Return to Recent Articles menu

Trump victory: Don't get mad: get even 

by D.R.O'Connor Lysaght

17 November 2016

Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the USA in January barring accident or assassination. If either of these take place, the Presidency will go to Pence, a more sophisticated politician and one more consciously committed to the nonsense for which he and Trump campaigned.

The programme is the thing. Brexit was a blow delivered without any common idea of what it meant. The Trump victory is different. He is more than just an ugly face; he is the ugly face of uglier politics. In some cases, he seems to be backing down in the moment of victory. It is unlikely that any wall will be built along the Rio Grande, on the Texan side or in the middle. Obamacare is to be reformed rather than scrapped. Abortion rights may not be in immediate danger of much greater limitation. Immigrants may be scared, many may be deported, but 11,000,000? Capitalism needs cheap labour.

And here is the nitty-gritty. Many of the fascistically-inclined bourgeoisie voted the Trump ticket knowing what they would get, (they are the ones who lied about him getting an overall popular majority). The white ruined small business people, underpaid and unemployed workers that voted for him believed desperately that he would give them a better life by beggaring their foreign or simply non-white counterparts (many of the males amongst them would include women on this hit list). Again, the sticking power of such a perspective can be seen in Ulster. The airy-fairy assurances of the establishment, high on neo-liberal economic dope, that matters would get better by international free trade can be seen to be as substantial as any other junky dream.  As Trump's followers say in interview after interview, 'he tells it as it is'.

Only he doesn't. On the basic economic nature of society, Trump and Clinton are at one. Trump is countering Clinton's neo liberalism with the pre-liberal economics of mercantilism. 
This is the ideology of early capitalist units involving the building of national wealth in opposition to other nations. This is the only difference between Trump and Clinton, and Trump is more realistic. Global capitalism does not worry too much about tariffs, though it would welcome CETA's clauses allowing firms to penalise governments trying to control their abuses. Indeed, it is possible that Trump will 'fulfil' his electoral promise by maintaining CETA whilst abandoning the tariff-cutting TTIP. The bottom line is profit and, as neo-liberals and neo-conservative mercantilists agree in denying, profit is dictated by the bossesí power over their workers.

It follows, then, that corporate tax will be cut and that climate change will be denied in defiance of the Paris Agreement to benefit the fuel lobbies (another abandonment of neo-liberalism this time for early industrial liberalism). The name of the game will be to maximise American profits so as to create American jobs. It will fail because only a part of a profit will create jobs and too many lost jobs have fallen not to foreign countries but to automation.

What this means internationally looks depressingly like the situation in 1914 on a larger scale. Then Germany was being encircled. Now China is the USA's biggest commercial threat. Trump plans to outflank it in collaboration with Russia, as well as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. He will break the nuclear agreement with Iran and perhaps hold out the possibility of dividing that unfortunate country into spheres of influence as the Brits did with the Tsar. And Europe? Well, it seems possible that Brexit has started a process by which that sub-continent will collapse into its component nation states.

Of course the schema will fall apart. This may provide an opportunity for the left, but only if the left is willing to take it. If it fails, the likelihood is that Trump has the necessary entrepreneurial talent of being able to pass the buck and will do so. Worse still, his followers will seek to double their stake perhaps resorting to outright fascism.

It may be felt that socialists outside America should not give advice to their comrades, but socialist internationalism carries the right and the duty for them to do that. Their own experiences can help their comrades. Some matters are clear. Socialists must unite to speak both to those demonstrating against Trump and those who believe he is offering economic salvation. It wonít be easy. The neo liberals remain in wanton denial. Hilary Clinton blames her defeat on the FBI's irregular reporting of its investigation into her Emails. She is correct as far as it goes, but she reveals her status as a political hack in not querying, probably being unable to query how that factor could have made such a difference. 

Nonetheless Trump's victory can be an opportunity. One achievement of Bernie Sanders has been to show that Socialism is no longer a bad word in the USA. Socialist Action has presented a viable economic programme on which to mobilise. In addition to this Hilary's demonstrating followers should be offered a list of concrete demands for democratic reform: the incorporation of the Voting Rights Act into the Constitution, the ending of the Electoral College, the enfranchisement of the Washington DC electors and PR in elections. Ways to protect the democratic nature of the electoral register must be investigated. If one thing is clear, it is that the ailing American democracy needs a version of Britain's nineteenth century People's Charter.

American socialists are perhaps the most punch drunk of their punch drunk world movement. Whether they can take advantage of the possibilities remains to be seen. If they can, they can redeem the 1900 vision of America becoming the first lasting Workers Republic. If they fail, it could be curtains for them if not for everyone else on this planet.

Return to top of page