What in the world is going on? It certainly appears Western middle class citizens are angry. There’s the drama of Brexit in Great Britain, and the ongoing aftershocks of the Trump election in the U.S. The protests of the Yellow Vests have put a stepover toehold on French President Macron’s government, and the recent reelection of conservatives in Australia has flummoxed all.
Victor Davis Hanson asks (and then answers below), “What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections?”
- Lax immigration policies: Illegal immigration and open borders have led to chaos. Lax immigration policies have taxed social services and fueled multicultural identity politics, often to the benefit of boutique leftist political agendas.
- Outsourcing, Offshoring: Globalization enriched the cosmopolitan elites who found worldwide markets for their various services. New global markets and commerce meant Western nations outsourced, offshored and ignored their own industries and manufacturing (or anything dependent on muscular labor that could be replaced by cheaper workers abroad).
- Increasing Power of Unelected Bureaucrats: Unelected bureaucrats multiplied and vastly increased their power over private citizens. The targeted middle classes lacked the resources to fight back against the royal armies of tenured regulators, planners, auditors, inspectors and adjustors who could not be fired and were never accountable.
- Indoctrination Replaced Reporting: The new global media reached billions and indoctrinated rather than reported.
- The Shrillness of Academia: Academia became politicized as a shrill agent of cultural transformation rather than focusing on education—while charging more for less learning.
- Rising Costs of Housing, Energy: Utopian social planning increased housing, energy and transportation costs.
The Wealthy Not Bothered by Higher Taxes
These diverse issues can be answered by one common refrain, suggests VDH: “The wealthy had the means and influence not to be bothered by higher taxes and fees or to avoid them altogether. Not so much the middle classes, who lacked the clout of the virtue-signaling rich and the romance of the distant poor … elites never suffered the firsthand consequences of their own ideological fiats.”
- Green Policies: Green policies were aimed at raising fees on, and restricting the use of, carbon-based fuels. But proposed green belt-tightening among hoi polloi was not matched by a cutback in second and third homes, overseas vacations, luxury cars, private jets and high-tech appurtenances.
- Education: Government directives and academic hectoring about admissions quotas and ideological indoctrination likewise targeted the middle classes but not the elite. The micromanagers of Western public schools and universities often preferred private academies and rigorous traditional training for own children. Elites relied on old-boy networks to get their own kids into colleges. Diversity administrators multiplied at universities while indebted students borrowed more money to pay for them.
- Immigration: In matters of immigration, the story was much the same. Western elites encouraged the migration of indigent, unskilled and often poorly educated foreign nationals who would ensure that government social programs—and the power of the elites themselves—grew. The champions of open borders made sure that such influxes did not materially affect their own neighborhoods, schools and privileged way of life.
The Non Elite Will Become Angrier
Victor Davis Hanson expects that in the next few years, there will be more grassroots demands for the restoration of the value of citizenship coupled with fewer middle-class apologies for patriotism and nationalism.
The non-elite will become angrier about illegal immigration, demanding a return to the idea of measured, meritocratic, diverse and legal immigration.
Much more from VDH here.
Originally posted on June 14, 2019.