By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
Revolution begins by giving things and social relationships their real names. *
What Is To Be Done?
Lenin wrote an historic pamphlet under this title back in 1901 in an attempt to lay out the path for revolutionary socialists, the Russian Marxists, on the future and organizational form for the Russian social-democratic movement.
That pamphlet is still being debated today and we can be sure that “What is to be done” is the question most asked and debated by the US bourgeois, most often behind closed doors but as time passes, out in the open. The subject in this debate though, is Donald Trump and the crisis of Bourgeois Democracy.
Peggy Noonan, countering months of Trump’s abusive and crude campaigning, called on the seasoned representatives of her class to unite around their leader: “…..there are former officials and true experts with esteemed backgrounds who need to be told: Help him.”, she wrote in the Wall Street Journal a week after the election.
She made a collective appeal to the unelected rulers of this country, “Donald Trump doesn’t know how to be president. He isn’t a reader of the presidency. He’s never held office. There’s little reason to believe he knows how to do this. The next president needs you. This is our country. Help him.
After months of Trump’s misogyny, racism, xenophobic rants being broadcast across the nation as well as scenes at his rallies of Nazi’s and KKK supporters screaming at opponents if not violently attacking them, the candidate the US bourgeois dreaded won the election and has to be dealt with. Serious representatives and theoreticians of the US bourgeois like Noonan put their best foot forward and hoped that it was all a game, that the past year would be behind them and Trump could be reined in. After all, Trump is one of them, a maverick yes, a crude and vulgar individual, but class solidarity matters.
But as each day passes it appears Trump is beyond their control. What worried them most during the campaign was not Trump’s association with White Supremacists and the Klan, or his comments about women, it was his constant reference to the system being rigged and daring to suggest he might not respect the results of the elections. Trump was undermining the legitimacy of the system, of bourgeois democracy, “Their system of governance, bourgeois (capitalist) democracy, is in peril.”, I wrote on May 21st.
US capitalism is in a bind, “They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” as I pointed out last week, “There’s a sense nobody’s in charge, that there’s no power center that’s holding, that in Washington they’re all randomly slamming into each other……The world sees the U.S. political system once again as a circus. Once the circus comes to town, it consumes everything, absorbs all energy.” Peggy Noonan wrote on May 25th.
Today, 5-31-17, the Wall Street Journal, the main paper of the US ruling class, pulled no punches, “It’s impossible to run a communications operation or a policy shop, if the top man prefers chaotic, make-it-up-as-you-go management.”, the editorial reads, adding that “…if Mr Trump can’t show more discipline, the fair conclusion will be that he likes the chaos.”
On the other side of the pond, Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics editor of the Financial Times lamented at Mr. Trump’s preference for “autocrats to today’s western Europeans.” ( Duterte—Erdogan)
“A recent history of failed wars and financial crises has savaged its leaders’ credibility” says Wolf. “The choice of Mr. Trump, a man so signally lacking the virtues, abilities, knowledge and experience to be expected of a president, has further damaged the attractions of the democratic system” **
This is the crux of the matter, the damage Trump is doing to the system of governance we call bourgeois democracy or the “democratic system” as Wolf calls it. Under Trump, Wolf argues, the US has abandoned “soft power” and diplomacy-----“guns matter, diplomacy does not.” Mr. Trump Wolf argues, "...is in a permanent war with reality." Wolf even suggests that if the US pulls out of the Paris climate change agreement, the rest of the world “must consider sanctions”. Of course, capitalist diplomacy is the diplomacy of thieves, it is a phony diplomacy agreed to by all to avoid violence which is a last resort. And I always remind my American friends and remind Wolf, that British capitalism traveled the world stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down but they did it with the right grammar. Colonial Britain was not quite fond of extreme violence and short of virtues.
So what is to be done?
It is inevitable in my mind that Trump has to go. He is bad for business and is doing tremendous damage to US capitalism and its global influence. Merkel’s comments about not being able to rely on the US as an ally threatens US power, she has even suggested closer ties to Russia. Other world leaders are beginning to look more favorably to china.
Of course, the US ruling class could assassinate him, they are certainly not incapable of such actions as history shows. But this is unlikely as it would simply add to the chaos. Because we are witnessing a major political and economic crisis not one of an individual nature but a systemic one, removing Trump does not solve the problem. Events in the US are part of the crisis of the traditional capitalist and social democratic parties worldwide.
The most likely method of removing Trump might be through legal procedures, finding further damaging information about his relationship with Putin and the Russians, and more stuff may come out about his sleazy son-in-law Jared Kushner. Is it possible he could be persuaded to resign? He could then argue that he tried to reform things but the “Swamp couldn’t be drained.” He could save face claiming the forces against him were too great, the corruption too deep.
Regardless of the outcome, it is important for us as workers to recognize that what is happening has nothing to do with “evil” or flawed character traits as unpleasant as the degenerate Trump is. It is a crisis of the system in general and of bourgeois democracy in particular. Facts For Working People explained what we mean by bourgeois democracy in a statement in late 2016 and why the capitalist class prefers to govern in this way. We explained that this political crisis will add further fuel to the economic and military aspect of life:
“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.”
Ridding the system of Trump will not solve our problems and the Democratic Party, the anti-Trump alternative will not either. In the wake of this chaos the heads of organized labor in US remain silent. As fascists, white nationalists and Nazi’s, all enemies of workers and the trade union movement, are emboldened by Trump and his gang, assaulting and killing people of color and any whites that might oppose them, the leaders of organized labor with 14 million members keep their mouths firmly shut. In Portland and Maryland where there have been recent murders by white nationalists union heads are shamefully absent. The heads of organized labor at the highest levels are to blame for the rise of Trump and with him the rise of fascism and racist groups and the delay of a mass movement of the working class that can drive back this reactionary tide. It is left to young antifascists, students and groups like Black Lives Matter to face them in the streets. The white working class must also join these forces; it is in our interests to do so.
* Leon Trotsky: Forward to the Russian edition of Stalin School of Falsification
** The Rise and Fall of American Leadership. Financial Times, 5-31-17