Trump Era: “There Is Great Disorder Under The Sky, So The Situation Is Excellent!”
Above: Trump Treason protest at the White House after his meeting with President Putin. Source RT.
Note: The quote in the headline comes from Mao Tse Tung. It aptly describes the opportunity of the Trump era for people who desire transformative change. There are many things to dislike about President Trump, but he is shaking up the establishment and raising mishandled issues that would not otherwise be raised. His policy prescriptions are often wrong, but Trump chaos is creating opportunities for positive change.
While the article below is an interesting review of Trump’s recent European trip, it falls short in its conclusions about the Democratic Party and the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While we were pleased to see ten-term Congressman Joe Crowley defeated, as he epitomizes the corporate-corruption of the Democratic Party, the reality is that movements for peace and justice lose power when they enter the Democratic Party. Ocasio-Cortez’ election occurred in a low-turnout primary in a solidly-blue congressional district where the ethnic makeup has moved from white middle class to Latinx working class and Crowley was focused on taking Pelosi’s place rather than his re-election.
Democrats Not Turning Left, More Likely To Be A Military-Intelligence Party
The democratic socialism Ocascio-Cortez stands for, of the Bernie Sanders type, could be popular across the country where workers are struggling after decades of neoliberal economics that increase the wealth at the top in the false claim it will trickle down. Most people in the United States are worse off; tens of millions are in poverty and all but the wealthiest are economically insecure. This is one reason the anti-establishment campaign of Trump defeated the elitist establishment candidate Clinton. Trump also played on the reality that most people are ready to end the never-ending wars and stop the obscene spending on militarism when necessities at home are not being realized. President Obama also campaigned as a peace president, even though he did not govern that way. While the population is ready for transformative change, the Democratic Party is successfully resisting it.
Ocasio-Cortez’ victory was a rare progressive victory in the primaries. Joe Crowley is the only House incumbent to have lost a primary, and thanks to the fake third party, the Working Families Party, which is really the Democrats in disguise, Crowley will still be on the ballot in November.
Just 22 percent of self-defined progressive candidates have won, with many of them coming from seats where Democrats have little chance of winning in November, so they will not change the direction of House Democrats. And, progressive candidates who lost their races are supporting establishment Democrats. More likely than a progressive takeover among House Democrats is the deepening of military-intelligence views of the party as many new Democratic candidates are veterans of military and intelligence agencies. In the Senate, there were not even any progressive challenges in the primaries even though many of the Democrats running for re-election are in the right-wing mainstream of the Democratic Party.
While there is a lot of left-progressive energy in the Democratic Party base, the establishment is containing it. The leadership wants just enough energy for a takeover of the House in November, and a less-likely takeover of the Senate, but not a progressive takeover of the Democratic Party. Thus far in 2018, the Democrats will remain a corporate Democrat-dominated party consistent with their Wall Street and war agenda.
The real path to transformation is to break free of the duopoly and build a political alternative, such as the Green Party, into a national force that can win elections and be the party that puts people and planet before the donor-militarist class that dominates the political duopoly. This will require progressives beaten down by the Democratic establishment to break their abusive relationship with the Democratic Party. It will require workers who have gone downhill since the 1930s, when unions allied with the Democratic Party, to say — “Enough, we will build our own political power.” And, it will require African Americans who have seen every measure from lack of wealth and income, to high levels of incarceration, lack of investment in their communities and poor education to say — “Enough, we will not fall for black Democratic Party misleadership and build our own power outside of the Democratic Party.”
Trump’s Trip To Europe
Trump’s recent trip to Europe was filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. The reaction of the establishment from both parties and the corporate media showed their shortcomings and that they favor conflict with Russia over a working relationship.
President Trump told NATO countries they need to spend even more on militarism, avoiding the real issue with NATO. They have already increased their spending due to Trump’s bullying, now he says, even more, is needed, four percent of their GDP. This is an absurd demand when the truth is NATO should be disbanded, as its purpose no longer exists. The threat of the Warsaw Pact is gone and NATO should follow their lead. The fear-mongering of Russia is a fraudulent mirage. There is no need for bases along the Russian border with Europe; doing so only provides profits to the militarists while decreasing security in Russia and Europe.
After Trump jawboned Europe to spend money to defend themselves against Russia, he contradicted that fearmongering with a friendly meeting in Helsinki with President Putin. His display of friendship, which we view as a positive step by Trump, showed that NATO is no longer needed. What is needed are more meetings between Trump and Putin. These “Treason Summits” have the potential to de-escalate threats of military conflict and solve crisis problems that the world is facing.
Trump also attacked the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, at the NATO summit claiming that “Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they’re getting between 60 to 70% of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.” This was an exaggeration, but was this really about “control” by Russia or about selling US oil and gas? Shortly after the NATO meeting, Trump met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Washington, DC. One of the results of their meeting was increased purchases of carbon energy by Europe from the United States.
The real energy news in Germany is that it is breaking from carbon energy and leading the way on clean energy. Germany is setting new records in the use of clean, renewable energy by providing more than 40 percent of the country’s power supply in the first half of 2018. In July, renewables overtook coal for the first time in Germany and the country is seeking to transition to clean energy. The market for oil and gas is shrinking and may be short-term.
The recent Trump trip to Europe also once again highlighted the declining role of the US in the world. There are consistent signs in the Trump era of the decline of US empire. The move from a unipolar world to a multi-polar world is underway. Just one year ago, the US War College published a report, At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment In A Post-Primacy World, which recognized the decline of US global influence as both a military and corporate power. Their recommendation was more militarism, but the chaos of the Trump era shows an opportunity and responsibility of the people of the United States to find a way to a multi-polar world and an end to US empire where the US is a member of the community of nations, not a dominator of the world. – KZ and MF
Slavoj Žižek: Democratic left, not liberal establishment, can defeat Trump
Now that yet another week of President Trump’s frantic activity is safely behind us, and slowly receding into memory, we can reflect on the chaotic wasteland his foreign trip left behind.
The US President visited three places: Brussels – where he met the key European leaders, London – to see Theresa May and the Queen, plus Helsinki – where he held a summit with Vladimir Putin.
While most pundits noted the apparently strange fact that Trump was much friendlier to (those perceived as) US enemies than to its traditional friends, this shouldn’t surprise us too much. Instead, our attention should turn in another direction. As is often the case with Trump, reactions to his acts are more important than what he actually did or said.
Let us begin by comparing what Trump uttered with what his partners said. When Trump and May were asked by a journalist what they think about the flow of immigrants to Europe, Trump brutally and honestly rendered his populist anti-immigrant position: immigrants are a threat to the European way of life; they are destabilizing the safety of our countries and bringing violence and intolerance. So, we should keep them out.
A careful listener could easily notice that Theresa May said exactly the same thing, just in a more diplomatic and “civilized” way: immigrants bring diversity, they contribute to our welfare, but we should carefully check whom we let in. Thus, we received a clear taste of the choice which is more and more the only one presented to us: direct populist barbarism or a more civilized version of the same politics, barbarism with a human face.
Generally, the reactions to Trump from all across the spectrum, including Republicans and Democrats in the US, were one of global shock and awe. Which sometimes bordered on pure panic. We heard how Trump is unreliable and he brings chaos.
For instance, first he reproached Germany for relying on Russian gas and thus becoming vulnerable to NATO’s supposed enemy, but days later he praised good relations with Putin.
Then there are his manners: when meeting the queen, he violated the protocol of how you behave in the presence of a monarch!. And he doesn’t really listen to his democratic partners while being much more open to the charms of Putin, who is nowadays cast as America’s big enemy.
Indeed, the way he acted at a press conference with Putin in Helsinki was not only supposedly an unheard-of humiliation (just think of it – he didn’t behave as Putin’s master!), and some of his statements could even be considered outright acts of treason, we heard.
Rumours reappeared of how Trump acts as Putin’s puppet because his Russian counterpart must have some hold over him (the infamous alleged photos of prostitutes urinating in Moscow?), and parts of the US establishment. Democrats and some Republicans, began to consider a quick impeachment, even if we get Mike Pence as his replacement.
Overall, the conclusion was simply that the President of the US is no longer the leader of the free world: but was the President of the US really ever such a leader? Here our counter-attack should begin.
Let us first note that the overall confusion of Trump’s statements contains some truths here and there: wasn’t he in some sense right when he said that it is in our interest to have good relations with Russia and China to prevent war? Wasn’t he partially correct to present his tariff war also as a protection of the interests of the US workers?
The fact is that the existing order of international trade and finances is far from equitable, and that the European establishment hurt by Trump’s measures should also look at its own sins. Did we already forget how the existing financial and trade rules that privilege the strong European states, especially Germany, brought devastation to Greece?
Takes two to tango
Concerning Putin, yes I personally believe that Russians probably meddled in the US elections, but Putin was caught doing… what exactly? Just what the US is doing regularly and massively itself, except in their case, they call it the defence of democracy? So yes, Trump is a monster, and when he designated himself as a “stable genius,” we should read this as a direct reversal of truth – he is an unstable idiot who disturbs the establishment. But as such, he is a symptom, an effect of what is wrong with the establishment itself. And the true Monster is the very establishment shocked by Trump’s actions.
The panicky reaction to Trump’s latest acts demonstrates that he is undermining and destabilizing the US political establishment and its ideology. So our conclusion should be: yes, the situation is dangerous, there is uncertainty and elements of chaos in international relations – but it is here that we should remember Mao’s old motto: “There is great disorder under the sky, so the situation is excellent!”
Let’s not lose our nerve. Instead, we can exploit the confusion by systematically organizing another anti-establishment front from the left. The signs are clear here – the surprising electoral victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, against 10-term House incumbent Joe Crowley in a New York congressional primary was, hopefully, the first in the series of shocks that will transform the Democratic Party. People like her, and not the well-known, and tired, faces from the liberal establishment, should be our answer to Trump.
Slavoj Žižek is a cultural philosopher. He’s a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University, and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London.