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A Postmodern Dark Age: The Populists

[Previously on A Postmodern Dark Age: The Media: Like junkies in a spiral, the media can’t stop, ushering in a dark age of bread and spectacle, with less bread and more spectacle because bread costs serious moola, whereas the spectacle rakes it in.]

Beyond the media and their obsession with all things sensational (and Trump and his obsession with the same) we have the political aspect of the dark age. The specifics regarding politics and policy and polity at large. Forget the Trump factor, that’s the window-dressing, the stage show. We’re talking about real-time administration, or lack thereof — the takeover of civic affairs by forces hostile to civic life. It’s happening as we speak, gaining momentum on the platforms of political extremism — a populism borne out of the establishment’s shortcomings. The failures of the mainstream to live up to its promises have finally caught up with us, and the demagogues have risen to preach bloody overhaul, here to lay claim to a golden dawn, an age where countries may reclaim their lost greatness.

So claim the extremists, and people believe them left, right and center.

I saw it take place in the UK, an entire country with a long tradition of stability and phlegmatism suddenly surrendering to the ill-planned and mendacious calls of an angry set of partisans looking to sensationalize politics in their effort to establish a new anti-establishment base.

It took everyone by surprise, most of all the extremists themselves. They weren’t expecting to win, merely to rock the boat, create a strong support base from which to launch an opposition, but lo and behold the vote fell in the favor, just like that, and they seized power with no clue what to do with it.

All ideology, these populists, and no ideas, none that held water. Yes, the system had been abused by the powers that be for decades prior, by the entire mainstream culture and its ever-increasing web of vested interests, creating the swiss-cheese societies we have been living in during these past ten years, at least, the financial and economic and cultural crises that came with them — problems which the populists were elected to defeat. They were ushered in on the backdrop of the mainstream’s failures by a majority of angry voters looking for radical change. Tired and disillusioned people swallowing the bluster and jingoism, the empty rhetoric.

Scores of apathetic people made things worse by not turning out to vote in favor of a more decent set of politics. They could have made a difference, preventing the rise of the extremists.

But they chose to abstain, and who can blame them? The way I saw it, the real protest vote was theirs: the non-vote: no support for the crazy populists, no support for the rotten establishment either. Between a rock and a hard place, they made it clear they were supporting neither. The choices presented to them were too poor.

So here we are, caught between a rock and a hard place. We’re stuck with the rotten establishment in Europe, the EU boat creaking and leaking from deck to hold while a potentially reasonable (there was merit in protesting the increasingly Sovietized EU bureaucracy) but ultimately lunatic Brexit (burn every treaty, start anew without a solid plan in mind) is now in effect.

From Brexit, of course, things degenerated further. We went to Trumpism in the USA (talk about lunacy), and who knows what next (Le Pen in France?), leading to even more populist bluster down the line.

Even if Le Pen loses in the May presidential election, it’s not a panacea. We won’t have another maniac in charge, which counts for a lot, but we’ll still be stuck with the leaking, malfunctioning EU ship and its soul-crushing red tape, its rimed and tattered ideology.

There’s no hiding it or dressing it up: no one has stepped up to the challenge. We’re in the mercy of subpar politicians and party lines and policies. No one in the center, in the self-proclaimed ‘sane’ part of politics, has proven worthy of reinventing the mainstream’s vision in ways that will seize the day to chart out a viable course for Europe, and the West in general.

Meanwhile, the purge is underway, at least in the US. The erasure of data that don’t fit with the ideology of the populists in charge has begun.

Part 3 to follow