LALIT on the election of Donald Trump as US President
When LALIT puts emphasis on uniting the working class, it is not some hollow ideological slogan. It is the only genuine route towards a socialist, egalitarian future, and sometimes, as in the case of this victory of the wild-card Republican candidate Donald Trump, it would have been the only way to have stopped him.
In fact, the political program of Bernie Sanders, who so nearly won the Democratic Nomination, based on advancing the interests of the whole of a united working class, could have stopped Trump. Even the opinion polls showed it.
But, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, built as it was, upon a mixture of communal politics i.e. pulling together people on ethno-religious identity, and proposing the kind of gender politics that wants to see women rise within the patriarchal hierarchies, had no hope. Add to that the fact that she promotes militarism and war for foreign policy, and has left the heavy legacy of taking responsibility as Secretary of State for invading Libya, causing untold disorder and suffering. Let alone the content of some of her e-mails. Let alone the scandals around the Clinton Foundation. Let alone the general level of mass disaffection with the kind of “establishment politics” that Hillary Clinton had come to epitomise. Let alone her cozy links with the 1%.
So, Trump’s election is the very worrying victory of someone, who has said and also done, very dangerous things even before getting his hands on to the ultimate power of becoming US President. He did not repudiate Ku-Klux-Klan support. His main claim to fame is that he is “rich”. He often insults people who are poor. He insults people on the grounds of their nationality, Mexicans. He insults people on the grounds of their religion, Muslims. He insults people with a handicap. To him, sexist, racist and xenophobic comments are normal. In fact, he has worked to increase the threshold of socially acceptable misogyny. So, part of his support is from people who share the extreme right-wing views of white supremacy, patriarchy, nationalism, and some kind of misguided “social darwinism” by which the fittest supposedly survive. Part of his strength has been his ability to manipulate the entirety of the US media.
But, the backbone of his success is that he has gathered the support of what he, himself, calls “the working class” – which we put in quotation marks because until recently in the USA it was taboo in mainstream media and academia even to recognize the existence of the working class. And yet it is this economic identity, being part of the class that relies for survival on a job, is the identity that, in the final analysis, counts. He used this to his populist ends, certainly not in the fight for socialism. But, when people are desperate, they follow this kind of appeal, even if it is from a strange quarter, simply because it recognizes their class suffering. Some ended up proudly announcing that they were “deplorables”, thus defying the elitism that Hillary Clinton exudes.
Once elected, though, we note that Trump’s victory speech is “100% Keynes”. He will invest in roads, bridges, infrastructure and so on and, in building, will “employ Americans”. So he says. Since we cannot expect him to decrease military spending – he has promised to double it – and he says he will decrease taxes, he can only be relying on the Keynsian multiplier effects of a Government spending money that does not yet exist. This is not easy for a State as indebted already as the US state.
Certainly, after the Brexit vote, and the relative rise in popularity of right-wing parties in Europe, and also in places like India, Brazil, Egypt, and the Philippines, the election of Trump – along with the re-election of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and, to a lesser extent, Senate – is a symptom of the economic and social crisis of present-day capitalism, and the lack of a mass movement being constructed around a proper socialist challenge. At least the Sanders movement in the working class and amongst young people, coming after other mass movements in the US over the past 5 – 10 years, like the Occupy Wall Street movement, is a sign of hope.
Time is ripe for the building and popularizing of organizations that can express working class power. LALIT is working on it. This is why we put so much emphasis on working class organization and a working class program: it is the way to oppose the right-wing populists like Trump and the way to build a genuinely democratic and socialist future.
For Lalit, 9 November 2016