Right now, the West waits with bated breath, anticipating an election and chaos in the USA. As the de facto world leader, America sets the tone for what everyone else emulates.
Will it choose socialism and China with Biden, or a libertarian anarchist plus strongly social conservative and nationalist streak with populist Donald Trump?
Many find themselves afraid of change. We all fear change in ourselves most, but that entails fear of change in the world, since if it changes, we adapt or get whapped by the natural selection stick.
Trump winning means that he will continue to succeed; that means that the paradigm will shift, mostly strongly from the FDR-JFK-LBJ-Clinton formula that the Left has relied on for almost a century. It most likely will un-do the idea of Lincoln, which was that civil rights are more important than results, and probably overthrow The Enlightenment,™ or the idea that all people possess equal minimum capacity for “reason,” or deductive logic in an abstract context, itself something Tradition would revoke.
Just like when Nigel Farage appeared on the scene in England, a choice awaited: step into the twenty-first century by rejecting the obsession with symbolic correctness of the twentieth, and risk chaos and change, or stick with the dying and miserable civilization that you know enough to have adapted to even if you do not like it.
I always compare the choice before us to that of a shipwrecked passenger. He finds himself in an old, battered, and leaky lifeboat. He can keep it afloat only by bailing. Across fifty yards of open ocean waits a new, watertight, and safer lifeboat. Does he abandon the devil he knows for the chance of something that will really meet his needs?
Our lowercase-c “conservative” parents — that means resistant to change — and bosses, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances will tell us their wisdom, which is to just keep the lifeboat you have. It is a done deal and a sunk cost. Any change means you could lose everything. There could be sharks, man. Sharks.
Luckily reality is a more flexible place than humans like to think. The sharks are probably busy eating those already dead and can be avoided. Fifty yards of open ocean is not an easy task, possibly, but it is not impossible either. On top of that, having a lifeboat where you can actually get some rest because you are not constantly bailing has some advantages, too. What if you are on the open sea for multiple days? Better to be protected, stable, and able to ride it out.
We fear that water however. It represents the unknown, both past and future, including in our minds. Do we have the guts to make the swim? The strength? The mental fortitude to avoid freaking out if a shark appears, and instead to quietly float until it departs? We fear ourselves and this is why we fear change, because it forces us to act, to perform, and to test ourselves, and most of us suspect that we will come up short.
My parents lost their house in the Hurricane Harvey floods, which were actually created by poor water management by the City of Houston. The waters came in and destroyed everything they owned. This had both downsides and upsides.
On the downside, they had to start again. Beginning life with only what you could chuck in your cars and drive away has its challenges. Among other things, you lack all of the implements of daily life that people accumulate over decades.
On the other hand, they had been in deadlock for years. Many of their gadgets worked badly, they hated some of the design features of their home, and they had become indecisive about some hobbies and activities that seemed, well, perhaps not to be really their thing.
The flood swept it all away.
With a rebuilt house, they have fixed all of the design features that they did not like, and removed all of the hobbies and activities that did not fit them. A lifetime of cruft, things they feared giving away because they had been given, and semi-functional gadgets also floated away.
Restarting gave them a new take on life. They realized that, ultimately, they cared about only a few things, and so they put all of their energy into those, working from a new house where the downstairs bathroom is finally of a decent size and the toilets flush properly.
It took some guts to hop out of the leaky lifeboat and swim to the watertight one, and some tragedy, but they made it, and it was for the better.
Trump and Farage offer the same to the West. It has been clear since the 1990s that our new postwar liberal society — globalism, market socialism, civil rights, consumerism, diversity, bureaucracy — may be better than what the Soviets or Europeans had, but it was still not good.
In particular, it sucked all the joy of out life, as anything socialist-tinged tends to do. People worked too much since there was no loyalty derived from shared culture. Too much time was spent on navigating manipulative companies and careerists in government and private industry. Pop culture became mass culture which descended to new levels of crass and stupid.
Our leaky lifeboat will not carry us very far. We need something new, and populism offers that, since it cuts out the dysfunctional and keeps the functional, giving us a foundation upon which to build. But are we brave enough to cross the open sea?