Six Anti-Establishment Books that will Separate Fake News from the Truth
The recent Presidential election in the USA has been hailed as a victory against ‘the Establishment’ by right-wing populists and supporters of Trump. Similarly, the decision made by the United Kingdom to leave the EU and trigger ‘Brexit’ has been described as a rebellion against the ‘elites’. With such monumental actions taking place across the globe, it seems apt to ask what is this elite Establishment that so many people appear to be acting against?
It was the British political journalist Henry Fairlie who first coined the term of ‘the Establishment’ in the early 1960s. In a sentence, he said, “By the ‘Establishment’, I do not only mean the centres of official power—though they are certainly part of it—but rather the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised.” Fairlie’s term has become increasingly popular and since the 1960s has been used to describe in general the established norms, standards, economics and governance of the western way of life. Class and identity politics matter too when we talk about ‘the Establishment’. The established systems that structure our society work for the rich, the white, the male and heterosexual. For the working class, for women, men and women of colour, there is a systemic disadvantage that ceases opportunity. The Establishment platforms and promotes its likenesses and does not empower those who are marginalised by its core principles.
With this in mind then it is confusing that the Trump victory and Brexit can be labelled as victories against ‘the Establishment’ when the changes occurring as a result of these outcomes disproportionately affect those who most suffer under this matrix of official and social relations. An explainer may be the rise of ‘fake news’ which has distorted truth with vague promises to ‘make America/Britain better’. Certainly, people have been manipulated and the most loathsome aspects of humanity have been roused under the falsity that those most marginalised and vulnerable somehow hold power. Indeed, Trump may not have been a member of the political Establishment that he so lambasted Hillary Clinton for being part of, but his wealth, social conservatism, vicious capitalism and his white male heterosexual identity make him a foundational member of the Establishment. So too, Brexit cannot be surmised as a revolt against elites out of touch with the working class. The vote to leave was undoubtedly whipped up by those in power in attempt to harken back to the days of Empire, when England ruled the world with wanton abandon.
Since the 1960s, popular culture has seen attempts by artists, musicians and writers in particular to challenge and disrupt the Establishment, or as many hippies called it back then, ‘the man’. Perhaps most notably the punk movement with bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash stuck two fingers up at the rules of the Establishment and harnessed the rage of the working class into music that advocated attacking the wealthy right-wing elites like Thatcher and Reagan who had a stranglehold over the UK and USA in the 1970s and 1980s.
Now in 2017, we find ourselves again searching for art music and words with which to battle the sophisticated and dangerous Establishment that is dragging the USA and UK down a right-wing road that echoes the white nationalist fascism of the 1930s. The following list offers a selection of anti-establishment books contemporary to the 21st Century as well as work from the past that will inform readers of the toxic nature of the Establishment away from the promulgation of falsities of Trump’s Twitter and Fox News and the BBC.
For those of us who wish to challenge and disrupt the norms and rules of the centres of power that discriminate, deprive and pit humanity against each other, these books offer an opportunity to resist and rise up against the pro-Establishment sentiments that are so popular today.