In the wake of the campaign for and outcome of the latest US elections, there is a big public discussion on in Germany. Wondering, how it is possible, that unbeknown to what is called “the establishment”, such a vast part of the public are ready to vote for people, that are oblivious to facts and successfully prey on emotions of anger, frustration and xenophobia.
We, aka the Europeans, actually should be glad, this happened elsewhere first. So we actually have a chance to analyze the situation and do something about it.
Here’s a list of statements and arguments, that try to understand. In no particular order. And in no way complete.
° The most obvious first: economically struggling folks, not able to voice their disconcern with the social situation, fall for false promises. The underlying problem being the shift from wealth to the top, rather than the other way round.
° Class ceilings harden more and more, as the educational systems don’t provide a fair chance for everybody any more. So the very idea of pursuit of a better life and career get’s increasingly pushed into a fairytale corner.
° There’s a big, in-country migration underway, young people moving to cities en masse. The residue of mainly older people sense, that their places are dying out, things changing to the worse, infrastructure crumbling.
° Everyone, who raises questions about “the establishment” or talks to the “wrong” people is immediately pushed into the racist corner, at least here in Germany, with its special history, this is very much the case. A friend of mine, who is a journalist, says, in her business this is a very supressing fact, she struggles with. This explains to a certain extent, why polls don’t work anymore.
° Internet communications are designed in a way, that an opinion bubble is created for each individual. You only ever get to see and read like-minded opinions. Those algorythmns are designed to sell stuff, but now influence also the forming of political ideas.
° A big part of the so-called middle class feel the abyss of loss creeping closer. Many know, they are just one unlucky incident away from being swallowed up by outright poverty, despite all their hard work. And fall for the easy route: blaming others (refugees, foreigners, the “lazy” unemployed, “the establishment” – you name it) for their angst. Not realizing, that if these were removed, they wouldn’t fare one notch better.
° The term “the establishment” is slowly being equalized with politics and democracy in general, damning it in total. This is dangerous. Of course there a corrupt people in politics, but they are also in business and everywhere else. And as soon as democracy and it’s agreed upon inner workings, like checks and balances, are pushed into a corner like that, it’s over. It’s propably best to stop using the term in such an unspecified way, I think.
° Too many people here take democracy, freedom and piece for granted and do not realize, it requires ongoing effort and participation. Of everybody.
In total, no matter what you might wish for, time is not going to move back. Globalisation is not going to vanish – unless, of course, we manage to bomb civilisation to shambles. Industries will keep migrating and jobs will dissappear from certain branches in certain areas or will be done by machines. People will keep on striving for a better life, even if that means to flee their home and board a flimsy boat to a dangerous sea and unknown shore. And we’ll all have to abide on planet blue for a while still, so best to do everything, to keep it intact. The real challenge is to find clever ways to deal with the changes rather than opposing them, wishing for a past long gone.
But how to explain?