Friday, February 24, 2017

Escape from Trumpism

Aside from the devastating effect on liberal Californians of seeing Trump win the presidency, another big influence on the rise of their secession movement was the 'leave' vote in Great Britain that triggered Brexit. Some of the same elements of populism that drove the UK's decision are also at play in the YesCalifornia campaign. Perversely, it was Trump's populist appeal to the working class that vaulted him to power after they had been sorely neglected under recent neo-liberal administrations. In an article published last August, Marxist Martin Jacques described how neo-liberalism is in its death throes, with Trump as an example of how class inequality is now the main issue:
[Trump's] arguments mark a radical break with the neoliberal, hyper-globalisation ideology that has reigned since the early 1980s and with the foreign policy orthodoxy of most of the postwar period... But Trump is no man of the left. He is a populist of the right. He has launched a racist and xenophobic attack on Muslims and on Mexicans. Trump’s appeal is to a white working class that feels it has been cheated by the big corporations, undermined by Hispanic immigration, and often resentful towards African-Americans...
Jacques' predictions for what would happen to the our country with Trump as POTUS were strikingly dire:
A Trump America would mark a descent into authoritarianism characterised by abuse, scapegoating, discrimination, racism, arbitrariness and violence; America would become a deeply polarised and divided society.
We are already seeing plentiful instances of those predictions coming true. Note that Jacques describes several manifestations of the process of descending into authoritarianism. We may not have an authoritarian government yet, but we are headed there quickly.

Stephen K. Bannon's cryptic mandate for "deconstruction of the administrative state" is shorthand for the federal government washing its hands of social responsibilities, but enlarging its control of whatever the President considers threats to national security (both internal and external). Trump's gaffe at calling the deportation surge a military operation was just what you would expect of a militarist. Enter, the security state. Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit campaign and a Bannon fan, noted that these ideas are what Bannon would like to see adopted "across the West."

Meanwhile, the neo-liberal Democrats have decided to take their fight to Congress, rather than waste all their energy protesting Trump directly. In shouting matches at numerous Republican Congressional town halls they hope to hold their Representatives and Senators to the neo-lib standard, rather than follow Trump in his version of economic nationalism. Their playbook is the Indivisible Guide, which explains its purpose thusly, "We believe that the next four years depend on Americans across the country standing indivisible against the Trump agenda." Ironically, in these townhalls, the Indivisible movement manifests America becoming "a deeply polarised and divided society," as predicted by Jacques.

Photo by Markus Tacker
It is interesting that while the Trump victory is seen as America's Brexit, there is little anticipation of Calexit or the 49 other potential exits brewing in the country. That, too, would be a sure fulfillment of becoming a "deeply ... divided society." Calexit and others that follow will not be a populist response to the failure of neo-liberalism, but an escape from Trumpism. The Green Party would do well to concentrate on formulating agendas tailored to individual states and to participate in the revolutions occurring at that level.

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