That Trump is totally unfit for public office is blindingly obvious. All the opprobrium that has been hurled is way is, without the slightest doubt, justified. He is a demagogue of the worst kind. Playing to the economic insecurities and basest instincts of a largely marginalised American working class, Trump has shown himself to be a bullying misogynist, a crude racist, a vile narcissist and in all probability, a tax evading crook. But his personal characteristics, such as they are, pale into insignificance when we consider his political agenda.

 But, it’s not true that everything he has been saying is totally off the planet. Far from it. Like the infinitely more reasoned and socially responsible Bernie Saunders, Trump has accurately highlighted the deteriorating plight of the American working class at the hands of global capital, but, unlike Saunders, Trump’s proposed solutions are socially toxic and economically fanciful, bordering on the fascistic. To ‘make America great again’, will necessitate triggering a global trade war, in which there can be no winners. And trade wars, as we should have learnt from the bitter experience of the mid twentieth century, can all too easily morph into a full-on military war.

 

 

   

Every two-bit gangster politician these days wants to make their nation ‘great again’. The British Brexiteers, the European far Right, the Indian nationalists under Modi, Putin and the Russian oligarchs, President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party – they’re all at. And huge swathes of their respective electorates are buying into the fantasy. And now we have President Trump staking his claim to be the only one who can ‘make America great again’. But what these assorted demagogues, rouges and charlatans fail to acknowledge is that the whole notion of the nation state as a harbinger of greatness, is dead and buried. And a good thing too I might add.

In an age where capital, knowledge, labour, and socio-political well-being are increasingly global, any return to national ‘greatness’ is patently absurd. Now even a school child can see, to put the matter rather bluntly, that we either progress together or we go down together. The threats caused by  global pollution, global climate change, global ecological destruction and global pandemics make this point beyond dispute. And the global financial collapse in 2008 only serves to underline the point if it should need underlining. Any slowdown in any of the major economies has proved to have immediate ramifications for the global economy. Surely Trump, as a self-declared super businessman, must concede this. But there again, Trump as a serial bankrupt, must be highly suspect when it comes to business acumen.

 Trump’s proposed solutions are just so much nationalist rhetoric. Let’s take Trump’s pledge to bring the manufacturing jobs ‘back home’. Even if he can coerce some of the big US corporations to relocate their manufacturing plants back to the US, they are likely to be highly automated systems and relatively light on human labour. The days of a mass manufacturing workforce are gone, not only in the developed capitalist countries, but also soon in the Asian, African and South American plants. It will be a similar story in the resource extraction industries, the transportation sectors and even in many areas of the service sector.  Automation is now unstoppable and Trump must know it. And knowing it makes his whole political platform a complete sham.  

Trump appealed to the economic insecurities of the American workers, blue collar and white collar alike. All industrial sectors have experienced or fear being squeezed by the twin phenomena of off-shoring and automation. Trump’s response is to slash corporation tax to fifteen percent in an endeavour to entice the corporates back to the USA and thereby stimulate American growth from the current anaemic 2% to a more robust 4%. But all the evidence shows that corporations do not use the windfall from government tax cuts to reinvest in infrastructure and training. On the contrary, they think only in the short term, hoarding their ill-gotten gains in tax havens and paying themselves and their shareholders massive wages and dividends.

 

So, who exactly is going to pay for the manufacturing and infrastructure reboot? With diminishing tax income from the corporates, the burden must inevitably fall on the shoulders of the working class, either in the form of higher taxes or massive reductions in government social spending. Either way, Trump’s core supporters are soon going to realise that they have been the victims of a gigantic scam. Still, nothing particularly new there. This has always been the essence of capitalism – endless pie-in-the sky promises followed by endless debt. But this time their chosen saviour is about to shaft them in the interests of the US corporates at the very moment when significant sections of the working classes thought they had mounted a successful rebellion against corporate rule. Ain’t life cruel.

On the environmental front, Trump’s declared policies are equally regressive and fanciful. Man-made climate change, according to Trump, is nothing but a Chinese hoax. Here we enter a strange Alice in Wonderland world where scientific consensus is ridiculed in favour of personal whim. But of course, this is not just some momentary idiosyncratic Trumpian whim. This is a carefully constructed policy stance aimed at enriching still further the Trump financial empire.  Trump is firmly in bed with the fossil fuel industry, complete with tentacles spreading all the way to Putin and the Russian oligarchs. His appointment to high office of Rex Tillerman, former Chief executive of ExxonMobil, tells us everything we need to know about Trump’s real interests – and it certainly isn’t the American working class or the well-being of planet Earth. 

So, if Trump’s nationalistic policies are hopelessly out of touch with global reality, and the neo-liberal agenda, so beloved by successive American and European administrations, is turning to dust in the wake of the 2008 Global Financial Collapse, what is the logical way forward. And the answer should be rather obvious even to the most economically illiterate of politicians; a socially responsible internationalism; fully regulated, accountable and transparent. Yanis Varoufakis, writing in the Guardian 22/1/17 sums up the required new agenda quite succinctly;

‘The answer can only be a Progressive Internationalism that works in practice on both sides of the Atlantic. To bring it about we need more than fine principles unblemished by power. We need to aim for power on the basis of a pragmatic narrative imparting hope throughout Europe and America for jobs paying living wages to anyone who wants them, for social housing, for health and for education. Only a third insurgency promoting a New Deal that works equally for Americans and Europeans can restore to a billion people living in the West sovereignty over their lives and communities.’

The two insurgencies that Varoufakis speaks of, are the right wing nationalist movement spear-headed by Trump, and the pig-headed intransigence of the neoliberals as typified by the policies of Obama, the Clintons and the European Union. Strange how our ‘democratic’ politicians in both America and Europe have consistently failed to admit that the neo-liberal agenda merely leads to capital concentration in the hands of a tiny elite along with exponentially growing inequalities in the developed capitalist countries. Their stubbornness has led directly to the right-wing nationalist-  insurgency that Varoufakis speaks of.

As for the large developing nations like China and India, we can accept that they have benefitted massively from corporate globalisation, but they too will soon reap the bitter harvest of growing inequality, precarious employment and diminishing social welfare.

 Those of the Will Hutton school of thinking that argue that capitalism needn’t be like this are, I suspect, fooling themselves. Capital always and everywhere moves to the highest point of return, and concentrates itself in fewer and fewer hands, oblivious to any social responsibility. This twin characteristic is the essence of capital’s dynamism but also the very essence of its deeply flawed social reality. The fact that today, 8 billionaires own as much wealth as 50% of the world’s poorest population, is proof enough of this fundamental Marxist tenet. 

 Perhaps the right-wing insurgency will have an upside to it. It has certainly shaken the complacency of the neoliberal status quo and might just force us to consider just what type of globalisation we really want. But the immediate future looks grim indeed. Why, we might even have a President Marine Le Pen to contend with in the near future and with that comes the inevitable unravelling of the entire EU project. In the vacuum, will step every two-bit sleazy nationalist demagogue promising to fix their nation’s problems by insanely slashing corporation tax in an unholy race to the bottom. The Brexiteers have already jumped on that bandwagon. And when things get worse rather than better, it will be the long-suffering immigrants that will get it in the neck.

So here we are, faced with a reactionary twin insurgency coupled with a new wave of automation and artificial intelligence. It’s a truly grim scenario but also an historic opportunity for humanity to collectively reassess its priorities. Fight the old battles of the twentieth century or step up to the global challenges of the twenty-first. Even the likes of Nick Clegg – he of University tuition fees U-turn fame – has started to grasp the enormity of the situation.  Despite helping to push through one of the most reactionary government policies of recent times, Clegg has managed to get a handle on this one. Writing in the London Evening Standard 23/1/17 he writes;

‘Much of the rage that propelled Donald Trump to the inauguration stage was fuelled by angry blue-collar workers threatened by technological change. His answer is the deeply misguided reflex of populists down the ages: build walls, yell “my country first” and impose protectionist barriers against products from abroad. But he has nothing to say about the bigger, unstoppable technological change just around the corner. Nor, I safely predict, will Theresa May’s new Brexit industrial strategy have much to say either. AI is not only rendering people’s jobs obsolete, it exposes the hopeless parochialism of a political class obsessed with fighting yesterday’s battles, whether it’s car imports from Mexico or bureaucrats in Brussels’

Well put Clegg. Now you need to join forces with Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas and start championing an international progressive alliance that can stand up against both the remnants of neoliberalism and the right-wing nationalists seeking to come to power on the backs of those whose lives have been destroyed by neoliberalism’s failed policies. There are no national solutions to international problems whether they be environmental, economic or social. That much should be obvious. Tribal politicians with progressive intent need to now step forward and help create that alliance before the right-wing- nationalists become too entrenched. When capitalism is in crisis, fascists soon come crawling out of the sewers and sneaking in the back door.

End JPK Copyright, 24/1/17

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