Another story which is not true: the Trump voters are the victims of globalization. The facts: about half of the Trump voters have a yearly income of more than 100.000 dollar.
These ideologies are implicitly saying that behind every truth there is a wish to dominate, to exert power. Their implicit message: beware of ideas, truth and facts! Truth is suspect. Every ideal is power in disguise.
Figures are leading us
In this respect the changes Reagan put in place should not be underestimated. The financial crisis in 2008 was a direct result of the deregulation of financial markets Reagan started during his presidency. And the Brexit a result of the changes Thatcher put in place. For example, Reagan supported the foundation of the World Trade Union which protected mondial capital from inspection.
The first one is about the former DDR. What happened in the German discourse (‘Historikerstreit’) is that the DDR by some is considered as about the same as Nazi Germany, but also as the Sovjet Union. But the DDR was different from the Sovjet Union with it’s gulags. So the way of thinking goes like this: socialism (DDR) leads to the gulag (Sovjet Union). So the ideal of socialism is suspect. So ideals are suspect.
The second example is the neoliberal society we live in now. In the neoliberal society figures are dominant. The way of thinking goes like this: ideals might be praiseworthy, but they conflict the hard facts of experience, the figures.
- Investigate the premises of the dominant ideologies and theories of our time. Beware: they are often presented as ‘reality’ and not as a theory. Reinterpret the stories and lies presented in the past, to become ready for future action.
- Tolerance is okay, but it doesn’t really support change. To present facts also doesn’t help. The call for solidarity is more effective. The only thing that helps is to start resistance with a huge number of people. And to enjoy other cultures instead of only being tolerant.
- Foster optimism and hope. It is a change mindset. Optimism is refusing to accept reality as it is. Hope is that an ideal is not something we have, but something we can realize.
- Build on the strengths of Europe: social justice, solidarity and peace instead of war. Build on the strengths of the recent changes in Europe: the refusal to vote for populists (France, the Netherlands) and the motivation to further develop Europe.
- Susan Neiman’s message for Holland is a bit of a surprise because it seems to be a paradox: Dutch liberals (let me define them as ‘persons who favor a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties’) should develop a national identity to be proud of. To combine this with internationalism.
Resistance or acceptance? The choice is to us.
Soon I will add a critical reflection on the view of Susan Neiman. I will use the insights of Michael Ignatieff (‘The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World’), Bas Heijne (‘Onbehagen‘) and Evert-Jan Ouweneel (‘Why tomorrow will be less democratic than today‘).
Susan Neiman, Verzet en rede, Lemniscaat, 2017.
Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Batlle for Self-Preservation, New York Times, Dec 9 2017.