President Trump: symbol of a dying social system

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baboon
President Trump: symbol of a dying social system
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: President Trump: symbol of a dying social system. The discussion was initiated by baboon.
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baboon
There's a great deal to

There's a great deal to discuss and deepen in this very comprehensive response, the main point of which in my opinion is to situate this election in the decay and decomposition of the capitalist system and, in some important respects, the limits of the bourgeoisie to manage even the decay of its system. Thus its growing irrationality and unpredictability is expressed in this most singular democratic process. I think that the characterisation (loosely) of anti-fascism to the anti-Trump election is a correct one that also applies to the Brexit vote - which is also part, if a smaller part, of the same phenomenon.

 

Trump has made a moderate-type speech congratualing Obama and bigging-up the Clintons but more importantly has stressed his "inclusiveness" with seeming concessionw on health-care and the Mexican wall.There's been a desperate response from the media to find positives among this which tries to avoid or stymies further reflection on how this disaster epitomises the collapse of a whole system. Turmp's attempts at reasonableness follows the line of PM May with her "inclusive" Francis of Assisi-tyoe speech after the Brexit vote saying that the vote means the poor will be taken care of and we are all one nation. Beyond the limitations of "liberalism" that the text above is clear on, the reality is that swingeing cuts are at present raining down on the poorest in society and will continue to do so. And this "inclusiveness" comes from a particular, majority  wing of the Tory Party  that has deliberately whipped up xenophobia and white nationalism well before the Brexit vote. That is, it wasn't only the Leave camp that played this card. There are lots of areas to fill in but both the US and Britain has move significantly to the right.

 

I'm not convinced that the FBI intervention had much impact on the overall result and would put greater emphasis on other elements in the text. And I'm not sure about the White Working Class Male Anti-Women vote. Owen Jones, a lefty Guardian columnist, said last week that the Brexit vote was due to the white working class fearing "the rise of women and LGBT" issues. I think that we've rather seen the growing pauperisation of the working class which directly affects women, the latter in their majority voting for Brexit and Trump. And LGBT lumped together is a nonsense given the antagonisms between them. It was the Clinton camp that played the woman card and working class women rejected it at the level of the ballot box. Similarly, according to a poll on Nerwsnight a couple of weeks ago, only a very small minority of skilled and semi-skilled workers voted for Brexit. The main point here is the popularist tendencies and all the dangers that brings to the working class.

 

Women voted for Trump in large numbers, so did Hispanics and so did Asians (30% each). Black voters who voted for Obama didn't vote for Clinton and it was noticeable that it was just 36 hours before voting started that she made her first desperate visit to a black area. Between 15 and 30% of people that had "serious misgivings" on Trump on various issues, women, atttitude, temperment, racism voted for him because they wanted a change from the usual stitch-up of tweedledum and tweedledee. It signifies the weakening of class consciousness and the fractionisation of the working class that elections always mean and more so this time with the developments of popularism and the divisions that go with it.

jk1921
One thing not mentioned here

One thing not mentioned here is the fact that Trump lost the popular vote, which highlights a couple of things: 1.) His Presidency will be viewed as illegitimate by many in both the population in general and within the ruling class (although the media is doing its level best to try to normalize him right now); 2.) The state machinery the US bourgeoisie has inherited from the 18th century has proven obsolete, having now thrown the Presidency to the less preferred candidate twice since 2000 and has this time given it to the most dangerous figure to make a serious major party run for President in forever; and 3.) The populist posison has not entirely infected society and there are large swathes of the working class who completely reject this ideology. The problem is that they are concentrated in particular geographic areas as a result of the neo-liberal restructuring of the economy: coastal metropolitan areas in the US (which is how the Electoral College bites the US bourgeoise in the ass), London and other major cities in the UK (and Scotland, for some reason that has yet been explained). This later part is very important to understand--the geo-spatial structuring of the economy and its resultant political effects (both for the bourgeoisie's attempts to manipulate the electoral process, but also for the proletariat's consciousness), the increasing splitting of the nation-state itself into geo-spatial regional identities that are in constant politico-cultural conflict with one another.

A few other points: whatever the economic angst and anger felt by working people in the rust belt (or middle England), no matter how many Trump voters were Obama voters four years ago, the fact remains that tens of millions of working class people just voted for an openly racist, xenophobe, bully who is on record as admitting to assaulting women. We can't underestimate the importance of this moment in WORLD HISTORY. Millions of people now feel increasingly unsafe in their daily lives as a result of this outcome. Calls to crisis hotlines for LGBT people, immigrants, Muslims and anyone else who may become an "other" are up damatically. Daily life has just become that much more emotionally strenuous and challenging for many IMMEDIATELY. For many, this is a traumatic experience every bit as disorienting as 9/11--perhaps even more so in that it was perpetrated not by foreigners from some exotic place, but by millions of their fellow citizens--you can't build walls against that. The shock is even worse in that all the institutions of bourgeois authority told us that it would not happen. How do we understand this reality? What delusional mental gymnastics did these Trump/Obama voters have to preform to convince themselves he is not really a racist or did they just not give a fuck? However else you understand a Trump vote--it is clearly an abandonment of solidarity with the most vulnerable in society (in a much more clear way than a Brexit vote); perhaps even an abandonement of solidarity with themselves. 

Right now the liberal political establishment is doing its best to console itself that it is still on the "right side of history." It may yet be right, but I don't think we should downplay the magnitiude of the terrible reaction that this represents--even if Trump himself turns out to have been pulling a con game all along and does not advance the most egregious promises of his campaign. The question for us is how much does the future of the communist project depend on the maintenance of some semblance of liberal values and norms in society and even if we do not cooperate with the liberal factions of the bourgeoisie to advance their political agenda, do we nevertheless have to root for it admist this carnage? Of course, it is an illusion to pretend that the liberals can protect us from the barbarism at the gates now, but that is for many an extremely frightening prospect.

Alf
The future of the communist

The future of the communist project is certainly threatened by these developments; the rise of populism expresses a weakening of working class consciousness which is probably no less serious than the effects of the collapse of the eastern bloc in 89-91. I don't think we have reached the point of no return, but we are definitely facing a period when 'don't betray' is central to our activity, as it was for Bilan during the 30s. The signs of capitulation by parts of the proletarian milieu faced with the growth of barbarism are becoming more evident: the anarchists who are supporting the 'Rojava revolution', the headlong flight towards leftism by the Tampa Communist League, and most recently, the strange evolution of the Greek group that was aligned with the ICT, who seem to be collapsing into nationalism in the face of the refugee crisis (http://www.leftcom.org/en/articles/2016-11-09/statement-of-the-internationalist-communist-tendency-on-the-nationalist). 

Jk is right to insist that we cannot pretend that the liberals can protect us from barbarism. In a discussion we were having tonight in the UK about the Trump article, a comrade pointed out that over two million 'illegals' have already been deported under the liberal Obama. But I'm confused by the preceding sentence, which seems contradictory: "even if we do not cooperate with the liberal factions of the bourgeoisie to advance their political agenda, do we nevertheless have to root for it admist this carnage?" Can you clarify?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jk1921
Yeah Alf, I think it means

Yeah Alf, I think it means that we do not participate in the electoral circus to support liberal candidates, but that we nevertheless have a better chance of reaching the communist goal if liberal values remain ascendant in society rather than the populist ethos, which seems to reflect something dark and foreboding. It is one thing to hold bougeois society/politicians to account for the failure to live up to the liberal values they profess (i.e. Obama deporting millions of people, etc.) another when society does not even pretend to believe in those values anymore. But, I don't really know if that is right. If Bernie had won this election--and there is a decent chance he would have had the Dems allowed him to run--there would be tremendous illusions that a new day would soon dawn and a reflexive drive to defend him, which would be no less a barrier to class consciousness. But, I am not sure that's even what I mean--I think I mean something more on the level of daily life.

baboon
When we've seen the velvet

When we've seen the velvet glove come off before in recent decades and replaced by the iron fist that's always under it, it has been in relation to relatively high levels of class struggle, the miners for example. That's more or less an "easy" situation where solidarity can be posed and there are lessons to be learnt in defeat. This is nothing like that and this rather unprecedented situation is, and I agree with Alf above, a development that is at least as dangerous as the collapse of the eastern bloc in 1989.

 

One of the main points, among the "major characteristics" as it called it, of the Theses on Decomposition was the growing inabillity of the bourgeosie to control the situation and the dangers for the ruling class itself on the political level. I don't think that we fully appreciated the weight of this aspect of the analysis or at least it's made clearer today. So we've seen one of the most intelligent elements of the bourgeoisie, the British state, completely fall into this disarray with one of its most solid factions, the Tory party, sell itself out from the overall interests of the state by stoking up popularism with its crude nationalism, racism and xenophobia in order to put its own interests foward ahead of the state while attempting to out UKIP UKIP. It's similar in France where Sarkozy and his clique are making a direct push for the Le Pen voters in trying to outdo the now "reasonable" far right. Though the left is in opposition and government in both countries respectively, their programmes do offer a non-populist "solution" to the crisis of capitalism - ultimately war if the working class is crushed. It's similar in the US, where a particular faction of the Democratic Party put forward a narrowly selfish clique of the Clintons, a clique that was much more secure and intrinsically corrupt than any faction of the Chiinese Communist Party, that, one way or another, was an insult to the great majority of the population. I think that with a bit of coherence any one faction of the Democratic Party could have beaten Trump (not just Sanders) but it was definitively undermined by this "major characteristic" of decomposition of each for themselves, rivalries and centrifugal tendencies affecting the highest levels of the bourgeoisie.

 

Like the "collapse of communism" this popularist surge and its consequences does represent the erosion of class consciousness particularly when a disgruntled and angry working class uses democracy, the ballot box as an element of an attack on democracy. One of the saving graces of the US election appears to be the widespread abstention of black voters who refused to get drawn into the circus. Although the election of Trump, the Brexit vote and popularist movements elsewhere have expressed a qualitative "jump" (as jk says above) there is also a great deal of continuity with previous governments and administrations past and recent.

 

I think that it's much too soon to talk about a defeated working class and I think that the ICC's recent approch laid out in texts and discussion elsewhere on here, a more reflective approach for example, is the correct one and, in this sense, Alf's reference to Bilan in the 30's is the correct one. One point that communists have always made is that a liberal, fair and inclusive capitalism is an illusion.

Fred
But bearing in mind baboon,

But bearing in mind baboon, referring to your post above, that Bilan in the 30's was dealing with a situation that was already a disaster for the absolutely defeated working clsss with the World war looming ominously on the horizon. We're not like that now exactly are we? Or are we, and it's just hidden from view? 

baboon
No I don't think that we are

No I don't think that we are Fred but it's obviously very tricky. The 30's for example was a period of very high levels of class struggle some involving hundreds of thousands of workers.and while Bilan drew the lessons of the nature of the period, the class nature of the USSR and the tendency towards a global war expressed by the war in Spain, the whole communist left was wracked by contradictions (on the Popular Fronts for example) that continued throughout the war and after its conclusion. And even with its analysis of a slide towards war Bilan continued to instranigently defend class positions.

But there's no schema that we can apply here because if one looks at a pre-revolutionary situation then we can see that just a few years before the major, global revolutionary wave of 1917, the great majority of workers in the main industrial centres were "intoxicated" with nationalism and xenophobia. Who can forget the words of Rosa Luxemburg when she talked of the policeman on the street corner being the only form of society (or words to that effect) amidst the surrounding madness. I'm not advocating war for revolution but it does show just how quickly things can change and how, in order to make a revolution, things must get bad for the working class. At the time of the injection of nationalist poison prior to the outbreak of WWI, there was also the betrayal of social democracy and the trade unions which was also a big factor in the mobilisation of workers for war.

 

There are many substantial nuances to the historical lines within the historical period between 1914 and the 1930's but there isn't a schema that can be taken from them and applied today in a mechanical fashion. There are many issues today, and certainly many of them are negative, that can militate against the appearance of a revolutionary wave but I don't see a working class (particularly its youth) in any way prepared to be mobilised for war and I don't see a working class so crushed that it's prepared to accept such an agenda. I don't underestimate the effects of decomposition eating away at class consciousness and class combativity but I suspect that the working class is going to suffer more serious defeats than the election of Trump, with all its specificities.

Fred
Thanks baboon for your

Thanks baboon for your illuminative and consolatory reply.  

baboon
What do you think of it so

What do you think of it so far?

The "President Elect" period seems to me to be going from the ridiculous to the ridiculous. Trumps certainly "drained the swamp" and looks to be surrounding himself with some of its most loathsome creatures."Law and order" looks to be strengthened on the ground and this will pose the question of workers' self-defence.

In Britain the question was posed around the issue with the "Rotherham Twelve", a group of Asian men arrested by South Yorkshire police for protesting against a "Britain First" march in their community in the pre-Brexit halycon days of racial equality of 2015. In fact given the action of South Yorkshire police in kettling the protesters and delivering them to the racists, it goes all the way back to the 60's where the police openly fought alongside the fascist BNP.

Self-defence should become an issue for the proletariat in the US and the "Black Lives Matter" movement has, as far as one can see, taken to the democratic road to protest and work towards the next elections in two year's time. The use of democracy is alive and well and represents a big danger for the working class in fighting the "right wing". The first signs were that great numbers of black workers had, more or less consciously, refused to get dragged into the electoral circus even with a bogeyman like Trump. Much more will  be needed for workers to protect themselves against state repression.

Trumps ratings have increased since the election but that was to be expected. Now he has to think about how his administration is going to provide the jobs that he promised. I don't think that  there's any doubt that the unions could work with him around any possible protectionism for US jobs or on other issues but the election caimpaign has raised prospects that he can't possibly fulfill.

 

 

jk1921
So far, there are suggestions

So far, there are suggestions that Trump will be a figurehead, while the Republicans that rode in with him will do the actual "governing", which will mean austerity and repression domestically--even if it is still totally unclear what will happen on foreign policy. It has been reported that Trump has received only 2 intelligence briefings so far, while Pence has taken all of them. Meanwhile, Trump has brought his unelected daughter and business partner Ivanka (who the protesters are calling "Tzarina"-- in an insult that might be a continuation of the anti-Russian theme of the Democrat's campaign, I am not sure) into a meeting with Shinzo Abe and then participated along with her father in a telephone call with the Argentine President, in which it is likely Trump family business was discussed. Suspiscions are rising that Trump will use his Presidency to advance his family's business interests and that he has no real interest in the duties of the job. Meanwhile, the newly empowered Republican Party appears poised to attempt to enact its domestic agenda--the only apparent brake on that appears to be Trump's new found concilatory language and his unpredictable personality. Still, he has appointed a far right, and outright racist, Attorney General and will bring the alt-right, anti-Semite Steve Bannon into the White House as his "Chief Strategist." There is plenty here to keep everyone puzzled and apprehensive, something which can readily be garnered by the dour and fearful tone of newscasts and editorial pages.

The Democratic Party meanwhile is in utter turmoil having blown an election that it supposedly couldn't lose. You would think this would empower the Bernie-wing and push the Democrats to the social democratic left in an attempt to win back the white working class, who hightailed towards populism. While there are some suggestions that the Dems will make a token effort in this direction, the "establishment" (i.e. corporate) wing of the party still holds tremendous sway and there is already a counter-offensive under way to block any "Corbynization" of the party. Editorialists and opinion makers are already warning Democrats not to "overlearn" the lesson of this election and whatever the emerging panic surrounding the white working class's desertion of the "party of the working class," the establishment is warning that the party should maintain its course and might even want to double down on "identity politics," as there is nothing that can be done to win back the deplorables, who are likely irretrievably lost to populism and ethnic resentiment (using the French word, because it makes it sound so much worse).

Personally, I think the situation is a complete mess for the bourgeoisie and there is a real risk that it will get out of coontrol. While the institutions of the state will do their best to constrain Trump, what happens when the deplorables figure out that he never gave a fuck about them and his election has only empowered the most draconian forces lurking in the Republican Party? Will they even figure it out or will he find away to blame it all on immigrants and poor people? Or will the Dems try to make some kind of pact of convienence with Trump against his own party and try to force him to act on some of his populist rhetoric (like infrastructure investment), but not where it threatens the interests of the corporate paymasters? Nobody knows. What about his appointment of General Flynn as national security advisor--who supposedly has an affinity for Putin? Is this a sign of a real change in imperialist orientation? Is it just a vanity appointment to appease the right? Or is it a sign of the sheer incompetence of the incoming administration? Again, who can say?

As far as the working class is concerned: I don't share Baboon's optimism about the lower turnout among African American voters. I doubt this was due to some kind of principled refusal of electoral politics. More likely its a sign of the corrosive effects of civic and community disintegration and their replacement with a vapid celebrity pop culture--the "Kardashianization" of society. African Americans had no good looking, smooth talking black guy to vote for this time, so why bother? Of course, it didn't help that the candidate the Democrats put up there had called African-American youth "super predators." Her hot sauce pandering and Jay-Z/Beyonce endorsement just couldn't connect with African-Americans the way an actual black guy on the ticket would--something which highlights just how terrible the Clinton campaign really was in retrospect. With a young hip black guy (Corey Booker) and several actual Hispanics to choose from for the VP spot, she went with Tim Kaine-- who although he speaks Spanish, has the distinct disdvantage of not actually being Hispanic. He is just a boring centrist white guy, who because the Democrats wanted to make a virtue out of his linguistic abilities, probably couldn't even appeal to white guys. Meanwhile, Trump showed that it is possible to do identity politics the other direction too--and his voters did not fail to turn out to vote for a celebrity candidate who speaks to their frustrations and angst.

It is also imporant to keep in mind that there was likely massive voter supression going in this election, preventing many minorities who might have wanted to vote from doing so--or discouraging them from trying. There are even growing suggestions that the election itself might have been rigged or hacked or something in those swing states Trump needed to win. But for now, the bourgeoisie has decided that the pretention of a fair system and the sanctity of the "peaceful transition" is more important than accurately counting the votes (2000 redux).

Further to the left, it does appear that the Jill Stein vote did cost Wisconsin and Michigan (but not Pennsylvania). So, there is some solace to be taken that the younger generations (likely) were not entirely cowed by the anti-fascist campaign and some voted their conscience--even though they were told they were wasting their vote and enabling a monster. But it is unclear where that element goes from here. Back into a tokenly more open and left-wing looking Democratic Party? More futile attempts to found some third party alternative or back to the road of extra-parliamentary struggle like 2011? But now that there is an actual boogeyman in power, won't it be that much easier for the Democratic Party to recuperate whatever energy is left?

jk1921
Here is a chilling piece; the

Here is a chilling piece; the latest in the US bourgeoisie's meltdown response to Trump's victory, spurred by the "liberal" establishment in the Democratic Party, which now finds itself in crisis. Now, the "left" is responsible for Trump's victory--just the latest in a long line of Putin's dupes. Remarkably, the author detects a "red-brown" convergence underway. While the main figures he cites on the left as Putin's stooges are far from "communists," this doesn't prevent him from going straight for Cold War McCarthyite metaphors that shame anyone associating with Marxism as in league with a foreign power. Amazing:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/13/how-putin-played-the-far-left.html