“If voting could change anything they’d abolish it,” was once a catchy quip used by cynics to justify their apathy and non-participation in elections.
As often is the case with such sayings, it carries a grain of truth.
People still get very hot under the collar at election times. Ever more money gets spent on the campaigns, which last longer and longer.
In modern times, for a multitude of reasons, these elections do not matter anywhere near as much as the cultural and economic changes taking place – on which those who get elected seem to have little or no influence.
The Right of the political spectrum really thought that, with the defeat of Soviet Communism in the 1980s, the Left was bound to be in retreat. In reality, it totally failed to grasp the social and cultural changes that were taking place and the fact that the Left was now pursuing a different strategy.
What was forgotten with regards to Marxism is that it was never really about the dictatorship of the proletariat, which was to be just a phase in the overthrow of capitalism.
The real objective was to create a world without nation states, patriarchy, religion – the “opium of the people” – and the exploitation of mankind and nature.
The Left moved away from using the working class as a battering ram for the creation of the “new order” when it realised that the proletariat was not only in decline but also often hostile to leftist ideas.
Instead of the working class, it is the elites – the professional class – and the middle class who have become the social base of the “new Left”.
The collapse of the command economies and one-party Communist states was a setback for the Left but only to an extent.
In the longer term, getting rid of an obsolete model based on autocracy and heavy industry benefited the Left. It enabled it to concentrate on trying to achieve a new order – this time without the “grubby working class” and its hang-ups about nation and family.
And, in attacking the Church, heavy industry, family and the nation-state, the new Left now had a powerful ally: international corporations, for whom families, religion, heavy industry and national boundaries are seemingly all obstacles to profits.
They appear to desire a world in which movement of labour is free, more people have to work and production is dispersed as this keeps the price of work down.
The managerial class now sees globalisation of the economy and internationalisation of government as the primary means for retaining power. Differences between the traditional parties of the Left and Right have, by and large, become entirely irrelevant for them.
Anyone attending the gatherings of the Bilderberg Group would not be able to tell who is, theoretically speaking, from the Right or the Left of the political spectrum.
The goal is to enable international institutions, which take away – or at least obscure national-level responsibility – to function freely. The workings of global institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the European Union are what preoccupies them.
Politicians from the traditional parties see the benefits in supranational solutions such as passing on responsibility to others for unpopular decisions and building niche electorates centred around gender politics, multiculturalism and ecology to dismantle old social and cultural ties.
Today’s Left has given up trying to build mass or trades-union-based parties, having opted for what the late Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci described as the “march through the institutions”.
This was carried out working in small circles or cells of influence – in the media, in education, in the professions and in emerging civil society non-governmental organisations.
The 21st Century Left has proved to be far more flexible, pragmatic and versatile than the old Communist or Social Democratic parties of the 20th Century.
They are far more prepared to infiltrate existing political structures and collaborate with unlikely allies. They exert enormous influence on the political scene in Europe, with their ideas accepted by political forces that comprise the socialist, liberal and even Right-of-centre parties in the European Popular Party (EPP).
Even the British Conservative Party has accepted large chunks of that agenda. In the US, their ideas are now widely accepted within the Democratic Party.
There are very few bastions of politics, commerce, the professions, the media, or showbiz in which these ideas aren’t dominant. They have defined political correctness – and now control the language and the agenda of political discourse.
The ideology of the largest supranational structure, the EU, is Marx rather than Schuman. This was confirmed when Jean-Claude Juncker presided over the unveiling of a giant statue of Karl Marx in Germany that was paid for by – wait for it – the Chinese.
Juncker’s homage to Marx will be remembered through the ages as an important part of the submission to the new ideological masters.
The Conservatives in Europe and the US have been in retreat throughout the 21st Century. Brexit, Trump, Orbán, Meloni Kaczynski, Bolsonaro and Milei are all evidence that there is still some resistance out there, even if it is not as coherent as it was in Thatcher and Reagan’s day.
But the problem for American Republicans, British Conservatives and the Right in Europe is that they have to fight not just external foes who oppose democracy and freedom (such as China, Islamism and Russian imperialism) but, first and foremost, leftist ideas and institutions that are attacking them from within and on a scale that the likes of neither Reagan or Thatcher ever had to face.
Moreover, European Conservatives face the problem of having to fight against broad coalitions that are made up of the Left, Liberals and even the centre-Right, who all want evermore European integration and globalisation. This is the case in the European Parliament, in Poland and now in the Netherlands, too.
The problem is that the advocates of freedom and the nation state still tend to believe that the battle can be won in elections and cite the story of David and Goliath.
But they fail to grasp that the David and Goliath story was only “news” because, in 99 out of 100 cases, it’s Goliath who wins. The proverbial tank usually triumphs over the sling.
Indeed, the Goliath of our modern times controls most of the media, academia, corporations, judiciary, the professions, public administration, civil society, international organisations and now even many parties that we used to regard as right-wing or Conservative (the EPP being the classic example).
Since the Right has lost all those battles, no wonder that even when it gets elected it is just in government but never in power. The past 13 years of a Conservative (sic) Government in the UK is par for the course in that regard.
While many on the Right are fascinated by electoral politics, the Goliaths on the other side understand where power really lies and it isn’t in parliaments or cabinet rooms any longer.
The battle for ideas is more important and it is one the Right has been losing big-time since the eras of Reagan and Thatcher.