Does Trump movement signal unlikely “EFF victory” in 2019?

2016-11-10 10:58

I cannot find any silver lining in the Trump victory. The truth is the tension between barbarism and civilization in every society is fragile and hangs only by a fine thread.

Trump shows that in an austerity context, in particular, you can play to the dark side of human nature and win an election. This has made a lot of people feel uncomfortable. However, if we are honest about human nature and history we have to concede that given the right context it is easy for a charismatic leader to manipulate a majority using the rhetoric of fear, anger and pride.

The strategy that Trump employed to win this election is no different from the leaders of fascist political movements of the past. He emphasised isolationist, nationalist and protectionist economic policies. He showed disdain for globalization and immigration. He employed racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric. He took a stand against the political elite and their wealthy connections. He was clearly against justice for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender communities. He highlighted the threat of Islam terror groups and downplayed the threat of domestic right-wing terror groups. He promoted the militarist, policing and surveillance state. He also provided an enticing nation-state origin and supremacy myth. Throughout his campaign, he represented the type of change that an angry, desperate, frustrated and fearful majority yearns for.

And this kind of movement seems to be a global phenomenon. We saw the influence of British nationalism and capitalism on Brexit. We see Putin’s authoritarianism in Russia. We see the rise of right-wing militarism in East Asia, religious nationalism in India, the religious right in Israel, religious fundamentalism in the Middle East, the rise of the neo-nazis in Germany, the emergence of a new right in France, genocide in Sudan, ISIS, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Kenya, Mugabe and Zuma’s authoritarianism in Southern Africa, and so on and on and on...

So what does this mean for the 2019 elections, if anything? It means that the ANC’s neoliberal members should stop being arrogant and their leftist members should stop being complacent [Or are they all confused neo-liberal-leftists... perhaps that is another story to capture at another day]? It also means they should view the EFF, a fast growing fascist movement, as a serious threat.

Like Trump, the EFF also offers a compelling and customised narrative of change for a desperate, angry and frustrated majority – even though I think that the EFF has a form of emancipatory politics that is likely to fail.

We see the yearning and nostalgia for an African identity that did not exist. Romantic talks of African nationalism, the myth of a pan-Africanism, decolonising education, land grabbing, replacing Western science with indigenous knowledge, the virtues of past traditions such as virginity and initiation rituals, reverence for traditional leaders and healers, xenophobia, intimations of genocide, service delivery protests, violent protests on University campuses...

I would bet that the 2019 general election will not be peaceful.

But I would not bet against victory for Malema’s EFF.

I will leave those kinds of bets to the statisticians and superstitious.

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