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Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics

Ever since Sen. William Knowland of California, beginning in the late 1940s, advocated for Taiwan, Chiang, and the liquidation of Mao, China, more even than Russia, has been code for mounting America’s most extreme reactionary policies, domestic and foreign. “The Fall of China” was a theme that vitalized the Right in America, feeding into HUAC, McCarthyism, an impetus to the larger Cold War itself—much of which had little to do with China, but served as a pretext for rolling back progressive energies and changes at home while simultaneously tilting US “defense” efforts increasingly toward global counterrevolution.

Not surprisingly, Taiwan is back in the news, not simply because of Trump’s election and the now-famous congratulatory phone call from its “president,” (quotation marks, because tokening an independence which plays into the larger scenario of a Chiang-like takeover of all of China, a militarized fascist formation aligned with America in the political-economic control of Asia), but because Trump is merely indicative of an accretive policy-making from the end of World War II to the present.

America has been on a joy ride for two-thirds of a century, bent on unilateral global hegemony, grabbing hold of every point of crisis, manufacturing many of them, for leverage in securing its position and resulting stabilization of a new status quo from which to go forward and expand. Cuba was America’s Caribbean Taiwan, Chile, its South American, etc., on a world basis, wherever Left forces, threatening American interests, appeared. The result, at home, of this steady pressure, was a paralysis of will to democratize the American social system. The US is what it is: artificially fear-driven to promote the social regimentation of its people as the ratifying condition for channeling its national wealth into military spending. Behemoth swallows up decent universal health care in its maw, just as it does constructive environmental measures, and other long-suppressed needs of the people.

Trump presses the right ideological button: Taiwan, ergo gross maldistribution of wealth at home, internment camps for immigrants, witch-hunts, enforced patriotism, the liberation of fascistic tendencies among American workers (an unpalatable truth, their presence, for radicals to admit, but amply borne out by the election results), the whole ball of wax characterizing where the United States is presently at, including the ranks of both major parties. Perhaps a new plateau has now been reached, with no systemic-structural-ideological turning back, a platform-change from crypto-fascism toward the full realization of the genuine article.

But it is a mistake to put the onus on Trump alone: he is a creature of American historical development, the molding and shaping of monopoly capitalism from at least 1900 on. Most recently, Bill Clinton had sent the fleet into the China Sea and Barack Obama, with his Pacific-first strategy and Trans-Pacific Partnership, has made no secret (except for doubletalk about trade) of the military significance of his so called “pivot,” to isolate and confront China. One wonders if Trump is emboldened to act now because of Obama’s already putting the policy framework and war machinery in place with respect to China?

From the announcement of his key positions thus far, it would be fatuous and blind to think a striking escalation of American militarism is not underway. As trending thusly before, the US nevertheless appears to be embarking on the Great Leap; this kind of political nihilism finds war irresistible, and, contemptuous of establishment-thinking in foreign policy (as witness raising the Taiwan issue), as bad as such thinking is, Trump is demonstrating that he is capable of far worse. Dulles brinkmanship is child’s-play in his hands. The modern-day quintessential world capitalist is baring his fangs, showing what is implicit or latent in the politicization of such a system. The roles are inseparable, a moral bankruptcy whether the insatiable desire to acquire more property, or to display power and strength for their own sake.

America is being hung on its own petard of wealth, status, and quest for dominance—not for the nation as such, though done in its name, but its ruling circles, which, in addition to industrial-commercial-financial elites, must also include the military, an amalgam of power-interests already historically identified with early-to-middle stages of fascism. Taiwan, then, is more than a blip on the political-ideological radar screen. Its treatment—I’m waiting, e.g., to see Mattis and Flynn, both having Trump’s ear, in action—is a harbinger of things to come.

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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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