The Establishment is in full retreat — at least in the political sphere.
The shocking passage of Brexit led to the fall of David Cameron’s government. Marine Le Pen and her National Front continue to grow in influence in France. Similar movements grow in Austria, Italy, Finland, even Sweden, that beating heart of open-borders liberal globalism. And, of course, you may have heard about the recent elections in America.
The reason: our Establishment rulers simply suck at their jobs. And their subjects know it. This is why this is happening. As with most populist revolutions — French, Russian, Iranian, Chinese, National Socialist, and so forth — what comes after the fall of the old regime will be even worse. Trump and his Trumpkins just want to make their own crude new Establishment, no less controlling than the last one. But that does not alter the fact that the old regimes before each revolution, including our current one, had become too decadent, too incompetent, too out of touch, too selfish, and really did deserve to get kicked off the stage of world history.
And despite the drubbing they’re getting at the polls across the globe, our elites, our Davos set, our ruling class have learned nothing.
A big component of the various populist uprisings is social media. After all, it’s not like the National Front could ever get positive coverage in the normal French media. So, Le Pen, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump rely on their followers (and paid trolls) sharing memes, news, half-truths, outright disinformation, whatever it takes, to their friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Neutral voters may get their interest piqued by such shares, follow the rabbit hole to anti-establishment websites, and soon find themselves converted.
The Establishment notices this, and tellingly: They blame Facebook and other platforms for allowing such speech and not controlling their users. This top-down view of how the world works is precisely what got them in trouble to begin with — that our insular coastal elites are actually smart and wise enough to know what’s best, and that you rubes out in Ohio will always get yourselves in trouble without the gentle guiding hand of Matt Yglesias to control your thinking.
For instance, it is Facebook that drew the ire of Buzzfeed today for letting their fellow Establishmentarians down. Ryan Broderick, who’s been with Buzzfeed for years and has shown up on shows such as the Today Show, blames pro-Trump Facebook memes not on the people who create them, but on Mark Zuckerberg for allowing them to happen.
“But their memes have appeal and the most viral ones go mainstream,” Broderick writes. “Their Facebook pages get bigger. Algorithms identify that a user likes one particular page and suggest others, creating an echo-chamber effect that can lead to some pretty scary places.”
In other words, it’s Facebook’s fault for its industry-standard “similar things you may like” algorithm not steering its users like cattle away from anti-establishment content. As if a typical Breitbart pro-Trump propaganda piece should then be matched with a Vox explainer and a page where you can donate to the Hillary campaign to get wayward thought criminals back on the reservation.
Broderick then includes this astonishing paragraph:
My own opinion of Trump and his alt.right trolls may be readily surmised with a brief perusal of this blog. But at the same time, I know exactly where the anti-establishment rage that propelled him into office is coming from. It’s from university presidents treating themselves to ever-more-extravagant salaries and bonuses while tuition continues to outpace inflation. It’s about the university’s education quality continuing to erode in favor of establishment interests such as political correctness, the cult of diversity, and, often, the football team. (The latter because it’s not like having a strong English Lit curriculum is something that lends itself to bragging rights for members of the Board of Regents.)
It’s about feckless politicians and their cheerleaders in the NYC and London-based media pushing for ever-more immigration — and without any arguments as to why, other than calling all immigration opponents racist. It’s about said immigrants competing for working class jobs while the elite still live in majority-white neighborhoods with majority-white schools, all while tut-tutting about just how much more diverse and inclusive they are than you hicks in flyover country. It’s about the global economy increasingly benefiting the top 0.1% — mere one-percenters are pikers these days — while everyone else’s buying power seems to stagnate. It’s about blue-collar jobs getting outsourced to Mexico while the company executives still retain their plush corner offices, and writers for both the New York Times and National Review saying that’s just how the world works. It’s about plum jobs such as NBC News reporting gigs going to Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton purely on account of their parentage, while young plebians without the last names or without the connections can never break out. It’s about the Democratic Party floating trial balloons for Chelsea for Congress mere days after her mother’s crushing defeat, proving they’re trying for a repeat of 2016 in 2018.
And yes, it’s about the media elite believing, despite all evidence, that they know what’s best for you people. It’s about John Oliver and Amy Schumer and the above Ryan Broderick and Vox’s Ezra Klein actually believing more in the system than in the people who are failed daily by the system. And when the people go anti-establishment? It’s the system’s own fault for allowing improper meme-sharing!
You have to buy into the party orthodoxy hook, line, and sinker to even be considered for a position with Buzzfeed or some other NYC or London media outfit, or for a late-night comedy gig. And that’s on top of the connections and Ivy League degree required to even get an interview. It’s why John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah and Steven Colbert are all basically interchangeable. It’s why the staffers of Buzzfeed are so politically in lockstep with one another that even Bolsheviks have to be impressed. They’ve created this echo chamber, with the writers of the sites and the shows writing more for each other than their actual readers or viewers, seeing each other all the time on the L-train, never rubbing shoulders with Trump voters other than with the occasional Jane Goodall-esque, “Trump Voters in the Mist” piece looking at them like a different species. It’s no surprise that Broderick’s answer for Trump voters’ thoughtcrimes is the same one that Buzzfeed itself relies on for its employees: enforced ideological conformity. Unfortunately for Broderick, though: his editor Ben Smith can’t fire John Q. MAGA out in Iowa for wearing the wrong red hat. Therefore, his proposed solution is “safeguards” — quite the Orwellian word — for those that pursue Trump memes, or who are in his word, “radicalized.”
Broderick uses this word “radicalized” intentionally. There are already rules and procedures with social media companies to deal with ISIS and other terrorists who attempt to use their services. It would take little effort to expand these rules to include followers of Trump or Le Pen too, right? Buzzfeed can’t fire these voters from their jobs for their political heresies — so perhaps they can shame Zuckerberg to fire, or at least shadowban, them off Facebook instead.
The coastal media elite’s prescription after the Hillary loss is more of the same. I won’t ever like the clown fascism of the Trump Administration or the nonzero chance Cheeto Jesus will get us in a nuclear war because the Chinese president said something mean on Twitter. But I do like snotty, conformist writers in Brooklyn and London with breathtakingly easy lives and parents paying for their rent getting their metaphorical teeth kicked in. It’s just a shame they learned absolutely nothing from the experience.