As per usual in my ongoing failure to “speak to the day” as a journalist should, this piece will come out after the “most important election of our lifetimes”-midterms. Part of the delay was having to deal with friends who were worried that I would say the sorts of things I say here—because, you know, as a philosopher and retired professor the influence I have is enormous! I’ll return to the all-important midterms at the end, now that they are (safely?) behind us.
I imagine the “lifetimes” in question are those of the well-trained liberals, progressives, and “leftists” who are now in their twenties, thirties, and forties; “educated people.” For anyone older, I find it hard to understand how they think the stakes of things within the existing social system are so different than in any other election. Even for those in their forties, we have lived as adults in a time when the Supreme Court stopped an election and installed a president and vice-president in what looked like a right-wing coup. This unfolded into real elements of fascism, such as the abrogation of the U.S. constitution by the Patriot Act, the starting of wars on the basis of outright lies (lies that were easily seen through, but that were supported by Democrats in Congress such as Hillary Clinton); these wars continue today. But my liberal friends say, “never mind that, because … Trump.”
For liberals, there is nothing Trump has done that is anything but bad or even horrible. Everything Trump is and does is horrible for them.
George W. Bush is the name we associate with these never-ending wars, wars that the Democrats supported. Trump took down Bush and his terrible family with a single line that needed to be said—and yet no Democrat said it; that was a great service to both America and the rest of the world. But the Democrats are incapable of recognizing this. In fact, now they love W. and feel nostalgia for his presidency.
On day one of his administration, as promised, Donald Trump cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which had the very dangerous and wrong aim of isolating China internationally. That by itself is worth the price of admission.
In the 2016 election, every element of the ruling class and the State (and the Deep State, the crucial element of which is the CIA, at least as I understand it) supported Hillary Clinton. Leading figures in the Republican Party did everything they could to undermine Trump. The following passage from Tucker Carlson’s new book, Ship of Fools, is worth not only reading, but repeated study; the passage describes Bill Kristol’s trajectory in 2015 to 2016 regarding Trump’s candidacy and election:
“I remain not pro-Trump, but I’m once again drifting into the anti-anti-Trump camp,” Kristol wrote in August 2015. “Much of the criticism of Trump has the feel of falling (fairly or unfairly) into the hobgoblin-of-small-minds category.”
Then came the South Carolina primary debate. Trump criticized the Iraq War and its promoters. Kristol erupted. He was as angry as he had been in public about anything. Kristol denounced not just Trump, but anyone who didn’t join him in denouncing Trump.
“Once upon a time we had leaders who would have expressed their outrage at such a slander,” he wrote in the Weekly Standard. “They would have explained to the American people how extraordinarily irresponsible his slander was, and would have done their best to discredit a man who could behave so irresponsibly. They would have pronounced him to be unfit to be president of the United States, and they would have mobilized their friends, supporters and admirers to ensure so appalling an eventuality didn’t come to pass.”
Suddenly Kristol found himself aligned with the cocktail partiers at Davos he once mocked. Global elites might oppose the interests of American voters, but at least they didn’t accuse Bill Kristol of lying about Iraq. Kristol lapsed into a kind of public nervous breakdown, once coming close to tears on television, as he tried to stop Trump.
He failed. Trump won the nomination, but Kristol barely took a breath. He began searching for a warm body willing to mount a third-party challenge that would guarantee Hillary Clinton’s victory in the general election. (pp.116-117; Ship of Fools, Free Press, 2018)
This fascinating tale of Kristol’s attempt to undermine Trump goes on, including the attempt to convince Mitt Romney to be the aforementioned “warm body,” i.e., patsy. It is very interesting to me, as someone who does work in Mormon Studies (especially communitarian political theory and the heterodox elements of LDS theology), that Kristol settled on Evan McMullin, a Mormon who had worked for the CIA. Unlike Romney, McMullin has actual Utah roots, and he did receive more votes there than anywhere else (where the LDS Church had denounced Trump, spurred by the famous “pussy grabber” tape). Still McMullin did not become president of Utah, either, coming in third there, behind Hillary Clinton.
Given that Trump managed to triumph even against the CIA and every other element of the State/Deep State/ruling class, I propose we call this period of the Trump candidacy and presidency an “experiment.” Liberals, and others who turn out to be no more than liberals, call it “fascism.” Some call it “right-wing populism.” Perhaps there are elements of the latter, but it is hard for me to see how terms such as “left” and “right” have much meaning anymore. Now more than ever almost everyone who uses the term “left” to describe themselves as supposedly something to the left of the Democratic Party (even if, as with Democratic Socialists of America, representing the left within the Democratic Party) has folded themselves into this wretched, ridiculous “party”—at least for “now,” when “the stakes are so high,” indeed higher than they’ve ever been, in “our lifetimes,” etc., etc., ad nauseum.
What is condemned now as “right-wing populism” is simply the populism of the working class, it is the popular discontent of working people who have continually been sold down the river by the globalist-imperialist ruling class. The Democratic Party leadership have positioned themselves to be the best servants of this class, and they’ve done a very good job with that. This is especially true in the ideological sphere, whereby anyone who disagrees with them is a racist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, and hater of refugees from the Third World. On this last, and the approaching “caravan,” it makes sense to me now why, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton would have supported a coup in Honduras—to drive more desperate people northward to further replace and undermine working people in the U.S. That is the sort of game the globalists play on the global chess board; more to come on this subject.
People who believe the Democratic Party ideology, or who at least believe that, at this apparently “singular moment,” “NOW” (as a close friend of mine put it), we have to set aside “ideological purity” and support the Democrats are just wrong about what is going on in the world. Like the recent class-driven/Identity Politics constituencies who pass themselves off as “feminism,” the voices of this supposed desperation about Trump are largely coming from the academic and otherwise “professional” middle-class, who identify their interests with globalism. On the one hand, from this group, I’ve seen some saying the “ideologically-pure” on the “left” supposedly “look down their noses” at those who recognize the necessity to vote for Democrats “NOW.” On the other hand, I’ve also seen the hilarious ploy of posting videos of Barack Obama asking people, “whether left or right,” to “get involved,” and vote. Let me put it this way: people who promote the latter ploy know full well that they are full of it, except perhaps it simply does not enter their minds, such are their ideological blinders and deep-seated class interests, that not everyone is going to vote the way these “involved”-types want them to. For my part, yes, if you hold a gun to my head and force me to vote, I will vote, but I am not going to vote for the party of militarism and war and spitting on working people (all the while expecting them to silently get back to work, while there is work to get back to—and otherwise bugger off), and doing no more for those whose real grievances are diverted into the Identity Politics agenda than instrumentalizing them for the power of globalist finance capital.
Another form of clarification is that those to the “left” of ordinary Democratic Party liberals have had to decide where they stand. Unfortunately, they have gone full-bore into the liberalism, or neo-liberalism if you want to call it that, of the Democratic Party.
As for anyone who is “looking down their nose,” it is these same Democrats who have become masters of nasal ocularism*, calling the working people “stupid” and “uneducated.” Never was it more true what Marx said in the third thesis on Feuerbach, “The educator must be educated.” [*“nasal ocularism”—from the Latin, “nasi deorsum quaeritis,” op. cit. Seneca, De Brevitate Vita, c.49 CE]
In other words, I hope the Trump experiment is allowed to unfold quite a bit more.
It’s not the revolution, obviously, and it’s not the world that humanity needs, in the longer term, but it’s qualitatively better than what the Democrats have on offer.
The most straightforward version of this reasoning has to do with the recent discussion of the term “nationalism.” There is much more to be said on this question (and I will return to it elsewhere), but the point here is that Trump avowed the label in opposition to “globalism.” It seems to me that Trump meant the term in the simple sense of “take care of your own people,” and, yes, we can raise many questions about that—though, significantly, none that the Democrats have provided any good answer to (e.g., with the border issue, all they have is opposition to actually having borders, but no actual immigration policy to propose). In a somewhat more complicated vein, I think Trump means something like “protectionism” in a libertarian, non-interventionist vein. Obviously, it is completely bizarre that actual “socialist” and “communist” organizations (I’ll turn to one in a moment) could complain about trade wars and other trade policies that “threaten to destabilize world markets.” In other words, let’s defend the World Trade Organization!—after all, we’re already going down the path of defending the CIA, FBI, etc., with the Democrats. So crazy.
I recall that Alexander Cockburn once said (and perhaps the source of this can be found) that, given the choice between a libertarian anti-interventionist and a Democrat, he would take the former every time. Belief in the mythology of the mythical “free market” is not necessary to make this claim. Furthermore, though, while no one can say what will come from the Trump disruption, we have to let go of the idea that there is some connection between the internationalism that humanity needs and the globalism that the Democrats support, and the attendant view that what is “truly left” is somehow “left of the Democrats” and finding itself in what is “left in the Democratic Party.” That’s just bad reasoning that doesn’t understand the world as it is configured today.
Of the various things for which we can be thankful to our forty-fifth president, perhaps the most important is what we can call “the Trump Clarification.”
In actuality, this Clarification is spread out over numerous, qualitatively-different issues. I wrote about one form this Clarification takes in a previous article on the Christine Blasey Ford stunt. Trump “causes problems for the postmodern capitalism anti-politics set-up, and shakes things up. He is especially good at taking things that have needed to be addressed for years, and pushing them another step (at least rhetorically) toward crisis—and what the existing structure is showing is that, whether Democrat or Republican, the system has no solution to these things, at least not without a major shake-up and (what’s more important) without loss of power by those who are entrenched in power.”
Another form of clarification is that those to the “left” of ordinary Democratic Party liberals have had to decide where they stand. Unfortunately, they have gone full-bore into the liberalism, or neo-liberalism if you want to call it that, of the Democratic Party. In other words, so-called “progressives” and “leftists” and even “socialists” and “Marxists,” and the far-greater part of those who call themselves “feminists,” or activists concerned with “issues of race,” or Trans-activists, etc., have now folded themselves into a “politics” where the horizons are “anti-Trump,” or “because Trump,” and where, whatever they think they are intending to advance, all they will achieve, at most, is support for the Democratic Party as some kind of “alternative”—really, the only alternative. Undoubtedly, many think they are doing something else; at the same time, bedazzled by the term “fascism,” and excited by the prospect of being part of “the Resistance,” they seem to have lost all critical capacity for understanding society in a systemic and systematic way.
In other words, so-called “progressives” and “leftists” and even “socialists” and “Marxists,” and the far-greater part of those who call themselves “feminists,” or activists concerned with “issues of race,” or Trans-activists, etc., have now folded themselves into a “politics” where the horizons are “anti-Trump,” or “because Trump,” and where, whatever they think they are intending to advance, all they will achieve, at most, is support for the Democratic Party as some kind of “alternative”—really, the only alternative. Undoubtedly, many think they are doing something else; at the same time, bedazzled by the term “fascism,” and excited by the prospect of being part of “the Resistance,” they seem to have lost all critical capacity for understanding society in a systemic and systematic way.
Whatever they think they are, these “leftists” have now shown their true colors and are simply liberals. Perhaps to capture this acquiescence of leftism into Democratic Party liberalism I can coin the term “LOL,” for the liberalism of ostensible leftists.
But I’m not laughing out loud, or in fact laughing at all. On a personal level, this has been a painful thing for me, as I have seen many comrades and friends go in this direction.
The following is a bit of a digression, and goes in a seemingly-different direction, but I hope it will prove useful in providing some background for my critique of liberalism and LOLism.
Some who know me know that I worked with the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, for about twenty-six years, from the early-1980s. Sometimes I worked with them very closely, as when I went to Lima, Peru in 1992, as part of a delegation to try to prevent the Peruvian State from judicially murdering Abimael Guzman. In more recent years, as part of the work that was being done around attempting to reorient the RCP “beyond Mao,” I participated in a series of conversations with the leader of the Party, Bob Avakian. These conversations became a book, Marxism and the Call of the Future (Open Court, 2005). I think we did a good job in the book of laying some groundwork for a leap beyond Mao and Maoism, and that there is still much in the book that is helpful in that way.
However, when we each turned in the years after this project (roughly after 2003 or so) to formulating a post-Maoist communism, we went in very different directions. As some know, Bob Avakian offered his “New Synthesis” starting around 2005 or so, though what the synthesis was supposed to be other than the “method and approach” and “body of work” representing his leadership, speech-making, and writing over the period of his chairmanship of the RCP is unclear. In the last six months I made my way through Avakian’s The New Communism (Insight Press, 2016); as with many of Avakian’s works in the period of the “New Synthesis,” there are some half-formed insights here, and a good deal of going back over Marx 101, but nothing that is really new and developed with other new ideas into a synthesis.
For my part, the direction I took was first to finish a project that developed alongside Marxism and the Call of the Future, and that informed many of my comments in that book: Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation (Open Court, 2008). As one might suppose, the book intertwines themes and ideas from Karl Marx and Immanuel Kant, as well as Marxist and Kantian themes from a diverse set of twentieth-century thinkers, including Sartre, Althusser, Adorno, Derrida, and Davidson. Of course, Lenin and Mao were in there too (and another go at the “Stalin question,” which has preoccupied me for more than four decades now), and I especially stressed the Kantian side of Mao’s famous statement, “Marxism consists in thousands of truths, but they all come down to one thing: It is right to rebel against reactionaries.” I took “It is right to rebel” as a kind of “categorical imperative.” Among other things, the book also features what I think was, at least until that time, the most extended engagement with the “animal question” from a Marxist perspective. I mention this here, because, even though I have gone in a new direction in the last ten years, a big part of why I have pursued Kant and Kantian themes in my work is to establish a sound basis for rejecting utilitarianism and especially utilitarian interpretations of Marxism.
(More needs to be said about why the animal question presents a special problem for utilitarianism and even more for that especially ridiculous form of utilitarian Marxism that dismisses the animal question with proclamations of “caring about people.” But all of that and more is in the book.)
In Ethical Marxism, too, I take up what I think are the “Western monotheistic” aspects of Marx’s thought, processing them through Marx’s own version of the Categorical Imperative, “To overturn all those conditions in which humanity is rendered a contemptable, debased being” (Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, 1844). In turn, the “destination” of this overturning is expressed in Kant’s third formulation of the Categorical Imperative, especially as extended to the pursuit of a “kingdom of ends.”
(One thing I’ve been reflecting upon a good deal lately, in my last year as a full-time professor and now in “retirement”—busier than ever, with writing and music-making—is that the year of Ethical Marxism’s publication seemed also to be the beginning of a ten-year denouement of my twenty-eight year academic career. I don’t know that there’s any direct connection of the two, but perhaps there is something in that I really gave a great deal of myself to bring this 500-page thing together, and, in the chapter on Maoism, I strained quite a lot to make sense of where Bob Avakian’s further development of Maoism was going. All of this was done by fall 2006. I don’t mean that the newer work Avakian was offering didn’t make sense, though in some of it he was clearly taking digs at the Kantian side of what I was proposing. After this, in 2008, Avakian had published a book on religion—formed, as many of his publications are, from talks—and I thought it was not a good book at all, and really a lot of “same old, same old,” typically-uninformed secularism. In reality, the book I did with Avakian, whatever its merits in terms of theoretical exploration, was also, perhaps mainly, an attempt to use me to reach a larger public, at least a larger academic audience; therefore, it is quite interesting, weird even, that the subsequent attempt to do this, to “made Bob Avakian a household name,” was the event with Cornell West in 2014. Prof. West, as is well-known, characterizes himself as a “radical” and “prophetic” Christian, and he supports electoral strategies. Of course, this is not especially important if the main aim is to achieve a platform for Avakian. In any case, to complete the point I’m making here, 2008 was both the moment when my big book appeared, and when, that summer, the decisive break with the RCP occurred. Since that time I have not been simply “wandering,” some definite progress has been made in terms of my own thinking about what a “new synthesis” really needs to be, but certainly all of that is still coming together. By the latter I mean a systematic, book-length, exposition, the sort of thing I repeatedly asked about in the period from 2005 to 2008, when I heard a great deal about this “New Synthesis of Bob Avakian” that supposedly existed, but that had not been presented in a coherent and systematic form. The New Communism is relatively coherent, though not especially systematic, and not new—therefore I would say the “new synthesis” does not exist there.)
In the past ten years and more I’ve been thinking more about this “Western monotheistic” aspect of Marxism, spurred by both the arguments of Alain Badiou, and by my long-standing interest in, but with a strong resistance to, Buddhism. I’ve been thinking about Badiou’s rejection of a thinking predicated on “the One,” and the fact that, of all the major Marxist theoreticians and leaders, Mao was the only one who did not come from a Western monotheistic background. So, I’ve been working on these things, toward a synthesis. A big part of why I retired at age 62 is so I can bring this work to fruition.
Meanwhile, as some readers here may know, Bob Avakian and the RCP are trying a new round of “regime renewal,” the same sort of thing they tried with the previous “fascist” “regime,” the Bush/Cheney “regime.” (I discussed the problems with this term, “regime,” in “The Christine Blasey Ford episode.”) Recently they even published an article by a fellow traveler in the “Refuse Fascism” movement that called on solidarity with “all [her] badass Democrats.”
So, that’s what this world of the “left” is coming to. Recently I was on a fairly-long road trip, and among those I saw on my travels is an old friend who knew me all through my period of engagement with the RCP. We were discussing my views on Trump and the Democrats (some of whom she supports, though, as with many of my friends, there is the claim about specific candidates and the present situation, somehow apart from actually supporting the Democratic Party), and I said something about this road the RCP is going down now. My friend said something on the order of, “Well, they were always wrong.” Of course I knew she had thought this from way back in the early ‘80s, but now I’d like to visit this anew.
On some level, this obviously doesn’t matter to much of what is going on now, but I think it does mean something that even a group that almost everyone would agree was very far to the left of even most of the “far left” would come to the place it has now. Let’s not get bogged down here in old debates about Stalinism and Trotskyism. The RCP were internationalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-economist; these are the things that drew me toward them, and these are values I still uphold. There were points on which I strongly disagreed with the RCP, for instance their understanding of religion (or lack thereof—for what it’s worth, I have some disagreement with Badiou on this point as well), and their view of homosexuality and sexuality in general. On these points, at times I argued vigorously with them (and there are discussions with Bob Avakian on these subjects in Marxism and the Call of the Future), and at other times I subordinated these differences in work on what I considered to be “more important.” Whether I was right to do this or not is something I continue to think about a great deal.
For me, too, obviously part of the appeal of the RCP was its holding to support of Mao and the revolution(s) in China. Again, we can argue over this for a long time (but elsewhere), but none of this looks like something that will easily fold into activities that in the end will do more than support the Democratic Party. Having spent a good deal of time in China in recent years and having many conversations with people from many walks of life (with the exception that I have not really had the opportunity to have conversations with older peasants from the interior), I believe strongly that the Chinese Revolution(s) was/were a good thing for the far greater part, and that we still need to learn from this experience, the good and the bad. If anyone wants to revisit these questions, I would recommend the book by Lee Feigon, Mao: A Reinterpretation (2002); I have a few disagreements with the book (some ideological, some having to do with omissions, for example there’s nothing about the “barefoot doctors,” which I think was one of the best things done in the Mao period), but I think it is generally helpful for taking a broad view of things.
So, yeah, Maoism (which for me was also intellectual engagement with French Maoism), anti-imperialism, anti-economism, and internationalism, I think are quite defensible—which doesn’t mean that the RCP didn’t do some pretty messed-up stuff (and I don’t just mean the obvious things like their line on homosexuality, but also the way that they kept their members on a very strict “information diet”—to the extent that, when the “Foreward” to Call of the Future was written by Slavoj Zizek, even the most informed members of the party didn’t know who that was), or, what’s far more important, that Maoism is the key to where things need to go now. Indeed, it was the failure to really be able to work with the idea that a fundamentally new direction was needed (probably back around the mid-1980s), that even something more than a “new stage of communism” was needed, that prepared the ground for a scenario whereby all that can be claimed is that the “New Synthesis” was always already. (to use a favorite expression of Derrida’s) there in the “overall method and approach” and “body of work” of Bob Avakian. And so now they are out there more or less going along with the same bullshit as the rest of the Identity Politics/Democratic Party/anti-Trump “movement,” though of course with ass-covering provisos (that are also the same as everyone else’s).
With reference to Trotskyism (and neo-Trotskyism, or other claims about “classical Marxism”), I will make one comment, regarding economism. Ever since Lenin used the term in What is to be done?, there has been a good deal of discussion as to what it really means. Some have a very narrow reading, such that only the most narrow focus on the immediate needs of the workers counts as economism. This view is generally associated with a tactical perspective on the “struggle” of the working class. I associate that perspective with the various forms of Trotskyism, and neo-Trotskyism, and others who claim to hold to “classical Marxism” (which I take as a way of negating Lenin and the way that class struggle in the world is changed by imperialism); usually what goes along with this is something about creating a new “labor movement,” but also working with the existing labor movement, and lamenting that the U.S. has no labor party. The other extreme, you might say, is to take Lenin’s argument all the way to the point where any attempt to base a politics on “interest” (of whomever or whatever) is economism. In this view, interests exist of course, and there may be reasons to take them into account, especially when we are talking about questions of basic survival, but interests are not the basis of a truly creative emergence of a real polis any more than physical, sexual attraction is the same as the creation of a world of two people that can be called “love.” (I discussed the reduction of politics to interests and power, and the reduction of love to sexuality, and the problem of reductionism in general, in “The Christine Blasey Ford episode,” CounterPunch.org, Nov. 2, 2018.)But I’m not laughing out loud, or in fact laughing at all. On a personal level, this has been a painful thing for me, as I have seen many comrades and friends go in this direction.With reference to Trotskyism (and neo-Trotskyism, or other claims about “classical Marxism”), I will make one comment, regarding economism. Ever since Lenin used the term in What is to be done?, there has been a good deal of discussion as to what it really means. Some have a very narrow reading, such that only the most narrow focus on the immediate needs of the workers counts as economism. This view is generally associated with a tactical perspective on the “struggle” of the working class. I associate that perspective with the various forms of Trotskyism, and neo-Trotskyism, and others who claim to hold to “classical Marxism” (which I take as a way of negating Lenin and the way that class struggle in the world is changed by imperialism); usually what goes along with this is something about creating a new “labor movement,” but also working with the existing labor movement, and lamenting that the U.S. has no labor party. The other extreme, you might say, is to take Lenin’s argument all the way to the point where any attempt to base a politics on “interest” (of whomever or whatever) is economism. In this view, interests exist of course, and there may be reasons to take them into account, especially when we are talking about questions of basic survival, but interests are not the basis of a truly creative emergence of a real polis any more than physical, sexual attraction is the same as the creation of a world of two people that can be called “love.” (I discussed the reduction of politics to interests and power, and the reduction of love to sexuality, and the problem of reductionism in general, in “The Christine Blasey Ford episode,” CounterPunch.org, Nov. 2, 2018.)
The RCP was somewhere in the middle on this, which I now understand to be a problem. After the split in the RCP that occurred over the restoration of capitalism in China, things were put on what I think was a very sound and very appealing basis in terms of the politics of internationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-economism. Certainly the RCP, and Bob Avakian’s leadership has to be credited for this. It was around this time, in the early ‘80s, that I came into the RCP’s orbit. It was the time when Avakian put out Conquer the World? The International Proletariat Must and Will, which presented a sweeping analysis of the international communist movement from the time of Marx and the Paris Commune up through the Cultural Revolution and beyond. I can’t get into all of this here, but I think what was the fundamental weakness of this work that otherwise seemed the exciting beginning of a reorientation in Marxism was that the philosophical work needed for a real, qualitative break with the past limitations in Marx’s thought, was not done. What needed to be confronted was that a Marxism grounded in interests, no matter how “broadly” considered, would result in a form of utilitarianism.
Mao at least opened the door to a Kantian critique of utilitarianism, but Bob Avakian, for whatever combination of reasons, did not seem capable of even conceptualizing this issue, much less pursing it in any deep, philosophical way.
In retrospect, I think that reorientation in Marxism was the development of a Maoism that had, for the most part, run its course. And that Maoism ran its course, as Badiou argued, because it was not able to find a solution, ultimately, to the contradiction of the State and the self-activity of the masses. So, while Bob Avakian made important contributions to Maoism, even to a “Maoism beyond Mao,” it makes sense that, as the “sequence” (to use Badiou’s term) that we associate with the name “Mao” came to a close, it was very difficult for Avakain, or anyone, to imagine what might come next. So, there’s a lot of “re-tread” there, sometimes with some very good insights–though these are for the most part not developed or integrated systematically.
Ironically, at the same time the RCP at least embraced, in its ideology, what I think was a strong and admirable internationalism and anti-imperialism, in contrast to the economism of many ostensibly Marxist groups, the RCP also talked less and less about the working class. Yes, they did offer an analysis, one that seemed sound to me, about always going “lower and deeper” into the working class, to the “real proletariat.” Somewhere in this, however, the “proletariat” became something like a pure abstraction, with little in the way of living reality. The other irony, then, was that, while dismissing the calls of those such as Herbert Marcuse, to look toward the “new social movements,” the RCP increasingly championed struggles over race, as opposed to class. It is not hard to see why this might happen in the United States, and perhaps up to a point this orientation did not matter so much in terms of the working class. More recently though, the result has been that “race, as opposed to class” has morphed over into “race, in opposition to class,” and more, to the point where the RCP has in effect embraced the key elements of Identity Politics, even while claiming to reject this position.
What is my larger point here? After all, there are many who never had any use for the RCP, never cared much about Mao or the revolutions in China, etc. I suppose there are some who will say about the RCP what some Maoists in the early ‘70s said about Trotskyism, that it is “left in form, right in essence.” My point instead is that, however much the RCP was captured by utilitarianism, and however much this was owing to not going much further into the philosophical roots of economism, they were generally many miles beyond where other Marxist parties were on both of these questions. Most Marxist organizations were not only not criticizing economism, they were asking what the big deal about it was in the first place. They relegated Lenin’s analysis of economism and imperialism—and the attendant divisions in the international working class—quickly to the dustbin, and only credited him with having made advances on the “organizational question.” Even there they were wrong, since all they took was some idea for a “vanguard,” without even grappling with Lenin’s epistemological perspective on democratic centralism.
(Obviously, there is much more to say on all the topics raised here, but this isn’t the place. Starting in 2006, the former editor of the RCP’s newspaper left the RCP and initiated the Kasama Project. The aim was both a re-conception and re-grouping of communism. I joined the group in September 2008. At least in the Chicago chapter, many of us were interested in the contributions of Badiou, and we had a reading group around his work. The Project sort of fell apart in stages, and for different reasons, but, in any case, Kasama has not been going for several years now. While it was going, the discussion on these “re-” projects was quite good, and all of this can presently be found at kasamaarchive.org, including my own efforts at “debriefing Maoism.”)
In any case, what I am pointing to is how the utilitarian, power-based left has found itself without any philosophical basis for resisting the larger, far-larger mechanisms of power in the world. Thus they now find themselves on the side of a Democratic Party that shows nothing but contempt for ordinary working people.
I draw the conclusion that, in terms of what the world needs now, not only is the “left” worthless, but even “Marxism” as a name for the sequence of communist revolutions that run from the Paris Commune to the Cultural Revolution has come to an end. And we need to let go of it.
We need to let go of it especially when all that it seems to be able to tell us to do is to get onboard with the anti-Trump movement, which will lead to no more than helping the Democrats (and many Republicans, too) get things back on track for globalist finance capital.
There are many indications of how unhinged and upside-down liberals and LOLs have become, but I would especially like to point to a roughly one-month period when Donald Trump met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.
The evening of the Helsinki meeting, I posted the following on my Facebook page:
Results of the past week:
Trump disrupts alliance with Europe.
Trump disrupts NATO.
Trump blasts U.S. “intelligence community.”
Trump has conversation with Putin without his many minders present.
Both establishment “parties” (“steering media for money and power,” as Habermas put it) are angry at Trump.
What’s not to like? (Just to be clear, I’m not being sarcastic.)
Predictably, many of my friends—real or Facebook-only, or somewhere in-between—jumped on this for a very simple reason: I had said positive things about Trump. Well, that can’t be allowed!
The New York Times reported, with many others following, that “Trump sheds all notions of how a president should conduct himself abroad.” When Trump expressed doubts about the U.S. “intelligence community” and its indications that there was Russian interference in the 2016 election, “his words prompted rebukes from Democratic and Republican lawmakers.” One has to love this headline from the NYT: “TV anchors agape after the Trump-Putin appearance.” There were headlines regarding “universal condemnation,” and the real kicker, the president was called a “traitor.”
The latter was because, as some of my Facebook friends wrote on their pages, the president had sold out the United States to Putin and Russia. How that would actually happen is something they didn’t really consider, and neither did they reconsider their comments in the weeks after July 16 when Russian flags didn’t go up all over the country.
All of this sounded pretty good to me.
On the way to Helsinki, Trump stopped by London to see Queen Elizabeth. The news that day, June 14, was all about how Trump had supposedly committed a faux pas by stepping in front of the queen. Later it was seen clearly that the queen had told the president to walk ahead of her, but even so the reaction was how terrible it was that Trump broke royal protocol. Horrors, truly. That the president would offend the queen of England or the British Commonwealth or whatever it is at the moment, while on his way to suck up to the president of Russia, it’s just too much.
A month before, president Trump flew to Singapore to meet with the Korean leader Kim Jong Un. As every reader here knows, this was the first time a U.S. president has met with a leader of the DPRK. In the wake of the meeting, the DPRK returned to the U.S. some remains of U.S. soldiers who had died in the Korean War, and it was clear these remains had been taken care of very carefully. It was an extraordinary gesture, given the horrible war that the United States had unleashed on the people of Korea.
How anyone could see this summit meeting as anything but a good thing, I find hard to imagine. Again, as with a few other major actions by Donald Trump, I think this one is worth the price of admission.
Of course, liberals (and other LOLs) not only do not see things this way, but more, what is very important, they cannot let themselves see things this way. So, my liberal and ostensibly leftist friends say things on the order of, “Well, we don’t know how this is really going to work out.” Hmm … that’s so strange … after all, we do know how most everything else is going to work out, but, on this one thing, we can’t be too sure.
Rachel Maddow commented on the “spectacle” and the “weirdness” of the summit, saying that “we” shouldn’t “sugar coat” Trump’s having reached out to “the most repressive dictatorship on earth.” “There’s a reason why no U.S. president has agreed to give the North Korean dictatorship what they have wanted for so long.” The only “accomplishment” Maddow sees here is that Trump has bestowed “legitimacy” on the North Korean regime. (MSNBC, July 12, 2018)
That’s some really brilliant bullshit, from the Democratic Party’s paradigm of an “educated woman.”
Actually, I want to say a couple things about this “educated woman” theme from the Democratic Party leadership. This is clearly a signal to those in the professional middle-class or those who aspire to this class, but there is also something more here with this reference to “educated.”
First, “educated” here is a reference to those young people who are presently in some part of the college/university system, or who have been through this system in the last ten years or so. In other words, it’s more praise for the always-needing-of-praise middle-class Millennial generation. (And isn’t it the case when people talk about Millennials, they mean middle class, or perhaps a few scholarship students from the working class, perhaps minority students, who are taken—rightly or wrongly—to aspire to the middle class?) What, however, is the relationship between having a university degree and being “educated” these days? To put it succinctly, and I’m sorry that this is not very nice, most people receiving college degrees are not what one ought to call “educated.” The “hard” sciences, or some of them, and the humanities (or some of them), may be a little different, but, for the most part students have come out of colleges and universities for years now not having been and not having become good readers. In fact, the “trick” that so many students in recent years are trying to achieve is to get through college without reading a single book, and many of them are able to “achieve” this. Clearly this includes a great deal of today’s “educated” liberals, who, if they “know” anything, it is simply how to put certain terms in play in order to defeat the white cis-male or whatever. I’m sure those who support that model of “education” will not rest until every college is made over into the Title IX/SJW paradise that is Palo Alto University, where Christine Blasey Ford teaches.
My other comment goes more directly to the liberal talking heads such as Maddow, and public opinion they seek to generate among liberals regarding the Trump-Kim summit. Whether these talking heads are so “educated” that they cannot understand this, I do not know, but anything to do with North Korea is very significantly more to do with China. Indeed, the Korean War itself had a great deal to do with China, as did the Vietnam War and the larger war that the United States unleashed in Southeast Asia. Even for those who ever knew this in the first place, which is probably not so many these days, there is a tendency to forget that, from the moment Mao and the Communist Party of China took nationwide power in 1949, the U.S. went into overdrive to create havoc on the borders and in border regions.
So, here is president Trump attempting to consistently pursue something he said throughout his campaign, that a world in which the U.S. gets along with Russia and China is a better world, and Democrats and LOLs have put themselves in a position where they can only criticize Trump for these efforts. This is where the Democrats and other anti-Trump movement people have been since the 2016 election, but in the period from June 12 to July 16 of this past summer they really sealed themselves into this box, and it is very hard to see how they can get out of it. At the very least, they are going to need the help of people who are not so “educated.”
The anti-Trumpers, on the one side, and those who are at least open to the idea that there is a Trump experiment that ought to unfold a bit more, on the other, seem to live in two very different worlds. This is literally true, in some ways; here I will conclude by speaking to the outcome of the mid-term elections in terms of the divide between “rural” and “urban.”
Democrats at the presidential level have been elected or supported in recent years by mostly urban majorities in a handful of mostly northern states (with the exception of California). (Having grown up in Miami, I can also say that the urban centers of central and south Florida are also “northern” in the relevant aspects.) What this means is that, looking at things in terms of the “red” and “blue” states, presidents can be elected by a relative handful of cities. Considering a map of red and blue counties, one will see a United States that is overwhelmingly red, while the blue parts are the counties that encompass New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.
When it comes to the U.S. Congress as a whole, things work differently, as there isn’t the winner-takes-all aspect (whereby, for example, Chicago/Cook County can mostly overwhelm the rest of Illinois) and there is no Electoral College. There are still questions about how majorities (or majorities of those who vote) express themselves in the outcomes of elections, but they are different questions. Here the blue states tend to express themselves better in the House of Representatives, while the red states are better represented in the Senate. Some complain about this set-up, as the Senate is not apportioned in terms of the populations of each state, and therefore seems to be not a body reflecting majority rule.
However, let us interrupt this little Civics class for a moment to remind ourselves that there is nothing in the U.S. system, at least at the national level, that is really representative of “the people” in any substantive sense. We can simply cite president Jimmy Carter, Nobel Prize winner, committed Christian, greatest Democrat alive (according to Democrats, I mean), and almost certainly one of only two or three U.S. presidents who is not/was not a pussy grabber (along with Abraham Lincoln, probably the greatest president, who was gay), and who, as the head of an effort to certify elections in various countries as “free, fair, and open,” has spoken to the oligarchic nature of the U.S. system. Someone praised by Lincoln, namely Karl Marx, proclaimed that every class society is a “dictatorship” in the following way: a capitalist society is a society ruled by capital. This means that, albeit in complicated, often messy ways, capital decides—unless some countervailing force forces things in another direction. There is ample historical experience to show that electoral “politics” is not a real countervailing force. In a way, it is the number one task of the Democratic Party to convince people otherwise, despite the fact that so-called “democracy” (or “democratic republic”) has been bought and paid for to the extent that the United States has been—and that is not even to get into the basis (in slavery, indentured servitude, genocide of the existing indigenous population, and general dispossession of the great majority) for what was called a “revolution” in 1776. (Despite this, I do not agree, or at least not entirely, with most European Marxists, e.g. some of my favorites such as Sartre, Adorno, and Badiou, that there was nothing at all good in the American Revolution.) So that’s the Civics class none of us got back in the day, and of course there is a great deal of complexity left out here.
What is Donald Trump in all this? I’ve proposed three terms: experiment, clarification, and disruption. In the aforementioned “all this,” I think the third of these terms is most important. Trump disrupted the Republican Party in very significant ways on his way to the nomination. That disruption did not necessarily have to be a good thing, in any larger terms—but, in fact, it was a good thing. Because it is a delicious passage that ought to make any person with good will toward humanity happy, I will quote again from Tucker Carlson’s Ship of Fools:
It is possible to isolate the precise moment that Trump permanently alienated the Republican establishment in Washington: February 13, 2016. There was a GOP primary debate that night in Greenville, South Carolina, so every Republican in Washington was watching. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump articulated something that no party leader had ever said out loud. “We should never have been in Iraq,” Trump announced, his voice rising. “We have destabilized the Middle East.”
Many in the crowd booed, but Trump kept going: “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”
This was the moment when Jeb Bush and the whole Bush family was done for, and how can anyone in the liberal/left camp not be happy about that? And Jeb helped nicely with his whining, “I’m tired of people attacking my brother and my family.” Yes, wonderful crime family there! –or, crime plus CIA, which is pretty much how the latter always works. Just like that, too, Jeb’s 100+ million dollars spent on the campaign went down the toilet. But let’s stay with Carlson a bit more:
Pandemonium seemed to erupt in the hall, and on television. Shocked political analysts [were they agape?] declared the Trump presidential effort had just euthanized itself. Republican voters, they said with certainty, would never accept attacks on policies their party had espoused and carried out. …
Rival Republicans denounced Trump as an apostate. Voters considered him brave.
Trump won the South Carolina primary, and shortly after that, the Republican nomination.
Republicans in Washington never recovered. When Trump attacked the Iraq War and questioned the integrity of the people who planned and promoted it, he was attacking them. [This is where the Bill Kristol narrative picks up.] They hated him for that. (My emphasis; pp.108-109.)
As I said in “The Christine Blasey Ford episode,” you know it’s a different, topsy-turvy world when Tucker Carlson is making far more sense than the “left.” But then, I suppose it’s a topsy-turvy world when the First Lady is from the same country as Slavoj Zizek!
And consider again the fact that the LOLs had been saying for years that they were “frustrated” that Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton, did not go after G.W. Bush on the Iraq War and what led up to it. HRC is of course a hawk, she is all about war and militarism; but even if she wasn’t so hawkish, she is also all about the game of “politics” as it is supposed to be played. When Trump showed very bad etiquette in that debate, he really broke with the entire political establishment, and made them all look like the craven, lying power-players they are.
Couldn’t a good argument be made, on the basis of Trump’s apostasy, and on the basis of my Marx 101 Civics-class presentation, and on the basis of the reactionary etiquette of all acceptable establishment politicians of either establishment party (in the complete bullshit “two-party system,” that we all learned about in Civics class), that Trump’s election was the closest thing to a triumph for democracy that could possibly happen in the United States?
Obviously, Trump is not the international proletariat, but is he in some way representing something of the working class? Ironically, the LOLs themselves think this—except that what Trump represents is the “stupid, fascist, racist, white, male workers” of the “rural” parts of the U.S. Of course the “male” part is definitely not true, part of why HRC lost is that the majority of white women, and many other women, did not vote for her.
What exactly are the “rural” parts of the United States? As I suggest above, referring to the blue/red map of counties rather than states, “rural America” is now everything that is outside of a handful of large and relatively large cities. (Having lived in Shanghai and Mexico City in recent years, my perception of what is a relatively large city has been altered a good deal. But what I’m really talking about is the famous New Yorker cartoon on the New Yorker’s view of the United States.) In some sense there are very few parts of the United States that are “rural” anymore. There are cars, roads, highways, electricity, and television; even more, now, there is the internet. The latter is working well as a force of globalist homogenization.
Two things that larger cities bring is more “diversity” and more “culture.” The second of these is not at all available to everyone, and certainly not equally, but still, it seems like a good thing.
“Diversity” is universally praised as good, but I think it’s a little more complicated than that, and one way to see this is in the class structures of cities. Of course all my liberal, academic friends “love the diversity” of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, etc. For them it is like a smorgasbord of experiences that they can have, and then they go home to relative comfort. Of course they are “around” ethnic Mexicans quite a lot, boys and girls and men and women who work in restaurants (not just Mexican restaurants), generally in the back, and sometimes as caregivers. In universities there are non-white students who either come from better-off families or who have been provided with financial aid in the hope that they can join the middle class in a very assimilated, middle-class way. Some of these students succeed, while many quietly slip away. How much longer even this experiment will go on is uncertain, as even for middle-class whites the “college experience” is becoming untenable. The term that cannot be brought into the “diversity” parade is indeed class, because urban diversity on the whole depends on a great deal of class inequality, and situations where, on the whole, after one has one’s exciting “diversity”-interactions for the day, one can retreat to a different kind of space. Obviously this is an extreme example, but consider the meme that went around recently, featuring mega-pop star Katy Perry. As part of the “resistance” to Trump on the border question, she preaches, “The greatest thing we can do is unite and just love on each other. No barriers, no borders, we all just need to coexist.” And yet Perry “lives in a very-large, nineteen-million dollar mansion, hidden at the end of a private drive in a gated community surrounded by security.” Many of the leading Democratic politicians have similar set-ups.
One of the things that happens in the “rural” part of American, which includes medium-sized cities and towns in states as diverse as Ohio and Iowa and Kansas and Wyoming and—well, really, most of the states (and much of Canada!) is that “diversity” is not just the fun mixing of cultures and colors that liberal academics celebrate. Instead it is the supplanting of a longstanding culture by a new population of non-union workers who have been brought in by what are more or less legal “human traffickers”—except these traffickers don’t work for some penny-ante operation (though, at the ground level, they may live like prison guards, not so much better-off than prisoners), they ultimately work for globalized finance capital. This is not a fun scene, for anyone, really—but all the LOLs can do is complain that the “rural, white” people don’t want or like “diversity.”
There is a good deal more to say about this question, but once again I’ll put in a plug for Ship of Fools; see Ch. 5, “The diversity diversion.” There’s more to say than what Carlson says, too, but in any case, much of what he says is on a topic that has been ruled out of order by academic liberals and, what is so vastly crazy I would find it hard to wrap my head around it if I hadn’t come through that scene myself, academic leftists and Marxists—namely, the topic of class.
But I’m sure all these good folks would want to talk about class if only the workers (or the “white workers”) weren’t so stupid, racist, misogynist (even the women, obviously), and fascist. You see, they’ve ruled themselves out of consideration. We are back with the crude dismissal of the working class by Bertrand Russell and other aristocratic, Fabian socialists. Russell, in his sweeping, generalized characterization of Marxism, claimed that Marx and Marxists thought that the working class should rule society because they are some sort of morally-superior class. Perhaps Russell was unconsciously reflecting on his own superior attitudes (Russell was not so “open” as to accept his gay son, for example, and the poor young man fell into insanity), but, in any case, despite the fact that very few working-class people could even begin to get up to the debaucheries perpetrated by the ruling class (no one can afford these things, if nothing else), Marx’s argument is something quite different, it has to do with the social structure.
As I said above, that even Maoists and so many others who have called themselves “Marxists” down through the decades could now buy into this nonsense, if from the “other side” (working people, or the “white working class,” is morally-inferior), as it were, is a disaster of epic proportions, right up there with LOLs loving the CIA, FBI, Mueller, George W. Bush, John McCain, etc.
There’s a good side to this, though. It shouldn’t be so hard to break with all of this horrible crap, and in fact most “ordinary people,” especially “ordinary working people,” aren’t having such a hard time breaking with it. And whether or not Trump truly represents these people, he does seem to be an alternative to the horrible crap that the Democratic Party proudly represents.
And you know what they’re going to say: something about the rural, white, working class being fascist, etc. And something about me being a fascist or fascist sympathizer, etc.
In my CounterPunch.org articles, I’ve tried to say some structural things about capitalism, imperialism, globalism, and postmodern capitalism, and the specifically-American context for why I not only don’t think Trump is a fascist, but also why I don’t think real fascism will work in America. One very major reason is that a fascist society is a highly-militarized and politicized (in a particular ideological way) society, and, for all kinds of reasons such a society is not in the offing here. These reasons range from consumerism (don’t stop going to the mall just because of 9/11 and the Patriot Act) and the warped view of what freedom is in a consumerist society, to the recent announcement of the “Space Force.” The “Space Force” is something that was coming for some time now, and it will be coming regardless of who is president—and one reason for this is that the U.S. cannot hope to mobilize the numbers of people it would take to actually “win” a long-term war in, say, Iran—it cannot even do this in Iraq or Afghanistan. (See chapters 9 and 10 of George Friedman, The Next Hundred Years , for a very plausible scenario on the Space Force; most likely this will grow out of what most people do not realize is the “other space program,” namely the U.S. Air Force.) On the other hand, this mechanization-robotization-cyberization of space is mixed up with a gaggle of other issues, including immigration (let people in to become cannon fodder) and a military system that is, in effect, just as much a welfare system as anything else.
Certainly there are “Orwellian,” or “Vonnegut-ian” aspects to all this (see the latter’s Player Piano on the “Reeks and Wrecks”), but these don’t add up to fascism, and indeed these sorts of things work better in a system of global “markets,” especially where the working people are treated like excremental beings who are the worst kind of people, who need to shut up and check their privilege, curb their racist and misogynist anger, and get back to work, if they have work, and otherwise bugger off.
That’s the message our LOLs have for working people, who they think they can carve into sections by race, etc.—and capitalism especially in its eighteenth to twentieth-century forms, and in new forms employing Identity Politics today, has done an exemplary job with this carving. Let’s go back for a moment to Max Horkeimer’s famous line that, “If you’re not going to talk about capitalism, shut up about fascism.” Somehow it has escaped today’s LOLs, most significantly the avowedly-leftist (and even “Marxist”) side of this bunch that they go on about Trump being a capitalist (and he is, but let’s also think structurally about some of the divisions among the capitalists), but they have put themselves in a position where all they can do is affirm the gigantic forces of capitalism in the United States and the world, with its leading edge of finance capital.
Obviously this is very complicated stuff. The point here, though, is that in pursuing this “fascism” thesis (though to call it a “thesis” is to give too much credit to it), these LOLs have suckered themselves into supporting the main workings of capital in the world today—and, from this, nothing good will come, and much that is bad.
So, what would actually be good is to stop blaming working people for having figured this out—even if not in the heavily “theorized” way that some academics might prefer.
The irony here is that, in this age where the left is wrapped-up in Identity Politics, there’s not a lot of good “theoretical” work going around, things have mostly been reduced to a jargon that is good for little more than name-calling and call-out culture.
It is hard to expect that things will go in a better way for the existing Left. They’ve dumbed themselves down too far. (In terms of philosophy and what came to be called “theory”—based in literary theory and giving rise to “cultural studies”—I do blame some of this dumbing down on the more recent outcomes of phenomenology and hermeneutics, with not enough structuralism.) They’ve attached themselves too thoroughly to power as the be-all of everything. (It has to be recognized that some of this comes out of utilitarian and Hobbesian aspects of Marx, and the Machiavellian aspects of Lenin—and the failure to grapple with the ways in which Mao and others provided a corrective to this.) Their self-conception (and this goes for liberals in general) as so bloody smart is bound up with the idea that most ordinary people are stupid.
It is hard to imagine that this LOL/LARP “resistance” can go much further, or that it could have gone as far as it has, for that matter, without some major, if hidden, backing.
All this went around a major bend with the Month I discussed. Another bend was traversed with the Christine Blasey Ford and Elizabeth Warren stunts, though at that point the LOLs were moving at breakneck speed toward the mid-terms, only taking time out to blame Trump for the (fake) pipe bombs and the murder of eleven Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The pipe-bomb suspect looks very suspicious, not like someone who could have pulled off what he is charged with doing; the person charged with the synagogue murders was angry that Trump is not an anti-Semite. Trump made strong statements in both cases, but of course all of that just became fodder for the Democrats on the way to the mid-terms.
Now we have some results.
I will say, and perhaps this will make my liberal friends a little happy, that I’m not sorry that certain Republicans lost their elections. In my home state of Kansas, I’m not sorry that the Republican lost the race for governor. It’s good that people here have had enough of Brownback-ism, and more or less any Republican candidate for governor in Kansas is going to be in the pocket of the Koch brothers. Similarly, it’s of course good that Scott Walker has been booted out in Wisconsin. There are a few more examples like that around the country where I’m not only not sorry the Republican lost, but that the Democrat won.
In terms of the Trump experiment, I can see some possibility for something good coming out of the Democratic retake of the House. One would think that the Democrats will now have to actually have to make concrete proposals on immigration rather than just blather ideological baloney that amounts in reality to there not being any borders. (Again, here, there are all kinds of complexities to questions of immigration and borders that the supposedly-benign view of immigration espoused by LOLs papers over.) They might actually have to take responsibility for something, for a change. As I’ve said before, there is almost a “situationist” (in the sense of Guy Debord) aspect to the way that Trump pushes “maximal” solutions in order to at least thematize the need for some solution. Perhaps here, too, we see that what is especially disruptive about Trump is that, while he is “of” the world of capitalism and the capitalist economic and “political” system, he is not entirely “in” it.
Now, compare this with what is entirely “in” this latter world, and who would not have things any other way … in other words, the Democratic Party, and all who would give aid and comfort to it.
And so, are the Democrats actually gearing up to propose solutions to these problems that have been thematized (sometimes in a forced and perhaps “extreme” way) by president Trump? No, of course not. For one thing, immediately after the midterms (even with ballots still being counted and contested in some states), the Democrats have a new hero: Jeff Sessions! They are holding new demonstrations: Protect the Mueller investigation!
Let’s note that the Democrats themselves do not officially use the term “fascism” when talking about Trump—that is instead the ostensible Marxists, including my former comrades of the formerly Maoist RCP. The latter cite the definition of fascism formulated in 1935 by the Comintern leader, Georgi Dimitrov. Dimitrov based himself on Lenin and argued that fascism is the open dictatorship of the most reactionary elements of finance capital. This describes the Democrats nicely, especially insomuch as they wrap this dictatorship up in SJW (“social justice warrior”—ed) and Identity Politics rhetoric.
What leading Democrats have said in the wake of the midterms (only a few days ago, now) is that their concentration will be on more investigations of Trump, support for the Mueller investigation (including what no special prosecutor has had or is supposed to have, complete carte blanche to look into anything and everything—other than, one supposes, things like the installation of a fascist regime in the Ukraine by Obama’s and Clinton’s State Department), and attempts to impeach Trump. But hey, there are good reasons for this: 1) the Democrats know they have no alternative on the immigration/border situation, and neither do they want one, because their main aim is to undermine the working people of the U.S. for the benefit of globalist finance capital; 2) especially these newer, younger Democrats, these “fresh faces” that my liberal friends are so excited about, have never gotten down to any kind of real work other than SJW activism, and this latter kind of “work” mainly consists in name-calling to bring people down. On this latter point, let’s not forget that Identity Politics inevitably divides against itself; it would not be surprising if we are about to see a sectarianism that makes previous left sectarianisms look like a hippie drum circle.
Remember the very simple message that Trump had for potential African-American voters in 2016? “What do you have to lose?” Understood as a constituency, and an “identity,” things were a little more complicated than that. But perhaps the eight-percent of African-Americans who voted for Trump understood well enough that it was worth taking a chance, when the Democrats treated them as chumps. (Significantly, that eight-percent consisted in four-percent women, thirteen-percent men.) Whether African-American unemployment is down as much as Trump says, or as little as the Democrats say, it seems clear that at least it is down.
When it comes to the thematization of the “rural” and of working people—which more or less comes to the same thing, and neither is it some racially monolithic group, either (as Trump has continually thematized in speeches that brilliant liberals can only hear as something from the Nuremburg rallies)—Trump is at least bringing forward issues that do not exist in any positive or constructive way for the LOLs. This deserves credit, because, whether or not Trump is really for the working people, at least he is not the sworn enemy of working people, at least he does not openly express contempt for working people.
But I frankly think the Trump experiment, disruption, and clarification opens up much more than that for the ordinary working people, of all colors, genders, and sexualities of the United States, and one can at least hope that opportunities are opened up for ordinary people of other countries if the United States can get out of their business. (I will say more about this in a subsequent article, which at the moment I hope to title something like, “From Maoist to Trumpist? Encountering today’s “left.”)
So, to my many liberal or effectively-liberal friends who say that “revolution is not in the offing” and there is some sort of qualitative difference between normally-functioning bourgeois democracy and what Trump is and represents, and so I have to choose, my response is:
Laissez l’experience rouler!
By Bill Martin
Source: Greanville Post