Times are tough but things are going to get much tougher. Probably the biggest pill to swallow for the US is that we are now a symptom and not a cause. That is very important to remember as the wheels begin to seriously come off Trump’s little red wagon that’s tied to the back bumper of the big US bus. Having shoved all of the adults out of his wagon Trump is able to veer wildly convinced that he can do what he wants. He apparently has never realized that he is only driving his little White House wagon. While he can sound the horn and flash the lights on the big bus, the real but slower damage is done by the minions wielding wrenches like monkeys. This is dangerous but not yet deadly although they have smashed enough things that the bus has begun to slow.
But we are not alone. The inherent nature of this paradigmatic change process is non-linear complexity. Particularly for the post-industrial societies the rise of these neo-feudal authoritarian claimants to the old national governments is a shock and cause for confusion. In reality these are traditional forces that appear at any system collapse. Putin, Erdogan, Viktor Orbán in Hungary are all feudal style nationalists of greater or lesser skill. Their goals are always power and exploitation and their tools are always division and fear resulting in bigotry, hatred and destruction. They are the knee jerk reaction to rapid change and disruption. Each time these conditions exist these folks appear and everyone is amazed. How can this be?
These aggressive opportunists and the part of the population that supports them are dangerous but simply scavengers without much grasp or even concern for the process they are attempting to cannibalize. By their nature these are not usually well organized but the groups may work together as their goals are the same. Like all scavengers anticipating a death fights break out as individual efforts collide. This is particularly true when the target is not yet dead but in a state of metamorphosis.
For the US this phase seems to be partially, at least, the broader recognition of the secondary forces in conflict around Trump as a symbol rather than an actor. Trumps broad incompetence and ignorance is the perfect playground for national and international forces acting on the failure of the US empire and, at a deeper level, on the paradigm shift that is moving human society to a completely new organizational structure.
At a real problem level there is, I think, no way yet to tell how this is going to move over the next year. This is going to get increasingly messy and we can only try to keep it from getting violent. Whatever precisely happen it is not going to end well for Trump or the USA. So what are the forces at play?
Trump Russia and Iran
What a mess and it is only going to get worse. The main players are Putin, the Russian financial oligarchs, Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, the Mueller investigation, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Congressional leadership, and last, Trump plus family and assorted hangers on.
It’s been obvious since the election that the whole collusion part of the investigation was a political ploy to get the investigation going. I don’t think there is any doubt that there was collusion or serious attempts at it by Trump’s ever changing coterie of kids or goons, but this was mostly accidental. The simple reality is that Trump has been in hock to Russian interests for years. He went in to real estate as money laundering, the only thing that he actually knows, that was the only thing of interest to semi-official Russian oligarchs around Putin. When Trump decided, based on who knows what, to play presidential candidate and won, his only resources were in Russia so he used them. This was probably done without too much thought.
In many ways both Trump and Putin are small time operators struggling to climb into the real game. We can only assume, based on Trump’s obvious fear of Putin and incredible reluctance to criticize Russia, that there is some pretty bad stuff in Russian hands that would sink Trump big time. But the real complexity of this is starting to become apparent.
Both the neoliberal and neocon owners of the US, entangled in an ugly but mostly hidden family feud are pushing hard to incite conflict with Russia or Iran or North Korea if all else fails. Their goals are their old goals to pump up the hypercapitalist cash flow for energy and materials by burning them up in regional conflicts. Putin is playing coy, however, as he can’t win in that game and needs to extract himself from the old European playing field.
Energy is always the goal as the old economic template is based on energy extraction and sale driving all industrial growth. Russia is apparently moving its London GAZPROM office back to St. Petersburg. This could be to refocus on Asia as a market for gas as the future is Chinese power. This is a major upset for the EU and England complicating the Brexit process and causing strange things to happen in England with Russian overtones. Or maybe not.
From the US perspective most of this seems to be happening behind Trump’s back as he is being forced to support aggression against Russia so he can be aggressive with North Korea or Iran if Bolton has his way. All of this is dangerous as hell primarily because Trump is a puppet with too many masters and has no sense about simply lashing out on his own.
Mueller and the Investigation
Expect Mueller to pick off some more of Trump’s ragtag gang members. Trump has been so frightened of Mueller that he has listened to his legal advisers. It appears that with his lead attorney, Doud, gone Trump can do what he wants. This will not work out well at all.
There are so many targets for Mueller that selecting the most appropriate has been a challenge. And that is complicated by Mueller’s own goals. It tends to be forgotten that Mueller is not a good guy. He has blood on his hands from the years of George W.Bush and the neocon crimes against humanity that those folks seem to have gotten away with. I’m beginning to think that Mueller will simply play this out as long as possible to build his status.
The FBI raid on Trump’s unfortunate attorney in the Stormy Daniel’s saga may become the main battle line. From the beginning the weakness of Trump as president has been the lack of any immunity at the state or city level. New York as Trump’s residence and scene of many years of crime and corruption may simply bypass Mueller and the collapsing federal system and go in for the kill.
A way to the future?
As I have been writing for the last year the bigger change is the move to a post capitalist planet with a shift to smaller and more efficient administration able to align with other urban based regions for sustainable economics and trade. The hope is that this can be done by a process rather than a total national collapse and violent revolutionary change. I don’t see any other way for the US than to evolve away from the failed federal model to a regional set of alliances on open trade, borders, and rights. This would allow feudal nationalists to try it on their own while the main metropolitan regions can focus on openness, diversity, and a sustainable planetary economy.
We may be seeing the opening of a path to this previously unreachable goal. A basic historical fact is that feudal systems collapse in the face of openness and trade.