I’ve been trying to read some things from Henri Lefebvre. Here’s a passage I really liked from a Critique of Everyday Life (pp. 89-90):
Lefebvre talks about the isolating effects of globalisation, as in the Great Dictator, “we have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in.”
I see this spilling over into individualised politics, for which every setback is a personal failing, and nobody is able to concieve of social forces. It’s almost banal by now to point out the absurdity of liberal discourse. Trump doesn’t care about the environment, or women, or helping the poor, he is stupid, ugly, bigoted, and it’s as if those things are true regardless of what he represents. There is no consideration of society, the popular mass, there is only the bad man.
In politics, we see call-out culture spilling over into ‘bashing the electorate.’ In the aftermath of the Australian election there was this tendency to blame the voters. If the election didn’t go as expected, the voters must be stupid, ugly, bigoted, bad people. I’m not going to defend them, Australians are definitely pretty racist, but this same attitude gets deployed again and again as a trope of anti-populist liberalism. Politicians chastise the people.
Remember Macron referring to angry citizens as children, meanwhile we still haven’t forgotten the schoolchildren lined up by police in Mantes-la-Jolie. The parties ask: are we so out of touch? No, it’s the voters who are wrong.
With the EU elections coming up I’m braced for some grim reactions. Even without the ever-present menace of ‘Russian interference’, they can do better than expressing open contempt for the people.
Whatever happens, even if you don’t care, this concerns everyone.