An unconventional, sometimes incoherent, resistance arises to the elites who keep explaining why changes that hurt the middle class are actually for its own good.
The Great Rebellion is on and where it leads nobody knows.
Its expressions range from Brexit to the Trump phenomena and includes neo-nationalist and unconventional insurgent movement around the world. It shares no single leader, party or ideology. Its very incoherence, combined with the blindness of its elite opposition, has made it hard for the established parties across what’s left of the democratic world to contain it.
The issue of race has scarred the entirety of U.S. history. Although sometimes overshadowed by the arguably more deep-seated issue of class, the racial divide is a festering wound that decent Americans, including politicians, genuinely want to heal.
The famous shot heard “’round the world” this time came from the other side of the Atlantic, but its longtime impact could be equally profound. By voting to leave the European Union and its intrusive bureaucracy, the British people have also risen up against a regime of crony capitalism that has encumbered and perverted democracy across the entire Western world.
The implications, of course, are greatest for Britain and Europe, but they will affect politics here in North America. The Brexit raises to first priority the more general debate about the trajectory of global capitalism which, for all its many accomplishments, has grown to resemble, in its haughtiness and inbreeding, the very statist despotisms that it was supposed to overturn.
The campaign to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, widely known as “Brexit,” is potentially on the verge of a huge victory Thursday despite overwhelming opposition in the media and among the corporate and political establishment. The outcome matters not just as an expression of arcane British insularity, but as evidence of a growing rebellion against the ever greater consolidation and concentration of power now occurring across all of Europe, as well as here in the United States.
Perhaps no sector in the U.S. economy generates more angst than manufacturing. Over the past quarter century, manufacturing has hemorrhaged over 5 million jobs. The devastation of many regional economies, particularly in the Midwest, is testament to this decline. If the information sector has been the golden child of the media, manufacturing has been the offspring that we pity but can’t comfortably embrace.
In a state ruled by a former Jesuit, perhaps we should not be shocked to find ourselves in the grip of an incipient state religion. Of course, this religion is not actually Christianity, or even anything close to the dogma of Catholicism, but something that increasingly resembles the former Soviet Union, or present-day Iran and Saudi Arabia, than the supposed world center of free, untrammeled expression.
Over the past decade, Southern California has lagged well behind its chief rivals – New York and the Bay Area, as well as the fast-growing cities of the Sun Belt – in everything from job creation to tech growth. Yet, in what the late economist Jack Kyser dubbed “the creative industries,” this region remains an impressive superpower.
By creative industries, we mean not just Hollywood’s film and television complex, which remains foundational, but those serving a host of other lifestyle-oriented activities, from fashion and product design to engineering theme parks, games and food. We may be lagging Silicon Valley in technology and New York in finance or news media, but when it comes to entertaining people, and defining lifestyle, the Southland remains a powerful, even primal, force.
With Bernie Sanders now dispatched by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party machine, Donald Trump has emerged as the unlikely populist standard-bearer. Not since the patrician Julius Caesar rallied the Roman plebeians, or the aristocratic Franklin Roosevelt spoke for the “forgotten man,” has someone so detached from everyday struggles won over such a large part of the working and middle classes.
Arguably the most critical industry in the new economy, information is also often the cruelest. It is the ultimate disruptor of jobs and growth, blessing some regional economies but leaving most in the dust. Overall, the sector accounts for almost 3 million jobs, but it has only added a paltry net 70,000 jobs over the last five years.
The mainstream media are having a field day, and rightfully so, chronicling the meltdown of the once-formidable Republican Party. Less focus has been placed on what may be equally, or greater, divisions emerging among Democrats, both in California and around the country.
From steamy Miami to the thriving cores of cities from New York, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, swank towers, some of them pencil thin and all richly appointed. This surge in the luxury apartment construction has often been seen as validation of the purported massive shift of population, notably of the retired wealthy, to the inner cities. Indeed with the exception of a brief period right after the Great Recession, there was slightly greater growth in core cities than the suburbs and exurbs. It was said that we were in the midst of a massive “return to the city.”
In his still improbable path to the White House, Donald Trump has an opening, right through the middle of the country. From the Appalachians to the Rockies, much of the American heartland is experiencing a steady decline in its fortunes, with growing fears about its prospects in a Democratic-dominated future. This could prove the road to victory for Trump.
While speculation is mounting that they’re overheating, the tech boom is still creating jobs at a rapid pace in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, placing them atop our annual assessment of The Best Cities For Jobs for the third year in a row. A number of secondary tech centers are posting strong growth as well on the back of the boom, as well as spillover from Northern California as high prices push expanding companies and startups to locate elsewhere.
In the past, it was other people’s governments that would seek to make your life more difficult. But increasingly in California, the most effective war being waged is one the state has aimed at ourselves.
The Jerry Brown administration’s obsession with becoming a global model for reducing greenhouse gases is leading to an unprecedented drive to completely reshape how Californians live. Rather than focus on more pragmatic, affordable steps to reduce greenhouse gases – more efficient cars, rooftop solar systems and promoting home-based work – the goal increasingly seems like social engineering designed to force Californians to adopt the high-density, transit-oriented future preferred by Brown’s green priesthood.
Throughout the recession and the decidedly uneven recovery, Southern California has tended to lag behind, particularly in comparison to the Bay Area and other booming regions outside the state. Once the creator of a dispersed, multipolar urban model – “the original in the Xerox machine” as one observer suggested – this region seems to have lost confidence in itself, and its sense of direction.