Sunday, March 11, 2018

Why Populist Revolts That Overthrow the Establishment Can Be Very Bad

By Robert Wenzel

Many people cheer on populist revolts against the ruling class. But such revolts may not be a positive if the masses don't have some kind of appreciation for free markets and liberty.

The establishment can certainly be crony and not have the concerns of the masses at heart but, often in this day and age, they have some appreciation for free market rule, muddied with cronyism of course.

But revolts against them do not necessarily bring freer markets and fresh air.

In the United States, the populous uprising resulted in
the election of the economic ignoramus, Donald Trump, whose economic policy decisions appear to be deteriorating with every new presidential tweet.

But in the wake of the Brexit uprising in the United Kingdom (which was part good and part bad) , things may now be even worse on a kind of blowback counterrevolution.

Philip Stephens of the Financial Times explains:
John McDonnell has a plan. The Labour party’s would-be chancellor prefers Marx to markets. So he intends to nationalise the energy, water and railway industries, impose big tax rises on businesses and wealthy individuals, shackle the banks, and pump up public spending and borrowing. The organising goal, he told the Financial Times in a revealing interview, is “an irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people”...

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is running at 40 per cent in the polls — neck and neck with Theresa May’s Conservatives. Centrist Labour MPs, battered remnants of the Tony Blair era of third-way social democracy, have tried and failed to topple him. Now they concede he could become prime minister. Young people have flocked to the 68-year-old Mr Corbyn’s cause. The angry mood that led to Brexit could yet give Britain the most leftwing government it has ever seen...

[A] world in which Donald Trump can become president of the US and Britain can decide to uproot itself from its own continent is also one that could well accommodate Mr Corbyn in Downing Street. Voters have stepped out of the stereotypes. If we have learnt anything, it is that rage at the establishment can rewrite the old political rules.

We may also see such a flocking of young people here in the U.S. toward Democrats and socialism in the wake of Trump.

In other words, the split in the masses at present is ping pong ball in style, that has little to do with economic freedom.

Unless the masses have a basic desire for economic and personal freedom, revolutions are often a waste of time and at their worst introduce grave totalitarian threats.

There is no easy way to advance free market policies. Jumping on board a populous movement that has no underpinning for liberty is not going to do it. It is a dangerous move that could lead to major anti-capitalist measures or even serious tyranny. The focus for those in the battle for liberty must, indeed, be focus on advancing liberty always and everywhere. Clinging to an intellectually weak populous revolt is not the answer. It could, in fact, lead to the suffocation of an economy and liberty.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on  iphone and stitcher.


  1. There's reasons why the ruling class instituted schools that undermined the belief in liberty. That includes populist anger. When the masses are properly conditioned any populist anger could be co-opted to increase their power in one or more areas.

  2. Clinging to a crony elite establishment on the thin reed of "some appreciation for free market rule(???)" could also lead to suffocation of an economy and liberty.

    I don't know if Trumpism is any kind of "revolt". What has really changed? Repeal of Olosercare mandate? That's a plus. Tax "reform", which shifted points of taxation around a bit and threw a sop to a few folks? A few tariffs that Mexico and Canada are already exempt from and others can seek exemptions from? We'll see if all the Cassandras predictions come true about those. In reality, the wars and money master shenanigans go on unabated. Individual liberty continues to be diminished at the same pace as under Clinton, Bush II, Obama (go back as far as you want.)

    One of the primary points in Gary Allan's 1971 book "None Dare Call it a Conspiracy" is that oligarchs, such as Rockefellers, Fords, etc., finance the promotion of globalism/collectivism/socialism, which can essentially be boiled down to privatized profits, socialized losses, freedom for them and slavery for you. Presidents who toe the line get praised, while those, such as Nixon (there are a number of articles touching on how he was "removed" because his economic policies crossed the globalists, primarily the Rockefellers) feel the fury. Trump, whether he understands what he is saying or not, has made certain statements calling out globalism and has now signed off on tariffs, which directly threaten the interests of the globalists/oligarchs. It appears the Brits have also made such noises in rejection of globalism. As such, it is correct that you can expect them to gin up in the masses their golem a.k.a "socialism."

    However, the fact is that most Americans simply have no concept of what any "ism" really means. The idea that some growing majority is learning about and supporting doctrinaire socialism is ludicrous. It is true that the masses will continue to be useful idiots voting for "change" that constitutes further enrichment of and enslavement by the globalist/oligarchs.

    It is one thing to be pragmatic in the fight for liberty and oppose tariffs/protectionism on principle. It is quite another to hitch your liberty wagon to a crooked globalist status quo with a proven track record of rigging the economy in its favor and taking every opportunity to diminish individual liberty.

    1. Re: Hollow Daze,

      --- The idea that some growing majority is learning about and supporting doctrinaire socialism is ludicrous. ---

      They may not know it by name but that doesn't mean they aren't moving towards it.

      --- It is quite another to hitch your liberty wagon to a crooked globalist status quo with *a proven track record of rigging the economy in its favor* ---

      Right. They can achieve what the Soviets couldn't: centrally control the economy, because they're that clever.


      What's funny is how you keep conflating free-marketers with so-called 'globalists' (people who want one global governing bureaucracy) when talking about people who simply advocate for international free trade.

    2. @Torres:

      Folks are being pushed by globalist oligarchs towards some form of totalitarian collectivism but it's not what they think it is.

      Soviet style central control or central planning of the economy is a totally different animal than rigging an economy. Controlling the creation and price of money is the very essence of rigging an economy. If you think everything in the US economy is "on the level" with some sort of meritocracy influencing outcomes, you are either very stupid, very naive, or very deceitful.

      The thing globalists like Gary Cohn advocate for is not "international free trade", defined as simply trade with no agreements such as NAFTAs, TPPs, etc. It is a different version of managed trade where his crony class is favored over other cronies.

  3. The ignorance of Wenzel never ceases to amaze. We are Republic precisely for the concern you stipulate.

    Jefferson had it right when he wrote:
    "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
    The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
    wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
    they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
    it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
    And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
    warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
    resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
    to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
    in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    It is its natural manure."

    Meanwhile - keeping a corrupt establishment that has infiltrated EVERY facet of society to disengage true freedom from the population proves that YOU yourself must either be a tyrant, traitor or useful idiot.