The second great extinction of the liberal dream.

There was something which happened in the 1980s which was variously labeled the death of the liberal dream or the great extinction of the liberal dream. It was much discussed at the time, but you’ll rarely hear of it in any political discussion nowadays. In essence, it was a seismic and global shift away from the statist, left-wing ideas that had held sway in government circles through most of the 70s. The entire world seemed to be moving towards the right and any surviving liberal ideals became the exclusive province of raggedy assed hippies moving into middle-age or embittered politicians who were also products of the 60s, but were now severely out of touch with the modern Zeitgeist.

There are a number of reasons why you’ll probably not have heard about it. To name but a few; the level of political analysis these days is so immediate, tribal and short-term, nobody can be arsed to learn some political history to inform their opinions. Too many of those who know about it, know it was a massive defeat, and can remember the despair of the left that lasted nearly two decades, so they don’t want to talk about those times. Or just maybe in what is a very 21st century reflex when dealing with unpalatable facts, if it’s never mentioned in polite company, then it never happened. The liberal dominance of the mainstream media and academia amounts to propaganda, even in political history.

It was one of those mass shifts in popular sentiment that was reflected in the political landscape, and although the cause for such changes can sometimes be pinpointed to a single traumatic point such as the morning of Sunday December 7th 1941, more usually they are a combination of concerns that have all come to a head at the same time. What caused the great extinction of the 80s was surviving the previous decade.

The 70s were a decade of disillusionment and in so many ways like suffering a hangover from the party on hard euphoria of the previous decade when the world had been a lot different.

Most economies were in recession due to various factors but mainly as a result of the Arab world hiking oil prices through the roof to punish the West’s support for Israel, against whom they’d just got their arses handed to them yet again in another war. Jobs and money were scarce. Industrial strife was widespread, with strikes that could go on for months. The chill out man and just smoke another joint attitude of the previous decade had mutated into a Class A drugs nightmare. Great cities of the world like New York had become dangerous, crime-ridden war zones teetering on the edge of municipal bankruptcy.

The politics of the seventies were, if anything, even more polarised and venomous than they are now, with dutifully virtuous mobs turning out at west coast airports to spit on freshly arrived GIs who were only 48 hours earlier getting their ass shot off for their country in some shithole in Indochina. The politicians at the time were uniformly anodyne, incompetent, useless and not only uninspiring but also uninspired. They did a lot of there’s no need to panic type of speeches, but the accurate and perceived reality by the ordinary person was they simply didn’t have the first clue about how to fix any of it.

The mass media was in transit from the overwhelmingly right-wing stance of the previous years, towards a much more critical, if not cynical, viewpoint on many things that the ordinary person, caught between the warring factions, still believed in because that was their day-to-day world.

An abiding pride in your country was not some hidden fascist tendency that had to be rooted out by the newly appointed witchfinder generals of popular opinion. Being married with kids was still a thing to be desired in the circles you moved in, despite what the media was trumpeting as the demise of the family unit. Schools were there to teach your children some basics like reading, writing and arithmetic, not to churn out miniature class warriors who would despise their parents, who’d worked their ass off to put them there in the first damn place.

Universities had metastasised from centres of intellectual exploration to bastions of political intolerance that verged on the neo-fascist, with the added value of two thirds of the people who probably shouldn’t even have been there in the first place, failing to make it into the third year. Academia instead of being a factory for grinding out fresh ideas, became a charnel house where they came to die. It’s no coincidence that nearly all the innovators of the digital revolution of the 80s did the freshman year and after looking around at the prevailing chaos, decided they could do a lot better working in their parent’s garage with a soldering iron.

Why should you constantly have pressure on you to apologise for your steady belief in country, culture, your patriotism, your belief in family, in some sort of sane continuity in the face of the ongoing chaos all around you, which although viciously critical of the fundamental tenets of your life, offered no viable alternatives to that value system nor solutions to any of the self-declared but must-be-addressed emergencies that you were absolutely sure had no relevance to your life.

All you wanted was a return of prosperity, a job and the prospect of a better life for your family and the kids.

By the dawn of the 80s, the world was ready, if not desperate, for practical, effective politicians like Reagan and Thatcher, both of whom never sat well with their own political establishment, but would go on to do a job of societal re-engineering that brought back prosperity and culminated in the political grand slam of the Berlin wall coming down in 89, which marked the effective demise of the Soviet Union and a half century long ideological battle.

If any of that lot sounds familiar, then welcome to 2016 and the supposedly massive surprise of Trump being elected.

All those very same factors were at work. He was smart enough to see that level of silent, pissed-off dissatisfaction, because that was the offshore storm that had been brewing in him for the last thirty years. He was terminally fed up of watching his country being pissed up against the wall by a bunch of incompetents whose only priority seemed to be pleasing an increasingly demanding media, rather than the people who dug drainage ditches along the side of the road, flipped burgers, waitressed those burgers to people, tutored a kid from a background you couldn’t interfere with through an exam they should never have got and a shot at a better life, ran towards the whole shit coming down event when anyone sensible was legging it the other way, were impelled to be silent when they wanted to scream and just hung on in there when there was no better reason than a sense of decency, rather than a profit margin.

Just bringing home a wage packet, week after week and then those weeks turning into months and then years, from a job that would never quite match up with your foolish youthful dreams, but was more than made up for by the leaps of the kids at Daddie half way through the front door and still struggling with one arm in his coat getting knocked flat on his ass by the enthusiasm of their greeting. It’s quiet personal stuff, but it really matters. Deeply.

The people, who held on to the scorned sense of duty, whether large or small, and through thick and thin, because they knew that without enough people like them, the whole bloody ball of wool would unravel. There was a feeling that the borders of sanity that really mattered were seriously in danger of being breached, which is why they took a chance and voted for Trump.

Sure, he knows his enemies, and if you watch is slowly working his way through them one by one, but he also knows who his friends are. You can look at as many popularity polls about him as you want, but remembering those very same polling organisations were giving him a 2% chance of beating Clinton on the eve of election day, my feeling is that his position with the electorate is even stronger than is indicated by those still hopelessly biased polls. Why anyone pays any attention to them nowadays is beyond me.

Like Reagan and Thatcher, his support was originally manifest in the secrecy of the polling booth, but after a few years, and the christianising of a news/media complex that’s learning that opposing him hits the bottom line, because by doing so you’re opposing a ground swell of popular sentiment, no matter how distasteful you might find it to your political sensitivities.

It’s commonly thought that he’s what’s called a money president, one who knows how to get an economy on track to bring back prosperity, and without a doubt, the last year has proven that as he’s rolled back the industrial decay of previous decades that supposedly nothing could be done about. His second priority, which he alluded to constantly in the election, was to restore America’s standing in a world that had got used to despising its weakness, and given his successes in foreign policy, foreign powers have now learned to tread very carefully around an America with an alpha male like Trump in charge of it.

In the first year of what looks to be an eight year presidency, he has made remarkable progress towards achieving both those goals. For anyone who watched his speeches in full, rather than the debased accounts of them in the media, neither of those objectives which he openly spoke about, or his determination to achieve them, should come as a surprise, but there was always a third and unspoken one.

It’s too easy an analysis to say he picked out CNN to destroy as an example to the rest of the fake news machine, too easy to say he gave Hollywood the worst year it’s had in the last twenty-five because it allowed itself to become a liberal propaganda mouth piece and even that he’s nearly destroyed the formerly money-spinning franchises that composed the NFL because the owners allowed their dumbo players to disrespect the national anthem, but let’s face it, not even Trump is that powerful.

The people who actually did all that financial damage to those formerly highly lucrative industries was the people, and it will continue for as long as those industries cling to a sense of entitlement and elitist political viewpoints that their newly militant consumers now actively dislike. They’ve seen what effect flexing their financial muscles can have on supposedly impervious people intent on ramming objectionable content down their throat, and they like the feel of it.

There’s even a certain pride, if not zest, in knocking them off their high horse.

The financial bloodbath will continue until the lesson is learned, and it will be, but the growing problem with each passing day will become how to lure the punters back when they’ve already moved on to alternative suppliers of products more to their taste. As all investors in retail know, recovering lost ground is a lot harder than taking it for the first time. The commonality those businesses share is that they all come under the heading of discretionary spending, since it doesn’t hurt people not to buy their product. Their only path to survival is to change the flavour of the product to more accurately reflect the shift in public sentiment.

Sure, Trump made a few slight but deft adjustments to the rudder of public opinion, but he’s not creating sentiments that weren’t already there, he’s just been trusted by those selfsame people to not only speak for them, but to be their champion in the swamp of Washington, if only to get it off their backs. Like his political forebears of Reagan and Thatcher, he is working on the same re-engineering of society that was slowly undone by decades of dross like Clinton, the Bushes and most recently Obama.

It’s a return to respecting traditional values which actually never went away, because without them, any civilisation would implode. Country, family, responsibility and common decency. There’s an old saying – comes the day, comes the man, and America in it’s relatively short history, has been inordinately fortunate in that respect. In its hour of need, it seems to cough up just the right man. Trump is smart, tough and always up for a scrap. I’ve no doubt he has his flaws, but his visceral support for those values and his intention to move them back into the centre of American life is the basis of his appeal to his electorate.

That was always the unspoken third objective, not because it was furtive, but because it was always the understood common ground, a consensual agreement, the contract between him and the people who voted for him. It’ll take a few more years, but I think the second great extinction of the liberal dream is well underway.

A storm is coming.


Related articles by Pointman:

People are pissed off.

How to turn around a failing economy.


Blowback? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

How environmentalism turned to the dark side.

The power of dreams and the power of nightmares.

Click for a list of other articles.

18 Responses to “The second great extinction of the liberal dream.”
  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    How true. It hasn’t happened yet in Australia but there are a few leaves blowing around as the winds stir. The recent State election in S.A. saw all parties recontesting the election lose votes. The 5 new parties (one dominant) gained 15% of the vote. Hardly a revolution but in the electorates around where I live the swing was much bigger and previously safe conservative seats have become marginal. And Labor lost a seat when the machine ‘dumped’ a sitting member and she won as an independent.
    Rupert Murdoch isn’t a name popular in ‘liberal’ circles, but his newspapers are alive to swings in the popular mood. The Left forget the times his papers supported the Labor party and denigrate them when they back the conservative side, which they are now doing. The change in direction has perhaps been influenced by the ferocity of comments (where allowed) on articles affecting daily life. The left leaning newspapers are dying, losing readers and money. Murdoch’s papers are losing circulation among those still wedded to paper, but more slowly and they still make money.
    It can have nothing to do with the quality of the conservative governments, especially the abysmal performance of the Federal one, dominated as it is by those heading left, but rather an astute reading of public opinion.
    Governments are being given a message “Shape up or be shipped out”. Whether they hear it is doubtful. Too many think they know better than the hoi poloi. Despite the 85% rise in the cost of electricity in a year, one Labor politician was astounded when his Focus Group rejected his 4 matters of concern and everyone of them selected the rise in cost as their biggest worry. And I cannot see any different attitude on the other side of the house.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Graeme No.3 says:

      And then I left out my main point – never reply before your morning coffee – 14.5% either didn’t turn up or voted informal (voting is compulsory). The informal vote nearly doubled to 4.5% from the last election. And close to 30% voted before the election date (absentee/postal).


  2. Voters like me are still wondering why Michael Flynn was subjected t0 a ruinous prosecution for (allegedly) lying to the FBI yet Comey and McCabe have not even been charged.

    As long as the DOJ and FBI can get away with protecting their friends and destroying their enemies the USA is at risk.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blackswan says:


    Reading your thoughts reminding us of the 70s/80s coincided with my watching the Netflix documentary ’Trump – The American Dream’. It was that very economic/social confluence which measured Trump’s rise to prominence in New York City.

    1970s NYC was a basket-case, so bankrupt they couldn’t pay wages and fired 19,000 municipal workers including hundreds of police officers. As one of them said – “This is like firing soldiers in the middle of a war … and we ARE at war here.” Labour strikes abounded – 30,000 tons of uncollected garbage lay piled in the streets, mugging was rife on trains that were filthy and covered in graffiti both inside and out. In the early 70s they averaged 3,000 homicides a year, gangs controlled the neighbourhoods and NYC was dubbed ’The City of Fear’.

    That was the city where Trump determined to make his mark, saying he wanted to see “competent” administration of its affairs and be part of its great future success. Then along came Mayor Giuliani and his implementation of the Broken Windows theory and suddenly NYC once again became ‘the Big Apple’ that everyone wanted to take a bite from.

    Similarly, as the entrenched corruption of the Washington Swamp is now exposed on a daily basis, Trump needs to assert his own Broken Windows policy. The criminality of the Swamp and the Clinton era became more firmly entrenched as the more he got away with, the more he dared. Bush Jnr and Obama took it to new heights of corruption and as each pane of glass cracked and shattered Washington DC became The City of Fear.

    Fear of exposing a corrupt Administration has now become the Fear of justice and retribution for wrongdoing.

    Despite his recent Executive Orders that presage far-reaching prosecutions, I just wish Trump would hire some speedier glaziers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • deplorable me says:

      One of the problems that Trump is facing is the liberal furor to delegitimatize everything he does. What that means is that he needs to move very deliberately, making sure that everything is practically perfect (every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed). I have no doubt that members of the corrupt judiciary would toss out an airtight case over a missing comma or minor typo.

      So, when Trump is facing judicial pushback on his own executive power, notice how he has deliberately followed the official procedure on appealing those rulings. Mr & Mrs Middle America are certainly watching, and see that he plays by the rules. So, when the bigger things come, they’ll have confidence (despite the luggenpresse) that he’s playing by the rules.

      Remember when Trump criticized Jeff Sessions via twitter? People snickered and laughed, but how did the US AG respond? “As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution.” That’s quite a switch from Holder and Lynch.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. rapscallion says:

    I sincerely hope that Trump’s storm breaks up and destroys the enemies of democracy, of Free Speech and of Western Civilisation. The nihilistic credo of the Left must be repudiated and utterly destroyed. I recently watched Melanie Phillips on YT – There are other videos where she speaks but the underlying theme is the same. As much as she has her issues with Trump she does acknowledge that he is doing the right thing.


  5. Pointman says:

    LEFT HUMILIATED After Boycott Of TRUMP SUPPORTER Roseanne Barr’s New Show BACKFIRES…Show’s Debut BREAKS HUGE Viewership Record

    Give ’em what they want, and you’re back in the ratings game.



  6. John Crutchley says:

    I just wish we had someone like Trump in the UK. We have a weak leader in May who is negotiating BREXIT, but who really wants us to remain in the EU. All sides agree the UK is leaving, so why all the prevarication? It makes the Tories sound like disingenuous worm tongues.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gwaigau says:

      John, I agree with you totally. We are short of leadership in the UK. The Maybot is as inspirational as a wet flannel and can not be trusted to deliver a Brexit deal that is good for the UK. Personally I do not think she believes in us. The sooner she leaves, the better. JRM4PM.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. philjourdan says:

    Trump is indeed a flawed man. But unlike others who have sought his post, he never tried to be the perfect man. As you stated, he told the “silent majority” what he would do. And pointed to his track record of what he could do. And he has done it.

    But the media wants the president to be a perfect man. Even though none exist. They tried to create one with Obama. His legacy is being made today in the DOJ. He is not perfect. They tried to make Hillary perfect. But she had too much history and no amount of cover up could cleanse that stain. But they will never make a non-democrat perfect. So those who pretend to be will never make it. The media will see to that.

    Trump has made mistakes. But unlike others, he does not dwell on them, he learns from them and grows. And the media does not understand that. We are supposed to be damned to every mistake we have made and beg forgiveness for the rest of our lives. And that is not Trump. NOr what the nation needs.

    Your comparison to the 70s and the early 21st century is astute and accurate. And those who do not learn to look beyond their hate will never understand it.


  8. Pointman says:

    Lindsay Shepherd saying goodbye to the left.

    A very thoughtful monologue.



  9. Pointman says:

    Rob Reiner: ‘Roseanne’ a Pro-Trump Megaphone for the ‘Lunatic Fringe’.

    “It goes back to the original sin of this country which is slavery, and we are fighting this last battle of the civil war. And those people who are the alt-right, the white supremacists are hanging on for dear life, and they’re using these propaganda tools which are not just, like I say, lunatic fringe,” Reiner continued. “They’re now invading us, and you guys in the mainstream media seeking the truth are really fighting an uphill battle. This is a real battle right here for the soul of democracy.”

    If you ever needed a graphic illustration of how big the gaps is between liberal Hollywood and popular sentiment, Reiner’s pronouncements would be it.



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  1. […] This post was inspired by Pointman’s blog post THE SECOND GREAT EXTINCTION OF THE LIBERAL DREAM. […]


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