[Marxism] The GOP and D. trump
anthony.boynton at gmail.com
Sun Oct 27 13:12:45 MDT 2019
*Donald Trump represents a significant minority of the US capitalist class*
The recent discussion on this list about whether Trump’s “policy” in Syria
represents the interests of US imperialism or not points to a bigger, and
deeper question about Trump. It is easy to dismiss him as an accidental
figure of history propelled through the cracks in the system from real
estate and reality show to the White House, especially since his behavior
is so blatantly inconsistent and outrageous. Nevertheless, he is not an
accidental figure: he represents a significant sector of the capitalist
class and its thinking.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, and the United States won the cold war,
the ruling class of the United States was elated, but didn’t really know
what to do. They tried to continue on as if nothing had happened. They
didn’t close down all of those military basis ringing the old USSR, they
did not say “Good-bye Nato, you’re mission is over. Thank you very much.”
They tried to invent new enemies and were overjoyed when Al-Queda gave them
a new world threat to their system. No need to rework the system.
But, the system designed for the cold war, was not working very well for
its aftermath. China grew to become a new world power, US economic
dominance was fading, and US military dominance was being challenged. The
echoes of the defeat in Vietnam continue to resound around the world. The
military power of the United States has not won the hearts and minds of the
people of the world, except for a thin crust of corrupt politicians and
businesspeople. The results are the truly endless series of wars the United
States is involved in.
And, Republicans remembered their tradition and their past. They remembered
what they did after the First World War. They never ratified the Versailles
Treaty, and they never joined the League of Nations. They turned their back
on Europe, except to collect the money the Europeans owed the US. The
closed the doors to immigration. They told the Europeans they believed in
the Monroe Doctrine, and they tried to figure out how to get China out of
the hands of the Europeans and the Japanese. They ripped up the wartime
economic regulation of Woodrow Wilson and said that the business of America
is business. They orchestrated a major escalation of union busting and a
wave a racist terrorism.
Of course, these policies were a disaster, but it took a decade before that
became apparent. Even then they did not disappear, as the America First
movement took firm root within the GOP. World War II caused the GOP to make
a hasty retreat from their most openly pro-Nazi sentiments, and the
beginning of the cold war caused them to continue their patriotic alliance
of convenience with the Truman wing of the Democrats. This alliance was
embodied by Dwight David Eisenhower’s presidency.
Those ideas and policies never disappeared from the GOP. Senator Barry
Goldwater, and 1964 GOP Presidential candidate, wanted the United States to
leave the United Nations throughout his political career.
The global policy framework within which Trump works is a throwback to this
thread of traditional 20th century GOP thinking. Its basic tenets are that
the United States should stop trying to be the leader of a world system.
Instead it should look for ways to increase the wealth and power of the
United States even when those goals bring the USA into conflict with old
allies and friends. Alliances should be short term and based on expediency.
This is why Trump has no qualms about betraying the Kurds. This is also why
he has no qualms about calling for an end to NATO and trying to form a new
alliance with Putin’s Russia. Trump has formed a de facto alliance among
the three largest oil producers in the world: the USA, Russia and Saudi
Arabia. In my opinion, this is the “rational” core of his geopolitics.
Trump views Europe, all of Europe, as a headache that is more trouble than
it is worth. So, get rid of it. Trump views China as a big problem. China
should go back to being a big reservoir of cheap labor for US business to
Within this framework, Trump works within a view of the world that does not
care whether global warming is leading to a disaster or not, and does not
care whether the economy is growing or contracting. According to this kind
of thinking, capitalism will survive no matter what, and someone will
always be able to make a buck out of every situation. Trump views
capitalism as a continuous series of real estate swindles and casino bets.
The best cheaters are the winners most of the time.
Even if the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal
and even the American Enterprise Institute are against Trump, a significant
part of the capitalist class supports his world view. And they support him,
even they think he is nuts. Here is a small look at it.
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