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In a time of Trump: A more optimistic view? November 16, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

So many words written about Trump that I’ve hardly any appetite to add many more to them. We are where we are. What happens next is difficult to judge and obviously all that occurs that is reactionary must be resisted – whether inside the US or here and in solidarity with workers there.

But be that as it may, and perhaps further down the line there’s more to say – a lot will depend on whether he cleaves closely or not to his words prior to the election (and curiously, rather like the fact Brexit hasn’t occurred but is going to so we are in a period where Trump hasn’t quite occurred, but is going to, in a few short weeks), oddly enough Tom McGurk in the SBP has some useful points. I’m not sure how accurate they will prove to be, but they’re certainly thought provoking.

He argues that Trump realised that US politics with candidates marketed like brands was not that much different to reality TV. Secondly that ‘he made discovery that would change his life and maybe ours too. it become his very own secret weapon of mass political destruction – the power to shock and outrage, to simply say the unsayable and still survive’.

That’s not a half bad point. Of course if all he has done is say the unsayable but not implement it, well the world may dodge a bullet but what of his support base? Will they stand it? And if they are let down yet again, do they go for a more extreme ‘brand’ next time out?

He’s right too that this saw of first his Republican rivals ‘timid’ as McGurk calls them, and then the Republican establishment. He ran against the party that was supposedly his support structure. And won. And that before he ran against Clinton. Warning signs there that most of us simply didn’t see. And McGurk suggests ‘he began to understand that bizarre law of counter-cultural movements: the more you attack, the more popular you become. So the fusillade of xenophobic, racist and homophobic accusations against Trump just bounced off’.

And he seems to me to be right that Clinton walked into a trap of focusing on what he was saying rather than offering anything of her own. He was the news. She was… well, what? No great vision there. None at all really. And continuity Obama wasn’t really going to cut it. And in a way her campaign was the real example of someone following someone who had campaigned in poetry with prose. I also think there are dynastic aspects that rubbed people up the wrong way, they certainly did me, the baggage brought to the feast by the original Clinton presidency, etc. And all this before we even get to ideology that for those on the left would be yet another massive problem. And, as we’ve discovered, not just for those on the left.

McGurk argues that:

Now for the good news folks, the fact that our hero has no political beliefs whatsoever should be hugely reassuring of those this weekend who, completely with family and armed with shovels, are busily digging a bunker at the end of the garden.

It means that once he’s safely installed in the White House, neither will walls be built, nor Muslims banned, nor any mass expulsion of illegals be attempted.

And he suggests that the idea he’d be pushing Saudi princes or whoever to the VIP lounge at Kennedy and out is absurd ‘they’re his neighbours in NY, for God’s sake!’. Well we’ll see. I’m not entirely convinced that we will see many ‘lesser’ measures implemented. And who knows how that will impact on the drift of US politics in the future.

There’s one final Trump doctrine to learn this weekend. It’s abidingly simple, like most of the great man’s philosophical opus: it says that when you are finally king of the castle, who wants all this trouble? It’s about knowing when you have won, and stopping digging.

We shall see. We shall see.


1. lcox - November 16, 2016

It is always a dangerous comparison but I am reminded of what serious historians made of the actual workings of the NS state. As an undergraduate I read Martin Broszat’s “Der Staat Hitlers” (1969 so probably well out of date now but this was, em, some time back).

His perspective iirc was that there were issues where the charismatic leader cared strongly and those tended to happen. As of course issues where he was pushing on an open door. In other cases the outcome tended to be resolved by infighting between different power groups and the various parallel apparatuses that were created, at which point he would crown the winning side.

Trump is not notorious for being effective in his business dealings and I think op-eds about how fiendishly deep his plans are tend to say more about the writers (wanting to display their own cleverness) than sober assessments. Some things – e.g. deportations which are already running at very high numbers under Obama, ditto drone killings, violent policing etc. – will escalate through sheer institutional logic in the absence of a president / congress that is actively trying to rein them in. There might be some things where one person’s political will in the right place is enough (given how complex the GOP is): for example TTIP needs a lot of effort to make happen so will probably fail, while as a friend pointed out the process of building a wall could work as cod-Keynesianism (or simply prestige project and jobs for the boys) without ever really working as a wall. Conversely other things (getting elites and corruption out of politics) were never meant seriously or thought through strategically – there may well be more objectionable goals that fall into this category.

None of which takes from the fact that it is going to be very hard times for our comrades in the states – BLM is going to get it in the neck as is #NoDAPL – and bad news for those of us who have children and grandchildren who want to live on this planet. And there will be an ill wind blowing from Washington encouraging the dregs of humanity (e.g. the “National Party” due to launch in the Merrion Hotel) around the world.

Liked by 1 person

2. CL - November 16, 2016

‘Trump has proposed large infrastructure spending and also tax cuts that will hugely increase the deficit. Both offer real benefits, although with substantial risks…
His tax cuts could add more than $400 billion, more than 2.0 percent of GDP, to the annual deficit….
Even though the bulk of the Trump’s proposed tax cuts do go to the rich, there are still substantial cuts for the middle class, which will provide a real boost to consumption. This boost to consumption, along with the increased demand from his infrastructure spending, will mean a large increase in demand in the economy. The result will be more jobs and a reduction in unemployment.’ – Dean Baker.


3. CL - November 16, 2016

But, says Martin Wolf:

“Mr Trump promises a burst of infrastructure spending, regressive tax cuts, protectionism, cuts in federal spending and radical deregulation. A big rise in infrastructure spending would indeed help construction workers. But little else in these plans would help the working class. Overall, his plans might indeed generate a brief economic surge. But the longer-term consequences are likely to be grim, not least for his angry, but fooled, supporters. Next time, they might be even angrier. Where that might lead is terrifying.”


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