We’re coming up on five years since the most traumatic day for the United States in recent memory, 11/9/2016. This was the election of Donald Trump and it has done far more damage to this country than 9/11/2001 could have dreamed of. Michael Moore made a documentary about this fateful day called Fahrenheit 11/9, a play on his film named Fahrenheit 9/11.
The first shift in society that must be noted is that we got five years closer to the end of it. We went backward, not forward, on climate change and it seems that all leaders across the world lack the urgency to save us from this crisis. It is possible that technology will develop to mitigate the crisis for some, but this quest for a technological future largely remains a satire, with billionaires flying to space thinking they are the solution rather than the problem. The only thing that is delaying the end of humanity is indigenous resistance. In the past 10 years, these communities have stopped an astounding 25% of U.S./Canadian emissions through protest. Their reward is further genocide upon their communities. Go figure. The solution to the end of the world is not technocratic capitalism, which will still use every resource for private profits until we run out of them.
The second change in society is a rather surprising one for the globalist neoliberal era. This is a return of nationalist sentiment. Joe Biden continues Donald Trump’s strategy of mobilizing an idea of America. Joe Biden decided to end a forever war and this appeared to largely be because Trump promised to. Biden was honest enough that he blamed the Afghan people for the war on his way out the door. The Pentagon budget went up again, with eyes to China, with Biden echoing Trump’s America First rhetoric. Similarly, Biden has successfully implemented a brutal nationalist immigration policy where Trump never could do cleanly. When it comes to China, where Trump’s nationalist tariffs failed, Biden has upped the ante, appearing to threaten war with China over Taiwan. Biden has been unwilling to deliver on his own campaign promises, butchering negotiations on his signature Build Back Better plan.. This plan was its own version of nationalism embodied in rebuilding America. As it was stripped it was revealed that it would also increase emissions, and therefore would only be fleeting relief for the working class. Remember that Trump ran a campaign on infrastructure but only became interested in building a wall. Biden is a “better’ Trump.
This leads to our third trend, in some ways our hardest pill to swallow, which Paul Street dubs the Trumpenleft. Street sees so clearly the danger of fake populist people like Glenn Greenwald, Saagar Engeti,, Matt Taibi, Dave Chapelle and Joe Rogan who peddle hate as a version of “rebellious” politics that are actually philistine. These people will mobilize the masses for the return of Trump. They seek to confuse the American people. What is actually going on in their minds is that Trump represents a form of freedom for being against “cancel culture” (which is code for intersectional justice and has become a not so subtle dog whistle against minorities, women, LGBTQ+ and the poor). They will frame Biden’s failure, not as a Republican blockade that Democrats failed to stand up to with equal militancy but rather as a singular corruption of the Democrats because of their cultural liberalism. This not only justifies fascism it specifically advocates for the Republican Party, who Noam Chomsky rightly calls the most dangerous organization in human history.
Our fourth trend is the shift in ideology generally. Neoliberalism, as a legitimate form of power, is losing its grip as many countries turn nationalist and fascist. The United States is undergoing what many countries are going through. The ruling class is becoming more right-wing, while the working class is becoming more left-wing. This hopefully exposes a class war but the Trumpenleft and other fascists will attempt to reframe it as a culture war that they are losing. The Trumpenleft is the one focused on culture and not on politics. They are an angry clickbait machine and they frame every political demand by the oppressed as woke and petty. What is actually going on is that more people than ever are organizing around a variety of issues. The ruling class is especially strong and the scope of its power embodied in the military and prisons, surveillance, and its grip on national resources has made it a more formidable foe than any time in the past. However, this has further radicalized people and faith in the system is waning. So-called neoliberalism is being critiqued from both the left and right, with most people siding with the left, and most power siding with the right, and few, if any, satisfied with the status quo.
The fifth trend is a return of an openly fascist right who is intent on groundwork. Conservatives have stacked the judiciary by railroading progressives undemocratically. Campaigns to not count votes are openly accepted. Violence against school board members and other politicians is celebrated. Alarmingly a bounty program was established in Texas for civilians to get thousands of dollars to round up women exercising their right to choose. The right-wing has a ground game and it’s one of violent intimidation. They are few in number but they know they have police and corporations on their side so they work with confidence.
The sixth trend is fake news. The vaccine is a great example of this. People have questions about this vaccine now only because it is new. We don’t have these questions about other vaccines. We all got them and were grateful for the opportunity which many throughout history and around the world don’t get. We knew that like everything in our chemical-laced modern world, that dirty corporations would be willing to cut corners in regards to safety if they felt like they could make more money. But we took vaccines because we didn’t want to die from the disease. Just like we take medicine or eat a balanced breakfast. The truth is that for poor people there are chemicals in water, in food, in the air, in everyday life there is a conspiracy of corporate power undermining the very products we must consume to survive. The Republican Party is a destruction machine and it has singled out the COVID vaccine because it will save people’s lives from a disease that is proven to be far more dangerous than its cure. At this point death is an instinct for the Republican Party. They will take its side without knowing why.
The seventh trend is inflation. Inflation hurts the working class who work for wages. Every time inflation happens a new contract with bosses must be negotiated to match the cost of living. This doesn’t tend to happen for wage laborers. Inflation isn’t because of so-called entitlement programs, as all of this money is invested back into the economy by people who buy what they need. The ironic thing about inflation, which the right claims to hate, is that taxation is the solution to it. A government can pay for anything at any time. By doing so it decreases the value of the dollar by printing more of it. This is how our massive military spending can make us weaker, not stronger. On the other hand every tax dollar collected is another dollar not in circulation. If anyone wants to stop inflation, then read my dress. Tax the rich. Trump’s tax cuts have significantly hurt this country. Inflation will only get worse as emergency funds will be needed for climate catastrophe band-aids. If conservatives really were conservative they would recognize it would be prudent to invest in proactive prevention of climate change.
The eighth trend: socialism is back! All people talk about is socialism. Rent control is being recognized as a key measure to slow down capitalism. The problem for the United States is that it no longer produces goods in the way it used to and the rapid industrialization that kept a capitalist economy booming is no longer an economy that produces things, but rather one that collects rent. Putting a rent control measure into place will further the decline of the rate of profit and lead to socialism. Right now the ruling class is trying to make a profit off a class of people it has extracted all the money from. New money can be printed in order to get things flowing, but it only flows back into the hands of the rulers. Right now there is a “slack” in the economy where American workers are confident enough to keep companies at the low-profit level from the past year, where less people worked, and society was better for it.
All of this feels like a lot of change but we may have to get used to change. The planet is falling quickly into the apocalypse. Every day people lose access to clean water because of global warming, forever chemicals, oil spills, lead poisoning or imperialism. These communities are primarily poor people of color and yet many of the changes above are about the bourgeois.
The invisible people in our society, those resisting pipelines, the women keeping families and communities afloat, those involved in mutual aid, abolition, art, and struggle, well these people already knew the doomsday clock was here and now, for them especially, and even bourgeois society as a whole. History is tracked based on changes in the communities that write history for themselves. Even this powerful group of people will continue to remain in crisis for the foreseeable future.
There appear to be few lessons learned by the educated class, ironically. The poor and working-class will remain militant and the ruling class will only grow more fascist as the world dries up. That being said the last five years have taught us history is not only fast, but also never over. We shouldn’t give up on the future but we must give up on the past.