Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?

Antecedently, does it matter, period? America transcends its historical development, revealing a cumulative trend which pronounces even presidential elections a solemn farce, as a fascistic societal formation, to all indications, beckons. It is on a collision course with its own destiny, inner tendencies, ideology, and class distribution. Exceptionalism represents a tightly-coiled nation, out of maneuverability, fated to consume itself (and possibly the world) in domestic self-hatred, foreign aggression, and international confrontation as a permanent stance.

What happened along the way? Its unique attachment to capitalism from at least the late eighteenth century ensured a one-dimensional political-structural course which selectively eliminated, ruled out, or weakened non-capitalistic elements—a purist formation, then, feeding on itself, creating and maintaining boundaries to social change that ensured against alternative values and pathways to the future.

Whatever arises from such a context is then turned inward and made adaptable to the needs of a capitalist state and society. The Revolutionary War was one of independence, not transformation, so that America, no longer a colonial appendage of Britain, could exercise its own form of mercantilism, internal colonialism, subjection of indigenous resistance. Likewise, the Civil War cleared the historical slate of premodern capitalism, of which plantation slavery, was the linchpin, to the breakdown of all restrictions, ushering in a laissez-faire capitalism which offered no obstacles to a monopoly-capital consolidative framework.

In bold, by 1900, America now a certified imperial power, the Open Door policy pursued for three decades already ensuring the drive for universalized market penetration, and a prominent role in world affairs, witnessed the removal of slavery into a social vacuum to be replaced by the exploitation of industrial labor, an agricultural economy controlled by financial, transportation, and marketing interests, and, of course, racism per se as the unmistakable heritage of previous servitude.

What a start toward greatness (!), a background for the antidemocratic modernization up to today and into the future. Theodore Roosevelt would give us the interpenetration of business and government and the battleship navy, Woodrow Wilson, the federal reserve system, regularization of monopoly, and an internationalism inseparable from anticommunism, as witness the Siberian Intervention into the Bolshevik Revolution. By this point, the die is cast, so that throughout the ‘twenties we see, via trade association activity, the privatization of the economy systemically nailed down, the NAM and Chamber of Commerce illustrative of the shaping of the business system.

The New Deal, under FDR, may be viewed, alternatively, as a break in the historical process of capitalist development, or, on close inspection, a muted effort to graft a welfare state onto business foundations—as the most American society and social structure could tolerate. But in any case, once more, at a pivotal moment, unable and unwilling to undergo a fundamental transformation. For America, World War II was, by necessity, anti-fascist on the battlefield and with international alliances, yet imperialism and anticommunism had by Bretton Woods defined the postwar vision of America’s world direction, FDR’s death confirming trends he might have otherwise altered or mitigated. From that point, 1945-6, no internal obstacles remained or were present to arrest the present course: a unilateral posture of global dominance. Anticommunism abroad had its corresponding red-baiting at home, leading to a long-term ideological shrinkage and encrustation of tolerated societal boundaries.

Kennedy was America’s guiding spirit for the liberalization of fascism—intervention, regime change, nuclear preparedness, made acceptable and plausible through policies and rhetoric of the US as a humanitarian beacon to the world’s oppressed (meanwhile enlarging global market shares, financial hegemony, and armed conflict), so that with Johnson and Vietnam America revealed its true identity, which has not changed. In this light, the present campaign and election, filled as it is with copious warnings to the world of America’s greatness (coded for military supremacy), extends the past into the future, lacking only the sophistication, ideological and political, of former times able to cement the image of capitalism and democracy.

America now is nakedly belligerent, on the war path while drastically streamlining its own political economy, as, e.g., through outsourcing, industrial division of labor, and extreme emphasis on the financialization of capitalism itself, combining internal-external processes to hold its position in a world political economy and power system where unilateral prestige and military prowess no long hold, reducing America to one among equals, an intolerable state to a nation habituated to international success. The strain is showing. Clinton and Trump are both playing to an American public coddled by decades of patriotism, antiradicalism, and, treatment of the environment is here instructive, nihilism, whether through the depredation of nature or ignorance with respect to climate change.

Clinton and Trump, and the political parties and party system that stand behind them, epitomize the logical outcome, viz., moral bankruptcy, of advanced capitalism in America, in which war, militarism, and defense budgets and production all become necessary to avoid economic stagnation or poor growth, while the ideological reproduction of exceptionalism through its various historical stages ensures a blindness to the human costs of impending war. The election is rendered meaningless because continuity has been preserved with an antiradical heritage now transposed into a setting so whipped up with neurotic frustration at having lost undisputed world supremacy and at home increasing wealth and income differentiation that a paralysis of will is setting in, making the militarization of policy (and, via massive surveillance, regimentation or stringent conformity in the political realm) not only thinkable but operable.

More articles by:

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.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail