Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Divisions widen among the US bourgeois

Sean O' Torain

Those of us connected to Facts For Working People have been discussing the divisions in the US capitalist class in our weekly conference calls. Is the situation such that at some stage there might be a move by a wing to of the US ruling class to remove Trump and his gang?   It is clear that the US ruling class is in a severe political and economic crisis. Firstly they could not find a suitable candidate to represent their interests in the last election which left the two most unpopular candidates in history in the field.  Then, forced by circumstances to choose, the candidate they chose lost. For some influential capitalists it would have been inconceivable for them to have supported Hillary Clinton or a Democrat prior to the rise of Trump.

Well today there is an article, an appeal form a "concerned citizen" in the New York Times by Thomas L Friedman a major columnist for the paper. It is headed: Dear American Business Leaders. Friedman, is clearly worried about the political crisis in the country and is appealing to his class to intervene. It is an appeal from an influential media representative of the capitalist class who has authored many books and articles about foreign policy and politics.

Friedman gives some examples of who he thinks can "clear the swamp" if you like. He lists them: Bill Gates, Tim, Cook, Jeff Immelt, Mark Zuckerburg, Eric Schmidt, Jamie Diamond, Mike Bloomberg, Elon Musk, Indra Nooyi, Ginni Rometty, Dennis Muilenburg, and Doug McMillon.

I am not familiar with all of these but they seem to be mainly from the high tech sector of the bourgeois although  Google's Schmidt and Amazon's Bezos don't appear to be among them which is a weakness on both counts.

But two points. One is that this confirms what we have been discussing in our weekly calls that there is a split in the bourgeois, and two, that a section of this class is seriously discussing about how to mobilize and stop Trump. 

There does not seem to be a significant section from industry, oil and gas and the military industrial complex in the list Friedman names. This makes me think that the bourgeois will let Trump stay where he is for the moment and try to keep him under control. But we need to keep an eye on this as Trump is a renegade and unstable member of the ruling class who has surrounded himself with extreme right wing and racist elements. Trump's economic policies are a disaster for US capitalism as is his foreign policy and will only drive workers living standards even lower. I see where Bannon said today that the US would be at war with China in 4 to 5 years, this is incredible.  It is possible that he may be removed one way or another.

If he was, this would be a warning to Trump also. But who knows. Maybe trump will just stampede on until a mass movement of the working class stops him or a major catastrophe does. Here is Friedman's article from the NYT. The original is here.

A Concerned Citizen’s Plea to America’s Business Leaders

Stephen Bannon, right, at a meeting with President Trump at the White House on Tuesday. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Dear America’s Business Leaders:
I am writing you today because it will soon become clear that you’re going to need to do a job that you’ve never thought of doing before: saving the country from a leader with a truly distorted view of how the world works and the role America should play in it.

There is no Republican Party today to restrain President Trump’s worst instincts. Save for a few courageous senators, the G.O.P. has melted into spinelessness. The mainstream media can expose misbehavior, but can’t veto legislation. The Democrats control no levers of power. And Jared Kushner couldn’t even stop the Steve Bannon-led White House from issuing a Holocaust Remembrance Day decree that deliberately omitted any reference to Jews.

The only group whom Trump has some respect for, who can get access to him and who can maybe counter the malign ideological instincts of Bannon and Company are the likes of Bill Gates, Tim Cook, Jeff Immelt, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Jamie Dimon, Mike Bloomberg, Elon Musk, Indra Nooyi, Ginni Rometty, Dennis Muilenburg and Doug McMillon.

Sure, if Trump executes on his promises for deregulation, infrastructure and tax reform, your companies will enjoy a quick sugar high. But if you listen to what Trump and Bannon are saying, their vision of America and the world is unlike anything you business leaders have encountered before.

They are playing with, and happy to dispense with, big systems — like Nafta, the World Trade Organization and the European Union — that drive so much of the global economy. They believe things that are provably wrong — that the majority of job loss in America is from Mexicans and Chinese, when in fact it’s from microchips and computers, i.e., improved productivity.

Yes, some things are true even if Trump believes them: Islam does have problems with gender and religious pluralism, and integration in Western societies. Ignoring that is reckless.

But some things are true even if liberals believe them: that America has integrated Muslims better than any European country, because we are a melting pot. And making Muslims part of our community at home and our alliances abroad — rather than treating them as permanent aliens — has made us safer since 9/11. Ignoring that is dangerous.
And while we’re talking dangerous, why are there record numbers of migrants flooding out of sub-Saharan Africa, the Mideast and Central America, trying to get into Europe and America? Two big reasons are droughts and population explosions. And what do Trump and Bannon propose? Ignoring climate change and halting U.S. government help with family planning in the developing world.

Nothing is connected in their world. Everything is just a box to check or wall to build.
The Washington Post on Monday quoted Bannon as saying that he and Jeff Sessions were at the center of Trump’s “pro-America movement” that was “poorly understood by cosmopolitan elites in the media. … What we are witnessing now is the birth of a new political order, and the more frantic a handful of media elites become, the more powerful that new political order becomes itself.”

When someone tells you he is giving birth to a “new political order” in America, be afraid. Yes, the acceleration in technology and globalization has particularly benefited higher-skilled knowledge workers in the West and lower-skilled rising middle classes in Asia. And, yes, it did squeeze middle-skilled workers in the West, who were more vulnerable to outsourcing, algorithms and automation. More needs to be done to help them.

If Trump is simply out to negotiate better trade deals for America and get our allies to share the burdens of defending the free world more equitably, God bless him. That can be a win for our workers.

But I fear that Bannon is manipulating Trump into a more messianic mission — that his “new political order” is not just about jobs, but culture, an attempt to recreate an America of the 1950s: a country dominated by white Christians, not “cosmopolitans”; where no one spoke Spanish at the grocery store; where America’s biggest C.E.O.s weren’t named Satya or Sundar; where every worker could have a high-wage middle-skilled job; and where trade walls and the slow pace of automation meant you didn’t have to be a lifelong learner.

If that’s where Trump is going, it will take us to a dark place. The way we lift American workers is not by building higher walls, but rather stronger communities — where business, philanthropies, the local school system and local government forge adaptive coalitions to enable every worker to engage in lifelong learning and every company to access global markets and every town to attract the smart risk-takers who start companies.

That is exactly what is happening in America’s best communities, and the job of government is to scale it, and the job of big business is to defend it. So don’t be fooled by a Trump sugar high; your businesses will thrive only if America is the country that prepares itself and its workers to live in a world without walls, not one that goes around erecting them.
This is the “new political order” we need and that you must defend. You ignore this mission at your — and our — peril.

Correction: February 1, 2017

An earlier version of this column misstated, in two instances, the surname of the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase. He is Jamie Dimon, not Diamond.

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