On July 4th, American Exceptionalism, and Ruling Class fear of Trump

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“With each passing day under Trump, the mythology of US exceptionalism becomes more fragile.”

The ascendency of Donald Trump to the commanding heights of US imperialism has been a chaotic experience for the ruling class. Trump’s lives in the trash-heap of the ruling class and has been deemed “unfit” to command the machinery of the state. His thievery is wholly unexceptional. He is an old-fashioned liar and cheat. But he is petty in the eyes of the ruling class, a small man who is impossible to brand to the masses. He is a fool, but not foolish enough to simply go along with the imperialist program. One day he is cutting taxes for the rich and keeping migrant families apart and the next he is signaling détente with Russia and Korea. Trump is a headache to the ruling class even if he is no savior for the poor and oppressed.

The cynical capitalist ruing class is trying to impute all the evils and problems of a decomposing capitalism on Trump, as if he had created them. As a sociopathic capitalist, Trump is certainly part of the problem, but he did not create the mess he bumbingly administrates. He is a direct product of it.

Every July 4th, we are reminded that the United States is an exceptional civilization and the most advanced manifestation of Western democratic liberalism. At least that’s what the corporate media, the Washington political elite, and their corporate masters never hesitate to tell us. July 4th marks the national celebration of the so-called founding of the US state’s exceptional principles. American flags are raised and waved even more emphatically than an ordinary day under the rule of US empire. Fireworks erupt from coast to coast. However, with each passing day under Trump, the mythology of US exceptionalism becomes more fragile and the system more exposed as the nightmare that it really is.

“Trump is a headache to the ruling class even if he is no savior for the poor and oppressed.”

The US ruling class understands that the era of Trump is a dangerous moment politically, economically, and militarily. US imperialism is in a state of crisis. Trump is a product of the crisis and at the same time has been mistakenly identified as the cause. The ruling class has attempted to cover up all dangers to US hegemony with non-stop lies, deceits, and half-truths endlessly drooling from the mouths of those who sit in the so-called exceptional wing of the ruling class. The biggest lie is that Trump somehow represents a danger to the United States’ inherent exceptionalism.  This lie has been loudly upheld by the corporate media.

Krugman represents the collapse of all possibility of good faith communication with liberals, deeply embedded in the imperial status quo. If this guy, a Nobel Prize winner, can’t figure what American exceptionalism really is and is busy shedding croc tears over its supposed ending, nothing further needs to be said. Cynicism wins the day, but not the war.

Two recent articles in the New York Times and The Hill made the case that Trump has destroyed the values of American exceptionalism. If that were the case, I and many others would gladly thank him. So-called “Keynesian” economist Paul Krugman wrote on June 18ththat Trump is “ending” American exceptionalism by “trashing the things that made us great, turning us into just another bully — one whose bullying will be far less effective than he imagines.” Like a good ol’ soldier of US exceptionalism, Krugman argues that the values of American “goodness” made the US the leader of the “free world” and a “moral force” alongside a military and financial one. The conclusion one derives from Krugman’s fact-less analysis is that Trump is a bully but the rest of the ruling class is not. Closer to July 4th, The Hillcontributor Howard Blum echoed Krugman:

After more than a year in office, the president has further developed and refined this realpolitik. It is decidedly not one of a benevolent, far-reaching American exceptionalism as envisioned by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration that we celebrate this July 4. It is not the “Empire of Liberty,” an exemplary catalyst for nations, that Jefferson saw as the country’s role in a hope-fostered future. It is not the beacon Jefferson saw brightly shining when he completed his presidency in 1809: ‘This solitary republic of the world, the only monument of human rights, and the sole depository of the sacred fire of freedom and self-government, from hence it is to be lighted up in other regions of the earth … .’

“No, American exceptionalism, the purposeful and uplifting beliefs in liberty, equality and opportunity crystallized in the Declaration, have been replaced.”

The biggest lie is that Trump somehow represents a danger to the United States’ inherent exceptionalism.”

Such investment in the narrative that Trump has destroyed the exceptionally moral and good US empire signifies the depths that the ruling class will go to protect the mythology of American exceptionalism. Malcolm X taught us that the nightmare of American exceptionalism is not in the mythology itself but in how the ideology finds material expression. The material conditions attached to American exceptionalism are what drove Malcolm X to call the American Dream an American nightmare. The attempt of the ruling class to preserve the legitimacy of American exceptionalism is far from a progressive reaction to Trump’s so-called attack on bourgeois democracy and liberty. It is an attempt to preserve the nation’s strongest illusion and keep the downtrodden firmly in the grip of the two-party duopoly.

The crisis of US imperialism is rapidly eroding the legitimacy of American exceptionalism. That’s bad news for the ruling class. Neoconservative and neoliberal Democrats have raised the volume of their anti-Trump message to drown out any hope for a leftwing political movement to emerge and fill the gap. These parasitic corporate goons call the billionaire arch-racist Trump a fascist for wreaking terror along the US-Mexico border, suggesting peace with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and threatening to withdraw US troops from Syria. He is condemned as an agent of Russia, a racist, and an authoritarian thug by some of the most violent and treacherous forces known to humanity. The problem for the anti-Trump fan club of American exceptionalism, however, is that preserving the ideology becomes a fool’s errand when only the rich can identify with the cause.

“Neoconservative and neoliberal Democrats have raised the volume of their anti-Trump message to drown out any hope for a leftwing political movement.”

This is not to say that Trump is not an imperialist, a racist, or a capitalist. He is all three. His position as president of the empire and his history as a capitalist mogul are the stuff that enemies of the people are made of. But Trump isn’t their President, nor is he their  preferred capitalist. Wall Street bankers, corporate executives, and militarists of various stripes dislike Trump because they didn’t choose him. The crisis of the system birthed Trump’s political career by accident.

And the crisis hasn’t improved. Trump must be labeled the sole source of all problems lest the entire ruling class becomes implicated as well. Democrats and Republicans jointly built the deportation and terror regime  that enforces immigration policy. Democrats and Republicans jointly spend trillions waging war across the globe , so it should come as no surprise that Trump has become the object of their opposition to Russia and Korea’s growing independence in world affairs. Neither Democrats nor Republicans say anything about the fact that hunger increased for Black Americans last year ,and both parties refuse to do anything about rampant poverty in the US . The two-party duopoly maintains the architecture of US imperialism, not Trump alone.

“Malcolm X called the American Dream an American nightmare.”

July 4this the most heinous celebration of a system built upon lies. A system that has always torn Black families apart by way of enslavement, lynching, incarceration and other forms of exploitation and oppression. This system, built upon the stolen land of natives and the enslaved labor of Africans, is crumbling under the weight of its own contradictions. Neoliberalism is a desperate form of capitalism. It is capitalism in debt to itself. Half of the population is poor they can’t afford a $500-dollar emergency , Black wealth is nearing zero, and police lynch Black Americans nearly every day or incarcerate them behind prison walls. The hundreds of billions currently flowing to military contractors and the banks is wealth that the working class and the poor will never see again. That is, until the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed take back what is rightfully theirs.

The ruling class cannot depend on Trump and neither can the oppressed. The ruling class spent eight years under Obama investing resources in the non-profit industrial complex with the understanding that the post-Obama hangover was going to be rough on the Democratic Party’s voting base, especially the Black polity. Wall Street did not foresee Trump’s political success and has deployed its non-profit forces to organize a fake “resistance” capable of mobilizing just enough Democrats to retake Congress in November and maybe the presidency in 2020. Whether the strategy will work remains to be seen. With nothing material to offer, whatever success that comes out of the anti-Trump strategy will be temporary at best.

“Neoliberalism is a desperate form of capitalism, in debt to itself.”

What is clear is that conditions for undocumented immigrants, Black Americans, and the increasingly impoverished working class in general will only worsen. Imperialism does not rest. Aligning with the US ruling class against Trump is political suicide for the oppressed, plain and simple. There is no “progressive” side of the ruling class in the United States. We are living in capitalism’s end game. July 4th reminds us that we still need to ask the same question that Frederick Douglas  asked over a century and a half ago, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” The answer is very similar to what it was then, except this time the system of US imperialism is in a state of breakdown–as are its illusions of exceptionalism and grandeur.


About the author
 Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: The Fake News of US Empire (Skyhorse Publishing).He can be reached  at  wakeupriseup1990@gmail.com 
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Parting shot—a word from the editors
The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” — acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump — a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report 

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One thought on “On July 4th, American Exceptionalism, and Ruling Class fear of Trump

  1. Though I respect Haiphong’s ideas, I tend to agree and disagree with him on the points raised in this article. First, Trump is supported by Wall Street (high stocks and high yields) and the army (billions extra for the Pentagon). He is loathed and feared by the permanent government, those bureaucrats who feel insecure in their jobs by his threatening to cut government departments. Second as was excessively clear during the Strzrok hearing, the ‘intelligence’ networks are opposed to him (and consequently also the media). The ‘intelligence’ networks are de facto the deep state, those who as was recognizable by their smirks during Strzok’s hearing rule the roost in the US, which was already described extensively during Hoover’s time. I doubt that the rulers fear Trump but probably thinking that by curtailing and hobbling him with the ‘intelligence’ researches by the special counsel (himself a spook), he will be kept in check., No such thing as demonstrated by Trump’s visit to Europe. As I explained in another comment, Trump was accepted and brought in to contain the increasing unrest in the public during Obama time, but created instead more confusion. And so, Trump is indeed, as Haiphong writes used as a scapegoat.

    One cannot stop for winning as Trump himself states even as he may think that he is in control. The real rulers of the West do not scare easily, and Trump is absolutely no threat to them. If so he would have been eliminated one way or another already long ago. In fact, he guarantees by diverting the popular opinion (entirely directed and engineered by media propaganda) into demonstrations, that popular opinion remains stultified in secondary causes such as Brexit and Mexican border laws and abuses. The real retreat into neocon rules is mostly ignored or expertly hidden by the media. The silver lining is however that the chaos caused by the attempts by Trump towards a repositioning of capitalist society, may result in the chaos that precedes revolution. The strong arm tactics could have worked maybe twenty years ago during the Clinton moral debacle, which shocked the Puritan nation, but now they are proving to be more of a hindrance to smooth capitalist rule than a distraction from the fast fading term of exceptionalism which is more of a ci-devant idea than really still workable.

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