If the Brexit movement in the United Kingdom is the Patient Zero of ethnocentric populism in the English-speaking world, with the rise of Trumpism putting the United States not far behind, the British commentator James Delingpole is undoubtedly one of the super-spreaders of the ideological contagion. Through innumerable articles and opinion pieces in the UK press, from mainstream publications like the conservative Daily Telegraph and the Spectator to fringe far-right adjuncts like Breitbart, he has propagandised with glee on behalf of the opponents of liberal and secular democracy in the Western world. His advocacy has even brought him to this country, where he has found common cause with the pariahs of the Irexit clique and the alt-unionists of our own domestic news media. So it is good, if unexpected, to see the grotesque reactionary brought down a peg or two in this revealing episode of the BBC’s current affairs show, This Week.
I thought Andrew Neil was very patient with him. But Andrew is a Brexiteer himself. I wonder if a remainder had come on Neil’s show with no answers to his questions would Neil have been so forgiving. I don’t think so.
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I see more evidence every day that a lot of Trump supporters are more so than anything else extreme Nihilists. With that subset it’s not so much about racism or ethnonationalism, or believing Trump can actually do anything positive (such as bringing jobs back or a “Great” healthcare plan that’s better than Obamacare), as they are just people who want to see it “all go to Hell” and actually want to watch Trump destroy America because they see as a big laughable cosmic joke.
Terms used by people who are picking up on what I’m talking about have used labels like “Nihilistic Glee”, “Suicide Nihilism” or “Politics of Total Retaliation”, or “The Jim Jones ‘everyone takes a drink’ politics” and more.
The idea is not so much that they want to “get” particular group of people (ei Muslims), as they want to watch the destruction of society out of nihilistic joy. Many of them love Trump more because they hate “liberals” than they do Mexicans, Muslims, gay etc, and may even express racist sentiments they don’t necessarily mean “to piss of the liberals”.
And frankly, many of them are willing to fall on their own sword in the process. Already there have been example of Harley Davidson plants that have closed down due to Trump tariffs, and they are still overjoyed with Trump. Some of the most extreme and far gone cases would in my opinion be willing to see themselves and their extended families admitted to the same workhouses, that Ireland saw during The Great Famine, just for the aesthetic joy of “watching the shit hit the fan”. That’s not hyperbole, or deadpan irony. I am in total earnest saying some of them would in make that choice and with joy. Saying they’d change their minds “when it came down to it” and like making the same assumptions about a suicide bomber or the Jim Jones cult.
Their mindset towards the liberals they hate so much, their country and themselves is much like the batterer who shoots his ex-wife and her lover, before turning the gun on themselves.
Now obviously the Nazis, Neo-Confederates, and White Nationalists are very real. But I thin they are outnumbered 5 to 1, by the Nihilists among Trump’s core supporters.
I don’t know if such a mentality exists among Brexiteers or hard right groups in Europe. Because even when I speak the language and can be harder to spot the subtle signs in another culture. Even with Americans, it took me years of seeing the symptoms of this Suicide Nihilism before I understood what I was looking at. And those who see everything through the lens of Critical Race Theory (much of today’s left) have been effectively vaccinated against seeing anything at play other than “white supremacy”.
With The English in particular I’m honestly not sure how you’d spot a nihilist. Many of them have an extremely indirect communication style, and a tendency to treat everything in life like it’s one big joke. I sometimes think low Democracy has left much of the population conditioned not to take politics too seriously. It’s strange and often hard to tell.
To be 100% clear. I doubt this Suicide Nihilism is a uniquely US phenomena. Indeed I’ve found that the kinds of things that tend to get labeled that way by various pundits and hoters-takers, turn out to not be exclusive to the US or even necessarily more common in North America than in a wide variety of other countries. To wit, I remember years of people decrying anti-vaccine people as “only in America could you EVER see such a thing”-and at the time nodding my head ruefully. Turns out there were plenty of anti-vaccine people in Europe and fatwas against vaccines in a lot of poor countries, all along. So now I’m not going to assume something couldn’t exist in Europe, just because it isn’t being reported on the nightly news.
“We are a science superpower ” so says yer man the Tony MP on the panel. Last Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is a European Union agency for the evaluation of medicinal products, closed shop in London to move to Amsterdam because of Brexit, and made 900 redundant. Love the world of self-illusion they appear to live under.