The EU

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

"To dissolve the people"

For John, BLUFPopulism isn't a political philosophy as such, but a cry of the People that the parties aren't listening.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Despite all the dire Brexit forecasts, the U.K. has had a strikingly good year. Leaving the EU may well boil down to far less, economically, than anyone thought.

This is from The Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2018, by Mr Fraser Nelson (Editor of the Spectator and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph).

Here is the lede plus three:

For a country supposedly crawling out of the ruins of the Brexit vote, the U.K. has been having a strikingly good year so far.  The number of people working stands at a record high, and income inequality is approaching a 30-year low, according to the Office for National Statistics.  New orders for manufacturers are at their highest level in a generation, and employers in general are struggling to find enough staff to cope with demand.  Even the (relatively new) national happiness index stands at a peak.

When Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, a very different future was forecast.  Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, declared that Britain had just “collapsed: politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically.”  But the plague of locusts has yet to show up—which is odd, given how many experts predicted that a victory for Brexit would bring catastrophe.  Now, almost two years after the vote, the picture is clearer, and there is plenty of evidence to challenge the conventional wisdom, for those with eyes to see it.

To be sure, the quality of our political drama remains dismal.  If you have only been looking at Westminster, you will have only seen disaster.  The leaders of the Brexit campaign hadn’t given enough thought to what they’d do if they won, so they ended up destroying each other when the time came.  Theresa May, who had opposed Brexit, became prime minister and then lost her majority in a snap election last summer; she carries on, but with little authority.

Brexit capsized the entire political establishment.  It was a revolution, but no new regime has emerged.  And that may be no bad thing:  After the pyrotechnics of the past few years, a spell of boring politics is welcome.  If this is a crisis, it is one with its compensations.

This was forwarded by a friend down in Key West, Florida, who commented:
From the essay:  "How could so many great minds get it so wrong?  It is a case study of unconscious bias in forecasts."

And, "To confuse populism with Brexit is to confuse a disease with its cure.  As the Princeton political theorist Jan-Werner Müller has observed, populism is primarily a form of rhetoric, not a political agenda.  It’s all about shaking a fist at the establishment, saying that your party alone can represent the silent majority.  The reaction in the chancelleries of Europe has seemed to follow the Bertolt Brecht poem:  “Would it not be easier… To dissolve the people/ And elect another?”  But Britain offers an easier remedy: If you address what people are concerned about, populism goes away."

I like the Bertolt Brecht item. It goes along with the idea of "Bitter Clingers" and "Basket of Deplorables".

Here is his Poem, "The Solution":

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

              Bertolt Brecht

Regards  —  Cliff

  Also the author of The Three Penny Opera.  Remember the song "Mack the Knife"?
  It was written about the 1953 East German uprising.

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