A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. — Friedrich Nietzsche
US President Donald J. Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, coincidentally occurring the same year as the October Revolution centenary, comes after a century of accumulated socioeconomic crises.
Outgoing president Barack Obama and his ignominious administration have cleared the way for his polar antithesis to command the White House, separating America into two distinct camps.
These camps personify social-chauvinism and social-democracy respectively, and are two sides of the same coin in bourgeois politics, used to obscure the reality of America’s dysfunctional system. News outlets in Western mainstream media, as well as Russia Today, have manned either side of the polarizing dichotomy, effectively throwing the working class under the bus.
One camp houses the Holy Grail of Opportunism, where self-proclaimed ‘liberals’ sycophantically endorse Hillary Clinton, a wet-nurse of American exceptionalism, irrespective of the glaringly apparent criminality of her actions across the planet and complete lack of a political platform.
The other camp contains the Holy Ghost of Chauvinism, where nationalists hail Trump as an “anti-establishment” candidate, unbeknownst of the anarchy of the establishment itself, and anyone that has been on holiday in Corleone would have a clue what this means.
This anarchy, however, emerged within a week’s time as Trump enacted several draconian measures and proclaimed himself Il Duce della Dolce Vita, leaving the public flabbergasted.
Immediately, Trump signed several executive orders: first, for the construction of the US-Mexico border partition, prompting a backlash from Mexican President Pena Nieto, and second, for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the bemusement of Standing Rock protesters.
In foreign policy, Israeli-Palestinian relations have stalled after Trump froze $221 million in Palestinian aid and wholly endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In one swift move, he callously disregarded Russian peacekeeping efforts in Syria by supporting ‘safe zones’ without consulting the Kremlin, dumbfounding his lickspittles whom previously saw him as an isolationist.
It is not by fate, but choice that America is doomed to repeat the mistakes of other Great Powers (French, British, Germans, Spanish, etc.) following a major capitalist crisis.
Vladimir Lenin elucidates this clearly in State and Revolution:
Engels’ could, as early as 1891, point to “rivalry in conquest” as one of the most important distinguishing features of the foreign policy of the Great Powers, while the social-chauvinist scoundrels have ever since 1914, when this rivalry, many time intensified, gave rise to an imperialist war, been covering up the defence of the predatory interests of “their own” bourgeoisie with phrases about “defence of the fatherland”, “defence of the republic and the revolution”, etc.!
How is this possible in such ‘shining democracies’? Lenin explains further:
[…] the omnipotence of “wealth” is more certain in a democratic republic [because] it does not depend on defects in the political machinery or on the faulty political shell of capitalism. A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession […], it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois democratic republic can shake it.
It is clear that all Western ‘democracies’ are bourgeois, parliamentary democracies, where factions of the ruling class remain dedicated to extorting surplus value (appropriated wealth) of the working class, which is impossible without factionalism—an indispensable tool in managing, redirecting, and mitigating the energies of each capitalist crisis as they develop naturally.
Trump and Clinton supporters, as well as most subdivisions of Western class structures, reflect this perfectly due to a fundamental codependence on the bourgeoisie on a material and ideological basis. Both social-chauvinist and social-democratic ideologies are the craftsmanship of the bourgeoisie, its institutions, economic agendas, values, and so on, in order to direct each crisis.
However, every instrument of bourgeois exploitation is mere ephemera, which collapses faster by the day. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx highlighted that:
Modern bourgeois society […] is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world who he has called up by his spells.
The anarchic mafia of the ruling class and their “learned henchmen” that control Western institutions remain the dominant base, or material reality. As the masses have done nothing to overthrow prevailing production relations, or the relationships to capital (the means of production), the proletariat and petit-bourgeoisie resort to revolutionary spontaneity as a reaction to each crisis; precisely what is happening throughout the US and throughout Europe.
Therefore, no matter how many times Transatlantic states “change the guards” through voting, protesting, or ‘writing letters to Congress’, there will always be another Trump, Hillary, Cameron, Hollande, or Merkel to take the former’s place, with twice the delusions of grandeur. The material foundations of these systems will remain, which is the unmitigated anarchy of capitalism.
Neither will the symptoms of imperialism, or capitalism in decline, disappear, which are defined as:
- the concentration of production and capital […] to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life;
- the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy;
- the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities [which] acquires exceptional importance;
- the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and
- [Completion of] the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers
It is important to understand how these forces materialize in Western society and find clear examples as to how they operate on a theoretical basis. Without doing so, all classes will continue to be at their mercy, which operate in a scientific, observable manner, and are beyond the control of identity and nationalist ideologies.
Take the most central component of Trump’s economic policy, which is to create infrastructure and jobs by boosting the number of public-private partnerships (PPPs).
The London School of Economics defines PPPs as “the delegation […] of state powers to private organizations [or] the delegation of powers that, in a given society, are generally considered state powers, to private organizations”.
The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) attributes this to Benito Mussolini’s program for economic fascism, which, echoed by the enthusiasm of former US Secretary of Labour Robert Reich and Clinton Foundation advisor Ira Magaziner, “would require careful coordination between public and private sectors [which] must work in tandem.”
However, the LSE notes that:
A fundamental issue [in PPPs] is the sharing of risk in the presence of information asymmetries [and that] the risks facing private investors are particularly high during the development or construction phase. This relates not just to the costs involved, and the subsequent pricing that may be constrained by the state, but also future revenue streams in relation to the usage and demand have yet to be tested.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) seconds this by mentioning the drawbacks of PPPs, such as:
[…] “moving spending off budget [to] bypass expenditure controls [and] create untransparent direct and contingent liabilities for the government”, in addition to threatening “the integrity of the budget process” and undermining “efforts to safeguard macroeconomic sustainability” [which] is “an obstacle for achieving fiscal discipline and good governance.”
This implies that Trump will entrust private wealth to manage the affairs of the US government, bypassing the “smoke and mirrors” approach of the Clinton Foundation and others—the government itself will empower corporations to have direct control of its affairs.
Additionally, rather than streamlining the state machine, he will effectively place the US economy in a position of uncertainty, as many private investors vigilantly safeguard profits for their infrastructure development projects.
Although the State will manage the parameters of PPP cooperation, Trump will find himself herding (fat) cats as many corporations begin a “scramble for America” in a morally bankrupt manner.
Even though public-private partnerships are championed as cutting age methods to modernize the state, underhanded bribes on the taxpayer dime go back at least a century. Perhaps the biggest, most powerful public-private partnership around is the Federal Reserve System. The New York branch of the Fed, which has been given a monopoly on the supply of what has become the world’s reserve currency, is still technically a private entity that just so happens to have the guns of the state defending its open market operations.
The Minneapolis Fed also demonstrates the dangers of placing control of public infrastructure into private wealth, recreating feudalism from capitalism, as American serfs pay tolls to use their landlord’s roads:
Critics believe such partnerships are heresy to the very notion of public infrastructure. These opponents of PPPs are uncomfortable with the perceived sale of public assets to private interests […] Private firms then stand to make a profit by charging users (taxpayers) for access to something they previously used for free and believed was already paid for.
It is also dubious to focus on building transport infrastructure. The World Bank finds that America’s largest competitors by land mass—Russia and China—have typically used PPPs for infrastructure projects that have a high organic composition of capital and subsequently, a larger rate of profit, predominantly in developing countries that require more greenfield projects.
From 1990-2016, Russia’s largest PPP investments were in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), with 186 projects totaling over $90 billion in investment, and China’s were in electricity, with 397 projects at $50.6 billion.
Unfortunately, Trump’s economic policy exploits fossil fuels without advocating green technologies, and are heavily dependent on brownfield projects, which revitalize preexisting infrastructure. By appointing former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, America is confined to obsolete transport projects that do not generate dependable revenue streams, whereas ICT and renewable energy—constantly developing technologies—are more lucrative in the long-term.
US Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Rep. Peter DeFazio already exposed this weakness, stating that Trump should “only work on projects that create revenues”.
“The vast majority of the national highway system, and our bridge problems and all our transit problems, do not generate revenues. It will not help them,” he stated.
America’s Economic Policy Institute also highlights that Trump’s “jobs and growth” mantra is impossible to forecast in terms of long-term lucrativeness:
Because the impact of infrastructure investments on the overall level of economic activity depends on the degree of productive slack in the economy, the stance of monetary policy, and how the investments are financed, it is impossible to reliably forecast the long-term (further than five years out) effects of such investments on the overall level of economic activity.
In sum, the superficiality of Western bourgeois politics are mere gossamer covering its material, underlying forces, and without properly understanding them, both the bourgeoisie and working classes will always remain at their mercy.
For the proletariat, emancipation will always appear another four to eight years away; however, the capitalist state will never allow it to pass. No Clinton, Obama, Trump, or Sanders will ever empower the working class as long as the ruling class is behind the curtains.
Just as a dog to his own vomit, so does a fool to his folly—his “team”, which is simply “his” own bourgeoisie.
Haneul Na’avi, affiliate of the CPGB-ML
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.