By Sally Campbell
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Editorial: The centre didn’t hold

This article is over 5 years, 8 months old
Issue 419

The world we live in is turbulent. It is also polarised. Trump’s victory is a devastating signal of this.

The job of socialists is not to despair or commentate, but to look reality in the face and analyse it as a guide to action.

In this month’s magazine Lewis Nielsen attempts to do this with the explanations being put forward by left wing commentators and activists, who look on in despair at the reality of a billionaire bigot winning the presidency. Many believe that the vote has unmasked widespread racism and bigotry among the “white working class”.

Trump used the Islamophobic and anti-migrant atmosphere that has been built up over years to great effect — and fascists and racists everywhere are celebrating his victory. But the economic reality of the US for the past few decades must also be taken into account. The key rust belt swing states were where the battle for the presidency was really won.

A central factor is the collapse of the “extreme centre” — from Hillary Clinton’s celebration of Wall Street to David Cameron’s Remain campaign, which tried to win people on the basis of retaining the status quo.

Joseph Choonara’s article this month looks at the double-hit of Brexit and Trump that the global elite is now facing. The neoliberal consensus of the past 30 years has been thrown into chaos, and no one is quite sure how things will play out.
The Tories in Britain have no plan, as Alan Gibson shows.

But there is also uncertainty on the global stage of imperialism. Trump harks back to the Bush Jr era, but the global situation is very different from 15 years ago. Simon Assaf’s article on the Middle East begins to sketch out how the many competing and unequal imperialisms, currently intersecting over Syria, might react.

The central question, as always, is what we can do. Millions of people are rejecting the status quo — but in all kinds of limited and sometimes downright reactionary ways.

Socialists can point to signs of life — the tens of thousands who immediately took to the streets against Trump; the millions marching against the right wing president of South Korea; the continued support for Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. Our first priority has to be building an anti-racist movement strong enough to hold back the growth of the populist right. All roads lead to the Stand Up to Racism demonstration on 18 March.

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