by Mike Meyer
It is very difficult to find any benefit in the continuing train wreck of the Trump regime. This is unusual as very large organizations that operate primarily on inertia and the repetitive workings of millions of people are very difficult to mess up.
Because of that it is possible for the population in general to ignore most of what is going in among demented high ranking officials. In the worst case, the current reality, segments of the population suffer abuse, exploitation, and death at the hands of an ethically and morally bankrupt administration. But the majority can continue on at least until the economy begins to fail.
In America and many other places this is why the only thing that matters is the economy. As long as those killed or brutally imprisoned are far enough away and do not include family or friends and the current version of the Gestapo doesn’t start showing up regularly in white people’s neighborhoods, it’s all good. This is sad but the reality we live with in America and other states caught in reactionary collapse.
Normally in the past when low grade and/or criminal types manage to get high offices such as the presidency they tend to only survive until the economy goes to pieces. The economy of a massive nation state is, itself, very difficult to influence. But the types of policies that corrupt or reactionary political leaders tend to inflict can, after some years, have an effect. Mostly they simply take credit for the nature of the beast and whatever benefits have accrued over the previous years.
The planetary economy is slowing having, it seems, begun to react to a range of disasters dictated by the policies followed for the last fifty or sixty years. It is also beginning to react the biggest disaster of human caused climate change. This is having an impact in two forms.
Climate disasters, drought, flooding, storms and heat are already significantly disrupting the planet. People with knowledge of this, a large and growing population, are scared. They know that unprecedented change is unstoppable in any short or medium term.
It is, of course, far worse than that but people are incredibly skillful at self delusion. As long as they can make a token gesture of adjusting themselves and their own world to the approaching disaster they are comfortable in blaming what happens on some one else.
The post industrial world is heavily at risk from things that require a new order of understanding but it is also at risk from things that are normal and unsurprising. Given our skill at self delusion, in these situations even knowledgeable people will grab the known and ignore the unknown. Because of that the structural cycles of boom and bust that are inherently a part of the capitalist system are leading to economic decline.
Unfortunately everyone who matters publicly is desperate to keep their job so they will ignore the new and unusual and assure themselves and their associates that it is all part of the normal way of things. But underneath we are all scared shitless. This is not normal but the institutions demand that normal is the only way that things can be.
So this is very much like a medic working to stop the bleeding on a flesh wound who feels relief at his success but then discovers that he missed major arterial bleeding in the darkness. He was treating a minor wound and lost the patient by not looking at the lethal wound. *
So the economy is slowing and the random and nonsensical actions taken by the Trump cohort are, themselves, self inflicted flesh wounds that are all distractions from the planetary level damage that is destroying the old economy.
But normally there are, even if accidental, positives achieved during the rule of generally incompetent and criminal people. Nixon opened China that was, even at the time, a stunning reversal of position critical to the next fifty years.
George W. Bush is a good bit harder but he did expand the Medicare prescription coverage that has improved, or saved, the lives of millions in an otherwise disastrous national medical failure.
Trump, actually his managers as Trump himself is completely ignorant of what is happening around him, has accomplished nothing positive and time is running out. The Republican tax bill that has accelerated economic decline by pumping money into an already full tilt Obama created economy is coming home to roost. The trade war with China is a factor in the slowing planetary economy and whatever wild and impulsive racist gestures Trump is allowed to order, e.g. closing the Mexican border, will worsen trade at the worst possible time.
Nothing good to be found here anywhere.
But wait! We’re looking at this from the lens of the old paradigm. From that perspective Trump is a disaster but from the new, emerging paradigm maybe there is some good?
Destruction of the US presidency
Trump has already succeeded in destroying the office of President of the United States. The danger of too much power in an executive position in a massive nation state has long been identified. Trump has illustrated the true extent of that danger. The great majority of the US population goes to bed each night worried and anxious about an idiot with the power to destroy the planet surrounded by little better than criminals with no goals beyond greed and power.
They manage to forget about it the next morning but it is always there. National statistics on anxiety and health decline are at levels never before seen. The American presidency may well be on the way to becoming a ceremonial office carefully walled off from any actual governmental activity. That is a potential good.
The need for a strong executive to make decisions has long been doubtful and now is of such a great danger that it is hard to breath. We may well be able to thank the Republican Party, posthumously, for showing us the end of the absurdly powerful presidency.
Ending the Fear of Democracy
The nation state political paradigm (and specifically the American experiment) was based on fear of democracy. While basing the authority of the state on the people of that state allowed the old aristocracy to be eliminated it was meant to give power to the new capitalist financial elite. By creating constitutions that purported to represent the people in government, this was actually done in a way to ensure that the money required to run the government was controlled by the new elite. The representatives of the people would be always at the mercy of the capitalist class. And so it was.
It was reasonable to fear democracy initially because only a very small percentage of the population had any education beyond religious based propaganda and this was among the male, Anglo Saxon ruling class. If women, foreigners, and, horror or horrors, slaves were ever be given full citizenship in a truly democratic system, the world would end.
But which groups could be allowed to have real power? That was a problem because an even older paradigm was still extant in the 19th century that was based on the ancient world of plantations and aristocracies. The American south had that. So it was destroyed with a heavy price as this could only be sold as anti-slavery and emancipation. Lincoln struggled with that because he knew what was really wanted by the ruling class and that would be destroyed if the entire population were to demand actual power.
The bitter irony is that a capitalist class ruling elite destroyed the remnant of the old aristocratic paradigm in the American south in the name of emancipating the slaves after two hundred plus years of genocide against the indigenous inhabitants. The trick was to solve the problems created by using emancipation as the justification for eliminating the old southern ruling class by implementing economic and social servitude for the post slave and surviving Amerindian populations.
As the steady rise of trade and industry, the amazing benefits of capitalism as market economics, increased national and then planetary wealth and education raised awareness and understanding the facade of democracy was seen for what it was by the people denied any power at all.
The 20th century was a series of rebellions of denied populations, women first and then POC in the 1960s. But this had to fit in between major wars and the expansion of the American empire. But this was exactly what was feared by the white ruling class. The trick that worked in post civil war reconstruction wore thin with the growth of the population, international contact, and education. Using cultural tools to contain the demands for political power by people who thought they lived in a democracy caused lies to be built on lies.
This allows us to see the rise of Reagan and the desperate need of the white ruling elite to regain control by strangling the middle class economically and drugging them with ‘freedum’, racism, and religion. The southern strategy was to revive the Confederacy, not a a region, but as the ‘brown shirts’ of the white capitalist elite while moving all wealth into the hands of the ruling class.
The natural changes of the dominant planetary population are placing the white elite in their true place as a relatively small minority. In a closely linked planetary society this should not be a problem except for the racist nature of that white ruling elite’s refusal to give up power.
By defining themselves based on racism and Caucasian ethnocentric memes they have turned their cultural ground troops into old fashioned white supremacists claiming racial defense to hold onto their domination in America. Their instinctive anti-intellectualism allows them to ignore everything but their articles of faith while skipping past the internal contradictions in their narrative.
At this stage in the collapse of the old nation state capitalist paradigm in America something like Trump and the criminal Republican party was unavoidable. The layers of lies and racist beliefs could no longer be covered by a rising economy. The neoliberal system extended the technique of strangling the middle class economically to maintain the old ruling elites around the planet.
After forty years the growing anger and confusion of being cheated out of the largest economic expansion in history had to be turned on itself with neofascism and the endless rant that racism doesn’t exist. Only non-whites are racist. This is blatantly absurd but the destruction of truth and fact protects the mountains and centuries of lies. Somehow America is the soul of this endless deception.
No wonder we’re screwed. But it is very near the end and we can make way for the new.
*Thanks to Joseph Heller and Catch 22.