A man dressed in red-white-and-blue sits on the curb during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Ted S. Warren AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.
I had a bet with my American friend Stewart Brand that Trump would win. He wrote to me this morning: “You called it right. And I called it wrong. Groan. Now the weirdness!”
I wrote back to him:
“Welcome to the post-Liberal world. I think I know exactly how you feel – I remember the morning after Brexit, and the realisation that I lived in a country I didn’t really know anything about.
It’s a genuine revolution – but one we didn’t recognise because we had nothing to do with starting it. We always thought we were at the centre of things, but it turns out we’re not. It’s us, not them, who are in a bubble.
Is there any good news? My post-Brexit feeling – after the initial shock and disappointment – is that there is, along with a lot of danger and uncertainty. Liberal America will now have to take a good hard look at itself, as Liberal England has been doing. There has never been so much future-oriented socio-political discussion here, never so much a sense of ‘We haven’t been paying attention’. New groups and coalitions are springing up daily and the whole landscape is changing. Everyone is thinking … effectively trying to save or if necessary reinvent liberal democracy.
One reassuring side to this though: it destroys any conspiracy theories about secretive cabals pulling the strings. They weren’t in this at all. It’s very conspicuous that even FOX was taken by surprise; that even the revolting Koch’s didn’t put their pennies in. This was, for better or worse, a genuine people’s revolution ( – so it can happen).”
I see this as an opportunity – which is why I’m less distressed than my American friends. For years I’ve been hearing ‘we don’t do politics’ from so many intellectuals – as though it’s something shameful, a bit like public masturbation. Now I think perhaps we’ll sideline our Virtual Reality iPads and dreams of Colonies on Mars for a little while and start thinking about what’s happening here, on Earth.
This is a wake-up call for many people. I’m glad that DiEM25 is already awake along with openDemocracy.
Brian Eno is a member of the Diem 25 Coordinating Collective