Trump as Spasm of Self-Harm
9th November 2016
Remember on morning after the Brexit vote? Remember the morning after the Scottish referendum? This is so much worse, isn’t it? This feels so much more irredeemable, like being handed a prison sentence from which there is no appeal for a crime you never even heard of, far less committed. I suppose it’s partly the helplessness of it being someone else’s election, plus the humiliation of being so completely wrong about the outcome. Above all, it is the feeling that the anglo-saxon world , just as it led the way into globalization in the 1980s, is now leading the way into an era of, well, what? Self harm? Toxic delusion? Actual honest to God fascism?
We don’t know. We have no way of knowing. Just as with Brexit, the election of Donald Trump is not so much a political decision as a spasm, an ill-fated lashing out, a fore-doomed vote for a Time Machine back to the fifties, despite the laws of physics, let alone the softer sciences of economics and history. Like the Glasgow taxi driver, a man in his sixties, who told me he had voted Leave in June because he wanted to see “full employment come back to the Clyde”, you’re left not knowing what to say, it would almost be an act of cruelty to tell the poor bastard what you’re thinking, tell him what he’s done to the grandchildren he wanted to help find decent jobs for life – the way it used to be.
Trump’s voters too are looking at the world through Orange-tinted glasses, ludicrous and tragic all at once…voting for change, for agency, for some sense of purpose in a world whose elite are as detached from everyday reality for most of the people who live in America, in Britain…in the world…as were the high officials of the medieval church….talking to each other in Latin about the trans-national global world which only they were qualified to understand.
The very language the elite speak, let alone the “left” (if such a term is still meaningful) is as dead as a door nail
There is little point yet in speculating about what trump is actually going to do with this mandate. I’m sure he has no idea. He wasn’t elected because of policies. He hasn’t seriously prepared for this any more than Boris Johnson seriously prepared for Brexit. Besides, he’s demonstrably psychotic…he has been laying bare his paranoid, self hating Stalin-esque pathology for us every day for 18 months. All we can predict, very comfortably, having had a head start after the Brexit vote, is that anyone who attempts to apply logic or law or any other suspect form of cleverness to public policy in America for the next four years..is going to be loudly denounced as an enemy of the people.
But again, as with Brexit, thanks to the founding fathers this time, we get a period of phony war, of strictly time-limited transition on which to try to position ourselves and take a few wild guesses as to what happens after inauguration, or Article 50…whichever comes first.
Because, make no mistake, the Brexiteers have just acquired a very powerful ally. Nigel Farage is now incomparably the best connected, most influential politician in Britain. Just as Vladimir Putin is incomparably the best placed player of what we used to call “The Great Game”.
“make no mistake, the Brexiteers have just acquired a very powerful ally. Nigel Farage is now incomparably the best connected, most influential politician in Britain…”
And if that doesn’t give you a clue as to what happens next, consider this, if we can’t predict what Trump will do, we can make a much more educated guess as to what the Republicans in congress and Theresa May will do. (for starters) The Republicans will; rally round a President who is not really one of them, but with whom they share a few key, very dangerous delusions, one of which is climate change, and others of which are unfree trade and unfree women. While our woman in number 10 will get back on a plane when she’s back from India and go and do some very serious bum sucking. An isolationist America which hates the very notion of Europe as a rival world and economic power is about to become the best friend Brexit Britain could hope for.
As for us? On the left? We are all Jeremy Corbyn now. Self regarding, irrelevant and ludicrous. We totally missed this boat. The collapse of globalisation turns out to be a gift for the populist, isolationist right, from the Taliban to Trump and not to smart ass little weasels like us who share a language of internationalist privilege with the Clintons of this world who turned out to be our best defense. Any notion on the left of coming out of this stronger, or even with a game plan, seems like masturbatory hubris this morning.
The world is in for four years of darkness, so are we. And Scottish Independence? In a word as dangerous as this one has just become? On a pre-Brexit timetable? Don’t be fucking ridiculous. Indy ref 2 has now definitively receded back beyond the election in 2020, when, just maybe, Michele Obama will be back to deliver us.
And by then, I suspect, we’ll already be well advanced on Plan B, whatever that turns out to be. I suspect, I fear it’s going to be a long, dark haul through a world of shit.
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