Luther, Trump and Neo Liberalism

There is a very good piece in the FT today about how we reinvent historical figures for our times on Martin Luther to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg which would lead to a schism in the Christian church.

It set me thinking about where we are in terms of the current neo liberal orthodoxy in western democracies across most of the political spectrum and what might happen both today and over the next year. Now I suspect that in 1516, very few people thought the existing Catholic hegemony would be under such challenge in such a short period of time. What few people understood was that the theses would fall on such fertile ground leading to the growth of Protestantism. Importantly the disapproval of the Catholic Church was widespread in northern Europe but it was under the radar.

Roll forward 500 years, in 2016, few people thought that the UK referendum would lead to a vote to leave the EU either in the UK or elsewhere. Until recently, few people thought that Trump would win the US election – and whether he does will depend on how many people who don’t usually vote, vote for him, and it’s quite possible he may win.

Next year, in the 500th anniversary of Luther, we have elections in France and Germany. By the end of that process we will have a better idea of how much the neo liberal orthodoxy is under challenge or attack. We’ve had a long period of the neo liberal orthodoxy for roughly 30 years, of stability, but for all sorts of reasons that stability looks like it may be under challenge. We may be living in interesting times not only in the UK but in the “West” as a whole.

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