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Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital

This week the conflict surfaced of the presumed difference between Trump’s economic nationalism and Clinton’s globalization, the former thought in the liberal media a betrayal of enlightened internationalism (similar to the condemnation of Britain’s exit from the EU) and, on the side of constructive economic statesmanship, a world order of free trade and peaceful harmony. The Great Obfuscation: Both are mere alternative strategies to ensuring US unilateral global hegemony, to be realized through military power and a geopolitical framework of counterrevolution. Trump and Clinton feed from the same Wall Street trough. Both are imperialist, their differences cosmetic, confrontational with respect to Russia and China, unquestioning about America’s right to dictate the conditions, acceptance, and demand for systemic legitimacy of world capitalism (under, of course, US leadership).

Foreign policy is the elephant in the room, more decisive than domestic policy, though crowded off the stage (both Sanders and Warren conspicuous by their silence) in defining America’s progression down the road to fascism. Trump and Clinton both have willing accomplices to that end in a white working class that, unlike fifty-sixty years ago possessed the democratic vitality for preserving and pushing further a radical agenda of social welfare, and now a kept class ideologically beaten down so far as to throw in its lot with the forces of reaction and, in trickle-down fashion, upper capitalism itself.

Whether Trump rejects Nafta and TPP or Clinton accepts them, discounting for rhetorical flourishes, each wants an hierarchical social order favoring economic consolidation, the interpenetration of government and business to ensure the farcical nature of the regulatory process, and environmental degradation through lax standards and winking at corporate abuse. In sum, both, in close embrace, have a seat on Obama’s lap—the National Security State as a shill for corporatism in America.

Meanwhile, the Left has been noticeably quiet, or perhaps no longer exists as the fighter for peace and social justice, tied up in knots by the flight to the culture wars as a substitute for engaging in the struggle to democratize foreign and domestic policy. America has become the bastion of Reaction, quibbling, as in this election, over how best to maintain dominance abroad, a class system in denial of its basic inequality at home. Why not fascism? For many in society the name is off-putting, but the spirit of authoritarianism is not, nor the viciousness in defending capitalism against all comers. The nation is further away from democracy than ever before. Anti-immigrant feeling is an excellent indicator; callousness to human suffering, the detachment that sees only Americans as capable of bleeding, that universal humanity is some sort of Left-propaganda, that no child should experience privation, a subversive principle, shame on what we’ve become.

It would be less hypocritical if there were a Trump-Clinton ticket (either one on top) devoted to military supremacy and capitalist peak-intensity, than what we have at present. And those of us fooled by Sanders and Warren, nibbling at the edges of the Left while leaving the essential conditions intact for a corporate-financial-military unified ruling group to guide US policy, have still not reacted to the obvious betrayal. The two parties have proven their underlying similarity, white workers split between them, forming a bridge to the homogenization of American politics steps closer to, beyond what once was termed plutocracy, a feel-good cauldron of hate waving the banner of exceptionalism.

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Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

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