Trumpism is a symptom of totalitarian capitalism’s crisis and at the same time an attempt to answer to this crisis.
So-called Trumpism will continue to exist without a Trump presidency, even without Trump himself. It doesn’t constitute a social and political phenomenon that exclusively concerns the United States. It is a symptom of totalitarian capitalism’s crisis and at the same time an attempt to answer to this crisis.
The events that transpired on January the sixth shocked the planet but it didn’t seem as though everyone shared the same worries. Wall Street, for example, didn’t just react in a way reminiscent of its response to the 11th of September, but it set a new historical record. Τhe reason for that was the formalization of Joe Biden’s victory from Congress and the result of the repeat elections in Georgia, that gave the Democrats full control of the Senate. As proven also during Donald Trump’s term, the “markets” and the “investors” aren’t that interested in the name or the color of the party that has the majority, but only in ensuring the continuation of their parasitic profit making.
The poll conducted by the YouGov institute is also extremely interesting. Although the majority of Americans condemn the invasion of the Capitol (71%) and consider it a threat to democracy (62%), it can not go unnoticed that there is a significant percentage who approve of what happened. In fact, at the Republican base, those who approve of the invasion are a majority (45% vs. 43%) and see no threat to democracy (68%)! It is clear that there are many who take a similar stance also among party officials. Vice President Pence may have effectively ousted Trump while at the same time many members of the government resigned, but in Congress more than 10 senators and 100 congressmen insisted on rejecting Biden’s election, endorsing allegations of fraud.
Trump and Trumpism are not some sort of contradiction or a fringe movement, but an existing and powerful current in the American society and politics, something that was proven by the almost 12 million new votes he got in the November 3rd elections compared to 2016. The crisis of the model of governance and bourgeois democracy in the United States- a point of reference for the whole “West” and also a pretext for a series of military interventions and coups around the world- is deep and has acquired structural features.
They are obviously directly related to the situation in the actual economy (an economy that is not reflected in the indices and the stock market), to the serious rearrangements in domestic and international competition of 2020. Practically – even though a bit simplistically- we could claim that the “contract” that up until today ensured the proper function of American capitalism and its global hegemony, along with its institutions (Congress, the president, the Constitution etc.), is being questioned and challenged more than ever.
In the context of a historically developing internationalization, the antagonism between capitalist-imperialist centers, bourgeois states and forces of capital is flaring up. That is causing a crisis and also a rearrangement process of today’s capitalist internationalization. In times of prolonged and universal crisis, an important part of capital returns to its national base, and as a result support measures for capital are sought out, either in the from of “economic war” and/or “protectionism”, walls are built (with their first target being refugees, immigrants and minorities), and we see a development in national rhetoric, as a means of claiming a better position in the international division. The pandemic and the closure of borders point in the same direction.
Trumpism, for some sections of capital (construction, energy and especially mineral resources, the agricultural capitalist sector, transport, etc.) has been a certain response in order to protect them from the threat of China between others, with hopes of a more dynamic return, on their part, to the international chessboard in the future. At the same time, other sectors (financial system, communications, digital electronics, military-industrial complex, etc.) which have often come under rhetorical fire from Trump, while facing direct obstacles in the international arena, aspire to benefit from the strategic consequences of a full-blown attack on the working people within the country.
What appears to be a “battle between two worlds”, with serious consequences and arrythmias in the functioning of the US bipartisan political system, is at the same time a complementary process. In this context, a spiral sequence of immensely reactionary capitalist restructurings is being formed. A “revolution” with a negative sign, which attempts to confront not only the different representations (visions of a different society) given to humanity by the worker’s revolutions of the 20th century, but also the compromises that the bourgeoisie was forced to make and/or had the opportunity to make in the previous period.
Software companies may be frustrated by Trump’s rhetoric and his anti-immigrant measures may cause them difficulties in attracting “minds” from the outside world, while on the other hand increased tariffs are seen as protection for capitalists in the auto industry. However, everyone “understands” that in the long run, without confining wages and civil liberties to the levels of China, there is no hope for a way out of the economic downturn. Departments of the “deep establishment” in the defense and foreign affairs sectors feel more secure with the Democrat’s willingness for military equipment and solidarity within NATO, while resenting Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the “crazy cost of war” or the “unnecessary expenditure on NATO”. Nevertheless, everyone, including the Trump camp, agrees that the economic downgrade of the US in comparison to China must be offset by the active exercise of its political and military supremacy. A typical example is the war game with Iran, which Trump escalated dangerously, while at the same time demagoging about the “return of the troops back home”.
“…Dealing with Trump in terms of bourgeois bipartisanship in the United States (with the Democrats leading the way), and as a consequence the degradation of an independent political worker’s struggle, gives it a fake “anti-systemic” character…”
As mentioned in the title, Trumpism is one of the symptoms of the crisis – and at the same time a type of response – that the totalitarian capitalism of our time and more specifically the capitalist internationalization is experiencing. The essential difference, however, with the Great Crisis of 1929, which gave birth to fascism, is that the current one is taking place in the absence of an anti-capitalist socialist alternative. The risk of a “right-wing” response is clearly greater, and that is the challenge that the labor movement is facing. The classless popular font-ism of the interwar period nullified the dynamics of the worker’s revolutionary response in the name of the united anti-fascist front with the bourgeoisie. What is more, however, in the current circumstances, the simplistic proclamation of Trump as a representative of “modern fascism”, without understanding the overall tendencies in the capitalist system at the same time, has as a political result not just submission to a certain course, but the integration, in advance, of the political resistance of the labor movement in the confines of the bourgeoisie. Dealing with Trump in terms of bourgeois bipartisanship in the United States (with the Democrats leading the way), and as a consequence the degradation of an independent political worker’s struggle, gives it a fake “anti-systemic” character, while at the same time whitewashing the Democrats despite their extreme neoliberal policies.
No one can ignore the militant presence of activists and movements (African Americans, women, teachers, the youth), who resisted Trump’s policies. However, it is politics that ultimately determines things. Trump has truly surpassed every limit, if there is any, with his racist, xenophobic and misogynistic language, but also his politics, and this has sparked very important currents/waves of radicalization. If, however, the problems are understood in terms of “identity” and “values”, ignoring the class structure that pervades them and the sharpening of the social issue for the working social majority, then they are easily “digested” in a right-ism of exceptions, politically limited within the capitalist framework and the bourgeois political system. Contempt for the “white” and “uneducated” working class, as a product of an analysis that claims it becomes racist because it is losing its’ privileges, has the opposite political effects than those that can be brought about from understanding the fact that parts of it ( the “white” working class) are threatened by an overall downward spiral caused by the crisis of American capitalism.
Class responsibility in order to save the system
There are several historical precedents, where the popular factor invades the political foreground and uprisings and revolutions occur, precisely in the “gap” that cracks in the bourgeois political system have created. Wherever there are great dangers for social victories/conquests or even for political submission in intra-bourgeois antagonisms, there exist hidden possibilities for the working class and its movement. It is therefore necessary to assess the order, interests and tactics of all classes and political forces.
From this point of view, the exemplary class responsibility, on behalf of the overall bourgeois interests, that the Democratic leadership has shown is really impressive, not only in terms of how it reacted to the attempted occupation of the Capitol, but the way it has decided to face Trumpism in general.
Instead of, as one would expect, betting against Trump’s extreme coup d’état in order to gain party points and deal a blow to the Republicans, the Democrats preferred “mildness”. Obama went one step further, saying bipartisan reconciliation is the foundation of Democracy in the United States. Such an attitude definitely stems from the fear of breaking the bipartisan firmament. A possible ousting of the extremists and a split of the Republicans would create room for a similar split in the Democratic party, coming from its “left” caucus. This reaction is, however, their attempt to avoid the penetration of a popular dynamic that would have an uncontrollable outcome.
Biden doomed to fail. Parallel crisis in Democrats-Republicans
A return to the “normalcy” promised by the new US president is not possible. The system of power becomes even more individualized and politics loses much of its relative autonomy from capital.
Economic measures against the pandemic. Taxation of individuals and companies. Regulatory framework for stock exchanges and markets. Environmental legislation and objectives for tackling climate change. Immigration and excessive police-state repression against African Americans and minorities. Possession of firearms and the death penalty. International trade and customs duties. The attitude towards non-US governments in Central and Latin America – Bolivia and Venezuela, Cuba and even Mexico and Argentina. War or peace with Iran. Military interventions in foreign countries. Relations with NATO and the EU. And, of course, a head-on conflict or an effort for compromise with China and Russia.
These are the main fronts on which one can and should judge the new US president – from whom, of course, no one expects mass nationalizations, income redistribution for the benefit of the many, an attempt to change production relations or abolition of racial discrimination. Only by studying his stance on all these issues one would be able to find out whether, and to which degree, he stands for something different from his predecessor. Conclusions about Joe Biden (an individual who was elected president without having the energy, the mood or the positions that would justify his new position), can only be made based on the impending developments and the decisions he makes concerning these fronts. It is clear that this experienced and loyal servant of “deep America” was imposed by the Democratic establishment.
The main issue, of course, is not Biden, but the Democrats themselves and their future course. In the same way what is happening in the other camp of traditional American bipartisanship has nothing to do with Trump and his political future, but with the identity of Republicans. As Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence try (and have so far succeeded) to co-exist in their ranks, ensuring a relatively uniform political expression of different and sometimes competing tendencies and ideologies in society and the party’s base, something similar is observed in the ranks of the Dems. There you will find Sanders and Pelosi, the extremely reactionary Menendez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, all of which are struggling to create a bridge between social groups, between perceptions and interests that are increasingly diverging from each other.
In other words: The traditionally bipartisan and individualized US political system is forced to make many new adjustments in order to withstand these sharp contrasts and not be threatened with collapse or a radical restructuring. There is no room for compromise anymore and there are not enough pieces of the “pie” for everyone – as in the world, next to the “great America”, you have China that is rapidly growing, the EU that wants to become a bigger force again etc.
That is why the “democratic arc”, led by the Biden Democrats and a significant part of the Republicans and the “deep state”, will try in every way to restore order and the smooth operation of the old, well-known and tested model. The model of “existing capitalism” of the United States that -us, the peoples of the world and millions of Americans- have come to know and hate. “Normalcy”, however, will never be the same – nor will bourgeois politics and democracy. That is why Biden is doomed to fail.
Composition of articles at prin.gr