Benjamin Nielsen is a conservative student at the Department of War Studies. His academic interests include diplomacy, the history of European international relations, comparative European politics, and Western philosophy.
When the United Kingdom, in June, decided to leave the European Union, most of my teachers and fellow students reacted with a mixture of bewilderment and anger. “How can more than 17 million people find the European Union so repulsive?”
When the American people, last Tuesday, elected Donald John Trump as the next president of the United States, the anger and bewilderment among teachers and fellow students returned with even greater force. “What makes more than 59 million Americans vote for this racist, sexist, homophobic person?” (Apart from the prospect of getting to see more of his incredibly beautiful and elegant wife, obviously).
Baffled and visibly disgusted by the outcomes of the EU referendum and the US election, students and teachers are now searching for explanations as to how all this could happen. But where should we start? In the unreadable, empty and fatuous writings of Foucault? In the pseudo-scientific scholarship of Saïd? Do we start with a bit of Gramscian nonsence? Or just the blatant drivel of Deleuze? Surely, these neo-marxist turtlenecks would tell us that it’s all about the bourgeosie versus the suppressed workers. Not surprisingly, some ‘intellectuals’ have already framed the election of Trump in terms of class politics.
The only problem with this explanation is that neither Brexit nor the election of Trump have much to do with economic circumstances or inequality. As Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, Erik Kaufmann, clearly illustrates the far most important issue for both Brexiteers and Trump voters was/is immigration. In order words, Trump-voters and Brexiteers are primarily people who first and foremost prioritize cultural continuity and reject fundamental socio-ethnic change. The real explanation for Brexit and the election of Trump is thus to be found in the realm of culture.
How do we respond to this “anti-immigrant movement of exclusion” which now includes if not the majority then a very significant and ever increasing part of the Western population? Well, being a student in this day and age, I’ve come to learn some of the most typical solutions:
1: We could arrange a ‘Tolerance and Anti-racist protest march” in Shoreditch during which we will shout abuse at people who don’t have the same opinion as us.
2: We could try and make #fuckPatriotism trending on social media.
3: We could write another angry facebook-rant about neoliberalism. Or Bush. Or Blair. Or Israel.
4: We could all gather in an organic coffee shop in Soho and write a blog on hetero-normativity, stereotypes and structural sexism while we eat gluten-free avocado wraps and listen to 84 hours of non-stop Tracy Chapman.
5: We could arrange a panel “discussion” – of course only with participants we agree with.
Are any of the 5 solutions above useful? Of course not. But maybe they can give you an idea of why the liberal-left is about to become even more disliked than Piers Morgan.
The only real solution is for all – including the most unworldly parts of academia – to accept and acknowledge that culture counts. In every nation-state, there will come a point where the uncontrolled influx of immigrants and the continuous breakdown of traditional norms and values will begin to threaten the very foundation of the nation – the shared cultural identity and heritage among its citizens. And the first people to feel this threat are the ordinary men and women who live normal lives. This is not an extreme nationalist theory – it’s a moderate conservative observation. Until the established political parties in the Western world begin to value, protect and acknowledge their nations’ cultural basis, more and more people will see no other option than voting for otherwise extreme and unappealing persons like Trump and Le Pen.