Here are the facts: the Labour Party in Britain currently has the lowest amount of parliament seats since 1935. In Austria, the political left in Austria is at their lowest level since 1945. In Germany, the left is second lowest since 1940. In Sweden, the left has seen such unpopularity since 1908. And in France, Italy, and the Netherlands, the political left is currently at their lowest level of popularity EVER I think you’ll find it very enriching to find out why the left is losing, not only in Europe, but throughout the Anglosphere as well, and what it all means for the eventual rise of a new conservative age.
Eric Kaufmann, political professor at the University of London, has an excellent piece on the Law and Liberty website entitled ‘Why the Left is Losing’. He has done some wonderful work in demographics, particularly the demographics of conservative religionists and how they are on course to, in his words, ‘take over the world.’ I’ve used his work in a number of my books, particularly The Return of Christendom, The Coming Rise of Christian Education, and The Triumph of Tradition. He is an excellent scholar and on the front lines of the rise of the new nationalist populism that is sweeping the world, particularly Europe. He begins this piece by noting that the mainstream Left, what we might call the center-left is in serious trouble in the West. The immediate occasion for Kaufmann’s writing was of course the absolute trouncing that Labour got in the December national elections in Britain. They only got 203 parliament seats compared to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives who got 356. It was a massive blowout losing the popular vote by 12 percentage points, from 44 percent down to 32 percent. It was, simply put, the worst result for Labour since 1935. It is so fascinating that this kind of trouncing has become par for the course for the mainstream Left of late. The most recent election was also the worst for the French Socialist Party, once the dominant leftist party in France, as well as the Left in Italy and in the Netherlands. The German Social Democrats suffered their worst election since 1949 and the Austrian Social Democrats had their worst since 1945. Finnish Socialists are in their worst position since 1962 but the crown for the worst of all parties seems to go to the Social Democrats in Sweden they suffered their worst election since 1908.
Are you sensing a pattern here? What is going on? For Kaufmann, in a nutshell, an increasing number of Europeans are simply not interested in the economic or class conflicts of the 20th century (Bernie Sanders take note of this!). Generally speaking, they are not interested in the rich vs the poor, not interested in state redistribution versus free markets, and regulation vs deregulation and the like. What we are finding, in poll after poll, election after election, is that Europeans are more interested in issues involving immigration, culture and national identity, and national security. What we are seeing here is a mass paradigm shift where the political issues that defined the 20th century are being replaced with new issues of the 21st. This political paradigm shift is hugely advantageous to the political right and radically disadvantageous for the political left. Why? Simply put it is easier for rightwing parties to move left on economics than it is for leftwing parties to move right on culture. I think Kaufmann is so right here; it is easier for rightwing parties to move left on economics than it is for leftwing parties to move right on culture. The new paradigm shift is creating voters who are predominantly conservative on culture but center-left on economics. We saw this with Trump. He fully adopted the nationalist and traditionalist sentiments of rural America while at the same time adopting their preference for protectionist economic policies that were once the domain of the political left the New Deal or post-World War II center-left. The modern left has so embraced identity politics and multiculturalism that they have found themselves handcuffed on the cultural issues which favor the cosmopolitan urban left, and these handcuffs have effectively rendered the vote-rich zone of most electorates out of the political left’s reach.
We have seen this with the mass defection of the working class voters. While the left is infatuated with women’s rights, gay rights, transgender rights, immigrant rights and minority rights, infatuated with their constant obsession on exposing and ending racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry and intolerance, they have left no room for white working class men who have been most welcomed by the political right, who’ve effectively pivoted their economics to be more accommodating to populist working class sentiments. Remember, of all the voting groups in France for the 2017 Presidential election, the working class was the only group that had a voting majority for Marine Le Pen. The vast majority of working class voters voted in favor of Brexit back in 2016, even though the vast majority of their Labour representatives opposed it and then tried to thwart it! In the States, 200 counties in Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that had voted Democrat in every presidential election since the 1980s by a 20 points margin suddenly swung over and voted for Trump by a comparable 20 points margin, representing a 40 point swing. That swing was so dramatic it was so significant that even if Hillary Clinton got the same turnout among blacks as Obama got, she STILL would have lost the election! That’s how significant this mass defection of working class voters has been! So while the left has gone through a Great Awokening, the right has expanded its base with a whole new voting constituency that has abandoned the left and joined the right!
The result is nothing less than a new cultural realignment that has upended the class composition of the main parties. Kaufman notes that a sizeable majority of working-class voters voted for Labour since 1945. But since hacking Tony Blair’s New Labour back in 1997, Labour’s support within the white working class has fall dramatically to now barely 20 percent. That means that in Britain, the Tories’ voters are now more working class than Labour’s voters. That was unthinkable as recently as 1995, let alone 1945. Same here in the States: the GOP is now the party of the white working class. FDR’s New Deal Democrat coalition has collapsed and the white working class has defected to the Trump Party which is the new nationalist populist GOP that Pat Buchanan envisioned in the 1990s, made up of economic nationalists, populists, and Christian pro-life traditionalists.
Kaufmann looks a little deeper into the data here, and what he finds explains precisely why this new nationalist populist coalition works. What he finds is that the shift of white working class voters towards the right is heavily predicated by views on --- what else? --- but immigration! Those who want restrictions on immigration have moved to the right, while those who want open borders have moved to the left. So this, in many respects, explains why the nationalist populist right has exploded in popularity throughout Europe since 2015, the year of the Migration Crisis. Kaufmann cites European Union data that shows a parallel between the rise in immigration from 2013 to its height in 2015 and a comparable rise in voter concerns over immigration right along with it. The numbers rose in tandem with one another. By late 2015 the number one issue in all of Europe, the 28 member nations in the EU, was immigration. That was the number one issue most important to voters in virtually every single nation. Kaufmann cites a study as well that found a significant relationship between immigration levels, concern over immigration, and populist right support in nine of ten western European countries between 2005 and 2016. He also notes that this political paradigm shift, where we have gone from concerns about class and economic policy to concerns about immigration, culture, and national identity, is causing the mainstream right parties to transform into what we like to call on this channel ‘nationalist populist lite’ parties. These are mainstream conservative parties that have begun to openly embrace the concerns of the nationalist populist right and we are seeing that of course in Britain, in Austria, in Hungary, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, even Germany! The CDU, Angela Merkel’s party, is far more nationalist and conservative in Eastern Germany, as is the Christian Social Union in Bavaria.
It appears that leftwing parties are facing a rather horrible dilemma: move right on immigration and risk alienating your cultural Marxist identity activists, or remain true to cosmopolitan identity politics and keep losing elections. That is the new electoral reality for an increasing number of leftwing parties. A new electoral reality that promises to usher in a new political order comprised of nationalist populist and traditionalist dominance for generations to come.
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