Having said all that, whilst it appears that those who voted for Corbyn, Trump and Brexit were largely disenchanted with a political establishment which had supported growing inequality and protected institutions, even incompetent ones, at the expense of individuals, there has to be something else at work. In each of these cases, those who voted for them ignored all the evidence that these votes would actually result in genuine, long-term change for the better in concrete ways and cast their votes anyway. Why? I think this has been pretty well rehearsed over the last few months but I haven’t quite seen anything which absolutely nails it (perhaps because there are a lot of complex things in play), so here’s my take on it.
Partly this has to do with conspiracy theories, which are everywhere right now. The Russians are to blame. The Chinese are to blame. The mainstream media is to blame. The Rothschilds are to blame. Some kids in a Greek village are to blame. The MMR vaccine is to blame. Big Pharma is to blame. And so on, and so forth. Conspiracy theories have always been around, but the internet and social media have allowed them to flourish as never before, like funghi on a dead tree. This we start entering the era of “alternative facts”.
What’s of interest is why these conspiracy theories are so popular. There’s been some research done on this which shows that people are generally more likely to believe in conspiracy theories when they feel they lack control. In other words, conspiracy theories are fed, surprise surprise, by people being frightened by a situation they don’t feel they can do anything about.