The first round of the French Presidential election (23rd April) confirms the general pattern: another outsider comes from nowhwere to win, but the far right comes menacingly close.
A sub plot is that far left candidates have a passionate, but minority support base, but the wider public rejects them. Corbyn won a challenge to his surprise leadership even more overwhelmingly, only to preside over a collapse of Labour votes at by-elections. Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a closer run than she expected with some rather un-American ideas. Benoit Hamon, the far left candidate in France, polled only 6.36%, even though the Green Candidate had pulled out in his favour. So much for the ‘Paris’ Agreement on Climate Change, which should be the main preoccupation at all national elections, but fails to figure much in any of them.
Green candidate Yannick Jadot’s enthusiastic endorsement of Hamon seems to indicate that like the British Green Party, Les Verts have drifted to the far left, instead of recruiting, at least as voters to begin with, the large numbers who will never identify as socialists, but who worry more than the underprivileged do about climate change. I don’t think Hamon’s advocacy of (a Socialist, limited version of) the Basic Income influenced the result either way.
I have argued previously that a neo-liberal clique has imperceptibly gained power world-wide, having succeeded in subverting many governments to their interests. But perhaps they have overplayed their hand. It is arguable that the clique wanted Clinton to win.
Austerity is quite unnecessary anyway, if one compares current levels of wealth with those after the second world war. Increasing inequality has had two consequences: rejection of the establishment, but also the rise of the far right.
Racism is a hard-wired human trait, but it only kicks in as more than the attitude of a few individuals when insecurity is rife. The threat of climate change may not loom as large as it should, but it will be at the back of some people’s minds. And artificial intelligence certainly makes many feel insecure.
I have also pointed out before that the Capitalists driving the world towards ecological destruction are trapped by the Tragedy of the Commons like everyone else. They happen to be gaining more than the rest of us, pro tem. But they too will lose when extreme weather events start to wreak havoc, and only unanimity can give them a chance not to damage the ecosphere. ‘Paris’, December 2015 almost produced that vital unanimity, but Trump is putting that in doubt.
As I also keep saying, the Basic income is not a panacea, but it does make possible better answers to the real problems we face, which have already produced unexpected results: Brexit, Corbyn, Trump, and now Macron and LePen. It will provide a better reassurance against insecurity than racist ‘solutions’, and when the World Basic Income Movement gains traction, it will at the same time reduce the pressure to migrate. That will of course create problems for countries which have become dependent on immigration, but that is a much less serious issue than saving the ecosphere.