Breaks and continuities
After the referendum for Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, the surprise election of the Republican Party’s candidate Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States constitutes a turning point. The expected candidate was Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party. This result changes the deal in terms of political relations inside the United States and will lead to the establishment of new relationships between the most powerful imperialism and other States of the planet.
As any qualitative modification, this new situation does not come out of nothing, but results from all contradictions previously accumulated in the United States and in the world, to which even the most powerful capitalism cannot escape. Thus, the revival by budget deficit promised by Trump completes the Keynesian policy of low interest rates that the Federal Bank (Fed) pursues since 2008. The racism propagated by Trump was also at work under the presidency of Obama with the murders of Blacks by the police. The wall to drive back migrants already numbered several hundred kilometres along the Mexican border, the deportation of undocumented foreigners was already at the full. The religious reaction against the right to abortion already mobilized its cohorts of Evangelist idiots. On foreign policy, if Trump declares his admiration for Putin, the support for dictators to the liking of interests of American imperialism is far from being recent, just like the protectionist measures that have been implemented since long when the opportunity was felt to protect American capitalists from the too voracious appetites of Chinese and European competitors. Lastly, if Netanyahu welcomes the outcome of the presidential election, the American imperialist support to the State colonizing Palestine never fell off. Besides, the greatest stock exchange in the world, the NYSE (Wall Street), whose candidate was rather Clinton, quickly felt reassured.
However, Trump’s election is indeed an upsetting that breaks the continuity of the policy of the first world imperialist power, both inside and outside. Scarcely nothing had to separate initially the candidacy of the Democratic Party and that of the Republican Party, both bourgeois parties used to govern one after the other, both pegged to the defence of American imperialism, nothing but a slightly more social varnish for the Democratic Party in order to lure its traditional electorate, varnish that has largely flaked off under the presidency of Obama during which workers have become ever poorer and capitalists ever richer. The first break is there.
The Sanders flash in the pan
During the primary of the Democratic Party, the candidacy of Bernie Sanders met with a considerable echo by developing a very shy classical social-democratic orientation, but which entered into resonance with the aspirations of many workers and youth. The Institute of Politics of the University of Harvard has published in April a study according to which 33% of youth aged between 18 à 29 years assert themselves in favour of socialism, an unprecedented result in recent American history.
The newest poll results shows that a majority of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds rejects both socialist and capitalist labels. 42% of young Americans support capitalism, and 33% say they support socialism. (IOP, Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes toward Politics and Public Service, 25 April 2016)
A wing of the Democratic Party and former admirers of Colonel Chavez and of Tsipras pretend now that, if Sanders had been chosen by the bourgeois party, he would have won the presidential election. This brag bears witness to some ingenuousness toward bourgeois democracy in general and the Democratic Party in particular. As explained by the head of the National Committee of the Democratic Party:
He is basically a liberal Democrat … The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time. (Howard Dean, Meet the Press, 22 May 2005)
The ex-Stalinists of the CPUSA supported Clinton against Sanders. The old social-democrats of the DSA (who are in the Democratic Party) and the centrists of SAlt (affiliated to the CWI) mobilised themselves for Sanders by having people believe that he would launch a workers’ party. In fact, his candidacy to the primary served to bolster that of Clinton for the presidency.
After having gathered crowds, Sanders, who never had the slightest intention to break from the Democratic Party, meanly came into line under the banner of the favourite candidate of capitalists as well as of the party apparatus, then put away his show-cards and banderols for more distant times, jilting in open country all his supporters by calling them to vote for Clinton and her program resolutely in favour of great capitalist groups that he had pretended to fight. By refusing to break with the bourgeois party, to enter the path of a workers’ party, so finishing stopping any perspective for the working class and youth, even if only the possibility to gather on the electoral ground in a class vote, probably Sanders contributed to the success of Trump.
An unscrupulous businessman from outside the political seraglio
On the other side, a member of the capitalist elite, Trump hustled and eliminated one after another his competitors in the primary of the Republican Party, all more or less supported by the apparatus of the party against him, conducting a campaign on an openly and brutally reactionary, racist, xenophobic, nationalist, protectionist and isolationist line. Never had one seen a candidate contradicting himself or lying to such an extent on all subjects. However, all bourgeois politicians (including the Obama couple and the Clinton couple) deceive the popular electorate.
The question, for this unscrupulous businessman, son of a capitalist, educated in smart private schools, married to a person entered illegally in the United States, paying no taxes and having his clothes of his own brand manufactured abroad, was to fool white workers in regions ravaged by the de-industrialisation operated by the American great capital.
In fact, full employment in the United States and the income allowing to keep the wife at home resulted from war, the international supremacy of the American bourgeoisie, massive exports fed by technical superiority, the capacity to grant to unions concessions for white workers.
More and more, the working class, both white and black, pays the return of world capitalist crises (1974, 2008), the weakening of world hegemony (the defeat in Vietnam then the failure in Afghanistan and in Iraq) and the return of competitors (capitalist groups from Germany, Japan, China …). However, Trump succeeded in turning the anger of part of the exploited against the Democratic political “elite”, China and foreign workers, Muslims or Mexicans and, to the general surprise including that of the Republican political “elite”, to defeat Clinton. The Republican Party holds henceforth the presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
What remains of the Stalinist party, what takes the place of social-democracy, the trade union bureaucracies paved the way for Trump. The CPUSA supported Clinton after having supported Obama, the DSA are in the Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO supported Clinton, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win had supported both candidacies of Obama, condemned both free trade treaties, had campaigned to “produce American”.
During his whole two mandates, the former president has, while avoiding to send troops as a whole, continued assassinations by drones and genuine wars; he was unable to stem the industrial decline of whole towns and regions; he has drawn back from the establishment of a British-style NHS and even of a public regime of universal health insurance, by financing a bit more private insurance groups to insure a health cover to part of wage workers; he revealed himself unable to empty Guantanamo and he has expelled 3 million foreign workers; even if he was coloured, Blacks continued to fall under the bullets of police. Ever since, the candidacy of Clinton to which had rallied, by dread facing Trump, many big shots of the Republican Party, represented this will for continuity widely in majority within the ranks of the American bourgeoisie, its main care being to make business without knocking down the table, with the comfort of the capitalist class that benefits from a living standard and profits superior to those before crisis of 2008, and fancies, or at least attempts to make believe, that it is the same for the whole society.
It is the bourgeoisie that hides the unemployed under the carpet, removed from statistical radars, with an official rate aired at about 5% while everyone knows that in reality it is at least the double, and probably closer to 20%, it is the bourgeoisie and a fraction of the petty bourgeoisie that live on a grand scale while workers are overexploited because undocumented, workers have two jobs in order to survive, workers live in their car for want of affording a housing, retired seventy-year-olds take small jobs in order to survive, etc. It is the bourgeoisie for which nothing will change since everything goes better for it, which forecasts the victory of its well-bred candidate against that of the uncouth climber. But nothing happened as anticipated.
Elected with 2 million votes less
Trump obtains a majority of votes in rural States, more than 60%, while Clinton outmatches him largely in most big cities. But precisely, the American constitution was originally designed to reinforce the weight of big landowners to the detriment of the nascent proletariat in towns, which leads to over-represent rural States in the designation of the Electoral College. Moreover, in nearly all States, the one who gets the majority takes the totality of the Electoral College. Thus, if Clinton obtains around 2.5 million votes more than Trump at a national level (65.1 million votes against 62.6), the latter reaps the majority of the Electoral College, 306 electors against 232 for his rival.
Small income electors did not vote in majority for Trump: 41% of electors earning less than 30 000 dollars against 53% for Clinton. Trump’s electors are in majority white men, with little education, earning more than 30 000 dollars per year. Clinton loses more than 6 million votes compared to Obama, when Trump loses 1 million votes compared to the Republican candidate of 2012, while the electorate potentially grew by nearly 2 million voters. Only 58.5% of registered voters did vote.
Abstention has been markedly higher among the poor (59% for annual incomes less than 15 000 dollars) than in the election of Obama (36% in 2008, then 38.5 % in 2012). If the number of abstentionists has risen again, among voters, the votes of all classes of society are blended, perfect reactionaries as well as workers disappointed by the hopes that they had put into in Obama, unemployed as well as bosses, students as well as speculators, on two candidates and two bourgeois programmes. But not on the same line.
The expression of a minority of the bourgeoisie
Behind the cynicism, brutality and unpredictability of Trump, there is the search, more or less coherent, to save itself of a fraction of the American bourgeoisie, the one that lost its positions in the world economical fight that various imperialisms never cease to wage against each other, the one that fears commercial treaties, the one that must perish in order for other fractions of the American bourgeoisie to get well out of it. In other times, when growth was vigorous and imperialist competition contained, this losing fraction of the bourgeoisie would have had no chance to succeed in regrouping behind itself enough reactionaries as well as misfits to knock down the table.
But the American governments of Bush son and Obama, by saving the banks and insurance companies of their country in 2008-2009, have themselves limited the purge. The economic growth has for its essential motor to increase the exploitation of the workforce and remains weaker than before the world crisis. Moreover, the economic and political weight of American imperialism continues to weaken, its attempts to contain its Chinese rival in Asia are disparaged; other imperialisms, other regional powers swoop down on spaces which it left vacant, as in Syria, to play their own score.
The fraction of the American bourgeoisie that supports Trump ascertains all that and decides confusedly to change its opinion: enough of free trade, now it’s time for case by case trade negotiations, for reinforced protectionism, enough of military duties that had given itself American imperialism at the time of its splendour as first world power, but that it cannot any more secure, it’s time for changing, tactical alliances, as suit its sole immediate interests. Trump wants thus less NATO, but more military investments for the US Army. Trump does in no way renounce to the aims of American imperialism, he rearranges it and frees it from constraints that weigh on it.
The most backward fraction of the American bourgeoisie behind Trump has however a clear conscience neither of the situation nor of its goals, it is anyway incapable of it, it acts in emergency, piecemeal, with the illusion of the pragmatic one who wants to believe that he is free to deal at its best with each problem independently, while all lines of force of the situation in which he stands push him inexorably in a flight forward that he does not control.
This new orientation for foreign policy, still blundering and zigzagging, is coupled inside by the preparation of a claimed hardening against the weakest parts of the proletariat, migrants, Blacks, and probably also young student protesters, teachers, capable of challenging the new regime. The most consistent fraction of the bourgeoisie, also the most powerful from the point of view of capital, which had lined up behind Clinton, naturally does not profit by it, but it cannot openly fight Trump, at the risk of triggering a situation that it would not control. It does not forget either the massive demonstrations of Blacks against police murders, or what means in reality the search by a part of the working class and youth betrayed by Sanders, it sees the unending demonstrations against Trump since his election. That is why both Obama and Clinton wished to secure the best transition for Trump’s accession to power. That bourgeoisie rallies to Trump as it would give him the leper’s kiss, in the hope of circumventing him, weakening him, making him step back and renounce measures detrimental to its interests.
But that fraction has been defeated. Trump is not there by chance, he is in part determined by those he has summoned to ensure his victory, he rests upon racists, opponents of women’s rights, he sounds the bugle of patriotism, promises one thousand billion dollars for the recovery, to reopen the coal mines and the oil wells, the relocation of industries, all that in the shadow of protectionist measures.
The inconsistencies of Trump
The grantee, who is not in any way a visionary, is obviously sensitive to this pressure, he hesitates, announces everything and its contrary, gives on the next day the lie to what he asserted the day before. Established in the Trump Tower in New York, he started to constitute his governmental team: the leader of a conspiracy web site, former generals, bosses …
It is rather unlikely that the national growth accelerates, even more that US capitalist groups repatriate factories, or that foreign States do not retaliate to protectionism. The very strong imbrication of economic relations between various imperialisms, the place of the dollar as the main currency in international exchanges, the US Treasury Bills (warrants received per contra loans to the American Federal State) held by China, Japan, etc. of course work in the direction of maintaining the status quo. But it is that stability that Trump and the fraction of the bourgeoisie that he represents deem today too unfavourable and obsolete. Which explains the fright of European bourgeoisies at the announcement of the victory of the unscrupulous businessman with numerous bankruptcies who made himself known through a TV reality show.
The risk is great of a return of inflation, of a new stock market crash, of a contraction of the world market, of a reinforcement of tensions at the same time as an overturning of inter-imperialist alliances, of a new rise of rearming.
For the fight against Trump, for the break from the Democratic Party
Bourgeois democratic regimes by which most capitalist powers managed the exploited classes crumble spectacularly, as authoritarian regimes of the new Russian and Chinese capitalist powers are undermined underground. In the short term, the election of Trump is a powerful air draught for American racist groups and for xenophobic or fascistic bourgeois parties in Europe. But the policies advocated by Putin, Trump, Farage, Grillo, Strache, Le Pen … could not give back its youth to rotting capitalism.
As of now, the working class and youth must learn the lessons of the causes that allowed Trump to come to power, first of all the absence of a revolutionary party in the United States, of a party speaking in the name of workers, fighting for the taking of power, for socialism. Those who, in the name of realism, called workers and youth to line up behind Clinton, bringing them into the dead end, bear a responsibility. Those who ran behind Sanders, sowing thus illusions, bear a responsibility. Those who, claiming to adhere to the working class, are supporters of protectionism, which is the flag of the most reactionary bourgeoisie, bear a responsibility. It is not the American working class and youth that are responsible of this new situation, but those who led them astray.
We must revive the tradition of the SLP at the time of the Workers’ International of Engels, of the CPUSA at the time of the Communist International of Lenin, of the SWP at the time of the 4th International of Trotsky. We must build a revolutionary workers’ party in the whole country. Clarity on objectives is an absolute necessity in order to speak to workers and youth and to open up perspectives for them.
- Close Guantanamo and hand it back to Cuba, lift completely and immediately the blockade of Cuba! End all military operations abroad!
- Democratise the Constitution! Same rights for migrant workers, legal or not!
- Respect for women, right to free abortion in the whole country!
- Respect for Blacks, self-defence against racist police!
- A single democratic trade union confederation, break of trade unions from the Democratic Party, create a labour party from trade unions!
- Expropriate banks, insurance companies, all financial corporations! Nationalisation without compensation of capitalist health groups, free health care!
Permanent Revolution Collective