Sunday, December 06, 2015

There Are More Demagogues Waiting In The Wings

Donald Trump said last week that, if there were more people carrying more guns, things would have turned out differently in San Bernardino. Many have been appalled by the rise of Trump. Chris Hedges believes that his rise is the inevitable consequence of the death of  liberal institutions. He writes:

These institutions, which once made possible piecemeal and incremental reform, which sought to protect the weak from the tyranny of the majority and give them a voice, acted as a safety valve to ameliorate the excesses of capitalism and address the grievances of the underclass. They did not defy the system of capitalism. They colluded with the structures of privilege and white supremacy. But they provided some restraints on the worst abuse and exploitation. The capturing of major institutions by corporate power and the moral bankruptcy of our elites, especially members of our self-identified liberal class, have shattered this equilibrium.

Both American political parties have betrayed those who are voiceless:

Republicans, like Democrats, did not prevent wages from declining, unemployment and chronic underemployment from mounting, foreclosures from ripping apart communities, banks from looting the U.S. treasury, or jobs from being exported. The two major parties colluded to pass trade agreements, ranging from NAFTA and the WTO to the now-pending TPP, that impoverish workers and weaken the power of government to intervene to protect the citizenry and the environment. They worked together to strip citizens of constitutional rights and install the most pervasive security and surveillance state in human history. They collaborated with Wall Street to trash the global economy and seize trillions in taxpayer money in bailouts. The two parties funded disastrous and futile imperial wars that enrich the arms manufacturers and defense contractors while bankrupting the nation. They militarized police, rewrote the laws to explode our prison population and destroyed social service programs such as our welfare system, which was dismantled by the Clinton administration. The two parties orchestrated the corporate coup d’├ętat while diverting citizens with the battles over gay rights, abortion, “Christian” values, gun laws and affirmative action.   

Those who have been betrayed think they have found their saviour in Trump. He has harnessed their anger and promises simple solutions and retribution on those they think  have stolen their jobs -- like immigrants, particularly Mexican immigrants. What Trump represents is a home grown fascism -- something the world has seen before:

The disgust directed at an ineffectual liberalism—as was true in late imperial Russia and the latter days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Weimar Republic and the former Yugoslavia—has given rise to a rejection of liberalism.

And, Hedges predicts, Trump's brand of fascism will grow unless those who have been excluded are brought to the table:

This American fascism will expand unless there is a radical restructuring to reintegrate dispossessed Americans into the economy. The failure to reverse the corporate assault, the continued expansion of poverty and despair, will accelerate the country’s breakdown. It will ensure the emergence of demagogues who, channeling this rage, will stoke white vigilante violence and call for the state repression of all groups including Black Lives Matter, abortion providers, environmentalists and anti-capitalists that are blamed for the country’s decline. 
There are more demagogues waiting in the wings.


Toby said...

Owen, the irony of the modern attack on liberalism is that so much of liberal progress was achieved by those we would call conservatives. Here in BC, W.A.C. Bennett nationalized the ferry system and created B.C. Hydro to provide reasonably priced electricity to everyone and B.C. Rail to link Vancouver with the Interior. And more; see

In Alberta, Premier Manning placed royalties on the budding oil industry.

It is Bennett's and Manning's conservative heirs who are tearing them down.

In the US, the New Deal was the child of Franklin Roosevelt who came from old money.

There was a time when conservatives stood for conserving. Now they stand for plundering.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Toby. Put another way, those who call themselves conservative these days really aren't conservative.

The Mound of Sound said...

I wonder how many Germans felt a similar sense of unease and despair as Weimar unraveled?

Owen Gray said...

From what I've read, Mound, despair was like breathing in Weimar.

Unknown said...

I don't know Owen if expansion of the American Empire can be stopped. The destruction of the liberal institutions, seems to be happening with no resistence. Isn't that what harper was also doing?The combination of Neoliberalism and Militarism just seems to accelerate. British Parliament voted to bomb Syria. I feel a great sense of unease, not yet despair, at the US's world domination goal, enabled by NATO, especially Britain and France. The deception the American Government and the MSM are pulling on the American people regarding the reason for their endless wars seems complete. The US election particularly with the GOP is a freak show. It is not politics that they are discussing? What is it that gives rise to Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate and what gives rise to the mindless anti-intellectual other republican Presidential candidates? It's hard to believe that they once had a John F.Kennedy as President. Now they may have a Donald Trump or some Christian fundamentalist. Both are fascists. One can judge not only what the American Gov.and their MSM is saying, but more importantly what their not saying.The socialists and the progressives seem to have been silenced and they lack any political power. Progressive thinking is still alive in Canada though. Maybe we can build on that.

Owen Gray said...

This story played out in the first half of the 20th Century, Pam. August 1919 showed us how easily the world can slip into madness. This is a time which requires wisdom -- and wisdom seems to be in short supply.

Unknown said...

Yes you're right Owen. I have to remember that what I am seeing culturally and politically now also happened in the 20th century, with 2 world wars to show for it.So we have to figure out what we are thinking and doing that leads to war. I don't know what that is, at least not yet.

Owen Gray said...

I suspect there are lots of things that lead to war, Pam. I'm sure the causes vary from war to war. But I'm also sure that war is a deliberate choice -- which suggests that we must make wise choices.