The European establishment is celebrating the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election. The developing narrative to explain his win is that the European voter has rejected the nationalist populism of Marine Le Pen and come back to support more traditional, establishment policitians and policies.
But as Richard Fernandez points out, the elites are whistling past the graveyard. He writes of both the French election and the probable victory of a South Korean liberal, Moon Jae-in, in tomorrow's presidential contest as evidence that the populist wave isn't going away.
Although Macron's victory and Moon's likely triumph will likely be portrayed as a return of electoral politics to the globalist mainstream -- a reversal of the Brexit/Trump trend -- they are actually the opposite. Both are attempts to solve challenges that have baffled the elite. Hillary Clinton in her latest attempt to reinvent herself revealed an off-beat turn. "I’ve spent decades learning about what it would take to move our country forward, including people who clearly didn’t vote for me. To try to make sure that we dealt with a lot of these hard issues that are right around the corner, like robotics and artificial intelligence, and things that are really going to be upending the economy, for the vast majority of Americans, to say nothing of the rest of the world. So, I’m now back to being an activist citizen, and part of the resistance." [Italics mine]Macron is going down the same old, same old. Globalization, social media, scientific revolutions are still taking the world order apart. At least Hillary's at the point where she's changing the talking points to see what happens. The hurricane which began with Brexit and Trump, far from dying down, is amping up as the local elections in Britain suggest. The working class has been orphaned by the Left and Macron claims to be the Center. The winds are coming from another quarter.
It's possible the 'responsible' plan is to rely on a Macron or Hillary to guide us into a future they alone understand, but not likely. Perhaps what is happening is partly explained by Venezuela, which exhibits an eerie stability even as it sinks into chaos. A New York Times article explains Venezuela's calm as a case of stress aggregation rather than conflict resolution. The Venezuelan elites have not won and sitting on their laurels; they are just deadlocked waiting for someone to break ranks to show which way to run.
The populist wave that led to the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump has been building for most of the last generation - at least since the end of the cold war in Europe. One election will hardly put a stop to it, or even slow its momentum. The latest iteration of populism that has been churning beneath the surface of western politics, driving history forward has largely been invisible thanks to a solid phalanx of opposition from media/political/cultural elites. All that was necessary to bring it to the surface was the right issue (Brexit) and the right man (Trump).
Historical trends like populism do not happen in a vacuum nor do they suddenly appear unbidden and for no good reason. Elites like to believe that voters have been fooled into voting for Le Pen and Trump, that the populists have put one over on ordinary people. But Le Pen, despite being overwhelmed by a veritable avalanche of viscous, sustained, and unprecedented media hate, received twice as many votes as any National Front candidate in history - including her father.
If that doesn't concern the elites that the populist trend is alive and well, nothing will.