Part II of II, by Claudio Grass, Switzerland
One of the maxims I tend to mention quite often in sociopolitical debates or in response to arguments about the flawlessness of the democratic process is “the smallest minority is the individual”. To some, it might sound trite or banal, and perhaps it is; but it does carry a meaning that I believe is an essential human value and a fundamental building block for any civilized, productive and prosperous society. Any group of people, any social structure, and any political system that does not recognize the uniqueness, the potential, the invaluable unpredictability and the sheer beauty of the individual human mind and instead seeks to cage it, to tame it, or to force it to conform and to “fit in”, is certainly and demonstrably doomed to destruction, degeneration and deterioration.
This holds true on any scale of human connection and association, from the smallest group imaginable to the most complex system. Once this cardinal rule is broken, once the individual is no longer recognized, acknowledged and respected and once any collective is deemed more important and more worthy, any system will sooner or later rot from the inside. Just like a simple friendship or a family would crumble, so would an entire country – or even an almighty empire – eventually collapse after collectivism takes root.
Even though history offers us countless case studies to chose from to demonstrate this point, all the way from Ancient Greece to the French Revolution, I think it would be more interesting, and perhaps more constructive too, to pick a contemporary example.
Over the last few decades, the aforementioned “masses”, or the “average working man” had been associated with the Left, in whatever form that took over the years and across different countries. It was the Democrats in the US, who were known to be a friend of the workers unions, a defender of women and minorities and a reliable anti-war voice. In the UK, it was the Labour Party: a champion of the honest, hardworking man and a proponent of a big, benevolent, welfare State. A similar, if not spookily identical, picture was painted all cross the West. The Left was seen as the advocate of the working class.
And if we’re being fair, this was no mean feat. While the Right was for decades associated with deep-pocketed, powerful and heavily influential elites, the Left attracted and retained “quantity over quality”, in the sense that although its voters were not wealthy, they were many. The Left achieved and maintained this loyalty through simple but effective tactics. By promising to eradicate inequality, for example – a promise they still employ to this day. Of course, that promise works (or used to work) because it always and forever remained exactly that, a mere promise. It is a utopian, make-believe, feel-good fairy tale, that purports to deliver the impossible to those who hunger for it the most and asks for nothing in return.
Of course, none of this is realistic – and it was never meant to be. This promise can never be honored and those who made it knew that. There is no way for any State to give out something that it hasn’t already stolen from someone else. There is no way any State can guarantee equal outcomes if it hasn’t already ensured there are no equal opportunities. There is no way you can make something out of nothing. There is no such thing as a free lunch. And while all this might be obvious to my regular readers, it most certainly is not to the average citizen, taxpayer and saver.
There is good reason to hope for change, however. The empty promises and the populist, patronizing rhetoric of the last decades might not be working so well anymore. In fact, it might even be backfiring.
A recent and comprehensive survey by YouGov and PPI (Progressive Policy Institute) focusing precisely on the “working class” demographic revealed some interesting trends and very surprising shifts.
According to a Forbes report on the survey, “when asked what the greatest economic challenge is facing the United States today, a whopping 69% of respondents said the high cost of living and inflation outpacing economic growth. Among these voters, 55% believe recent inflation is primarily driven by excessive stimulus spending rather than the COVID pandemic or supply chain bottlenecks. Notably, another 11% said high deficits and debt are the greatest challenge.”
Even more intriguingly: “when asked what they most want to see change about the Republican Party, 32% said they wanted to see the party present a reasonable plan to restore fiscal discipline that includes spending cuts and tax hikes on the wealthy. That was the highest priority chosen and more than double the number of respondents who chose the next runner-up. It should thus be no surprise that when asked which party they trust more to keep public debt and deficits under control, a 36% plurality of respondents said they trust neither party — the highest share of any issue polled.”
Despite all the top-down efforts to spread and to establish a narrative and to manufacture consensus, the members of the most habitually disdained and most underestimated class, still see reality for what it is. I’m not a fan of Abe Lincoln, although he was apparently right on this point: “You can fool all people some of the time and some people all the time. But you can never fool all people all the time.”
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