And the rest of the world breathes a sigh of relief

Obviously, I am referring to Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections, which I risked suggesting back in July he would win. I refer not to the parts of the world that relied on the myth of pax americana. I mean the many parts of the world that have been bullied by the USA for too long. Trump’s turn will clearly be inward, retreating from US efforts to dominate many parts of the world where it had no business whatsoever. To be sure, declining empires never decline gracefully. They do so angrily, lashing out. But the decline is all the more clear.

So what to make of all this?

To begin with, the working class has expressed itself in an unexpected way. Given the narrow options within bourgeois democracy, this is one of the few paths open to the working class. Like Brexit.

Second, the old methods of opinion polling are no longer valid within bourgeois democracies. They are simply unable to track the way people actually feel. I discussed this with some fellow travellers on my recent journey by train across North America – the last of my trans-continental crossings that needed to be done. They were profoundly suspicious of what the polls were saying,

Third, Trump has reaped what Obama has sown. That may sound like a strange observation. But US politics has been predicated on a sense of decline. Think of Obama’s ‘hope’ campaign, with the implicit message of restoring a lost golden age. Trump simply claimed to ‘make America great again’, thereby signalling as clearly as possible that greatness was in the past. By contrast, Clinton’s claim that the USA is great but that it simply needs to be made ‘whole again’ did not cut it.

Fourth, Trump embodies the truth of US style bourgeois democracy. Anyone watching from outside is saying, ‘if that is bourgeois democracy, then no thanks’.

Do not get me wrong, I am not a supporter of Trump, nor of Clinton. In fact, I am not a supporter of bourgeois democracy. It is a terrible system. And Trump reveals how bad it really is.

 

 

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15 thoughts on “And the rest of the world breathes a sigh of relief

  1. I can only agree, Roland. The victory of a self-satisfied businessman in becoming the president of one of the most powerful nations on Earth can only go to prove that the system he was able to exploit is fundamentally flawed. Then again, it would have been no better for the world outside America, if his opponent had won.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Life imitates Soviet ‘propaganda’, for lack of a better word, though even they could not imagine this:

    I feel bad for poor people in the US, yet I think the prospect of war is now less with the inward turn.

  3. Well, I am quite surprised that the American ruling class decided to appoint, or if you like, allow, Trump to have the presidency. I was absolutely certain that Hillary was the one they had hired for the job. I think Clinton was the one they originally wanted, but they changed their minds even as recent as a week or two ago. I am convinced they could have intervened to hack the voting machines if they wanted to, but decided to let it ride for a variety of reasons.

    I wouldn’t get too excited about a major change in foreign policy though; however, being a bit chagrined I am reluctant to make any more definite predictions at this point.

    I do still maintain that the American working class or the masses in general do not have any power over the US government and do not really select the president in particular. One clue that reveals this fact is that it looks like Clinton won the popular vote. Also, the media began to signal very early that a Trump victory was likely. I found this to be suspicious. I also found it interesting that Putin mentioned a week or two ago that there could be a surprise on election day! Was some kind of deal worked out? All is not as it appears to be.

    One final and very important point I would like to make is that it would be a terrible mistake to see Trump’s appointment as a sign of a popular, progressive “revolution” against the system.

  4. Overall, I enjoy your analysis, but I have to say that this piece really seems to display white privilege. Given that Trump has run a campaign based largely on white nationalism, very few people of color are breathing a “sigh of relief,” regardless of whether or not they have bought into the “myth of pax americana.” When you write, “the working class has expressed itself in an unexpected way,” I assume you mean the “white working class.” I really urge you to think further about your omission of race in this analysis.

    1. This was quite deliberate, as also the omission of gender. The reason is that these important factors risk concealing the way class plays a determining role, albeit in unexpected ways. Already some are starting to blame African-Americans and Latinos for not turning out to support Clinton, which is a convenient form of blame. But it misses the class dynamics at play. It is worth noting that while 8 percent of African Americans who votes did so for Trump (2 percent more than Romney), about 30 percent of Latinos voted for him.

      1. This is all very interesting, and I appreciate your analysis. However, it seems factors other than class played a more important role in the election. Surely, class was a factor that was predictive of voters’ choices; although it is worth noting that voters with incomes under $30,000 favored Clinton 53% to 41%, while those with incomes above $250,000 favored Trump 48% to 46% according to exit polls. Overall, I would argue that race seemed to be a much bigger divide in the election – Trump won white voters by 21 points (59% to 37%), while losing Black voters by 80 points (88% to 8%), and losing Hispanic and Asian voters by 36 points (65% to 29% with both groups).

  5. Jeff St Clair isn’t bad on this. For example “Now 40 years of neoliberal economic policies have caused working class voters to abandon the Democratic Party in droves. Just look at the exit polling on how union households voted: 47% Clinton; 45% Trump.

    + It will come as a shock to both the Democratic and Republican leaderships that there is a class war going on in America. It’s too bad for working class people that Donald Trump is the one leading it.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/09/the-cataclysm-notes-on-election-day-and-the-politics-of-exhaustion/
    If Australian corporate politicians (whatever stripe), as a nation, wants to get ahead in the liberal democratic world, now would be the time to chat the the Chinese leadership!!

    1. The fact that Clinton described Trump’s supporters as ‘deplorables’ is as clear a signal you can get of class consciousness directed at the class enemy. This is the same as the person from the northeast with whom I spoke with a while ago, who felt that all those ‘useless’ people in the centre and south should either:
      a. be educated and moved to the vicinity of the major hubs in the northeast and western parts.
      b. die off.
      c. be killed off in an attack by a foreign country.

      No wonder they voted for Trump

  6. Another thing, the US media’s narrative about the Trump election being a purely working class phenomenon is false. A large part of the Trump support comes from the petty bourgeoisie. Remember, about half the country doesn’t vote. And since Clinton won the popular vote, it seems like more proles voted for her and also more union people voted for Clinton – although that last number was almost evenly split with Trump for maybe the first time ever; the Democrats typically get over 80% of the union vote, I believe.

    Some interesting developments; some challenges and some opportunities I suppose.

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