Source: Roar Magazine
Only a reinvigorated left and radical-democratic movements can clear away the ruins of the political establishment and defeat the proto-fascist right.
A political earthquake has just ripped through the world. There can be no doubt that Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections marks a historic breaking point for American politics and the liberal international order established in the wake of World War II. Things simply won’t be the same after this. And yet it’s crucial to remind ourselves that this moment has been a long time in the making.
In recent years, the twin pillars of the postwar world system — global capitalist markets and liberal democratic institutions — have been steadily decaying under the strains of a structural crisis of financialization and a deep legitimation crisis of the neoliberal political establishment. Yesterday’s shock election result indicates that this dual crisis has finally come to a head. Trump himself will eventually move on, but the crisis he speaks to will fester and ultimately overflow the regulatory capacity of even the world’s most powerful state. We are now steadily moving towards the kind of world-systemic chaos predicted by sociologists Giovanni Arrighi and Beverly Silver at the turn of the century.
Here we should immediately dispense with a pervasive and dangerous myth: Trump’s rise cannot simply be blamed on the supposedly extremist and backward views of the American working class. In the US, at least, the rush to right-wing populism appears to be a middle class response to the dual crisis of global capitalism and liberal democracy. As Paul Mason puts it, “Donald Trump has won the presidency — not because of the ‘white working class,’ but because millions of middle-class and educated US citizens reached into their soul and found there, after all its conceits were stripped away, a grinning white supremacist. Plus untapped reserves of misogyny.”
It was this white middle class, especially men, that handed Trump the presidency: the majority of those making less than $50,000 a year voted for Clinton, while a majority of those making more than that voted for Trump. Almost two in three white men, 63 percent in all, voted for the far-right Republican candidate. But while these numbers certainly do reveal a disconcerting picture about the deeply embedded racism at the heart of American society, Trump’s popularity should neither be overstated nor naturalized. All in all, Trump actually garnered a lower share of the popular vote than either Bush, Romney or McCain. Trump didn’t win because he was popular; Clinton lost because she was so extremely unpopular.