So we are blue now.

Over the last decade, there has been a noticeable social shift. This shift has given way to unexpected twists within both our social consciousness and political narrative. Change, be it social, technological, industrial or political, is transforming the world rapidly and thus visibly. This visible shift can be, for some, difficult to accept and understand and therefore frightening or infuriating. We might slam  on the breaks and say, I’m lost, where am I? Our social surroundings have become unfamiliar and strange. We seem to have suddenly accelerated to a brave new world which can be, simultaneously, innovative and disastrous.

Who drove us?

Liberalism has surged worldwide; a hard beat in the steady pulse of modern metanarrative. It has always been a driving force of social change with emphasis on justice, equality and freedom. It ever-confronts the old world with its questions, shatters hollow traditional values, unmasks untruths thus exposing any false consciousness that has so far glued us in our places, it shouts out on behalf of the voiceless and shakes the world in the process. Only recently, rights such as same-sex marriage have come into fruition as early as 2013, as well as new laws on domestic abuse, the me too movement, and gender inequality is being re-addressed.

I don’t know if it is optimistic to celebrate that liberalism has never cried out louder or to assume that solitary shouts throughout the course of history, whose echoes are still heard today, such as the abolition of the slave trade, the suffragette movement and workers rights, have progressively culminated to this point. Cries without which we would never have arrived at this point. Albeit, perhaps peace and harmony are not sensible goals and that corruption is still rife, at least there are more speaking out against injustices. The oppressed are able to speak and the call for rights has never been so loud as mantras of right and wrong, right and wrong sound in the rhythms of media, news and politics.

While it seems a positive what if, conversely, we should not assume now is better than then? What if humanism is crying out louder because it needs to? Is it due to what Nigel Tubbs coins in his article Fascisms: then, and now? Arendt and The Origins of Totalitarianism, as ‘fascisms’. What if it’s a symptomatic reaction to fascism crawling back like a shiver? Tubbs describes said micro symptoms still felt in the blood of society, “Fake news, people versus elected officials, trashing of democracy, ridicule of truth, relativism of values, nationalism with its love of loyalty and oaths and its aesthetic of self-sacrifice and violence, the hatred of internationalism and its humanist liberal values, accusations of international (Jewish) conspiracies, charismatic malevolent leaders shunning accountability and saying whatever would be popular one day, only to be reversed the next day, and supporters who don’t care at all about the behaviour of their leaders.” Ominously, he questions, “These were fascisms then. Are they also fascisms now?”

As with every shout, there is someone to shout louder. A retaliation. It seems that with the rise of a raging liberalism comes the rise of its opposition; raging conservatism. That the divide between liberalism and conservativism has become wider. People are taking sides. And although it is not so simple as right and wrong and this is not to suggest that the conservative party are ‘wrong’, but that their success in the recent election and the situation with Brexit could be indicative of something else.

There is a whispering war between the left and the right, love and hate, that has taken over America and now the UK. Emerging from it are the transgressive alt-right figureheads such as Ben Shapiro with his robotic yapping and unyeilding reliance on ‘hard facts’ (and who has, like a demon in a horror film, metamorphosed himself on UK soil as Katie Hopkins). They have created for themselves a platform and a substantial following which consists of people who want to take ‘refuge’ from the efforts of empathy and strains of battling against corruption in order to conserve some backwards traditional values. Their supporters are happy to become the last men, who do not aspire for anything but what they know, who seem almost happy to accept a life of submission under Tory rule, who do not fight for justice but fight for the protection of their “sweet Sarah’s” from “lazy” boogeymen with “watermelon smiles” from foreign countries (quotes taken from a mixture of Trump’s acceptance speech and the many things Boris Johnson has said). It’s as though we are heading a similar direction to America which, by definition, with Trump being a right-wing multi-millionaire businessman instead of a candidate with a political background, is more of an oligarchy than a democracy. We are now in a society where the rich have the power and under the rule of a party whose success can only stand upon inequality and division and whose values consist of austerity, privatisation and elitism.

What caused working class voters to vote for this party?

When Corbyn became the leader of the labour party in 2015, we saw a leader who overtly advocated socialist values. His policies were met with skepticism and criticism and a general rejection of him as a leader. There was a general unwillingness to recognise the unique way in which Corbyn proposed to tackle societal issues rather than making promises for the chimera that became of Brexit deliverance. This was to approach the cause of the issue rather than condemn the effects. The media misconstrued these policies and turned them into communist propaganda and impossible dreams. He was seen as a radical liberal threat who would turn this country into a communistic dystopia.

Here, with this negative portrayal and demonisation of Corbyn and the labour party, perhaps conservatism appears as an alternative for those suspicious of labours intentions. It could be that some of the working class are unable to recognise our traditional values in the values of the Labour party. Labour seems to have changed unrecognisably to some, as a party that does represent the interests of the working person. As written in the Guardian article Labours lost working-class voters are gone for good that the labour party is now, ‘the party of young, middle-class southerners, popular in London and some prosperous university towns’.

It’s sad that this dissonance has caused many working class voters to reject the party who works in our favour, due to the belief that the conservative party whose neo-liberal values are somehow more representative. It’s damning that a leader who steps forward as an advocate of equality and human rights has been harangued into stepping down as the party leader for being “too liberal”- as though equality and tackling exploitation were attributes of irrational liberal fantasies and not general human rights. The results from the recent election and for Brexit presents itself as more of a rejection of liberalism than of the Labour party.

Is it that we’re not ready for a humanist society? Is Corbyn just not the right leader? Do workers rights and values need to be represented more in labours policies? Or is this a small indication of something more insidious? Is a neo-fascism rising out of its musty coffin, having unpicked the work of humanist pins, withered and hungry for the sustenance of hate?


Livia Peterkin


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