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Nixons real crimes are not the petty ones
of bribery and corruption which his fellow
capitalists so hypocritically accuse him
of. Our movement to dump Nixon must
expose his real crimes against the people
of Indochina, the Arab peoples and the
people of Chile as well as the working and
oppressed people here in the U.S. While
these are not on Time Magazines or Sen-
ator Kennedys list of Nixons crimes, they
must be added to our indictment of the
Nixon government and the imperialist
interests which he represents.

Dump Nixon! Stop the Fascist Tide!

The Call, Vol. 2, No. 3, December 1973
Features ISSUE 24 WINTER 2017

pg. 23 pg. 41



pg. 67 pg. 85



pg. 107





6 51 97
the soapbox canon fodder girondins
Letters + Coulterland False Answers
The Internet

8 54 101
party lines field notes thermidor
Now What? Big Plans Paleocons
for Porn

11 62 103
friends & foes dossier versailles
Steve Bannons Discover Kiss the Ring
Autobahn the Networks


77 117
bass & popular front
Results &
Stand Down Prospects:
Margaret Q4 2016

33 80 119
the vulgar ways of seeing means & ends
How Pepe No Money,
What Nate Turned Brown Mo Problems

38 82
misery index beyond a
The New
Populists Adam Silver
Isnt Protesting

2 24 / WINTER 2017
cover art by
Edward Carvalho-Monaghan

Nicole Aschoff is the managing Brendan James is a writer in New Matthew Miranda writes about
editor at Jacobin and the author York City and the producer of Chapo sports for SB Nation and FanSided,
of The New Prophets of Capital. Trap House. and teaches English and writing
at Stony Brook University.
Billy Bragg is an English rock Susan L. Kang is an associate
musician and activist. professor of political science at John Angela Nagle is a cultural critic
Jay College of Criminal Justice, for the Baffler, Current Affairs, and
David Broder is a translator and a City University of New York. She is Dublin Review of Books.
member of the Historical Materialism the author of Human Rights and
editorial board. He lives in Rome, Leo Panitch is a professor of political
Labor Solidarity.
where he is researching a phd on science at York University and the
dissident communists in the Italian Connor Kilpatrick is on the editorial co-editor of the Socialist Register. His
Resistance. board of Jacobin. latest book, with Sam Gindin, is
The Making of Global Capitalism.
Arun Gupta was an editor of the Cathy Kunkel is an independent
Guardian Newsweekly and founder consultant on energy and electric Charlie Post is a longtime socialist
of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. utility issues based in Charleston, activist who teaches at City University
WV, and is also active with the of New York.
Doug Henwood edits Left Business community organization Advocates
Observer and is the host of Behind Alex Press is a writer and phd
for a Safe Water System.
the News. His new book is My Turn. student in sociology at Northeastern
Ella Mahony is an assistant editor University. She lives in Boston.
Tanner Howard is an editorial at Jacobin.
assistant at Jacobin.
Branko Marcetic is an editorial
assistant at Jacobin. He lives in
Auckland, New Zealand.


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4 24 / WINTER 2017


Small Is Not Beautiful

In the last issue, Megan Erickson laid
out an excellent vision for the education
policy we need. One policy she did not
mention, but that we desperately need,
is decoupling public schools from mu-
nicipal property taxes. The way schools
are funded in this country results in
further segregation (and hurts housing
affordability), as well as constrains

budgets in communities that need fund-
ing the most.

Education research has consistently

shown that school integration is one of
the best ways to close the achieve-
ment gap, so eliminating systems that
prevent integration will create better
Storm the Libraries! schools for all. The Supreme Court failed
to protect students in San Antonio
As Chris Maisano wrote in The ABCs of
Independent School District v. Rodriguez
Socialism, public libraries would be
when they held that property tax
one of the most important institutions
funding of schools is not a violation of
in any socialist society worthy of the
the Fourteenth Amendment. Thus,
name. Where is the mention of libraries,
the work falls to us, at the level of state
museums, and other institutions that
exist for the common good in The Party
We Need? Most public libraries are In 2013, Colorado attempted to pass
funded by property taxes, which create a constitutional amendment that would
well-funded libraries in wealthy areas have shifted school funding away
and underfunded ones in communities from local property taxes and towards a
where a library would benefit people guaranteed state level of funding per
most. Educational institutions would not pupil. Although Amendment66 failed
have to grovel to corporate interests (and included some bad provisions on
if they were divorced from property-tax- charter schools), the push to shift school
based funding. We need equitably dis- funding away from local property taxes
tributed funds for all public education. provides a model for how the Left can pur-
sue policies that make schools more
Mike Monahan, Chicago, IL
equal for all.

Ryan Dykhouse, Boston, MA

is this where we send in letters that
get printed in the personals section of

Moya Mrquez, Los Angeles, CA

6 24 / WINTER 2017

Someones Figured out the Formula Because communication

Such social democratic bs from this is at the heart
page, acts like it is marxists.
of any good relationship.
Martin Burk, Berkeley, CA

Against Mike Barnicle

Ive had to listen to Mike Barnicle
yammer my whole life I grew
up in Massachusetts and he was on
Youll Need to Give Us State Not a Bad Idea...
the local news, moralizing about
Power First Memo to self: Stop reading the
sports and ripping off George Carlin.
If that asshole knew where Aleppo I wonder if Jacobin is ever going to Comments on Jacobins fb page.
was nine months ago, Ill shit out an give us regular updates on Socialist
Jeff White, Toronto, Canada
official Patriots gameday ball signed and Communist massacres.
by the devil himself and give it to Barn-
Melissa Borman, Atlanta, GA
icle for a belated Christmas gift.

Peter Berard, Watertown, MA Dont Do This!

Jacobin drinking game: Take a shot
every time you read neoliberalism
or elite. Die before finishing the
first paragraph.

Brian Biekman, Houston, TX



1. Trumps victory signals a deep political

crisis, not simply a failure of strategy.
Trump didnt win because hes a Twitter Jedi or a master-
ful orator. He won because he acknowledged
working peoples fear, anger, and anxiety. This doesnt
mean he cares about them nothing in his long
history as a money-grubbing businessman indicates that
he does. It simply means that for enough Americans,
more of the same was enemy number one, and Trump
took that sentiment to the bank.

Now What? Put differently, Trumps victory is the result of a

deep crisis of legitimacy, present in the United States and
a growing number of countries around the world. The
institutions and alliances that constitute the bipartisan
consensus underpinning neoliberal capitalism are in
serious crisis; voters increasingly see the political center
as bankrupt and hopeless.
Back at the beginning of the 2016 campaign, pundits
The Left cant ignore this fact. Sure, in hindsight its
predicted a boring slog between Hillary Clinton
clear the Clinton team made grievous errors, honing in on
and Jeb Bush. The heir that raised the most cash would
piecemeal, identity-based pockets of voters to create
take the crown, simple as that.
a winning coalition, ignoring the broader economic con-
Instead, Bush collapsed almost immediately, vying with cerns of voters in states like Wisconsin. But theres a
Lincoln Chafee for candidate we felt most sorry real danger that the political takeaway of Trumps victory
for, and Clinton found herself in the fight of her career, for progressives will be watch out for those Russians,
battling political outsiders on both wings. or that next time around we should do the same, but bet-
ter better polling, better analytics, better messag-
Election night was a nightmare for progressives. Instead
ing instead of recognizing that different, not better, is
of a candidate we all knew and loved or hated
whats needed.
accordingly we got Trump: a mendacious wild card
whose recipe for making America great again
seems to be equal parts xenophobia, misogyny, and
nationalism. Now what?

This question has been on our minds. In our last print

issue we talked about how the Left could build
on the surge of support for Bernie Sanders and craft a
socialist platform to challenge the common sense
of our for-profit system. Trump hasnt extinguished this
possibility hes made it more urgent than ever.

Journey to the Dark Side takes this urgency as its

guide. It shines a light on Trumps victory and
examines what his win says about our political landscape.
Three lessons can be distilled from the arguments

8 24 / WINTER 2017
We cant count
on the
Democrats to put
up a fight;
the fight must
from the Left.

2. Americans are divided, but they have 3. Fight the movement, not the man.
the potential to be united.
Trumps myriad flaws, shameful history, and opportu-
A wide expanse of Americans found Trumps xenophobic nistic antics are like a magnet, constantly monopolizing
rhetoric an appealing narrative to explain their our attention and criticism. But difficult as it is, we
troubles. But the two Americas narrative, in which must resist his centripetal powers because focusing our
a foward-thinking, tolerant, educated people shared energies and resources on attacking Trump
is pitted against a hateful, ignorant, nostalgic people, will only result in an even weaker left and a strengthened
is simplistic and unsubstantiated. populist right.

A look at the numbers shows that the liberal elites story Trumps presence in the White House will empower
that Trump rode to victory on a wave of euphoric the most disgraceful elements of American society. This
white working-class support doesnt hold water. Voter includes not only neo-fascists and racists, but also
turnout in this years election was abysmal as usual voracious capitalists who are ready to run through the
hitting a twenty-year low in some states and the major- doors Trump will open. We cant count on the
ity of working-class whites stayed home. Trump didnt Democrats to put up a fight; the fight must come from
rally the hordes; he won by a nose on a promise to give the Left.
people jobs. Chances are he wont keep that promise.
But how we fight matters. We need to take the lessons
Its up to the Left to make good on it instead bringing
from last year to heart. The most important of these
people together in a class-based movement of us
is that the Left needs a vision, not a defensive posture. We
against the rich, instead of emphasizing all the things
must organize around a positive, forward-looking
that keep ordinary people apart.
program for real change a program that gives people
Americans are divided by identity and culture, but they something to fight for, not just something to fight
also have the potential to be united by their shared desire against.
for a good life, rooted in security, respect, and justice.


10 24 / WINTER 2017


Steve Bannons

There is no doubt that Steve Bannon You cant fight Herrenvolk

is a bulging sack of shit.
populism with weak-tea
With his chin fuzz and sloppy
gray mane, he looks like an alcoholic liberalism.
stepdad grimly watching a History
Channel special on Rommel in the
desperate hope of an erection. In
Bannon, President Trump has found
his very own jack-booted Worm-
tongue. He will whisper darkly about
race realism and the evils of birth
control. John Birch Society president and the county sheriffs office, the local
His ascent to the White House conspiracy theorist Larry McDonald police, and the Ku Klux Klan and
should indeed send chills down all came to Congress in 1975 during promised to restore to states and
of our spines. But whats dangerous that supposed era of reasonable local governments the power that
about Bannon isnt that his loony, far- bipartisan consensus. A few years properly belongs to them.
right politics have reached such high later, he urged the nomination of If terrifying right-wing loonies at
places. After all, thats practically an Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess for the levers of state power could bring
American tradition. the Nobel Peace Prize on anticom- about the Fourth Reich, it wouldve
Have we already forgotten about munist grounds. Before he made his happened decades ago, during a truly
Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana, way to the Senate, Ted Cruz declared raging wildfire of American class con-
who reenacted Bill Clintons supposed a war on dildos, stating in a legal brief: flict, at the behest of powerful oilmen
assassination of Vince Foster with a There is no substantive due-process like Clint Murchison Sr, who rumor
pistol and a cantaloupe? What about right to stimulate ones genitals for has it funded the American Nazi
Reagans secretary of the interior non-medical purposes. And in 1980, Party, and Texaco chairman Torkild
James G. Watt, the man who banned Ronald Reagan stood just seven miles Rieber, who helped cinch Francos
the Beach Boys from playing on the from Philadelphia, Mississippi victory in the Spanish Civil War with
National Mall because they attracted where three civil rights activists were shipments of much-needed oil and
the wrong element? Ultra-right murdered in a conspiracy involving a telegram that read, Dont worry



wasnt a mere giveaway to construc-

Just like Lin-Manuel Miranda, tion and building-trades hustlers like

Bannon once wrote Trumps proposal or even like much

of Obamas American Recovery and
his very own rap musical. Reinvestment Act (arra). Instead,
it employed Americans with public
oversight. Between 1935 and 1943,
the Works Progress Administration
hired 8.5million men and women, not
about payments. Despite fascist nothing and nowhere without that to mention the 3million who worked
sympathies in high places, none of implosion. for the Civilian Conservation Corps.
these uber-powerful slimeballs tilted In a Hollywood Reporter interview As the Hurricane Katrina fiasco
our constitutional oligarchy into that appeared shortly after Trumps demonstrated, without effective
fascism. surprise victory, Bannon outlined his federal regulation and oversight,
So far-right racist doesnt make agenda for America something he infrastructure cash alone creates
Bannon particularly unique or wor- calls economic nationalism. a race to the bottom in terms of
rying. Its how devastatingly well he wages and workplace protections.
Were going to build an entirely
understands liberalisms failures and In December, a worker died at one
new political movement.... Its
how willing he is to craft a fraudulent of the new affordable-housing units
everything related to jobs. The
and reactionary program for those going up in New York City. Unions
conservatives are going to go
whove only experienced decline had demanded that all workers be cov-
crazy. Im the guy pushing a tril-
during the Clinton and Obama years. ered, but de Blasios City Hall wanted
lion-dollar infrastructure plan.
Like a mutant weed growing out to maximize production rather than
With negative interest rates
of a shit-covered pile of compost, pay union wages. And now someone is
throughout the world, its the
Bannon has cultivated his particular dead because that worker was not ade-
greatest opportunity to rebuild
brand of reaction entirely within the quately protected. Whatever projects
everything. Shipyards, iron-
decomposing corpse of American lib- Trump launches, workers pay, safety,
works, get them all jacked up....
eralism. In no other soil could it ever and well-being wont matter. Theyll
It will be as exciting as the 1930s.
have blossomed. be just as disposable as the tens of
Summing up the Democratic Except it wont look anything like thousands of employees the president
Partys embrace of Silicon Valley that. Trump and the Republican leg- has already scammed throughout his
and finance, he gloats: [The Dem- islature are no more likely to enact miserable career.
ocrats] were talking to these people Bannons program than Obama was Nevertheless, what Bannon said
with companies with a $9billion going to launch a Green New Deal. about negative interest rates creating
market cap employing nine people. Trumps actual infrastructure plan the perfect opportunity for a mas-
Its not reality. They lost sight of consists of nothing but tax credits. sive infrastructure upgrade is true.
what the world is about. For the Private investors might jump on pipe- (Even the increasingly worthless Paul
most part, hes right: the Demo- line expansions, but they wont be Krugman agrees on this point.) And
crats abandoned even went to war interested in overhauling municipal yet President Obama who ushered
with labor, embracing the pro- water systems. in arra when interest rates were
fessional classes instead. Bannons This is hardly the Tennessee even lower refused to fully fund a
rise on the back of a candidate who Valley Authority, which modernized plan to rebuild the country when he
received fewer votes than even Mitt and developed the most backward had the perfect chance.
Romney was only possible with the regions of the United States, despite Obamas economic adviser
collapse of turn-of-the-century liber- being an unprofitable venture for Christina Romer estimated at least
alism and its agents in the Democratic the private sector. The New Deal, $1.2trillion was needed to pull the
Party. Bannon (and Trump) would be which Bannon cites as inspiration, country out of the Great Recession.

12 24 / WINTER 2017
Steve Bannons Autobahn

His political team, fearing the t-word with unparalleled vulgarity. He wants represents the left-wing obverse
(which apparently does not frighten to make a working-class paradise by of conservatism and the gop. And
Bannon), whittled it down to less than bringing back manufacturing jobs liberals, deep down in their hearts,
$800billion, much of it tax cuts. But that can compete with develop- understand this. They have no true
even Romers initial estimate was far ing-world wages. It makes Obamas ideological counterpoint no real
too conservative she later said the food stamps and Uber economy look program and certainly no vision
country needed at least $2trillion like 1970s Sweden. for changing society for the better.
in stimulus money. Obama shunned A true right-wing economic Michael Wolff correctly diagnosed
a New Deal, and now a reactionary nationalism, on the model of early Bannon as embodying more than
is riding into office promising the twentieth-century fascism, is a anyone the liberals awful existen-
Herrenvolk version. dead letter in twenty-first-century tial pain and fury. This doesnt just
What made the New Deal effec- America. The Republican Party may refer to his disgusting comments it
tive and nothing like arra or be the hard right of our ruling class, includes his fiery ambition, something
Trumps proposals was that mil- but its still a thoroughly capitalist the Democratic Party has altogether
lions went from unemployed to ruling class no Prussian dueling lost. And even at its absolute best,
employed within a matter of weeks. scars or epaulets these days. And liberalisms aspirations were only
It prioritized well-paying jobs for these dull, business-minded captains a watered-down, cheap knockoff of
workers, not handouts to construc- of industry have no interest whatso- the utopian dreams of communist and
tion tycoons. Labor union militancy, ever in a new New Deal, reactionary socialist activists.
much of it shaped by the Commu- or otherwise. Neither tva nor auto- Trump winks and smirks at Nazis
nist Party, made this possible. As bahn. Theyre far too bourgeois for while the Democratic Party can barely
much as we might loathe Obama for anything like that. disguise its contempt for Scandina-
having no plan to revive the Amer- As is both Trump and, for all his vian social democracy whatever
ican working class, we should never rustic bluster, Bannon. Despite his that means, as Clinton said. Finlands
have believed he or the Democratic common-man shtick, Bannon worked government-provided baby boxes are
Party would. Liberalism failed in the at Goldman Sachs before turning as likely to elicit howls of contempt
twenty-first century not because of Hollywood financier and growing from Democratic Party officials as a
any new developments but because rich off Seinfeld. His screenwriting golden hammer and sickle. Leading
it always had wild deficiencies, even partner claims Bannon once pro- left-of-center pundits now seem to
at the peak of its powers. It was only posed limiting the vote to property regard liberalisms most popular
worth a damn when there was a rad- owners. Hes more Federalist snot quasi-social-democratic achieve-
ical labor movement for it to co-opt in the mold of Alexander Hamilton ments Social Security, Medicare,
and, reluctantly, invite into a political than reactionary Jacksonian. Behind the Wagner Act as little more
coalition. his supposed working-class economic than the tainted products of a racist,
Without working-class militancy, program lies the same shitty elitist sexist past. Meanwhile, the partys
there was never going to be a new views he pillories in liberals. Just leadership spent the better part of
New Deal under Obama. And there like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bannon last year slandering its most popular
certainly wont be one under Trump. once wrote his very own rap musical. politician only very recently and
Does the Donald have a plan to spur Like every rich, right-wing asshole, reluctantly a member of that party
a new wave of unionization with his he plays gi Joe in public or Julius as a wild-eyed demagogue.
very own Wagner Act? Or a proposal Streicher, if the mood is right Despite the outcry over the Bre-
to go after the donor class Bannon before settling in with a nice bottle itbart News connections, Trump
claims to despise? of Amarone in a climate-controlled stood by Bannon and didnt so much
Of course not. Trumps already beachfront property. as flinch when his white nationalist
targeting union leaders from his Bannons ambitions make grue- associations were splashed across
Twitter account and inviting corpo- somely clear that liberalism and front pages around the world. Ban-
rate America into his administration the Democratic Party in no way nons position as senior counselor



and White House chief strategist No such relationship exists They cant even hide their glee.
remained secure. And yet the most between the Democratic Party and The Right not the Democratic
ambitious, leftmost member of the socialist left. Liberalism without Party wants to remake this country
Obamas inner circle, Van Jones a labor is far worse than worthless and from top to bottom. And socialism
one-time card-carrying Maoist who a Left without Marxism even more so. and Marxism are its true opponents.
was supposed to lead the green jobs Affirmed right-wingers like Bannon If were going to fight Trump and
initiative was forced out within have always understood this. Bannon, thats how we do it. The
nine months. Why? A video surfaced He calls himself a Leninist, and racism Trump both conjured and
in which Jones called Republicans much like Grover Norquist, keeps a campaigned on goes beyond very real
assholes as did a signature on a bust of V.I. on his desk. Its not ironic bigotries its promise has a mate-
silly 9/11 truth petition. Bannon, in either case, and it never has been. rial lure: jobs, loans, and property
in contrast, was once charged with For them, Lenin represents both the values.
beating his wife, with a police officer trophy of a conquered ideology But you cant fight Herrenvolk
as witness. populism with weak-tea liberalism.
With Trumps rise alongside lib- A paltry means-tested welfare state
eralisms popular decline we have the just flips white-supremacist pro-
clearest manifestation of what Perry grams and policies for the deserving
Anderson calls the United Statess He calls himself us not the undeserving them. Both
all-capitalist ideological universe:
a Leninist, fit comfortably in the ruling-class
politics of divide and conquer as
A mental firmament in which the and much like opposed to the broad solidarity they
sanctity of private property and
Grover fear. How can we expect the public
superiority of private enterprise
are truths taken for granted by
Norquist, keeps a to rally around something like Med-

all forces in the political arena.... bust of icaid when huge portions of the
working and lower-middle classes
There will tend to be more elas- V. I. on his desk. dont qualify for it? Universal social
ticity to the right of its center of
democracy a more transformative
gravity than to the left, since the
program than the one Sanders cam-
basic belief system lends itself to
paigned on is called for. Were in
stronger articulation, and readier
the midst of a reckoning with the
appeal, in unalloyed rather than
something like a safari pelt and neoliberal consensus. The Right has
dilute form.
an admission of revolutionary inspi- made their play, and now we have to
Just as buttoned-down conservative ration and discipline. They arent make ours.
Robert Taft (the Paul Ryan of his day) mocking Lenin theyre mocking So lets return liberalism to
privately pushed Joe McCarthy to go the Left for abandoning Marxism. its rightful place as dinner-table
as far as he needed to, the Repub- Even David Brooks has chided the etiquette for the elite who are gob-
lican Party made their peace with twenty-first-century left for dis- bling up the country and making
Trumpism in a matter of weeks. Weve carding anticapitalist critique: peace with Trump and Bannon as we
yet to see that rightwards elasticity speak. Because thats all liberalism
The Left no longer has Marxism
snap back. The gop establishment is today and all the Left will be if we
or any other coherent intellectual
may initially fear what lies farther continue to borrow so much from it,
structure... no rigorous founda-
down their end of the spectrum and consciously or unconsciously.
tion to rely on, no ideology to give
a few politicians like Charlie Crist or While etiquette can get people
it organization and shape.... It
the Bushes might cry uncle but to wipe their mouths and use polite
undermines the power and effec-
eventually, like The Thing, they will words for impolite concepts, it can
tiveness of modern politics more
consume the threat and shape it just never transform society. It can never
as it shapes their party in turn. defeat creeps like Bannon.

14 24 / WINTER 2017

The Trump Way

What kind of economic agenda

does Trump have in store for

In the run-up to November, commentators from across JACOBIN Are there positive outcomes from
the political spectrum predicted a round defeat for Donald this election? Can we say corporate
Trump, not least because of the palpable disgust he elic- free-trade deals are no longer a
ited from elites. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was sure thing?
the recipient of a number of moneyed defections from the
Republican Party and soaring capitalist confidence. LEO PANITCH Certainly the Trans-Pacific
Trumps hostility to free trade, the threat his xeno- Partnership is over, and the Trans-
phobia posed to the maintenance of a cheap and precarious atlantic Trade and Investment
labor force for capital, and his general instability all seemed Partnership is probably too. That
inimical to the interests of a globalized ruling class. Yet said, I dont think this spells
since the election, hes seamlessly assembled a coterie of the end of neoliberal international
corporate bosses into his transition team, and markets, trade arrangements that allow
after wobbling initially, have stabilized and even risen. for the free flow of capital and the
Meanwhile, the Left is trying to make sense of his infra- protection of that capital when
structure proposals and promises to workers. it lands in another state, which is
Arun Gupta and other Jacobin contributors spoke to the main point of the free-trade
Leo Panitch about Trumps economic agenda, his relation- and investment treaties now. And I
ship to transnational elites, and how neoliberalisms crisis dont think we are going to see
could mean revitalization for the Left. the introduction of massive import



controls that would interrupt parties to the European Union old cultural values that would
the integrated global production that attached themselves to restore hierarchies of race, gender,
network we have. neoliberalism. The claim from these and sexual orientation.
institutions that the nation can
The Trump administration has an Peter Gowan used to say of Sam
benefit from neoliberal globaliza-
enormous interest in keeping Gindins and my analysis of
tion is now all but dead, even as they
the flow of capital and trade going. I the American states leading role
continue to impose neoliberal
expect we will see a diminution in facilitating and coordinating
austerity measures to keep the old
of the labor and environmental side global capitalism that this might
arrangements going.
agreements that go with these come undone by a nationalist
international arrangements, not that In this context, there has been a right taking power in Germany.
they were worth very much, notable shift from protest to politics Astonishingly, this happened
including those that are a part of on the Left in recent years. The first in the United States. We need
nafta. focus of protest itself visibly shifted to see if this xenophobic right,
to emphasizing class inequality which is coming to prominence not
At least this seems to be the end in the wake of the financial crisis only in the Western capitalist
of Clintonism, of which Obama was from Occupy Wall Street to world look at India, Turkey, and
the last gasp. the Indignados in Spain. But since the Philippines will oppose
then its taken a turn to recogniz- being involved in capital accumula-
Yes. I do think this is the nail in ing that you cant change the world tion on a global scale. Or we
the coffin of the Third Way, that is, without taking power. could see it start constructing a
the social-democratic line of continuation of global capital
The radical left has reentered elec-
progressive competitiveness, global- accumulation that is deliberately
toral politics. This could be through
ization, and the free movement asymmetric in terms of closing
new parties, as in Greece and
of capital inaugurated by the Clinton the mobility of labor.
Spain, or through old parties, as in the
administration in the 1990s and
United Kingdom and the United Thats another important question:
followed by the Blairites in the United
States, where this shift surprised and Is closing off international labor
Kingdom and Europe in general.
roiled the old discredited political mobility feasible amid economic
The Third Way is attached to the
establishment of those parties. globalization and capital mobility?
promise that through retraining,
I think that it could be feasible,
workers in the United States could But the delegitimization of main-
tragically. It wont just be trickle-
compete with Vietnamese workers stream institutions also involved a
down economics, though that
earning a dollar a day. I think thats much more powerful rise of the
will be a large part of it. It may entail
over. We see the utter hollowing xenophobic right, which claims to
brownshirt infrastructure
out of the Third Way project. represent the national interest in
cultural and ethnic terms.
So far Trumps economic agenda The big question is whether this It seems youre referring here to a
appears to be warmed-over nationalist political right represents kind of right populist approach
supply-side economics, such as a turn away from transnational to the state and deficit spending
massive tax cuts. But it seems to be capital accumulation. These forces using things in the toolkit that
neoliberalism with a white nation- sometimes express themselves the Paul Ryans of the world wouldnt
alist face. as protectors of domestic manufac- use. But a lot of people do mean
turing jobs. But I dont think this literally. They look at people like
What this moment represents,
thats their main thrust. Their main Bannon and say that Trump is
and its been coming for some time
thrust is to define the nation supporting, or at the very least
since the 2008 global financial
again in xenophobic terms, which
crisis, is the delegitimization of the
also combines with protection of
institutions from mainstream

16 24 / WINTER 2017
The Trump Way

ppss will likely entail the floating of

corporate debt on an even more
The Trump administration has an massive scale than we are already

enormous interest in keeping seeing, on the premise that the state

will underwrite it. It will cost more
the flow of capital and trade going. money by virtue of corporations bor-
rowing at a higher rate of interest
than what Treasury bills can be float-
ed at to cover a federal budget
fostering, neo-facist political and was sustained in the years
Thats also part of the inegalitarian
elements. Do you think its useful to immediately following it, let alone
nature of this, and capital is es-
think about Trump that way? the anticommunist repression
pecially happy to build and manage
through the decade after World War
I dont mean that Trump himself public infrastructure so long as
ii we should definitely be on
represents a fascist movement the government will subsidize corp-
the lookout for new practices of un-
with ground troop militias, or any- orate borrowing to that end in
ethical authoritarian political
thing like that. But its worth various ways, such as tax forgiveness
opportunism, which would especial-
remembering that fascist regimes and even covering private interest
ly involve deliberate attempts
were capitalist. There is a ten- payments, while these corporations
to target progressives and the Left.
dency among analysts to think of will for decades reap the profits
capitalist regimes as tending to that come with the charges they are
Trump is talking about a trillion- able levy on either individuals or
be free-market, but the type of state-
dollar infrastructure program. local governments for the use of this
led capitalism that Hitler introduced
But its not a traditional program infrastructure.
was very much capitalist. This is
that the government funds
where I was going with the brown
directly. He wants to use tax breaks
notion, trying to get at the fact Trumps infrastructure ideas focus
to incentivize the building.
that we might see authoritarian state- on the material moving economy
led, but blatantly capitalist, infra- I think it could be a really big building roads, ports, rails, bridges,
structure programs and policies. infrastructure program. Yes, it will airports. Do you think they could
probably involve public-private actually work?
The authoritarian populist dimen-
sion of this will be something that partnerships (ppss), and massive
Well, what does that mean, work? It
we will need to pay very careful taxes, subsidies, and pork-barrel
could involve mass employment
attention to. Again we do not neces- spending for the construction compan-
on a big scale. We need to remember
sarily have to take this in the sense ies involved. After all, Trump is
Trump is a construction capitalist,
of Trump explicitly using the equiv- a developer, and that industry often
a developer. He hires construction
alent of the brownshirt militias forms the base of the Republican
companies, and I think we are go-
(some of which are already around Party across the country. Their mo-
ing to see that applied in a significant
on the far American right today), dus operandi is to accumulate at
way. It could involve putting work-
or deliberately planning something public expense while ideologically
ers dispossessed of their old jobs in
like the Reichstag fire as a staged biting the hand that feeds them.
manufacturing, or those who used
event to trigger the closure of demo- The state currently funds infrastruc-
to be employed by the state itself, to
cratic political space. But as at ture through private construction
work building bridges and paving
other dark moments in American companies rather than direct public
highways. And that involves a hell
history such as the repression employment.
of a lot of movement of people a-
of domestic dissent that followed round and disruption of communities.
the US entry into World War i



If Trump expels three million more accumulation, of course. Can this refugees, which a lot of Latinos in
Mexican immigrants, lots of whom type of investment be done without the United States are?
work in construction, will his white direct state employment and the
working-class supporters take these direct state movement of labor? I Theres been a lot of connections
jobs? Heck, they may be needed to dont know. made between the rise of Trump
work on golf courses, mowing the and a rising right populism elsewhere
As for the international context for
grass in Palm Beach or Palm Springs. around the world. Does Trump fit
the rise of this new right, will we see
The logic in this infrastructure pro- states, led by the American state, neatly into this narrative? Whats
mise combined with a xenophobic reintroduce import controls, capital similar, and whats different in your
threat to foreign labor is this: where controls, and so on? I am not so mind?
the only option before for laid-off sure. We dont see capitalists who
Ive been thinking lately about
workers in Ohio was McDonalds or want to accumulate only within
the irony of Trump or Nigel Farages
Walmart, maybe now theyll take a their own territory. Can you keep
nationalism. These are people who,
job doing construction, as laborers, globalization going via the coop-
especially in the case of Trump and
and that would involve a lot more eration of right-wing governments
the capitalists who hes appoint-
internal labor mobility within the that are anti-immigration?
ing, have very extensive international
United States for these workers.
Trumps chief strategist, Stephen investments and ties with interna-
This may end up involving more than Bannon, articulates this as do tional investors. Trump has a broad
old trickle-down economics, many of those on the new right in range of links with investors
where the state offers the wealthy Europe as something like: We around the world, whether its major
tax breaks in the hope they will are not against any culture, we just players like Deutsche Bank or
invest without any state guidance to believe in cultural apartheid. They gangster capitalists in the Russian
what they invest in, or whether belong over there and we belong regime. Farage himself was a broker
to invest at all. Its rational to have here. Can we have an asymmetric in the City of London. You dont
massive state-led investment. globalization that keeps capital get a more internationalized sphere
Without our side coming to power, accumulation going but which closes of capitalism than the financial
it will never be anything other off labor mobility, certainly that sphere of British capitalism.
than a means of facilitating capital closes off economic and political
Yet both of them played the national-
ist card, and it shows the extent to
which the nation-state has remained
integral to the global accumulation
projects of so many capitalists. These
guys understand that for accumu-
lation to continue on a global scale,
you need to legitimate it by attach-
Is closing of international labor ing it to a xenophobic nationalism
of some kind. Theyre trying to
mobility feasible amid economic
ride this tiger of nationalistic ideol-
globalization and capital mobility? ogy that allows global accumula-
tion to continue. That may be at the
expense of the Ukrainian or the
Estonian nationalists, and for sure
at the expense of Mexican immi-
grants, let alone refugees of every

18 24 / WINTER 2017

Now, where does this fit with the Party. That said, its clear the insur- Party. In my view that could
nationalist, very far-right forces we gency behind Corbyn wont suc- only occur with a split and a fun-
see elsewhere? They sometimes ceed without a recalibration of what damental reorganization of what
have a more explicit antiglobalization the Labour Party is organization- that party is. There will be an at-
focus. This is most clearly seen in ally. That would involve a split from tempt to recalibrate the Democratic
Europe, with the National Front in the party of those members of Party. There is no stopping this,
France and the Le Pen movement, Parliament whose first loyalty is to so lets see what happens.
Golden Dawn in Greece, etc., which nato, the monarchy, the current
are not only anti-immigrant, racist, institutions of the British state, and How should the US left move be-
and so on, but explicitly hostile to the practice of class harmony yond the election and build on
the transnational project of the with the financial capitalists in the support for Sanderss vision? What
European Union. That said, we see City of London. Andrew Murray wrote in Jacobin
in Poland and in Hungary far- about the new politics that produced
More fundamentally, the insurgency
right nationalist regimes that want Corbyn and Sanders being gen-
has to remake Labours apparatus
to remain within the European erally more class-focused than class-
outside Parliament into a vehicle for
Union. based rings true. Especially as
transforming the party branches
So well have to see how this plays into centers of working-class life once we get further and further from the
out, whether this is one part of a again. They would need to engage Sanders campaign, it seems like
break with globalization. Its still in organization, education, and class theres a real danger that anything
my view that unlike in the 1930s, formation on a scale not seen in a tangible from it will dissipate.
there arent significant enough long time, indeed perhaps never seen And what role do you think
elements of the capitalist class who in that party in much of the country. organized labor should play in all
have an interest in exclusively this? Do you think it should have
In the case of the US Democrats,
accumulating on their own terrain. a central role as weve historically
the possibility of organizational and
Insofar as thats the case, I dont conceptualized it, or is there a
ideological recalibration runs up
think well see a return to a kind of plausible alternative base for a left
against the loyalty of party leaders
territorially-based capitalism, opposition?
to the existing state and their deep
operating behind closed borders.
links to Wall Street, Silicon Valley,
But this all remains to be seen, In a sense your two questions
and the military-industrial complex.
of course. are related to one another. Im not
But there is an additional obsta-
convinced that without really
cle. The Democratic Partys organ-
fundamental organizational change
Moving back to the US political izational structure is so diffuse
in the Democratic Party, and
landscape, is it possible to move the and its links to the working class, or
more fundamentally in the trade
Democratic Party more toward at least the active elements of it,
unions, this will be all that dif-
the Sanders and Warren wing in your are much less organic than is the case
ferent from, or the
view? with Labour. For Labour, the con-
least mobilized aspects of the
nections to the working class have
Well if we look at what has happened Bernie fundraising campaign. Its
always gone beyond the links of
in the Labour Party in the United hard to imagine that the intent
the political leadership to the union
Kingdom, the Corbyn example is an to build the Left within the Demo-
extremely positive phenomenon cratic Party will go very far if
that indicates possibilities for similar Its a harder thing to change the it isnt connected to an attempt to
developments in the Democratic Democratic Party from a donkey transform the very nature of
into a gazelle, and its bloody labors long-standing alliance with
hard already in the British Labour the Democratic Party.

20 24 / WINTER 2017
The Trump Way

Its a harder thing to change the transforming the unions struc-

tures and their strategy. Socialists
Democratic Party from a donkey especially need to organize
into a gazelle, and its bloody hard alongside people trying to do both
already in the British Labour those things, but they also need
Party. to organize on their own, to engage
in socialist education, socialist
vote mobilization, and socialist cadre-
building. That way, when and if
the difficulties, the barriers, or the
limitations of operating inside
the unions to change them, and oper-
ating inside the Democratic Party
to change it, are confronted you have
some ballast you have some
Changing the labor base of the par- that we were not class-focused core left, rather than just a disheart-
ty is probably going to have to enough, and especially not class- ening defeat.
involve challenging the structure of based enough, has sometimes
More than that, given the ecological
trade unionism in the United amounted to saying this is just white-
crisis as well as the capitalist
States, and a crucial part of this has supremacist male chauvinism in
crisis, the recalibration of the parties
been the definition of politics another guise. Im afraid the Left is
and the unions I was speaking of
that accompanied the alliance with going to be intimidated by this.
needs to actively involve working-
the Democratic Party the very But it shouldnt be. We must insist
class people in imagining and
limited mobilizing role the unions on the importance of organizing
developing capacities for alternative
have played while staffing the among men and women in working-
forms of production and consump-
|phone banks historically for Demo- class communities of color, and
tion in their own communities as well
cratic candidates, and the role doing so in practical, pragmatic ways,
as nationally and eventually inter-
the unions play merely in channeling that link up the needs of those
nationally, and showing that this can
a portion of union dues to the communities with the needs of the
be done only through democratic
Democrats without any politici- broader mass of the working
economic planning.
zation of a class kind. people, so that theyre not seeing
what theyre demanding as a I really think this has to involve the
At this moment when American
special benefit to black people alone. construction of new socialist parties
politics are clearly being reconstruct-
This is the way that racists, and with this central to their agenda,
ed, I think there are two crucial
opportunists like Trump, have always but they wont come out of nowhere.
things to focus on. First, how to trans-
portrayed the welfare benefits They will come out of the reconsti-
form protest politics, which to
that have been won in the United tution of forces inside and outside of
some extent was class-focused since
States, especially those won in old parties. The actual organiza-
Occupy, in such a way that it is
the 1960s, which is of course absurd. tional form it will take right now is
organizationally focused and class-
hard to predict, but I do think
rooted. The other thing that needs to be avoid-
there is a real opening which we have
ed is concentrating entirely on
The negative reaction of so many already seen with the shift from
the effort to reform the Democratic
activists in Black Lives Matter protest to politics.
Party. This should not take away
and other movements to the insis-
from the efforts that need to go into
tence on the left since the election



The making of the

modern Republican



he original version of this essay Heres an anecdote that captures elite anxieties. In
was written in June 2015, almost at the February 1897, ruling-class lawyer Bradley Martin and his
moment Donald Trump announced his wife Cornelia threw a costume ball at the Waldorf Astoria.
presidential campaign. No one took him J.P. Morgan dressed as Molire; John Jacob Astor dressed
seriously, and everyone including me, as Henry of Navarre and brandished a sword covered in
the author of a very critical book about her thought jewels. No less than fifty women dressed as Marie Antoi-
Hillary Clinton had a lock on the presidency. Democrats nette and Mrs Martin wore a necklace that had once
have yet to process this loss, blaming Vladimir Putin and belonged to the royals. But the hosts were so nervous about
the incurable bigotry of the white heartland rather than men of socialistic tendencies interrupting the festivities
their own ideological and organizational deficiencies and that they surrounded the hotel with Pinkertons and had
the fatal weakness of their candidate and her already-for- the first-floor windows nailed shut. The public outcry over
gotten running mate. the egregious too-muchness of their costume ball drove the
Its striking, re-reading this after Trumps election, to Martins to resettle in England soon afterwards.
reflect on his formation of a very right-wing government Contrast that with a sixtieth birthday party that pri-
despite the lack of any elite or popular mandate for one. He vate equity titan Stephen Schwarzman the man with
was endorsed by almost no capitalist of significance, and the biggest living room in Manhattan threw himself
he lost the popular vote by nearly three million. Though in 2007 at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan, with
theres little doubt that while quite a few of his voters we 1,500 of his closest friends and Rod Stewart as the head-
have no good idea of just how many yet were hardcore line entertainment. The major security concern was
xenophobes and misogynists, he won mainly because of the paparazzi, not men of socialistic tendencies. And the
exhaustion of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, an site was one of those armories built to house the troops
exhaustion perfectly embodied by Hillary Clinton. Its a whose mission was suppressing a restive working class.
party vulnerable to the sort of takeover from the left that It was no ordinary armory. Its interiors were by Louis
the gop experienced from the right from the 1960s into Tiffany because it was the regiment of the citys upper
the 1980s. While there are certainly obstacles to that sort class. That regiment didnt do much fighting (and lasted
of renovation for one, our ossified labor movement a couple of weeks in the Civil War before returning
could never provide the kind of institutional support to the home), though they may have put down a strike or two.
Left that the corporate lobby provided for the Right, and But now we dont need a national guard to put down
for two, the Dems moneybags would fund a formidable strikes, and we can repurpose their armories as venues for
resistance to any insurgency theres a lot to learn from fancy parties.
the discipline and far-sightedness of the revolutionists of And yet the reactionary community is agitated and
the Right. paranoid. For much of the Right, and not just the obvious
lunatics, Barack Obama is a man of socialistic tendencies.
Theyve been energized by opposition to the so-called
Who Wants to Save Capitalism?
Affordable Care Act, affectionately known as Obamacare,
The American right, never on the ropes for very long, a contraption that has its roots in 1980s and early 1990s
is on the march again. In some sense, this resurgence is scheming by a British Tory, Stuart Butler, who was then
hard to understand. If you buy the thesis that the Right is working at the Heritage Foundation. It got a trial run in
driven by a defense of hierarchy and privilege and draws Massachusetts under Gov. Mitt Romney, a minor private
its energy from opposition to a strong left, its strength is equity titan who was also the 2012 Republican presiden-
almost incomprehensible. Its hard to think of a time when tial candidate. While the better part of it the expansion
American capital and capitalists were so politically secure. of Medicaid, a joint federal-state program for providing
During the first Gilded Age, the sleep of the moneyed was health insurance to the poor does expand the public
often troubled by populist and socialist agitation. Armories sector, the bulk of it is very friendly to the private insurance
were built in major American cities to house National industry, which isnt surprising considering that a former
Guard units meant to suppress strikers and demonstrators, lobbyist for the industry wrote a good bit of the original
something that seems unimaginable today. draft legislation. So we have the Democrats embracing a

24 24 / WINTER 2017
capital-friendly plan with a right-wing pedigree that the The ced, while distressed by some of the antibusiness
Right now opposes because its too statist. attitudes of the New Deal, accepted that unions were here
This is a neat illustration of two aspects of modern to stay, as with some version of the welfare state and
American political life: the ever-rightward drift of the cutting wages to subsistence levels did no one any good in
Right, and the way in which the Democrats tail them and the long run. This point of view animated the policies of
thereby enable that drift. the Eisenhower administration. As Ike himself famously
While today the Rights ascendancy in American pol- said, Should any political party attempt to abolish social
itics looks inseparable from its takeover of the Republican security and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you
Party, for most of the twentieth century, while the gop was would not hear of that party again in our political history.
usually more conservative, especially on economic issues, There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that
than the Democrats, there was a great deal of ideological you can do these things.... [B]ut their number is negligible
diversity within the two major parties. The Republican and they are stupid.
Party also had a liberal wing, just as the Democrats had a Eisenhower rejected sending troops to Indochina to
conservative wing. bail out the failing French, and warned against allowing
Of course, there had long been far-right tendencies in the United States to become an occupying power in a
the Republican Party, most notoriously Wisconsin sen- seething Arab world, and left office with a famous warning
ator Joseph McCarthy, who ended up disgraced after a about the military-industrial complex that is impossible to
wild run in the 1950s, but whose obsessions, like hatred imagine any politician uttering today. Liberals generally
of upper-class Harvard-educated liberals, prefigured his disdained him as simple and boring the Great Golfer,
modern descendants. Gore Vidal called him, who presided over a regime of dull
But the gop of the 1950s was dominated by north- terror. But Eisenhower now seems, if such a transhistorical
eastern wasps (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, the ruling comparison is possible, a more peaceful and egalitarian
elite for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries). figure than Obama.
Though its hard to believe today, when the Republican But that petit bourgeois provincial branch of
Party routinely race-baits to win the votes of white bigots, that splinter group had a material problem with the
the gop of the 1950s and 1960s often had a stronger civil Eisenhower-era settlement: General Motors may have
rights record than the Democrats, because the Dems still preferred life without the United Auto Workers, but it
had a large Southern component. could afford to pay union rates, especially in exchange for
Into the 1960s, the Republicans often were stronger labor peace. Smaller fry couldnt. They were caught in the
on civil liberties than Democrats as well. Robert Kennedy,
his brother Johns attorney general, wanted to expand the
Sedition Act of 1918 to prohibit Americans from writing
or speaking anything deemed disloyal to or abusive of the
United States. (Sidney Zion, who served as an assistant US
attorney under Robert Kennedy, said that he had the worst
record on civil liberties of any attorney general, and used
his office as if he were the Godfather getting even with the
enemies of the Family. Zion was probably exaggerating,

The American
but his point survives a prudent toning-down.) Congres-
sional opposition to the bill was led by John Lindsay, the
liberal Republican congressman from the Upper East Side
of Manhattan, then known as the silk-stocking district for
all its upper-class residents, but the bill passed. Lindsay right, never
would later become mayor of New York, much to the annoy-
ance of William Buckley, who ran against him as part of
his effort to destroy liberal Republicanism.
on the ropes for
very long, is
When big business found political expression through
organizations like the Committee on Economic Devel-
opment (ced), founded in 1942 by Paul Hoffman, an
automobile executive who would later become an Eisen-
hower intimate, this was a significant departure from the on the march
traditionally reactionary policies endorsed by the National
Association of Manufacturers.
26 24 / WINTER 2017

petite bourgeoisies classic difficult competitive position, affection for Barry Goldwater as their political avatar.
squeezed by Big Labor and Big Capital. Their freedom Continuing the provincial petit bourgeois theme, Gold-
was under siege and they reacted by funding a right-wing water was the grandson of the founder of a five-outlet
insurgency. The John Birch Society was founded in 1958 by department store chain based in Phoenix, Arizona
the retired ceo of a Massachusetts-based candy company, a flyspeck next to the likes of Macys. Goldwater, or
Robert Welch, whod made a fortune off lollipops (which his more accurately Goldwaters supporters, launched a
brother invented) and Junior Mints. Welch made a fortune, bid for the 1960 Republican nomination, which failed
but still, he was no Rockefeller or Mellon. badly and had victor Richard Nixon betray the Right in
That was three years after William F. Buckley, a few several ways but most visibly with his choice of the Mas-
years out of Yale, founded National Review, with the mis- sachusetts aristocrat Henry Cabot Lodge Jr as his vice
sion of stand[ing] athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time presidential candidate.
when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience Goldwater tried again in 1964, and though he would
with those who so urge it, as he wrote in the magazines eventually be crushed in the general election by Johnson
first issue. Though the United States might have seemed by a 23-point margin, the convention that nominated the
to many a conservative country, making the founding of Arizonan was an important rite of passage for the conser-
the magazine an act of supererogation, as the Catholic vatives. As the journalist Murray Kempton put it, This
reactionary put it, in fact it was anything but: it was a bold convention is historic because it is the emancipation of the
counterstroke against liberal hegemony. As risible as that serfs.... The serfs have seized the estate of their masters.
might sound now, Buckley had a great deal of trouble Nelson Rockefeller, a leader of the moderate Repub-
raising money for the magazine, and needed help from his lican faction whose surname symbolized the old elites
father, a small-time oil baron. As Buckley later put it, the domination of the party, was rudely heckled, shocking
capitalists didnt seem all that interested in the project of old-schoolers. The old northeastern wasp aristocracy was
saving capitalism. in decline, their fortunes reduced by inflation, successive
Eisenhowers tepidity and compromises energized generations of inheritance, and the competitive weakening
the Right, whose insurgency was almost Bolshevik in its of the industrial basis of their fortunes in old-line industry.
ideological and organizational discipline. The Bolshie And the partys transition on race was made crudely clear
tendencies were no accident. There were not only intel- by insults directed against black delegates one of whom
lectuals like James Burnham, ex-Trot turned co-founder of saw his jacket deliberately burned with a cigarette. Dele-
National Review, but important organizers like Clif White gate Jackie Robinson, the man who integrated professional
and the ex-Communist Marvin Liebman who consciously baseball, said that the performance made him feel like a
emulated Red tactics in organizing their insurgency. Tom Jew in Hitlers Germany.
Hayden, observing a Young Americans for Freedom dele- Movement conservatives were undeterred by Gold-
gation attending a national conference on the Peace Corps waters massive loss and continued with their plot to take
in 1961, noted their use of multiple communist tactics. over the Republican Party. A year later, Buckley ran for
Both the organizational and ideological rigor of this mayor of New York on the Conservative Party ticket, with
right in the Republican Party at the time dismayed and the conscious aim of drawing enough votes away from the
disoriented the moderates, who preferred politeness liberal Republican John Lindsay to elect the Democratic
and compromise above all things. Though it would take candidate, Abe Beame, and thereby weaken the gops left
decades, the Right eventually drove the moderates out of flank. (The contrast with liberals, who shy away from any
the party. Even today, what liberals are left (all of them third-party challenge that might lead their party to a loss,
Democrats) are still confused by the Rights fervor, and is a vivid symptom of their lack of conviction.) Buckley
lack both the passion and vision to fight it. initially thought hed harvest votes from the citys wasp
elite, but they were put off by his social conservatism.
Instead, he tapped into the growing backlash of white
The Serfs in the Estate
ethnics the people at the end of the subway lines, as
The Birchite and Buckleyite tendencies would eventu- they were described by future Nixon adviser Kevin Phil-
ally split, sort of, but before they did, they united in their lips, lead architect of his Southern Strategy against civil

28 24 / WINTER 2017
rights and permissiveness. He ended up with 13percent the one that nominated Ronald Reagan, the party dropped
of the vote not huge, but a non-trivial amount for a support for the era from its platform for the first time
third-party candidate. since it was adopted in 1940. The nomination of Reagan
Though much of that backlash was driven by race, there marked the victory of the Right in the Republican Party.
was also a class angle that most center-left analysts over- There were many developments outside the Repub-
look. Lindsay was a social liberal, and very attentive to the lican Party that would prove fertile soil for a right-wing
concerns of black New Yorkers, but on economic policy he mobilization. Nixons resignation in 1974 could be read
worked largely on behalf of the citys powerful real-estate as a major symptom of a broad set of crises: oil shortages,
industry, reflecting his patrician base. At the time, city chronic inflation, miserable financial markets, a Third
policy was several years into accelerating the eviction of World in rebellion, US defeat in Vietnam, the spread of
manufacturing and working-class housing from Manhattan 1960s rebelliousness into the domestic working class, and
and replacing it with offices and upscale residences. This a general sense that the system was rotten and lacking all
was good for financiers, developers, and lawyers, but not legitimacy.
for working-class whites who expressed their resentment That political and affective constellation was cus-
by lashing out at blacks and elite liberals. tom-made for the Rights appeal but, as Sidney
Nixon, elected in 1968, would work similar resent- Blumenthal shows in The Rise of the Counter-Establish-
ments on a national scale, developing a mass base for ment, the conservative counterrevolution was led not by
conservative politics. But in many ways he governed to ceos, but by policy entrepreneurs operating in think tanks
the left of his rhetoric (which is why Garry Wills called him like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage
the last liberal). Despite his various corruptions (including Foundation.
spying which looks mild by todays standards), Nixon Going into the 1980 election, most ceos supported
governed mostly as a moderate Republican. His time in John Connally or George Bush and not yet Reagan,
office brought us food stamps, the Environmental Pro- who during the 1970s had become the new public avatar
tection Administration, and a proposal for a guaranteed of movement conservatism. Former Citibank chair Walter
annual income. Wriston told Blumenthal that most Eastern executives
Those compromises with liberalism energized the underestimated his skills and his great political strength.
Right the same way that Eisenhowers had two decades That, of course, would change.
earlier. But Nixon did longer-term help to the cause of the Blumenthals account is of the movement right, and
Republican right with his Southern Strategy appealing hes correct that the corporate establishment was not
to the resentments of white southerners (and their fel- involved in that mobilization. But that doesnt mean the
low-thinkers in the urban North) over the social gains of corporate class wasnt mobilizing. It was developing new
black Americans. institutions, and reviving older ones, to fight the inflation,
Within the GOP, the liberal wing remained lively into the Keynesian order, and impose what we would later call
the 1970s. Among its leaders was George Gilder, who later the neoliberal agenda.
would move sharply to the right. Gilder illuminates how
what later came to be called cultural issues fit neatly with
The Managers Revolt
the economic agenda from the first, they were never in
tension. For the likes of Gilder, the roles of the entrepre- As Benjamin Waterhouse emphasizes in Lobbying America,
neur and the patriarch were inseparable, and the attack on many of the businesspeople who pushed the neoliberal
the privileges of both, along with the attack on the racial agenda in the 1970s were neither movement conservatives
hierarchy, fueled a rightward move on both macro and nor self-made entrepreneurs but career managers.They
micro levels, both large-scale social conflict and changes were often socially liberal. But they objected to the host
in gender relations within the household. of new claims along what wed later call identitarian lines
The centrality of sex and gender roles to the rise of (gender, race, etc.) as well as an explosive growth in social
the Right in the 1970s could be seen from how conserva- regulations (environment, workplace safety, and the like,
tives were galvanized by the fight against the Equal Rights as opposed to more narrowly drawn economic regulation
Amendment to the Constitution, which said little more of prices and product lines), which they felt were annoying
than Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied restrictions on the free play of capital. This strained the
or abridged by the United States or by any State on account accommodation with the New Deal and the Keynesian
of sex. Passed by Congress in 1972, it was promptly ratified state starting in earnest in the late 1960s, a discontent that
by thirty states, but momentum stalled with the Rights intensified in the 1970s as inflation and fiscal recklessness
mobilization against it, and it failed to reach the required seemed not like transient problems but the foundations of
thirty-eight states. At the 1980 Republican convention, the new order (or disorder). Deepening the hurt feelings



of capitalists was what was perceived as a hostility to busi- Reagan and Volcker would end the inflationary spiral of
ness in public opinion, popular culture, and increasingly the 1960s and 1970s and break the economic and political
among their employees. power of organized labor.
It took some time for capital to mount its counterrevo- That triumph, however, would lead to a dissolution of
lution. Modern business political action committees (pacs) capitals broad political unity. In contrast with the days of
got their start with the American Medical Associations the ceds corporate liberalism, we now have a different
efforts against socialized medicine in 1961. Their ranks sort of ceo class now its all about shareholder value,
expanded with nams foundation of the first corporate pac short-term profits, and getting rich now, as Drutman put
in 1963. But the legal standing of corporate pacs remained it. Compounding businesss fragmentation is the radical-
murky, diluting their power, until the Federal Election ization of the Republican right, which is more interested
Commission legalized them in 1975. The number of cor- in blowing things up than in the preference for stability
porate pacs increased almost tenfold in the following four usually attributed to the ceo class.
years, and would more than double by the end of the 1980s. If you poke about the partys elite base, you see some
While the influence of the Powell memo is sometimes commonalities with the old days. Look, for example, at the
exaggerated, it did embody the business wisdom of the time board of the Cato Institute, which published essays by Patri
and helped inspire a quadrupling of the Chamber of Com- Friedman (Miltons grandson) and Peter Thiel (venture
merces membership during the 1970s. Shedding its musty capitalist and Donald Trump enthusiast) explaining how
reputation but not its conservative politics, it reinvented libertarianism was incompatible with democracy. Cato is
itself as a slick, modern organization but one railing libertarian, and so they take some half-decent positions
against occupational safety inspectors and environmental notably against the carceral state and against many imperial
regulations. It argued that business had no social respon- wars. But on economic issues, theyre firmly reactionary:
sibility, a position once associated with marginal figures against any sort of stimulative fiscal or monetary policy,
like Milton Friedman, who of course was on the verge of regulation, or anything that might interfere with the pro-
becoming not marginal. The renascent chamber became cess of accumulation, even for a second.
an important part of the Rights institutional structure. So the Right, despite its power, seems not to be the
But capital was organizing on other fronts as well. dominant ideology of the US ruling class. But it is very
The Business Roundtable, made up of the ceos of 150 useful, apparently. The last few years have been fascinating
large corporations, was founded at a private club in Man- for students of the US ruling class. The Republican Party
hattan in 1973, to fight the antibusiness drift of American is now dominated by evolution-deniers, climate-change
politics. It had its roots in a late-1960s business mobiliza- deniers, xenophobes, religious nuts. This seems not to
tion against inflation, which they saw as fundamentally alarm corporate America, which remains publicly devoted
caused by unions, and the growth of the welfare state to diversity and the powers of instrumental reason. Closer
during the Johnson years. The Roundtable took up that to home, weve seen congressional Republicans shut down
fight, though they felt outclassed in the political realm the federal government and even threaten default on Trea-
by labor, a problem compounded by what the politically sury bonds. Some of this is performance art, designed to
conscious ceos saw as fragmentation among the ranks of rile up the base. But its also risky stuff, threatening both
business lobbyists. the credibility and creditworthiness of the US state on a
The Roundtable came into being just as the Right was global scale.
founding its flagship think tanks. The Heritage Founda- So of what use is the Right today? According to former
tion was born in the same year as the Roundtable, 1973, Republicans like economist Bruce Bartlett and long-time
and the Cato Institute appeared a year later. For that congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, all that the Amer-
relatively brief moment the late 1970s into the early ican corporate class cares about these days is lower taxes
1980s there would be productive parallel agitation by the and lighter regulations, and the battering ram that is
mainstream business lobby and the newly mobilized right todays gop is a great way to get that, despite the risks.
whose moments of political triumph were the appointment With no left opposition to speak of, the big bourgeoisie
of Paul Volcker to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve wants it all, and is happy to let the ravers do some dirty
and the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Together, work for them.

30 24 / WINTER 2017


What Nate

The pundits and pollsters have been It wasnt just bad math that led us
criticized ad nauseam for failing to
to believe Trump would be
correctly predict the 2016 presiden-
tial election. Granted, they didnt get defeated. It was a lack of political
everything wrong. The popular vote vision.
tallies matched the predictive models
more closely than the Electoral Col-
lege projections, which saw Hillary
Clinton winning a decisive victory.
Nonetheless, it is has been a time of
many apologies. Both political science
as an academic discipline and profes- Polling has become gospel in preexisting partisan loyalties. People
sional pollsters have a bulls-eye on American politics. Without polling dont exist in a vacuum; polling itself
their back for their failures. and reliance on datasets, it is nearly shapes the narratives they adopt to
Social scientists should recognize impossible to make a respected polit- understand and make decisions about
and acknowledge their mistakes. But ical argument. This is unfortunate, policy.
we should first be clear about what because polling by its nature is flawed. This past year polling numbers
these mistakes were. More pressing It does not provide a neutral snapshot were used to reinforce conventional
than flawed models and a failure of voters understandings of politics. political strategies precisely along
to predict outcomes is the political Instead, polls reflect the dominant these lines. For over a year, experts
science disciplines complicity in narratives at a moment in a way that assured us that Sanders was unelect-
limiting our political imagination. naturalizes key controversies. able and urged the nomination of the
Mainstream political science views In contrast to the assumptions of safe candidate. While acknowl-
its mission in a highly depoliticized, most poll- and survey-based studies, edging that Democrats had gone
technocratic manner that results in a political psychologists demonstrate more liberal in recent years, poll-
blinkered understanding of the range that exposure to campaigns (both sters argued that voters were not
of political possibilities. Taking on directly and through the media) influ- yet liberal enough to elect Sanders.
that vision is more important than ences voters in sophisticated ways, Such polling-driven arguments fore-
ever in the age of Trump. and does not merely reinforce voters closed the real possibility that surging



support for Sanders might not require that require triangulation with other exit polls that demonstrate that the
voter self-identification as more forms of information. number one issue reported by Trump
liberal. Political scientists and pollsters, supporters was immigration, followed
Polling data couldnt adequately relying on their existing models by terrorism. Sanders did not run a
capture a comprehensive picture of and methods, could only dismiss xenophobic campaign, so by exten-
voters thoughts and orientations, the Sanders campaign as a long- sion were told his message would not
which are after all nothing more than shot distraction. Sanders lacked the have gained traction among Trump
preferences at a single moment and name recognition, party connec- supporters.
depend almost entirely on how var- tions, resources, and other standard As socialists, we must reject this
ious questions are framed. markers of a winning candidate. The limited poll- and data-driven thinking.
Polls (and media reliance on fact that Bernie Sanders, not Hil- Just because many Trump supporters
polls) also naturalize and delineate lary Clinton, filled stadiums and had checked off the box for immigration
the potential range of political out- supporters waiting for hours in cold on exit poll questionnaires does not
comes. People are seen as consumers, weather to hear him speak may not that mean that they could not join a
with preexisting, ordered preferences have been quantifiable but in ret- broad, multiracial, working-class coa-
that drive their political behavior; rospect it was more meaningful than lition to fight for progressive change
they are presented with a limited anything represented by polling at in the future. Most Trump supporters
range of choices and issues and must the time. also felt the economy was doing
respond in a circumscribed, preor- Even in the election postmortem, poorly, in contrast to the Democratic
dained way. Pollsters, experts, and there is strong pushback against narrative praising Obamas recovery.
political scientists then use this data claims that Sanders, or a more This presents a clear opportunity to
as a definitive representation of the socialist, left-populist candidate in introduce a progressive, redistribu-
electorate rather than for what it general, could have beat Trump. To tionist narrative that moves beyond
is imperfect timebound data points squelch this idea pundits point to poll-centered politics.

34 24 / WINTER 2017

Cant Buy Clinton was great at

raising money not so
Me Love great at inspiring voters.

Presidential Campaign Spending:

737.1 million Donald Trump was the first modern
presidential candidate to still
win after being massively outspent.



8.8 million

60 64 68 72 76 80 84 88 92 96 00 04 08 12 16

Donations to Presidential
Campaigns by Industry
Lawyers / Law Firms 6.1 million
Trump 0.3 million Clinton

Real Estate 1.8 million

0.7 million

Doctors 1.9 million

0.5 million

Wall Street 1.6 million

0.3 million

Entertainment 1.4 million

0.05 million

36 24 / WINTER 2017
Why They Didnt Vote
Didnt like any candidates 26%
My vote would not matter 25%
Not registered/eligible 22%
Something came up 18%
Ran out of time 17%
Pretty sure who would win 15%
Not interested in politics 14%
Tried but was unable 10%
Physically could not go 8%

Change in Support for Democratic Candidate

in Presidential Elections: 20122016

Households Earning
Less than 50K / year Union Households
Barack Obama (2012) 60% 59%
Hillary Clinton (2016) 52% 51%

African Americans Latinos

93% 71%
88% 65%

Change in Households
Earning Less than 50K / year
-1,700,000 Republicans
Democrats +350,000
Obama Counties
Swinging to Trump

Over 200 counties

that voted
for Obama swung
to Trump

represents 10 counties



The New Most of Donald Trumps dream

team walk and talk like run-of-the-mill
Populists Republicans.

Stephen Bannon
Former investment banker turned Hollywood financier
turned Breitbart News chief, Bannon has called for both
draconian immigration restrictions and massive federal
infrastructure programs.

Kellyanne Conway
Long supported immigration reform efforts that the
president rejects, while holding hardline views against
abortion and gay marriage. On economic issues she
identifies with the libertarian wing of the party.

Betsy DeVos
Businesswoman and would-be education secretary
whos a strong proponent of charter schools. Heavily
involved in right-wing Christian foundations.

Nikki Haley
The former South Carolina governor attacked Trump
during the campaign for failing to renounce white
supremacist groups. She even implicated Trump in far
right violence. Opposed her states bathroom bill,
but otherwise espouses standard conservative positions.
Jeff Sessions
Rick Perry The National Review called the Alabama senator
Former Texas governor and energy secretary, known amnestys worst enemy for his anti-immigrant stances.
for wanting to eliminate the Energy Department. Former colleagues testified that he used the n-word
Supported a $145billion cross-Texas highway system that and joked about the kkk, saying he thought they were
would be partially controlled by private interests. okay until he found out they smoked pot.

Wilbur Ross Rex Tillerson

A ruthless investor and banker, Ross breaks with his peers The former ceo of ExxonMobil and next Secretary
by calling for steep tariffs on China. Previously a of State. Supports conservative Christian church
Democrat, he advocates against free-trade agreements, groups but otherwise standard business conservative.
and helped start New York Blade, a now-defunct lgbt Breaks with Trump on tpp, which he supports.

38 24 / WINTER 2017
Donald Trump Jr. Ivanka Trump
Donald Trumps oldest son and Trump Ivanka plays a leading role in her
Organization trustee. Hes a fathers empire. Shes at least spoken
staunch supporter of daddy, but has out in favor of equal pay and
been consistently pro-choice other protections for women in the
and in favor of gay marriage to atone workforce. Claims to be neither
for some of his sins. a Republican nor a Democrat. Why
pick one when you can have it all?

Pat Robertson

Milton Friedman
Huey Long

Betty Ford


the Donald
to Rule

A radical middle-class
insurgency has
stormed the Republican



n 2016, a radical, right-wing, middle-class right-wing capitalists like the Koch brothers helped finance
insurgency displaced the dominant cap- the Tea Party, most capitalists continued to hedge their
italists in the Republican Party, at least bets electorally, with capitalist donors slightly preferring
temporarily. Donald Trumps nomination Democrats in 2010. Capital was more than willing to use
and election is the most recent chapter this nativist, racist, and anti-union movement when their
in an ongoing struggle that began in the aftermath of the interests coincided. However, the new right has an agenda
economic crisis and the 2008 Democratic electoral victory. independent of and, at times, opposed to that of capital.
Capital successfully beat back the first wave of middle-class Unlike the political establishment, the Tea Party right
radicalism in the Republican Party the Tea Party supported stricter immigration controls and wasnt fazed
during the 2014 congressional elections, but these rebels by the possibility of a federal credit default. The minority of
were not vanquished. They were radicalized. older white workers who voted Republican viewed undoc-
Since the 1960s, the voter base of the Republican Party umented immigrants as competitors on the labor market,
has been made up primarily of older, suburban, white, while the older small businesspeople and professionals who
middle-class, small businesspeople, professionals, and made up the majority of the Tea Party cadre and voters
managers, and a minority of older white workers. Until viewed those immigrants as a threat to their quality of
recently, the particular passions of that base especially life and competitors for scarce social services.
its hostility to the democratic gains of people of color, Capitalists, however, have a different perspective on
women, and lgbt people could be contained. Minor immigration. Not only do high-tech industries want access
concessions to social conservatives on abortion, affirmative to skilled foreign professionals, but labor-intensive sec-
action, voter restrictions, and same-sex marriage/legal tors like agriculture, construction, landscaping, domestic
equality maintained their loyalty, while capitalists set the service, child care, health care, and hospitality rely on low-
substantive neoliberal agenda for the Republicans. As wage, vulnerable immigrant labor.
with the Democrats, the non-capitalist elements of the The two most important business lobbying organi-
Republican coalition were clearly junior partners to capital. zations the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business
Roundtable oppose wholesale deportations and other
policies that reduce the size of the immigrant workforce.
A Failed Marriage
Instead, they are leading the fight for an immigration
The Bush and Obama administrations bailouts of banks, reform that would create massive guest worker programs
the auto industry, and some homeowners changed this and a difficult path to citizenship for those in the United
dynamic, catalyzing a radicalization of the Republican States without papers.
electorate. The Tea Party began as an alliance between a There is more common ground on the federal budget
grassroots rebellion of older, white, suburban small busi- deficit, which capital would like to make inroads on through
nesspeople, professionals, and managers, and elements of massive social spending cuts. However, the Tea Partys
the capitalist class. While the middle-class ranks of the Tea political brinkmanship its willingness to let the United
Party railed against corporate welfare and bailouts for States default on its public debt by refusing to raise the
undeserving homeowners, in particular people of color debt ceiling in 2011 estranged capital from it. Both
who held subprime mortgages, capitalists like the Koch the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable
brothers saw an opportunity to advance their libertarian opposed attempts to shut down the government as a
agenda of defeating Obamacare and privatizing Medicare threat to the US economy and global financial system.
and Social Security. Broader layers of the capitalist class The uneasy alliance between the Tea Party and the cap-
encouraged the Tea Partys mobilizations as long as they italist class ended in autumn 2013. The 2012 campaign to
targeted unions and social services, and supported the Fix the Debt brought together dozens of former senators
continued deregulation of capital. and congressmen and over 150ceos of US transnational
This alliance continued through the 2010 congres- corporations in support of a grand bargain to close corpo-
sional elections, when the Republicans won a majority in rate tax loopholes and lower the overall tax rate in exchange
the House and deprived the Democrats of their filibus- for restructuring federal pensions, Medicare, Medicaid,
ter-proof supermajority in the Senate. While particularly and Social Security. The campaign won the support of

42 24 / WINTER 2017
President Obama, the Democratic leadership, and main-
stream Republicans, but the Tea Party refused to accept the
compromise, sparking the late 2013 government shutdown.
Capital wasnt pleased. In 2014 it waged primary cam-
paigns against the Tea Party (organized primarily through
the Chamber of Commerce). Scott Reed, the chambers

chief political strategist, launched Vote for Jobs, targeting
key Senate and House races to defend incumbents like
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and defeat Tea

populist Party candidates. Vote for Jobs was effective in shaping

the Republican congressional primaries and the November

2014 election. Only one Republican was elected to the
Senate without a Chamber of Commerce endorsement.
Initially, the capitalist attempt to discipline the

appeals Republican Party appeared successful. Despite the greatly

reduced Tea Party congressional contingents success in

to elements of
blocking serious discussion of a pro-corporate immigration
reform and forcing John Boehner out of Congress, calls by
the Tea Party to shut down government to block Obamas

the older, executive order on immigration failed. Bipartisan coali-

tions in both the House and Senate pushed through the

white middle
nearly $1.1trillion spending plan in late December 2014.

class who
Enter Trump
But the radical revolt symbolized by the Tea Party hadnt

fear sliding
disappeared. Donald Trumps outsider campaign for
president marked a deepening of the right-wing radical-
ization of sections of the middle classes. When Trump

downward announced his candidacy in June 2015, few political

commentators took his campaign seriously. With a field

into the
dominated by mainstream Republicans like Jeb Bush and
Marco Rubio, most believed that Trumps campaign would
be short-lived. However, within a month of announcing,

working class. Trump was outpolling his competitors. In a years time he

would be the only one left standing.
What made Trump unacceptable to the Republican
establishment and their corporate backers was not merely
his unabashed racism and misogyny, or his casual refer-
ences to his penis size. Trump champions an economic
nationalism that rejects central tenets of the bipartisan
neoliberal agenda that has impoverished segments of
the middle and working classes. Capital was uneasy with
Trumps stance on immigration and the federal debt he
floated the idea of trying to persuade creditors to accept
less than full payment on loans to the US government.
The corporate elite is even more disturbed by his ideas
about foreign policy and global free trade. Trump claims
to reject the established US alliance system, in particular
nato, that has maintained US dominance since World
Warii. An advocate of America First politics that have
been rejected by the US corporate elite since the 1940s,
Trump is perceived as an unreliable agent of US capital.


44 24 / WINTER 2017

Even more disturbing for the corporate elite are for Obama in 2008 and 2012, Clintons share of these voters
Trumps positions on trade. The removal of political obsta- dropped to 52percent. Clinton only won 88percent of the
cles to the free movement of capital and goods but not black vote, down from 95percent and 93percent for Obama
labor has been a fundamental element of neoliberal in 2008 and 2012. Especially alarming for the Democrats
orthodoxy for over thirty years. From Bill Clintons signing was their falling share of the Latino vote. Democratic poll-
of the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta) to sters were confident that Trumps racist diatribes would
Obamas proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (tpp), the allow Clinton to sweep this key sector. However, among
entire US capitalist class and its political representatives Latinos, the Democrat share declined from 71percent in
in both major parties have promoted the liberalization of 2012 to 65percent in 2016. Finally, the percentage of union
trade and investment. However, Trump blames nafta and households voting Democratic fell from 58percent in
other trade deals for the loss of US manufacturing jobs, and 2008 and 59percent in 2012 to a mere 51percent in 2016.
calls for tariffs as high as 40percent on imports to protect Trumps ability to retain the core sectors of the Repub-
American jobs against unfair competition despite licans post-1980 voter base primarily the traditional
warnings that this could spark a global trade war that could (self-employed and small businesses with less than ten
damage the role of US corporations in the world economy. employees) and new (professionals, managers, supervi-
Trumps nomination sent the majority of the capi- sors) middle classes, including evangelical Christians,
talist class, including traditionally Republican capitalists, and a minority of older white workers was clear in all
running to support the reliable neoliberal imperialist, of the exit polling.
Hillary Clinton. According to, Clinton Trumps margin of victory came from a small minority
received over 92percent of corporate contributions in of voters who had supported Obama in 2008 and 2012.
the 2016 election cycle, including over 80percent of the Of 700 counties that had voted for Obama twice, nearly
contributions from finance, insurance, and real estate; one-third (209) swung to Trump; and of 207 counties that
communications/electronics; health care, defense, and Obama won once, almost 94percent (194) went to Trump.
miscellaneous business. Trumps support was limited to The shift to Trump was concentrated in traditionally Dem-
6070percent of contributions from construction, energy ocratic states of the Great Lakes and Midwest that had
and natural resources, transportation, and agribusiness suffered the loss of manufacturing jobs and were experi-
which together accounted for less than 10percent of total encing a rise in the Latino population. However, Trumps
capitalist donations. victory was primarily a result of a sharp drop in the par-
So how did Trump win? Despite losing the popular ticipation of traditionally Democratic voters, rather than
vote by almost three million votes, he swept the Electoral a sharp swing to Trump.
College. Voter participation among traditionally Demo- Trump did gain around 335,000 more votes than
cratic segments of the electorate fell. African Americans Romney among households earning less than $50,000
dipped from 13percent of all voters in 2008 and 2012 to a year in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wis-
12percent in 2016. In some communities of color, the consin. However, Clinton received 1.7million fewer votes
drop was even more precipitous. In Milwaukees Council than Obama among the same group. It was these small
District 15, which is 84percent black, voter turnout was shifts in voter preference that gave Trump his razor-thin
nearly 20percent lower than in 2012. Households earning margins in a number of key states: less than 0.25percent
less than $50,000 a year, who made up 51percent of the US in Michigan, less than 1percent in Pennsylvania and Wis-
population in 2014, dropped from 41percent of voters in consin, and less than 1.5percent in Florida. According to
2012 to 36percent in 2016. The percentage of households one analysis, had about 100,000 Trump voters in these
earning over $100,000, a mere 17percent of the population, areas voted for Clinton instead, she would have swept the
rose from 28percent to 33percent of voters between 2012 Electoral College.
and 2016. Put simply, the electorate in 2016 was even more
disproportionately well-off than in the last three elections.
Why They Voted Trump
Within these key categories, there were also small, but
significant shifts in voter preference. While 60percent of Trumps populist nationalism appeals to elements of the
voters in households earning less than $50,000 a year voted older, white middle class who fear sliding downward into

46 24 / WINTER 2017
the working class. Arlie Russell Hochschilds Strangers workers especially more vulnerable ones. Without the
in Their Own Land, a study of Southern Tea Party and experience of mass, collective, and successful class orga-
Trump supporters, reveals people who believe they are nization and struggle, it should not surprise socialists
hard workers who play by the rules and never ask that segments of the working class are open to right-wing
for handouts but are constantly falling behind socially politics.
and economically. They are threatened both by powerful Workers in the United States have seen forty years
economic and social elites and line jumpers blacks, of attacks on their living and working conditions. The
Latinos, and women who benefit from affirmative action, labor movement has responded with one surrender after
as well as undocumented immigrants and refugees. another, as concession bargaining and futile attempts to
In certain respects the attraction of the middle classes forge labor-management cooperation have destroyed
to right-wing populist demagogues is clear these political almost every gain workers made through mass struggle
strongmen promise to defend the little man against the in the 1930s and 1970s.
forces that squeeze them from above and below. Yet the Faced with an impotent labor movement that tails
Left often falters in explaining why a minority of workers after an ever-rightward-moving Democratic Party, it is
support right-wing politics. Why have around 40percent not surprising that a minority of older, white workers
of union households supported Republicans or other right- are attracted to politics that place responsibility for their
wing candidates (Ross Perot in 1992) in most elections deteriorating social situation on both the corporate glo-
since 1980? Why did another small, but significant group balists and more vulnerable workers blacks, Latinos,
of white working-class voters embrace the nationalist pop- immigrants, Muslims, women, and lgbt people. Kirk
ulism of Trump, giving him his margin of victory? Noden, writing in the Nation, grasps why the Republican
Historically, many on the Left have treated work- right wins many working-class votes:
ing-class support for the Right as a form of false
Two narratives emerged about the collapse of the
consciousness. Capitals control of the means of ideolog-
industrial heartland in America. The one from the
ical production (the media) allow them to distort workers
right has three parts: First, that industry left this
thinking. For others, working-class racism and sexism is the
country because unions destroyed productivity
defense of white and male privilege against threats from
and made labor costs too high, thereby making us
women, queer people, and racialized minorities.
uncompetitive. Second, corporations were the vic-
Both of these explanations are inadequate. False
tims of over-regulation and a bloated government that
consciousness presents capital and their ideologists as
overtaxed them to pay for socialist welfare systems.
all-powerful, and portrays workers as passive consumers
Third, illegal immigration has resulted in the stealing
of capitalist ideologies. Meanwhile, simplistic notions of
of American jobs, increased competition for white
defense of privilege ignore the increasing precarity all
workers, and depressed wages... The second narrative,
working people face today.
promoted by corporate Democrats, is that the global
Grasping the contradictory character of capitalist
economy shifted and the country is now in transition
social relations of production allows us to transcend these
from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy.
explanations. The objective, structural position of workers
This story tacitly accepts the economic restructuring
under capitalism provides the basis for both collective,
of the heartland as inevitable once China and other
solidaristic radicalism; and individualist, sectoralist, and
markets opened up.
reactionary politics. As Bob Brenner and Johanna Brenner
pointed out in their 1981 analysis of Reagans election: Trump and his nationalist populist ideologues from Bre-
itbart and the alt-right added a fourth element to the
... workers are not only collective producers with a
Rights narrative the role of globalizing corporations
common interest in taking collective control over
and free trade. Given a choice between an elitist neoliberal
social production. They are also individual sellers
who refused to speak to the realities of their lives (and
of labor power in conflict with each other over jobs,
rejected Bernie Sanderss social-democratic program as
promotions, etc. This individualistic point of view
unrealistic); and a populist demagogue who offered an
has a critical advantage in the current period: in the
illusory solution to their problems, it is not surprising that
absence of class against class organization. It seems to
some white workers embraced Trump.
provide an alternative strategy for effective action a
Trumpism is the fruit of decades of lesser-evilism,
sectionalist strategy which pits one layer of workers
where the Left trails after the labor officials, who continu-
against another.
ally surrender to capital, while chasing a rightward-moving
As competing sellers of labor power, workers are open Democratic Party in the name of fighting the Right.
to the appeal of politics that pit them against other Without a clear and potent independent working-class



The uneasy
to Putins Russia will face concerted opposition from both
the establishment-dominated Republican Congress and
the permanent officialdom of the federal government.

alliance between Put another way, Trump will likely face the sort of
structural-institutional obstacles social democrats face

the Tea Party

when attempting to implement anticapitalist reforms
through the capitalist state. This will, of course, demor-
alize many of his middle- and working-class supporters

and the capitalist and make it easier for the mainstream Republicans to
regain control of the party, possibly through the creation

class ended in
of a system of unelected superdelegates like those the
Democrats created in the 1970s.
Of course, there is another threat brewing. While

2013. the Trump regime is not fascist, his election has encour-
aged small groups of organized fascists and individual
right-wingers. They believe they have the wind at their
back, freeing them to assault people of color, immigrants,
political alternative, one rooted in mass struggles in work- Muslims, queer folks, and leftists. Just one full week after
places and communities, more and more workers will see Trumps election, the Southern Poverty Law Center
no alternative to the neoliberal capitalist offensive other counted around seven hundred violent hate crimes in the
than white populist nationalism. United States.
The fight-back against Trumpism will have to take
various forms: organized, collective antifascist defense
The Task Ahead
against attacks; mass protest; and ultimately struggles
What can we expect from a Trump presidency? We within the workplace. Strategically, new organizers need
can expect a continuation and intensification of the to understand that we cannot rely on either the Democrats
attacks on working people that every administration or the forces of official reformism. While the labor officials
including Obamas carried out since the late 1970s. and their allies may be more willing to mobilize against
We should expect even more deportations of criminal Trump than they were against Obama, we can expect them
undocumented immigrants (Obama set the record for to double down on their support of the Democrats in the
deportations), more cuts to social services (Obama made 2018 congressional elections.
the deepest cuts to food stamps of any president), and the The spontaneous protests in many cities and the
removal of even more regulations on capital, especially in growing campaign to wear safety pins as a sign of solidarity
terms of energy production. against racist and homophobic violence are promising
Despite the presence of Steve Bannon and other beginnings. However, the danger is that these struggles,
nationalist populists in the administration, it is unlikely like the Wisconsin Uprising, Occupy, and Black Lives
that Trumps promises to roll back neoliberal free-trade Matter, will be short-lived and leave little independent
agreements or to renege on US commitments to imperialist organization in their wake.
diplomatic and military alliances will come to fruition. The way forward for the Left is rebuilding the militant
Trump himself has already backpedaled on his threats minority the layer of activists with a strategy and tac-
to deport all undocumented workers, reinstitute water- tics that go beyond reformism in workplaces and social
boarding, withdraw from the Paris Climate accords, indict movements. Without such a core rooted among broader
Bill and Hillary Clinton, or ban all Muslims from entering layers of working people, the labor officials, Democratic
the United States. His proposals to renegotiate nafta and Party politicos, and the middle-class leaders of social move-
impose tariffs on China, withdraw from Trans-Pacific Part- ments will be able to continually derail and demobilize
nership negotiations, build a wall on the Mexican border, promising struggles as they have for most of the last
or shift US military and diplomatic alliances from nato forty years.

48 24 / WINTER 2017



The Conservative Heart Buying these books really messed

Arthur C. Brooks up our Amazon recommendation
Arthur C. Brooks, who heads the influ- algorithm.
ential conservative think tank
the American Enterprise Institute, is
consumed by the fact that conser-
vatives appear to have lost touch with
ordinary working people, lecturing
them about fiscal responsibility and
hard work while failing to acknowl-
edge the poverty and lack of opportu- assistance goes out to people
nity that afflict many. As a solution, who arent really poor. He spends
he provides a blueprint for the Right a whole chapter extolling the
to adopt the rhetoric of compassion uplifting nature of work, while also
while changing nothing about its pol- deriding the Obama stimulus
icies, many of which disadvantage package. He complains conserva-
the working poor he hopes to win over. tives criticize the welfare state
The Conservative Heart is conse- without providing an alternative,
quently a study in cognitive dis- yet believes social justice can be
sonance. Brooks acknowledges that reached through promoting the right
most people who are falling values. Still, there is much to
behind are not doing so on purpose, be gleaned here about the rhetorical
yet spends much of the book shifts the Right hopes to make
endorsing work requirements for in a more populist era.
welfare and arguing government



The Intimidation Game: ists to Answer Questions) to the

How the Left is Silencing obvious (Spot Inconsistencies in the
Free Speech Lefts Argument). Whether or not
Shapiros advice will actually work
Kimberley Strassel
on an opponent who isnt the hapless
History has seen a number of in- Morgan whose show cancellation
stances of speech repression coming Shapiro appears to give himself credit
from the liberal-left from the for will remain to be seen by in-
Brown Scare of the late 1930s to trepid conservatives who try these
todays student activists keeping techniques out in the field. Happy
their campuses free of right-wing hunting.
speakers. Wall Street Journal
columnist Kimberley Strassel Adios, America!:
chooses to focus on none of those, The Lefts Plan to Turn
reserving her ire for financial Our Country Into
disclosure and transparency laws a Third World Hellhole
that have helped expose the Ann Coulter
corporate and big money donors
For forty years, Ann Coulter writes,
behind political groups of all stripes.
voters have been warning politicians
The Kochs, Exxon Mobil and groups that Americas suicidal immigration
like alec are now experiencing policies are the single biggest threat
what civil rights campaigners of the facing the nation, destined to turn
1950s went through, Strassel our homeland into a Third World
argues, except instead of being shot hellhole.
at, firebombed and murdered, Its a leftist plot to drown out the
these conservative campaigners face native-born vote, but we have
harassment. While Strassel strange allies in our mission. Elite
notes some instances of death threats, interests from the media to
Right which spent eight years attack-
the harassment she outlines Wall Street to ethnic activists
ing Obama as an anti-American,
seems suspiciously like the tools of hide the evidence and tar con-
Kenyan Marxist motivated by anti-
regular democratic action, such cerned citizens as xenophobes and
white rage, eager to plan concen-
as protests, boycotts and, in one par- racists. Coulter strikes a populist
tration camps and death panels is
ticularly sinister case, an ad cam- cord, even lambasting Republicans
simply too intellectually honest
paign that would publicly announce who push for amnesty to please
and policy-focused for twenty-first
corporations support for alec. well-heeled donors and business
century politics. The Left, mean-
while, are bullies who label their interests. She buttresses her case
How to Debate Leftists with bad math, inflating the number
ideological opponents bigots
and Destroy Them: of undocumented immigrants in
and misogynists solely to feel better
11 Rules for Winning the the United States and their impact
about themselves.
Argument on the economy. At one point
Ben Shapiro Shapiro therefore presents his readers Coulter even claims that a quarter
with an eleven-point plan for how of the entire population of Mexico
At its heart, former Breitbart
to humiliate leftists (represented in has fled to the United States.
editor-at-large Ben Shapiros short
the book by well-known Maoist
ebook is a feel-good pamphlet But that doesnt make her a
Piers Morgan). Tips range from the
for conservatives. It rests on the xenophobe: Mexico? Love the
sensible (If You Dont Know
dubious proposition that the food!
Something, Admit It; Force Left-

52 24 / WINTER 2017

Text from Trumps official

economic policy package.
September 16, 2016

Big Plans

The Trump Economy:

Created In The Next

25Million New Jobs
Behind Trumps big economic
promises is a lot of bullshit.


54 24 / WINTER 2017
Donald Trump has proposed sweeping reforms
in tax, trade, energy and regulatory policies.
The Trump campaignseconomist estimates
that the plan would conservatively boost growth
to 3.5percent per year on average, well above
the 2percent currently projected by govern-
ment forecasters, with the potential to reach a
4% growth rate.
Growth averaged at least three and a half per-
cent per year in the 55 years between World
War II and the year 2000. With the faster
growth from the Trump Plan, the economy will
create 25 million new jobs over the next decade.
For each 1 percent in added GDP growth, the
economy adds 1.2 million jobs. Increasing
growth by 1.5 percent would result in 18 million
jobs (1.5 times 1.2 million times 10 years) above
the projected current law job figures of 7 mil-


lion, producing a total of 25 million new jobs for
the American economy.

A Pro-Growth Tax Plan

Every income group receives a tax cut under the
Trump plan, with million more being removed
You get a tax cut, you get a tax cut,

$9,275 will get a 2% spike.

actually, anyone making less than
$215,000 per household. And
everyone gets a tax cut! Oh,
but the rich get a lot more about

from the income tax rolls and low-income

Americans paying no income tax at all.
The greatest percentage reduction in tax bill
goes to working and middle class taxpayers:

A married couple earning $50,000 per year with
two children and $8,000 in child care expenses
will save 35% from their current tax bill.
A married couple earning $75,000 per year with
two children and $10,000 in child care expenses

will receive a 30% reduction in their tax bill.

Married couple earning $5 million per year with
two children and $12,000 in child care expenses
will get only a 3% reduction in their tax bill.
The plan lowers the business tax rate to 15%.
The current business rate 35% rate is one of the
highest in the world, making domestic invest-
ment unattractive. It includes a 10% tax on
repatriation, instantly bringing trillions of dol-
lars back into the U.S. economy now parked

24 / WINTER 2017
The plan also allows U.S.-based manufacturers
to elect full expensing of plant and equipment,
an invitation to massive investment. If they
elect this approach, they will give up the ability
to deduct interest expense.
tax rate in the world (behind those business-

Puerto Rico), so Im going to slash the rate to

start competing with Ireland over which of us

Tax brackets in the individual income tax will be

will be large multinationals tax haven of choice.
The United States has the third-highest corporate

be the developed worlds third lowest. Then, we can

hating communists in the United Arab Emirates and

reduced from 7 to 3. Tax rates will be 12%, 25%

the price tag of Bushs cuts. Tremendous.

about $7trillion over ten years, more than double
and raise the rates we originally proposed in the
of the House GOP and have only three tax brackets
a business card, so Im going to follow the lead

process. Im banking that you wont realize theyll cost

Tax plans should be simple enough to fit on the back of
or 33%, with thresholds very similar to the
House GOP plan.
The plan will close special interest tax breaks
and cap deductions at $100,000 for single filers
and $200,000 for married filers, eliminating
many costly tax loopholes while stimulating
The standard deduction will be $30,000 dollars
for married couples and $15,000 dollars for
single individuals. Most taxpayers will have no
need to itemize, simplifying their tax returns
and making it easier to file.
The plan provides a child care deduction for
children up to 13 years of age for average child
care expense. Theres an income cap, so the new
deductions dont apply to the rich.
Finally, the plan eliminates the carried interest
loophole for Wall Street and the death tax,
vaguely populist.

which falls especially hard on small businesses

and farmers.


A Modern Regulatory Framework

without limit.
One of the keys to unlocking growth is scal-
ing-back years of disastrous regulations
unilaterally imposed by our out-of-control
but in practice will fail to help most families, who

on an unspecified income cap so this still sounds
The plan provides a child care tax deduction that
in theory should alleviate working families concerns,

In 2015 alone, federal agencies issued over 3,300

find child-care unaffordable. But dont worry, well tack

final rules and regulations, up from 2,400 the

prior year. Every year, overregulation costs our
economy $2 trillion dollars a year and reduces

freedom to pass their riches on to their children

Its about time the ultra-wealthy or as I prefer
Wall Street with the elimination of the estate tax,
household wealth by almost $15,000 dollars.

to call them, small businesses and farmers had the

Finally, were going to pair a populist pitch that targets

which only falls on estates worth more than $10.9million.

Big Plans
Mr. Trump has proposed a moratorium on new
federal regulations that are not compelled by
Congress or public safety, and will ask agency
and department heads to identify all needless
job-killing regulations and they will be removed.

This includes eliminating some of our most

intrusive regulations, like the Waters of The

U.S. Rule. It also means scrapping the EPAs
so-called Clean Power Plan which the govern-
ment itself estimates will cost $7.2 billion a year.
This Obama-Clinton directive will shut down
outbreak, Im not going to

most, if not all, coal-powered electricity plans in

ing regulations I should gut,
matter how great the public

appointed as heads of federal

Ill ask the various plutocrats Ive
Unless theres a new deadly virus

implement any new regulations, no

need. And to figure out which exist-

A complete regulatory overhaul will level the

playing field for American workers and add
trillions in new wealth to our economy
keeping companies here, expanding hiring and

24 / WINTER 2017
investment, and bringing thousands of new
companies to our shores.

atmosphere, so those will have to go.

of the tap, or that prevent a catastrophic
businesses) are saying they dont like laws
An America-First Trade Policy

A lot people (mainly those who own the affected

amount of carbon dioxide being pumped into the

Trade will be an important driver of economic

that help to ensure were not drinking pesticides out

growth along with other key structural reforms.
Donald Trump will ensure that every single one
of our trade agreements increases our GDP
growth rate, reduces our trade deficit, and
that have moved jobs off-
cut back regulations to the
free reign to pollute and to

them back. Everybody wins!

strengthens our manufacturing base.

If we just eliminate workplace

shore might be tempted to bring

level of a failed state, companies
safety standards, give companies

There will be no Trans-Pacific Partnership, even

sell unsafe products, and generally
if the President and Congress are reckless
enough to pass it in a lame duck session against
the will of the American people.
Donald Trump will appoint the toughest and
smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of
American workers and direct the Secretary of
Commerce to identify every violation of trade
agreements a foreign country is currently using
to harm our workers.
NAFTA will be renegotiated to get a better deal
for American workers. If our partners do not
agree to a renegotiation, America will withdraw

We want

deals with

from the deal.

bilateral trade

even less thorny

China will be labeled a currency manipulator.
Any country that devalues their currency in
order to take unfair advantage of the United
States will be met with sharply, and that


includes tariffs and taxes.
The U.S. Trade Representative will bring trade
cases against China. Chinas unfair subsidy
behavior is prohibited by the terms of its
entrance to the WTO. If China does not stop its
illegal activities, including its theft of American
trade secrets, Donald Trump will use every
lawful presidential power to remedy trade dis-
putes, including the application of

Big Plans
Unleash American Energy
The Trump energy policy that will make us
energy independent, create millions of new
jobs, and protect clean air and clean water.

We have one of the worlds most diverse

resource bases from abundant coal, oil, and
natural gas to geothermal, solar, and wind. We
are also the worlds leader in energy technolo-
gies like nuclear power.
The United States will become the worlds
dominant leader in energy production. The first
Hopefully this will be enough

children will end up wandering

step will to undo the damage of the last 8 years.

a deserted hellscape bereft of life.

By 2030, the Obama-Clinton energy restrictions

to offset the fact that you and your

will eliminate another half a million manufac-

turing jobs, reduce economic output by $2.5
trillion, and reduce incomes by $7,000 per

24 / WINTER 2017
The Trump Administration will unleash an
energy revolution that will bring vast new
wealth to our country. We will support coal
production. We will support safe hydraulic
fracturing. We will allow energy production on
federal lands in appropriate areas. We will also
open up vast areas of our offshore energy
resources for safe production.
Lifting unnecessary restrictions on all sources of
American energy (such as coal and onshore and
offshore oil and gas) will (a) increase GDP by
more than $100 billion annually, add over
500,000 new jobs annually, and increase annual
wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7
years; (b) increase federal, state, and local tax
revenues by almost $6 trillion over 4 decades;
and (c) increase total economic activity by more
than $20 trillion over the next 40 years.
The Trump Administration will ensure a reli-
able, streamlined regulatory and permitting
process for energy infrastructure projects, and
will work with their sponsors to find workable
solutions so that worthy energy infrastructure
projects can be completed on time and on
Finally, a Trump Administration will support
continued research into advanced energy tech-
nologies, but we will not be in the business of


government picking winners and losers.
We need to allow the free market and the inno-
through government intervention.
Nevermind my other promises and

the coal industry can be brought

back from the brink is
that virtually the only way

vative spirit of the American people to product

[sic] the new energy technologies of tomorrow,
without undue government interference.

The Penny Plan

anything right. What a deal.

functions, the Republicans in Congress can
crippled and fails to adequately carry out its basic

justify further cutbacks since government cant do

The good news is, once the government is
The Penny Plan would reduce non-defense,
non-safety net spending by one percent of the
previous years total each year. Over ten years,
the plan will reduce spending (outlays) by
almost $1 trillion without touching defense or

Big Plans

entitlement spending.

Discover the

The new GOP is fueled pick for secretary of state has pro-

by some old think tanks. vided it $1.9million since 2007.

The aei quickly declared Tillerson
the right choice for the position.
It has laid out a range of policy recom-
mendations for 2017, including
boosting charter schools, rolling back
fuel efficiency regulations and re-
forming entitlements.

Center for Immigration

Marginalized in academia for much counter liberal influence in the mar-
Studies (CIS)
of the twentieth century, conser- ketplace of ideas. The think
vatives built their own apparatuses tank soon began receiving millions The cis, which the Southern
to develop ideas. Heres a guide of dollars from conservative Poverty Law Center has called the
through the alphabet soup of conser- foundations and business interests. anti-immigrant movements think
vative think tanks, and what role Paul Ryan has called the think tank, was founded in 1985 by John
theyll play in Trumps administration. tank one of the beachheads of the Tanton, a retired ophthalmologist
modern conservative movement. bent on maintaining a Europe-and-
American majority in the US.
American Enterprise While the aei has been far from com-
Since 1995, the cis has been headed
Institute (AEI) plimentary towards him, Trump
by Mark Krikorian, who believes
has admitted that he seeks out aei
Founded in 1938, for decades the the government is undertaking social
Senior Fellow John Bolton for
aei viewed its role as an objec- engineering through a policy of
foreign policy advice. Besty DeVos,
tive research adjunct to policy- mass immigration.
Trumps choice for education
makers. By the time Lyndon
secretary, is on the think tanks Board
Johnsons Great Society had come
of Trustees, and ExxonMobil
and gone, it sought instead to
whose ceo Rex Tillerson is Trumps

62 24 / WINTER 2017
The Trump campaign consulted with false claims that gay men are more Foundation for Excellence in
the cis on immigration policy likely to be pedophiles. Its president Education (FEE)
during the election, and Krikorian also praised a Ugandan bill that
was one of sixteen people who would have sentenced gays to death. The fee was started by Jeb Bush in
met with Trump at his home in August 2008, largely to advance the edu-
Dobson, who continues to have cation reforms he had implemented
for a foreign policy briefing.
ties to the frc, joined Trumps exec- as Florida governor. This includes
utive evangelical advisory comittee promoting charter schools and digital
Center for Security Policy in June and endorsed him a month education, issuing taxpayer vouch-
(CSP) later. Trump, in turn, was the first gop ers for private schools, and grading
nominee to ever address the frcs school performance on an A to F
The csp was founded in 1988 by
Values Voter Summit. The domestic scale.
former Reagan administration
policy chair for Trumps transition
Pentagon official Frank Gaffney, a While a think tank founded by
team is an FRC senior fellow, and
far-right Islamophobic neocon Trumps mortal enemy might seem
several more team members have
who was behind the rumors that a strange fit with the new adminis-
ties to the organization.
President Obama is a Muslim tration, its policy proposals are ones
and that Hillary Clinton confidante that conservatives have long cham-
Huma Abedin is a covert oper- Federalist Society for Law pioned. On top of that, Betsy DeVos
ative for the Muslim Brotherhood. and Public Policy Studies has served on its board, and vari-
Gaffney was reported by multiple The Federalist Society started in 1982 ous DeVos family foundations have
outlets to be serving on Trumps to counter what three conservative donated to the fee and continue
transition team, but he quickly law students viewed as liberal dom- to do so. ExxonMobil has also been
denied it. Nonetheless, Gaffneys inance in the legal world. By 2010, a consistent donor.
relentless anti-Muslim conspira- there were more than 45,000 lawyers,
cizing fit neatly with Trumps cam- judges, academics, and others in- Heartland Institute
paign, and Gaffney has publicly volved in the Societys various activi-
praised Trump. Trumps call for a ties. It has produced four Supreme The Heartland Institute is a free-
Muslim ban closely mirrored a Court justices over its lifetime. market think tank founded in 1984,
tweet by Gaffney made around the advocating for rolling back taxes
With Trump eager to assure the gop on tobacco (a product whose health
same time, and Trump even cited
establishment of his conservative concerns it has downplayed),
a bogus csp poll to justify the
bona fides, the Society looks to retain spreading climate denial, pushing
policy. Trumps cia director, Mike
its influence under his administra- for private schools, and more. It has
Pompeo, also has ties to the
tion. Trump promised that his judges a full-time staff of 38, and works
would be all picked by the Federal- with a network of more than 200
ist Society and met with its executive elected officials.
Family Research Council vice president to discuss filling the
(FRC) vacancy left by Antonin Scalia. Nine Steel manufacturer Nucor donated
of the names on Trumps shortlist $502,000 to Heartland in 2011
The frc is a Christian right think and 2012, the think tanks largest
later appeared at the Federalist Soci-
tank founded in 1983 by James single donor for the period. Until
etys annual national convention.
Dobson and other conservatives, 2014, Nucor was run by Dan DiMicco,
focusing on issues like homo- who was one of Trumps fourteen
sexuality, abortion, sexual behavior, economic advisors during the cam-
stem cells and, increasingly, paign. Rebekah Mercer, a hedge
the dangers of Islam. The frc is fund heiress who has been a major
virulently anti-gay, advancing donor to Heartland and other



conservative groups, has used her Heritage has received tens of millions while others later joined the Rea-
connections to influence Trumps of dollars from conservative foun- gan and Bush administrations.
transition effort. Heartland also dations and corporate donors over Trumps secretary of defense, James
received $736,500 from ExxonMobil the years, including Dow, General Mad Dog Mattis, has been a
between 1998 and 2006, though Motors and the Scaife Foundations. visiting fellow with the institution
it has ceased to make its donors pub- Some of these donors have a direct for the last two years. Three of
lic since then. line to the incoming Trump adminis- the members of Trumps transition
tration: the DeVos family has deep team Peter Thiel, Williamson
The think tanks Action Plan for
ties to Heritage, supporting the think M. Evans, and Edwin Meeseiii
Trump includes policies like
tank for the last ten years. Trumps also have close ties to Hoover.
withdrawing from the Paris climate
transportation secretary Elaine Chao
deal, approving Keystone and
also served a fellowship there, while
other pipelines, rolling back various New Century Foundation
Tillersons ExxonMobil has given
epa regulations, repealing and
nearly $800,000 to the think tank The New Century Foundation is a
replacing Obamacare, and block
since 1998. white nationalist think tank founded
granting Medicaid.
in 1994 by Jared Taylor, a Yale grad-
uate and former West Coast editor
Hoover Institution
Heritage Foundation of PC Magazine. Its chief function is
Founded by former president putting out the magazine American
Founded in 1973, Heritage became
Herbert Hoover in 1919, the Hoover Renaissance, which argues in favor of
the leading fountainhead of
Institution was focused chiefly eugenics and for the existence of
conservative ideas and policies by
on anticommunism in its first few a link between race and intelligence.
the 1980s, with its Mandate
decades, as well as pushing the The New Century Foundation has
for Leadership serving as the policy
public and lawmakers towards indivi- also published The Color of Crime, a
blueprint for the Reagan adminis-
dual liberty. The think tank came book arguing that racial bias by
tration. The think tank has continued
into its own when Glenn Campbell police is negligible, that race is con-
to serve as the premier conser-
took the reins in 1960, pushing nected to criminality and that black
vative intellectual voice ever since.
Hoover to focus more on advocacy on white crime is a serious problem.
In the words of one defense consul- for the latter. By the time he died
The New Century Foundation has
tant, it has now similarly positioned in 2001, Hoover was called one of the
no direct links to the Trump admin-
itself as the intellectual foundation worlds most influential conserva-
istration. However, its fortunes
for a Trump administration, while tive research groups by the New York
and the movement it represents have
the Wall Street Journal has called Times, producing conservative-
seen an uptick since Trumps vic-
it an administration-in-waiting for leaning research and housing various
tory. Having been granted the status
Mr. Trump, with dozens of cur- right-wing intellectuals.
of a non-profit, the group has, along
rent and ex-staffers either floated for
Like other think tanks on this list, with three others (including the npi)
posts or working on the transition.
Hoover has been the recipient of raised $7.8million to spread their
This follows a shift by Heritage to an
large donations from conservative beliefs.
increasingly more antagonistic
foundations and corporations, as
relationship with the gop, epitomized
well as maintaining connections to
by the think tanks push for Repub-
the gop. ExxonMobil has given
licans to defund Obamacare at the risk
it nearly $300,000 over the last nine-
of government shutdown.
teen years. Numerous Hoover
staffers joined aei personnel to work
on the 1964 Goldwater campaign,

64 24 / WINTER 2017
Discover the Networks

Texas Public Policy market state think tank, and de- Fueling Freedom Project, which
Foundation (TPPF) scribes its mission as a fight for aims to explain the forgotten moral
freedom for which it is developing case for fossil fuels and push
The tppf was founded in 1989 workable ideas for elected of- back against epa regulations. Trumps
by James Leininger, a conservative ficials. These ideas range from tax energy secretary pick Rick Perry
Christian activist who made his cuts and tightening government also has ties to the organization, which
name through campaigns against spending to school choice and receives thousands of dollars from
same-sex marriage in Texas, pro- scaling back federal regulations. billionaires like the Koch brothers,
moting school vouchers and through Like Trump, one of its chief targets conservative foundations and
his giving to various conservative is the epas Clean Power Plan. various businesses. One of these,
politicians. The tppf counts itself unsurprisingly, happens to be
today as Americas largest free Trumps Department of the Interior
transition team is being led by
Doug Domenech, head of the tppfs



Few states better illustrate the

contradictions and failures
of the Democratic Party than
West Virginia.



est virginia got a lot of attention in workers were in a union, compared to less than 30percent
this years presidential election cycle. It nationally.
was spotlighted regularly by the media to But after peaking in the early 1980s, West Virginia
explain the phenomenon of the Trump union membership fell dramatically as manufacturing
voter. Unlike states like Michigan and (notably in the steel industry) and mining jobs disappeared.
Pennsylvania, Trumps victory in West Virginia was pre- In 2015, only 12.4percent of West Virginia workers were
dicted far in advance. On Election Day he took the state unionized. With the decline of its union base, the states
in a landslide, with 68percent of the vote. Democratic Party became increasingly vulnerable. The
The story of West Virginias drift to the right in pres- recent collapse of West Virginias coal industry was the
idential elections is well known. George W. Bushs first final straw.
campaign marked a significant shift in the states voting After a 2008 boom in global coal markets, West Vir-
patterns as it switched from reliably voting Democrat to ginia coal production and coal-mining employment began
Republican in presidential elections. This move is typi- a rapid decline from which it is not expected to recover.
cally explained by pointing to West Virginias declining Coal production fell 39percent from 2008 to 2015, with
unions, opposition to climate-change regulations that the states southern coalfields (long the base of the states
would impact the states coal industry, and the rising appeal Democratic Party machine) seeing a drop of 59percent.
of social conservatism. Since 2008, more than seven thousand miners in West Vir-
Less discussed is the decline of the West Virginia ginias southern coalfields lost their jobs; in Boone County,
Democratic Party, particularly its collapse in the last two formerly the states largest coal-producing county, mining
years. The Democratic Party controlled both houses of the employment fell 58percent from 201115.
West Virginia legislature for eighty-two years from 1932 to The main reasons for the collapse are structural:
2014. But in the space of two years the party has become a geology (the states southern coalfields are increasingly
shadow of its former self: the Democrats went from holding uncompetitive as the easiest-to-mine coal is gone), the
71percent of the seats in the House of Delegates in 2008 to increasing use of natural gas for power generation nation-
54percent in 2012 to 36percent in 2014 (and maintained ally, and a weak market for coal exports. But the drop in
37percent in 2016). Democratic representation in the state coal production and employment coincided with Obamas
senate fell from 71percent in 2012 to 47percent in 2014 to presidency, creating an opportunity for the West Virginia
35percent in 2016. Republican Party. Despite the fact that federal environ-
So while the focus on West Virginia over the past mental regulations have had minimal impact on the decline
year was largely superficial, the attention wasnt entirely
unwarranted. Few states illustrate the contradictions and
failures of the Democratic Partys economic policy and
the challenges ahead in rebuilding the Left better than
West Virginia.

The Unmaking of a Party Sanders won

The West Virginia Democratic Party brought to power
in the early 1930s on the heels of a coal market crash and
the Great Depression has historically drawn its stron-
all 55 counties
in the states
gest base of support from the states union movement. The
United Mine Workers of America, bolstered by the pro-
labor policies of the Roosevelt administration, emerged as
a powerful force in West Virginia politics in the thirties,
and in the decades that followed West Virginias indus- Democratic
trial and coal-mining unions continued to exert political
power. In the mid-1960s, about 35percent of West Virginia
68 24 / WINTER 2017
of the states coal industry, the sectors rapid decline pro- (by systematically under-enforcing federal surface-mining
vided the perfect opportunity for Republicans to attack regulations), despite the fact that mountaintop mining
the Obama administrations war on coal. employs far fewer miners than underground mining. West
West Virginias state elections came to be seen by Virginia Democrats have also catered to the coal industry
Republicans as up for grabs, and out-of-state money and on worker safety issues, failing to meaningfully increase
politicians flooded in to make the war on coal the domi- mine safety regulations even after the 2010 Upper Big
nant issue. In early 2013, Republican Alex Mooney moved Branch explosion killed twenty-nine miners.
from Maryland to West Virginia to make a successful run The state Democratic Party acknowledges no con-
for House of Representatives the next year. Patrick Mor- tradiction in its cozy relationship with coal, arguing that
risey moved to eastern West Virginia in 2006 (he still whats good for the industry is good for jobs. As governor,
maintains a home in Alexandria, VA) and won the 2012 state Joe Manchin even tried to change the states official motto
attorney general race, the first time a Republican held the from wild and wonderful to open for business until
office in nearly a hundred years. The national Republican public outcry forced him to backtrack. Under Manchin, the
Attorneys General Association plunked down $3.4 million state eliminated the business franchise tax and cut other
to ensure Morriseys reelection in 2016. corporate taxes by $425million a year.
Seemingly overnight the Democratic Partys control The fragile position of West Virginia workers has been
over the West Virginia political system collapsed. exacerbated by the West Virginia Democrats long-term
failure to pursue meaningful economic diversification in
the state, itself a product of industry capture. Rather than
A Party of Coal
pursuing other opportunities for economic diversification,
Yet the failure of the West Virginia Democratic Party cant the party has doubled down on extractive industries. For
simply be placed at the feet of global coal prices or oppor- example, the state Democratic Party embraced the Mar-
tunistic Republicans. The Democrats failure to develop an cellus shale gas drilling boom that swept into the state in
economic vision that would benefit West Virginia workers the late 2000s, catering to another out-of-state extractive
is central to the story. industry rather than building and retaining wealth and
The West Virginia Democratic Party has long been jobs within the state.
beholden to dominant economic interests in the state, par- The Democratic Partys attempts at true economic
ticularly coal mining. Even back in the 1950s, a proposal diversification have been meager at best. In 2009, the Dem-
by Democratic governor William Marland to impose what ocratic legislature passed an alternative and renewable
would have been the first severance tax on the coal industry energy portfolio standard that was ostensibly designed
was soundly defeated by his Democratic legislature after to diversify the states electricity system. In reality, it did
an industry outcry. Today, West Virginias Democratic literally nothing because it allowed utilities to count their
politicians dont just represent the industry some are existing coal-fired power plants as alternative energy
the industry. Senator Joe Manchin has made millions from resources. And unlike some other extraction-intensive
his familys coal brokerage business and Governor-elect states (Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota), for decades West
Jim Justice is a coal-mining ceo. Virginias legislature failed to establish a permanent min-
The partys capture by industry has intensified in eral trust fund to keep natural resource wealth in the state
recent decades as union influence has waned in the face during times of bust. When it finally did so in 2014, the
of mechanization. Coal mining has gone through a series legislature severely underfunded it.
of booms and busts in West Virginia, but each successive
boom has employed far fewer people. At its peak in 1948,
The Last Straws
coal mining employed nearly 132,000 miners; in the mid-
1970s, mining employment peaked again at 64,000 miners, The WV Democratic Partys accelerating representation
and in 2008, mining employment reached a high of 22,034. of coal industry interests in the wake of weakening union
And of these only one in three miners worked on the highly power left it ill-prepared to deal with the recent structural
mechanized mountaintop removal mines, which accounted decline of the states coal industry. The party had no real
for nearly half of the states coal production. answer to offer thousands of laid-off coal miners or the
While mechanization has systematically destroyed towns and counties whose budgets were slashed by the
coal-mining jobs, the state Democratic Party has pos- decline in coal severance tax revenues.
tured as an advocate for workers, opposing environmental When confronted by the Republican Partys decision
regulations on the industry as a way to save jobs. But to opportunistically blame the decline of the coal industry
their pro-worker position is a faade. The party has on Obamas war on coal and the job-killing epa, the
attacked restrictions on mountaintop-removal mining West Virginia Democratic Party could not articulate any


70 24 / WINTER 2017
alternative vision. Instead, many Democratic politicians for the financial industry (including bank bailouts in the
chose to run even further to the right, joining in with the wake of the 2008 financial crisis) and big corporations, and
bashing of the Environmental Protection Agency and dis- trade deals that prioritize the free flow of capital and fail
tancing themselves from Obama. to incorporate labor or environmental standards. These
This strategy worked for a few Democrats. Governor policies have resulted in widening inequality and pervasive
Joe Manchin successfully ran for US Senate in 2010; one economic insecurity, making it harder for the Democrats
of his campaign ads featured him picking up a gun and to credibly position themselves as representatives of the
shooting a cap-and-trade bill. In 2016, the party also working class.
managed to get Jim Justice elected as governor Justice The West Virginia Democratic Party created an anal-
escaped being tarred with the war on coal brush by virtue ogous situation by championing dominant extractive
of being a coal-mining ceo and the wealthiest man in industries in the state while also claiming to be the party
the state. He was also a registered Republican until three of labor. The decline of the coal industry laid bare the
months before deciding to run. fact that the state Democratic Party has no real vision for
But on the whole, the party was annihilated. At first supporting workers, particularly as the tensions between
glance, this is somewhat puzzling. After all, shouldnt creating jobs and protecting the environment become
the West Virginia Democrats steadfast support for the increasingly fraught.
industry have insulated them from the Republicans war At the national level, environmental policy has never
on coal rhetoric? been coupled with social and economic policy to aid com-
The Republican strategy was successful for two rea- munities transitioning away from fossil fuels, leaving
sons: the constant message tying the Democrats to Obama the national Democratic Party open to attack for pitting
and his war on coal a message that also played to dog- workers against the environment. The same jobs vs. envi-
whistle racism in an overwhelmingly white state made ronment argument was used effectively by Republicans in
it all but impossible for state Democrats to fully distance West Virginia to crush the state Democratic Party.
themselves from the national party of the same name. As Yet the WV Democratic Party itself has failed to artic-
Charleston Gazette-Mail journalist Ken Ward Jr wrote in ulate any critique of the ways in which neoliberalism and
2015, every 2016 race in West Virginia will again be about mechanization have destroyed the working class in West
President Obama, who wont be on the ballot. Virginia or how a different economy could provide both
Whats more, the decision of most Democratic candi- dignified work and a just transition.
dates to run further to the right, emulating Republicans, Such an analysis would not have been foreign to prom-
underscored the fact that the Democrats have no new inent West Virginia politicians of the early twentieth
ideas to offer. After more than eighty years of Democratic century, some of whom who clearly saw how the extraction
rule at the state house, the Republican Party successfully of wealth from the state and its people went hand in hand
positioned itself as the party of change and channeled with environmental degradation. Republican governor
real anger at the economic desperation in West Virginia. Henry Hatfield (191317) once asked:
Boone County which voted for Obama in 2008 and
Why will not those who have large holdings in our
Trump in 2016 is perhaps the starkest example of this
commonwealth assist in the up-building of the state?
economic desperation. In 2008, the county was the largest
When will relief come to us? Will it be when these hills
coal producer in the state. From 2008 to 2015, coal pro-
and valleys have been exhausted of their bounties of
duction there fell 72percent, and in just the last four years
nature and when these great mountains have shed their
mining employment fell 58percent.
last stately oak, and when the hills will resound with
West Virginias overall economic outlook has been
emptiness because the mineral beds that once reposed
declining, as well. In 2015, the state experienced the third
within have been exhausted in a market beyond the
largest employment decline in the country. The job gains
state borders?
that have occurred have been in low-wage sectors, exacer-
bating poverty in a state that historically ranks at or near It is difficult to imagine an elected official of either party
the bottom of most economic indicators, including per posing such a question today.
capita income and life expectancy.
Ultimately, the West Virginia Democratic Party found
The Republican Vision
itself caught in its own version of the internal contradic-
tions plaguing the national Democratic Party. For the last The future for West Virginia seems bleak. At the state
three decades, the national Democratic and Republican level, since the Republicans took power in 2014, they have
Party establishments have maintained a consensus on rolled back protections for workers, repealing the states
core economic issues. These have revolved around support prevailing wage law (which had set a minimum wage for



In the mid-1960s, 35 percent of

West Virginia workers were in a
union, compared to less than 30
percent nationally.
state-funded construction projects) and making West Vir- to Wall Street and also to the pharmaceutical industry
ginia a right-to-work state. that has flooded the state with prescription painkillers over
At the federal level, it is unlikely a Trump presidency the last decade. He spoke directly about climate change,
will do much to benefit the state, despite his campaign a problem that West Virginia Democrats prefer to pre-
promise to bring back coal. Trump will be unable to tend does not exist. And he addressed the reality that the
deliver on his pledges to make both natural gas and coal Democratic Party has abandoned the working class in
great because the fuels are in direct competition with West Virginia.
each other for electricity generation; given that natural Sanders won all fifty-five counties in the states Dem-
gas is cheaper, it will presumably win out. Even noto- ocratic primary. His victory suggests that the challenge of
rious coal baron Bob Murray, an early backer of Trumps winning back a state that voted 68percent Trump may be
campaign, urged Trump to moderate his campaign less impossible than it appears.
promises to coal miners because of the impossibility But winning will require the articulation of a real anal-
of delivering on them. Quoted in the industry publica- ysis of the states problems rather than a continuation of the
tion SNL Financial in May 2016 Murray said, [Trump] myth that whats good for the states extractive industries
wants to bring the mines back and I told him that was is necessarily good for workers.
not possible. Nationally, an economic vision for the working class
And considering that Trumps pick for treasury sec- must seriously address the twin crises of economic inse-
retary is a former Goldman Sachs banker (as was Timothy curity and climate crisis. Addressing climate change
Geithner, Obamas first treasury secretary), there is no solely through technological innovation and regulating
reason to expect that Trump will improve overall economic polluters the Democratic Partys approach so far will
conditions in the rest of the country either. The Steven leave behind states like West Virginia whose economies
Mnuchin pick all but assures that campaign promises to have depended on fossil-fuel extraction for decades.
enact protective tariffs to bring back jobs will not materi- A path to a future that protects both workers and the
alize. Instead, a continued prioritization of the interests environment will require transitioning towards an eco-
of finance will exacerbate the trend of widening income nomic system that does not produce sacrifice zones in
inequality and growing economic discontent that contrib- pursuit of fossil-fuel extraction and in which communities
uted to Trumps rise in the first place. have the resources to weather the serious climate change
impacts that are already on the way. It will involve breaking
up large monopolies and large concentrations of wealth in
In Search of Alternatives
order to return greater political power and control over
The recent history of the West Virginia Democratic Party resources to local communities.
underscores the desperate need for an economic vision in The economic transformation needed to build an eco-
West Virginia, and in the rest of the country, that actually nomic system in the interest of workers while remaining
works for working people. within natural limits is a long-term transformation. But
Bernie Sanders began to provide an outline of what this we must begin it. The alternative, a continued failure to
vision could look like in West Virginia. Campaigning in address underlying economic realities, will continue to
the state he challenged the Democratic establishments ties drive voters to the Right.

74 24 / WINTER 2017


Stand Down

Today, its hard to imagine an artist Songs from round

crooning I dont want to change the
one to inspire us
world and becoming a left-wing icon.
But when Billy Bragg released New to win round two.
England in 1983, Margaret Thatcher
was pursuing a radical program to
destroy the postwar Keynesian con-
sensus and usher in a brave new world
of capitalist hegemony. What the
Conservative Party termed prog-
ress in that years elections meant
the ruination of British working-class in his music, even as fellow musical Now that neoliberalism has con-
political power. rebels like the Ramones and the Clash quered its old enemies and won its
I dont want a new England, were popularizing the harder, faster, world wars, its adherents have trans-
Bragg opined, and who could blame and louder. The impossible faith of formed from radical pioneers into
him? striking miners against the Conserva- conservative defenders of the status
When miners initiated their tive government must have served as quo. There is no alternative sounds
national strike a year later, Bragg an antidote to the pessimism, sliding less like the battle cry of uncompro-
threw himself into solidarity efforts, into nihilism, that gave punk its sexy, mising reformers and more like the
performing in miners towns across transgressive edge in the same era. plea of an embattled caste.
the country. Later, inspired by the Now, the neoliberal order In this context, the Left and its
1970s Rock Against Racism tours Thatcher pioneered has succeeded musicians can once again say that yes,
that pit antiracist performers against in its major goals. As the Left was we do want to change the world
neo-Nazis, he set up the musicians defeated and labor beaten back, the while remembering why Billy Bragg
collective Red Wedge to organize musical battle cries of the seventies didnt in 1983.
opposition to the Tories. and eighties turned to whimpers, and Here, Bragg takes us through
Its possible that being embedded punk seemed more and more a relic eight songs that best captured
in such struggles is what preserved of a countercultural past. the resistance and rebellion of the
the clear, folksy, even upbeat sound Yet winning has its downside. Thatcher era.




Walls Come
Tumbling Down
Paul Weller had already established
himself as a sharp observer of
working-class angst during his years Are
you gonna try to make
fronting The Jam. When he
broke up the band in 1982 and formed
this work
a jazz/soul outfit The Style Or spend your days down in
Council, his social commentary came
wrapped in a cooler sound.
the dirt
The 1984 miners strike brought the You see things can change
fire back to his songwriting and
this punchy single got to number six YES an walls can come
in the UK charts. Opening with tumbling down!
the words You dont have to take this
Down sounded a rallying call to those
dismayed by Thatchers Britain.
Its message: unity is powerful.


Dont Need Stand Down Keep On
This) Fascist Margaret Keepin On
Groove Thang The Two Tone movement was a key A trio of hard-left skinheads hence
aspect of antiracist activism in the name the Redskins were
Heaven 17 recorded this dance
late 70s Britain, bringing black and inspired by a heady mixture of sixties
floor favorite in 1981, shortly after
white youth together to fight soul and Trotskyism and promised
splitting from the Human League.
against discrimination, while dancing to walk like the Clash and talk like
While their erstwhile colleagues top-
to ska-influenced pop. It was only the Supremes. Their one album,
ped the charts, they took their
natural that the bands involved in Neither Washington nor Moscow,
synthpop in a more political and, it
the scene should take a stand against took its title from the slogan on the
has to be said, funky direction.
Thatcher. The Beat were among front of the Socialist Workers Party
With Thatcher and Reagan in power,
the first, transforming Prince Busters newspaper and the bands politics
there was a sense that the forces
Whine and Grine into an anthem were uncompromising and workerist.
of reaction, which had been held in
of opposition. The white law However, they avoided the mis-
check by youth culture since the
mentioned in the lyrics is an oblique erablism that sometimes afflicts the
1960s, were gaining the upper hand,
reference to William Whitelaw, Trotskyist left by writing great
pushing back against civil, social,
Thatchers hardline minister for law pop tunes like this.
and sexual rights. Heaven 17 spoke
and order, but we all knew what
out, alerting us to Racist men
they really meant.
with evil views spreading all across
the land.

78 24 / WINTER 2017
Stand Down Margaret


Tramp the Dirt A Sense Shipbuilding

Down of Belonging Shipbuilding is about what happens
when a leader uses war to whip
Costello was probably the nearest The real enemy of all of us who
up patriotic fervor and distract from
to a traditional protest singer thrown want to make a better world is not
their domestic unpopularity.
up by the punk rock scene, with a capitalism or conservatism, but
Thatcher was floundering mid-term
back catalogue of powerfully topical cynicism our own feeling that no
when the Argentine junta invaded
songs that seek to make sense of a one cares about this shit, that
the Falkland Islands in 1982. Pushing
hostile world. However, none of the nothing will ever change, so whats
aside all reasonable attempts at
others have the personal invective the point? Woody Guthrie knew
brokering peace, she sent the Royal
contained in this song, made all the this, as did Dan Treacy, the driving
Navy down to the South Atlantic
more powerful by being a lament force behind Television Person-
in search of a glorious reenactment of
rather than a ranting thrash. The image alities. Cynicism takes hold when
British imperial might. Britain
of Costello stamping on Thatchers empathy becomes a chore the
was victorious and Thatcher was re-
grave to ensure she doesnt rise again only real antidote is activism. This
turned to office a year later in a
might seem faintly ridiculous now, song makes that point in a wonder-
landslide. Nine hundred and four
but her ghost still haunts British fully world-weary way.
combatants lost their lives.

The 1984 miners strike was a

remember such a catalyst for opposition to Thatcher.
Over the course of the twelve
bitter time month struggle, artists identified
themselves by doing benefit gigs
The Boss says jump! The and recording supportive singles.
workers fall in line This piece of spartan agitprop
was released by Keith Le Blanc, whose
Im not down, but Im previous hit featured the voice

feeling low of MalcolmX. His nom de guerre

comes from a quote by Thatcher,
They whip us into line who in a speech to the Conservative

With the threat of the dole Party during the strike juxtaposed
the defeated Argentine junta the
enemy without with the miners
the enemy within. The voice you
can hear is that of Arthur Scargill, then-
leader of the National Union of



How Pepe
Turned Brown

Inside every cartoon

frog is a totalitarian
screaming to get out.

In simpler times (aka 2005, the height quickly became ubiquitous on the the market, but not before someone
of the Bush years), Pepe the Frog was websites infamous /b/ board. In almost sold 1,200 Pepe images on
a neer-do-well stoner, whose frequent time, Pepes sunny optimism would eBay for $99,166, or more than $80
munchies often resulted in acid reflux grow more complex, as anonymous a Pepe.
attacks. Created by artist Matt Furie web users developed a range of emo- Pepes sad descent reached its
for a comic book called Boys Club, tions for him, including Sad Frog, nadir this election cycle, as white
the affable frog and his friends rev- Smug Frog, and Angry Pepe. Stripped supremacists decided to reclaim
eled in scatological humor and other of his pre-recession innocence, Pepe Pepe from the normies misusing
juvenilia. It wasnt pathbreaking or would never be the same. his image. Pepes transformation into
insightful by any stretch, but it was Before he became an alt-right fascist icon began last July on 4chans
hardly creeping fascism. icon, Pepe unwittingly became a /pol/, or Politically Incorrect board,
Pepes popularity jumped in sought-after commodity. In 2014, with a macro of a Smug Pepe with
2008. That year, a page from Boys 4chan users began trading customized Trump hair grinning in front of a US
Club showing Pepe peeing with his Pepe macros, calling their creations border fence.
pants pulled down made the rounds rare Pepes. The inevitable backlash A s Tr u m p e m b r a c e d t h e
on 4Chan, and his accompanying saw collectors flood the web with huge amphibian, retweeting a cartoon
catchphrase, feels good man, batches of rare Pepes to depreciate of Pepe with Trumpian hair behind

80 24 / WINTER 2017

a potus lectern, we witnessed the

spectacle of the Clinton campaign
publishing an article denouncing a
cartoon frog. The response to white
supremacy suggested by the cam-
paign was typically uninspiring:
Their strategy couldnt keep
Trump out of the White House.
Neither could a valiant campaign
to #SavePepe prevent Pepes tragic
downfall into racism, making him the
first frog to be labeled a hate symbol
by the Anti-Defamation League. With
the Right on the move, we can expect
more of even the dankest memes to
fall prey to the forces of reaction.



Adam Silver
Isnt Protesting

As long as no one risks the leagues up, use our influence and renounce all

power or profits, the NBA can sell violence...

After generations of basketball
politics all the way to the bank. players reserving their voice for com-
mercial endorsements Michael
Jordans Republicans buy sneakers,
too and Charles Barkleys I am not
a role model todays stars will-
ingness to take meaningful stances
seemed like a welcome development.
nba commissioner Adam Silver,
Last August a month after police His actions seemed to align with the more progressive successor to
shot and killed Alton Sterling and comments made by nba stars LeBron David Sterns serrated antagonisms,
Philando Castile, two years after James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and praised the athletes for put[ting]
police shot and killed Michael Carmelo Anthony at the espy awards themselves in a leadership posi-
Brown and choked Eric Garner to that July, just a week after Sterlings tion. He went on, When they see
death, and three years after wan- and Castiles murders. They called on sort of symbolic gestures by athletes
nabe cop George Zimmerman athletes to resurrect the activist tradi- in other sports, and not to devalue
was acquitted for killing Trayvon tion of Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, them in any way, I think their view
Martin San Francisco 49ers quar- Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, and is Weve moved past that stage
terback Colin Kaepernick refused others. Its not about being a role already... we will be judged by the
to stand for the national anthem. I model, its not about our responsi- substantive actions were taking in
am not going to stand up to show bility to the tradition of activism, our communities.
pride in a flag for a country that James said. I know tonight were A closer look reveals that these
oppresses black people and people honoring Muhammad Ali, the goat, substantive actions carry far less
of color, he said afterward. There but to do his legacy any justice, lets weight than the symbolic gestures
are bodies in the street, and people use this moment as call to action for the nba has purportedly moved
getting paid leave and getting away all professional athletes to educate past. These include Wades bike
with murder. ourselves, explore these issues, speak ride through Miami that included

82 24 / WINTER 2017
police officers, Los Angeles Lakers
sponsored pickup games between
law enforcement and children, and
Memphis Grizzlies head coach David
Fizdales initiative to register his
players to vote. Meanwhile, several
teams chose to lock arms during the
national anthem. Were not pro-
testing, Milwaukee Bucks head coach
Jason Kidd declared. Were showing
unity. Theres not a protest.
When players do go beyond the
nbas vague rhetoric about leader-
ship, theyre punished.
Last July, players from three
w n ba teams faced fines after
wearing t-shirts during warm-ups
that decried the Sterling and Cas-
tile shootings as well as the murder
of three Dallas police officers during
a peaceful protest. Even after being
fined $5,000 almost a tenth of
the average wnba salary New
York Liberty players Swin Cash,
Tina Charles, Kiah Stokes, Carolyn
Swords, and Tanisha Wright focused
the post-game press conference on
police brutality and criminal justice
reform, refusing to discuss that days
game. Although wnba commissioner commercial advertising. While the players eventually won. They risked
Lisa Borders, who reports to Silver, league can afford for half its audience their careers to benefit themselves
eventually rescinded the fines, Silvers to turn off the press conferences, it and future players. The average nba
response to the protest exposed the cant let politics interfere with its salary now rests just under $6mil-
nbas true face. game time ratings. lion a year.
I would greatly prefer that But when players do threaten Todays owners are no less driven
the players use the platforms theyre the leagues massive revenues, they by profit and power than owners fifty
given, he said. Social media, win huge gains. In 1964, the nba years ago. The nba is a $5 billion-a-
press conferences, media in lockers All-Star game was scheduled for live year industry whose financial partners
rooms, however they want to do it, television, an enormous opportu- include many of the people and media
to make their political points of view nity for the league to establish itself. this activism means to disrupt and
be known. To put it more clearly, Shortly beforehand, the players, who discomfort. LeBron and Carmelo can
players can say and wear whatever earned so little they often worked two keep talking. Philando and Trayvon
they like off the court, but they cannot jobs, told the owners they wouldnt can keep dying. Neither affects the
desecrate the sanctum sanctorum play unless they received certain bottom line. As long as no one risks
the stadium and the uniforms. No benefits, including a pension. The the leagues power or profits, the
matter that these same courts and owners huffed and puffed outside nba can sell politics all the way to
uniforms are acceptable spaces for the locked locker room, but the the bank.


Trump Isnt

Silvio Berlusconis tenure

reminds us that the Left
needs to attack the
neoliberal center, not just
the populist right.

ust months after the left seemed The Berlusconi comparison should be understood
poised for a historic breakthrough, a shock within its specific limits. The United States in 2017 is not
national vote brought a dangerous reac- the same as 1990s Italy. Today there is turmoil and political
tionary to power. Smashing open the old realignment across the globe, but we can hardly assume
party of the Right, the billionaire tycoons that the weakest links in the chain are holding up to the
populism surfed a wave of anger against the corrupt elite more powerful and stable states a mirror of their own
that had long controlled the political center. Making gov- future. Berlusconis Italy and, on the other end of the polit-
ernment the stage for a permanent public performance, ical spectrum, Syriza in Greece are test beds for broader
this curiously wealthy popular champion radically reshaped dynamics, not models which later parties or leaders are
the countrys political life. doomed to copy.
Such was the scene in Italy in 1994 as Silvio Berlus- Still, in the face of a potentially much more dangerous
coni took power amid the ruins of Christian Democracy, Trump the US left would do well to learn some lessons
the Catholic conservative party which had long domi- from Berlusconism.
nated national government. In power since World Warii,
the Christian Democrats collapsed together with their
A Time of Monsters
Communist rivals at the end of the Cold War, and it was
Berlusconis Forza Italia that filled the void. But Italys new Berlusconisms origins lay in a systemic crisis, with the
right was no mere rebranding of the traditional conserva- early 1990s collapse of a political order based on the Cold
tive party it was a novel coalition stretching from the War binary pitting Christian Democrats against Italys
tycoons business associates to populists and ex-fascists. second party, the Communists. While Italy had nearly fifty
Since November many have suggested that the nine governments between 1947 and 1992, each one of them
years of Berlusconi rule scattered between 1994 and 2011 was a coalition based on the dominance of the center to
were Romes own Trump moment. Italians often rue center-right and pro-nato Christian Democrats, designed
their record in exporting such lamentable phenomena to keep the Communist Party from ever reaching power.
as 1920s fascism and 1990s Berlusconism, and indeed there Forming a continual series of cabinets that balanced
is much to learn from what this new right achieved in its its internal factional interests and those of its episodic
homeland before spreading abroad. This is all the more coalition partners, the Catholic and anticommunist Chris-
important when we consider that Berlusconi was not, as tian Democracy built up a vast network of corruption,
his opponents expected in 1994, simply exposed as a char- patronage, and links with organized crime, sure of its per-
latan upon reaching high office. Rather, he succeeded in manent ownership of the state.
making lasting changes to Italian political life, including The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 destroyed this
the near destruction of the Left. system, breaking up the Cold War dynamic on which it was

Prominent figures in
Berlusconis coalition had
links to the most explicit
historical fascism.
86 24 / WINTER 2017
based. As the 1991 collapse of the Communist Party in turn Republic. Alleanza Nazionale leaders such as Gianni Ale-
dissolved the Christian Democrats own internal solidarity, manno (1970s msi youth organizer and theorist of its most
a far-reaching judicial inquiry was launched, the so-called radical, revolutionary wing; 200813 mayor of Rome),
Clean Hands investigation into the Bribesville prac- Gianfranco Fini (who in 1991 described himself as a fascist
tices long sustained by Italys blocked democracy. for the 2000s), and Alessandra Mussolini (the dictators
Swamped with accusations of fraud and bribery, the granddaughter, in 1994 msi candidate for mayor of Naples)
Christian Democrats dissolved just two years after their would over the next decade move from being ministers in
historic Communist rival. Unscathed by this scandal due to Berlusconis coalitions to members of his party. While the
their Cold Warera exclusion from high office, the majority 1990s creation of Alleanza Nazionale was itself an attempt
of the Communists now reformed as the Democrats of to mainstream the far right by shedding its fascist baggage,
the Left, and from 1992 to 94 this new social-democratic these figures along with Berlusconi continued to relativize
formation looked to be on the brink of power. the crimes of the Mussolini regime, transgressing the
Fearing the Left reaching office for the first time since norms of postwar Italian democracy.
the coalition governments of 194447, the Right sought a Above all an opportunist, Berlusconis policies in gov-
new standard-bearer. A candidate soon emerged to save ernment were, however, characterized not by creeping
the ruling class from the discredit into which Christian fascism but a continuity with prior Christian Democrat
Democracy (and smaller allies like the centrist Italian administrations.
Socialist Party, psi) had dragged it. Their hero was bil- Beyond such decisions as abolishing inheritance tax
lionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, in the early 1980s and a botched attempt to create a two-party voting system,
associated with the (only nominally socialist) psi but now Berlusconis rule was notable less for economic and institu-
the frontman of the populist right. He stood independent tional reforms as for his use of office to protect his personal
from the discredited Christian Democrats (rebranded the business interests. This principally centered around mea-
Italian Peoples Party) and was also fiercely hostile to the sures designed to remove constraints on media monopolies
ex-Communist Democrats of the Left. Entering the field in (the Gasparri Law) and protect him from prosecution
January 1994, he promised a continuation of free-market for crimes like fraud, massive tax evasion, and paying a
and pro-nato policies while replacing the corrupt indi- seventeen-year-old for sex.
viduals who populated the Italian government. Romano Prodi, today a leading figure in the Dem-
Berlusconis victory at the March 1994 election despite ocratic Party, denounced Berlusconis obsession with
his total lack of political experience succeeded not only in passing ad personam legislation aimed at protecting
heading off the Democrats of the Left but also in radically himself from jail time. His rule was thus mostly remark-
reshaping the Right. Organized around a single charismatic able for a tedious soap opera of court appearances, appeals,
leader, his newly created Forza Italia was a media vehicle and counter-attacks against what he labeled a politically
created from the top down and promoted through Ber- motivated caste of judges.
lusconis own tv channels. It was more like an American Hoping that the courts would punish Berlusconi for his
party than anything seen in the postwar Italian context. dubious business dealings, the center-left merely mirrored
Whereas the Christian Democrats had participated in his attempt to polarize Italian politics around his own per-
the anti-Nazi Resistance of 194345 and for the most part sona rather than questions of general interest or economic
repudiated any fascist presence in government over subse- recovery. Following the sweeping Clean Hands trials and
quent decades, Berlusconi had no such scruples. With the the emergence of judge-politicians like Antonio di Pietro
historic parties of Italian democracy disappearing in the (in 199394 a lead prosecutor against Berlusconis friend
early 1990s, the barriers to the far right were effectively Bettino Craxi, and later founder of the liberal Italy of
removed, and they were soon welcomed into his new coali- Values party and minister in Prodis government), pros-
tion. In the 1994 election, Forza Italias eight million votes ecutors and corruption charges increasingly took the place
were complemented by five million for the post-fascist of substantial political issues in left discourse.
Alleanza Nazionale and over three million for the Lega Consider the example of the countrys antiwar move-
Nord, a hard-right party seeking to detach the wealthier ment. Italy had the worlds largest demonstration against
North of Italy from the lazy, corrupt South. Together the Iraq War, as three million people took to the streets of
they dominated the new parliament. Rome on February 15, 2003. Yet the Democrats of the Left
Prominent figures in Berlusconis coalition had links consistently abstained on all bills relating to Berlusconis
to the most explicit historical fascism. Alleanza Nazionale decision to send troops. The Italian left more broadly never
was a 1994 rebranding of the Movimento Sociale Italiano made the invasions disastrous failure a key criticism of
(msi), the fascist party created in 1945 by surviving lieu- the media magnate, as it had become for George W. Bush
tenants of Benito Mussolinis Nazi-puppet Italian Social and Tony Blair.



Indeed, during the post-2008 European crisis the Dem- As with Trump, some of his more famous gaffes
ocratic Party (formed by the Democrats of the Left and merely put the unspoken assumptions of Western poli-
fragments of the old Christian Democracy in 2007) even cymaking into unduly direct terms. After 9/11 this future
adopted positions favoring much harsher budget cuts than participant in the Iraq War made clear the chauvinism that
Berlusconi himself, attacking him for his unseriousness underpinned the war on terror: We should be conscious
in conforming to the European Central Banks austerity of the superiority of our civilization, which consists of a
demands. value system that has given people widespread prosperity
There was, of course, political substance to even the in those countries that embrace it, and guarantees respect
moral and personal criticism of Berlusconi. Trumps for human rights and religion. This respect certainly does
claim in the second presidential debate that his failure to not exist in the Islamic countries.
pay federal income tax was smart echoed a key theme Faced with a non-politician turning public life into the
of Berlusconism, namely the swaggering billionaires stage for his crass performances, the center-left, however,
attempts to pose as just like the little guy (i.e., small proved unable to propose a political alternative that went
businessman/patriarch) who wants to put his foot down beyond decrying Berlusconi and his malign associates.
in his business and family without state interference. He After the system-wide collapse of the early 1990s,
spoke less the language of the strongman la Putin to accuse him of bringing his office into disrepute, of
than of unfiltered individual self-interest, thus detaching undermining the democratic spirit of the Constitution
neoliberal ideologys underlying conception of human won through the Resistance, or even of being a fascist,
behavior from its typical association with managerial- made little impression on an Italian public weary of both
centrist government. such pieties and the continual media revelations of scandal,
Faced with critics who were often themselves of crossing party divides.
dubious financial propriety, Berlusconi took the poison out Moreover, given the Democrats of the Lefts open
of their accusations with his own brazen, almost honest embrace of the Blairite-Clintonian Third Way, with the
admission that he was working purely for personal advan- partys former Communist leaders now abandoning the
tage. Already in the 1980s he had notoriously built up a legacy of Antonio Gramsci in favor of managerial neoliber-
close relationship with psi premier Bettino Craxi, who fled alism, they had no basis to oppose him with an alternative
into Tunisian exile in 1994 to escape corruption charges. economic agenda. Stathis Kouvelakis has aptly noted the
The case against Craxi included the help his government macabre spectacle of former Communist leader Achille
had given the media tycoon in expanding his tv networks. Ochetto visiting Wall Street and the nato headquarters
Yet in his own time in office Berlusconi was unabashed in to declare them the homes of civilization and democracy.
pursuing this same agenda, merging the role of statesman Subordinate to the antiberlusconismo underpinning
into his higher calling as an entrepreneur. the Democrats, even the radical left effectively played into
Berlusconis maintenance of a straight-talking public the tycoons hands. This was most marked in the actions
persona and throwback machismo went hand in hand with of Rifondazione Comunista, formed by those activists
his frequent provocatively sexualized, racist, and misog- who opposed the dissolution of the Communist Party in
ynistic jokes. His rancid public statements ranged from 1991. A promising force in the 1990s, regularly receiving
defending his paying for sex with a teenage girl Better up to 10percent of the vote and establishing solid social
fancy beautiful girls than be gay to his claim that it movement links, Rifondazione was ultimately destroyed
would be impossible to combat street rapes because we by its obsession with antiberlusconista ideology.
would have to deploy as many soldiers as there are pretty An endlessly repeated analogy with Communist policy
girls, and our women are too beautiful. In a 2003 interven- in the 194345 Resistance in which the party had allied
tion at the New York Stock Exchange that perhaps summed with socialists, liberals, Christian-Democrats, and monar-
up his whole worldview Berlusconi declared, Italy is now a chists against Nazi German occupation over time came
great country to invest in... Today we have fewer commu- to justify an infinitely broad, barely political front against
nists, and those who are still there deny having been one. Berlusconi. Rifondazione entered into repeated electoral
Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful and governmental pacts with the Democrats on this basis,
secretaries. during Prodis 20068 administration even voting for the

88 24 / WINTER 2017
war in Afghanistan in order to prevent the government
collapsing and Berlusconi regaining power.
Demoralizing its own membership (and even expel-
ling those who refused to vote for the war in parliament),
Rifondazione was heavily punished at the 2008 general
election, when Berlusconi returned to government and

no Communist MPs were elected for the first time since
World Warii.

rule was The Worst Product of Berlusconi:

notable Indeed, while Italys historically strong Communist Party
and social movements had begun their slow decline already

less for in the early 1980s, anti-Berlusconism was the instrument

by which the followers of Blair and Clinton diverted the

Italian left from an agenda of social change to an essentially
moralistic-judicial conception of political legitimacy. The
weakening of Italian trade unions following the defeated

and 1980 strike at the massive fiat Mirafiori plant in Turin

the countrys largest factory and historic bastion of the

labor movement was compounded at the turn of the
1990s with the final collapse of the Communist Party and
the neoliberal triumphalism that soon followed.

reforms As elsewhere in Europe, this weakening of social

struggle was the context in which a new classless left

as for his
emerged. The rearguard action against Berlusconi would
prove to be the decisive pretext for the Democrats of the
Lefts efforts to form a corporate-liberal Democratic Party,

use of explicitly imitating the US model. Refashioning the Com-

munists historic veneration of Italys postwar republican

office to
institutions, they came to portray Berlusconi as an abnor-
mality, external to the constitutional establishment.
Initially formed by the majority of Communists who

protect his voted to dissolve the party in 1991, across the following
two decades the Democrats of the Left consistently moved

to the right in an effort to win conservative voters from
the illegitimate Berlusconi. Whereas the old Commu-
nist Party had always had some elements tending toward

business social democracy, the 1990s fragmentation of the Christian

Democrats allowed this zombie incarnation of the Left to

devour a series of Catholic and conservative forces also
opposed to the billionaire.
In government from 1996 to 2000 and 2006 to 2008,
the center-left coalitions led in turn by former leftChris-
tian Democrat Romano Prodi and ex-Communist Massimo
dAlema included not only the Democrats of the Left,
Greens, and small Communist groups (and Rifondazione
as an external ally) but also the continuity Christian
Democrats (the Italian Peoples Party) and center-right
Republicans. Another party in the Prodi coalition was Italy
of Values, a liberal force led by anti-Berlusconi prosecutor
Antonio di Pietro.


90 24 / WINTER 2017

Hoping that
Finally reaching office in 1996 after decades of Chris-
tian Democratic rule, the center-left however did nothing
to challenge the historic right-wing domination of the state.
Upon arriving in his new role, Prodis ex-Communist inte-
rior minister Giorgio Napolitano promised police chiefs
the courts
would punish
he would do nothing to seek out the skeletons in the cup-
board, as he and his comrades sought to create a new party
of order. By the late 2000s the Democrats would invite
even ex-fascists like Fini into the anti-Berlusconi camp.
Outside of such parties, there were important social
for his dubious
struggles during Berlusconis rule. The anticapitalist move-
ment at the turn of the millennium in Italy largely built
around social centers created a growing number of com-
munity and activist spaces and reached its peak at the 2001
g8 summit held in Genoa, where over two hundred thou-
dealings, the
sand people demonstrated in defiance of a police lockdown
of the harbor city.
Hosted by Berlusconi, the summit would become
a lasting icon of the antagonism between the social
movements and the Italian state. Indeed, the murder
left merely
of twenty-three-year-old protester Carlo Giuliani by a
policeman, as well as aggressive nighttime police raids
on buildings where demonstrators slept, made the Genoa
events comparable even to the appalling violence orches-
trated by the Italian governments of the 1970s.
his attempt to
Chanting Mussolini-era anthems and slogans as they
brutalized hundreds of arrested protesters, the police cer-
tainly showed their sense of what was at stake politically,
the ring of steel around the neoliberal leaders summit
giving them their chance to beat down the activist left. Yet
Italian politics
even so far as extremism in Italian police ranks has fascist
overtones, a center-left determined to display its respon-
sible credentials utterly failed to support the targeted
activists. Even an attempt to launch a public inquiry into
the fatti di Genova was sunk by Italy of Valuess insistence
around his
own persona.
that it also investigate protester actions.
As the powerful but brief surges of anticapitalist and
antiwar mobilization dissipated over the 2000s, Italian
liberalism increasingly settled into its own moralistic-ju-
dicial battle against Berlusconi, devoid of any wider social
content. This was true not only of the Democrats but also
of separate so-called citizens movements against Ber-
lusconi such as the girotondi (human chains) protests
starting in 2002, or, from 2009 Il Popolo Viola.
These mass citizens demonstrations organized on
Facebook claimed not only to be non-partisan (except for
their self-described antifascist anti-Berlusconism) but

92 24 / WINTER 2017
to stand only for the Constitution itself. Calling a No he was a national embarrassment. Such sentiments went
Berlusconi Day in 2009, Il Popolo Viola issued a call to hand in hand with the center-lefts increasing embrace of
demonstrate that deemed Italy an anomaly in the demo- the European Union as a cure for the countrys ills.
cratic West, intoning that the country had become what The rise of this elitist-institutional instinct across
foreign press call a dictatorship led by a man hostile to the liberal left reached its most extreme conclusion in
all forms of free expression. While not enjoying the Dem- the behavior of Giorgio Napolitano, president of the
ocrats support and claiming to embody a direct form republic between 2006 and 2015, a Democratic grandee
of citizen expression not mediated by parties even who had long sought an external benefactor to resolve
this more street-based march for civic values reflected Italys dysfunctions. Beginning his political life as a fas-
a basically similar idea of anti-Berlusconism, an ethical cist student hoping that Nazi Germany could be Italys
crusade standing above social or political interests, beyond benign protector, a belated Stalinist turn in 1945 saw
the values expressed in the Constitution. him turn his allegiances to the Soviets, before he became
Grimly warning of the coming fascism, the spokes- a staunch supporter of the European Union in more
persons for Italys supposedly class-neutral citizen recent decades.
initiatives enjoyed fulsome praise in the English-speaking Although the Italian presidency is supposed to be a
business press. This owed not least to the Berlusconi gov- neutral guardian of the Constitution, Napolitano instead
ernments bizarre legal row with the Economist (deemed used his office to promote an EU-driven coup against Ber-
by the Italian premier a communist publication) and lusconis elected government, punishing the premier for
liberals own reference to the negative image of Italy in failing to meet European Central Bank budget-cutting
such organs as the Financial Times to declare that theirs targets. As Perry Anderson has explained, Berlusconi was
was not a normal country. removed from office by basically unconstitutional means,
Such liberal handwringing however proved distinctly under eu pressure that the Left would find outrageous if
lacking in democratic probity. Following the most recent applied to almost any other leader.
general election in February 2013 la Repubblica co-founder Conspiring with Angela Merkel and incoming Euro-
Barbara Spinelli launched a petition, signed by anti-estab- pean Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, over the summer
lishment luminaries such as the late Dario Fo, calling on the of 2011, Napolitano worked to position former eu commis-
courts to refuse Berlusconi his seat on account of his con- sioner and Goldman Sachs adviser Mario Monti as premier.
flicts of interest. Spinellis attempt to fell the leader of the Appointing Monti a senator for life in November 2011,
second most popular electoral coalition was unsuccessful, Napolitano intended to form an unelected government of
though the following year she renounced her own pledge to technocrats to carry out la manovra, slashing the budget
refuse her seat in the European Parliament, before abruptly deficit without those involved ever being accountable to
quitting her party and then keeping the salary. the electorate. As Anderson recounts, Under threat of
In 1975 Pier Paolo Pasolini had characterized the Com- destruction by the bond markets should he resist, Ber-
munist Party as an honest, uncorrupted country within lusconi capitulated, and within a week Monti was sworn
a country, and in that same decade its ascetic general in as the countrys new ruler, at the head of an unelected
secretary Enrico Berlinguer sought to associate the Left cabinet of bankers, businessmen and technocrats... Those
with moral austerity as he denounced rising consum- who had long attacked Berlusconi for subverting Italian
erism and political scandal. In a very real sense the postwar democracy didnt seem to mind.
Communists did form an Italy apart, not only in winning a The supposed fascist Berlusconi thus fell victim to an
third of the vote at national elections, leading mass trade antidemocratic coup. Beyond the Monti administrations
unions, or setting up millions-strong cooperatives, but role in implementing a slew of anti-labor and budget-cut-
also in brandishing the platonic progressive sentiments of ting reforms, this maneuvering was a lackluster success
Italys 1948 Constitution even despite their own exclusion even within the narrow terms of keeping Berlusconi out
from office. of office.
However, as this community and workplace organizing When the country did again go to the polls in Feb-
withered during the 1990s and Communist politicians ruary 2013, the Democrats again failed to win a majority.
became neoliberal Democrats, this in-group mentality mor- Unable to form a government, they squared the circle by
phed into a hollow liberal elitism, redefining opposition forming a grand coalition including none other than Silvio
to Berlusconi as the new marker of republican virtue, able Berlusconi. Having used the need to fight Berlusconi as the
to embrace even his right-wing and Catholic-conservative stick with which to discipline the Left, the Blairites now
critics. This was notably expressed in the slogan that Italy combined with him in government.
ought to become a normal country, the demand that other Today Italy remains ruled by a coalition of the Demo-
European states help unseat Berlusconi, or the meme that crats and center-right splits from Berlusconis party; the



media tycoon himself left the ruling coalition at the end to Trump. It is to imagine that the attempt arbitrarily to
of 2013 when it failed to guarantee him immunity from define the boundaries of legitimate political discourse
prosecution. The rising opposition, in the aftermath of a can dam a wave of populist reaction.
historic victory in Decembers constitutional referendum, Of course, American politics are more deeply racialized
is dominated by the populist Five Star Movement and than Italys, and the stakes are also far higher. Govern-
hard-right Lega Nord. ments in Rome have long served as a border sergeant for
Despite the 1990s folding of the historic msi into Ber- the European Union, even outsourcing this responsibility
lusconis coalition, anticapitalist fascist movements like to Berlusconis long-time ally Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.
CasaPound/Lotta Studentesca today make increasing Casual racism, the exclusion of ethnic minorities from
headway among alienated youth. While the activist left almost any aspect of public life, and the lack of political
clings onto life, only in isolated areas has it been able to correctness are hallmarks of Italian society, and in their
galvanize the mood of social revolt mostly hegemonized by own way more extreme than the US scenario.
Five Star and the Right. In the wake of its 2000s disasters, Yet with its lower levels of immigration, relative lack
Rifondazione Comunista today barely exists. of established ethnic-minority communities, and weaker
traditions of black political organization, organized white
backlash is also less present in Italy. While many call Trump
Building a Political Opposition
a fascist in order to paint him as extreme and illegitimate,
The lessons for the American left are clear. US Democrats the armed racism of the US right including within the
who, having long insisted that only Hillary Clinton was police is already a far more pervasive physical threat to
moderate enough to break conservatives from the fas- minorities than Italys own fascist-nostalgic subculture.
cist Trump, now speak of national unity and owing Political forces similarly toxic to Berlusconis allies now
him the chance to lead. They are just as rudderless as the rise to power in the United States in a situation of much
Italian Democrats who beat the drums of antiberlusconismo more dramatic social tension.
before combining with Berlusconi in 2013. In this regard the Italian case presents a dire warning,
Barely more clarity comes from those liberals who even despite Berlusconis ultimate ejection from office.
more intransigently deny Trumps legitimacy and see Today as the Democratic Party-led coalition continues its
his administration as an unprecedented advance for white program of tearing up postwar labor rights, detaching his
supremacy. party from any vestigial attachment to the Left, the mass
The justified fear of Trumps future actions blinds pro- opposition to him comes not from social movements or
gressives to even the most recent American history, with Rifondazione Comunista, but an individualist and often
the actual victims of the Obama or Clinton administrations ugly populist reaction, winning huge support even in the
suddenly rendered nonexistent and the great history of historic red bastions of Northern Italy.
black and working-class struggles made a mere adjunct Where the Democrats have moved to occupy the cen-
to calls to rally round corporate liberalism. trist and center-right political space now left by Berlusconis
The point is not that Berlusconi or Trump today are ailing party, the leftists who joined their anti-Berlusconi
mere paper tigers, only as bad as what went before. crusade now lie in ruins. Instead of a Podemos or Syriza,
Rather, it is that pandering to their honest conservative 2010s Italy has the Five Star Movement and Lega Nord
opponents or painting them as foreign to mythologized an anti-political revolt shaped not by social struggle or a
national values has no chance of success. vision of progress, but atomization, reactionary common
We should know this. Not just because of the harmful sense, and even xenophobia. It got Trump, not Bernie.
effects illustrated by the Italian case, but because we saw The Lefts alignment with neoliberal centrists against
it fail in the United States on November 8. Exactly these Berlusconi did nothing to thwart right-wing populism or
arguments were the entire basis of Hillary Clintons less- keep racism out of politics. It guaranteed these forces
er-evil campaign. unchallenged hold over millions of voters, while destroying
To persist in the offended liberal defends institutional its own alternative voice. Looking over the wreckage of the
values approach to politics is to disregard everything 2016 campaign, the US left must avoid making a similar
we see all around us, from Brexit to Duterte to Le Pen mistake.

94 24 / WINTER 2017


False Answers

In a remarkable display of self-as- The Clinton establishment has

suredness entirely unjustified after
every interest in obscuring
uniformly failing to predict Trumps
victory our professional commen- why they really lost in November.
tariat immediately began putting
forward theories to explain Trumps
success. Disregarding explanations
that tend toward the bogus fbi
director James Comey handed Trump
the election or the conspirato-
rial Russian hackers the more
reasonable of this group settled on Cosmos Brittney Cooper rightly blue-collar white men over the coals,
the narrative that racism, and to a noted the ways in which racism and they finally had enough.
lesser extent sexism, are to blame for overlaps with sexism and class, but The story of white racists electing
Trumps victory. decided to blame whiteness before Trump is an easy story to tell; after
The racism elected Trump gender because a majority of white all, racism is rampant in the United
take became the preferred explana- women 53percent voted for States. But the data belie such simple
tion almost instantly. The Washington Trump. Vox, hedging its bets, ran explanations. Indeed, Tankersly him-
Posts Jim Tankersly penned a column both stories, publishing a piece self notes that half of these voters
on November9 headlined How exploring how Trump won because of said the economy was the most
Trump Won: The Revenge of Work- misogyny and another on how Trumps important issue in their vote, com-
ing-Class Whites. Slates Jamelle win is a reminder of the power of pared to 14% for immigration. A
Bouie ran a piece under the more racism. majority said international trade takes
succinct title White Won. Damon Tankerslys Post column, which away American jobs. Three-quarters
Young wrote in the Nation that blames the racist white working class said the economy is not good or
Trump voters didnt vote against for handing key Rust Belt states to poor and nearly 8 in 10 said their per-
their own interests, they voted for Trump, is representative of the field. sonal financial situation was the same
the preservation of white privilege He argues that for the past 40years, or worse than it was four years ago.
their paramount interest. the American economy has raked In other words, many Trump



The Left must

offer all working-
class voters
a compelling
narrative that
blames the rich.

voters are experiencing the eco- for what it is: a refusal to do politics, didnt get much more of the white
nomic anxiety that many mainstream one that stems from a fear that what womens vote than Obama, McIntosh
pundits have brushed off from their they might discover could lead to a responded: Internalized misogyny is
comfortable coastal homes, choosing condemnation of Clintons campaign a real thing. In other words, it was
instead to characterize these voters as strategy, placing the blame for her womens irrevocable sexism, not
hicks, rednecks, deplorables. loss squarely on the bankruptcy of her bad strategy, which cost Clinton the
So while its true that many ideas and the short-sightedness of her election.
Trump voters do express higher rates campaign rather than voters. We should expect nothing less
of racist or sexist views, this shouldnt This is exactly what critical from the liberal establishment, poli-
be the end of the conversation. People Clinton campaign analyses show, ticians and pundits alike. It will always
dont have pre-packaged ideological few as they are in number. Politicos shrug off responsibility for its fail-
beliefs. Their ideas are rooted in an Edward-Isaac Doveres thorough ures. But in this political moment
ambiguous set of experiences open postmortem on how Clinton lost we cant let it. We cannot leave our
to interpretation and change. Michigan details a top-heavy and understanding of how we got here to
We need to talk about why some data-driven campaign that couldnt the so-called experts.
of the white working class broke to see the walls collapsing around The establishment wont pro-
the right this election cycle but not it. The alias for Clinton hq was vide an honest assessment of how
the last, and what it would look like Brooklyn an appropriate mon- it failed or tell us what we must do
to offer an alternative. iker for a campaign so disconnected better. Rather than catering to racists
The punditrys relentless run- from the Rust Belt that it was blind or sexists precisely what Clintons
downs of survey and exit polling to the droves of voters flocking to campaign did the Left must offer
data takes as a given what must be Trump. all working-class voters a compel-
explained. Why did key Rust Belt The refusal of Democratic elites ling narrative that blames the rich
demographics switch their support to consider their culpability in the for the immiseration of the majority,
from the Democrats to Republicans? election outcome showed itself in a one that gives people a reason to
Why did so many voters not vote? particularly stark light in a post-elec- vote rather than stay home. The
Plenty of counties that Obama easily tion interview with Jess McIntosh, Clinton campaign was never going
carried flipped to Trump. When the Clinton campaigns director of to articulate that understanding.
liberal elites cast these areas as irre- communications. When msnbcs Socialists must do this ourselves, and
vocably bigoted, we should see this Chris Hayes pointed out that Clinton we can.

98 24 / WINTER 2017
100 24 / WINTER 2017


for Porn

A new right is alive in America The new online right draws

and its weird. While some alt-right
on transgressive aesthetics
figures like Richard Spencer aspire
pretentiously to a style of European to rebrand conservative
blood-and-soil right-identitarianism, politics. Its a contradiction
the real creative energy behind the
that wont hold.
new right-wing sensibility online
today springs from anonymous chan
culture. Nihilistically reveling in
shock, transgression, and trolling,
youre more likely to find these young
men posting diaper porn, My Little Chan cultures shitposting and its leaderlessness and its nonhierar-
Pony hate, and swastika-laden Pepe crapflooding shares more with the chical form. But as Evgeny Morozov
memes than listening to Wagner or Paris 68 slogan It is forbidden to warned, this network fetish could
reading Alain de Benoist. forbid! than it does with Phyllis easily cause us to overlook the real
Feminist analysis has often Schlafly or William F. Buckley. Its content of any movements ideas,
characterized the movements dark obsessions with cruelty, rape, which in this case remains the lowest
rank misogyny as a throwback to humiliation, suicide, murder, race, form of a vacuous, faux-ironic, snig-
toxic patriarchal traditions. Its sty- and genocide taboos have led chan gering moral imbecilism. Its empty
listic roots, however, could be more culture to an avant-garde antimoral postmodern style has energized and
accurately traced back through avant- sensibility not unlike French dra- fused with the openly antisemitic
garde movements to the Marquis de matist Antonin Artauds theater of and white-supremacist core of the
Sade, whose scandalous libertinism cruelty: There can be no spectacle alt-right who mean what they say lit-
and extreme pornographic writings without an element of cruelty as the erally but snobbishly roll their eyes
led to his imprisonment, than it could basis of every show. at the normies and basic bitches
to Edmund Burke, who wrote amid In the Guy Fawkes mask-wearing who dont get their sophisticated
the tumult of the French Revolution days of the early Occupy movement, non-irony as they Sieg Heil and very
that manners are of more importance pro-hacker progressives did a great clearly lay out their vision for a white
than laws. deal to glamorize 4chan because of ethno-state.



Infighting over the precise defi- doesnt care about politics, instead The Alex Jones channel has posted
nition of alt-right may continue quoting Andrew Breitbarts line that over 29,000 videos on YouTube, each
for years to come, but the broadest politics is downstream from culture. with views in the five and six figures.
interpretation encompasses various, In a relatively short period, Breitbart While liberals enjoyed cultural
often warring, factions from the News has far outgrown other main- hegemony and became compla-
white supremacists who consider stream, establishment conservative cent and intellectually lazy, the
themselves the rightful owners of outlets with ninety-three million young transgressives of the alt-right
the term, to followers of Nick Lands visits in the last month. The hard alt- produced an undeniable level of cre-
Dark Enlightenment, to the alt- right regards Milo as a kike faggot, ative energy. The war for the soul of
light, which includes social media but his and Allum Bokharis widely America Pat Buchanan waged in the
figures like Milo Yiannopolous, cited and highly flattering article 1990s has long since been won by
right-transhumanism, traditionalist about them boosted their profile the cultural left, and the tyrannical
neo-masculinism, and right-wing enormously. overreach of liberal intellectual con-
chan-influenced culture broadly. formity undoubtedly helped create
What these factions have in common the youthful rebellion against it.
is that they constitute a total break But this temporary alliance of very
from the preexisting American con- different factions the most stark
servative movement and, in different being between the traditionalist
ways, they all seek to reassert the
The alt- right and the libertinism of chan cul-
power of some combination of the right mourns ture has produced a schizophrenic
last remaining identity group yet to European incoherence.
be admitted to the identity politics
cultures decline The alt-right mourns European
tent white heterosexual men. cultures decline but has itself created
The real numbers of the hard,
but has itself the most degraded and degenerate
ideologically driven alt-right remain created the forms of culture the West has ever
small. Even with the emboldening most degraded seen in its own fetid forums. It roman-
Trump win, the National Policy
and degenerate ticizes the West but hates its Christian
Institute conference from which slave morality and the best of its
the famous Hail Trump! footage
forms of culture intellectual traditions. The alt-right
came had only around two hundred the West has uses the now completely bankrupt
adherents in attendance. Site traffic ever seen. language of counterculture and trans-
to the more serious alt-right sites like gression when they talk about being
Counter Currents and RadixJournal the new punk, which should serve as
are all under three hundred thousand a reminder of how empty those ideas
visits monthly, with an average visit have now become.
duration of one to two minutes. But how will that framing con-
This small alt-right is influenced Other alt-light figures include tinue to make sense during the
by the French new right, sometimes Mike Cernovich, author of Gorilla Trump era? When liberals are no
called the Gramscians of the Right, Mindset and MAGA Mindset, who longer in power, the philosoph-
and Richard Spencer stresses the has 182,000 Twitter followers, and ical irreconcilability between its
importance of profoundly changing Gavin McInnes, a co-founder of Vice paleo-conservatism, which aims
the culture, not just cutting taxes. Media who has 140,000 followers and for a return to traditional marriage
But people like Milo and others in the two different YouTube shows. Tomi while disapproving of porn and pro-
sjw-mocking alt-light have most Lahrens white power Barbie miscuity, and the amoral libertine
successfully used media and culture video condemning Colin Kaepernick Internet culture from which all the
in this Gramscian sense. for not standing for the national real energy has emerged, will soon
Milo even regularly says he anthem garnered 66million views. begin to show.

102 24 / WINTER 2017


Kiss the Ring

1. The Ricketts Family After months of denouncing

Trump, the rich and powerful
Before realize they could use some
I hear the Rickets [sic] family, who
Donald in their life after all.
own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly
spending $s against me. They better
be careful, they have a lot to hide!

Trump, March 2016.

2. Linda McMahon
The Ricketts, led by patriarch Joe,
founder of online trading hub
td Ameritrade, has long put their Before
money to work in belt-tightening I think [his] rhetoric has really
initiatives like Ending Spending, gone over the top. Some of the
Inc. and massive donations to the comments that have been made,
Republican Party the old version. I think, are quite deplorable.
In the primaries, Joe and his wife
Linda McMahon, March 2016.
Marlene gave $5.5 million to the anti-
Trump pac Our Principles and After
earned themselves an angry Trump
Despite using the D-word on Trump
months before Hillary Clinton
After slammed Trumps supporters as a
nasty little basket, the wwes
Joes son Todd, co-owner of the Linda McMahon kept her options
Chicago Cubs and Gary Johnson open and eventually donated
donor, is now Trumps deputy $6million to a pro-Trump pac.
commerce secretary. Shes now his pick for Small
Business Administration head.



3. Steve Case 6. Robert Mercer

Before Before
Co-founder and ex-ceo of aol, ceo of Renaissance Technologies,
Case positioned himself as a Clinton Robert Mercer started as a hardcore
supporter despite his distaste for Ted Cruz guy, founding and donat-
hyper-partisanship and politics in ing $13.5million to a flush Cruz super
5. Sheldon Adelson
general. I agree with Clinton on pac in the primaries. He flirted
the need to control the deficit, he said, briefly with Marco Rubio as well in a
as well as her goal to keep America Before desperate attempt to keep money
the most innovative and entrepre- The biggest and wrinkliest gorilla flowing to a more traditional Repub-
neurial nation in the world. in the room, casino mogul and pro- lican candidate.
Israel fanatic Sheldon Adelson
After snubbed Trump through the entire After
Hours after Trumps victory, Case primary and continued to hold Quicker than some of his fellow
tweeted an open letter to the president- out even after the convention, report- heavyweights, Mercer kissed
elect inviting him to embrace his edly disturbed by Trumps wild Trumps ring in June and converted
ideas for a new economy based around temper and lack of discipline. to a pro-Trump super pac, giv-
startup culture and Silicon Valley ing another $1.5million. Now, along
values. Im looking forward to After with notorious Trump advisor
working with you on these impor- When the payoff finally came, it came Steve Bannon, hes a main backer of
tant issues. in a big way: Adelson dumped Cambridge Analytica, the data
$25million into Trumps campaign firm behind Trumps operation and
last minute, handily becoming the big- the Brexit Leave campaign.
4. Marc Benioff
gest donor to either party in the
entire 2016 race. Hes now a key liai-
Before 7. Paul Singer
son between Trump and the
Proudly declaring that he donated Netanyahu regime. I felt strongly
to both Barack Obama and Paul Ryan that someone with that level Before
in 2012, the ceo of Salesforce of ceo experience would be well- Hedge fund daddy Paul Singer
nevertheless vocally backed Clinton trained for the job of president, funnelled $2.5million to an
last year. Benioff cited her com- he said. It turns out that is exactly anti-Trump pac and $5million to a
mitment to education. Im deeply what we are getting in Trump. pro-Rubio super pac, and made
worried about the kids, he told headlines for declaring Trump would
cnn. cause a depression. The most
impactful of the economic policies
After that I recall him coming out for
As soon as Trump won, Benioff are these anti-trade policies, Singer
tweeted his congratulations, said he whined.
looked forward to slashing the
national debt, and speculated that After
Trumps racism and xenophobia Now that Trump is in charge, Singer
were probably exaggerated anyway. is making nice, joining him at a
fundraising breakfast and reportedly
preparing a fat donation to the
inauguration committee.

104 24 / WINTER 2017

Kiss the Ring

8. The National Review If Trump were to become the 9. Richard Uihlein

president, the Republican nominee,
or even a failed candidate with
Before Before
strong conservative support, what
Always the mouthpiece of the bus- would that say about conserva- The founder of industrial distributor
iness wing of the Republican tives? The movement that ground Uline, Uihlein gave $1million to
Party, National Review devoted an down the Soviet Union and took the anti-Trump pac Our Principles,
entire January 2016 issue to the shine, at least temporarily, off joining Paul Singer and the Ricketts.
making the case against trump, socialism would have fallen in
featuring right-wing luminaries After
behind a huckster.
from Glenn Beck to Jonah Goldberg And, like those fat cats before him,
to John Podhoretz. Some conser- After Uihlein soon flipped and gave
vatives have made it their business By the end of summer the magazine $5,400 to the Trump campaign and
to make excuses for Trump and had begun looking on the bright $325,000 to Trump Victory, the
duly get pats on the head from him, side, running pieces like, Trump joint fundraising committee with
the editors wrote. Count us out. Can Fix It. (Written by onetime the rnc. His wife Liz ended up
media titan and convicted fraudster on Trumps economic advisory
Conrad Black, no less.) committee.


The Glory
Are Over

Trumps victory
signals a
deep crisis of



bs NewsHour is generally pretty staid the inter-state alliances buttressing Americas decades-old
stuff like Ambien but less habit- geopolitical vision and goals.
forming. Election night, however, was
something else. As the evening wore
The End of the End of History
on, and the pundits succumbed to quiet
bafflement, or barely concealed panic, the conversation The decline of neoliberalism is emphatically not the decline
became punctuated by awkward pauses and murmurs. of capitalism, so what does it mean to say neoliberalism is
Searching for a toehold, co-host Judy Woodruff asked past its sell-by date? Neoliberalism is not, after all, just a
Amy Walters whether Trumps victory wasnt similar to set of policies that can be discontinued and replaced with
Brexit both because despite close last-minute polls, Brit- something else neoliberal capitalism has birthed a com-
ains vote to leave the European Union was a shock, and plex global economy that isnt going to change overnight.
because Trump himself had promised more Brexit for the Moreover, neoliberalism is also an encompassing set of
United States. orienting ideas that pervades all spheres of life; its core
The Brexit analogy was Woodruff trying to make sense ethos of faith in private enterprise, ever-expanding com-
of an event we were assured wouldnt happen, akin for modification, and bootstrap individualism remains robust.
many liberals to the rogue gas planet colliding with Earth Yet Trump, at least rhetorically, has thumbed his nose
in Lars von Triers Melancholia. She wasnt alone. Many at the two keystones of American hegemony: existing
saw Brexit as a bellwether of the growing global discontent free trade agreements and the institutions and alliances
with elites, globalism, and the political status quo a that underpin US-led capitalism. This has created a deep
feeling confirmed by Trumps victory. crisis of legitimacy for the dominant ideas guiding global
In a NewsHour conversation over the summer, David capitalism.
Brooks and Mark Shields discussed this very topic. Brooks Now whether Trump actually takes an ax to these
observed that in country after country, were seeing a principles remains to be seen. His cabinet looks pretty
conflict between what you might call urban cosmopoli- swampy at the moment: the Heritage Foundation is
tans and less well-educated ethnic nationalism, and ethnic quarterbacking his transition team, and his cabinet picks,
nationalism is on the rise. for the most part, would sit comfortably in any Republican
Shields agreed. I think the forces and the advocates administration.
of globalization have been primarily obsessed with the Moreover, Trumps roadmap like his plan to
well-being of the investor class and the stockholders and generate public-private partnerships to carry out a tril-
the shareholders, and been indifferent, oftentimes callous, lion-dollar infrastructure overhaul, or rewrite nafta
to the dislocation and the suffering that people in coun- by tacking a 35percent tariff onto goods exported to
tries affected by this trade, the expanded trade, the larger the United States by American companies operating in
economy, who have been victimized by it. According to Mexico lacks a certain plausibility given the makeup
Shields, this elitist condescension facilitated the rise of Congress and the deep, functional integration of global
of right-wing figures like Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, and regional value chains.
and Trump. Nevertheless, this competing vision has the Third
Robert Reich summed up the sentiment in a nutshell Way wonks committed to the thirty-year bipartisan con-
two days after the election: Americans have rebelled by sensus worried.
supporting someone who wants to fortify America against Francis Fukuyama, in a post-election op-ed, put it
foreigners as well as foreign-made goods. bluntly: Donald Trumps stunning electoral defeat of
Yet Brexit and Trumps election signify something Hillary Clinton marks a watershed not just for Amer-
more than popular anger, xenophobia, and cultural anxiety. ican politics, but for the entire world order. Fukuyama
They mark the end of neoliberalisms heyday and the emer- famously dubbed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse
gence of a competing capitalist vision. This vision, at least of the Soviet Union the end of history a cute turn of
rhetorically, rejects two of the founding tenants under- phrase indicating the triumph of US-style global capitalism.
girding contemporary global capitalism: the global trade Today, that era is over. According to Fukuyama, we appear
architecture operating through institutions like nafta and to be entering a new age of populist nationalism.

108 24 / WINTER 2017

Comparing Trumps victory to the toppling of the
Berlin Wall was a common trope in the days after the elec-
tion. Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist at
the Financial Times, thinks

it is symbolic and poignant that the election of Donald

Trump was confirmed on the morning of November
9, 27 years to the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
That was a moment of triumph for US leadership
Brexit and
Trump mark
and ushered in a period of optimism and expansion for
liberal and democratic ideas around the world. That
era has been definitively ended by Mr. Trumps victory.

Political columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote something

similar in the Washington Post:
the end of
Twenty-five years ago December 1991 commu-
nism died, the Cold War ended... That dawn marked
the ultimate triumph of the liberal democratic idea.
It promised an era of Western dominance led by a
heyday and the
preeminent America, the worlds last remaining super-
power That era is over.

of a competing
For these opinion makers, the death of the post-Communist
liberal world is a terrible thing. For them it represents
something great that has been thrown away in a fit of
The funeral dirge for the liberal world order goes some-
thing like this: After World War ii, some forward-thinking
Americans began setting up a system of rules and institu-
tions that allowed global trade, investment, and democracy
to flourish. This system evolved and improved over the
decades, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
giving us container ships full of Pong chairs and Play-
Stations, all while boosting wealth and democracy for the
global poor.
According to liberals, the linchpin of this awesome-
ness was the United States unselfishly superintending the
global economy and providing a model of democracy that
world masses aspired to and authoritarian governments
feared. In his op-ed Richman shares a misty-eyed memory
of John F. Kennedy back in 1961 saying, Let every nation
know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay
any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support
any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the
success of liberty.
Alas, no longer. Financial Times editor Lionel Barber
declares that in 2016, we witnessed the birth of the Fourth
Way a new brand of politics that is nativist, protectionist
and bathed in a cultural nostalgia.
Instead of liberty first, liberals lament that now
its America first, that instead of idealism we have the
pinched nationalism of Trump, enabled by a gener-
ation fattened by fast food and infantilised by reality


110 24 / WINTER 2017

Behind Hillary
But just as Trump has spun a fantasy of renewed great-
ness, in mourning the status quo of the past three decades
liberals are engaging in some wishful thinking of their own.
The bipartisan elements of hegemony globalization
and international alliances that have underpinned the
American Century have themselves generated the deep
contradictions that explain Trumps victory.

Globalization and Its Discontents is fine, chill

Consider the global trade architecture. The elite con-
sensus of the past thirty years was that lowered barriers
to trade, production, and capital were essential to liberty
and prosperity. Today, globalization is increasingly being
denounced by respectable folks, and not just the Pope.
slogan and
Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, recently
insisted that what were facing right now in terms of
the rise of populism and divisive and fearful narratives
around the world its based around the fact that global-
ization doesnt seem to be working for the middle class,
calm were
for ordinary people.
Granted, many on the global left criticized globaliza-
tion. But the bloated center was gung-ho and criticism
was slow to catch on. By the nineties, neoliberal policies
and ideas had become common sense. For people like Tom
moves to
Friedman, proof positive of globalizations benefits was
the rebirth of the US economy beginning in the 1980s.
Following a decade when stagflation and political unrest
were wreaking havoc, neoliberal ideas brought about a
belle epoch, at least for the privileged.
fortify the
The US government resolved its crisis on the backs of
working people: it helped free up corporations to restruc-
ture operations, fire workers, and demand union givebacks;
it deregulated finance, exploding its avenues for profit-
ability; and it greased the wheels through militarism and
debt spending.
Three decades of de- and re-regulation signposted
by Reagan-Thatcher, the wto, the single European market
and currency, the integration of China closed the book
on Keynesianism and the core ideas of Bretton Woods and
essentially removed restrictions on the flow of capital,
goods, and services. For global elites these were heady days.
These resolutions were successful for a time profit
rates soared, unemployment was kept in check, and
America seemed back on top. And others seemed to ben-
efit too. Sure, not those failed states in Africa or Latin
American workers and farmers, but the global bourgeoisie,

112 24 / WINTER 2017

transnational corporations, and the Asian tigers did amaz- Protecting the system meant keeping China out of the
ingly in the eighties and nineties, and China and India deal, thereby limiting its disruptive competitive potential.
soared in the 2000s. But a growing chorus of voices didnt want to protect the
But if the bipartisan elite saw neoliberal globalization system any longer. In the end, Trump didnt destroy the
as a way of ordering the global economy that brought huge tpp; his opposition to the agreement reflected an already
rewards, it also brought major crises. overwhelming sentiment rooted in popular anger over the
The global financial and trade architecture that costs and benefits of globalization.
emerged in the eighties and nineties ensured that you can Now that the pact looks dead in the water, China is
get your new iPhone in time for Christmas, but it was also a pushing forward its own regional deal the Regional Com-
wrecking ball that devastated economies and working-class prehensive Economic Partnership and countries like Japan
communities. Currency mayhem and spiraling debt, dein- and Russia are interested. This, to put it mildly, is a horrifying
dustrialization, environmental destruction, exploitation, prospect for champions of the liberal world order.
and dispossession became the norm in the liberal world
order now mourned.
The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove
These contradictions manifested themselves in dozens
of financial crises in the 1990s and 2000s in countries The question of China brings up the other half of the US
like Argentina, Mexico, Russia, and South Korea. 2008 hegemony sandwich that elites recall so fondly: the alli-
brought a crisis that dwarfed previous crises in its scale ances that underpin the global trade and financial system.
and scope as it rippled across the globe, dragging Europe They represent the iron fist in the velvet glove the insti-
into its undertow in 2010, and triggering a worldwide tutions and arrangements that align states with Americas
spike in food prices. vision and goals, whether willingly or by force.
All the while the United States, the European Union, Like all hegemonic projects, Americas has always
and the institutions they created kept trucking along, relied on both coercion and consent. The US government
putting out fires, insisting that the kinks had been worked skillfully blended these elements in the decades following
out. The facts speak for themselves. World War ii with tactics that spanned the spectrum from
In the United States workforce participation is down, full-scale war and slaughter, secret invasions, torture, and
and globalism has become enemy number one. The covert ops, to sanctions, diplomacy, and mutual agreements
past few decades have seen real wages stall and then drop like the wto, nafta, and nato. Coercion and consent
for most workers. Families have had to work harder and were the yin and yang of US power a model of power
longer to stay in place, and many cant even manage that. that for the past three decades hid its nasty bits behind
Good jobs those with humane hours, decent pay, and the apparent efficiency and neutrality of neoliberalism
benefits are scarce, and anxiety about the economy is and liberal democracy.
persistent. The rich are riding high bolstered by tax Trump says this model of power isnt making America
cuts, corporate subsidies, bank bailouts while poor and great anymore. Angered by the snubs and slights of our
working people stand on the sidelines. As Reich says: ungrateful global inferiors, he is promising to go lone wolf.
Hes talking to Taiwan on the phone instead of Theresa
Recent economic indicators may be up, but those indi-
May, hiring pals of Putin, threatening to defund nato,
cators dont reflect the insecurity most Americans
and stepping up denunciations of China.
continue to feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and
This rhetorical realignment, much more than Trumps
unfairness they experience.
racist slurs and misogynist quips, gives status-quo scholars
Advocates of the status quo are loath to acknowledge the goosebumps. With Trump in charge, who will challenge
these plain truths. But their actions demonstrate a defi- Chinas influence in Asia? Who will keep Russias aggres-
nite awareness of cracks in the system. Behind Hillary sion in check? Who will preserve the liberal world order?
Clintons Everything is fine, chill campaign slogan and Instead of solemnly pledging allegiance to the Third Way,
Obamas calm were aggressive, ongoing moves to fortify Trump is pushing an inward political-economic vision.
the neoliberal model. Granted, Trump is a masterful opportunist and a
Consider the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal habitual liar, so it is impossible to get a bead on what hell
which Barber neatly characterizes as a geopolitical actually do in office. As Leo Panitch argues, he may settle on
building block as well as a trade pact. tpp advocates saw a compromise, facilitating a continuation of American-led
the agreement as a way to protect the system theyve built global capitalism on xenophobic nationalist grounds
since the 1980s a global trade system for capital, but also a right-wing revival that blends most of the features of
heavily weighted in favor of protecting wealthy states and neoliberal globalization with brown infrastructure cap-
transnational corporations. italism at home.



Nonetheless, Trumps victory signals a deep crisis of But the wailing neoliberals are equally deluded if they
legitimacy for the reigning ideology, in large part because think its possible to turn back time. Trump did not create
hes not alone. Hes the lead blowhard in a growing gallery the crisis of neoliberalism. He simply tugged on the thread
of right-wingers whistling the same nativist tune. As Barber of a model of power that has been rapidly unraveling for
says, Trump gives succor to the demagogues-in-waiting a decade or more.
like Le Pen. Capitalism is a masterful crisis generator of course;
Increasingly, states are rejecting the Third Way model contradictions are built into the dna of our for-profit
of open borders and inclusion. This is a significant shift. In system, and crises have helped the system survive and
the decades after World War ii, Americas signature blend adapt for centuries. But at the same time, the arrange-
of coercion and consent was viewed as a viable, valuable ments ordering the global geopolitical system seem to be
model countries around the world signed on to the vision generating more crises than they are resolving these days.
because it provided growth and prosperity and was seen as Put differently, while the serious problems we are
legitimate in the eyes of their populaces. Those countries facing like global warming and labor exclusion are
that didnt benefit or protested the rules of the game the result of longue dure processes like industrialization,
poor countries, colonies, those in the Soviet bloc were imperialism, and technological advance, they are now
either repressed or excluded. After a rocky patch in the reaching acute proportions, exacerbated by financialization
seventies, new trade agreements rejuvenated geopolitical and neoliberal globalization. And as Giovanni Arrighi and
alliances, while the solidification of the European Union Beverly Silver have argued, the US hegemonic model is
and the dynamism of India and China revived the hege- increasingly unable to deal with these problems.
mony of the United States. The rise of demagogues like Trump show the withering
But the contradictions of this revival generated a away of consent, leaving only coercion. Heedless of its
crisis of legitimacy that cant be papered over with more failures after sowing nothing but chaos and suffering
bank bailouts and quantitative easing. Today the global in Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other war zones
geopolitical landscape is increasingly fraught. Indeed, the US state is rapidly extending its tentacles into Africa
Barber thinks that a Le Pen victory in 2017 would surely and ramping up its drone program. At home, Obama has
spell the end of the European Union. The political deported nearly two million people, the nsa spies on our
and social costs of neoliberal globalization and finan- daydreams, and the police continue to kill with abandon.
cialization have proven impossible to repress in the Trump will not change this. Hell make it worse. Hes
long run. a xenophobic, misogynist crook and his presence in the
White House will empower the most reprehensible ele-
ments in US society. But contrary to the misconceptions
Breaking the Impasse
of Third Wayers, Clinton would have made things worse
This legitimacy crisis is what has birthed Trump. And the too. The global order is in crisis. Nostalgia for the mythical
muddled nature of his vision speaks to the impasse that days when America would bear any burden for the success
countries find themselves in. The reigning centrist elites of liberty is a waste of time.
and their party alliances are seen as hopelessly bankrupt, We need something different something more
and the Left has no power to enact its demands. This leaves than a defensive progressivism. We need to challenge
the Right to speak to working peoples fears and anger, the common sense of our for-profit system by offering
but that right is itself divided between capitalist elites and an alternative vision of change rooted in worker power,
social conservatives. Trump simply stepped into a vacancy, social rights, and democratic control over the institutions
an opportunist capitalist speaking the confused language central to our lives.
of an angry right-populist vision. And more than ever we need this movement in the
This is why the Brexit analogy resonated with United States. Trumpism is not going away, nor will the US
observers. It provided the connective tissue to talk about government quietly relinquish the keys to some imagined
a deep, multi-dimensional crisis. Unfortunately Brexit also global successor. The politics that prevail in America will
showed the winning strategy so far for dealing with this determine whether the transition from neoliberal capitalism
crisis, and that strategy laced with hate and fear sucks. to something else is a step forward or a descent into hell.

114 24 / WINTER 2017




Results &
Q4 2016

Back in November, the standoff With Trump in office, we need

in North Dakota between water
resistance, but also a credible
protectors and Energy Transfer Part-
ners (etp), the company behind the alternative.
Dakota Access Pipeline, set a tense
backdrop to the national election.
Law enforcement was growing more
aggressive towards the protesters,
and it looked like things might reach
a bloody conclusion until the Army
Corps of Engineers abruptly denied
etp the permits needed to drill below
the Missouri River.
Many were overjoyed at the
announcement. But with Donald
Trump headed for the White House,
activists dug in for the winter. Signs
on camp lavatories listed the symp-
toms of hypothermia the day of the
Army Corps announcement, water
protectors faced 37mph winds and
snow heavy enough to collapse all but
the soundest structures. Still, they
persisted. We should all stay until
its over, said Standing Still of the
Ojibwe tribe. It starts here and it
should stop here. If it goes past this
river, its going to affect 18million
people down the Missouri river.



If socialists are
The harrowing conditions at
too timid to the dearth of experienced, authentic
Standing Rock can be seen as a met- contest elections left candidates often encourages
aphor for the Lefts arduous task over and stand in movements to take the shortcut
the next four years. Fortunately, social
front of voters, and endorse politicians who have no
movements seem to be responding organic connection to the Left and
with similar determination. The week
they will never do nothing to build its independent
after the election, tens of thousands build a mass power.
took to the streets, many of them movement. But a set of dangerous fanatics
middle- and high-schoolers. The holds the levers of state power, and
largest student walkout occurred in the official opposition in the Demo-
Seattle, where five thousand students cratic Party is incapable of seriously
from twenty middle and high schools challenging them. We need a left
took the streets; they were joined by campaign sought to make the election alternative even if it falters at times
students in Portland, San Francisco, a referendum on sexism. Instead she in the short term. As the Sanders cam-
Maryland, and Los Angeles (where cemented modern feminisms image paign showed, even lost elections are
they chanted Undocumented and as a self-help philosophy for female opportunities to promote a vision and
unafraid and No papers, no fear). corporate climbers. Feminists must build a living, breathing base.
In Boston, students briefly occupied rebuild a fighting movement that can Many working class and poor
City Hall in an attempt to deliver their reach working-class women and lgbt people, who work too much and are
demands, which included making people where they are most threat- excluded from higher education,
Massachusetts a sanctuary state. ened the red states and rural areas come to politics through unions or
The walkouts showed that young that Trump dominated. Luckily, there through elections. If socialists are too
people are acutely aware of the threat are contemporary models to emulate: timid to contest elections and stand in
Trumps education agenda led by Polands Black Monday strike, front of voters, they will never build
wealthy homeschooler Betsy DeVos which mobilized thousands against a mass movement.
and his immigration agenda pose a draconian anti-abortion bill, and By all accounts, social move-
to their future. Their willingness the #NiUnaMenos protests against ments have ballooned in size since
to sacrifice to build an organized an epidemic of femicides in South the national election. But the danger
resistance risking suspension or America. is that they will amount to little more
expulsion stands as a model to us Yet the coming assaults on than an incoherent network, unified
all. women, lgbt people, labor, and only by vague opposition to the per-
Still, despite these impressive people of color cant be stemmed on sonality of Trump and the specter of
mobilizations, social movements the streets alone. The contradictory the deplorables that back him.
have so far failed to cohere a strategy success of Sanders-style ballot mea- A rabble of antis with no
to respond to an empowered right. sures in November demonstrated broader vision or plan to address the
Republicans January offensive that there is a broad base for potential deep suffering that fueled Trumps
against Planned Parenthood, for left-wing candidates to draw on and a rise will only play into the presi-
example, elicited the usual social hunger for more ambitious, redistri- dent-elects playbook. The Left must
media rage and obtuse paeans to butionist policies. see the abject failure of the Clinton
the organizations cancer-screening Electoral politics do present campaign for what it is: an opportu-
services, but little else. Abortion serious dangers for the Left. For nity to assert itself as a freestanding
is health care is a far cry from the one, the electoral cycle imposes its alternative both to a bankrupt center
assertive declarations of the feminists own timeline on movements, often and a nihilistic right. That requires
who first won us abortion rights in causing activists to sacrifice long-term not trailing the center or piously
the first place. visions for the short-time imperatives obsessing over alt-right transgres-
But its not just about picking of petition deadlines, fundraising, and sions, but standing on the strength of
a new slogan. Hillary Clintons legislative politicking. For another, its own ideas.

118 24 / WINTER 2017


No Money,
Mo Problems

We didnt predict Trump,

but were bound
to get things right soon.

Since my last note things have not gone as expected. Hell, response to Trumps xenophobic populism. Still,
a couple weeks before the election we published an article he seemed just too buffoonish and too unpopular to win.
called In the Bag.
We were wrong and things are moving fast in some-
Ive been poking fun at Micah Uetricht for that piece ever times surprising directions. In the weeks after
since, but I certainly agreed at the time. The next Trumps election, Jacobin gained almost ten thousand
decade seemed clear: Hillary Clintons centrism may not new subscribers. Just days before this issue went
have been enough to defeat Trumpism in the long to press, millions marched against Trump in the largest
haul, but it should have at least beat Trump in November. demonstration in American history.
In the meantime, the Left could challenge her and
It was inspiring. Yet what this broad movement is for
offer new alternatives to liberalism. We thought we had
is less clear than what it is against. Thats why,
plenty of time to build on the momentum of the
now more than ever, we need socialist perspectives and
Sanders campaign and the hollowness of Clintons.
Instead, we got the Donald. In a way, we shouldnt be sur-
Jacobin doesnt have all the answers by a long shot. But
prised. Jacobin spent months talking about the
we can play an important role reaching people
Democrats bankrupt policies, how millions felt left behind,
with clear, compelling arguments that see the existing
and why the Clinton establishments mix of socially
left as the core of a majority in the making, not a
inclusive rhetoric and neoliberal economics was a weak
subculture to be preserved.



In 2017, under a Trump presidency and an uncertain What this broad movement
political climate, we have big plans to that end:
is for is less clear than
A constantly improving quarterly print magazine. what it is against. Thats why,
now more than ever, we
A new website with better and more diverse online need socialist perspectives and
More reading groups and events around the world.

A Jacobin-sponsored relaunch of Africa Is a Country,

an online magazine focusing on politics and culture
in sub-Saharan Africa. Were excited about what the future holds, but none of
this will be possible without your help. Jacobin is
The release of Catalyst: A Journal of Theory and not a publishing project. Were a political one, with a
Strategy, a companion project edited by Robert mission that has never been clearer.
Brenner and Vivek Chibber.
Few magazines have ever done more with less. But while
we pride ourselves on our frugality, the truth is that
A handsomely produced podcast series and more
we need help from you, our readers, to reach our goals.
video content.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today
New books, including a title on the rise and fall to Jacobin Foundation, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn,
of the Brazilian Workers Party and another on the NY 11217 or online at
relationship between race and class.

120 24 / WINTER 2017

Dont study
action alone.

Join an existing Jacobin reading group

or let us help you get one started.
What Im doing is about
as close as youre going to get
to the quality of Versailles.

Donald Trump