How America got Trumped

Kenan Malik writes: Trump can be seen as an agent of change only because real agents of change, progressive social movements that can truly transform people’s lives, have largely eroded.

What we are witnessing is a crisis both of the political class and of progressive opposition to it. The political elite is so disengaged from the electorate that it failed to recognize the depth of anger and disaffection from mainstream institutions and its party machines have become so rusty that they could not check the Trump surge. And oppositional movements are so weakened that Trump can be seen by many as an agent of change.

It is this dual crisis that is unstitching politics, and not just in America. The same phenomenon is at play in Europe, driving the success of the reactionary populist groups from the Sweden Democrats to the Front National in France. And globally, too, from Turkey to India, from Egypt to South Africa, the old order is coming unstitched while opposition movements that have emerged to give voice to that disaffection are often rooted in religious or ethnic identity, and are often sectarian or separatist in form. As in Europe and the USA there is a hole where progressive social movements should be.

There have been many apocalyptic prognostications in the wake of Trump’s success. His victory, many claim, will lead to everything from the rise of fascism to the end of the West. The real issue lies less with Trump himself, than with the dual crisis of the elite and of opposition movement. It is how we address this, and in particular whether we are able to build real movements for change, that will shape the future, and not just in the USA. [Continue reading…]

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