Not enough community, not enough belonging: Shadi Hamid on politics and technocracy

shadi

Here is a commentator with something valuable and insightful to say about Trump’s win, politics in general, being human, and the fall and fall of technocracy: Shadi Hamid, senior fellow of the Brookings Institute and author of Islamic exceptionalism: How the struggle over Islam is reshaping the world and, a rhetorical title this one, Is a better world possible without US military force?

” … this gets at a bigger problem which is that classical liberalism, the liberal tradition, and the left in America … what it’s sort of morphed into is a kind of placid, centre-left managerial technocracy. It’s about nudging, it’s about tinkering around the margins, it’s very fact-based, it’s very policy-oriented, and that doesn’t speak to something which again – I don’t want to get into human nature or moral philosophy too much here – but what a lot of us are actually looking for at the end of the day is a politics of substantive meaning, and technocracy does not offer that, and it’s not just in America, it’s in Britain, it’s in Continental Europe, it’s throughout the world, the Philippines, the Middle East …

Some people find this meaning in religion, as in Muslim-majority countries oftentimes; in places like France and Poland, they find it in illiberal ethno-nationalism. What connects these different strands is a kind of disaffection with this liberalism which says, “Hey, anyone can find the good life in their own way through the individual search for meaning”, but a lot of people find that it’s chaotic, it’s empty, there’s not enough structure, there’s not enough guidance, there’s not enough community, belonging and family, and that’s who we are. We are beings who need that …

And I hope that one thing we can all learn from this is that the liberal left needs to rethink its basic assumptions about human beings. We don’t act according to rational economic incentives a lot of the time. That’s not who we are. And when people say, “Oh, Trump supporters are voting against their economic interests because there’s going to be massive tax cuts that benefit the rich – hey, that’s probably true – but people aren’t being rational in this very narrow economic sense. They’re valuing things which mean more to them, which they associate with culture, identity and community …

Liberalism needs a fighting fate. We need to know what we stand for, we need to articulate a vision that inspires people instead of telling them that we’re going to give you slightly better universal healthcare …”

~ Shadi Hamid, speaking on The Minefield, ABC radio, “What is the meaning of Trump?”, 10 November 2016; @shadihamid on Twitter

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7 thoughts on “Not enough community, not enough belonging: Shadi Hamid on politics and technocracy

  1. Spot on, Narelle! The assumption that people behave based on rational thinking (cost/benefit calculation) is flawed. Perhaps some do in certain situations, but most of us are driven by our emotions. This is neither good nor bad; it just is. Intellectuals love to throw facts at problems and then scratch their heads wondering why the facts don’t seem to matter to people.

    It’s so simple, really. People make decisions based on what FEELS good or right or true not on what IS good or right or true (which is smart, because there is no objective “good, right, or true!”).

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    • Killer last line, Lorna. So good. The fundamental misunderstanding of existence: that meaning resides in the thing itself (not in the mouth, not in the ear). All these people running around insisting on Trump’s lies, Clinton’s lies, fact-checking departments, and it’s all beside the point. They want to win an argument, to make themselves right and someone else wrong. In the meantime, life goes on, outside right/wrong, good/bad, like/dislike.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An insightful article. Thanks for posting. I do think the similarities between Brexit and the Trump win are telling. There has been an economic recovery in the US, but many people have not benefitted. They blame immigration, refugees, the “other”. The solution? Close the borders.

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  3. **We need to know what we stand for, we need to articulate a vision that inspires people instead of telling them that we’re going to give you slightly better universal healthcare …”**

    YESSSSSSSSSSS!! xx

    Like

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