Couple of interesting wrinkles in the ipsos poll data from the French election that undermine the press line about the salvation of a neoliberal EU.

43% of Macron voters cited opposition to Le Pen as their main reason for choosing him. Only 16% cited his policies.

Whereas 41% of Le Pen voters cited “the political renewal she represents” as their reason for voting for her:

Le Pen won about ten million votes overall.

So, over four million people voted for someone more outright fashy than Trump because they offered some, any alternative to the banal market-driven evil of neoliberalism. Those people are not Nazis. They are mostly just white people ignorant of their own privilege, raised on tales of the glory of empire and puffed up with a national pride that only betrays the depth of their self-deception. They’re befuddled, scared, and endlessly antagonized by a public sphere that regards them as an awkward embarrassment, at best.

There are fewer seething, hateful monsters among them than there are otherwise pretty unremarkable people who are badly frightened, angry, and confused at the broken promise of their glorious twentieth century. Those folks are willing to overlook regressive social policies, not something that ever affected them much anyway, in return for feeling like somebody who understands their fears is in control.

The same thing is feeding the right everywhere — this is hardly breaking news at this point. Liberal centrists nurture nationalism when the economy is booming, partly as insurance policy against both populist right and internationalist left, and partly to satisfy their own crypto-fascist longings for authoritarianism. When times get tough, nationalism proves the most fertile ground for fascism to flourish in. In the US, where the first part of that equation has been running smoothly for a while, the piper has late come gravely due. The cheek-ruddying nationalist self-hypnosis produced by the Brexit referendum was a watershed in the history of bamboozling a very often bamboozled electorate.

Fascism consolidating since 2012, almost the whole map showing some lean toward Le Pen.

The pundits hailing the French election result as a victory for sanity or commonsense or whatever are steadfastly failing to notice the cracks shooting through the superstructure. The political and social order that began with Thatcher, and Reagan, and which has been expanded under every US and UK leader since, regardless of party affiliation, has hit the wall.

The French election result was not the beginning of a revival for neoliberalism, it is its death rattle, its last hurrah. We can’t continue to ignore the ever-growing numbers of people who openly express their distrust in politics as usual, who do not believe in any of the established parties or candidates to deliver meaningful change, and who are no longer buying the busted dogma that the free unregulated market always knows best.

Thanks to the assiduous self-denials of commentators like Bill Maher, most folks don’t really have a clear idea of what neoliberalism is, or if it’s just some kinda meaningless buzzword used by angry leftist grad students or what. But even if they don’t have that name for it, people everywhere recognize our current crop of establishment politicians as liars and ladder-climbers in the pocket of big business.

People know that the populists are similarly compromised, but by dint of their very existence (not their policies), the populists offer the one thing that matters most to those voters: something different, in principle, from the legions of suited, smiling, moralizing crooks who manage our economies and our democracies. All those pallid old men with both hands in the till, sneering as the flashbulbs pop.

So many things that have come to a head in world politics in the last year point toward the same underlying condition: We are arriving at a place now where those people who think of themselves as the moderate liberal centre-ground are going to have to recognize the legitimacy of voters’ disillusion with the trajectory of the last forty years of neoliberalism.
Or they could keep blaming Russia, racism, misogyny, millennials, identity politics, trigger warnings, wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth as Western countries devolve by bloody spasms into skeuomorphic caricatures of their colonial selves.

Unfortunately, our media, and through it virtually the entirety of our public discourse, is utterly enclosed and contained by the machinery of neoliberalism and institutionally opposed to any kind of leftward change. Not simply opposed, mind you: structurally incapable of supporting it. As Audre Lorde warned about another struggle, you won’t dismantle the masters’ house using the masters’ tools, and that principle might be applied here too. Maybe we have to get right down to the structures of language and start changing things there. Use whatever tools we do have to make some new tools.

I don’t know where it goes from here, but I wonder if Warren Ellis is right: if we have reached the Acceleration. If the long wait of postmodernism is done, finally finding that elusive closure-to-come in the convergence of neoliberalism’s self-wrought crises. If so, some things that we have always taken for granted are likely to be swept away in what follows, and quicker, and more irrevocably than we can anticipate.

Warren Ellis, Orbital Operations, Jan 15, 2017

In his book The Century, Alain Badiou writes that one of the characteristics of postmodernism is its inevitable deferral to questions of “what comes next? what happens after this?”. Well, Badiou’s postmoderns have their answer now. This is what’s next. And this is what was going to happen next all along.

From where we stand right at this moment, if we dare to glance backwards we can plainly see that this is where the path of neoliberalism was always leading. Thatcher, Reagan, Major, Blair and Brown, Clintons, Bushes, Trudeaus, Mulroney and Chrétien, Sarkozy, Zapatero, Merkel, Aznar, Lipponen, Kok, Kohl and Schröder, Papandreou, Cameron, Harper, Howard, and Obama. All steered us cheerfully toward this breaking point.

They were all called “competent”, “electable”, “safe pair of hands” by people in expensive shoes. Sensible, forward-thinking, and supremely rational. The pro-business liberal, the compassionate conservative, the third way mandarin, the social-liberal-but-fiscal-conservative, the foundation-owning, after-dinner-speaking warmongers and well-dressed arms dealers to the world. Those are the people whose work has brought us here. The wreckage of their project is largely a consequence of the massive upward redistribution of wealth that they have facilitated, and now they want us to believe they are the only ones who can fix it. The solution they offer is to keep doing what they were already doing, but more so.

Our current leaders, degenerating warmed-over clones of Thatcher and Reagan (or Blair, in Canada), ask us to trust in them a little longer, just endure the austerity, and the war on terror, and the surveillance state, and be honoured to live freely in the masters’ house, according to the masters’ rules, or better yet to die enlarging it. We are prodded into accepting a little more injustice each day for the sakes of peace, freedom, security, stability, progress and then asked to blame our neighbour instead of the people running the show when the injustices we are made complicit in continue to mount up, and fail to deliver those promised abstractions.

“It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” wrote Fredric Jameson. But neoliberalism, at least, is busily orchestrating its own demise, seemingly by default, out of a failure to imagine a world that might appeal to more than a select and wealthy few. Let its champions claim the French election as a victory. It is no surprise that they cannot recognize the turning tide in the animus mundi , since they have spent their whole careers in impermeable denial of the world having such a thing as a soul.

They are too invested in the corporatization of politics to backtrack now, and the powerful business interests they are beholden to would anyway refuse to allow it. All that remains to them is to cling fast to the glossy wreck of their stricken ideology. Shrill, demented choirs hymning their own mighty works as the catastrophes they have created come crashing down upon us all.