theology


As preparation for the socialism in power project, I am working my way systematically through Losurdo. At the moment I am reading through War and Revolution, which offers a sustained riposte to the revisionist tendency (Nolte, Furet et al) that seeks to blame all of the twentieth century’s ills on the revolutionary tradition, from the Jacobins to the Bolsheviks.

Instead, as Losurdo points out, Hitler was a great admirer of the British Empire and sought to emulate it (with Ireland as the prime instance of how to treat resistance forces and ‘degenerate’ populations). Henry Ford’s The International Jew (a compilation from the anti-Semitic paper he funded, the Dearborn Independent) profoundly influenced Himmler. And the Tsarist pogroms and those of the ‘white’ forces during the civil war, in which hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed, was supported by British forces, which air-dropped a massive amount of anti-Semitic literature and supported the ‘whites’ in their effort to rid Russia of the Jewish conspiracy known as Bolshevism. As Lorsurdo points out, ‘This is a chapter of history that seems to be a direct prelude to the Nazi genocide’.

Oh wow, Newcastle had its hottest day on record today – 45 degrees this afternoon. And this is a relatively cool place, close by the ocean with its sea breeze. Up the valley, they hit 47 degrees. Out west, Ivanhoe had 47.6 degrees. So we have what the Rural Fire Service are calling unprecedented conditions for bushfires. Today we had a ‘catastrophic’ warning over large parts of the state. Never before at this level. And tomorrow the winds come, ready to whip up the bushfires already under way.

fire warnings

Nothing wrong with the climate …

They all represent types of democracy.

Ancient Greek democracy (where it existed) worked as follows. A pubescent boy would stand naked in the middle of the assembly. If the other men could see evidence of puberty, then the boy was deemed to be a man and admitted to the assembly. Needless to say, such Greek democracy was limited to adult males who were not slaves or foreigners.

Donald Trump is an excellent example of liberal or bourgeois democracy. This type arose in Europe after the French revolution and it typically has a limited number of political parties that are much like one another. Occasional elections are held, while most of the actual governing is done by a parliament, which spends its time pandering to the rich and powerful. It is a system that can produce someone like Donald Trump, who embodies the truth of such a system.

Vladimir Putin represents illiberal democracy. It has many of the trappings of liberal democracy, with some political parties, elections and parliaments. But the system is geared to ensure one party stays in power.

For some perverse reason, I am thoroughly enjoying the finger-pointing and angst over supposed Russian hacking during the recent US election campaign. The fact that the Democrats are sore losers is the least interesting item here. And ludicrous is the claim that it undermines the ‘integrity’ of the US version of bourgeois democracy, which is totally stuffed anyway. But somehow the most obvious point – our friend, the elephant – is that the United States has made it an almost daily routine to interfere in the internal politics of other countries for quite a while. About time they found out what it feels like.

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.

 

 

This article from Xinhua News is worth a read, since it does not take the path of seeing Trump as an anomaly in the US elections of 2016. Instead, the dreadful option between Trump or Clinton is bad news all round. However, I like best the closing lines:

Yet the election is not all bad, particularly in that it has revealed some inborn defects of the so-called liberal democracy preached by the United States.

The electoral politics in the United States, which plumbed new depths of nastiness this year, has once again demonstrated that the Washington way is not the only way, not to mention the best way.

The diverse nations around the world should choose their own paths of development based on their respective historical backgrounds and new realities.

Now is the moment of reckoning.

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