Richard Seymour is a writer, broadcaster and socialist, raised in Northern Ireland and currently based in London. He is the author of The Liberal Defence of Murder (2008), Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens (2012), and Against Austerity (2014). A contributing editor of Salvage, he also writes for The Guardian, the London Review of Books, and many other publications. He currently presents a programme, ‘Media Review’, for TeleSur, and has previously appeared on BBC, Al Jazeera and C-Span. He is finishing a PhD at the London School of Economics, where he also teaches.
by Richard Seymour
On both sides of the Atlantic, there is one group of people who terrify and enrage the punditocracy. The legend that is the ‘white working class’, a trope long in gestation throughout the noughties, has finally struck back with a vengeance. Conservatives in government, Brexit, and now President Trump.
The ‘white working class’ used to provoke mainly a form of sentimental nostalgia and patronising endearment. It was a tea towel memory, a commodity, not something that had real influence. But the terror arising from this wave of global reaction is producing an interesting anti-democratic backlash amongst liberal-minded opinion-formers. The lefty vicar, Giles Fraser, has argued that Trump’s win is a good case for a hereditary monarch. A royal head of state, he argued, would provide a structure of meaning that guaranteed national cohesion and attenuated the bitterness of democratic contestation. But this backlash against the ignorant voter has been developing for some while among sections of the intelligentsia.
By Richard Seymour
All the wrong people are cheering. Farage, bulbous eyes swivelling and moist, lauded a victory for “the real people, for the ordinary people, for the decent people”. The citrine-tinged Trump, with customary intuition, praises the Scots (who overwhelmingly voted for Remain) for taking their country back. Marine Le Pen, hailing a “victory for freedom,” demands a similar referendum in France. Certainly, George Galloway, having joined Farage in demonising ‘mass immigration,’ is also pleased, and there are a few saps who think that Tony Benn’s democratic socialist dream is on the brink of fruition. But the serried ranks of red-faced, Toryboy rosbifs, delightedly fluttering their Union Jacks while sinking glass after glass of celebratory fizz, know that tomorrow belongs to them.