If Trump had turned out to be the dangerously incompetent/mentally unstable/secret Kremlin agent/closet Nazi that mainstream liberals warned he would be, and done all the scary things he’d campaigned on doing, then Americans could rest comfortably in the knowledge that he can only be awful for four years and then replaced by someone who could work to undo the damage he’d done. But as Michael Brendan Dougherty rightly points out in an article for the mainstream conservative publication National Review, what has actually happened is a continuation of the same policies and behavior we saw under Obama. After all the fuss, fretting and fearmongering, it turns out that America is like the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? — everything’s made up, and your votes don’t matter.
Dougherty’s essay is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because he’s one of the first major voices in mainstream American discourse to extend his head above the canopy of frenzied partisan hyperbole and say what ordinary people have been noticing more and more: Trump didn’t really change things. Dougherty describes how the panic surrounding the incoming administration was so severe it even had him contemplating expatriation… but then he had a look around at what was actually happening underneath all the hand-wringing media narratives. America’s foreign policy has remained the same as it was under Obama, conservatives are trying and failing to repeal Obamacare just as they were under Obama, Guantanamo Bay is still open, globalization and automation are taking over, and, just as with Obama, all the changes Trump promised have not been delivered. Nothing has changed but the narratives overlaying the actual events.
Because of his different worldview, Dougherty draws different conclusions from this raw information than I do. While I would say it’s pretty obvious that elected officials haven’t changed anything because there is an unelected power establishment in place to whom those elected officials are subordinate, Dougherty doesn’t go so far and instead paints a picture of a nation sputtering out of inspiration like The Simpsons after its first eight seasons, stuck in a rut and hopelessly out of ideas. I encourage readers to take a look at his essay and draw their own conclusions….
How Trump will use the Las Vegas shootingLast weekend, the world witnessed the deadliest gun massacre in modern US history. But while coverage of the horrific events has been wall-to-wall, there has been minimal discussion of how the government could seize this moment to advance its agenda.
That’s the question I seek to address in this article.
To answer it, it is essential to be clear on what Trump’s agenda actually is. On the domestic level, there are two main aspects to this agenda: Firstly, the institution of a police state. And secondly, propping up corporate profits by any means necessary, in particular, through plundering the public sector.
On the first, Trump has made his plans for the police very clear. He wants to step up their transformation into a paramilitary force; and he wants to provide them with complete impunity, by stripping whatever meager semblance of accountability currently exists….
Let’s just look at how this agenda is advancing so far. In February, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to “pull back”on investigations and lawsuits against the police. He soon made good on this promise when the Justice Department refused to prosecute police over the death of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead at point-blank range while pinned immobile to the floor. Then, in a speech to Chicago police in July, Trump said he wanted police to be freer to rough up prisoners, explicitly saying they should feel free to smash their prisoner’s heads on the side of the car as they put them inside their vehicles.
And on 28th August, Trump issued an executive order repealing Obama-era restrictions on the supply of military equipment from the Pentagon to the police. These restrictions were already pretty limited, and some were relatively easy to get around, but at least they prevented police from obtaining, for example, grenade-launchers, bayonets, and “tracked armored vehicles” (tanks to you and me). All of this will now be made available to the police, ramping up their transformation into a fully militarized operation, essentially modeled on an occupying army.
This is not about tackling crime or terrorism so much as it is about preparing the police to deal with the social fallout from Trump’s other policies. This year’s budget was an indication of the wholesale destruction of social provisions now underway – a destruction which coincides with permanent and growing mass unemployment and job insecurity. Robots are expected to take 47 percent of existing US jobs over the next 20 years. But at the same time, programs to help those without jobs or on low incomes to survive, such as food aid and Medicaid, are being dismantled. This year’s budget proposed cuts of $800 billion to Medicaid over the next 10 years, and over $270 billion in cuts from welfare, including almost £200 billion from nutritional assistance. All of this will inevitably create serious social upheaval – and this would be so even if there were not another financial collapse looming, which there almost certainly is. Trump’s job is to ensure the police are prepared to deal with the massive fallout from all this, in the most brutal way possible….
From this point of view, it is clear how the Las Vegas attack could easily be utilized to build on this agenda. I would expect us to start hearing arguments very soon about how this attack demonstrates that more armed police are necessary, how they need much better weapons, greater powers, and on and on. It’s about getting the police tooled up and legally unbound ready for the next wave of crisis.
The second aspect of Trump’s domestic agenda is propping up corporate profits by any means necessary, and especially through the use of public funds. So, on the campaign trail, for example, there was a lot of talk of Trump’s $1 trillion investment program, based on luring private capital to finance new infrastructure with the promise of using public funds to rent it back from those companies forever after. Essentially the aim is to guarantee a permanent and continuous fleecing of the public purse by the corporate sector. This is basically a hugely scaled-up version of the discredited and hugely expensive PFI program that exists in Britain. …
What happens to a culture of ameboas in a petri dish as the food begins to run out? The individual organisms begin to act increasingly as a unified organism, migrating together into a mound which forms rope-like structures which entwine into columns giving rise to a fruiting body which releases spores to find the next store of food.
What we have here is a currently widely distributed colony of self-perpetuating political and economic corruption which is running against a brick wall of debt, dollar dilution and loss of public confidence. The food medium is running low. The organisms increasingly seek safety in each other’s company and abandon more and more of the outlying members of the colony to fend for themselves amidst the social and economic wreckage left in the wake of the receding tide of destruction. At each stage the boundary between haves and have nots will become more defensive and militarized. The waste products will become more and more toxic as more energy is needed to sustain the remaining insiders. The echo chamber effect will intensify, the entity will become more paranoid as it sees its end approaching. More and more of the domestic population will be seen as the enemy.
The metaphor breaks down there as far as I can see. The colony was seeded from european stock years ago so no need to worry about spores, they’re already everywhere.
There is simply no alternative to monetary reform. A fresh start must be made at the most fundamental level.