Trump This!

In Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce (Monthly Review Press, 2017), John Bellamy Foster contextualizes the conditions that gave rise to the 45th US president. The author’s thesis is that this billionaire chief executive arrived after four decades of income and wealth shifting from the bottom and middle to the top.

An economy of, by and for a tiny elite spawns a particular polity. This system destroys the lives of ordinary people.

Stable employment is vanishing. Americans are livid.

Trump gets it. Thus, he panders to white discontent, openly accepting Klansmen in Charlottesville while scapegoating Mexicans and Muslims.

Trump bashes the establishment. He also represents capital, with the GOP tax cuts a case in point.

Trump did not invent divide and rule, a tried-and-true politics of managing working-class discontent. Foster discusses Trump’s politics in light of historical fascism, a response to a crisis of capital accumulation in the 1930s.

Foster, editor of Monthly Review, a US-based socialist publication, unpacks this relevant and significant history. In part, he examines the thinking of Italian fascist Julius Evola, which echoes in current figures such as Steve Bannon.

Foster sees such a trend of capitalism and fascism in terms of class struggle. It is the rule for the capitalist economy and polity, which booms and busts when too much capital concentrates in too few hands.

“What paved the way for Trump’s neo-fascist strategy and gave it coherence was the deepening long-term crisis of US political economy and empire, and of the entire world capitalist economy, after the financial crisis of 2007-09,” Foster writes. Crucially, neoliberalism, a bipartisan politics of the one percent against everyone else, undermining New Deal and Great Society policies, created the social conditions for Trump’s rise.

Some might argue with the prefix “neo” in the current political landscape stateside and in Europe, Italy, the Netherlands, UK and Sweden. In America, others might opt for neo-Confederate, as the enslavement of Africans plays a central role in the nation’s history.

Case in point is Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again.” Such dog-whistle politics get traction in the US.

Foster’s first and longest section is “Neo-Fascism in the White House.” We read of fascism’s history, e.g., its 20th century evolution and current echoes. For instance, Trump’s nationalism and racism remind us of Nazi ideology.

Ward Churchill, the American Indian Movement activist-intellectual, calls out Germany Nazism as akin to the Euro-American practice and theory of land theft and murder of indigenous people in the US. Fascism did not fall from the sky in the 1930s.

In addition, Foster historically situates Trump’s bid to cow the judiciary and press into following his lead to Nazi efforts to do likewise. Germany and the US are not the same, though.

In 2018, neo-fascism occurs during a US decline as world hegemon. This process makes the American military a growing threat to the survival of humanity, Foster writes.

Trump’s threat at the UN “to totally destroy North Korea” is a case in point. Meanwhile, biodiversity loss, extreme weather and sea level rise are symptoms of capitalism’s war on the planet.

Wrapping up, the author advocates for a “long ecological revolution.” Its aim is substantive equity among and between people. Unity is the key.

That is easy to say but not so to do. Indigenous “water protectors” are showing us the way forward, Foster writes.


More articles by:

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South