FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump, Brexit and the Collapse of the Liberal Order

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

Photo by DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

One of the most confounding aspects of Donald Trump’s election as 45th President of the United States is that in the space of a year – indeed less than a year – a man with zero political experience has destroyed two of America’s most entrenched political dynasties: Bush and Clinton.

Just pause on this for a moment, and place it in the context of someone who when he first appeared on the political stage as a candidate for the Republican nomination was met with ridicule and scorn. Consequently, a mainstream media and liberal commentators for whom politics is an exclusive club, the preserve of a select group of blessed people who belong to this club as if by divine right, have just been delivered one almighty slap-down

The sense of entitlement that emanated from the Clinton campaign during this election was astonishing to behold. Hillary Clinton emitted the demeanour of a woman approaching a coronation rather than an election, disdaining not only Donald Trump but also his supporters, whom she infamously described as “deplorables”. This was her undoing.

Regardless of the attempt to paint her as someone in touch with the suffering and pain of the millions of Americans who have long been denied a seat at the banquet of US democracy, she came over as the very embodiment of a machine politician, a candidate whose credibility and character was irredeemably tainted by her connections to Wall Street, big business, the Saudis, George Soros, etc.

This is why it is not so much that Donald Trump won this election as that Hillary Clinton and her campaign lost. Here the Democratic Party only has itself to blame. Bernie Sanders offered a far more potent challenge to the Trump phenomenon, both because he did not carry any of the baggage that Clinton brought to the election and also – perhaps more importantly – he represented a far sharper ideological counterweight to Trump.

One of the most salient consequences of the 2008 global economic crash, which ushered in the worst crisis within capitalism since the 1930s, has been the collapse of the political center ground and with it the dominance of the liberal order.

In this respect it is just as Karl Marx opined in his Communist Manifesto, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life…”

The analogy that best describes this process is a battlefield after the smoke has cleared to reveal the ideological right on one side and its left wing counterpart on the other, ready to go to war over the right to shape the future. And as Brexit in the UK and now Trump’s electoral victory in the US leaves no doubt, this is a struggle currently being won by the right.

This is not to suggest the struggle is completely over however. On the contrary the political, social, economic, and constitutional crisis ushered in by Brexit proves that there remains some distance to travel before the matter is settled in Britain, while Trump’s election will inevitably give rise to strong opposition in the streets, perhaps even sparking a much needed revival of the left across the US, which based on the success of the Sanders campaign is far from dead.

Focusing in on Donald Trump and based on statements he made in the course of his campaign, it is interesting to observe that among the many places where you will find the most grievously disappointed people in response to his victory are NATO headquarters in Brussels and ISIS and Nusra headquarters in Syria. It is evidence of the hitherto insurmountable contradiction that has lain at the heart of Washington’s geopolitical priorities and strategy these past few years. Trump, in contrast, laid it out very simply when he said, “Russia is killing ISIS. Assad is killing ISIS. I think it would be a good idea to get along with Russia.”

This being said, the acid test is what he does rather than what he has said, which is why it remains far too soon to be complacent in welcoming a new dawn in Washington’s relations with Russia or the rest of the world. Trump also said some harsh things about China and Iran during his election campaign, which taken in conjunction with the fact that as President he immediately becomes the CEO of an empire that is no longer sustainable, requires us to exercise caution rather than celebration at this stage.

Domestically, let us no delude ourselves. Trump has given rise to the recrudescence of nativism, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment across America, in much the same way Brexit has done in the UK. The logical conclusion of this path is social divisions and the erosion of social cohesion. Whether people like it or not globalization has given rise to multicultural societies across the West, with both constituting two sides of the same coin. In other words people cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of the free movement of capital without the free movement of people.

And here we get to the heart of the matter. Donald Trump and Brexit are symptoms of the rise of anti-politics in response to the massive inequality that has engulfed both British and US society in recent years. Far too much wealth is now owned by far two few, with the result that people are angry and in no mind to continue to support a status quo widely regarded as corrupt and hopelessly compromised by its support for a corporate elite and vested interests.

The world has changed, perhaps utterly.

More articles by:

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail