Sunday, June 26, 2016

Trump and Brexit - Libertarian dreams of an authoritarian who will fix it?

A number of really good recent pieces on the Trump phenomenon...

Trump: The Haunting Question

All very well written and most of which allude to a critical point I would highlight.

We are in the middle of a transformation of historic proportions which is completely changing the way we live, work, and learn.  Many want to compare this era to the transition from Agricultural to Industrialization, but a more accurate comparison is between Hunting and Gathering societies and Agricultural societies.  Figuring out where the extra people would work when everyone wasn't either hunting or gathering is different that retraining people from working in farms to working in a factory.

We very much want to retrain, because it is the only model we can imagine.  But, retraining is not nearly enough, primarily because we can't imagine what this new economy will look like.

Trumps supporters, and those who supported Brexit, don't want to transition, they want things like it used to be, their nostalgia about industrialization is misguided and simply wrong.

It's a fascinating conundrum that they say they want 'freedom', they want 'self-rule', they want 'to take care of themselves'... they argue that it's their 'libertarian spirit'.  Yet, at the same time they want authoritarian politicians and leaders like Trump to just "fix it", to bring the companies back.  And though they won't say it, the companies they want back are the ones like their fathers and grandfathers used to work... companies who will 'take care of you'.  It was the grand bargain, perhaps part of the social contract, where if you worked hard, played by the rules, you could get a job that would pay the bills and ultimately retire and 'do what you want'.  I've written multiple times on this site that that deferred life plan many signed up for didn't workout as most hoped it would, nevertheless, we're nostalgic for the dreams that we were sold, even if they didn't come true.

We don't know much about this new economy, but right now it appears one of the keys appears to be that companies simply do not need people to make record profits and  won't be hiring people for the long-run, they'll being hiring freelancers and temporary contract help when they need it.  So, they won't take care of you and thus for individuals to succeed they'll need to 'take care of themselves'.

Which is interestingly enough what many say they want, but are not prepared to do in this new economy.