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The revolt of the dispossessed

November 6, 2016

I have been re-reading Christopher Lasch’s brilliant The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy which was published more than a decade ago. It’s about the we-know-what’s-best-for-you types who have risen to the top of power structures across the world. A brief but inadequate summary but you’ll get the point:

Controversy has raged around Lasch’s targeted attack on the elites, their loss of moral values, and their abandonment of the middle class and poor, for he sets up the media and educational institutions as a large source of the problem. In this spirited work, Lasch calls out for a return to community, schools that teach history not self-esteem, and a return to morality and even the teachings of religion. He does this in a nonpartisan manner, looking to the lessons of American history, and castigating those in power for the ever-widening gap between the economic classes, which has created a crisis in American society. The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy is riveting social commentary.

If you want to understand the attractions of Donald Trump, there is no better place I can think to look. And if you want an even better idea what it’s all about, you should read The economic losers are in revolt against the elites by Martin Wolf [perfect name] in The Financial Times.

Losers have votes, too. That is what democracy means — and rightly so. If they feel sufficiently cheated and humiliated, they will vote for Donald Trump, a candidate for the Republican party’s presidential nomination in the US, Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France or Nigel Farage of the UK Independence party. . . .

It is not hard to see why ordinary people, notably native-born men, are alienated. They are losers, at least relatively; they do not share equally in the gains. They feel used and abused. After the financial crisis and slow recovery in standards of living, they see elites as incompetent and predatory. The surprise is not that many are angry but that so many are not.

Branko Milanovic, formerly of the World Bank, has shown that only two parts of the global income distribution enjoyed virtually no gains in real incomes between 1988 and 2008: the poorest five percentiles and those between the 75th and the 90th percentile. The latter includes the bulk of the population of high-income countries.

The Clinton Foundation is the perfect example of how our elites operate. They shaft you and steal your money, and most importantly, they use government as their major tool to syphon the wealth of the hard-working majority to themselves and their friends.

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