CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer will be giving a lecture at UPEI on Thursday, Sept. 13, on the return of nationalism.
The lecture, entitled, “The Populist Revolt: Its causes and cures”, will take place in the Dr. Steel Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.
The lecture is free and is presented by the SDU Institute for Christianity and Culture.
Nationalism is back, argues Dyer, and it’s very angry.
Populists have already come to power in two major countries, and some people even fear it is a re-run of the 1930s.
In Europe, the populist revolution is mostly driven by immigration. In the larger EU countries, mainstream parties have contained the insurgency so far.
In the United States, it’s more complex: job losses are really the big issue.
Even the “immigrant threat” is mostly expressed in terms of lost jobs.
Dyer says U.S. President Donald Trump can’t “bring the jobs back”, because most of them never left the country; they just vanished because of automation.
The U.S. official unemployment rate is 4.5 per cent, but almost one-third of American men over 20 years old are not gainfully employed.
There is a plausible forecast that automation will destroy 47 per cent of existing American jobs by 2033.
What got Trump elected, says Dyer, more even than racism and immigration, was the anger that comes from the misery and humiliation of joblessness.
The key votes that pushed him over the top came from the Rust Belt, where automation started destroying assembly-line jobs 25 years ago.
Trump has no solution for automation. More extreme populists may come after him unless the anger is extinguished.
But, at least his election has focused attention on the problem. Automation really will kill the jobs and not just in the United States.
The main political task for the next generation (post-Trump) will be to ensure that those without work have an income they can live on, and don’t lose their self-respect.
One way that is already being widely considered is a universal basic income (UBI).
It would put money in everybody’s pockets with no strings attached, whether they are working or not. And since everybody gets it, there would be no stigma involved.