Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Owen Jones Doesn’t Get It


There can be no left-wing populist movement so long as the modern Left continues to openly despise such a large segment of the country

The leftist boy wonder Owen Jones has had a good long think about the implications of Donald Trump’s election victory, and has come to the airy conclusion that the Left needs a “new populism” of its own.

From his latest Guardian opinion piece:

Trump’s victory is one of the biggest calamities to befall the west and the effect is that every racist, woman-hater, homophobe and rightwing authoritarian feels vindicated. This rightwing populism can no longer be dismissed as a blip. Indeed, without an urgent change in strategy, the left – perhaps all progressive opinion – will be marginalised to the point of irrelevance. Our crisis is existential.

Multiple factors explain this calamity. First: racism. The legacy of slavery means racism is written into the DNA of US society. The determined efforts by African Americans to claim their civil rights has been met with a vicious backlash. The exit polls suggest that Trump won a landslide among both male and female white non-graduates: only white women with degrees produced a majority for Hillary Clinton.

Second: misogyny. Trump – who brags of sexually assaulting his victims – ran a campaign defined by hatred of women. Clinton was self-evidently an establishment candidate, but a male candidate of the establishment would have been treated differently. Some American men feel emasculated by two factors: the demise of skilled secure jobs that gave them a sense of pride and status, and the rise of women’s and LGBT movements, which some men feel undermine their rightful dominance.

But there is a factor that cannot be ignored. Centrism, the ideology of self-styled moderates, is in a state of collapse. In the 1990s, the third way project championed by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair could claim political dominance in much of the US and Europe. It has shrivelled in the face of challenges from the resurgent populist right and new movements of the left.

Yes, political centrism is dying, or at least under grave threat. And this is a good thing. It brought us nothing but dull, remote managerialism and technocracy, and enabled the elitist gravy train which so greatly enriched those with access to power while punishing those without. We should all be looking forward to dancing on centrism’s grave.

But sadly, Jones couldn’t leave it there. He continues:

Whenever the economic insecurities that fuelled Trumpism are mentioned, several objections are raised. It’s an explanation, some say, that fails to account for the large majority of working-class Americans from minority backgrounds who vote Democrat. Then there is the issue of culpability. Many insist that working-class Republican voters must take responsibility for electing a racist, misogynist candidate. True, some will be racists and misogynists beyond redemption but others have the potential to be peeled away if the lure is attractive enough.

Owen just doesn’t get it. Keep peddling in identity politics, keep making identity politics the battleground on which issues are debated and elections fought, and the white working class will organise and begin acting like a cohesive minority group themselves – because it is rapidly becoming clear to everybody that so long as the Left persists with its “divide, stoke resentment and conquer” approach, emulating their tactics is the only way for opponents to prosper and defend their own interests.

Note the sheer condescension of Jones’s arrogant claim that some Trump voters may, just may have the “potential” to be redeemed, as though voting for Trump was an endorsement of the worst allegations levelled against him rather than a self-interested choice between two candidates. The equivalent would be to claim that Democratic Party voters were endorsing secretive email practices, closeness to Wall Street, dubious charitable practices and shady financial dealings with their vote for Hillary Clinton. This is ludicrous on its face – and so it is to accuse most Trump voters of making their selection based on the worst utterances and behaviours of Donald Trump.

Owen Jones has clearly learned nothing. He has marinated and festered in toxic identity politics for so long that he knows no other way of thinking. And the new “left wing populism” he seeks to create will never come to pass because by definition it will always exclude and be violently antagonistic towards the white working class, the very people the Left needs to pull it out of terminal decline.



Top Image: Miquel Garcia, Wikimedia Commons

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12 thoughts on “Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Owen Jones Doesn’t Get It

  1. kolnai November 13, 2016 / 9:40 AM

    Arf, arf.

    I too once tried to see the modern world through classical eyes. And discovered there really were ‘moral foundations’, shorn of quotes. Indeed, without these foundations (which can not be seen, heard, smelt etc., pace David Hume) there is nothing.

    Nothingness – nihilism – is the foundation of totalitarian thought; and Jones’ fondness for chavs (or ‘chavs’) is revealing. In 1942, the world’s most hated chav – today his name is a synonym for evil – took the summer off. Whilst the Russian front opened. Instead of leading the doomed charge, he preferred to be savaged by the boots of blonde film stars.

    Thank you Owen. You still have much to show us from your playpen.


  2. Dave Alexander (formerly ukuleledave) November 10, 2016 / 10:24 PM

    Wilson says the left ‘might be “marginalised to the point of irrelevance…” Funny, that is exactly what I heard about the Republican party on NPR just before the election.

    I think the left has had its day, played its hand and bungled so many things. I don’t care much for Trump, his clumsy way of losing track of the tings that matter, or even his treatment of women.

    But don’t you dare call America racist, homophobic, sexist or all these other things just because we exercised our right to stop the left wing global juggernaut.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper November 10, 2016 / 10:39 PM

      I agree with you that the Left massively overreached on a number of issues (social, economic and otherwise), which partly fuelled the massive backlash which delivered Trump to the White House. Personally, I did not support Trump – I have grave concerns about his temperament, his policy knowledge and his actual interest in / appetite for governing and being the daily national voodoo doll that the job requires (ask Pres. Obama!) But that being said, many of the allegations about Trump and his supporters were absolutely false and outrageous. The Left did not even try to defeat Trump on the arguments, instead they resorted to personality based smear (though to be fair, Trump made that all too easy).

      Right now, I am concerned but not hysterical. Trump has been duly elected and whatever we fought for during the campaign, now we all have to do our best to ensure that the next four years are a success. There can be no Mitch McConnell style rooting for Trump to fail.

      You’re quite right, though I have of course witnessed racism and bigotry in America (as I have here in Britain), I would not call America a racist or sexist country. Americans are the best people I know, and I can’t wait for the day when I can call myself an American citizen. All these people wailing that they suddenly feel unwelcome in their own country need to calm down. America did not suddenly transform into some dark dystopia overnight. Let’s have some optimism, even among those of us who are disappointed or concerned!


  3. The Independent Whig November 10, 2016 / 7:16 PM

    The two moralities and cognitive styles have always been at odds with one another.

    “The Cousins’ Wars” by Kevin Phillips shows that this struggle has manifested in three different political upheavals; The Glorious Revolution in England, the American War for Independence, and the American Civil War.

    Those three conflicts can be thought of as ideological World Wars One, Two, and Three.

    The partisan divide and the culture wars of today are, essentially, World War Four. The exact same two sets of mutually exclusive “sacred values” are struggling with one another yet again.



  4. The Independent Whig November 10, 2016 / 7:11 PM

    The cognitive styles that represent the two sides of the ideological divide are represented metaphorically by Arthur Herman in his book “The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization.”

    Jones’ thinking corresponds with the metaphorical Plato, who thought that everything in the real world is but a pale imitation of its ideal self, and it is the role of the enlightened among us to help us see the ideal and help to steer society toward it. This is RFK’s “I dream things that never were and ask why not?” It is John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It is President Obama’s “Fundamentally Transform.” Concepts that follow from this intellectual wiring scheme include outcome-based positive liberty, equality, justice, and fairness. It is represented by Woodrow Wilson’s progressivism, FDR’s “New Deal,” LBJ’s “Great Society,” Obamacare, and modern-day liberalism/progressivism.

    The alternate view is the metaphorical Aristotle, who thought it’s all well and good to try to improve the human condition, but the real world we actually live in places some practical limits on what’s achievable. The clay that is human nature not infinitely capable, nor is it infinitely malleable. We have to work within those limits. It’s when we forget them that our good intentions lead us down the proverbial road to hell. Concepts that follow from this cognitive operating system include process-based negative liberty, equality, justice, and fairness. These are represented by Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke, Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, The Federalism by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and modern-day conservatism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Samuel Hooper November 10, 2016 / 7:23 PM

      This is incredibly interesting. My education is so woeful in places, I have almost zero philosophy – you wouldn’t care to put together a year’s self-improvement curriculum for me, would you? 😉


      • The Independent Whig November 10, 2016 / 7:50 PM

        HA! What a nice thing to say. Thank you.

        For years I tried to understand ideologies by reading history books like “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution” by Bernard Bailyn, “Novus Ordo Seclorum” by Forrest McDonald, and “The Idea of America” by Gordon S. Wood.

        Only after being steeped in that background did I stumble upon Haidt in particular and social science in general, and all those other books fell into place in a big AHA! moment for me.

        The biggest flaw of social scientists like Haidt, from my perspective, is that that they don’t dive into the history books. Instead the subjects of their studies are primarily people who live in WEIRD Western cultures, and within that group only those who are currently alive.

        In this way social science cuts itself off from whole departments (again, metaphorically speaking. e.g., the history department, right across the hall, so to speak, in the social science building on campus) of evidence and data that would, if studied, yield a much broader and deeper grasp of what’s happening today right outside our windows.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Samuel Hooper November 10, 2016 / 7:58 PM

          I take your point – I find Haidt engaging and insightful, but how much more would his social psychology have to say if it was also tethered to some kind of historical and philosophical thread.

          There is so much that I don’t know. I frittered away my peak learning age doing adult finger painting at Business School, and now even when I find time to read the lack of a classroom environment and people to discuss and debate with makes it all but impossible. I wish I could go back a decade and get a decent Ivy League liberal arts education as a foundational building block. But the various book recommendations you have made here will be very useful if I pull my finger out and read them all. I must make this a 2017 new year’s resolution. Any old fool can watch the news and spout opinions into WordPress, but I would really like to aspire to more than what I currently do.


          • The Independent Whig November 10, 2016 / 8:06 PM

            I’m quite similar to you.

            I too often think I’d like to go back to school and get a degree in a topic related to these topics.

            I’m about to turn 60 and I’m not independently wealthy so it appears to be not in the cards.

            That said, my mom, who graduated from high school on D-Day and didn’t go to college, at 80 something years old earned an associates degree from the local community college.

            So anything is possible.


            • Samuel Hooper November 10, 2016 / 8:19 PM

              That is encouraging! I’ll definitely make a start on some of these books next year once I clear my current list, thanks so much for sharing your recommendations and insights – and as always, for reading


  5. The Independent Whig November 10, 2016 / 6:39 PM

    The psychology behind Jones’ thinking is described in The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics And Religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

    The human brain is pre-wired with evolved psychological mechanisms of social perception, subconscious intuition, and conscious reasoning.

    Cognitive styles, and the ideologies that follow from them, vary in the degree to they employ these “moral foundations.”

    When half of the foundations are essentially unavailable to one’s social cognition, as is the case for people who think like Jones, one is left with no cognitive alternative but to conclude that people who think differently are, well, as Jones describes.

    A huge reason that so many people think the way Jones does is that the industries of academia, entertainment, and media – the megaphones of our culture which, to a large degree, determine its core values and set its tone, direction, and curricula – are owned and operated by people like Jones.

    If academia were to do its job and instill in the population a more complete and accurate understanding of human nature and human history than it currently does then thinking like Jones’ would be crushed by the weight of empirical evidence and responsible disciplined reason.

    Liked by 1 person

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