US Elections – Never Gamble on the Sanity of the Ruling Class

The recent US elections have shocked the world. The Electoral College victory of Trump over Clinton was unexpected for many. Indeed media outlets and politicians that were only a day previously condemning Trump are now rallying behind the flag and his Presidency. Reactionaries are crawling out of the woodwork attacking people in the streets. Just a week ago Clinton was already negotiating with US Senate Republicans who they would pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat. Clearly she was planning on winning. The President-elect, Trump has openly stated he would let Pence do most of the running of the Government, a Cheney to Trump’s Bush. The US government is embroiled in a crisis of legitimacy, with the crisis being that they don’t have any.

What was the real policy difference between Clinton and Trump? Trump promises tariffs and trade barriers on imports with a hefty dose of racist, sexist and nationalist social reaction. No more than 48 hours as President-elect and Trump has already reversed himself on Obamacare while planning to privatize the entire Medicare program. With over half the US government budget going to Medicare, the trough will be opened in a free for all of graft that even the US military won't be able to match. Politicians who were yesterday condemning Trump as the worst thing to ever happen to US politics are now “rallying around the flag” in support of the new President. Republicans and Democrats who opposed him now scramble to pretend they supported him all along.

The wall Trump wants to build on the Mexican border was already mostly built during the last two decades. The enlisting of fascists as fringe thugs surrounding his campaign isn’t new either. Bush allowed ultra-nationalist thugs to work as deputies patrolling the Mexican border. They have been increasingly cultivated in the military and the repressive apparatus as a whole, and are not the product of some random upsurge in reactionary violence, but directly promoted by the capitalist class in response to their own collective fears. The last decade has seen an enormous growth in social struggles and this is a fearsome and threatening thing to a bourgeoisie that is committed to draining everything down to the last drop.

The right to abortion that Obama and Clinton were supposed to be defending has been disappearing around the country as clinics get shut down and harassed out of existence. Even with the legal “right” to have an abortion, the procedure itself is disappearing from medical institutions because so few doctors perform them, and those that do are accepting the extreme level of harassment that comes with it. The left relied on capitalist courts and politicians to defend reproductive rights and in the process didn’t realize that the anti-abortion movement didn’t need to outlaw abortion, they only needed to shut down the clinics and harass the doctors into not performing the procedure. Thus it is that even the feminists didn’t pay attention as it happened, their eyes were glued on Washington. The free clinics like the Planned Parenthood clinics don’t serve the middle classes or the bourgeoisie. It isn’t surprising that these Washington focused reformist elements wouldn’t notice the clinic being shut down and health care workers being systematically harassed and intimidated. Indeed the attack isn’t simply against abortion. It is an attack on reproductive health care for all poor women, by those who don’t want working class women to have any such thing. The policies that anti-Trump protesters fear the most are already in effect, are already set to increase, regardless of who won the White House. Trump will simply accelerate the process.

What explains the victory of Trump isn’t the strength of his campaign or his support among the US population, rather it was the weakness of Clinton as a candidate and the weakness of the Democratic Party as a whole. The orange nightmare that is Trump was so overwhelming to the media that they almost completely ignored the Clinton emails, which contain a very candid view of how a typical bourgeois politician operate, and how the US state machine functions as a whole. Citigroup picked the 2012 Obama cabinet. The emails actually discuss the rigging of elections. The Democratic Party cracked up in the primary and the apparatus didn’t notice it. The campaign waged against Sanders was so dirty that it alienated many of those who might’ve convinced themselves to “hold their nose” and go vote for Clinton. Many of these voters simply didn’t bother to vote. The unions immediately endorsed Clinton and proclaimed that all union members would go vote for her. Across the country union locals went against orders and counter-endorsed Sanders.

Protests have quickly spread across the country. Identity politics is very much on display at these events, but indeed it is the Democratic Party’s embrace of identity movements that has isolated it in its own bourgeois hostility towards the new low-wage service industry based working class, even as they pursued a policy of social reaction rivaled only to that of the Republicans themselves. The same voters voted Republican in the last three elections in similar numbers while the masses of voters that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 consistently shrank to the point where around half of the same voters that voted for Obama in 2008 turned out to vote for Clinton in the last election. The mere fact that the Democratic Party has capitulated in the face another “electoral college” victory shows again that they are the partners of the Republicans and not even a loyal opposition. If things were the other way around, the Republicans would never recognize the election. The program of reaction that the Republican bourgeois openly espouses, the Democratic bourgeois inevitably supports in its most basic raw reactionary bourgeois forms and there is little reason to impede the new order. Obama speaks of maintaining a slightly longer lame duck presidency so as to make sure of a smooth "transition" of power.

The pattern of running the populists in the primaries and the rightists in the final election has been ongoing since the primary campaigns of William Jennings Bryan from 1896 to 1908 and even earlier. Whether “populist” or “progressive” or of the social democratic left variety, their main purpose is to bring in the crowds and hand power over to the winners. The votes are secondary to the movements of power and bourgeois patronage. The reactionary policies of the government would stay the same. The Democrats that helped privatize public education certainly will never seriously oppose the privatization of Medicare. Increasing conflict between great powers inevitable, whoever plants their posterior on the throne in the Oval Office. Trump is the creature of the bourgeoisie, and his “brand” is a creation of the bourgeois media.

Pundits writing in the big papers look to cast the blame for the defeat of the candidate they supported, who like Charles Blow [1] look to cast blame for Trump on the voters, as opposed to the parasitic social class that produces these nightmares. Much of the Clinton campaign was full of scapegoating of others for her own lack of popular support, it was evil “brocialists”, it was the fault of the entire “millennial” generation, it was the fault of Vladimir Putin and last but not least angry white male workers. Once a narrative is repeated often enough it becomes the “truth”. It is often pointed out that those without college educations were slightly more likely to vote for Trump, but these statistics place the college educated on equal footing with the vast majority of the population who will never see the inside of any institution of higher learning. It purports to explain who voted for Trump, while obscuring the larger question of who did not vote for Clinton. The numbers that once voted for Obama did not turn out for Clinton.

There is a sense among those who have adopted the nationalist reactionary stance that they actually believe that a program of mass deportations will somehow rid them of the cheap labor competition. Trump will have a hard time deporting more people than Obama. The fact that every racist worm has crawled out of the woodwork emboldened by a capitalist politician who openly embraces their beliefs shows the increasing level of violence of an already racist and nationalist bourgeoisie.

Globally, the elections were causing damage to US interests even before the election results came in. The Chinese official People's Daily wrote of the US election:

"Such chaos and disorder tells the world that the U.S. is “sick” when it comes to the nation’s own economy, society and politics."[2]

Trump will be every bit as bellicose as Obama or Bush before him, if his potential choices for Secretary of State, Rudolf Giuliani and former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton are any indication. The current top pick to head the Department of Homeland Security is David Clarke preaches about "radical anarchists", "the socialist menace" and how "communism" is laying siege to the greater Milwaukee area. Clarke himself is a walking contradiction, an African American white supremacist and an open admirer of fascism who came to prominence for his relentless assault on the black population as Sheriff of Milwaukee County. He is particularly known for his repression of Black Lives Matter protests. [3] The system itself, with its stultifying media, its eternal imperialism, and its profits has produced these individuals, who taken together paint a portrait of a capitalist class that has no knowledge of the past, no understanding of the present and no perspective for the future.

Clinton's defeat represents a defeat for a large chunk of the Republican Party as well. The fringes of the Republican political machine have taken advantage of the situation of political disorientation and have come to dominate the center of the political chessboard in Washington. Since the victory of Obama in 2008 numbers of people willing to vote for either the Ds or the Rs has been decreasing. Trump won with fewer votes than McCain and Romney lost with. First Gore and now Clinton too have lost with more votes than the winners. Despite this absurdity there are still those who would have us believe that all this is a reflection in some way of classic bourgeois "will of the people".

"Our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks themselves share, and instill into the minds of the people, the false notion that universal suffrage “in the present-day state” is really capable of revealing the will of the majority of the working people and of securing its realization."

Lenin, State and Revolution (1917)

The political crisis is a reflection of the underlying economic weakness globally. Since 2008 the Fed has only increased its lending rate once, now possibly once again as the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has indicated. [4] For the entire period the Fed's rate has hovered at .25 to .5 the easy money intended to spark economic activity hasn't had quite the effect the capitalists had hoped. Even if the Fed increases the rate it probably won't be anything more than a small adjustment. The very fact that after eight years interest rates are still hovering at near zero is a sign of an economy that can't pull itself out of the crisis using the usual methods and as a result the bourgeoisie has become more open to using more extreme methods.

This nationalist turn is a product of the rejection of years of failure from the political promoters of globalization. This populism and nationalism in politics is the result of the failure of decades of official policy. This process has delegitimized ruling parties around the world whose power during the decades of capitalist prosperity was once unquestioned






Monday, November 28, 2016


Ruling class ideology is being battered by the objective reality of crisis.

A recent Guardian article ends quite nicely;

But doing the same thing over and over is a merely a collective death wish made policy. If half a decade of austerity heaped on top of decades of inequality produced Brexit, what will be unleashed by 15 years of it? The elite will not part with their illusions. But their illusions may be wrenched from them.