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Trumpism: a kinder, gentler fascism.

“Those who are against Fascism without being against capitalism, who lament over the barbarism that comes out of barbarism, are like people who wish to eat their veal without slaughtering the calf. They are willing to eat the calf, but they dislike the sight of blood. They are easily satisfied if the butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat. They are not against the property relations which engender barbarism; they are only against barbarism itself. They raise their voices against barbarism, and they do so in countries where precisely the same property relations prevail, but where the butchers wash their hands before weighing the meat.” Bertolt Brecht, “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties” 

The new US administration is beginning to take shape, and it’s as bad as we expected – a mix of bible thumpers, climate deniers, white supremacists, homophobes, ant-semites and generally the most unsavoury elements of American tea party conservatism. I guess a lot of people will be saying I-told-you-so.

Told us what, exactly? That things would be bad under Trump? This seems to overlook the fact that things were already pretty awful.

Two million signatures have so far been collected to petition the Electoral College to reverse its decision on Trump – two million butthurt liberals sore that after rigging their own primaries they lost the general election to a scarecrow, are now desperately trying to put the blame on anyone but themselves. They blame ‘the Russians’, ‘the internet’, and ‘the white vote’ (really a 6% decline in black and Latino voter turnout). They call “fascist” and denounce Trump as racist for his plans to deport between 2 and 3 million undocumented migrants. HELLO! Obama has already deported 3.5 million.

Indeed on examination of the 2016 Republican Party platform, there is not much that stands out as being particularly to the right of current policy settings. Mass surveillance, prosecution of whistle blowers, banker bailouts, cuts to food stamps, massive military expansion, war with seven countries, direct support of terrorists, millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands dead… Uncle Tom has served his masser real good.

Much to the alarm of the presstitutes, the Butcher of Libya’s transition to power suffered a last minute derailment, signalling the end of 25 years of bipartisanship on foreign policy. The Bush era neocons are finally gone, replaced by a giant three year old with an orange bouffant, leading army of conservative cockwombles who believe that evolution is wrong because there are still monkeys, and that climate change is a communist plot. Never mind, it’s not like the Fracking Queen and her pals the Koch Brothers were going to do anything for the climate anyway.

The US is now officially an idiocracy. The elevation of a TV reality star to the most powerful office in the land is appropriate in a number of ways. Mostly it reminds us that the US exists in a virtual world of unreality. It has a virtual economy of finance capital where wealth creates wealth – the real economy has moved to China, Mexico, Brazil and other countries where labour is cheap. It has a virtual polity where class struggle has been replaced by the petty politics of gender and race. It has a virtual democracy that offers once every four years a choice between cholera and plague.

In this virtual world the working class have become the “middle class”; a fallacy concocted to exclude the growing ranks of great unwashed; the immigré, the out of work, the old and the afflicted, left behind by the march of progress. Government is for the rich and by the rich – a den of snakes in which no rational, ethical person could ever hope to survive. The law exists to protect property rather than to serve justice – witness the protests at Standing Rock.

In this virtual world, individualism and profit-seeking go hand in hand with mass incarceration, surveillance, and toxic trade pacts. Real wages and living standards are in permanent decline as stock prices soar to record highs. 43 million Americans rely on food stamps, but still see themselves as Steinbeck’s temporarily embarrassed millionaires.  The US has become a parody of itself, the headquarters of Democracy Inc. where post-democratic bourgeois liberalism masquerades as popular self rule.

Into this dystopian nightmare unreality strides Donald J Trump. Trump is a paradox – a capitalist technocrat and yet anathema to the establishment. Conservative on identity-politics while toting a Santa-sack full of postwar liberalism, he plays to the anxieties of the oppressed working class “Five, 10 years from now — different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party, a party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry”, he said in an interview in May. On foreign policy, Trump eschews the aggressive stance of past administrations and seeks détente with China and Russia. Sadly, instead of being all over his more progressive policies like flies on chopped up pieces of Syrian children, the party of the so-called left is determined to oppose him every step of the way. Instead of holding his feet to the fire over promised reforms to healthcare, welfare and the student debt crisis, they will simply obstruct.

“There’s just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free health care — that what we’ve done hasn’t gone far enough, and we just need to go as far as Scandinavia — whatever that means. They’re the children of the Great Recession and they are living in their parents’ basement.” – HRC via WikiLeaks

The Clintons have been rightly excoriated for selling American democracy to Wall Street in the 90s, but the rot set in well before this. Honourable mention should also go to Jimmy Carter, who first signed on to trade liberalisation and privatisation, setting up the framework for Reaganomics – a system of socialism for the rich and capitalism for everybody else. This is the reality we now live in – there are not two political parties but one, and it is neither Democratic nor Republican. Carter correctly described the US as an oligarchy, a fact which has been laid bare in the recent election.

Those who see in Trump as some sort of neo-fascist have not been paying attention. The conditions for fascism existed well before this. Its seeds were sown with the weakening of anti-trust laws in the 1890s. This is the birth place of the modern American corporation, and arguably the birth place of US imperialism. Lobbying power in the hands of big business, combined with an emerging steel and ship building industry, gave rise to what is now known as the military industrial complex. It is this behemoth which has set the agenda for more than a century of war.

If WWIII is not going exactly to plan, it is because the West has a bad habit of underestimating Russian resilience. In their hubris, the neolib-cons thought they could subjugate post-Soviet Russia with trade sanctions. In response, Russia has forged stronger ties with its traditional strategic and economic partners. It’s no surprise to see the Philippines, Egypt, Turkey, not to mention China, now distancing themselves from Washington. In response to this realignment, Trump presents an opportunity for the empire to save face, to back away from a war which it was clearly losing, without appearing weak – an opportunity to regroup and change tack. But as with the nautical analogy, this should not be seen as a radical course correction, merely a change of approach. The objective remains the same; other ways must now be found to achieve it.

If Brexit was a rejection of the neoliberal, capitalist, imperialist EU, then the US election result must be seen in the same light – a vote of no confidence in the business-as-usual politics of endless war and poverty. The new CEO needs to take heed of this, but more importantly, so does the anti-war left. After eight years of hibernation, it’s time for liberal identitarians to wipe the rainbow fairy dust from their eyes and see that things have actually gotten worse under Obama and Hillary.

A period of isolationism would probably be a good thing for the US, and would certainly be good for the rest of the world. But even if the establishment were to tolerate an isolationist president (unlikely), it doesn’t change the fact that we are sailing toward an iceberg. A reawakening of class consciousness is our only bulwark against fascism. Until there is economic justice there can be no social justice. Until people come to recognise their place in the social order, they will continue to vent their fear and frustration against each other. This is as true for the bourgeois left as it is for the alt-right.

 “He said a bayonet, that’s a weapon wi’ a working man at either end
Betray your country, serve your class. Don’t sign up for war my friend
Don’t sign up for war.” – Alistair Hullet

 

16 comments

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  1. OrchidJar

    You had me at “a giant three year old with an orange bouffant, leading army of conservative cockwombles”

    Well done, an excellent read.

  2. Kronomex

    If there any idiots out there who don’t believe that The Donald won’t use the presidency to enrich himself, family and corporate mates then I have a block of flats on Mars you can buy. The Donald won’t be able resist the chance to play the system and that will bring about his removal sooner rather than later. He is a petulant spiteful child inhabiting a bizarre hairdo.

  3. jimhaz

    This article was quite well written. I often turn off Sean’s articles, but didn’t find any real objections to this one.

    Other than this bit, which seems a very long bow, I liked it’s perspective.

    “The conditions for fascism existed well before this. Its seeds were sown with the weakening of anti-trust laws in the 1890s. This is the birth place of the modern American corporation, and arguably the birth place of US imperialism – the superstructure which has brought us two world wars, and now wants to bring us another”

  4. Sean Stinson

    @jimhaz

    This is the line I’d draw.

    The watering down of anti-trust laws under McKinley and others around the time put lobbying power in the hands of big business. This, combined with an emerging steel and ship building industry, gave rise to what we now call the military industrial complex, which led directly to the Spanish American war.

    Fascism is a term which is overused nowadays, also incorrectly leveled at people we don’t like. Personally I prefer Benito Mussolini’s definition – “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

    The 2003 documentary The Corporation is recommended viewing if you haven’t seen it.

  5. Jack Straw

    Trump has done one good thing. He’s has heightened peoples awareness of what can happen,Sit on your laurels at your peril.And if you don’t fight you loose.Life is tough. Simple as that.

  6. auntyuta

    ” Government is for the rich and by the rich”
    Yes, that’s it in a nutshell.

  7. metadatalata

    USA is heading for anarchy and there is no turning back from this. The corporations and politicians are just too greedy to help themselves, much like the Liberals in Australia. The only question is whether the US start any further world wars before their own civil war. I am hoping most of the damage will be kept behind Trumps walls.

  8. Royce Arriso

    Anybody who wants to intelligently bore it up capitalism has my immediate attention.
    So I draw the line at the claim that it is “the superstructure which has brought us two world wars….”

  9. Sean Stinson

    See my reply to jimhaz above. With your indulgence I have edited the paragraph. Hopefully it makes more sense now.

  10. mark delmege

    at least McKinley got his just deserts. The new bloke in the Philippines probably knows his history well.

  11. Annie B

    An excellent article Sean. Presenting all facets of argument – not an easy thing to do.

    Am inclined to agree with metadatalata … ref. America heading for anarchy. … Have thought that for some time myself – much over there is showing those signs.

    When groups clash with other groups on a regular basis, along with groups vs. police, and police resorting to unheard of before, un-necessary violence … it points down a dangerous path – for them all. … Hope it does not come to this, but rather think it will. … Seems to be very wide-spread fuelled by vastly differing viewpoints on so many matters. Not to mention the debacle that the recent election descended into.

    We have our own protests these days, but nothing resembling the reported ( and often not reported by MSM ) clashes that are occurring in the U.S. … A nation in great unrest.

    ………

  12. ace Jones

    Wake up and stop crystal-balling an American President with all his glaring faults and take a long look at the dopey mug we have voted in to lead this country! if Dump wants to isolate then let him, but dont use his copybook like Malcom the Mug is to again follow Yankee footsteps.

  13. Michael Taylor

    And from CNN:

    “Hillary Clinton’s campaign is being urged by a number of top computer scientists to call for a recount of vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a source with knowledge of the request.
    The computer scientists believe they have found evidence that vote totals in the three states could have been manipulated or hacked and presented their findings to top Clinton aides on a call last Thursday. Hillary Clinton’s campaign is being urged by a number of top computer scientists to call for a recount of vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a source with knowledge of the request.

    The computer scientists believe they have found evidence that vote totals in the three states could have been manipulated or hacked and presented their findings to top Clinton aides on a call last Thursday.”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/22/politics/hillary-clinton-challenge-results/index.html

  14. Annie B

    Michael ….

    Very interesting that this ‘recount’ has been called for – although I can’t see how it might pan out or be conclusive – considering the tools they would be using – investigating voting by computer ( ??? ) …. which would HAVE to have been subject to possible interference, wherever that form of voting was/is conducted. ( things being the way they are these days with computerisation, and the myriad of anomolies / interference / hacking, that can happen.)

    Frankly, the amount of ‘control’ the Electoral College has over any outcome – any time, is questionable to say the least. It is ultimately they, ” who ‘elect’ the President and Vice President, every 4 years” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States) ” If there is no absolute majority for president in the Electoral College, the Twelfth Amendment provides that the House of Representatives will select the president, with each of the fifty state delegations casting one vote. If no candidate receives a majority for vice president, then the Senate will select the vice president, with each of the 100 senators having one vote.[13][14] “… Wikipedia occasionally gets it wrong, but I doubt it has in this case.

    Wot a bloody mess it all is, over there.

    Perhaps the American public is being fooled into thinking they still have a democracy – when in fact a few select elite, rule the entire roost – no matter what.

    Just sayin’ …. and querying the possibilty ?

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