Two days ago I presented the idea (not mine!) of the Nation as Institutionalized Solidarity. Yes, it feels good, but how do you clean the notion of Nation from what it has been overloaded with by far-right nationalists? How do you load it with a new, much more humble meaning? And is this kind of manipulation morally acceptable anyway?
Loading concepts with meaning, that is one of the main tasks of all kinds of leadership and political leadership even more so. The art of politics is the art of planting ideas and of making people follow those ideas. This is independent of political direction and this is timeless. Politics means to make people join and work together towards a common goal. That’s for moral considerations 😃
The real question is: how do you do it?
It’s pretty unfortunate and really bad news, but it will be a lot of work and take a lot of time. Even worse: we cannot be sure that it’s not already too late. Could be a fruitless task, doom could already be spelled and the other side won’t just sit there and let us take away their crown.
Today everything seems to be twisted. Meaning is made by propaganda, facts are a suspicious concept and reality falls apart.
If you ask yourself how the destruction of reality began, you have to look into the 1970s. The established order seemed to corrode. Vietnam and the Anti-War movement, Watergate, the sprouting Green movement, Feminism, they all seemed to push politics more and more to the left.
This was the time when influential conservative groups began to invest in Think Tanks. They poured real money into the science of making political change - and it paid. Within little more than a year we saw Helmut Kohl, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan come to power, along with the matching pope, John Paul II.
And they delivered. I can’t really say that there was a necessity for change in Germany. Kohl’s predecessor, Helmut Schmidt, was on the conservative side of the Social Democrats, a charismatic politician (more so than Kohl), but he had trouble with terrorism, and terrorism normally drives people to the right. Kohl took the chance, made Schmidt’s liberal partner break the coalition and change sides. Kohl was lucky, terrorism ceded anyway, and this was it.
I don’t know what happened in the UK. I suppose Labour simply had weak leaders and no good plans. Just like right now. But then, I don’t know. Fact is, that Margaret Thatcher’s attitude and stance against the EU (“I want my money back”) was immensely popular. She did manage to modernize the UK radically. It was at a price, it opened a rift between the north and the south-east that would never close, but people seemed to like the stability. They always do.
And Reagan? He brought back the hostages. Even on his first day in office. A saint was born. Wikipedia calls it a conspiracy theory but: talk about collusion!
With that mighty base, conservative politics were back on the map and step by step the agenda was pushed further to the right. It’s not that there were no “left” successes, Clinton and Blair, Schröder and others were successful, but they all had learned to like the way politics were made now. The hunger for exploration was gone, the “left” enjoyed to be established. What had been left was center-right now, what had been right, began to join the far-right fringes.
At that time we saw increasing liberalism in private life and increasing conservativism in public life. Feminism became the norm, but the feminists of today dress in pink and buy gender-specific toys for their children. Along with this went a re-sexualization of fashion. This all seems incongruent, but in reality it turned out to be symbiotic. Changes in private life don’t have influence on politics. Changes in public life do. What the masses voted for, was perceived safety over freedom, economic stability over economic change.
And then there was the economic crisis. And the answer of the establishment was, to save the established economy, to bail out the rich, to let the masses pay. And things began to ferment.
And then there was the rise of Social Media.
The established political parties didn’t recognize their power (with the exception of the Obama campaign), the far-right embraced it and the left - made identity politics. That’s how Trump and Brexit happened.
Basically what the left lacks, that is financial support (the far right was always supported by conservatives intending to use it), 30 years of mind change and five years of activism.
In other words: everything. So let’s start 😃