RSA Replay: Populism and the Fate of the West | Bill Emmott | RSA Replay

RSA Replay: Populism and the Fate of the West | Bill Emmott | RSA Replay



you you you you you you you you you you you you you – please get lost water okay let's try and get started on time because I'm sure this is going to be a fascinating debate our distinct distinguished panel had promised me a Fight Club so I'm really excited to being I called myself a ringmaster of that but that's not what we are the referee of a really interesting and hopefully a little bit volatile debate good afternoon everyone and welcome to the RSA my name is Rowan Conway I'm director of innovation and development here and I'm delighted to welcome you to today's special lunchtime event before we begin please turn your Mobile's on to silent but we are live streaming over the web today and so big welcome to those of you on line joining us online and please join the discussion on Twitter our hashtag is RSA democracy today and we're trying to boil the ocean somewhat with our with our topics we're here to discuss populism and the political moment that we find ourselves in today where nations are faced with global instability and economic and uncertainty and it's tempting to react by closing borders hoarding wealth and solidifying power and for citizens to look upon one another with suspicion in comprehension and mistrust but this insularity together with increased inequality of income and wealth threatens the future role of the world West as a font of stability prosperity and security so our panel are here today to discuss populism as this dominant political force and its impacts on the fate of the West which is no small task to for them to define between five to seven minutes but we're going to ask them to have a go I will introduce them swiftly so we can get on to this which will be a lively debate we're going to start with Bill Emmett the former editor-in-chief of The Economist who has literally written the book on the fate of the West and there will be copies outside later and he will be followed by Edward Lewis who is the u.s. correspondent for the financial time who is also written a book on populism and the retreat of Western liberalism and URIs lay lower yen dike I got that right deny you yes good good is an investigative journalist for The Guardian all three are separately publishing books on this and this way to tackle this rise of populism and the waning of liberal values in the West so we couldn't have a better union of minds and we've asked them to be quite combative and come up with different things and to to fight each other as well as come to some kind of consensus at the end and and reach out to your questions but without further ado I'm going to hand over to Bill thank you thank you all for coming here today it is tempting and I've run asked me to particularly focus on Europe it is tempting for an author of a book called the fate of the West say that the fate of the West is in the hands of French voters that on Sunday the French voters will determine the fate of the West this is tempting but misleading the sort of nature of a moment that we are in is such that I think if we did have a president lepen on Sunday this would be highly likely to begin a spiral of at least deterioration were probably destruction of many elements of what we think of or as the west of liberalism and the liberal order certainly at an international level the arrangements the relationships the free trade Arrangements the rules of law in international affairs that have run things and therefore we would say my god we're how are at a turning point the European Union could be leading moving towards disaster however the likelihood as it at least as the polls suggest and after yesterday's TV debate they seem confirmed at least in the immediate post debate polls that Emmanuel macron will win on Sunday but that I'm afraid although I am an optimist does not mean that the fate of the West is secure because seeing election victories or defeats as being were part of a kind of tournament of a sort of League championship of liberalism versus populism stroke nationalism is I think the wrong way to look at if President mackerel is elected on Sunday and then if he is able to form a working majority in the parliamentary elections in France in June basically the task will be his to prove that a liberal democracy like France is able to deal with the genuine grievances and disillusionment that 40% of French voters or so will have shown by voting for marine lepen in other words in France in the Netherlands in Italy which is going to be the next big test of the fate of Europe at least there are genuine grievances that explain why we are in the state we are those grievances essentially go back in my view to the 2008 financial crisis the worst crisis for 80 years a crisis which many people were that were asleep at the wheel in the run-up to it that reflected to some degree a distortion of public policy by overweening power of the financial sector and of distortion of campaign finance through campaign finance of some of the workings of democracy within America and in Europe and that in the 10 years almost 10 years since the financial crisis has not been successfully addressed the slow recovery since then if there has been a recovery the continued decline in real incomes in many countries are genuine reasons for discontent and disillusionment with like the establishment with old remedies if we look at Italy where the five star movement of the comedian beppe grillo which in 2013 selection had the most successful electoral debut of any party in Western European Democratic history reaching 26% of the vote is now above 30 percent and is essentially a party of rejection of the current establishment a party of rejection of establishment including Italy's youngest-ever Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who came there in 2014 but who have failed to deliver hope an opportunity for a new younger generation and who are now considered to be still irredeemably corrupt and criminal whether the five star movement can obtain a working majority or get into government at the election that Italy will have to hold but between now and April of next year remains to be seen but if they did then it could be as big a threat to the future of Europe as a lepen victory on Sunday so you'll understand why I say the fate of the West will not be resolved by one election what needs to happen is delivery of better living standards and a better hope how do i sum up that delivery in order to finish my five minutes is to say I think that the formula of the West that has been neglected or fallen into too much disuse has been a combination of openness the openness that is as it were now encapsulated by the word globalization but is really not globalization but rather all-round openness and equality equality meaning a participation of citizens as equal people with equal political rights an equal voice and an equal sense of sharing in the fruits of national prosperity and I think that we maintained openness probably went too far on capital flows and speculative finance and then but at the same time neglected equality and that is what we've got to deliver better on I'll stop there thank you sir I don't want to stop thank you I enjoyed that Bella that I really don't want to disagree with you not not least because you were very kind when you were editor of The Economist to offer me a job and it's sure great great wisdom and great judgment on your part twice twice and both times I lapsed and and didn't make the right choice but but I don't want to disagree with you because generally I agree with you but let me just pick up on on one point you attribute most of this to the 2008 crisis I think it goes much deeper and goes back much further than that I moved to the States for the second time in 2006 and that was towards the end of a business cycle 2000 to 2007 business cycle that was the first on record in American history well since the depression where the median income the middle class income was lower at the end of it than at the beginning and we are still even now after eight years of recovery following the financial crisis at a lower median household income than we were in 2000 so I think these have deeper roots than that one in six American men out of the workforce one in six prime age males in America are out of the workforce there is a crisis of not just of economics but of morale of status of dignity that's got a particular male flavor in the United States and I think the the quality of the populism of Trump's politics has a most people I'm sure would agree a particularly male dimension to it there are 77,000 steel workers in the United States and the debate in the last elections all about steel workers getting those jobs back coal workers are about 80,000 coal miners left in the US all of whom are pretty much all of whom are male on the other hand there are eight hundred and ten thousand people employed as home.how ADEs get paid much less don't get pensions don't get health benefits don't have job security they tend to be female no snow focus on their plight on the fact that this is a growing sector this is where jobs are going to come from they're not going to come from the mines they're not going to come from steel they're going to come from basically servicing the wealthy and servicing the old as those service sector jobs are the jobs of the future they're female jobs they're not getting the attention they deserve this year alone in the American economy a hundred thousand retail workers have lost their jobs we don't hear much about that again lots of them female so the roots of trumpism and the roots of populism in Europe go back I think to in some respects go back a generation the fact that we're seeing this collapse in morale a declining life expectancy again for the first time since the Second World War amongst white middle-aged males and females gives us a Russian flavor Russia in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a collapse in morale a collapse of people's sense of security of where they were in the world and I think Trump is a symptom of this Trump comes after 10 20 30 years of this being baked into people's lives the question is will Trump address it the title of this is the roots of populism can we put put it up by its roots now the interesting thing about Trump is that he is pursuing so far a classic neoliberal Republican agenda he wants to cut taxes ma'am he wants to gut the Wall Street reforms that Obama put in place after the o8 crisis he has pivoted away from the protectionist rhetoric of the election and he said nothing about the infrastructure promise says he made on the campaign trail so we're getting essentially an agenda if he's competent enough to push it through and I don't think he is frankly but if he's competent enough to push this through then we're getting an agenda the racks she that is actually going to accentuate all the conditions that led to his election it's going to accentuate that sense of alienation that sense of ruthlessness and that sense of racial scapegoating that he exploited so well to get elected and on the other hand whilst we know I think already and can be pretty sure that he's bad at governing he's just not got the mindset he's not got the patience he's not got the interest to build the kinds of coalition's you need to build in America to get things done we do know that he's good at campaigning and he will keep campaigning whilst he isn't governing and unfortunately that might be enough to do the trick to keep him to keep him at a sufficiently high poll rating to have a credible shot at getting reelected and what do I mean by that I won't go on too long I mean by that something in America that is called negative partisanship namely you support your party not because you believe in anything it stands for but because you hate the other party so much and Trump understands this very very well that he doesn't need to deliver these bridges these airports these middle-class jobs he doesn't need to put the welders back to work what he needs to do is humiliate mock and tweet against the liberal elites and they will react on cue every time he just needs to compliment Kim Jong and or invite what Rodrigo Duterte from the Philippines to visit and the elites will lather they'll foam at the mouth and Trump's ratings with with his base will will will go up so I fear that the roots of populism 2016 is not some blip year a lot of people presented as such and 2017 is not going to be some corrective to the blip year builders might have lost lepen might lose but the conditions that gave rise to these people under Trump are going to pertain they're going to persist and they're not going to go away and there's some of the policies that you very wisely suggested to put in place but the circumstances where politics is going to put those in place really hard to imagine at this point yes thank you very much for having me I'm by training an anthropologist and so when I pitched the idea for a book about populism to my publisher about why people would vote for published parties he asked me a very painful questions like how do you know I mean are you going to speculate on the motives of populist voters are actually going to talk to them so that's what I did and I thought I'd go back to my own country the Netherlands for this because I just know the country better and so I've been talking to hair builders voters as many as I could have been reading up on background I was really struck by the debate yesterday between Marco and the pen is that it the pen echoes all the issues and points made by Fiat builders and so what I found is I think quite well I know if it's different but it is it's at least a different new answer I found what what unites all these photos is a sense of loss of legitimacy and so there is I think there's a social contract traditionally between leaders and the people so to speak is that you will protect us in exchange for which we will accept your privileges and what was striking is that that together with what populism in other word has come up with it which is elite and I think an elite that is seen as legitimate will not be called an elite and so I try to dig into that loss of legitimacy and what I found was two things which happily illiterate in English sadly knows in Dutch a fear and fairness and so I think fairness is in in Bill's book comes out very strongly and I think many of his points are echoed by those voters and it's about the fruits of live of globalization if you are dock worker in Rotterdam and you have to compete against Bulgaria and Romania and Polish workers who can be paid five euros whereas you have to be paid 17 euros due to the minimum wage that has very little to do with sort of ideas about Europeanism or globalization it just means that basically you're you're bumped out of the workforce it's unfair competition and it's fairness about incompetence so our states across Europe have become really harsh if you make a little mistake as a as a small business you get you get fined very hard and then people look at politicians who mess up the financial sector and then they go work in the financial sector so there's there's there's a sense of fairness and then there's fear and what was really interesting is in one hand I found the sort you know run-of-the-mill racist fears of foreigners which I would call the irrational fears but fear is also just a signal in the brain about danger and the rational fears I think on the one hand it's terrorism and so people just to turn on the television set and they see a bearded man going on and on how he wants to destroy Europe and then people feel that their leaders haven't taken that sufficiently seriously and then of course more people get killed in car crashes and in terrorism but people are worried about the next level of terrorism chemical weapons biological weapons there's also the fear among more highly educated middle class builders supporters about the social conservatism of immigrants and so it's striking how many and this same is true for France how many gay activists feminists and Jews have moved over to builders feeling that the biggest threat to openness is actually the immigrants and they feel that that immigrants by and large coming from Middle Eastern countries I lived there for six years and I confirm this can confirm this from our own experiences have no tradition or experience with equality or openness and they feel that actually rather than being closed themselves they feel that Holland is going to end up being a closed country if every year the country imports a hunt 100,000 socially conservative future filters and I think so far it's been quite ambiguous but the latest Aragon referendum was really striking in Belgium in France in Germany in Holland a majority of Dutch Turks voted for Aragon Dutch European European Turks could have swung the referendum against Aragon they swung it in his favor and so that's that's hundreds of thousands of people who either didn't bother to fold to save their country from arrogance proposals or actually wanted their country to become less democratic and so that was that was the fear bit and then under lying I think all this was representation the sense that their interests are simply not taken seriously and there are the key issues Europeanization and immigration so the composition of your society as well as the political structure governing your society that they don't have a say so if you are against immigration on known racist grounds there was never a party for you you had to vote either for the racists or yeah become a known voter and so I think underlying some of this is just the demand to have a say in the key questions of your society into 2d taboo eyes if you like opposition to immigration on further immigration I should say to nominate known racist grounds so comparing it to Britain and America has really struck how different the case made by Villiers and also the pen is and sorry I begin to wonder if populism really covers the phenomenon we see and if you look at the electoral map across Europe what you see is the fragmentation of the center and the collapse of the center that apart from Germany is going on everywhere and so I would say that that builders and the pen and others their symptoms and they fill a void and the void is created by the fact that the centre the post-world War two consensus has just run out of ideas and it has no answers and sure lepen has an answer so we could see that yes during the debate but if you ask mainstream politicians what's okay so how exactly is the EU going to be democratic or how exactly are we going to make sure that a hundred thousand immigrants per year will within a generation embrace central notions of equality and openness there is just as much of the absence of an answer and I think people feel this and so in that sense that the problem is much deeper and we like I think we like to focus on will they win the next election if not we can sort of you know breathe it's a bit like the snooze button so the we have a problem the alarm goes off and then the alarm goes off in an election and we hit the snooze button and until the next election garlic haha and that's the deeper lying problem and so I came out on the one hand much more optimistic because I felt that many villiers voters had actually internalized the idea ideas for equality of openness but only on the other hand far more pessimistic because I because I I got I think I got more insight and effort just how empty the center is these days so three very challenging insights there I think I'd like to pick up some of the things that your ass brought to that and start with you bill with some questions and please do you think of your questions put your hands up and I will start spotting you and we have some microphones so I will be coming to questions shortly and but to just go back a little bit to your presentation and having witnessed this phenomenon over various times in your role as economists editor in chief you describe the threat really well or describe the problem and the roots of populism really well it's probably relatively easy to say you know inequality and and the fact that sharing the fruits of national prosperity across the globe is is has been reducing in recent times but then you talk a little bit about liberal order and and pulling up this question about what is a legitimate elite you know the restoration of liberal order may be difficult to actually ever restore again in the same form that it once had if populism is a is not a blip I think that you said 2016 was a blip we all went oh goodness it's 2017 like that needs it no I know it's not but I think we all walked into 2017 thank god that's over and all those celebrities died and we can start again and actually that it was actually a new world order potentially so trying to get to it to a question around what is legitimate order in a new world where actually shared prosperity is far more complex as we have accelerating change as we have it you know unfettered globalization as population does grow as climate change becomes a reality how do we get to you know how exactly that question that you're asking how exactly is the EU or the West at large going to restore democracy well I think first of all democracy is working in some ways to well as far as some members of the so-called liberal elite is concerned is producing the wrong answers or the wrong outcomes like Trump so democracy is working I would say secondly though that it's not working in the following sense and this is my response to Ed's riposte which is as he rightly says there are there ailments that explain some discontent and the hollowing out at the center the go back a very long time normally we would have expected democracy in its fumbling sort of approximate not very perfect way to provide a provide responses to that I happen to think that Barack Obama was the first populist winner in an American election the trouble is he arrived coincident with the 2008 with Lehman with the Lehman shock if you look at the American cyclist focus on that inequality was almost the thing that gave Al Gore the White House in 2000 but then didn't quite thanks to some Chad's and other things mm and then obviously foreign policy and 9/11 and so forth intervened but then 2008 Barack Obama was both a response to foreign policy failure but also arguably a response to some of the deep-seated ailments that IDI rightly identified why didn't he in his eight years in office succeed in achieving a consensus in Congress to provide solutions I would say large substantially because of the 2008 crash which was just such an overwhelming problem so I think that if we went in any decade in the last 30 40 50 years we would find moments where there were deep-seated long long-standing problems I think in 1989 when Paul Kennedy was writing the rise and fall of the great powers and writing off America as being basically about to be overtaken by Japan and you know generally suffering from period overstretch many of those deep-seated problems were what he was thinking about there were responses but they were inadequate so coming around how can they be made adequate well I think in our in like the case of Emmanuel macron or let's put it in this country in the case of Teresa may and the Conservative Party they need to get back to some of the previous attempts to the previous solutions for investing in social mobility in investing in in multicultural integration and dealing with some of the worries about immigration that are there and I think that you see that in some of Teresa Mays rhetoric you don't see it at all in her policies I mean otherwise she hasn't been doing anything to do with these things but she I think she will should do or we will get as we're a failure in Britain after five six seven eight years so I think it is in the normal processes of democracy I don't believe that the the liberal international order is somehow defunct but I do think it's under challenge because of the hollowing out of the center and a sense that my god if if all else fails let's try a messiah whoever that messiah might be and we've seen that before in the the cycles of politics try a messiah we don't know what he or she is going to do but let's give it a go in the u.s. we are trying a messiah one could say and but there is a question there about the cycle you know political cycles and how they're accelerating in their own right in your presentation and you had said you couldn't focus on the kind of loss of the American Dream if you like and the the but but that the American male fear was being s waged by the rhetoric that Donald Trump is able to to put out there through social media and a variety of vast moving media outlets but but you know I took from your your suggestion that he could maintain popularity through kind of constant catch phrasing is that true can can you actually govern through catch raising or if there is continued material decline if automation does continue to obsolesce jobs and you were alluding to vast numbers of retail jobs being lost in the u.s. just to 2020 due to to automation can that be can catch phrasing really and work through a longer political cycle connect can you go govern in that way and if so what are the consequences of that well I guess we're going to find out the the phrase that the media took Trump literally but not seriously but Trump's supporters took him seriously but not literally implies and this sort of is reinforced by my own interactions with Trump voters implies that they they're not they don't have very high expectations that he is going to deliver on all the specific promises that he made including the Mexican wall or trade war with China but that they like him they're very very pessimistic about politics they're very bad and Obama I agree was in a way the full run I mean Hillary Clinton's the common factor here it's Americans are so fed up and cynical about their politics ability to deliver anything to ordinary people that they go each time for the rank outsider and there was no more rank outsider in 2008 particularly against Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama and of course Trump was the rank outsider to blow up the whole debate forever of 2016 millions of people who voted for Trump voted for Barack Obama so I have no doubt about it that under Trump played on fanned and expanded the alt-right universe there's a lot of racism there there's a lot of there are many baskets of deplorable since Hillary Clinton will put it but but there are also people who are not racist and were not misogynistic who voted for Obama and voted for Trump who are trying anything in a system that they just don't believe under any ordinary circumstances is ever going to deliver for them again Sonne answered your question will governing by Twitter and and through insult essentially and provocation will will that succeed it could well do it depends it depends who the Democrats put up against Trump in in 2020 if they put up somebody who's perceived to be establishment I think you'd have a good chance of getting reelected if they put up Elizabeth Warren or a left-wing populist then we will get kind of what people were expecting we might have been getting in France on Sunday with Mel Shaw versus lepen America style Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump but that that will prove what we're talking about which is the center has collapsed the the middle the middle is gone of most voters no longer trust the middle establishment politics as normal to do anything for them except patronize them and and I think they have really good grounds for thinking that in his own right is a bit of a disruptive innovation to government to politics years I mean ultimately I think he's a disruption to himself and he can't he can't stick on one subject for more than a minute so we're not going to see any governance out of them but the interesting thing to move to more of the vernacular of people who work who live by social media you know when you describe Hillary Clinton's phrasing of you know baskets of deplorable that's not very treatable you know that that that is well but but one might imagine that you have a number of elites who are interested in what you have to say so it's just trying to understand the kind of the vernacular that hits a very wide populist base as well and how baskets of deplorable is phrasing is there something that steps steps the elite if you like apart from from the general public and it's not pub talk it may might be in some pubs but strong stronger together with her sort of lying if you should have seen a list there of the Hillary campaign had about 85 different slogans they were debating it was stronger with strong families and I mean that if you look down it looks like second-rate advertisers try to sell soap there was nothing no content no just a very empty catch-all slogan and David Cameron stumbled on the same one incidentally stronger together general word generators and in that in that instance and so thinking away from the kind of the American malaise and the the but but you category categorize some kind of real or you describe real fear the fear and loss of the American Dream and specifically the the male fear I think you described as but in your explorations into fear and fairness I think we talked earlier about that this is this doesn't look the same everywhere so fear and fairness maybe something that categorizes the movement but but these things that are happening across Europe across the West at large are very different in their tone and in their detail can you can you give us an example it'll give us a bit more into why why these things aren't necessarily one coherent populist movement I think one really two really important things is one is political system so France Britain and America have a kind of first-past-the-post district system and so you can have a candidate who initially only commands 20% of the vote like the pen who could now theoretically because of it gets a lot of second order preference vote and make it into presidency in if you look at the countries with proportional representation they have had a populist movement for a long time it has been allowed to play out and so you can see that that even though the British press keeps on saying that support for builders is growing it's actually it's it's a yo-yo it's going up and down and apparently there's been a real instinct German long-running investigation a book that came out George sushi tender which is sort of German circumstances and they found that over the 50 60 s and 70s 80s about 20 percent 15 to 20 percent is susceptible to racist argument and what the Germans did and what I think the West generally managed to do is just not give them a party and not give them websites not give them a newspaper and so most of them just didn't vote and so now thanks to the internet they have a voice and so I think what has happened is that over time and I'm I'm not sure about America but in in Europe what we've done is because the racist and the neo-nazis were against immigration and again Europeanisation we decided that if you were against immigration and European essentially you must be a Nazi and so there can be no honest disagreement with somebody who opposes immigration there can be no almost disagreement with somebody who poses Europeanisation and I think debt has bred immense resentment when immigration and Europeanisation began to produce all these crises so you had an elite that kept saying no it's fine Sheng is fine immigration is fine multiculturalism is fine globalization is fine and then suddenly we had 2008 we had the increasing tensions between demographics in across Europe and so that I think it's quite different from America where where we were Washington at least is still politically the center you vote for a candidate who is then in charge of the nation whereas in Europe you vote for a national leader who then go to Brussels or negotiate so the Democratic mandate has also been hollowed out suspension except for the rule of law the rule of law policing that sort of thing is still firmly in the hands of nation-states and so if you campaign on a right-wing agenda of the rule of law you can actually deliver on some of those promises and so again I think the here there so it so it's it's Europeanisation and different political systems and is ting how I use I studied political science there was always the sense that that proportional representation was more risky in terms of bringing the neo-nazis back to power because look at these awful parties like the Penn and across Europe and now it seems like that actually proportional representation is a better shock absorber because on the first pass suppose you have this thing simmering under the radar and then it can suddenly burst out and so this would view Trump and brexit more as a perfect storm and just really bad luck for you people so before I go to questions trying to find some kind of positive note to this because I didn't want to go into the you know too much hand-wringing and but as well we are hand-wringing and this sort of death of traditional liberal democracies you know we don't we're not looking necessarily for you know all old remedies for new maladies you know we do have new new problems ahead of us so could this be the generational shift could this be a signal of the generational shift of a new kind of politics a new kind of a new generation of democracy that looks slightly different from the kind of just the the voting or you know doesn't the rise of populism signal something about civic participation about you know different ways that we can conduct government and if so what does the birth of the next generation of democracy look like you know how will we recognize it I put it to all of you to see if you want to volunteer what's the next wave that comes out of it what's the positive vision for the future I have to use first of all I don't think we should be pessimistic I mean I think to follow your boxing analogy I think this is we are a Rocky movie basically we've got we've got blood all over our faces we're you know we're up against the ropes but we're going to fight out of it but I I think that obviously politics keeps changing and it is it what what is characterizing that our time is a fragmentation of the royalties of political loyalties are basically a an ability to start new movements from nowhere I mean both France and Italy now have political parties or movements or whatever you want to call them that are in one case less than one year old he's about to win the presidency maybe and in little his case it's about five years old the five star movement is leading the opinion polls Trump well he captured a party but I mean he is really trump in building it I think we've got a much more fluid political scene so I think that the if there's a future vision that I can say it's going to be less loyal more fluid that it isn't going to be about Internet voting in other words I don't think we should worry so much about the technology side of it I agree with that of the Millennials in America are actually the least angry generation it's middle and late late age males who are the angriest FoxNews average viewers age 68 if you look at the Millennials they've grown up with far fewer expectations that their incomes will be double their so they're more at the acceptance there's a sort of the five stages they're not at the anger stage because they're frustrated they're expectations began lower so I think we are in for a prolonged period of lower growth I think there are very sound structural reasons for this I think we're in for a prolonged period of disruption mostly negative for most people to that to how workers is conducted to the workplace we haven't even begun to see the impact of autonomous driving you know there are more males employed part or full-time in America in driving in sample rather than there are in manufacturing so if you can imagine the impact of that so it's a question of acceptance rather than transformation it's very very hard to roll back the clock of technology we don't want to even if we could roll back the clock of globalization if there is a positive cost to this is to look at this from a global perspective as we are 12% of the world's population lives in the West we've had eighty percent of the world's economy for the last two centuries the rest are now catching up poverty and a global level is falling every year life expectancy in countries like India etc rising under trial for mortality rates rising so from a global perspective we can be very positive humanity is is rising but this means that the West is going to be squeezed for quite a long time and we've got to be saying about how we respond to this and I think Millennials are actually more realistic about what they expect from life than other generations can I just agree slightly yes I agree with Ed absolute because I we want to disagree but yeah only well first of all never forecast especially about the future I think you're making economic forecasts you're making technological forecasts that I don't know the whether you're right or wrong when all of those wagon drivers in Britain and other countries were lost their jobs thanks to the railways replacing an almost driverless tray I mean wagons with almost driverless trains this was going to be devastating forever to Victorian economic growth so I don't think we know what the jobs of the future are going to be I would be more positive about the prospect that thanks to technology we can achieve higher productivity but we need to end other words an aging person plus a robot that's that's a winning combination I want one but clearly we need to deal with some of the fundamental issues about people's expectations and their their ability to pay for things their the inequality that's in our societies that mean that household demand is is anemic thanks to like the the increased inequality of incomes and we have to so raise minimum wages that's one of my one of my beliefs I never thought I would say that chief economist but I thought one of the most interesting bits I found a bill in your book was the idea of elite restraint is that you're pointed in an open system you can win – well and I think this has been a really recurring problem is that if I've been interviewing bankers as on another Antep illogical product project I would oh don't you feel any responsibility for society at large and they did not they had totally internalized this invisible hand it's invisible not because it doesn't exist but I don't need to look for it and any sensor know if I just pursue relentlessly within the law my own self-interest all will be well it will be stable it will be maximum efficient it will be fair yeah and I think this is and I think it does tie in in with solidarity I mean do you feel responsibility you probably feel responsibility for not global population but your own country but then you have to define your own country and you get into the world of you know cultural identity and that's what we and that sits very uncomfortably with open borders but I think this this this return of the idea that a leads have a responsibility beyond their own CV you know the sort of the antithesis of Tony Blair you know it became a you know fixer for JP Morgan for – now million a year I mean that has been devastating for the having the reputation of the left I think that was that that that really made me hopeful I think of the former editor-in-chief of The Economist you know the depends of the neoclassical economics is that is your magazine would say we need elite restraint then I think yes you make my day okay so I had a gentleman there who is gentleman there and then I have a gentleman over there I'd like some ladies please I'm not going to go to another gentleman he'll have a lady they gave that lady in the middle and so thank you so I'd like to hear more about the actual policies that might make this Center stronger again and Bill you said that we we need leaders who go beyond lots of rhetoric about social mobility and multiculturalism to deliver actual policies and in the later discussion you mentioned raising the minimum wage is that in offer what are the policies that will make the difference a particular refer to the issues of multiculturalism that your us brought up with Turks throughout Europe being a more closed and less democratic then maybe many of the people are here so how are we actually gonna reach these people you said that nobody had an answer I'm hoping that you and the panel will have at least some answers to this okay lt1 to answer that and clearly raising the minimum wage is not enough but I think that a new emphasis in public spending and on in use of taxation so it has to be through fiscal policy those are almost the only weapons that a government has on social mobility and the the resources that the the lower portions of the income scale have has to be a large part of the policy so minimum wage yes but clearly education which some people call the Swiss Army knife of policy because it basically can be used for everything but actually we do do need to increase investment in that some infrastructure spending that that Trump talks about I think that thing that throw basically resources towards their and to some degree away from pensions and by the way a lot of Western countries problem is that people have retired to been allowed to retire to early 55 or 60 years old and basically drawing a state pension for 30 40 years and that has taken the money away from some of the social mobility policies that we need to be spending money on a Marshall Plan for the middle classes a massive investment in middle class skills and Retraining now the danish have a brilliant system where every year subsidized by the government but employers work with them everybody has two weeks set aside to train in different skills and as a result denmark has a higher job turnover because people are confident to change jobs hop from job to job they're multi skilled it's not a utopian thing America spends seven hundred billion dollars a year subsidizing mortgages and there's no cap on it meaning the rich you are the bigger your house the larger the McMansion the bigger the subsidy you get from the taxpayer all you need is a hundred million dollars a year to really reboot america's training system so it's not that we can't think of things to do about this that's not the problem the problem is politics is making it impossible to do them that's the real problem it's the politics not the policies fire next question fellow the RSA I'd like to try and take a different angle to economics and what I feel is at the heart of a lot of this is I heard it was said before cultural identity or nation nation-states if you like we've moved a long way from nation-states there is an irony here that America which was the biggest melting pot in history seems to be rejecting anything that's no not pure white call it white trash if you want but white American whatever that identity is if you go to Turkey there's this debate going on about is it a secular or is it a religious state so isn't there something at the core of all of this that is there a group of people simply saying you're all dragging us to a new level of tolerance and identity but we don't recognize anymore what our identity is it's this inability for some people a large minority if you like to understand where they are being taken to and really how far their tolerance should go for the speed of changes that are being put on them I don't know if it's an economic argument I think it's an identity and who they're being led by argument yes Martha reading Bill's book I was thinking maybe maybe we should approach the West really as a religion in the sense of a set of coherent ideas underpinned by xeo mass that yeah without which you can't proceed which is usually mostly about equality between men and women between different forms of sexual orientation and and the other one is authoritarian collectivism and having lived in Egypt I see that people are quite happy in a authoritarian collectivist society because the leader is the father and it's the father is similar to the leader and individualism hurt I mean you don't have to have read much existentialist literature to see that that being responsible for your own choices is actually often a major course of depression because you make the wrong choices or your you've bias or mores and so what I what I find striking about the West these days is that we we don't make the case to newcomers about about the West Western religion is there was a real interesting phrase by a New York Times journalist who's that the problem isn't that we don't write about populist voters the problem is we don't write for them and I think there's something similar about immigrants we do write about immigrants all the time but we never write for them and there was in the trends I went to swim at a light oh this morning in Hampstead and in the 20s there was a sense of that you're going to build big pools for the betterment of society and that whole sense of betterment born out of elite restraint and a sense of responsibility for your community has all gone and I think part of that responsibility now should be to really convert people over to the religion of individualism religion of individualism the lady in the middle doesn't quite have a microphone yet I found all your talks really really good really interesting first of all thank you very much silly question really what will happen if you're wrong about Mac Hall that all the other rather populist people in Europe suddenly come to the fore in the Netherlands and Germany as well nobody's mentioned Germany and Teresa may here she might sweep up all the you get votes she might become a sort of proto quasi populist so what will happen to the EU and to the west then worried for you bill when you said well polls say Mac Ron's going to win never never make forecast when you can be proved wrong within days yes that's right that is a dangerous thing well I would first of all actually this is an opportunity to say that I think which I'd forgotten to say earlier that the idea that brexit is clearly part of all of this phenomena I think should be rejected the curiosity about brexit which I disagree with I was a strong remain voter I mean a ver mantra man voter and indeed and partly moving to Ireland as a result of it as a sense of sense of dissent but nevertheless I think that actually our motives the motives that you can analyze in the brexit vote were not really predominantly populist even if there was an element of them that clearly was and especially the immigration issue was a very important part of it but also a certain self-confidence that was there as sort of almost a kind of Britain Britain is better than than the European Union view I think pushed some people in that direction so that's the first thing to say okay if the lepen wins to answer your question I think that we would see Anna meet if she if she can form a majority in parliament as well I think we would see an immediate challenge to some of the international rules of liberalism with by which I'm free trade I mean membership of NATO and the security alliance of Europe the clearly the European Union I think that this probably it would become defunct rather than actually destroyed it would be like the League of Nations in the 1930s where people still went in and out of the buildings and were paid salaries but actually they no longer did anything so I think that we would see that now would we move to as it were fascism if you like I mean in the in the sort of extreme end of it I would say probably not I don't think one should be so much of a scare monger about it but you could imagine a spiraling process in which that did happen the only one should say that as a central part of you know democracies over but you could imagine it could if I was lepen and I got really angry about the way the media was writing about me might I try and do a Viktor Orban and kind of start controlling the media and Putin integral so I think we could see a cycle in which a lot of some of the basic defenses of democratic rights free speech and and others get eroded but the first prediction would be the International stuff we had a clutch of questions gentlemen there and then we'll go to the gentlemen over there behind a blue person hope and if by some miracle Europe was able to put its chronic order and House economic house in order would you have would you see the death of populism if Europe were to put it out put it house in order economic house in order would that would that see the death of populism in Europe immediate response if I make that populism well it's a technique rather than a rather than an ideology so I mean the technique would still in in a social media and media dominated world still be valid and people would use it but secondly I think the point is if it depends what you mean by put its house in order if European countries together and separately were able to reduce the anger and the grievances of their citizens then I think the populist voting would subside it wouldn't disappear but it would subside but so that's the question respond to the grievances you reduce the need to vote you want to comment on this I mean I think you you rather said I'm alright you're s they're going you know over to you brexit but so how how actually might we and where you were seeking hope how might we find hope if the economic house was put in order in Europe what would that look like because listening to you both I was talked about how almost Marxist the analysis is you know we just have to fix the economic here and all cultural all the other stuff will just grow out of it and I do think that there's a there's a there's a deeper issue here about belonging and about people wanting to be part of something and for us it's easier we're we're the post national global elite so that's our sense of belonging people identify with high status categories they belong to and so if you have very few high status categories to belong to you want for example the national and not to be mocked when I asked my builder's photos why you vote for him because he has no plans in the air he doesn't even have a party they said at least he doesn't look down on us and that has very little to do with economics so so changing the system doesn't necessarily change the way people feel so we had the gentleman there then then this if you got a mic no quick quick quick it can hand they might get there and then we'll come okay we'll go and then you're going to hand the mic to their colleague besides it seems to me that underneath this some topic there are two critical questions how do governments add value to society and how does the financial sector add value to society if these are important questions why don't they get discussed how about how does you you can answer had it the banks add value to society and how to governments have value to society and then you can say why didn't they get discussed because that was cleverly three questions in one I'll try to answer the government question but I'll answer it from the American perspective since I'm the designated American hitter here there's been I think a sort of collective amnesia in the United States about the degree to which government played a hugely important role in terms of creating the technologies that have enriched Silicon Valley and other parts of America the internet and the mouse and GPS systems the transistor and that the microchip all these come in one form or another out of mostly pentagon research budgets in the 40s 50s and 60s and were then commercialized by the private sector as was the great middle-class boom of the 50s and the 60s and the 70s the GI Bill which under wrote free education for all returning veterans from the Second World War was a huge springboard for post-war American growth and I think there's been a measure about the constructive role the government has played in America's great capitalist success and that there's been a kind of fairy tale post Reagan recounting of history that is basically airbrushed government out of it and that's really the the challenge for the Democrats today is to try and talk a little bit more of the role of government in the economic sphere and a little bit less about transgender bathroom rights okay and you want to comment on the financial elite try to be as quick as I can I think that's them bills book is fantastic about it it's just massive market failure in the heart of capitalism which is the financial sector you know if if restaurants would serve the sort of toxic crap that banks resort serving 2008 then according to free mark theory you would now have all these restaurants would have gone bust and you'd have new restaurants and especially if those restaurants were serving were paying their waiters the kind of money that banks were paying you and so their days there's mess I thought I was going to find capitalism in the heart of capitalism I found socialism banks the banks are no parasites I mean take finance out of your life and you live the life of a caveman so it's it we just have too much of a good thing and it's become globalized and it's for example to come back to elite restraint ing Bank is now paying bonuses that are seen as very unfair in the Netherlands but ing Bank is owned for ninety five percent by foreign shareholders so they kind of appeal that in the 80s you could still make two ing Bank or as it was called back then is to you know we're we're in this crisis lower your bonuses they're they just happen to be in the Netherlands but that's just a legal jurisdiction and so this this this again comes back to community but I but I think a banks do add value but they right now they subtract even more value destructive okay so we go to the gentleman there soon last question informative talk um I it's difficult cuz there was a number of questions I had but I'll stick with one let's say in the West people do get their house in order and things sort of do move back there's a sort of lowering of inequality maybe in the UK in the u.s. where would you see the next shocks coming from and and I know maybe you don't want answer cuz you know you don't like to predict things but I ask partly because I'm Dutch and I read lion dikes book where he was very pessimistic had gone into Arizona it can't be true of the financial sector and he was very pessimistic about the reforms that have been going on so it'd be interesting to hear from all three of you if you see even despite the current condition or even an improving condition where we're more shocks might come from and how we could be resilient to them and focusing on the resilience so that we run up that staircase in our rocky franchise with a sort of rousing call for it's going to be okay so well very hard to see where the shocks are going to come from I I do think that I'm one of those who thinks that there is some sort of inevitable friction or shock in the China West relationship that that therefore a sort of geopolitical shocks are perhaps the safest area for me or somebody to predict about and for that we need international alliances and we need multilateral institutions and international law if we are to respond to – – such a tension the so called lucidity strap I mean I think apart from Twitter feed and whatever Trump says next because there will be that shock sort of hourly I think that the great sort of shock and it will be a rolling shock of our time is climate change and I do think that one of the deep frustrations of all the debates we're having about our politics is it means we're not we don't even have the bandwidth to focus on the transcendent overwhelming common threat to humanity that climate change poses and I think that will be a series of rolling shocks which I hope we don't get a climatized – so rolling with the punches what's what shocks what to focus on the financial sector I thought a Nassim Nicholas Taleb books was very good about antifragility sort of the problem isn't shocks the problem isn't Bank banks going bust the problem is that we build a financial system that can't really absorb shocks anymore and there's an analogy here with Europe is that democracy works best if the electorate pays for its mistakes but these days in a in an EU in eurozone context that very rarely happens and so just like in 2008 we couldn't afford to shock of just letting the whole financial sector go bust and build it up from the beginning because that might probably have swept democracy with it again also politically we can't and I think that this also creates this this hand wringing the sense of we can't afford another shock and I think you need a sense of self-confidence but it has to come from confidence in the ability to absorb them becoming shock absorbers so em thank you to my rocky one rocky – rocky 3 for our for our relatively gentle fight and debate around the fate of the West I think that we covered a huge ground in such short periods of time and I would probably say that if we were a movie franchise we're more like The Fast and the Furious now you may be aware so and their books are outside for signing I think bill has to run away but Edward may be available to to sign some copies in the lobby we also are as you may be aware running a campaign around good work and so we have a filmmaker in the lobby as well who want to stop with them and talk to them about what good work is for the future which may play to some of the questions we talked about earlier and please do join us in the lobby to do that but we've run out of time now so it all it does remains for me to do is to say thank you to our eminent panel bill Edward and yours thank

2 thoughts on “RSA Replay: Populism and the Fate of the West | Bill Emmott | RSA Replay

  1. We'll never have a semblance of democracy so long as we do not deal terminatedly with the dominance of Finance's monopolistic paradigms of Debt and Loan ONLY. You do that by integrating the new monetary paradigm of Monetary Gifting intelligently into the digital money and pricing systems. And no, I'm not an interest is the only problem crank. The problem is that technologically advanced capital intensive economies INHERENTLY create a higher rate of flow of total costs/prices than they (even ideally, which never happens) simultaneously create a rate of flow of total individual incomes with which to liquidate such costs. Finance has been problematic and dominating for over 5000 years. It's way over due for a paradigm change.

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