Donald Trump is not extreme left. Seems obvious, right? Shouldn’t I be writing that Joe Biden isn’t extreme left, as this is the accusation leveled against him? Still, I think when people call Joe Biden extreme left it’s seen as a positive. When Noam Chomsky calls him the most progressive President since FDR we are supposed to be seeing both Biden and the extreme left in a positive light.
As misleading as it is to call Biden extreme left, I’ve become more bothered by the assumption of often the same people that Trump is in fact the extreme leftist. What do I mean by this? While never Trumpers project a “good left” onto Biden, they also project a “bad left” onto Trump. Before we get into the distinction we have to admit that these classifications of two right-wingers as left-wing means the public not only universally identifies as left, but universally fears the left and their own leftism.
Trump? Getting smeared as a leftist? Yes, it’s obvious actually. What do we make of this claim of political unrest? This “violence” from both sides that can at once trigger fear from the right and smugness from the center. This idea that Biden is somehow bringing America together when he can’t bring two sentences together.
We are supposed to want to stop racism, but increase the police budget. We are told we need to reduce debt, but increase military spending. We are told that health care should be a right, but bailing out billionaires is the key to economic stability. We are told to take the mass extinction known as climate change seriously, but only because it will be profitable. We are supposed to vote, but not to riot. We are told that our votes won’t be counted, but not to riot. Do the math and it doesn’t add up. We are supposed to want what we want but never ask for it. Real change is seen as the enemy.
Chomsky is, as always, 80% right when he says that Trump is the opposite of fascism because private companies control his government, not the other way around. However isn’t fascism, like all right-wing ideology, about private interests?
Trump spends a lot of time on the internet and is in tune with the alt-right faux punk culture of postmodern irony and absurdity. He is aware of critical race theory, QAnon and the extreme left. The internet helps to mobilize his fascist base but all of this is merely a justification to be selfish and have rights for only the deserving. Those who dare to question this “way of life” that guarantees human rights to his base are seen as threats.
I’ll back up. Here is where Trump and the extreme left get interesting. How do we know Trump is a candidate of the rich, and not the poor, aside from the fact that he is stupid (yes I’m sure there are stupid poor people too, but it’s rare). Trump does in fact promise socialist rights for his base. The only reason the rich cling so hard to the private market is because it actually does guarantee them communism for themselves (they own their property, run their own business, have their guarantees of health care, education etc.).
What we see is that as the market is becoming more unequal there are less people it can provide communism for. Therefore get rid of elections as Trump is doing now because his ideas aren’t winning on their own. Or simply make them too expensive to impact. The record-breaking fundraising by both candidates is just as undemocratic as the votes not being counted.
To an extent whatever nostalgia we may have for government-guaranteed rights had this private dimension in the United States. Nations become rich and provide for their poorer citizens through imperialism. Family benefits often come through the hetero-patriarch at the expense of the rest of the family. Racial hierarchy in law and immigration helps sort out who gets these benefits when they are said to be universal.
Therefore the real definition of communism maybe that to want communism for someone else is communist. To want capitalism for someone else is capitalist. And everyone wants communism for themselves because that’s freedom.
So who supports Trump? Not the poor, not the left, as the media says. It’s those who Trump actually helps. Those who evade taxes, who shoot black people, who own private property. Trump does provide freedom for those who the market protects. Those who can’t have their home be a toxic dumping ground for pollutants, those who don’t want diverse hires to challenge their high-paying job, those who want to keep women in the home, tied to children. Those who benefit from Trump, support him.
So who does Trump cast his opponent as? An extreme leftist. He knows this will motivate his base to intimate others at the polls, to throw ballots in the river if they have to. His goal is to mobilize a violent and corrupt minority against a majority who doesn’t have as much wealth as they do and are losing it fast.
Why not call Biden a centrist and attempt to win over the left? After all, isn’t it all the same, that extremist stuff? Trump knows better. He knows the left aren’t dumb and aren’t scared. There’s no way to intimidate the left who are on the frontlines against fascism already. The center is easy to manipulate. They are not as ruthless as the right but they are cuckolds to them. Anything that moves the progressives out of the way. Because for these people the right is always the solution to stopping the left. And why? Well, because for them the left gets in the way of stopping the right. Go figure.
All that being said, Trump is extremely dangerous. I will accept removing him power by any means necessary, as the saying goes. But if those means include smearing the left as apologists for Trump then I’m not sure that particular resistance is that serious. There will always be a way to smear the left. Some call them looters, some call them pedophiles, some call them ballot fetishizers, some call them communists. The truth is that history is mostly decided by the two classes of the 1%. The oligarchy (extreme right) and the engaged citizens (extreme left). Everyone else are sheep, not sure who is who, falling for the propaganda of the powerful and blaming the very people who have dedicated their lives to the masses.
Now is not the time for distraction or diversion. Usually, when someone denounces the tactics of the extreme left they are simply ashamed that they don’t stand for anything and won’t risk anything for what they believe in. Usually, they can’t look themselves in the mirror and admit their compliance with the extreme right. The oligarchy is only gaining power. Surviving, let alone organizing, will be and is incredibly precarious and dangerous. Opting out of the extreme left who brings society forward is something that would be easy for anyone to understand. But for Christ’s sake, don’t blame the people who are who you want to be.
Any moderate human, economic or civil right was always earned by an extremist of the time who, through their unwillingness to compromise and their disinterest in the compliance of their time, brought society forward against its own will. The idea isn’t purity for a utopia but a knowledge that the only ones to ever stop the “bad apples” were not the other moderate apples, who were spoiled by the bunch. If you want to stop a Nazi, you call a communist. If you feel guilty that you corrupted the moderate democracy won by communist idealism, you blame communists for the very Nazis you’ve complied with.