If you have a radical view of societal change today, you belong to a mob of factually misguided, gullible, irresponsible, malicious loudmouths who create unrest.
That is the conclusion of New York Times columnist David Brooks’ analysis in his article “What’s Wrong With Radicalism“. An easy and ingratiating read for the diminishing host of readers who are still convinced that the cause of increasing populism, the mistrust of the establishment, and a new political landscape across the western world is only an unusual virus; namely this radical, malignant and infectious mob. But it will soon pass; the well-established politicians, economists and opinion leaders are the obvious shepherds and healers.
There is something religious about this. Or at least a strong sense of escapism. Thoughts veer towards the Titanic and the orchestra that played for the 1st class passengers until the end. Well-dressed, cultured and wealthy people, mostly men, who share an illusory culture that just has to remain.
To me – politically engaged in an activist movement consisting of 70,000 members with concrete economic, social alternatives to the current order, in pursuit of genuine democracy and transparency – and others who left the sinking ship long ago; columnists such as Brooks seem like a dying race, with neither political argument nor vision. In the United States as well as in Europe, wise and innovative people and activists work to create a different and worthwhile social structure that can put an end to people’s increasing distaste for those in power and politics.
The Panama papers, paradise leaks, persuasive and dishonest presidents, surveillance, a small autocratic clique of people in the financial industry who are allowed to own most of the world’s resources, media companies controlling millions of people’s digital lives, increasing numbers of people suffering from mental disorders, and globalization that has removed power so far away from people’s everyday lives that no one cares anymore, are some aspects of our reality. Perhaps Brooks considers this fake news and behind the denial is, of course, the insight that this miserable state is not caused by “political fools”; it has been created by all the common democratic and undemocratic forces that have, for so long ruled the western world. Most of the passengers aboard this sinking ship are now trying to protest, knowing that we have crashed into an iceberg – and knowing who steered us into it. But in one of the sloping salons you will find people like Brooks. Clad in evening dress, puffing on a cigar, still in the process of ordering the best available cognac, in conversation with a small clique of opinion leaders who live in the past.
It may be that in this time of doom some of the passengers are screaming, are raging and shoving at each other and that every little pronouncement is not always true, but still, in comparison with Brooks, they stand on firm ground in the understanding that our society no longer primarily serves its citizens.