Michael Faulkner: A view from London
AMERICA FIRST! Trump’s New “Deal” – USA Inc.
The even greater numbers who voted against him regard him as a monstrous misogynistic racist and fascistic fantasist who will take the United States into the abyss. Before attempting to treat Trump’s accession with the seriousness required it may be as well to restate in general terms some of the political observations underpinning earlier Letters from London that have featured in TGP over the years. Hopefully this will make clear that principled and profound leftist opposition to Trump and everything he stands for must not be skewed to infer sympathy or support for US imperialism, NATO, the CIA and FBI, liberalism, neo-liberalism, or the political record of Hillary Clinton. This point was made briefly in an earlier column, The Triumph of Donald Trump, but it needs further amplification.
IMPERIALISM. Modern imperialism, as was explained by J.A. Hobson and, more analytically, by Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and Bukharin more than one hundred years ago, is not a policy of governments but a stage in the development of monopoly capitalism in the advanced industrial countries. Lenin studied the imperialist powers of his day – Britain, Germany, Russia and Japan in particular. Marxist economists such as Sweezy, Baran and Magdoff have subjected US imperialism to the same scrutiny. During World War Two Franz Neumann, in his brilliant study of the economy of Nazi Germany, Behemoth, demonstrated that despite its self-proclaimed National Socialism the Third Reich was, like imperial Germany before it, a monopoly capitalist, imperialist power bent on world domination. Since the defeat of German imperialism and the demise of the British and French empires after 1945, US imperialism has been the hegemonic world power. It will remain so until (a) the monopoly capitalist ruling class is removed from power or rendered incapable of acting by domestic forces, or (b) it is defeated by a stronger external force or forces. It is worth noting that (b) would involve the very serious possibility of a nuclear war- a possibility that looms ever larger. The point that needs stressing is that no US government representing the political and economic interests of the monopoly capitalist ruling class will, as long as it retains its global hegemonic position, cease to be imperialist. This will be no less so under Trump than under his predecessors and despite the growing challenge from a resurgent Russia in eastern Europe and the Middle East, and from a powerful China in Asia, no amount of wishful thinking will alter that.
NATO and US Imperialism.
NATO was from its inception in 1949, and remains today, an offensive, expansionist military alliance committed to maintaining and extending the global reach of US power in Europe and throughout the world. As was made clear in such studies as Gabriel Kolko’s The Politics of War (1968) the US has, from the Second World War, harnessed its subordinate allies to its imperialist project which was, from about 1947, directed primarily against the Soviet Union and is now directed in expanded form primarily against Russia. The myth promoted in defence of this project was, and is, that NATO is necessary to defend the “free world” or the “free nations” from an alleged unprovoked Russian military threat. The promise made to Gorbachev in 1990(1) that NATO would not expand one inch beyond the boundary of a united Germany has been flouted with impunity. Since then twelve East European countries, most of them formerly members of the Warsaw Pact, have joined NATO. The Warsaw Pact was disbanded in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Why not NATO also? Not only was NATO not disbanded with the disappearance of the putative enemy, but the US promise to Gorbachev was broken and NATO has been expanded right up to Russia’s borders. The Russians have very good reason to feel threatened by this. But Western propaganda wants to persuade us that NATO expansion is a purely defensive operation undertaken to prevent Russian aggression (sic) against its neighbours. It is estimated that the United States has nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries. Russia has military bases in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, Syria and Vietnam. All but two of these, Syria and Vietnam, were former Soviet republics. Particularly given the fact that Russia was invaded from the West in two world wars, and especially given the tremendous sacrifices made by the Soviet Union in its titanic struggle against the Nazi invaders between 1941 and 1945, it is quite understandable and justifiable that the Russian government takes the expansion of NATO/US military power on its borders deadly seriously. Just as Soviet military strength in resisting Nazi German aggression was defensive, so is Russian military preparedness against the NATO threat today. One doesn’t need to be an admirer of Putin to understand this. And, on this one issue, it has to be said, Trump’s criticisms of NATO and expressed intention of improving relations with Russia, were welcome. He is like a broken clock that will tell the right time twice a day. But it is by no means certain that he will remain committed to this particular inconsistency. He is likely to perform a complete volte face and embrace the “obsolete” NATO. (2) Indeed all the indications are that US imperialism under his administration will act with less, not more restraint than under his predecessors. This prospect alone should cause alarm. But there is much more than this to be alarmed about when considering what is in store under President Trump.
Trump’s “America First” Nationalist Administration:
From the Swamp to the Sewer.
On the campaign trail Trump repeated ad nauseam, that he would “drain the swamp”. “If we win…we are going to Washington DC – when we win, OK – and we are going to drain the swamp.” By “the swamp” he meant “the entire corrupt Washington establishment” beholden to Wall Street. Trump has aptly been described as an “asshole”. It should therefore come as no surprise that he has drained the swamp only to re-fill it with the contents of the sewer. Anyone who seriously imagined that Trump might be on the side of “the little guy” no longer has any excuse for clinging to such deluded notions. The man who never ceased reminding his supporters that Hillary Clinton was compromised and corrupted by her highly lucrative association with Goldman Sachs – as indeed she was – is no less compromised and corrupted by the same association himself. It is astonishing that anyone with the slightest knowledge about Trump could have failed to notice this, or if they did notice it, to somehow think that he might act against the financial interests that have propelled him throughout his life. He won’t. He is himself a prime member of the rotten multi-billionaire elite against whom he has railed. All U.S. governments, regardless of the social origins of their leading personnel, act in the interests of the corporate capitalist ruling class. They do so in both foreign and domestic policy. Within the ruling class there are inevitably differences and tensions associated with the dominant and subordinate sections, and shifts of balance between them. In “normal” times (i.e. periods of relative political and economic stability in domestic and foreign affairs) the differences can be managed in such a way as to preserve the impression that whichever party of the duopoly is in office, government operates in the “national interest” independently of pressure groups and vested interests. But these are not normal times; now the time is out of joint. The pretence of democratic “checks and balances” is being swept away in a cacophony of thinly disguised racist demagogy, white supremacist rabble-rousing and ultra-right populism sometimes presented in a pseudo-leftist guise. Trump, as the megaphone for all this, has made the direction of his presidency clear beyond the slightest doubt by the choice of colleagues in the “America First” enterprise.
The “America First” administration has dispensed with the customary pretence that the government is independent of and unbeholden to the big corporations. The veil has been cast aside to reveal the unadorned face of naked corporate power. Customarily lobbyists for the “dark money” stayed in the background, buying their influence with the political office-holders who were happy to “represent” corporate interests as the national interest. That is not so here. Trump has packed his administration with Wall Street big money men and ultra-right white supremacist ideologues. Just consider a few of them:
Rex Tilllerson, Secretary of State. Trump’s choice of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State leaves no doubt about how he intends to proceed on what is one of the two biggest threats facing humanity – man-made climate change. Unlike the threat of nuclear war, there is no element of uncertainty about it; it is starkly real. Warnings from climate scientists about the catastrophic consequences for the future of life on the planet if global warming is not held to a maximum of 2 degrees C within the next few decades, have been clear and unequivocal. The Paris accords of December 2015, to which 196 countries including the US, signed up, has offered perhaps the last hope that the catastrophe may be avoided. Trump himself believes that man-made climate change is a hoax perpetrated against the United States by the Chinese. He has vowed to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. His appointment of Tillerson shows him to be completely committed to the fossil fuel extractive industries that are the biggest polluters contributing to global warming. Tillerson spent his whole working life with Exxon Mobil where, from 2006 to 2016 he was CEO. For most of his time there he was a vociferous climate change denier. He has been described as “big oil personified.” His recent grudging admission that climate change exists lacks conviction. Exxon was fully informed about it as early as the 1970s and continues to fund groups lobbying in support of climate change denial. It has given $1.8 million to more than 100 members of Congress who deny climate change. Ken Kimmell, president of the union of concerned scientists described Trump’s choice of Tillerson’s, which has been approved by the senate foreign relations committee, as “analogous to choosing the CEO of a tobacco company for surgeon general. “
Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary. Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs partner who spent twenty years with the bank. He then set up One West Bank, which, in the words of the Campaign for Accountability, became notorious in Southern California as the “Foreclosure Machine.” As its CEO, Mnuchin gained a reputation as the “Forclosure King.” One West Bank made a fortune by foreclosing on as many as 80,000 homes in poor ethnic minority communities. The Campaign for Accountability has called upon the Department of Justice to investigate the bank’s potentially illegal tactics. So much for Trump’s promises to champion the interests of “the little guy.”
Gary Cohn, Chief Economic Advisor. Cohn is the former president of Goldman Sachs. He leaves the bank with a share package valued at $220 million and a cash payout of $65 million – a total windfall of $285 million. He has declared war on the Dodd- Frank Act introduced by Obama in an attempt to re-introduce some minimal regulation of the financial sector to prevent a recurrence of the crash of 2008. Trump wants to sweep away even this timid attempt at regulation and in this he has the full support of Gary Cohn. So much for his campaign rhetoric damning Hillary Clinton for being in thrall to Goldman Sachs and his promise to “drain the swamp” of the parasites who have robbed the workers and “put [their] money into the hands of large corporations.” So much for his promise to introduce a new version of Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.(3) Trump backed the bank bail-outs of 2008. When the next crash comes, if he is still in office, he will bail them out again whatever the cost, on the basis of the tried and tested principle of finance capitalism that profits are private and losses public.
Scott Pruitt, Head of the Environment Protection Agency
Believing, as he does, that climate change is “bullshit” Trump’s appointment of Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environment Protection Agency is entirely consistent with his ignoramus rejection of the scientific evidence provided by 98% of climate scientists. We may leave aside for the moment Pruitt’s opposition to transgender rights and overtime pay for US workers. He is a climate change denier. His appointment is beyond satire. Like Tillerson, he is a “pure product of the oil and gas industries.” Another Trump appointee with similar strongly held opinions running counter to all the evidence, is Myrone Ebell from the anti-regulation think tank Competitive Enterprise institute (also funded by ExxonMobil). He thinks that “the environmental movement is the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world.” If Trump keeps his promise to pull out of the 2015 Paris agreement, the USA would be the only country to withdraw. The terrible precedent this would set can be imagined. So, unless there is a powerful and successful fight-back and a redoubled international effort to prevent environmental catastrophe, by mid-century an irreversible tipping-point will be reached. This is the most profound challenge facing humanity today. It is no exaggeration to describe it as “Trump against the Planet.” Will Hutton,the British liberal Keynesian economic commentator, has described Trump’s economic programme as “no more than Reaganomics on speed run by a group of opportunists and self-interested chancers.” That seems pretty accurate as far as it goes, but when linked to his approach to environmental, social, economic and foreign policy issues, the observation seems rather restrained. The “opportunists and chancers” are no laughing matter. Consider the two he has appointed as his Chief Strategist and his Attorney General Stephen K. Bannon and Jeff Sessions.
Donald Trump is an ego-maniac. Ego-maniacs are strongly disinclined to admit that anyone else can be in any way superior to themselves. For Trump, competitors and critics are “over-rated”, “bad”, “sick” or in some other way inadequate or inferior. Amongst those with whom Trump seems to have a particularly close affinity are Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions.
A cursory glance at Bannon’s career is testimony to the abysmally low standard required to qualify certain self-obsessed opportunists and charlatans as intellectuals and public figures worthy of respect. Bannon is of this ilk. A former naval officer, Goldman Sachs investment banker, maker of inferior shock and horror movies and chief executive of the far-right Breitbart News, he is an intellectual mediocrity and poseur. He has been described as the “Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party”, which is an insult to the genuine though diabolical talent of Goebbels’ and Hitler’s favourite film director. He is apparently a proponent of the peculiar brand of apocalyptic mysticism known as the “Fourth Turning”, which, like all such quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo seems to have a devoted following among those on the far-reaches of the right. Perhaps needless to say, he is also a white supremacist and far right nationalist. Although he and his defenders deny that he is antisemitic, there is evidence to the contrary and he certainly provided a platform for antisemites at Breitbart News.
Bannon is also an economic nationalist. It is surely no accident that Trump, in his inaugural address repeated twice the phrase “America First” which he had used frequently on the campaign trail. This reflected Bannon’s influence. Both he and Trump are fully aware of the provenance of that term as a political rallying call and of the use to which it was put in speeches, liberally peppered with antisemitism, made after 1939 by the America First Committee president Charles Lindbergh, the Nazi sympathizer who hated Roosevelt and tried so hard to keep the USA out of World War Two. Bannon is also fiercely anti-immigration, regardless of whether immigrants are legal or illegal. In this he is at one with his close associate, the extreme right-wing senator and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, Jeff Sessions who is Trump’s choice as Attorney General.
Sessions’ whole career has been dogged by well-founded charges of racism. He has opposed legislation to prohibit torture. A climate-change denier, he has voted against legislation banning the Environment Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases and voted for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. He has opposed nearly every immigration bill before the Senate in the last 20 years. Like Trump, he favours the use of torture by the U.S. military, voting against an amendment banning “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners.” He was the first senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy.
It has been plausibly argued that Bannon and Sessions came to have an identity of views on how to deal with immigration during the latter’s tenure at Breitbart News. Essentially they are committed to the promotion of an ethno-centric, white supremacist nationalism. They believe it is vital to change the demographic balance of the U.S. population, which they fear, if left unchecked will result in a non-white, non-Christian majority within a few decades. Such a prospect they regard as a looming catastrophe which must be prevented at all costs. A huge and time-consuming legal process to deport millions of immigrants would be far too costly, so the simplest way to achieve the end required will be to create a nation-wide climate of fear designed, in Bannon’s phrase, to persuade millions to “self deport.” Hence, their endorsement of Trump’s outrageous accusations that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists and his completely unsubstantiated claims that millions voted illegally (against him of course) in the presidential election.
There is one further influence on Trump that should be mentioned because, insofar as it may be said that he ever had a mentor, that person would have been the repellent Roy Cohn.
Roy Cohn, US Attorney.
Roy Cohn has long been dead, but his spirit is alive and kicking in the Trump administration. Cohn was Senator Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel in the trial proceedings against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the early 1950s. There were three prominent reptilian creatures who were prominent in this, the most grotesque miscarriage of justice in US history. Ethel, who was known at the time to be entirely innocent of the treason charge of on which she and her husband Julius were convicted, was executed with Julius. The three reptilians were J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy – and Roy Cohn. Two decades later, in 1973, Trump and his father were being sued for discrimination against Black people in houses owned by the Trumps in Brooklyn. They hired Cohn, who advised them to tell the litigants “to go to hell” and told Trump to file a counter suit for $100m, which he did. This was the beginning of a long relationship and Trump developed a great admiration and respect for his mentor’s shameless amorality and ruthless publicity-seeking. Cohn seems to have taken as his guiding principle in life John Wayne’s famous dictum “Never apologize; it’s a sign of weakness.” Trump made it his own and has never deviated from it. Cohn’s whole life was a lie. He managed to combine being a Jewish anti-Semite and a homophobic closet gay. He eventually died of Aids. But Trump is much in his debt.
Trump increases risk of nuclear war.
Trump has become US President at an extremely critical, even perilous time in the early twenty first century. There are real wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan and the real risk of wars breaking out in other places where tensions are rising. US global power is under threat and becoming weaker. The global system of neo-liberal capitalism is being challenged as never before, but its practitioners and beneficiaries are determined, despite its abject failure, to preserve it at whatever cost. None of these critical developments have been caused by Trump’s election. But those who deluded themselves into believing that because he and his supporters had positioned themselves against the hated Obama and Clinton, he would strike out on some kind of left-populist path in both domestic and foreign policy, are now likely to be experiencing a rude awakening. Two examples illustrating just how alarming Trump’s foreign policy initiatives have been already may be seen in relation to Syria and North Korea.
Syria: “Northern Syria is a quagmire. Trump jumped straight in.” (The Observer.11. March)
Trump is continuing Obama’s policy of pouring ever more U.S. forces into Northern Syria while keeping secret the actual numbers deployed. According to Breitbart News 1000 more are about to be dispatched. They are going into a quagmire about which neither they nor their commander-in-chief seems to have the faintest clue. Apparently they intend to drive ISIS out of Raqqa. Consider these facts:
Supporting President Assad are, on the ground , the Syrian Army, the Russians, the Iranians, the Turks, Hezbollah militia and the Kurdish YPD militia. In the air are the Syrian, Russian and Turkish air forces. The Turks have abandoned their hostility to the Russians in a marriage of convenience based on the supposition that a victorious Assad will be as hostile to Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria as they are. Assad and his allies, with good reason, regard the motley assortment of Islamist opposition groups as terrorists, most little better than ISIS. Quite apart from its close relationship with the Kurdish forces, the US has spent the past five years supporting the Islamist opposition, calling for Assad’s overthrow and excoriating the Russians as war criminals. And now Trump steps blithely into the quagmire. Here is Assad’s response to U.S. intervention, recorded in an interview with the Chinese media: “Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation are invaders.” In this volatile situation it is quite possible, even likely, that any one or more of the following could occur: fighting could break out between U.S and Turkish troops – i.e. between two NATO allies; U.S forces could “accidentally” kill innocent civilians; U.S. soldiers could be taken prisoner by ISIS; Russian or Syrian aircraft could be shot down by the U.S. or vice versa. How Trump will react in the event of any such occurrence is not hard to imagine. What is certain is that this is an escalation fraught with immense danger. It brings ever nearer the prospect of potentially uncontrollable military confrontation.
Tillerson supports “nuclear option” against North Korea.
Since the end of the cold war the danger of nuclear war has increased. The end of “Mutually Assured Destruction” – MAD – has brought the terrifying prospect closer. The world now faces the real possibility that a declining and desperate “super-power” will actually contemplate using the ultimate weapon of mass destruction in the insane belief that its use may still lend credence to Clausewitz’s claim that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” Since 1945 humanity has had the means to put an end to human civilization through incineration. The failure to rid the world of the means of such destruction must be counted as perhaps the most colossal folly in human history. The delusions of those who continue to believe that the possession of such weapons can have any rational justification, is simply evidence of the irrationality of those so deluded. They are many, and Trump is one of them. In spite of the characteristic contradictoriness and muddle-headedness of his ignorant utterances on the subject of nuclear weapons, he seems to have stuck by the claim that he would be prepared to use them in a “pre-emptive strike”. Tillerson, who faithfully echoes Trump’s alarming inanities in support of nuclear proliferation, is also in lock-step with him in threatening to use them pre-emptively against North Korea. “Let me be very clear”, he says, “the policy of strategic patience has ended.” Not content with this provocation, he then confirms the deployment of U.S. advanced missile defences in South Korea to which the Chinese are strongly opposed. It is difficult to imagine anything more likely to blow the powder-keg on the Korean peninsula than this mind-boggling insouciance at the prospect of unleashing a nuclear war. Those who imagined a Trump administration might herald a new era of peaceful co-existence in the world will perhaps have been surprised to hear the President’s announcement that he intends to increase military spending by $54 billion.
TRUMP: An attempt at assessment
Little of value will be achieved by simply repeating the deprecatory remarks about Trump that have made him the butt of media satirists. However, his personal qualities, his opinions, his style of communicating and what may be deduced about his self-assessment and self-awareness, from his public performance, are quite legitimately matters of public interest and concern. This applies likewise to his choice of people appointed to high office. Regarded from this standpoint, the following assessment of Trump’s personality may be made with reasonable confidence:
He is an extreme egoist. His egoism would appear to be so extreme as to justify describing him as an egomaniac. He is obsessed with his own importance and is convinced that he is destined to succeed in whatever he does. He cannot fail. If it seems to some that he has failed, the perception is false. (Note here his claim during the election campaign that he would accept the validity of the electoral system and the outcome of the election only if he were to win; not if he didn’t. Note also his claim made with no evidence that three million unregistered voters had voted against him.)
Trump is always right. He will never apologise, never admit that he is wrong or that he has made a mistake. As suggested above, he learned this attitude from his mentor, Roy Cohn, in the 1970s. He is an authoritarian. This is an attribute stemming from his egoism.
Trump is a misogynist. His attitude towards women is transparently clear for all to see. What was revealed in the leaked audio recording should have come as no surprise to anyone. Those – mainly men – who have attempted to dismiss it as “locker-room” or “golf course” bragging simply expose their own misogynistic attitudes towards women.
Is Trump a Fascist? Is his administration Fascistic?
In attempting to answer such questions it is important to avoid simplistic analogies with the 1930s. There are very important and obvious differences between the European fascist regimes then and the Trump administration today. But there are also similarities. First, Trump himself: “You know, I’m glad to have that German blood. There’s no question about it.” A statement like this may be dismissed as stupid but pretty innocent. But it shouldn’t be. From what he has said on and around the subject of genetic inheritance, it seems very unlikely that he has made any serious attempt to inform himself on the subject. What he has said suggests though that he subscribes to a simpleton’s version of Eugenics theory. He is a simpleton Eugenicist. Although Eugenics had quite a broadly based following in the earlier part of the twentieth century, Hitler and Auschwitz gave it a bad name and its dwindling band of adherents were entirely discredited by serious genetic science after 1945. That Trump, Bannon and Sessions should attempt to resurrect it now is alarming. Such views, which are inevitably racist, give them a distinct affinity with the fascists of the 1930s.
As already mentioned, their affinity with Lindbergh’s pro-Nazi America First Committee is abundantly clear and unashamed. Lindbergh was himself a Eugenicist who spoke of the need for a metaphorical Great Western Wall to keep out the hordes of racially inferior “aliens” who threatened his ideal of a White Supremacist USA. Trump rails about Mexican criminals and rapists who must be kept out or deported. The similarities are unmistakable.
Fascism and “Fake News”
In the 1920s and early 30s both the Communist Party and the Nazis and German nationalists denounced the Weimar Republic. For a time (1928 – 1933) the Communists (KPD) treated the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Centre Party liberals as worse enemies than the Nazis. Indeed, the leaders of the SPD, by far the larger of the two leftist parties, had aborted the German revolution of 1918-19 and helped the army crush the Spartacists. This made the KPD’s hostility to them in the early thirties understandable – but not justifiable. In their speeches during the late 20s and early 30s Hitler and Goebbels denounced the “lies” of the “Lugerpresse” of Weimar Republic and the corrupt politicians of the “System” parties. To many there seemed to be a ring of truth in much of what they said, but the Nazi attacks on the “Lugerpresse” was all a huge demagogic fraud perpetrated on a hard-pressed middle class population suffering from the impact of the economic crash of 1929-30. In September 1932, 37% of the German electorate, including a minority of German workers, voted for the Nazis. Hitler, who was an effective and accomplished public speaker, played upon the emotions of people who had lost hope and were prepared to believe the racist-nationalism which promised to “make Germany great again” and to avenge the “stab in the back” perpetrated against the German army and people by traitors, foreigners and “Judeo-Bolshevik conspirators”, all of whom would be swept away in a huge cleansing operation. The German language was subjected to a barrack-room militarisation and racist-nationalist corruption which encouraged emotive expostulation over measured thought. “Germany Awake!”, “Strength through Joy!”, “Perish Judah!”. While it would be quite wrong to assert that Trump’s election has turned the USA into a fascist state, it seems undeniable that there are distinct fascistic tendencies evident in his administration.
Trump’s appeal to emotions.
Trump has the kind of mind to which single words come more readily than complete sentences. But this speech-characteristic serves him well with his audiences on the campaign trail and in his tweets. He gives every appearance of believing whatever he says despite the contradictory statements he is capable of uttering in the same speech. Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was accused by his opponents during the Iraq war of lying, and taunted with the nick-name “Bliar.” Whether he did lie deliberately is debatable. What is certain is that what he said about WMDs and many other things was not true. One of his most common protestations in his own defence is, “I firmly believe.” He repeats it with a fervour which smacks of religious faith and it may be that he actually thinks that if he believes something strongly enough, that alone makes it true. This is, of course, no defence at all, as the truth value of a statement is not determined by the person who utters it. With Trump it is different but nonetheless indefensible. He seems to be a pathological liar. This is connected with his egomania. He feels that he is not required to provide evidence. He has hunches. He guesses that something may be so. His feeling or suspicion that this person or that may be “crooked” or ”smart” “good” or “bad” makes it so. It plays well with his audiences, particularly when he talks about people they hate. His sense of his own superiority is sufficient to persuade him that whatever he thinks is so, is so. This is a pathological condition. It is a condition which was almost certainly applicable to Hitler. In his case it was tinged with a near-mystical belief in his own omnipotence. In the opening sentence of Mein Kampf he wrote that “Providence decreed” that he should be born when and where he was. Trump believes that his purported business success has been decreed by his superior genetic inheritance which has given him “German blood.”
The Need to build the Resistance
The course upon which Trump’s administration is embarked, namely to strengthen the power of the most rapacious, aggressive regime of finance monopoly capitalism and to intensify the global hegemony of U.S. imperialism, can and must be stopped. This can only be done by building a nation-wide mass movement of resistance. Such a movement will inevitably involve many strata and much diversity. There can be no excuse for creating or perpetuating divisions which will only weaken such a movement. The beginnings already exist. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of these early weeks and months has been the mobilization of millions of women who have reacted with passionate and completely justifiable anger against everything that Trump stands for. The millions of young men and women who were enthused by the campaign of Bernie Sanders will hopefully continue to agitate, educate and organize to build this resistance. To be successful they must also embrace those further millions who were misled by the false prophet who will certainly let them down.
(1) George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of State, James Baker, at a meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev at the Kremlin in 1990, assured the Soviet leader that as long as the Soviet Union agreed to a united Germany joining the alliance, there would be “no extension of NATO one inch to the east” of Germany’s borders. NATO membership, it was promised, would be “out of the question” for countries like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia. (Spiegel Online, 26.11.2009)
(2) *The point made above was written before the news broke that Trump had fired General Michael Flynn. But such a denouement should have come as no surprise. The military brass and the CIA regarded his appointment with alarm. It took no great insight to predict that in this case Trump would succumb to pressure from that quarter. Trump on NATO: (1) March 23. 2016: “[Wolf Blitz, CNN] asked me about NATO. I said it’s obsolete.”(2) February 28. 2017: “We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged between two world wars that dethroned fascism and a cold war that defeated communism.” Defence Secretary, James Mattis said that Trump had thrown his “full support behind NATO.”
“Corporate Dark Money is Running Trump’s Show. George Monbiot The Guardian” 3. February 2017.
(3) The Glass-Steagall Act, 1933 essentially separated commercial banking from Wall Street investment banks. By the 1960s many of its regulatory provisions had been eroded and in 1999 the Gramm-Leach-Billey-Act repealed the provisions restricting affiliations between banks and securities firms. At the end of his term President Clinton declared that “the Glass-Steagall Act is no longer appropriate”, thus facilitating the behaviour that led to the financial crash of 2007- 08.
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