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Trump is More than "Silly Tricks"

by Daniel Tanuro Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at 2:23 PM

Trump will run the US as a big business is run. Trump did not come out of nowhere. Trumpism is an expression of a reactionary revolt of those angry because they were politically stripped of power. Trump turns reality upside down.


By Daniel Tanuro

[This article published on March 1, 2017, is translated from the German on the Internet, www.sozonline.de.]

Trump has a project. He will run the US as a big business is run, make a fortress of "Christian-Jewish capitalism" and radically restructure the US again into the uncontested world hegemon. He transfers his private business practices – no period of grace for the personnel, brutality toward rivals, and ignorance about the outer environment – to the society. As an uneducated populist multi-millionaire, nationalist, racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe and anti-Semite, Trump reshapes ambition, US society and the world map with the hammer, ignoring what exists and crushing what resists.

Different branches of Trumpism anxiously follow the "silly tricks" of the new president. Can we break them? Can they be forced to get rid of him? Both are possible. But a third cannot be excluded. The arsonist reports for work and leads the world to the abyss of wars and climate catastrophes.

Trump did not come out of nowhere. He is a result of the inextricable capitalist contradictions harder and harder to control by the neoliberal "governance" and makes the political superstructure ever more breakable in a period of worldwide hegemony crises. Under these conditions, the relative autonomy of individuals and the political increases. The tendency goes in the direction of a strong state with Trump's rivals in Europe and Asia and not only with Trump's protectionists. The threat is global and society's answer must on the level of the challenge.

Neoliberal "governance" is a kind of despotic mechanism of reaching a consensus and fulfilling the command of profit maximization. In a first period, crises could be postponed or prevented but the instruments became increasingly dull. They only delayed the problems without solving them. The tension increases because compensating for the profit rate's fall becomes harder and harder for capitalism. At the same time, the parties are less and less able to deal with the inner capitalist contradictions. They accustom themselves to be nothing but henchmen or accomplices of the technocratic monster they created.

This is the situation where we find ourselves. This neoliberal regime of governance strikes its limits. It foments the political crisis and has now become an element of the chaos. The institutions of middle-class parliamentary democracy have become largely emptied. This situation is unbearable for the middle-class and the petty-bourgeois who cannot imagine capitalism at its end while on the other side having no access to the power centers of the world where neoliberals try to manage the contradictions (the "party of Davos" as Steve Bannon says). Workers (white and above all male) could be led astray. Trumpism is an expression of a reactionary revolt of the petty-bourgeois and the middle-class that are angry about the global neoliberal "governance" because they were politically stripped of power.

With irony, Marx says reality is turned upside down. Trump turns reality upside down. While the social and political crisis have their ultimate cause in the restless pursuit of profit, "captains of industry" are now regarded as bringers of salvation able to purge society from political castes, bureaucrats, and bad capitalism (the unscrupulous cosmopolitan finance capitalism or crony capitalism as Steve Bannon calls them) that ruins the good capitalism of yore. To solve the problems, a boss or CEO should create order, free businesses, and citizens from oppressive burdens, and restore the predominance of the Christian West.

Trump carries this logic to the absurd. The new tenant in the White House is determined to run the state with his conductor's baton like a big business – supported by a team of bigoted multi-millionaires and decorated generals. Making fun of him is easy but underrating him would be dangerous. Trump knows the multi- "US Inc." is dominated but runs the risk of losing its position as world leader. In his logic, he must strike hard and immediately.

What does an executive do in such a situation at the top of a business? He quickly sends signals of his resoluteness, cancels projects that aren't profitable, spreads fear, dismisses a part of the personnel (above all women and immigrants), concentrates on his core staff, intensifies the work rhythm, reprimands the directors of his branch offices (as happened with Mexico's president and Australia's prime minister) and forges new strategic alliances to prepare for the confrontation with his ultimate opponents.

What makes Trump so potentially dangerous is the hegemony crisis, the absence of a power (or a stable pecking order between the powers) that enforces rules or lines that cannot be broken by the conflicting imperialist powers or "camps." At the moment of the 1962 Cuba crisis, the world stood on the verge of a nuclear war. As a lesson, Moscow and Washington established a direct connection between the Kremlin and the White House, the "red line." There is nothing comparable today between China, Russia, and the US. The situation fatally recalls the first years of the 20th century when Britain's decline and Germany's rise flowed into the First World War. That the rise of tensions in the future could create a situation where a spark could be enough to set off an extensive fire in the South China Sea or somewhere else cannot be excluded.

Trump's main interest seems to be combating the rise of capitalist China, the only rival able to threaten the US, the declining hegemonic power. Seen geo-strategically, he has to separate Moscow from Peking and throw a bone to Putin – for example, a part of what Russia considers its "sphere of influence" in Central Europe or in the Middle East… Trump promised the Kremlin a support for this alliance in his holy war against Islamism. His declarations that NATO is "obsolete" and Brexit a good thing are not as absurd as they seem.

Trumpism cannot be equated with fascism. However, the systematic use of lies, nationalism, and the mobilization of an angry, reactionary petty-bourgeoisie recalls the 1930s. How can one not think of "Germany over all" in "America first"? During the election campaign, Trump presented himself as the "candidate of law and order." In the White House, he supports torture, orders the weekly publication of the crimes of foreigners and attacks journalists in the name of "alternative facts." Repressing indignation and watchfulness in the expectation that the majority will not approve such "silly tricks" would be dangerous.

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