In my most recent column, “The End(s) of Capitalism,” I discussed the factors that indicate that capitalism is (finally) coming to the end of its useful life. They are, in no particular order of importance: over the last century or so, the capitalist ruling classes in most countries have managed to destroy for the most part any semblance of working class consciousness and any semblance of a militant trade union movement; in terms of its ability to produce and produce sustained growth, without fiscal or monetary stimulus (and in some cases event that doesn’t work) capitalism is running down; chronic, residual, unemployment is becoming common in many capitalist countries; the wealth and income gap (gulf) is becoming ever wider (as highlighted by a capitalist [on the liberal side] economist, Joseph Stiglitz), but with no significant political or mass-based opposition, the capitalists just keep on concentrating both, reducing thereby the amount of capital available for new investment; capitalist potential for making profit is becoming increasingly financialized, which reduces employment; and then there is CAR: Computerization, Automation, and Robotization, which reduces available employment and thus the workers’ share of the surplus value produced by their work. And this is only a partial list.
Now eventually, this is going to lead to worker revolts of some kinds. However, they will likely be quite some time in coming because of the growth of the “anti-immigrant” movements in so many capitalist countries, certainly including, with the rise of Trump, the United States. Examples include the United Kingdom Independence Party in Great Britain, the Front National in France, and the openly anti-Semitic Jobbik Party in Hungary (which was the home of the first fascist state, established by Admiral Miklos Horthy in 1919).
It is difficult to know how many, if any, of these far-right parties, which certainly have major elements of fascism (see below) in their ideologies and programs, presently have any direct connection to a majority of their respective national ruling classes, and/or have been consciously created by them. However, they are certainly very useful at this stage of history to their respective ruling classes, for they serve extraordinarily well to distract significant elements of their respective working classes from the real source of their difficulties — that is, of course, capitalism and its natural outcomes resulting from its exclusive foci on producing profits and more capital — to focus instead on “immigrants” and “others” who are different, instead of focusing on class struggle.
The Trumpist Republican Party in the U.S. is a prime example of this. Over the last 40 years, with a policy that can be encapsulated as “Reaganism,” the Republican Party has been the primary political representative of the U.S. ruling class, (although, please do not let us exclude the Democrats from responsibility as well). It has established and led the policy and program agenda of which has led to misery for so many members of the white working class, from the destruction of the trade unions to the massive export of capital and with it deindustrialization, massive tax cuts for the rich and a steady decline in funding for various government agencies on which significant sectors of the working class depend, like the Veterans Administration.
But through his well-known combination of racism, white supremacy, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric, even to the extent of putting a prominent leader of the Far Right into a top leadership position in his campaign, Trump has been able to build a significant base of support in the white working and petit-bourgeois classes for what would appear to be a conventional election, under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution. But further, if you listen carefully to his rhetoric Trump is also moving in the direction of establishing a fascist state (or at least attempting to, of the 21st century sort of course, now, were he to gain power.
To wit, fascism can be defined as:
“A politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of both the legislative and administrative powers of government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent personal rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; the massive and regular use of hate, fear, racial and religious prejudice, the Big Lie technique, mob psychology, mob actions and ultimately individual and collective violence to achieve political and economic ends; a capitalist/corporate economy; with the ruling economic class’ domination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.”
The closer we get to the election, the more Trump is attracting major elements of the ruling class. They may not like his style, but they surely like his policies when it comes to further corporate and individual tax cuts, fracking, opening up Federal lands to energy exploration and exploitation, the elimination of as much environmental and economic regulation as possible, further expanding the military-industrial complex, the increased use of force in dealing with problems in the nonwhite communities which would include strengthening the prison-industrial complex, further emphasizing “differences” in dealing with non-white communities, curbing the media, conventional and social, and so on and so forth. Obviously they don’t like his stated anti-globalism in both the economic and military spheres, but they most likely think that his mind can be changed on that. Obviously not only are they are willing to look past Trump’s racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, mysogny and etc., but even the fact that “The Trump Organizations’ Foreign Business Ties Could Up-End U.S. National Security.”
Add to this Trump’s inherent authoritarianism (a major factor why the religious right is so attracted to an obviously areligious person), and the fact that apparently without knowing it he is doing Mussolini impressions all of the time, a Trump Presidency, with a supine Congress and Supreme Court (with his appointments making it that way) and the U.S. could well come to fascism very soon and very quickly.
However, in terms of fascism and the threat that it may well come to the United States, Trump is not sui generis. History has shown us that when capitalist ruling classes are faced with serious threats to their control of the State, they turn to fascism to maintain it. And so, if Trump loses and Hillary Clinton becomes President, the likelihood that the U.S. ruling class will have to turn to fascism in order to maintain its control will only be pushed down the road. It is this understanding that should, in my view, inform how one votes in the upcoming election and who one roots for to win. That will be the subject of the third column in this series, upcoming.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being Senior Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed News.com; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. He is the Editorial Director and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine.us. Further, he is an occasional Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, BuzzFlash Commentary, and Dandelion Salad. Dr. Jonas’ latest book is Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach, Brewster, NY: Punto Press, available on Kindle from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ending-Drug-War-Solving-Problem-ebook/dp/B01EO9RGKO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461783388&sr=1-4&keywords=Ending+the+Drug+War
His most recent book on US politics is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel (Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY), and available on Amazon.