by William Skink
I got an email from a RD reader bringing my attention to this Guardian piece by Naomi Klein, squarely placing the Democratic Party’s embrace of neoliberalism as the defining factor in Trump’s shocking (for many, but not all) electoral victory. I’ll highlight this part for the purpose of this post:
Trump’s message was: “All is hell.” Clinton answered: “All is well.” But it’s not well – far from it.
Neo-fascist responses to rampant insecurity and inequality are not going to go away. But what we know from the 1930s is that what it takes to do battle with fascism is a real left. A good chunk of Trump’s support could be peeled away if there were a genuine redistributive agenda on the table. An agenda to take on the billionaire class with more than rhetoric, and use the money for a green new deal. Such a plan could create a tidal wave of well-paying unionised jobs, bring badly needed resources and opportunities to communities of colour, and insist that polluters should pay for workers to be retrained and fully included in this future.
I honestly don’t know if it’s worth trying to continue the ideological fight to define what a “real left” even looks like anymore as this truly bizarro world of Trump Tower politics emerges. When decades of policy can be obliterated by one phone call, while Mad Dog’s son gets into a tweet-battle with Jake Tapper over Pizzagate, the disorientation of this new normal is so potent I don’t think what remains of the left has the capacity to trump the fear of Trump and wrestle control of the Democratic Party from neoliberalcon consensus.
Maybe there’s a chance at building a broader coalition if Democrats can move beyond the denial stage of grief over the loss of legitimacy their deal with the neoliberal devil produced. I’m not waiting around to find out, though. My path is taking me elsewhere.
Part of that is trying to actually understand the Christo-Fascist element people like Steve Bannon represent. BuzzFeed recently dusted off a 2014 talk Bannon gave the Vatican. Here is an interesting part:
It’s ironic, I think, that we’re talking today at exactly, tomorrow, 100 years ago, at the exact moment we’re talking, the assassination took place in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the bloodiest century in mankind’s history. Just to put it in perspective, with the assassination that took place 100 years ago tomorrow in Sarajevo, the world was at total peace. There was trade, there was globalization, there was technological transfer, the High Church of England and the Catholic Church and the Christian faith was predominant throughout Europe of practicing Christians. Seven weeks later, I think there were 5 million men in uniform and within 30 days there were over a million casualties.
That war triggered a century of barbaric — unparalleled in mankind’s history — virtually 180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.
But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people — whether it was French resistance fighters, whether it was the Polish resistance fighters, or it’s the young men from Kansas City or the Midwest who stormed the beaches of Normandy, commandos in England that fought with the Royal Air Force, that fought this great war, really the Judeo-Christian West versus atheists, right? The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal. It kind of organized and built the materials needed to support, whether it’s the Soviet Union, England, the United States, and eventually to take back continental Europe and to beat back a barbaric empire in the Far East.
That capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana. It was many, many years and decades of peace. And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.
In the absence of a legitimate leftist opposition to what’s emerging, people like Bannon get to replace a leftist critique of Capitalism with his own skewed narrative that features a Nationalist nostalgia that will resonate with the rust belt for many elections to come.