Everyone’s talking about Brexit. Some about the French riots. But no one’s talking about why they are happening, and what they really mean. They might think they are, but they are usually missing the point.
On 6th May 2010, the Conservative Party took the reins of power for the first time since 1992, propped up with some help from the Liberal Democrats. Hours before the election result, I warned in a blog post that whichever government was elected, it would be the first step in a dramatic shift toward the far-right that would likely sweep across the Western world within 10 years.
“The new government, beholden to conventional wisdom, will be unable or unwilling to get to grips with the root structural causes of the current convergence of crises facing this country, and the world,” I wrote, describing the failure of all three political parties to understand why the heyday of economic growth was unlikely to return.
“This suggests that in 5–10 years, the entire mainstream party-political system in this country, and many Western countries, will be completely discredited as crises continue to escalate while mainstream policy solutions serve largely to contribute to them, not ameliorate them. The collapse of the mainstream party-political system across the liberal democratic heartlands could pave the way for the increasing legitimization of far-right politics by the end of this decade…”
My prediction was astonishingly prescient. The global shift to the far-right began within exactly five years of my forecast, and has continued to accelerate before the decade is even out.
In 2014, far-right parties won 172 seats in the European Union elections — just under a quarter of all seats in the European Parliament. In 2015, David Cameron was re-elected as Prime Minister with a parliamentary majority, a victory attributed in part to his promise to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
Unbeknownst to many, the Tories had quietly established wide-ranging links with many of the same far-right parties that were now capturing seats in the EU.
The following year in June, the ‘Brexit’ referendum shocked the world with its result: a majority vote to leave the EU.
Six months later, billionaire real estate guru Donald Trump shocked the world again when he became president of the world’s most powerful country. Like the Conservatives in the UK, the Republicans too had forged trans-Atlantic connections with European parties and movements of the extreme-right. Since then, far-right parties have made continued electoral gains across Europe in Italy, Sweden, Germany, France, Poland and Hungary.
We are on the cusp of a tidal wave, that looks poised to accelerate into a tsunami. Exactly as I had anticipated, far-right politics is no longer the province of the fringe, but is becoming increasingly normalised. This not an accident. It is the result of a system that is failing — and the efforts of a network of far-right groups to exploit the fractures emerging from this system-failure to tear everything down, and erect a new order of their own fashioning.
My prediction of the resurgence of the far-right was based on analysing the probable consequences of a long-term ‘system-failure’ in which we are unable to return to the levels of economic growth we had become accustomed to in the heyday of the 1980s and 90s. That system-failure, I explained, is rooted in the economics of the energy production that enables economic growth:
“…. a full and lasting recovery… is likely to be impossible in the constraints of the current system, because we’re running short on the physical basis of the last few decades of exponential (and fluctuating) ‘growth’ — and that is cheap, easily available hydrocarbon energies, primarily oil, gas and coal. The turning point has arrived, and without that global cheap energy source in abundant supply, we cannot continue growing, no matter what we do. Something has to give. Our economies need to be fundamentally, structurally, transformed. We need to transition to a new, clean, renewable energy system on which to base our economies. We need to transform the way money is created, so that it’s not linked to the systematic generation of debt. We need to transform our banking system on the same grounds. Whitehall, and the three political parties, recognize only facets of the picture, but they don’t see it as a whole.” ….
The integrity of large trans-national structures depends on the abundance of cheap energy flows to sustain them. If those flows come at greater cost and lower quality, then those structures will become increasingly strained and potentially even begin to break down. Costs to keep the system going increase while returns are squeezed, meaning that the surplus to invest in core social goods to maintain such structures declines.
That is why despite the so-called ‘recovery’ — tepid as it is and based on accelerating debt levels (in biophysical terms borrowing from the Earth today with promise of paying it back tomorrow with what has already been over consumed today) — in real terms, peoples’ purchasing power continues to decline.
The failure to understand and engage with the root, systemic causes of the crisis also means that policymakers put themselves in a position where they can only address surface-symptoms.
All too often, that means short-term, reactionary responses. And so in France, instead of addressing the question of how to galvanise a third industrial revolution to speed a post-carbon transition and infrastructure revival, Macron’s response to the climate crisis was to protect fossil fuel and nuclear producers while hiking up fuel taxes. He didn’t want to tackle the horrendous supply chains of big French corporations. He didn’t want to penalise the powerful oil, gas and nuclear lobbies that he hopes might help him get re-elected, and did next to nothing to speed a viable post-carbon transition that might transform economic prosperity on more sustainable foundations….
It seems to me that fake debt-saturation is at least as important as any constraints on energy or a real or imagined climate crisis. Whether the psyop is “liberal”, “conservative”, “communist”, “socialist” or fascist (note the lack of quotes on the latter, it is the underlying reality of the all the former), we have to pay the bankers who orchestrate the psyop. We are not allowed to live our lives in peace.