and to prevent a labour shortage persuaded the British to join the EEC? And the source of the "cheap labour" would be from countries that were, at the time, part of the Warsaw Pact so they'd also predicted the breakup of the Soviet Union?

      Sounds a bit improbable; I think the author has substituted an unlikely conspiracy theory for a much more likely cock-up actuality.

    2. Schultz

      "lazy economics ... allow migration to give us economic growth"

      Your comment nicely illustrates the fundamental problem that the article itself ignores: It's hard to recognize cause and effect in a complicated economy (and with thousands of bank's analysts being payed to obscure the picture for financial gain). Did migration lead to economic growth? Some would agree and others would dispute it. Did free trade and the common rules of the EU create wealth? Is the working class better off than 30 years ago -- on an absolute scale, or compared to their peers? Would 80 million people in the UK create endless gridlock or would it create more wealthy population centers like London?

      Democracy is a process of trial and error. It is (hopefully) self correcting because the majority can always change the rules if they get fed up. We now had some decades trying increased migration and trade in the EU and it did pay off nicely. Looks like now it's time for a few experiments in the opposite direction. The UK is leading the way and the rest of the world is watching to see how that goes.

      1. Bloakey1
        Pint

        Re: "lazy economics ... allow migration to give us economic growth"

        <snip>

        "Democracy is a process of trial and error. It is (hopefully) self correcting because the majority can always change the rules if they get fed up. We now had some decades trying increased migration and trade in the EU and it did pay off nicely. Looks like now it's time for a few experiments in the opposite direction. The UK is leading the way and the rest of the world is watching to see how that goes."

        I do not totally agree with this but very nicely put. have an up vote and a beer.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: "lazy economics ... allow migration to give us economic growth"

        >Is the working class better off than 30 years ago -- on an absolute scale, or compared to their peers?

        I think very few people are better off. In Aus, salaries have risen to twelve times their 1970 amount, but house prices have risen forty times.

        I think we've spent more and received more stuff. But new iphones and other trinkets are nothing compared to the massive increase in debt (mostly mortgage and government). Now we *need* two salaries just to pay for the house and who can afford three children, even if you want them? You can forget the old meritocracy of the best and brightest going to uni because education is a good thing... now uni fees are just a mortgage for your job.

        I suspect the immigration issue with Brexit is overplayed. I'm sure it plays some part - there's little financial benefit to be seen to migration into the UK for voters. More of an indictment is how the political classes and the chatteratti had no idea what most people think. The BBC doesn't help by being a very large echo-chamber for that sector of society. I remember reading an article on the reaction to the "you may beat your wife lightly" decree from some Imam in Pakistan. *All* (eight I think) of the "vaguely related" articles on the side bar were about homosexuality. Whatever you think of the debate, its actually not a topic which adversely impacts over 95% of the population. All the "woe is us for Brexit" from the BBC completely misses the fact that over half the population disagree. All the articles were also exceedingly speculatory - little more than random statements about things which had no reason to take place, "but might." There is so much ideological irrelevance to the lives of the populace ingrained in the institutions of the establishment.

        Brexit isn't about immigration, its about control. Its about having a voice in politics and both Westminster (with its centralised party machines) and Brussels (with its "ever close union") demonstrably take power away from the not only the ordinary people, but even the grass roots political activists. It doesn't matter how "perfect" the democratic process is, if the decisions are made behind the scenes (hello TTPT, hello council of ministers) and if the details are manipulated (hello ward boundary changes) then people are quite within their rights to put a stop to the whole lot. Cameron accidentally gave the people some power in the referendum, never dreaming they would have the audacity to use it. Being under the delusion that people follow politicians, he thought people wouldn't follow Farage et al. They didn't follow Cameron, they didn't follow Farage, they just don't like where the EU is going. Europe's fine - a nice place to visit, but why cede control to it? How many of the voters trade with Europe? How many of the voters think Europe is financially stable? How many will be devastated if French Brie becomes more expensive than Somerset Brie?

        Even in the worst case, with Brexit a mess, its our mess, and that's ok. Was it "populist"? Not in the sense of people being led (astray) by a charismatic leader - Farage is not, Boris is not, May is not, Gove is not. A hint of democratic power was given to the people and the result was self-determination. That is the point of democracy is it not? Though I'm pretty sure it will be quite some time before a politician makes that mistake again. Let's hope the next revolution is just as bloodless.

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: "lazy economics ... allow migration to give us economic growth"

        "Democracy is a process of trial and error. It is (hopefully) self correcting because the majority can always change the rules if they get fed up."

        Unfortunately, that's hopelessly naive. The idea overlooks the concept that the error may not be recoverable. For example, a charismatic closet dictator could charm the electorate to vote their rights away, allowing for either a forceful coup d'etat or (if they're smart) a slow boil such that the people don't realize they've lost the ability to "change the rules" as you put it.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: "lazy economics ... allow migration to give us economic growth"

          "Democracy is a process of trial and error."

          Don't worry. With Theresa May as PM, we'll soon be putting a stop to trials in the UK. They wont be needed anymore.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "Fix the STEM shortage by funding STEM degrees. Promote and train staff to advanced positions."

      It's no good funding STEM degrees when the education system has been hollowed out of STEM. Underfunding and failure to recruit and keep science and maths teachers means that if we want to get to "STEM jobs for British workers" we're pretty much going to have to start with 7 year olds and wait 15 years.

      Unfortunately when it comes to seriously creative jobs, training doesn't get you much. Education and lots of it is needed. You can train a plumber to be a better plumber, but the plumber probably missed out on too much symbol processing in the formative years to become a boiler designer.

      Yes we need progress. Now that the twin journalists Johnson and Gove have committed their mischief and buggered off, can we have a decent education secretary with a clue and a long term plan - preferably one that transfers less money to bean counting,bureaucrats and large companies and more to teachers and equipment? And not expect it to work in five minutes?

    4. Bloakey1
      Coat

      "For Kotkin, at the heart of Brexit was the calculated decision to respond to low birth rates by importing cheap labour :"

      Or could it be that the heart of Brexit was the decision to give those of low birth a vote ?

      I will get my coat.

      1. nijam

        > ... heart of Brexit was the decision to give those of low birth a vote

        Or could it be that the heart of Brexit was the decision by those of low birth to vote against. They don't necessarily know or care what, but just against.

        Like the LibDems in the coalition, what we've just seen is really just a vote for "none of the above". Or, more tersely, "against".

        1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

          Are you upset that the proles ignored you?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm lost.. . .

    . . amid the various labels; chatterati, urban elites, blobs, that don't describe any group I'm familiar with or provide any useful point of reference. I can't tell what is noise, what is lazy slur and what is the actual point being made.

    Maybe it's me.

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: I'm lost.. . .

      don't describe any group I'm familiar with or provide any useful point of reference

      AO does make it sound a bit no true Scotsman. I have Kotkin sat in my reading queue so maybe that will be more enlightening

    2. teebie

      Re: I'm lost.. . .

      It is absolutely not just you.

    3. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: I'm lost.. . .

      It's probably you. I think we can all guess who he means: Guardian readers.

      Are you seriously saying that there isn't a metropolitan Left? Is that your point? Then you seem to be demonstrating Kotkin's argument at that people who are signed up to the club are incapable of self-awareness.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " I don’t understand what the benefits of EU membership"

    Some questions for Kotkin: does he believe USA would be better as 50 separate states? Would it be the "superpower" it is today, or would it be a patch of some small, richer states, and a lot of poor ones, mostly like Latin America, every with far less worldwide power?

    Does he believe the Civil War was just a big mistake and Lincoln should have left the Confederation go - the EU has an article about leaving the Union. I can't find one in the US Constitution, what if California one day votes the leave the US? AFAIK there are still Texans who wants independence...

    We see today how even in the US there is not the same, accepted "culture" across all states. The ethnic groups weren't really merged fully in 240 years. And there are also the religion issues that at least in Europe has been resolved in the XIX century (despite having a Pope around).

    Don't US take advantage as well of cheap labour in some of its states (and using immigrants as well)?

    Sure, a fragmented Europe can be better for a lame USA.... "divide et impera". But even the Roman Empire fell under the pressure it faced.

    And if I were Kotkin, I would fear how many European countries could move towards the neo-stalinist Putin just because of the money the elites can make in this scenario (while still telling the "prolet" they will benefit too....). US may offer less, and Trump or Clinton don't inspire more trust than the nanoczar.

    Maybe the USA didn't win the Cold War yet, and they could lose it, eventually.

  8. Keith Glass
    Meh

    We're still talking about class ???

    . . . when, thanks to data-driven operations of all sorts, every individual can be almost completely tracked on any number of variables. Especially now, when virtual "friends" and connections seem to be almost wholly disconnected from physical situations. . .and online "tribes" don't often map well to either physical or economic situations, especially outside the metropolitan corridors. .

  9. Triggerfish

    Man in University writes papers about keeping it real.

    See title

  10. Triggerfish

    What counts as left anyway?

    Is this an American view of the left? Because thats somewhat different from a European view of left wing?

    "The intolerant PC left doesn’t – if you disagree, you’re an enemy.

    “I can disagree with conservatives. They don’t like it, but they’ll say other things that are interesting. But on the Left, it's almost impossible to disagree. If you don't buy every single part of their agenda, you’re an outcast."

    Because thats never been the way on the other side as well? Hmmn lets go look at some republicans shall we?

    Pick the right people you get close mindedness on both sides. Picking one side and not the other makes me wonder about confirmation bias.

  11. Denarius Silver badge

    seems to be close to reality

    matches my experience. Any disagreement with one of the clerisy instantly incurs a rant of insults and slurs. But then, I found the left always like that, especially in my career in politically sensitive areas. Academics and first year Uni students usually the worst. This last Oz Federal election was the first time I have heard people from both traditional sides agreeing that "none of the above" was appealing. Not that they voted that way enough to change anything. Oddly also first time I have not heard greenies or lefties abusing those who did not want their how to vote cards.

    One wonders if that social modeller/statistician whose models suggest the USA will suffer severe internal violence was right. In Oz it might mean another set of brawls around political conferences, a spew of news leaks from the "others" while the UKs queues may have more pushing and shoving ;-J

  12. LewisRage

    "not so hyper specialist. And they were not trying to be (in quotes) ‘scientific’”."

    Goddamn specialists, they're as bad as Gove's experts. People knowing a lot about a thing and then writing about it so other people can know about the thing, basically useless if you ask me.

    Of course it gets worse when they try to apply "science" to it too, imagine using a methodical approach to presenting empirical data. You'd have to be some kind of New Blob Clerist Elite Chatterai Urbanist to behave like that.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Left, in my grandfather's or even my father's day was mainly desperate and determined working people.

    The Left (activists at least) in my youth seemed to have an awful lot of middle class socialists. On the more extreme/activist wing (equally middle class) Trotskyite, authoritarian and pretty much uninterested in the working conditions of the ordinary folk down the road unless there was trouble to stir up. Otherwise they'd be sitting around agonising over the conditions of Nicaraguan sand bag fillers or something.

    These all seem to have been replace by shiny faced media savvy, middle class, middle brow professional politicians - except where they are creeping back into Corbyn's New Old Labour.

    Some of this is surely down to the modern mass media with its small number of owners. It's the Sun wot won it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Gove's experts were unpopular because they are exactly the same people who said that if we didn't join the Euro we would face economic destruction. This proved to be badly wrong, to the point that nobody (including these said experts) now thinks that we would be better off in the Euro today than with the Pound, and arguments that we should join the euro are noticible in their absense.

      The same experts then missed that the cycle of boom and bust hadn't actually been ended and were all standing around saying "well, nobody could have seen that coming..." when the bubble popped.

      Today these people still can't get a growth forecast right over a three month period, yet in the referendum campaign they were somehow capable of forecasting growth rates and the cost of living *precisely* over a decade or more.

      Were the experts offering credible sets of facts, arguments and economic models that were testable in the real world, or just their opinions?

  14. Fehu
    Thumb Down

    Apples and people that are orange

    By lumping Brexit and cheeto jesus together Kotkin muddies waters that are already muddy. Extreme positions exist in both camps, Progressives and Conservatives, but in the states the fact that a Republican has crossed party lines and voted with Democrats on any issue will get that Republican bounced out in the next election by their own party. It is almost impossible to believe anyone that has done any research would not be aware of that. If Kotkin is just talking about people on forums, what does that have to do with anything? He probably doesn't even know when he's being trolled.

  15. Frenchie Lad

    Explains the Situation in Poland as Well

    This analysis is applicable to countries like Poland with the added sauce of a corrupt set of liberals that are still bewildered that they got voted out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Explains the Situation in Poland as Well

      The *previous* time the current ruling party PiS got kicked out in 2007, there were quotes like this :-

      (The Platform party government will be tasked with) "unpicking the web of political patronage with which the Kaczynski twins smothered all public appointments, and trying to repair the damage done to the rule of law."

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/politics_protest/poland_election

      1. Frenchie Lad

        Re: Explains the Situation in Poland as Well

        Clearly you have not read the story of Platform's 8 years of corruption, patronage and general dismantling of Poland. At least the PIS is cutting back the UB (secret police though there is no equivqlent in England) pensioners' inflated pensions after all no one should be rewarded an old age pension for pulling fellow citizens' nails out and worse. PO couldn't manage this during its 8 years of mismanagement. If you need proof of PO's "splendid" tenure in power just read the transcripts of PO ministers & cronies lunchtime discussions.

  16. israel_hands

    EU Balls

    The result of referrendum vote was due to 30+ years of bullshit being spouted by various stripes of right-wing politicians.

    It was a triumph for ignorance and fear, not the working class who've just been fucked-over yet again. Or do you truly believe the Tories are going to be looking out for them?

    Framing this as some sort of working-class revolution is just so much nonsense. Let's not forget the Leave campaign was lead by those callous-handed sons of the Earth um, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch. Working-class heroes one and all.

    The fault for the way this turned out resides firmly with successive right-wing governments who, when faced with something they don't want to do, have trotted out the tired "blame Brussels" line as an excuse, in the same way a fat security guard uses non-existent health & safety rules to avoid getting out of his chair.

    That mixed in with a healthy dose of old-fashioned xenophobia as a way of yet again finding someone else to blame and helpfully diverts attention from the way we've been successively fucked over by bankers and other vested interests.

    Still, never let the truth get in the way of a clickbait article that pushes a personal agenda.

    I suppose the one thing we can take heart from is that those aforementioned salt of the earth grafters were at least telling the entire truth throughout their demagogic fear-based campaign to leave. I mean, there's no way that Farage, Johnson, Murdoch and Dacre were lying through their fucking teeth the entire time. Is there?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: EU Balls

      Personally I believe the Cons had no legitimate right to be in Government, and were just blundering aloing, IMHO they only got their various factions to unite just long enough to pretend to be "one party" before election time, even then with the promise of shooting UK in the foot as requested by the potential defecting UKIP-ers to keep them in, and even then they still had to link up in coalition with another party that clearly didn't agree with half of their main policies anyway.

      Even Labour with its corrupt Blairites would have been less dangerous for the integrity of the economy and Union, apart from rather more dangerous to foreign brown people that clearly they would have been gagging to unleash Death From Above onto on behalf of their usual handlers.

  17. quxinot

    Am I the only one wondering where the moderates went?

    Or is politics just a shouting match and the loudest one wins, and that's just been more apparent to me as of late?

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Well, one of my aunties believes the louder you are, the more honest and truthful you are... Talk about a fucking screaming match from time to time....

    2. banalyzer

      No your not.

      I voted leave because I thought we only needed one stinking, putrid, corrupt edifice for the aggrandisement of the political class, but it would seem that I'm selfish xenophobic git who isn't thinking of the younger people.

      They must be right because they can't seem to discuss the other :(

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Also: far too many participants who do not have a biography anymore, just a career.

    4. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Am I the only one wondering where the moderates went?

      Or is politics just a shouting match and the loudest one wins, and that's just been more apparent to me as of late?"

      That's EXACTLY what's happened. Thing is, the most vocal, most hidebound supporters of one side or another also tend to be the loudest and most active, meaning the most likely to make demands and go to the polls. The era of social media has helped produce echo chambers where people can reinforce themselves with like-minded individuals, making them bolder, more hidebound, and less likely to listen to reason since they can always withdraw to the echo chamber when challenged. Thanks to social media, compromise is a four-letter word, and we're rapidly approaching the point where cornered people will see MAD as an acceptable scenario.

  18. Syntax Error

    New Labour

    "Kotkin identifies is a fastidiously politically-correct middle class – one that’s characterized by its bossiness and intolerance. This class lives in its own virtual reality, and lectures everyone else."

    Thats New Labour to a tee.

  19. Naselus

    Not exactly news

    The Left hsa been split between the working class left and the technocratic left for at least a century. In 1903 Martov and Lenin had pretty much the exact same debate that the Labour party is currently wrenching itself through. Lenin argued the technocratic viewpoint, that there should be a professional political party that controlled everything because the workers were too stupid to bring about socialism. Martov took the grassroots option, arguing for a decentralized, democratic movement that would allow working people to determine their own destinies with dignity, without being controlled from above.

    Under Neoliberalism (ie, since Reagan/Thatcher in the early 1980s), the left in both the US and the UK has become entirely consumed by the technocratic viewpoint that middle-class, highly educated professionals should manage society for the benefit of all. Hence why everyone in parliament has identikit Oxbridge PPE educations and started out as a researcher or policy wonk, never doing a genuine job outside politics in their lives. They honestly don't understand why the working class left have been abandoning them in droves as a result of this. Both the Democrats under Clinton and New Labour under Blair pretended to be moving to the left for the benefit of everyone... and yet the societies that they shaped turned out to be very baised toward, well, people like Clinton and Blair, and completely forgot about the people that they were elected by.

    Those groups found no voice on the left, and so began to move toward the Right to find any representation at all; they aren't all crazy racists or insane xenophobes, they simply want to smash a system that has no place for them. They view all of politics as corrupt because they see Blair making millions consulting for fascistic Arab dictators, or Clinton grooming his wife and then daughter for a dynastic coronation (just as the Bush family have been doing on the Right), and see that despite all the promises that were made, they ended up shut out of the system while the guys making the promises have made a fortune. They feel ripped off, and quite rightly.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Not exactly news

      "Those groups found no voice on the left, and so began to move toward the Right to find any representation at all; they aren't all crazy racists or insane xenophobes, they simply want to smash a system that has no place for them. They view all of politics as corrupt because they see Blair making millions consulting for fascistic Arab dictators, or Clinton grooming his wife and then daughter for a dynastic coronation (just as the Bush family have been doing on the Right), and see that despite all the promises that were made, they ended up shut out of the system while the guys making the promises have made a fortune. They feel ripped off, and quite rightly."

      And yet they're still voting instead of engaging in uprisings and mass demonstrations actually threatening to topple the order that has ignored them. Could it be because for all their wrath, no one has any idea how to actually FIX a system that seems based on human nature?

  20. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Err, Hello?

    "Look in the mirror, it's you!"

    Well, duh! And it's only the beginning.

    “At least with Hilary Clinton I know what I’m dealing with. Trump is mentally unstable."

    Delusion comes in many forms. Clinton was the gal responsible for foreign policy. How did that work out? It's just that they got Ghaffi sodomoized with a knife than cackled about it on TV. Called Putin a new Hitler. Wants to go up against China and penetrate Ukraine. Great stuff. I guess only a loss of a few US cities will make Murricanians wake up?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Err, Hello?

      As you say, delusion comes in many forms. The guy on the other side doesn't look that much better. All talking about "I WILL get this wall built at the Mexicans' expense!" and so on. If he really means what he says, then he exhibits an air of "My way or YOU'RE FIRED!" Frankly, I have to wonder if he's even WORSE. Much better familiar evil than unfamiliar evil.

  21. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Much simpler than all that

    Labour, pre-Blair, was on a loser.

    The traditional cloth cap and clogs ( forgive stereotype for brevity's sake) working class, lead by newspapers that many of them didn't even realise were right wing, just didn't seem to vote for the party that represented them. Lots of theories seemed to be around at the time to explain this. My two favourites ( which doesn't make them true) were that a.) The Working Classes all believed the illusion that they could become wealthy - with hindsight I guess just like all the yoof who think they will win X-factor's Got Talent or some such- and so wanted a country that favoured the well off.

    b.) That the old habits of subservience and inverted snobbery meant they voted for the Toffs' party

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Much simpler than all that

      >>"Labour, pre-Blair, was on a loser."

      So it's a bit like that scene in the Lord of the Rings movie where Galadrial has to choose if she should remain herself and fade away. Blair's "New Labour" is basically showing us what would happen if Galadrial chose the ring.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Much simpler than all that

        I'm not totally convinced I've caught your meaning. But if I did, then I'd point out that Blair was and remained highly popular until claoe to the end. Certainly tarnished by his decisions about taking us into war and feuding with Brown.

        But until then a good centre-left politician. It remains to be seen whether Labour becomes a more left wing party, with Corbyn staying in charge, or dumps him and reverts to a more electable centre left Or even if there would be a new party formed to fit that gap.

  22. SeanC4S

    The affluent middle classes have certainly broken the meaning of money. They have made it something nonlinear with a fierce threshold between a livable and unlivable existence.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Which sounds about right: the prelude to closing the walled garden.

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