by Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
Jan. 20, 2021
More than one week after the dramatic events in the United States, a lot of confusion reigns on what really happened, but also about the meaning of what happened. We will examine this question but we consider useful, before doing it, to make some more general remarks.
What is Trumpism
We believe that Trump represents a modern equivalent of classic totalitarian movements, like Nazism and Fascism, in the sense that it is trying to imitate the traditional historical function of Nazis and Fascists, that is to use the deep dissatisfaction with and anger at the ruling elites of the popular and the middle classes, in order to put them finally at the service of Big Capital and Imperialism.
Trump’s real programme is essentially “Dictatorship in America, War against everybody else” (including civilisation and nature). His efforts to accelerate the destruction of climate, with catastrophic consequences for the survival of human civilization, if not of life itself on the planet are well known. The same goes for his efforts to provoke a huge (and probably nuclear) war in the Middle East, in cooperation with Netanyahu. The Prussian General Clausewitz, one of the most eminent theoreticians of War, has defined it as “the continuation of politics by other means”. We can also inverse his formula. The ideology and the type of links Trump cultivates with the masses are necessary if one wants to go from the “never ending wars” to the “cataclysmic wars”. (For the military and nuclear policies of “real Trump” look the excellent analysis of Mike Klare and Tom Engelhardt http://www.defenddemocracy.press/trumps-legacy-from-the-forever-wars-to-the-cataclysmic-wars/).
The whole debate in the United States is framed in an irrational way, as both camps accuse the other for what it is not, but not for what it is really. Trump is accusing the Democrats, the party of big US capital par excellence, as “socialists” and “radical leftists”. The Democrats accuse Trump of being an agent of Putin, when we all know that it is impossible for anyone not supported and not protected by an influential power center in Washington to become President of the Unites States. On the other side Trump is using in reality this accusation to create the illusion that, as a friend of Russia, he is an anti-war, peace loving politician. Believe but verify say the Americans. If one examines Trump’s real politics and not myths he will find the continuation and acceleration of US anti-Russian policies (bombing of Syria, encirclement of Russia by NATO, abolition of the INF Treaty, new sanctions, a mammoth program of modernization of nuclear weapons, a new strategic doctrine characterizing Russia and China as the main strategic rivals of USA etc. etc.). We don’t believe either the theories about agents, or the theories about friends (Hitler has signed a Treaty with Moscow only to attack it in two years, as for Margaret Thatcher also presented herself as a friend of Russia in her historic meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1984. Russia is impossible to conquer by frontal attacks).
Of course phenomena do not repeat themselves in exactly the same forms in different places and time. Besides, “Trumpism” has not yet achieved its final form, but it also took several years for the Nazis to acquire it. One of its main differences with Nazism was that it was organised from the top and by extensive use of the social media. Only last year it began to acquire some rudimentary characteristics of a mass movement with the gangs of armed Trump supporters (the Nazis began also their “career” in 1919, as terror groups against the German workers movement and the Left). Now, with Trump outside the White House, it will probably try to acquire the characteristics of a mass Far Right movement.
The fact that Trump left finally the White House has diminished considerably, in the short term, the danger of a global disaster. But much of his legacy will remain and Trumpism will not evaporate, it will remain most probably a strong political current in the Unites States and internationally. (We must not forget the powerful network of his allies, like Bolsonaro in Brazil, Johnson in Britain, Modi in India, the European Far Right and, of course, PM Netanyahu in Israel, even if some of them try now to take some distance).
The biggest damage Trump has done comes from the fact he has been able to orient important social forces to the Far Right, social forces which want to fight against the Establishment and its destructive policies, and a part of which could become an ally for a vitally needed progressive transformation of the USA and of the world.
The “coup” of January 6
Trump, by publicly inviting his supporters to gather in Washington to protest against the “rigging” of the election, predicting at the same time that the protest would be “wild”, seems to have quite openly called for what ultimately led to the “storming” of the Capitol, although one has usually some difficulty in understanding what this man really means when he speaks, given his «buffoonish», Mussolini-like style.
The intrusion of a band of “lunatics” into the Capitol may be or may be not be considered legally as an “insurrection”, still it remains clear that the whole thing lacked any seriousness. A much more serious problem than the intrusion of the “lunatics” into the Capitol is the “intrusion” of lunatic ideas into the mind of millions of Americans. To this problem Biden does not seem to have any answer.
Did Trump really want the “storm” and what did he think he would gain by such an action? Was he preparing a real coup to seize power and if there was such a plan why it was not implemented? Why the Police of the Capitol did not even try to stop the protesters from entering the building? We are speaking of a country where policemen first shoot and then ask questions, and of one of its most important state buildings, where the US Congress was going to validate the election of the new President. Why did the FBI send the first three “tactical groups” to the Capitol only when somebody from inside the building phoned to a friend of him in the Bureau? Why did the Pentagon refuse repeated demands by the Washington and the Maryland National Guards to deploy forces to protect the Senate of the United States?
Neither side of the conflict has provided us with any serious answer to the above questions. Often the explanations they try to provide are quite frankly rather ridiculous. Trumpists have accused Antifa as the perpetrators of the whole affair. Equally implausible is the official thesis of the FBI that it did not have any prior idea of incidents to come.
I was able to write, from my home in Europe, and publish on 5 January, an article entitled “Rumors of a coup in the United States” (http://www.defenddemocracy.press/red-alarm-in-the-pentagon-rumors-of-coup-and-or-war-in-the-us/ ), but the FBI did not know anything in advance! We predicted in this article that if Trump were to try a coup, he would most probably produce a farce, like Hitler’s failed coup in 1923, ten years before he finally acceded to power. We were able to make this prediction based on the fact that Trump did not seem to have support for such a move, neither from a majority of US capitalists nor from the prevailing tendency inside the Armed Forces and the Secret Services.
How Trump’s fate was sealed
On 20 February 1933, the representatives of the German industries and banks (to a large extent the same ones still dominating the European economy), met the leadership of the Nazi party in the Reichstag. They endorsed Hitler’s plans and provided him with generous financial support. They did that in order to avoid the disaster for them of a Socialist or Communist Revolution and to be able to prepare their imperialist campaign to the East (Drang nach Osten) deemed necessary to find a way out of the deep crisis of German capitalism. They were probably hoping that the other capitalist countries would follow them in their anti-Bolshevik crusade.
The majority of the US capitalist class, although endorsed with great satisfaction the tax cuts and other gifts offered to it by Trump, was not ready for such a bold and risky move and saw no reason to endorse it, at least after neutralizing Bernie Sanders, perceived as a real potential threat to their interests. Neutralization of Sanders was their first goal and, only when they achieved it, they began moving their preferences from Trump to Biden. Since May 2020, only after Sanders’s defeat, Biden has outraised Trump in fundraising, and his lead has grown with each passing month, although a considerable, but minority section of the US riling class did support Trump until the election (https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?cycle=2020&disp=D&type=V&superonly=N). Especially critical for Biden’s electoral victory was the support of the media industry except for Fox, which begun to alter somehow its position only after the election.
But this was not enough. A series of meetings of top business executives has been necessary to endorse the “peaceful transition” of power to Biden. Look for example https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/13/top-ceos-met-to-plan-response-to-trumps-election-denial.html and https://www.ft.com/content/e49fdbcf-5992-4d17-8ccd-c5223707e14d.
Here is what an associate editor of Financial Times, Rana Aylin Foroohar has written on the outcome of those meetings:
«As Karl Marx observed, it is only under threat from the masses that the owners of the means of production recognise their common interests. Corporate America got what it wanted from Mr Trump, namely tax cuts and deregulation. Big business in America now knows that there’s nothing more to be got from him. So they are eager for him to go, taking with him those disruptive tweets of which they were sometimes the target.
They are also eager for president-elect Joe Biden to come into office and normalise trade and foreign affairs, as well as deal with the Covid-19 crisis. Mr Trump’s inept handling of the pandemic, now raging again in the US, has been terrible for the economy and for business. CEOs are desperate for Mr Biden to get the situation under control, even if he does roll back their tax cuts.
I believe Mr Trump will eventually go. But the cynicism and anger of many left behind voters who supported him will remain»
When US capitalists met after the election, their majority decided to support the transition of power to Biden. We do not know if and what kind of assurances they asked for and were given in exchange from Biden. We see already no representatives of the Left of the Democratic Party in Biden’s administration, although its role was crucial in his electoral victory. Biden is still sending quite contradictory signals about his intentions, which probably reflect also the forces applied to him (like appointing Nuland and Burns). We will have to wait and see the final posture of his policies.
The other two important struggles which sealed Trump’s fate, already before 6 January, were:
– first, the prevailing of what we may call “normal imperialists” over “extremist” ones, in the US Armed Forces and the secret services, as proved by the fact that the latter were unable to launch the war on Iran they wanted and, also, by the letter of ten former Defense Secretaries warning against involvement of the Armed Forces in deciding the outcome of the election. Again we don’t know what Cheney and Rumsfeld may or may not have received in exchange for their support of Biden getting to power.
– second, the apparent victory of the anti-Netanyahu faction inside the all-powerful Lobby
To those factors we should add the decision of the Internet giants to oppose finally Trump
The fact that the majority of all those shifts took place only after Sanders’s defeat and became decisive only after the election, proves in a way that leading US capitalists can be ready, at another point, to support somebody like Trump, maybe a more predictable Far Right figure, like Pompeo for instance. For the time being, they will most probably use the pressure by the Far Right to promote their agendas with Biden. Even today, they will put pressure to Biden to become a little bit ‘Trumpish’ himself, by adopting at least some of his policies. They are already pressing him to attach new conditions to the return of the United States to the Obama agreement with Iran, in order to torpedo any reconciliation with Teheran and leave open the gate for a great war in the Middle East.
Anyway, an effort to try to keep Trump in power after his electoral defeat would have meant enormous risks and would deeply destabilise both the state power system and US society. In this context the US voters did play actually a decisive role in deciding which of the competing factions of the ruling elite would exercise power.
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