Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trump yields to the bourgeois state. But will it last?

Sure you want to have your child's future in their hands? I don't think so.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

We published a piece on April 6th  suggesting that the Predator in Chief was being reined in a bit. Steve Bannon was demoted and McMaster stepped in as have others. Things seemed to be changing at the top.

It’s becoming more evident that Trump’s shift and his break from his more ideologically driven right wing base is clearly going ahead at full steam. “The Trump approach is starting to look----dare we say it?---almost conventional.”, writes Gerald Seib in Tuesdays Wall Street Journal.  Seib goes through a host of complete turnarounds, Trump’s campaign promises, are falling by the wayside, Seib points out. “Campaign---season chumminess with Russia….”, gone. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Gone. Trade war with China. Gone. Trump even says he won’t accuse China of currency manipulation and the dollar is too strong. The protectionist trade advisor Peter Navarro who went after China aggressively has been shuttered along with Bannon.  The missile strike in Syria and the warnings to North Korea are “…another sign of embracing rather than retreating from a global role” Seib adds.

Seib writes, “Each of these moves might have been made by a more conventional Republican president or even by Democrat Hillary Clinton.”. We should recall that the overwhelming majority of the US ruling class supported Clinton in the last election as Trump’s misogyny, racism, unstable and unpredictable campaign rhetoric was a disaster for business. The misogynists among the ruling elite put their prejudices aside in the interests of profits and capital accumulation. Hillary was the best bet. The ruling class was forced to cough up universal suffrage feeling fairly confident as pretty much we only have their candidates to vote for. But when the system is in crisis as it is now and characters like Trump arise, the right to vote is not such a good deal as people don't always vote and when they do, they don't always vote for 1%'s front runner.

Seib points out five major players that are now steering what he calls “….Trumps Diplomacy to Center.”  He names Secretary of State Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as two key players joined by national security advisor H.R. McMaster, Wilbur Ross the billionaire Commerce Secretary, and Trump’s advisor/ son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Seib, attributes Trump’s turnaround to normalcy (from the bourgeois’ point of view) to these five players and “…the simple realities of office bearing.”

What the latter statement means is that a dominant sector of the capitalist class and its state machine is directing operations. They are not out of the woods, but they are feeling more confident that Trump is prepared to behave like a prominent member of their class rather than some maverick hotelier. The US bourgeois doesn’t care about his racism or misogyny, they are completely behind the attacks on workers that will be intensified under a Trump presidency. And as the remark about Clinton shows, they will continue US imperialism’s violent wars throughout the world no matter who is in the White House or Key Largo. My guess is we’ll see Trump spending more time in the presidential abode as time goes by.

Marx talked about the state apparatus being the executive board or the executive council of the capitalist class as a whole. In class society where different groups of people occupy different roles in the production of society’s needs, workers and capitalists in our world, the government is a government of the people, but not all the people have the same economic interests. The feudal lord exploited the peasant and the capitalist exploits the wage worker.  

We live in a capitalist state or what socialists (some of us anyway) also refer to as bourgeois democracy. Ancient Greece was a democracy for the owners of slaves; it was a slaveowners democracy.  So the state, or government as we refer to it, is not devoid of class content, just the opposite, in the last analysis the state defends the interest of the class that governs society and the system of production on which it rests. In our case that means capitalism.

Seib’s implication that Trump’s turnaround is the result of a power struggle between individuals and the responsibilities of the job is intentionally vague on the one hand, and a result of society operating behind the backs of the capitalist class as Marx wrote in Capital. What we are witnessing is the state, the executive body of the bourgeois, is asserting itself, is acting in the interests of the capitalist class as a whole.

There were warnings as we pointed out in the earlier commentary on this. Respected strategists and theoreticians like Peggy Noonan, who wrote favorably of Trump in the early days savagely attacked him in their most important paper, the WSJ. The LA Times had a five or six part series attacking the president. We can say with certainty that the unelected rulers of this country and their theoreticians, the Kissingers, Bakers, Scowcrofts, Cheney’s and other major bourgeois were discussing what could be done behind closed doors. They were not going to let a buffoon wreck things.

The fact that Trump got elected at all and that their two parties are in such disarray, is a reflection of the political crisis of US capitalism. That is not over. In the next recession or slump these crises will intensify and social unrest will grow.  Both China and the US are in massive debt and that cannot continue forever.  Globally the working class is stronger than ever and major class conflict lies ahead.

What is more, the global situation with regards to Russia, the Middle East and North Korea is extremely volatile.  But it is most important that we recognize that we are not on the verge of fascism and that the bourgeois still rules. But deals will be made, backs will be slapped, the phony diplomacy of thieves will continue as will the predatory US corporate wars and the violence and suffering as US, Russian, Chinese and US imperialism plays the deadly game of global plunder and the influence and intrigue that accompanies it.

While it appears that the US capitalist class is bringing Trump to heel they are not out of the woods yet. Trump’s behavior has been unpredictable and it is not excluded that he is mentally unstable. If they had to, they will rid themselves of him by other means.

Supporters of this blog have discussed in our weekly phone conferences some of the issues here. Would they assassinate Trump? We thought this unlikely given the consequences and while Trump is an unpopular president, it is the system of bourgeois democracy, the legitimacy of their rule that would be hurt by an action of this sort.

However, with Trump’s betrayal of his more ideological, right wing neo fascist base, the possibility of an assassination attempt cannot be ruled out. These elements have no loyalty to bourgeois legitimacy and they will be very angry he betrayed them.

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