Trump v Clinton: Nothing but bad choices for the bourgeoisie and for the proletariat

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
Dave60
Trump v Clinton: Nothing but bad choices for the bourgeoisie and for the proletariat
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Trump v Clinton: Nothing but bad choices for the bourgeoisie and for the proletariat. The discussion was initiated by Dave60.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Dave60
Social Democracy in the USA?

I really enjoyed reading this article and found myself wondering whether the disaray within the Republican Party will be long term. Will the bourgeoise begin to have to think about allowing a European style social democratic party based on Sanders to develop. After all to only allow the Democrats to contend for political power over the capitalist state will prove to further destabilise the political set up in the USA.

jk1921
Good Questions

Dave60 wrote:

I really enjoyed reading this article and found myself wondering whether the disaray within the Republican Party will be long term. Will the bourgeoise begin to have to think about allowing a European style social democratic party based on Sanders to develop. After all to only allow the Democrats to contend for political power over the capitalist state will prove to further destabilise the political set up in the USA.

Good questions Dave. I think it may be possible that the Republican Party will recover from Trump. In fact, one effect of the Trump candidacy might be that it gives the Republican establishment pause about flirting too overtly with the populist tendencies that were incipient in the Tea Party and which have driven Trump's campaign. But I don't think that means those tendencies will go away and if the Republican Party can't contain them they will have to go somewhere else. The possibility that the Republican Party could split seems real. In fact, in many ways it already has: i.e. the independent run of Evan McMullin, which seem poised to deny Trump Utah and on the other side Trump supporters openly booing Paul Ryan and even Fox News. How the Republicans recover their credibility as a governing party without alienating milions of voters who supported Trump is unclear.

On the other hand, Democrats are not quite as volatile as Republicans and there is more of a commitment to keep the party together whatever the tensions inside it, as Bernie showed in quickly bowing to Clinton once it finally became clear he wouldn't win. But it is also true that many younger voters just do not have the same loyalty to the Democrats as the older generation of the Obama coalition and there is more of a willingness to question the party hierarchy and organizational structures. The Democrats risk losing large parts of the younger generation if they are not seen to move to left in a demonstrable way. This creates some real tensions and I am not sure how they will shake out.

In reality, there probably should be a political realignment with the Trumpian-wing splitting off to form something like a European populist party, the Republican and Democratic establishments merging into a centrist party and the Sanders coalition forming something like a Podemos-style new left politics. The problem with that is Duverger's law and the effects of big money in politics--both of which tend to reinforce a two-party system. The situation is further complicated by the unique structures of the US state, in which there are really two different electorates--a larger one in Presidential years (favoring Democrats) and a smaller one in off years (an advantage for Republicans), another fact that reinforces the two main parties. It does seem though that there are social and political forces coming to the fore today that call into question those structures.

 

baboon
I agree with jk about the

I agree with jk about the lack of enthusiasm among younger voters towards the Democrats and this make the Trump issue a much wider problem for the US bourgeoisie. Clinton seemed to be hated as much, if not more than Trump, by the Sanders-supporting younger democrats who labelled her a "war-monger" at rallies (Clinton supporters were told by Democrat officials to drown them out with chants of "USA, USA").

This electoral disarray seems to echo the weakening of US imperialism overall as it struggles with its policy over the Middle East particularly and the centrifugal tendencies that not only tend to undermine it, but drag it in deeper as it has to show its support for Saudi Arabia  and Turkey for example.

Also the election shambles doesn't play well on the world stage and offers a "bad" example of democracy. The Iranian president for example has pointed to the US election campaign and said that if this is democracy you can keep it.

jk1921
Good Point

baboon wrote:

Also the election shambles doesn't play well on the world stage and offers a "bad" example of democracy. The Iranian president for example has pointed to the US election campaign and said that if this is democracy you can keep it.

Good point. There is also the absolutely bizzare spectacle of the Clinton campaign blaming Russia and Putin for most of her problems, as if the behavior revealed by the Wikileaks is somehow less offensive because the Russians did the hacking. She even went so far as to call Trump Putin's puppet on the debate stage, which I think has to be a first in modern American politics. Of course, the media completely ignored that--freaking out instead that Trump said he wasn't sure if he would accept the election results right away (like Al Gore in 2000). That was followed by pundit after pundit explaining that democracy only works if the loser accepts the results of the election even if there was fraud! Would they say that to a third world opposition leader?

Demogorgon
Quote:Of course, the media

Quote:
Of course, the media completely ignored that--freaking out instead that Trump said he wasn't sure if he would accept the election results right away (like Al Gore in 2000). That was followed by pundit after pundit explaining that democracy only works if the loser accepts the results of the election even if there was fraud! Would they say that to a third world opposition leader?

This is why I think these boards are so important. I didn't even think about Al Gore and the whole hanging chads thing but now it's been said, it seems so obvious.

jk1921
Careful

Demogorgon wrote:

Quote:
Of course, the media completely ignored that--freaking out instead that Trump said he wasn't sure if he would accept the election results right away (like Al Gore in 2000). That was followed by pundit after pundit explaining that democracy only works if the loser accepts the results of the election even if there was fraud! Would they say that to a third world opposition leader?

This is why I think these boards are so important. I didn't even think about Al Gore and the whole hanging chads thing but now it's been said, it seems so obvious.

Be careful with that around your liberal friends. They won't hesitate to shame you for comparing Gore's weeks long legal challenge that moved many to talk about a constitutional crisis and forced the Supreme Court to make a politicized 5-4 decision thereby calling the legitimacy of the Bush Presidency into question to Trump's reticence to accept election results before the fact. Somehow its supposed to be false equivalency and even raising media hypocrisy supposedly only helps Trump.

There is a new poll this morning showing Trump leading in Florida, but within the margin of error. The spectre of another contested election result must be frightening the bourgeoisie right now--even if the chances Trump closes this thing still seem pretty small.

jk1921
http://www.leftvoice.org/From

http://www.leftvoice.org/From-Farce-to-Tragedy-Zizek-Endorses-Trump

So Zizek endorsed voting for Trump--presumably as a way of accelerating the chaos and thus the opportunities for a new politics. Here is a link to an article criticizing that endorsement. The authors make an interesting point that essentially comes down to "be careful what you wish for, because you might get it." The left is in no position to benefit from the chaos that a Trump Presidency might cause.

Obviously, left communists do not understand the stakes in such terms, but I wonder about a point in the article that seems to suggest that what is not good for liberal democracy is also not good for the left. Put another way, it might be said that what is unhealthy for bourgeois democracy is also not healthy for the workers' movement. Is that true? If so, what are the implications of that given where we are today in the progression of decomposition. Do we have to believe that liberal bourgeois democracy has some actual substance in order to be concerned about anti-liberal or anti-democractic trends in society? This discussion seems very important given the campaigns around the US election in which the idea that, the democratic Republic, the rule of law, the nation state itself are all at issue in the outcome of this election. Is the progressive degradation of democratic institutions or even the increasing abandonment of the pretense to such institutions something of a measure of the progression of decompisition and the related prospects for the development of proletarian consciousness? Or, as perhaps Zizek seemed to suggest, is the collapse of such things something of an opportunity for a way forward as they reveal the democratic ideology as an illusion?

petey
er ...

jk1921 wrote:

http://www.leftvoice.org/From-Farce-to-Tragedy-Zizek-Endorses-Trump

So Zizek endorsed voting for Trump--presumably as a way of accelerating the chaos and thus the opportunities for a new politics.

 

holy moly

jk1921
Well, absolutely shocking

Well, absolutely shocking development that, once again, nobody saw coming. This will certainly put some of the claims of the article to the test. It will be interesting to see how the US state attempts to come to grips with this result and "integrate" this man into its governing apparatus. It is, clearly, an illustration of just how deep the economic, social, and moral rot of society has progressed and there doesn't seem to be a clear way for the bourgeoisie to drag society out of it. That will have to come from the proletariat, but does it still have the capacity to do it? This does seem a stark confirmation of the ICC's thesis of decomposition. Now, the French elections.

Demogorgon
Agree

I think that the antics of the FBI showed there was a certain disarray in the state apparatus, at least, and that the obvious distaste for Trump in some parts of the ruling class was not wholly universal. Or perhaps they simply feared the Clinton mafia getting their tentacles back into the machinery of state. Who knows?

One thing is for certain, the rise of "populism" can no longer be seen as a flash in the pan, an aberrant accident. It represents a very real and growing tendency that, as you say, confirms our analysis of decomposition. I think the real question now is what does this mean for the idea of the working class being "undefeated" if this ideological poison has apparently deeply infected its consciousness.

In 1933, the Italian Left saw Hitler's election as the final evidence of the working class being decisively defeated. Is this a similar moment?

Of course, it still remains the case that the ruling class hasn't won a full frontal victory (although it may be possible to look back and see this moment as a turning point). In that sense, you could say the class in undefeated. But this strikes me, more and more, of being more on the level of semantics. What really matters now is the capacity of the working class to actually resist this metastasis of the social rot.

jk1921
I don't know Demo. There are

I don't know Demo. There are a lot of conflicting emotions this morning: on the one hand there is the distinct possibility that if the bourgeoisie would have let Bernie run, he very well could have won, given that she appears to have suffered heavy losses in Rust Belt counties that Obama won handily in 2012. While Bernie obviously isn't the answer we are looking for, this neverthless would have indicated that the (white) working class isn't hopelessly lost in racism and xenophobia and that their political consciousness is still contested terrain. On the other, there is the realization that racism and xenophobia neverthless were major factors in this outcome and tens of millions of people were apparently willing to vote for a complete buffoon whose moral deparavity makes W look like a cartoon character. it seems like something close to an act of mass suicide.

I don't want to make any rash judgements as the shock is still fresh and it may very well prove the case that the state is still able to more or less effectively contain the danger of this one man and capitalist society holds together a little longer, but this obviously is not a good long term sign.

baboon
As time went on it looked to

As time went on it looked to me like Trump had a chance. It was Brexit writ large; with the same last-minute, "it's unthinkable that she'll lose" certainty that was ringing hollow the second time around. Below the personal abuse, Clinton was everything that Trump said she was and that it was the same old circus that was supporting her. It does show the element of the loss of political control in that the decision to nominate Clinton was perverse  and any other Democrat challenger would have had a much better chance of defeating Trump. The Trumpists have also won the Republlican Party and completely recast it. It controls the House, the Senate and probably the judiciary and while there's talk of "checks and balances" (President Reagan had alzhiemers for a long time in office), with the strong popular vote it's very possible that the Republican Party could move further to the right.

 

But it's not like the US has gone from a land of tolerance and freedom to another place and this rather expresses quite significantly the level of decomposition of the ruling class and it's ability to offer a future. It  certainly raises the question of a defeated working class. But as singular as this event is, so would a massive working class vote for Clinton. I see it as a defeat for the working class and one of many that the class will have to suffer.

 

 

slothjabber
Agree with baboon

I have to agree here, there were polls going back to May or thereabouts that said that Clinton couldn't beat Trump. 

 

The Democratic party machine kept control and imposed the candidate it wanted. It lost the election. The Republican machine lost control and Trump muscled his way in. They then won the election with a candidate they didn't want (though I'm sure many of them are reconciled to it).

 

I think it does demonstrate a loss of political control, a series of miscalcualtions by both factions of the US bourgeoisie.

jk1921
True

baboon wrote:

As time went on it looked to me like Trump had a chance. It was Brexit writ large; with the same last-minute, "it's unthinkable that she'll lose" certainty that was ringing hollow the second time around.

This is true. The signs were there. Was in NYC recently and I can't understte the number of "Vote Trump" messages I saw left behind in various ways by white outer borough construction workers. Driving through red states later, there was nothing but Trump yard signs everywhere, which while anecdotal, was nevertheless a sign of the intensity of his support among the core demographic. Social media posts were littered with his supporters absolutely convinced he would win, while Democrats were still fighting the primary. Something didn't feel right.  Still, all the professionals told us it was next to impossible he would win and one would look cooky going against that "scientific" wisdom. The crisis of polling is a central element of the bourgeoisie's loss of control, which is interesting in itself. In the end, the white "deplorables" got their inspirational candidate and he delivered that demographic the way Obama turned out minorities and the young. But what were they inspired by? I still don't know.

jaycee
I posted a question on Libcom

I posted a question on Libcom about what the imperialist implications are of a Trump presidency (unsurprisingly it didnt get a lot of response). What do people here think Trumps main focus on the world scale will be. My post was...

 

I see trump as representing a wing of the American bourgeoisie that basically wants out of the Middle east to a large extent (keeping their main points of influence such as Isreal and Saudi etc). This is clearly linked with a different approach to Russia and China. He seems to want a closer relationship with Russia and a more confrontational one with China.

My prediction is that while he will probably not send troops anywhere his administration would possibly ramp up support for groups in Africa and South America against Chinese interests as well as taking a tougher stand on trade deals with China. What do people think?

baboon
I replied to Jaycee on libcom

I replied to Jaycee on libcom and basically said that one of the consistencies of Trump over many years has been his criticism of Nato (which is also shared across the political divide in the US) and his and his clique's personal and political support to President Putin.

But this is by no means black and white. To a certain extent Trump's public position on Syria for example has some continuity with the position of the Obama administration (as opposed to the Clinton clique) that it not necessary for Assad to stand down and imposing certain limits on the types of weaponry that the "rebels" can receive. On the other hand I can't see the CIA giving up on its jihadist allies in Syria and the US military will surely continue to back its Kurdish pawns. For Trump this will pose the three-way problem of Kurds/Turkey/US even more sharply. And I think that it's correct to say that when George Bush came to the White House he did so talking about isolationism and look at how his administration jumped in the Middle East with both feet following 9.11.

There are many elements in the Republican Party that are rabidly anti-Russian and the question is on this issue, does Trump and his advisers have a grip on the Republican Party or does the Republican Party control them? At the moment, I think it the former. At any rate, Trump has loudly denounced the Iranian nuclear deal and Iran itself and given the latter's deep role in the Syrian war this raises further complicating factors.

There possibly won't be any sudden movements although it seems that the deployment of the Russian fleet to bomb "rebel" Aleppo flat was based on the assumption of a Clinton victory.

This is not very helpful but the Middle East has a way of itself shaping US policy and while it has been contradictory lately, reflecting the contradictory and centrifugal forces at work in the region, it is possible that Trump and his team won't make any decision on this for the time being.

Amir1
there is one factor we did

there is one factor we did not talk about , a protest of people on street? in usa

jk1921
Trump represents no faction

Trump represents no faction of the US bourgeoisie in particular. He is a rogue billionaire and that is why the main factions of the bourgeoise were united to stop him. It didn't work--in part because they were so united against him, which ginned up his image as a radical outsider. Did you see his demeanor when he met with Obama yesterday? He was completely shell shocked, a deer in the headlights, after coming to the realization that he has won and will be President. The thought is that he will step back and rely on the policy expertise of the few politically astute Republicans that exploited his candidacy for their own purposes and who will now be in charge of the major cabinet positions: Pence does not agree with Trump on Russia and Christie was notoriously anti-Russian during the primary, having said he would shoot down Russian planes in Syria (on this he was closer to Clinton than Trump). Still, Trump is a man with an intense ego and multiple personality disorders, including a prominent inability to accept criticism and an authoritrian style, so it is possible that at some point he will push back against this Republican coterie. In other words, nobody has any idea. Its total chaos.

On China: Trump based part of his campaign on opposition to the TPP (along with Bernie, which forced Clinton to also say she opposed it, but of course nobody believed her), which all the main factions of the bourgeoisie support. They do not look at it as just another trade deal, but as a main instrument of US hegemony in the Pacific. Trump is at odds with virtually the entire bourgeoisie on this and already some Republicans have suggested working with Obama to pass it before his inaguration, which would be something akin to a political suicide pact. Still, the foreign policy experts are all basically united in saying that if TPP isn't passed, it will be the death knell of US influence in the region, which will be lost to China for generations. Is this hyperbole? I don't know, but already Duterte (the Filipino Trump) has signalled his intentions to realign his country with China and Russia against the US, but who knows now given that he is also a wildcard and his likeness will be the next US President.

P.S. It looks like Chrisite may be out as he his mired in his own legal problems, but we will have to see.

jk1921
?

Amir1 wrote:

there is one factor we did not talk about , a protest of people on street? in usa

What about them? The Bernie people are hitting the streets, but there won't be a mass uprising anytime soon. The talk is all about how to kick out the neo-liberals, take over the Democratic Party and remake it into some kind of social democratic instrument to appeal to the deplorables and the basement dwellers. In other words, exactly what has happened in the UK with Labour.

jk1921
The Giuliani Faction

Demogorgon wrote:

I think that the antics of the FBI showed there was a certain disarray in the state apparatus, at least, and that the obvious distaste for Trump in some parts of the ruling class was not wholly universal. Or perhaps they simply feared the Clinton mafia getting their tentacles back into the machinery of state. Who knows?

Demo makes an important point about the possible existence of a pro-Trump faction in the US bourgeoisie that the article missed. I think its certainly likely that there is a pro-Trump/anti-Clinton faction within the security apparatus, including the FBI (aligned with Giuliani--who has a long time personal grudge against HRC) that conspired to manipulate the election in Trump's favor and which appears to have actually played a role in producing this outcome. There are rumours that Comey was facing something like a revolt from within the ranks and his hand was forced to make an announcement about the renewed investigation into HRC's emails a week and a half out, before this info was leaked to the press suggesting a cover-up in her favor. All of the major law enforcement organizations endorsed Trump--including, unsurprisingly, the Border Patrol union. (We also shouldn't underestimate the role of Assange's antics [With a possible assist from Putin] in depressing turnout among the younger generations for HRC. Whatever his rhetoric around transperency and the defence of civil society against state secrecy--Assange clearly had his thumb on the scale in what looks like an active attempt to implement Zizek's "greater evil" strategy. In this, Assange looks more like an anarcho-terrorist than some kind of defender of democratic norms.)

However, I don't think this represents a "main faction" of the US bourgeoisie, who were all united against Trump across party lines. The intervention of this rather minor faction into the race seems another illustration of the main factions' loss of control over the electoral process. But I think the article is essentially right in its premise that the bourgeoisie had no good choices here: Trump is a wild card and potential wrecking ball--ditto with Sanders. My guess is that there was serious consideration of parachuting Biden into the race at one point, but the main factions fell into something of a self-reinforcing echo chamber in which they came to believe their own propaganda and convinced themselves she couldn't lose. Her election seemed assured once Trump became the Republican nominee. Of course, this pathological blindness was reinforced by terribly inaccurate polling data that appears to have completely mismodeled the electorate and thus failed to understand its mood.

It was funny after each debate the polls all said that Clinton won handily, but the focus groups the networks did afterwards showed undecided voters stubbornly refusing to move towards Clinton and remaining open to Trump. This qualitiative evidence that she was in trouble seems to have been completely ignored in the face of quantitiative data that said the opposite. Its another illustration of the increasing tendency in bourgeois society and culture towards a cold, calculative, "scientific," data driven approach to reality and an accompanying failure to listen to real people. (Think of the bio-medical approach to depression over talk therapy).

Of course, Michael Moore understood it. He called this almost exactly as it played out. Personally, I thought he was bullshitting, but nope--he called it spot on. The unkempt fat guy who always wears a ball cap saw it coming, while all the sophisticated mathematical and algorithimic formulas of the professional consultants failed. But then again, Michael lives in Michigan and knows more than a couple of deplorables. He actually talks to them. Maybe sometimes anecdote trumps math.

What it all boils down to is something that looks like a complete crisis of bourgeois institutions-- a real legitimation crisis in all the symbols of the current bourgeois order--even if the working class still seems unable to pose its own alternative and continues to resort to self-injurious outbursts of anger within the exisiting insitutions to the extent that space for that exists. It is all still very frightening.

One illustrative example of this breakdown in institutional legitimacy occurred today when stories emerged that at a staff meeting at the DNC a young staffer named "Zach" stood up and called out chairperson Donna Brazille (an elder African-American, female statesperson of the Democratic Party, a veteran of the Jesse Jackson campaign) as a moral and practical failure for backing a flawed candidate in HRC and conspiring to help her win. This episode is remarkable for two reasons. 1. That it happened at all--a young, male (I am going to assume white) peon at the DNC openly challenged the authority of a cherished symbol of the party's racial and gendered inclusiveness and 2. That the story spread like wildfire on social media apparently only hours after it happened, highlighting the role of information technology in undermining the establishment narrative and the legitimacy of existing institutions.

Unfortunately, I can't quite be comfortable with the idea that this breakdown in legitimacy is unequivocably good for the communist/emanicpatory project. The breakdown of the exisiting institutions without an alternative perspective being posed seems only likely to strengthen the self-mutiliating tendencies ripping society apart as it descends into a series of cultural and identitarian conflicts. The question is what forces exist today to call forth the alternative perspective that is necessary to block this descent. It is true that there are other forces at work today (as much a function of neo-liberalism as anything else) that suggest a different evolution--the younger generations are not themselves prone to the divisive ideolgies Trump and populism market, but in their embrace of universalism they too often turn their own anger against their class brothers and sisters who they see as racists, xenophobes, misoygnists--objects of ridicule and contempt rather than damaged people worthy of solidarity. Its very difficult to untangle.

Fred
deer in the headlights

jk 1921 wrote:
Trump represents no faction of the US bourgeoisie in particular. He is a rogue billionaire and that is why the main factions of the bourgeoise were united to stop him. It didn't work--in part because they were so united against him, which ginned up his image as a radical outsider. Did you see his demeanor when he met with Obama yesterday? He was completely shell shocked, a deer in the headlights, after coming to the realization that he has won and will be President. The thought is that he will step back and rely on the policy expertise of the few politically astute Republicans that exploited his candidacy for their own purposes and who will now be in charge of the major cabinet positions: Pence does not agree with Trump on Russia and Christie was notoriously anti-Russian during the primary, having said he would shoot down Russian planes in Syria (on this he was closer to Clinton than Trump). Still, Trump is a man with an intense ego and multiple personality disorders, including a prominent inability to accept criticism and an authoritrian style, so it is possible that at some point he will push back against this Republican coterie. In other words, nobody has any idea. Its total chaos.
 

Thank you jk for this and for your other recent and perceptive posts. And the self-mutilation, as you call it, proceeds apace!  What a world we survive in. 

Hawkeye
Zizek

I've just finished reading the 2017 paperback 'Against the Double Blackmail'.and am wondering if ICC people have read it too. I'm only at a stage of reeling from what just seemed (no doubt mistakenly) to me to be a succession of somersaults, even though the final chapter is 'What is to be done?' Maybe someone with clear philosophical abilities would provide readers with something with which to be going on ?