The alienated Angries who supported Brexit and Trump are not going to go away.

          If any question why we died,  

          Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Arch-imperialist Rudyard Kipling’s bitter couplet, written shortly after the death of his son at Loos in September 1915, is an alternative view to the current commemoration – even celebration – of the events surrounding the First World War. It has a kind of eternal verity, does it not: Johnson in Vietnam, Bush and Blair in Iraq, Putin in the Ukraine?

But as angry as the couplet is in a military context, it is also about today’s upheavals in domestic politics and its interaction with the international economy. For the basic message of the Angries, supporting Trump, Brexit and a host of similar movements in other countries, is that the elites are lying to them.

It is not quite as simple as this, but I was struck by a recent lead editorial in the London Economist of October 1. As you would expect, the publication was staunchly supportive of the open economy and opposed to the ‘anti-globalists’, as it describes them. However the editorial was so busy talking to the elite who read the magazine that it was not listening to the grievances of the dissenters who don’t.

It is all very well listing the Angries’ demographic characteristics but, unfortunately, most of the surveys do not ask about what they actually think. One report said that a widespread view among Brexit voters was they did not trust experts; there must be a similar attitude among Trump supporters.

It is all very well the elite saying ‘you are not listening’. The Angries’ response is ‘you lied to us’ or more temperately, ‘you are not listening either.’ A Brazilian colonel captured it, after having taken the expert advice of neoliberal economists: ‘how come the economy is doing well but the people are not?’

Of course the elite may be doing well. Recall that the top 10 percent recovered their previous disposable income levels after a couple of years of Rogernomics; it took the bottom 30 percent two decades to get back to their pre-Rogernomics levels, by which time, the elite had experienced considerable income growth. (Even the second-to-top decile took over a decade.) How can the majority support Rogernomics and its successors given that its promises to the majority were not met?

There are similar stories elsewhere – the majority are not going to listen to those who talk about how well the economy is doing. How are they going to believe that globalisation is beneficial? (To make my position clear, I do not think trade deals need be neoliberal, but it hard to get this across.) It is easier to think, and say, the elite are lying.

The same applies to many Brexiters and Trump supporters. For them the elite – ensconced in London and Washington – have not been acting in their interests.

Practically, democracy is not a rule of the people. Rather, it tries to put constraints on the ruling elite so that they act in the interests of the people. The practice does not always work well, especially when the elite does not listen and when institutional arrangements blunt the ability of the wider population to express themselves and influence the rulers. Those who are angry become alienated. But institutional oddities have enabled the Angries to finally articulate their anger in public. Unlike on early occasions they turned-out to vent their alienation.*

How often have you heard the view that Cameron should not have allowed the Brexit referendum? (Though it could have been better organised.) The way American parties choose their presidential candidates plus the US electoral system itself let Trump bolt through.

The Angries are not going to go away as long as the elite ignore them rather than listen to them. Sure, much of what they say suffers from truthiness – that truth is determined by belief rather than by facts. But is that not also true for the 'truths' of the elite?

I do not know where this goes. One possibility is a retreat into the sort of neo-feudalism – as it is sometimes called – of Putin in Russia and Xi in China. To avoid it, or some equally unpleasant fate, the elites are going to have to surrender some of their privileges, to listen to those whose interests they profess to rule, to describe the world in terms which are not biased towards themselves, to stop ‘lying’. Or rather, to understand their truthiness is seen by others as lying. A big ask.

In the interim the Angries in charge may cause havoc. The best will in the world is finding Brexit hard to unscramble. Trump may find himself much more limited than he expects (even though he has a Republican Congress).

Shakespeare – as so often – got it right. In his Cymbeline, Princess Imogen (Innogen) is lost in a wood. She says:

          Two beggars told me

I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,

That have afflictions on them, knowing 'tis

A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,

When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness

Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood

Is worse in kings than beggars.

Absolutely; kings need to set a standard. If they and their courtiers do not, given the chance the underlings will rebel.


* Among the things that Bob Chapman taught us was the importance of the Non-vote Party. Not only in New Zealand but elsewhere. The outcomes in both in the Brexit referendum and the American presidential election depended on the Non-vote Party losing a lot of support.


Comments (21)

by Murray Grimwood on November 11, 2016
Murray Grimwood

There will be ever-more disenfranchised - this process is just beginning. It appears - Weimar Germany being but one example - that even an educated populace clutches at short term straws when stressed.

All failing Empires - this is the first time we've run the experiment globally - are hamstrung by an incumbent elite who won't change the system because they see themselves as 'winners' in it. Even if it is doomed, they keep on keeping on.

We can see some of that on this site.

The danger is that those of us who see what is coming, wish for an intelligent discussion and a managed descent. The alternative is too awful to behold. Globally, we are going to fight - even more - over what's left. Locally, we need a totally different leadership, different approach to reporting, and academia to be onboard. 

The wealthy will ring-fence themselves, gate their communities and that process ends with armed sentries. But what happens to their 'wealth'? What do you pay sentries with if the digital banking system fails?

We will - in a series of lurches probably, descend into 'localism'. Some localities may end up feudal, some may end up enlightened, self-sustaining and probably altruistic.

.Interesting times....

by Charlie on November 12, 2016

Brian, you're not wrong but you've only covered one aspect of it.

You should also consider the rejection of:

> Multiculturalism

> Open borders

> Political Correctness, 3rd wave feminism, Black Lives Matter and all that other BS

> Left-leaning media and celebrities who think it's their job to tell people how to vote

> Clinton corruption

> DC graft and the failure to put Wall Street in jail after 2008 and then to cap it all, Obama appointing Goldman Sachs people into his administration

> The additional costs associated with a boondoggle names 'Obamacare'

I think you're viewing the US election through the eyes of a 20th century socialist. Please try to keep up!



by Brian Easton on November 12, 2016
Brian Easton

Thankyou Charlie.I am also trying to explain the Brexit vote, and some other European instances, where those features dont apply, or apply in different ways.

Given the  column quotes poetry by two conservatives, it would probably be more accurate to describe it as Burkean.  

by Viv Kerr on November 12, 2016
Viv Kerr

Black Lives Matter and all that other BS”

Actually Charlie, that's NOT bullshit. Black lives DO matter! All lives matter.

 If rejecting multiculturalism,feminism and healthcare for low income people is “keeping up”, then the world is surely going backwards into a dark place.

 Hey Murray, they ignore you. I think that is a damn shame because there needs to be a conversation about energy, climate change and our expectations about our civilisation and way of life in the 21st century. It doesn't look like anyone here wants to get into that, I know there are overseas sites that discuss it, but not sure about local ones. Are you likely to revive your blog?

by Charlie on November 12, 2016

Viv, taking your post one item at a time:


Of course black lives matter, as do all lives, but there is zero evidence of any government or police behavior that discriminates against blacks. In fact statistics show that 90% of all black people killed in the US are killed by other black people. The BLM movement is run by a gang of violent radicals some of whom are on the FBI wanted list. 


The original feminist movement (which most of us were in favour of) has turned into a crazy thing which is rejected by most women today. This is why I said 3rd wave feminism. Bear with me and listen to this:

In short, we're all sick and tired of social justice warriors!


Obamacare has dramatically increased the medical insurance costs of working class and middle class Americans, so it's no surprise they're unhappy with it. There are some very basic things that needed to be done to sort out the US medical insurance business but Obamacare failed to address any of them, likely because Obama received campaign money from insurance companies (who fear real competition), the pharmaceutical industry (which fears a US version of Pharmac) and the US society of trial lawyers (which fears limits on tort law settlements)


by Murray Grimwood on November 12, 2016
Murray Grimwood

Viv - it doesn't matter that they ignore, because thinking readers can see that for themselves. It's the readers who have to do the thinking and concluding - but I do find it amusing to see how far the avoidance goes! Just shows us how hard it is to accept that the narrative which defines you, might just be faulty.

Yes, it's probably time, blog-wise, but there is little point in preaching to the converted - you need to get in amongst those who haven't had the penny drop yet. But....

Actually, I'm of the firm opinion that these folk - and the great mass of consumers (of both products and propaganda) - will keep on until they fail. Then they'll be bewildered, the question being whether they look for answers or just try to amp-up the failed old approach. I suspect there'll be pockets of each, and I suspect I'll end up pitching-in to help/be a part of one. No prizes for guessing which type. Meantime there's no harm in trying to kick-start the debate.

Go well

by James Green on November 13, 2016
James Green

I really like the title of this article: angry people. While undoubtedly there is a lot of racism in the US, it was for sure not enough to drive Trump to near half the vote. Xenophobia (where you are ok with other races as long as you don't have to live with them) has been a big driver of Trump voters, Brexit and other European far right groups. I think deeper down though there are economic drivers as well as a sense of lose of solidarity with the elites (as I guess we are now calling them). Elites are correctly seen to not be interested in the rural areas, inland cities, factory towns and the like. Where large conservative segments of the population exist, who are also well out of sync with most elites, they are able to band together to sometimes win elections (Poland, USA, the Philippines maybe). Unfortunately only buffoons and idiots are willing to represent them (which hugely dampens their success as contrasted with referendums or largely ceremonial elections e.g. Austrian President, Brexit, EU Parliament).

(An aside: does this far right surge correlate with a weakness of trade unions in countries? See also why Tunisia was an exception in the Arab Spring)

I think the phrase "Angry People" best encapsulates these multiple factors working together.

by Andrew Geddis on November 13, 2016
Andrew Geddis

The BLM movement is run by a gang of violent radicals some of whom are on the FBI wanted list. 

That's simply not true. You're misquoting a meme popular on US right wing websites which claims some of Black Lives Matter's actual founders as take inspiration from a radical (Assata Olugbala Shakur) who is on the FBI's most wanted list.  

Of course black lives matter, as do all lives, but there is zero evidence of any government or police behavior that discriminates against blacks.

There actually is lots of evidence that African-Americans suffer a disproportionately high rate of death by police.

White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.

Police have shot and killed a young black man (ages 18 to 29) — such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. —175 times since January 2015; 24 of them were unarmed. Over that same period, police have shot and killed 172 young white men, 18 of whom were unarmed. Once again, while in raw numbers there were similar totals of white and black victims, blacks were killed at rates disproportionate to their percentage of the U.S. population. Of all of the unarmed people shot and killed by police in 2015, 40 percent of them were black men, even though black men make up just 6 percent of the nation’s population.

Of course, those numbers don't prove discrimination - your argument then will be that African Americans tend to be killed by police in higher numbers as they tend to be involved in serious crime in higher numbers. But that simply does not appear to be the case - African American crime rates simply can't explain all of the disparity in numbers. So something else is going on ... and given the U.S.'s history of racial discrimination going back to slavery, why wouldn't bias (conscious or unconscious) be a likely one?

by Viv Kerr on November 13, 2016
Viv Kerr

Thank you Andrew for responding to Charlie's comment on the Black Lives Matter movement.

 Charlie, in response to your claim that feminism “has turned into a crazy thing which is rejected by most women today” I clicked on the link you supplied and I wasted 8 minutes of my life watching a man (who has been described as the web’s most infamous misogynist) say that feminism is hateful and bigotted. Not sure how that is meant to support what you said?

 Perhaps someone else who knows about Obamacare can speak on that.

by Andrew Geddis on November 13, 2016
Andrew Geddis

Perhaps someone else who knows about Obamacare can speak on that.

It very may well be that we end up with Trumpcare, which will be Obamacare in a different bottle.

by Ross on November 14, 2016


It might have been helpful if you'd quoted the following from the Washington Post:

it is true that a disproportionate amount of murders and other violent crimes are committed by black Americans.

Because detailed FBI data on crime can lag by several years, the most-cited statistics on this point refer to 2009 data. According to that data, out of all violent crimes in which someone was charged, black Americans were charged with 62 percent of robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults in the country’s 75 biggest counties — despite the fact that black Americans made up just 15 percent of the population in those places.

Of course Maori in NZ are over-represented within the criminal justice system and especially over-represented among the prison population. Does that mean that police here are biased against Maori? If so, why might that be?

by Andrew Geddis on November 14, 2016
Andrew Geddis


Read my whole post and read my second link - the one that addresses the argument that involvement in serious crime explains the discrepancies.

As for the treatment of Maori by the New Zealand criminal justice system, Brian's written on that already.

by Brian Easton on November 14, 2016
Brian Easton

I am not an expert on Obamacare, Andrew, but it will exist even if Congress wipes it. For Massachusetts had Obama care as a state arrangement before Obama. (It was introduced by Republican Mitt Romney.) That suggests that whatever happens some states, where it is popular, will retain a form of Obamacare (and give Democrats leverage in other states?). 

Rich, see The Over-Representation of Maori in the Criminal Justice System.



by Ross on November 14, 2016


I've read Brian's piece about Maori being over-represented in the criminal justice system. He refers to a 2007 report which concludes:

...when a range of measures of social and economic disadvantage are taken into account, Māori ethnicity recedes as an explanation for over-representation.  The level of Māori over-representation in the criminal justice system is very much what could be predicted given the combination of individuals’ life experiences and circumstances, regardless of ethnicity.  In this sense, Māori over-representation is not a “Māori” problem at all.

It could well be that the over-representation of blacks within the US criminal justice system is due to the same or similar factors, ie, economic and social disadvantage.

by Dennis Horne on November 15, 2016
Dennis Horne

No question Brexit was fuelled by the anger of the "down-trodden",  but my old fuddy-duddy friends--educated, wealthy, one a daughter of a decorated general--voted out. I claim no expertise but the EU looks kaput. The best outcome would be a new European treaty. In the good old days Jean-Claude Juncker could have been beheaded to signal a change at the top...

The Brits' choice was between bad and worse (remaining); the Americans had the choice of the same if not better. Quite different.

by Dennis Frank on November 15, 2016
Dennis Frank

Seemed an excellent essay, Brian.  No other analyses I've seen in the blogosphere described the primary nuances of the situation in your comprehensive yet succinct manner.  Leftist denial, delusion & incoherence is all over the place so your dispassionate perspective is refreshing.  Whilst I concur somewhat with Charlie's critique it struck me as unduly harsh.

Hey that Non-vote party clocked in at 40% of the US electorate this time - according to a US political commentator on one of our sunday morning tv current affairs shows.  Since the left/right binary split was about equal, those non-aligned now significantly outweigh the antique camps.  Chapman was ahead of his time, eh?  I decided to be non-aligned back in '71 but seemed for many years afterwards to be in a minority of one - gratifying now to have so many mainstreamers on my side!

Kiwis remain slower learners than the yanks on this point - only 23% didn't vote last election - so MMP has preserved the illusion of democracy for us (tending to mask the fact that those clinging to the binary frame have lost their grip on reality).

by Charlie on November 16, 2016

Andrew, your statistics on the BLM aren't wrong but they are superficial and have lead you to an incorrect conclusion.

Fatal police shootings make up a much larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths than black homicide deaths. In 2015 officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics, and 258 blacks. (The overwhelming majority of all those police-shooting victims were attacking the officer, often with a gun.) Using the 2014 homicide numbers as an approximation of 2015’s, those 662 white and Hispanic victims of police shootings would make up 12% of all white and Hispanic homicide deaths. That is three times the proportion of black deaths that result from police shootings.

The lower proportion of black deaths due to police shootings can be attributed to the lamentable black-on-black homicide rate. There were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014—the most recent year for which such data are available—compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Over 90% of those black homicide victims had black killers.

Police officers—of all races—are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police. This is not racism, it's a fact.

Yes indeed blacks make up 26% of the police-shooting victims, compared with their 13% representation in the national population but that is only a superficial examination: Violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks. According to the  BoJ statistics, blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there.

Such a concentration of criminal violence in minority communities means that officers will be disproportionately confronting armed and often resisting suspects in those communities, raising officers’ own risk of using lethal force.

The Black Lives Matter movement claims that white officers are especially prone to shooting innocent blacks due to racial bias, but this also a lie. The Philadelphia Police Department found that black and Hispanic officers were much more likely than white officers to shoot blacks based on “threat misperception”—that is, the mistaken belief that a civilian is armed.

A 2015 study by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway, formerly acting director of the National Institute of Justice, found that, at a crime scene where gunfire is involved, black officers in the New York City Police Department were 3.3 times more likely to discharge their weapons than other officers at the scene.


by Stewart Hawkins on November 18, 2016
Stewart Hawkins

Well said, Charlie.If I may coin a new word or phrase it is "post-lie". An adjective defined as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are entirely rejected in shaping public opinion rather than politically-correct appeals to emotion and personal belief". For example "multiculturalism" as rejected by Brexiters and Trump supporters. Multiculturalism invents the lie that we are all one happy band of culture-sharers when the reality is that one civilisation represents a clear threat to all others and "multiculturalism" has become some form of code for "appeasement" to push us to be tolerant to intolerance in the misguided hope that peace will prevail.

And Ross's comment on Maori in the criminal justice system confirms my limited analysis of published papers. The correct (or at least justifiable) answer that there is little or no discrimination against the Maori as a race in the CJS of NZ is not necessarily the answer required by university departments here and I suspect a better answer to support this conclusion will be required to obtain a similar grade than when arguing the opposite viewpoint. (DIscuss!)

by Dennis Horne on November 18, 2016
Dennis Horne

Brexit and its Consequences. Ann Pettifor
In this brief essay, I argue that the ‘Brexit’ vote is but the latest manifestation of popular dissatisfaction with the utopian ideal of autonomous markets beyond the reach of regulatory democracy. Brexit represented the collective, if (to my mind) often misguided, efforts of those ‘left behind’ in Britain to protect themselves from the predatory nature of market fundamentalism. In a Polanyian sense, it is a form of social self-protection from self-regulating markets in money, trade and labour.

Globalization was, and remains, the utopian ambition of those many economists, financiers, politicians, and policy-makers ...

by Peggy Klimenko on November 18, 2016
Peggy Klimenko

"Putin in the Ukraine"

Just to be clear: Putin is not in the Ukraine. Nor have Russian troops invaded at any time since the US-sponsored putsch in Kiev in 2014, constant assertions to the contrary notwithstanding.

"....a retreat into the sort of neo-feudalism – as it is sometimes called – of Putin in Russia..."

Is this a reference to the siloviki system? If so, it's a bit of a puzzle to us. We're not sure how this could be seen as neo-feudal. I'd have thought that the description could more accurately be applied to extensively privatised economies. Such as the US. And our own, come to that.

"...I am also trying to explain the Brexit vote, and some other European instances, where those features dont apply, or apply in different ways."

Some of the broader issues do apply, though. As  far back as 2010, Angela Merkel declared multiculturalism in Germany a failure. Those sentiments are widely-held in Germany, and in Europe more generally.

The open border issue certainly resonates there; understandable, given the flood into Europe of immigrants - legal and otherwise - along with refugees. And memories of invasions in previous centuries, of course. UK relatives have said that the open borders and the refugee numbers were the thing that turned many people there away from the EU.

Dennis Horne: " I claim no expertise but the EU looks kaput."

Neither do I, but I agree. We have family in central Europe; many years ago now, a relative living in Bavaria told us that there is a widespread view among Bavarians that, not only do they not like being part of the EU, they don't even want to be part of united Germany. They'd much rather return to being a principality, as was the case before Bismarck. It wouldn't be surprising if views of that sort are widespread. The EU isn't very old, and the unification of many member countries isn't much older. A new Treaty might help, but I do wonder if there'll be a breakup.

Stewart Hawkins: "...not necessarily the answer required by university departments here and I suspect a better answer to support this conclusion will be required to obtain a similar grade than when arguing the opposite viewpoint."

Hmm... I've recently been cleaning out school material (primary and high school) from a few years back. As I did so, I read some of it; I was a bit surprised by how tendentious much of it was.A particular view was being pushed, or so it looked to me. Strange that I can't remember noticing it at the time, when I was overseeing homework and the like. But it's surely noticeable from this distance....

by Charlie on November 24, 2016

Ross - thanks for the information.

You're right. I have read that over 70% of black Americans are today born out of wedlock. That alone will account for their disproportionate criminality.

Apologies for a copy & paste but this comment on another blog was too good not to repeat regarding poor outcomes for fatherless boys:

1. Children may feel unprotected. There is increased risk of abuse from new partners, strangers and the mother. (Farrel, 2001)
2. Boys have more trouble with the police and law and anti-social behaviour. 90% of West Auckland police-involved youth are fatherless. (Police Interview Nov.2005)
3. Boys are more inclined to suicide and have poor mental health. Fatherless males are 5 times more likely to suicide. 63% of NZ youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (McCann 1999)
4. Boys will likely be more dependent on mothers. The intensified relationship can make adolescent separation more troublesome and adversarial.
5. Boys are likely to transfer that dependency to a woman partner.
6. Boys may lack the clear, more black and white boundaries that males tend to hold. Underfathered men are more likely to be violent to their partners.
7. Under-fathered girls are more likely to become pregnant. (US and NZ, 2 to 8 times Ellis, 2003)
8. The under-fathered child is more likely to use drugs. Fatherless boys are 10 times more likely to abuse chemicals. (NZ McCann)
9. Fatherless boys may feel angry and cheated, uneasy around friendly adult males. Authority
figures receive a lot of the projected anger felt for the absent father.
10. Truancy may increase. Fatherless boys are 71% of high school dropouts. (US 2001) and 9
times more likely to drop out of high school (NZ McCann 1999)
11. Fatherless boys are 20 times more likely to end up in prison. (McCann 1999)
12. Solo parent boys may feel a duty to be ‘the man’ of the house and may become prematurely 'adultified'.
13. Poverty is more common in fatherless homes. Single parent families are 3 x more likely to experience poverty than a 2 parent home
14. Educational achievements may be reduced. 80% of referrals to Resource Teachers ofLearning and Behaviour are Boys. (NZ 2009)
15. 90% of all homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes. (Farrell US 2002)
16. There may be difficulty feeling confident while dealing with or around males in later life for both boys and girls.
17. Physical health, happiness and social skills may all be reduced.

This is the poisoned chalice that the progressive left have given indigenous people right around the western world. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions!



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