Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Challenges Capitalist Democracy

A Statement from Facts For Working People

The authors of this Blog have explained that US capitalism is in a military, economic and political crisis. Militarily it is in stuck in wars it cannot win, it has military commitments it can no longer afford to finance and as it sinks deeper into its wars, its military will increasingly crack in its hands. We have already had members of the military speaking out like Chelsea Manning who released the famous Collateral Murder video, drone operators who sent an open letter to Obama condemning their missions, and others supporting football’s Colin Kaepernick’s protests. There are also 22 suicides a day among military veterans another sign of the crisis in the troops.

US capitalism is also in an economic crisis. Its rate of growth from the great recession of 2008 is at an all time low for recoveries from recessions and it is in debt to a level never before experienced. It's record high stock markets and its indebtedness cannot be sustained. A collapse in the stock markets, a new banking and financial crisis and a new recession lies ahead.

Political Crisis
These economic and military crises will be unlike any other in the past. This will be so because they will take place amid unprecedented political turmoil as the monopoly the two capitalist parties has  had over American life and the relative stability this provided US capitalism is coming to an end. This is the significance of the crisis in the Republican Party. This will have huge repercussions, not only in the US, but worldwide. What is happening must not be underestimated. 

Capitalism prefers to rule through what we call bourgeois democracy. This is where it holds regular elections with different political parties and where these elections are dominated by the capitalist parties and their capitalist mass media. Despite numerous parties fielding presidential candidates in the present election, the Republican and Democratic parties have ensured only their candidates are allowed to participate in national debates and the mass media coverage of this event. The Green Party with its eco-socialist platform was never allowed in any of the major debates. The result is that there is never any questioning of capitalism or the so-called free market. The only option offered is capitalism.

When there are movements that arise that give the appearance of throwing up an alternative to capitalism, capitalism and the capitalist classes brush bourgeois democracy aside and use their state apparatus, their military, to drown these movements in blood.  US capitalism did this in Chile in 1973. It did it in the dirty wars in Latin America. US capitalism has supported and does support some of the most ruthless, undemocratic regimes on the planet. Their preferred clients are regimes headed by free market dictators, those resting on a statist type economy like Iraq or Syria are a threat to the ideology that only capitalism works. They snuff out any attempts at an alternative to capitalism with a vengeance. As Assange commented in his book, The Wikileaks Files, the US didn’t invade tiny Grenada to corner the nutmeg trade.

The form in which capitalism rules at any given time and in any given country is also very much an economic question. Bourgeois democracy has been maintained in the advanced capitalist countries as a result of their colonial and imperialist plunder, it is how they got rich. This has meant that the capitalist classes in these advanced capitalist countries could make certain concessions to sections of their own working class, they have been able to provide enough to enough people, to keep them for the most part supporting the system, coming to the conclusion that it is the best that is possible. On this basis the capitalist class in these countries were in a better position to take the "democratic" road.

But there have been times, even in advanced capitalist countries, times of extreme economic and political crisis when capitalism, wasn’t able to rule through bourgeois democracy and resorted to fascist regimes like Hitler in Germany. However when it did place such lunatics in power things  tended to get out of hand. In Hitler's case this ended up with a war that lost half of German capitalism's territory to Stalinism.  The capitalist class drew conclusions from this experience. It concluded if at all possible it was best to rule through bourgeois democracy, this method was less costly, more stable and more under its control.

But in those countries whose wealth was looted, the colonial countries of Africa and Latin America and Asia for example, never ending poverty and periods of outright starvation was just about the permanent experience of the majority. This in turn led to ongoing rebellion and opposition to the market and capitalism. It is not easy, if not impossible at times, for capitalism to take the "bourgeois democratic " road in these circumstances. It is then that military rule or dictatorship of one type or another is resorted to with the violence and oppression that accompanies them.

There are other reasons, the divide and rule tactic of racism and sexism and the refusal of the leadership of the US working class to lead an offensive of our own, but the main reason US capitalism has been able to rule through bourgeois democratic means has been its economic power and dominance.

This is now coming to an end as US capitalism can no longer afford to maintain its position in the world and at the same time keep the living standard of its own working class anywhere near the level it demands. Even during the period of the post World War Two boom, US capitalism was never able to provide a secure standard of living for all Americans, it did provide it for a huge section of them and this laid the material basis for the “American Dream”.

This period has entered the history books never to return. The US can no longer afford guns and butter so the political monopoly its two parties have enjoyed for a century is beginning to fracture and with it its political crisis deepens. 

This is why Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results if he lost has been met with such anger. He has questioned the legitimacy of bourgeois democracy, that is the way that US capitalism rules, this is what he is questioning, this is what capitalism means when they talk of democracy, their preferred method of rule. Trump is questioning this, questioning their phony election and so called democratic process. This has caused a huge furor and the media has picked up on it. Clinton took it up. She wanted to show yet again that she was the most reliable politician for capitalism.  She attacked him for “Questioning the democratic process……that’s been around 240 years.” This was very dangerous talk by Trump Clinton said. She went on to say he was “denigrating, talking down our democracy.”

Trump says the system is rigged. Of course it is rigged. He helped rig it with his buying of politicians. But it is rigged in a more fundamental way. The Senate, the electoral college all give more weight to the rural states than to the big urban states. All states regardless of their population have the same number of Senators. This is to reduce the power of the urban working class.  Then there are the crooks who bribe and buy the politicians for the big corporations. It is this rigging that the majority of the population instinctively feel is  going on and which among other things allows Trump to get their ear. 

This is a watershed moment in US bourgeois politics. Election after election has seen the loser accept the newly elected president. Even in the election that pitted Gore against Bush where Gore won the popular vote yet the “rigged” Supreme Court declared Bush the winner, Gore accepted the result. He did so because he saw that not to do so would lead to a major crisis in US bourgeois politics and the way it ruled, and would weaken the US bourgeois political system. For capitalism to control through the bourgeois democratic system, large sections of the population must have some belief that the system is at least someway fair, that it at least halfway works. For Gore to have fought Bush to the end back then would have shaken belief in the system. So as the responsible capitalist politician he was and is, he took one for the team, the team being US capitalism, US capitalist stability. He stepped aside.

The danger for US capitalism now is that it is possible that Trump, being the backward ignorant maverick he is, will lose the election and will not step back, will not gracefully accept the result.

Trump’s comments criticized bourgeois democracy and suggested that he may not accept the results of bourgeois democracy. To even hint at such a thing threatens to undermine belief in the whole political system, in the way capitalism has been ruling up till now. This is what Trump is playing with. He is so stupid he does not know the monster that he threatening to let out of the bag. If he is not careful he will be eaten by this monster.

It is not possible to fully understand what is going on in the head of this egomaniac and the team he has around him, people like Bannon and Breitbart. It is possible Trump is just saying he will decide whether or not to accept the election result in order to keep himself at the center of the news for longer and possibly come out of this with a new mass media outfit and through this build a new national right wing reactionary movement based around a mass communication system. It is also possible but perhaps less likely at this stage that he and his squad might be aiming to immediately move to split the Republican Party and  set up a new extreme right wing party.

One way or another, the Republican Party is heading for a major downward plunge, and sooner or later, it will shatter.  There are huge developments that will arise out of this and the reader can read in more detail what we wrote about this last week here.

The main point is that Trump’s threats, empty or not, to undermine the bourgeois democratic process and reject the end result of an election is treading on dangerous ground and will almost certainly ensure his defeat one way or another. More so than his misogyny, his racist and nationalistic ravings, undermining how his class governs society will not be taken lightly. And we would like to add this about Trump and racism in the US. It would be impossible for a black person, especially a black man to talk the way Trump does about grabbing women, forcing himself on them etc. As a rich white man, a member of the capitalist class, he can get away with it whereas a black man would be demonized, called a "thug" in the media etc.  For a black guy to talk this way he wouldn't get in to the interview for a truck driving position never mind being the nominee of a major political party. *

But Trump is only a symptom of what is going on, a symptom of the bigger picture. He has helped let the cat out of the bag. And the cat cannot be put back in the bag. The decades of relative stability under bourgeois democracy of US capitalism are over.  The new days when the US working class will take a leading role in US society are on the horizon. Those of us who see ourselves as anti capitalists and socialists, those of us who want to end capitalism and all the filth that comes with it, have to look at our ways of working. We have to look at why the self styled revolutionary left has failed all these decades to put down roots in the US working class and see what mistakes have been made, see what changes have to be made in the work, see what is necessary to help build a new anti capitalist, democratic revolutionary socialist movement of tens of tens of millions. Such a movement can usher in a system of workers democracy where the majority genuinely do rule. 

This is the task facing us today.

*We are grateful to  Yvette Carnell at for reminding us of this aspect of the debates and US society of course. We should have stressed this point as well and have since added it.

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