2007 - 2022

The Banality of Trumpism

1371225004flag_faile.jpg=s750x1300Human decency dies not with a bang, but with a whimper. That, in essence, is the central tenet of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem.

The Nazi war criminal’s wickedness – Eichmann was essentially the Holocaust’s bagman – was remarkable not because it was exceptional, but the very opposite. Mass murder delivered by a dull factotum.

Evil is easy to understand. Unlike good, it can be neither radical nor emancipatory. Evil can only be banal, and, at its worst, extreme.

To stand on 6th avenue and 54th street in Manhattan early on Wednesday morning was to watch evil. surrounded by the glittering, shining sepulchres of modern capitalism, dozens of Donald Trump supporters waved flags and chanted. Rival protestors were viciously shouted down.

Faces contorted in anger, pumped up on empty rhetoric, the mob screamed ‘USA USA’. Spittle-flecked rage was aimed at any manifestation of the ‘other’: LGBT people, minorities, immigration, Clinton voters.

‘Trump will make America great again,’ a middle-aged woman in a red hat bearing Trump’s trademark logo told me. When I asked how, she kept repeating one thing: ‘Trump loves America’.

This is what fascism sounds like: reverence for a single man – for they are always men – whose love of his country (or, more accurately, his clan) will crush all. Starting with those who dare to voice opposition.

But there is almost no talk of fascism – even by another name – on the endlessly repeating US news channels. having spectacularly failed to read the mood of the country, journalists are now busy attempting the impossible: predicting what the first bona fide authoritarian US president will do next. The group think, it seems, allows little room to call out the viciousness taking root in America.

Just as evil is banal, so are the roots of Trump’s election victory: fear, lies and disinformation.

The perma-tanned reality TV star’s takeover of the decaying husk of the GOP was achieved with a relatively small number of fervent supporters. Vote suppression was always Trump’s core strategy.

As I wrote in these pages, Trump successfully used propaganda and falsehoods to muddy the waters around his democratic opponent. And it worked.

The overarching theme of Election Day was that traditional republican voters rallied around their man while democrats stayed at home.

Traveling across the Mid West last week I was struck by the ambivalence of many towards Trump. But what was even more striking was their contempt for Hillary Clinton.

‘Well of course Hillary is corrupt…’ even her voters would say. Why? Emails. Benghazi. The Clinton foundation. Few people possessed facts but there was an endless supply of conjecture and supposition. Those, as huckster lawyer Lionel Hutz in the Simpsons says, are types of evidence.

Flabby and complacent, liberal America has sleep walked into fascism.

I watched the first few hours of the election coverage Tuesday night in a busy New York bar. Barely half a dozen people were following the results. Even once it became clear that Trump was winning most seemed unperturbed. “It won’t make much difference to my life,” said a white, 20-something tech worker.

You don’t see evil until it is upon you.

This might all sound melodramatic. It’s not. The least suitable candidate in presidential history has control over all arms of American government. Trump can now do whatever he wants – and nobody knows what that is, perhaps even the new president himself. The fabled ‘Checks and balances’ – more real than imaginary since George W Bush’s post 9/11 power grab – will do little to impede Trump.

And when he fails to “make America great again’ – which he inevitably will – the great leader and his street support will need scapegoats. And that’s when we will really see evil, red in tooth, claw and Donald Trump baseball cap.

Comments (87)

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  1. Crubag says:

    So where does that leave the politicans putting aside their previous challenges, now welcoming Trump, and clamouring to meet him?

    Are they more like Sweden or Finland in this scenario?

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      In a dark place.

    2. John Robertson says:

      Pretty much in the same duplicitous state they were always in?

      1. Crubag says:

        If only for the sake of their self-respect, you’d think they would be more measured in their public statements before they know the outcome.

        The alternative would be to make good on their words, but as you say – because politicians.

  2. Redgauntlet says:

    Peter, have you seen John Pilger’s interview with Julian Assange, the UK’s most famous political prisoner? There is no question of Clinton’s corruption.


    Wikileaks – not Russia – have released 30,000 of Clinton’s emails, and what they show is endemic, entrenched corruption not just from Clinton, but in the American political system at large.

    Citybank nominated Obama’s cabinet!!!

    Clinton has been sponsoring fascism all over the Middle East for decades, no least in Libya, where 40,000 people died in her very own war there, which her team designed and promoted and financed as detailed in “The Libya Tick-Tock”. Watch the video.

    So we have fascism in America now as well. Okay, maybe, for once, the fatuous New York / London “liberal” chaterrati will actually stop admiring themselves in the mirror, and congratulating themselves over their lattes, and start promoting the true liberal, plural and democratic values which they SAY they stand for, but which they have conspicuously failed to apply to Clinton, to Obama, to Blair and Brown.

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      Make it easy for us. No one is going to trawl through 30,000 emails. Outline a couple of examples of her direct involvement.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Watch the video Brian, it is one of the most amazing videos you will ever watch. Cut and paste this link on to your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sbT3_9dJY4&feature=share

        But if you want a taster, how about this: the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar are, according to an email by Hilary Clinton, directly funding ISIS/ISL. Not rogue elements, the actual governments themselves. The same governments also funded the Clinton Foundation.

        So there is a direct link between the wave of ISIS terrorism and the Clinton Foundation, they are funded by the same people, who also fund huge chunks of the West’s media outlets.

        Which is why most media outlets have regurgitated the lie that Russia has been behind the Clinton email leaks and nobody is talking about Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

        Obviously Trump is an authoritarian and a boor and a soft Fascist. But remember this: there were plenty of barbarians who ended up being crowned Emperor in Rome.

        The point is that Empire itself lasted more than 1000 years….

        1. John Robertson says:

          Ooooh watch out! It’s Bryan not Brian!

        2. Bryan Weir says:

          Russia Today has its uses but we must always watch it with a large pack of Saxa beside us. I watched some of this – skimmed it – but Assange’s delivery sends me to sleep I am afraid. With such sensational allegations based on what we are told is the truth, one would have thought that it would have been quite simple to provide the evidence in a synopsis for dullards like me and perhaps Trump.

          I am not saying that it did not happen and if it did then it does not surprise me. I would suggest that if this volume of emails was hacked from any major political figure then enough evidence to crucify them would be found. This would maybe not apply to Donald Trump who seems to thrive on sleazy allegations about his past – well perhaps “allegations” is the wrong word since there is already so much proof of his wrong doings.

          I have no time for Hillary Clinton or her dynasty. In fact I have no time for the US political system in its entirety. I am however pretty confident that Trump will prove to be as ruthless and corrupt as she or any of his predecessors were. From what I saw of the campaign the absence of any direct reference to the specific, offending emails by Trump was significant.

          His victory is no cause for celebration.

      2. John Robertson says:

        In HC:14399.123 she wrote:

        ‘Tell our man in Benghazi to stick a red hot poker up Gaddafi’s ass before killing him but to make sure my satellite link is up so I can watch it.’

        1. John Robertson says:

          Nobody ‘likes’ this? I suppose it is a bit off.

    2. Truculent Sheep (@TruculentSheep) says:

      Pilger is a useful idiot and Assange is Putin’s Poodle.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        If he’s Putin’s poodle why has he published 800,000 classified documents on Russia, most of which are critical of Russia!

    3. Alan says:

      Clinton has her nose in the trough and more which is part of her problem but let’s not pretend Julian Assange is some defender of freedom and liberal values. He’s a self-righteous vigilante who has no concern for who gets hurt in the pursuit of his moral crusades.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Alan says: “let’s not pretend Julian Assange is some defender of freedom and liberal values. He’s a self-righteous vigilante who has no concern for who gets hurt in the pursuit of his moral crusades.”

        So Alan chooses, on a page about Trump and Clinton, to attempt to discredit the work of Julian Assange, and thereby undermine the validity of the information he has revealed in some oblique way.

        Julian Assange has done more for the sake of freedom and liberal values than almost anybody else I can think of. He has spent the last four years of his life living in two rooms, effectively a prisoner of the British State, separated from his wife and his children. He is more than a thorn in the side of the Establishment, they don’t know how to handle him, and so they smear him and discredit him, and you’re doing exactly the same with your post, Alan…

        The fabricated allegation that he raped a woman having fallen to pieces – the woman herself has since admitted that the police incited her to lay false charges against Assange – you come out with the usual Guardianesque criticisms of Assange, ie, “that he has no concern for who gets hurts etc”.

        What does that actually mean, Alan? We don’t have all of the information, we don’t know how much Wikileaks filters, and we are bombarded by misinformation by the BBC the Guardian and the mainstream media at large whenever Julian Assange’s name comes up.

        We do know that Assange has pulled the curtain back on the workings of power in high places and completely exposed the corruption of high office. We do know that he has made some very, very powerful enemies, and that lots of important people would like to see him silenced or dead.

        As for Assange being a “vigilante”…well this is just a bizarre claim. What you mean is that he an ethical and active citizens who has serious misgivings about the concentration of information and power in the hands of the few in the age of “democracy”.

        Presumably he has a set of political and ethical beliefs which motivate him to devote his life to these causes. “Self-righteous”? I have never heard Assange sounding “self-righteous”. Bush, Obama, Clinton, Blair, those are self-righteous people…

        What was that line by Edmund Burke? “All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing…”

        Assange is a hero, so is Ed Snowden.

        1. Alan says:

          I gave respect for Ed Snowden. Assange isn’t in the same league. He’s self-serving and willing to sacrifice anyone and anything that gets in the way of his self-righteous crusade.

          1. Redgauntlet says:

            So, Assange, who will probably end up either imprisoned for life, exiled for life, or else murdered, is “self-serving”? Ha ha ha!

            Assange who has gone out on a limb, who has bravely and courageously stood up the Industrial Military Complex, to the CIA and the FBI, to Clinton and Bush, who has done every real democrat a huge service, is in fact, according to Alan…”self-serving”

            ..and people like you come along, Alan, and Bryan further up the page, who know nothing at all about Julian Assange except what you read in the fuckin papers or see on the news…

            Do you never actually stop and ask yourself if what you think is true is actually true? Do you not stop and ask yourself if it has not just been fed to you by the Great Western Media Narrative over the last 15 years?

            You don’t doubt even for a second, Allan, that your opinion about Julian Assange – who would appear to be a very private person by the way – is a prejudice which has been fabricated by the media? “He’s in it for himself”, he’s “self-serving”….this is the kind of non specific, vague line which the Great Western Media Narrative keep perpetuating about Julian Assange, and I just don’t believe he is doing what he is doing for personal gain.

            If you want to be self-serving, you join a political party. You don’t leak classified information from the American intelligence services, Alan.

            The CIA,FBI and MI5 would poison Assange tomorrow, just as much as the Russians poisoned Alexander Litvinenko…

        2. Alan says:

          Assange exposes innocent people to prosecution, torture and death. And Snowden and others are critical of him for these reasons.

    4. Bryan Weir says:

      I don’t read the papers.

  3. David MacGille-Mhuire says:

    Re fascism and they “are always men”, Golda Meir had a pretty good stab at it in her uber Zionist variation, and what of the female Nazi concentration guards, or, indeed, Ms Le Pen and her Anglo-Brit counterparts?

    A super article, but “isms” like fascism are not gender confined as Ms May also demonstrates with her collusion with the British neo-fascist elements stalking the decaying Brit political stage.

    1. John Robertson says:

      You could argue that male-dominated, militaristic, expansionists states only allow women who become cruel psychopaths to rise to the top so they’re not really women any more? Similar thing happens in Scottish universities too.

  4. John Robertson says:

    Caught you Peter: as soon as you mention Hitler or the Nazis or fascism, it means you’ve lost the argument. ‘Reductio ad Hitlerum’ it’s nicely called.

    Seriously though he’s not just the lesser of two evils, he’s far less so:

    1. The Clinton family, like the Bush family before, are very close to the Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qataar. Both are fabulously rich from oil deals or from donations. The Saudis have given $25 million to the Clinton Foundation
    2. In return the Bush and Clinton regimes have given favourable treatment to these Sunni Arab regimes. Saudi families were allowed to flee the US immediately after the Twin towers attack. US families of the dead are not allowed to sue the Saudi regime for supporting the mainly Saudi attackers. The US sells advanced weapons and offers advisors to train the Saudi and Qataari armed forces.
    3. The Sunni and Qataari royal regimes despise and fear the Shia, slightly democratic, regimes in Iran, Syria, Iraq and now in Yemen. They are currently using US and UK weapons to kill Yemeni civilians.
    4. The royalist Saudis long to see the overthrow of the slightly democratic Alawite, (Shia-related) regime in Syria and provided US and UK weapons to Sunni groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIS to fight the Syrian government.
    5. This triggered the civil war, mass deaths and the flight of millions toward Europe creating our refugee crisis. These Syrian refugees added to the already hundreds of thousands of displaced Afghans and Iraqis trying to enter Europe. You might say Clinton helped cause Brexit!
    6. Because the Russians have intervened to help the Syrian government win against the Sunni rebels backed by Saudi and Qataar, using US arms, the US, in the person of Secretary of State Clinton has raised the tension in the area with threats of confrontation with the Russians, thus risking WW3.
    7. To challenge the Russians and to make sure they do not win, Clinton is prepared to prolong the suffering of the Syrian people by further supporting anti-government, Sunni groups.
    8. Clinton has the blood of thousands on her hands. The Saudis are funding both the Clintons and ISIS! Trump is a nasty piece of work but that’s it.
    9. I’m not defending Trump or the Russians so don’t be stupid and suggest I have to be.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      One of the central points of the Wikileaks emails is also apparently the pivotal role of Hilary Clinton in the Libya War, which she personally championed, and which Obama initially opposed.

      Why did she want to go to war so much in Libya? No, not for the oil. But because she thought it would help her in her campaign to become president! That simple!

      And the war in Libya cost around 40,000 lives and has left Libya as a failed state and contributed massively to the refugee crisis. Libya was “the cork on the bottle of Africa” and so, when the Libyan State was destroyed, mass emigration to Europe from all over Africa began to take place.

      Gadaffi was bewildered that the West would want to oust him. He had survived as long as he did because he effectively served as a reliable border guard for Europe….an immigration guard on the African side…until Hilary got there according to Julian Assange and Wikileakds.

      Western democracy is a joke…Trump is the natural outcome of such a fucked up and evil system.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      I don’t think reductio ad Hitlerum applies in an age of fascist resurgence. Actually, in terms of personality type, I still think Trump is far closer to Nero than Hitler. He’s dangerous because he is impulsive, unpredictable and totally lacking in empathy. He could inflict any horror on the world without a moment’s hesitation or remorse.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        So, just like Hilary….or Bush…or Obama….

        I mean, look at The Guardian today. Nobody is talking about the Clinton emails. Not Paul Mason, not Owen Jones and certainly not Jonathan bloody Freedland. They’re all freaking out that a fascist has finally come to power in a soft fascist Empire.

        It seems to me that the details in the Clinton email leaks provided by Wikileaks completely dwarfs in importance the arrival of even a bigoted misogynist racist to the White House…

        …and Trump will be coopted into the same system of course. Just even worse.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          No, not like them, his personality is completely different from theirs. He cannot be constrained in the same way and will respect no constitutional boundaries. Even Suleiman the Magnificent at the height of Ottoman power took advice from his grand viziers. Trump lacks the capacity to take advice from anyone. He’s The Donald.

      2. John Robertson says:

        He’s a blowhard and a bully. They do deals with other bullies like Putin. There is no evidence whatsoever that he will indulge in the utterly dishonest and damaging ‘humanitarian wars’ of Bush, Blair and Clinton dynasties. He’s not Hitler! Keep your hair on!

        1. Bryan Weir says:

          Let’s hope not John.

          But there’s no evidence that he’ll do anything at all given that he has no past record in politics. If you look at his ethics and ruthlessness as a businessman … well that’s another story.

          1. John Robertson says:

            Yes, I agree, he’s a risk. She was a certain danger.

        2. Graeme Purves says:

          The theory that we can look to bullies and sociopaths to do deals which deliver benefits to humanity is an interesting one. Good luck with it.

          There was no evidence that Tony Blair would drag us into war when he was elected.

  5. John Robertson says:

    And check out several pieces by Mary Dejevsky in the Independent. Wait a minute ‘Dejevsky’ that sounds a bit Russian!

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      You remain fixated on Hillary Clinton, who is political toast. It’s quite a different American devil we have to deal with now.

      1. John Robertson says:

        I’ll stop fixating if you’ll stop thinking she would have been a better choice

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          You misread me. I have always regarded the election as a contest between two monsters.

  6. J Galt says:

    The mistake the “Liberal Chatteratii” as Redgauntlet call them is to conflate criticism of Clinton with support of Trump.

    My sole interest in this election is it’s effect on American Foreign Policy.

    Clinton was controlled by vicious elements within the US establishment that are willing to risk Nuclear War with Russia and China. Clinton’s hands personally are red rotten with the blood of Tens of Thousands – did the Rape of Libya not happen?

    To see the Left/Liberal “Chatteratii” attempting to defend these filthy criminals is bizarre.

    Trump MAY, I repeat, MAY be controlled by elements of the American Establishment that are at least willing to compromise with the growing power of China and Russia. Even the slightest possibility of this serves my interests as an individual living in Scotland, on the front line of any potential Nuclear conflict.

    I don’t care what Trump’s internal US policies will be – it’s not my business – that may be brutal but there you go.

    1. John Robertson says:

      Yes, I agree fully.

    2. Redgauntlet says:

      American foreign policy? You’ve hit the head on the nail J Galt.

      Why are so many British observers horrified by Trump? Because Trump’s rhetoric – and it will probably only be rhetoric – suggest he has no appetite for American expansionism and the New American Century.

      For all that he is a fruitcake, he is quite right to point that America has no business defending Europe.

      Why don’t the Europeans organize their own pan European defense? Because they have NATO. If Trump actually announced that he was going to end NATO, or the US presence in NATO, the “dream of a united Europe” would suddenly hit the accelerator. The whole of Europe would unite armies, institutions, you name it…reality would demand a united Europe.

      US foreign policy has every interest in keeping Europe reliant on US protection. It ought to have ended when the Wall came down, but it never did…

      The US is the most destabilizing State in world affairs today….

      If Trump withdrew Trident from Scotland, who would be complaining?

    3. Graeme Purves says:

      …and I am sure the elimination of the Baltic countries will be a small price well worth paying.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Graeme Purves, don’t be facetious please.

        We have a massive crisis of Western democracy on our hands, in this new age we find ourselves in with the internet etc.

        You know, we need to come up with a way of getting some control back from the people in power, be that Putin, Clinton, Trump or Theresa May.

        You know, you look at the evidence, and you can only come to the conclusion that another world war is fairly likely, almost probable in the short to medium term…

        You know, we always knew that political power and economic power were bedfellows. But we never before that City Bank actually email the fucking Whitehouse with the name of the President’s cabinet. I mean it is totally without precedent as far as I can see.

        We lack a response here. The same people who financed those guys who walked into a rock concert in Paris with Kalashnikovs, financed the political campaign of the Democrat candidate of the United States of America….

        I mean…that’ really fucked… and Europe has to lead the way here..

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          I’m not being in the least facetious. Are you saying that you don’t think the independence of the Baltic countries would be under threat in any “deal” between Trump and Putin. Of course, they are only small countries, like Scotland, but does that make them expendable?

      2. J Galt says:

        There is zero evidence that Russia wishes to “invade the Baltic countries”.

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          Sure. It’s not as if Putin has any record of aggression towards countries on Russia’s borders.

          1. J Galt says:

            Very little in fact.

            Certainly compared to the USA and it’s NATO vassals.

          2. Graeme Purves says:

            Coups were attempted in Serbia and Montenegro in October, and these countries don’t even have a border with Russia.

  7. Yan says:

    “This is what fascism sounds like: reverence for a single man – for they are always men – …”

    But how did we get here?

    At a guess by the route of matriarchal politics.

    Interesting that the allegedly misogynistic Scots have entrusted Ruth Davidson, Kezia Dugdale and Nicola Sturgeon as their political wet nurses.

    Scotland conceals its matriarchal totalitarianism as efficiently as it conceals its poverty.

    1. John Robertson says:

      Wow, thin ice pal. Mind you I had a few female bosses in Higher Education who were a bit short on that trumpeted (good eh?) empathy of theirs.

  8. Catherine McRorie says:

    Re John Roberstons above posts, I agree with everything he says about Clinton & everyone should read #podestaemails released via Assaunge. They reveal corruption within USA Gov, if your too lazy to read them then don’t pontificate you know it all. Assange has taken his time to do this for us all.
    They also evidence corruption in MSM, evidence that they collude with politicians.
    Evidence Clinton & others involved in Peadophillia both within emails & video evidence. I am concerned it will be brushed under carpet
    Please read the emails there is even a search engine, also InfoWars talk show also discusses emails & you don’t need to read

  9. Alf Baird says:

    “The least suitable candidate”?????

    On the contrary, as Prof Roberston and RG etc well demonstrate, the good folks of the USA have chosen wisely. All we need now is to find a Scottish Donald? Or maybe we should just bring the man himself in to help drain Scotland’s unionist-elite pc-neoliberal swamp? He is half Scottish after all, and he loves the country (far more than our Westminster maisters dae).

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      Given his troubles with AS and NS in the past I fear that we may be about see just how much he loves the country. And please stop reminding me that he is half Scottish. 🙁

      1. Alf Baird says:

        President Donald J. Trump is half Scottish.

        1. Andimac says:

          And a half-wit

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      In 1938, an article in the journal of the Edinburgh Architectural Association ended with the following rhetorical flourish – “Where is our Hitler? Where is our Mussolini?” Muriel Spark recognised the appeal of that sort of sentiment when she created Miss Jean Brodie.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        You forgot Churchill, Graeme, who must have been partly responsible for many millions of deaths worldwide, over more than half a century, from the Boer War to Suez, and personally helped set the scene for many deaths thereafter throughout the Middle East, Africa, and further afield, until today and beyond. Let’s not forget the great pile of dirt in our eyes. Nae doot Muriel Spark absorbed a lot of UK propaganda as well?

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          Jings! That must be the lamest bit of whatabootery I have ever encountered.

    3. I’m really confused. Has your computer been hacked?

    4. Graeme Purves says:

      “Draining the swamp” is clearly a phrase that appeals to you, Alf. I’m intrigued as to what it might mean in practice. Scotland’s public sector is very diverse, employing individuals with a wide range of skills, aptitudes and abilities, from a wide range of backgrounds, and with a wide range of opinions on politics and other matters. How would you go about draining such a swamp? Would everybody have to go, or are you inclined to be selective? What measures would be necessary to identify and eliminate the aspects of our public sector you find offensive? It’s when we get down to the specifics of this sort of exercise that things get interesting.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Graeme, Mr. Trump is now busy allocating jobs to a couple of thousand people in his administration who will implement and deliver on his policies. Lets see what he does and if it offers a template.

        But contrast that approach with any Holyrood government, which just has to make do with the senior bods the UK ‘Home’ Civil Service happen to send up to Scotland to head up departments, plus the self-perpetuating unionist elite leading hundreds of our public institutions. Hence the ‘unionist elite swamp’.

        Think also of India, Kenya, Egypt etc etc (albeit after independence) – did these ex colonies continue to depend on whoever London sent them to run their gov and public bodies, or did they ship the colonial administrators back to Blighty on the next P&O steamer?

        1. Graeme Purves says:

          I worked in the civil service in Scotland for 24 years, Alf. Your characterisation of the way it operates is a fantasy. Metaphors such as “draining the swamp” are all very well in political rhetoric, but they don’t really take us very far. As a retired civil servant, I’m interested in exploring what they would mean in practice – the banal logistics if you like. You don’t seem very keen to address that, instead taking refuge in the rather obvious point that countries that win independence create independent civil services. I’m not aware that any extensive scheme of drainage has ever been required to achieve that. It’s generally a fairly smooth transition. But perhaps I have misread you and its not really a “draining of the swamp” you are looking for, just a little gentle pond-dipping?

          1. Alf Baird says:

            Graeme, the administration/control of a colony by the parent power extends far wider than simply the civil service, though I think you downplay the latter. In policy areas I have dealt with recently there is little doubt in my mind that people have been carefully placed in senior posts here. But more widely there is indeed a large institutional swamp out there full of unionist-elite centurions running Scotland (down). Any shift from administered colony to independent state ultimately requires institutional leaders whose main aim is not to prevent or block or subvert independence. That should seem obvious, even to you.

          2. Graeme Purves says:

            I was already fairly sure that there is little doubt in your mind, but evidence from the real world can be a useful corrective.

            I note that you remain reticent about what “draining the swamp” would involve in practice. It would have been instructive to get some hint of that. For someone advocating such radical measures, you resort too readily to evasion and deflection.

          3. Alf Baird says:

            I think your main issue Graeme is that you refuse to acknowledge that there is a large unionist swamp to clear (after 300+ years as a restless internal colony?), which implies you feel ‘unionist establishment Scotland’ is as well led as it can be and that the general population of Scotland is not discriminated against. Perhaps that may be because you were a part of the swamp for a fairly lengthy period and hence you have a particular way of thinking? What seems radical to you would simply be the norm for any nation aspiring to independence, i.e. to clear out those institutional leaders who are anti-independence and who could via their position seek to subvert or block national progress. As to the leadership recruitment process, I alluded to what the Scottish Tories used to do pre-Holyrood, which should give some hint for those devoid of initiative.

          4. Graeme Purves says:

            Thanks for your colourful characterisation of my working environment over the last 30 years as a “swamp” That was not my experience of it, but I’m sure you know best. What I encountered, overwhelmingly, was a wide range of skilled and talented people from a wide range of backgrounds who are dedicated to public service and making Scotland. There are individuals I could describe less favourably, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

            And why stop at “hints”? What I am trying to get to is what you really mean by your favoured metaphor, “draining the swamp”. What would it mean in terms of practical measures? How would real people be affected? What would it mean in terms of employment policies, job security and human rights? I am keen to get down to the specifics. But these are matters you seem reluctant to address. Does “draining the swamp” mean “draining the swamp” in the same way as “Brexit means Brexit”? If you are unable to explain what “draining the swamp” means as a policy programme, perhaps it represents nothing more than inchoate resentment?

            Incidentally, I am enjoying observing the exotic creatures being introduced to the wetland habitat Donald Trump is busy creating. A surprising number of them appear to be his relatives.

  10. tartanfever says:

    As Peter complains of the sound bite and simplistic rhetoric of the Trump campaign and it’s supporters (she kept repeating one thing: ‘Trump loves America’.) he comes up with this:

    ‘The overarching theme of Election Day was that traditional republican voters rallied around their man while democrats stayed at home.’

    Yet the turnout seems to be on a par with many past elections – ( 2016 53%, 2012 54.9%, 2008 57.8%, 2004 55.7%, 2000 50.3%) More importantly, there’s nothing nuanced like the significant swing of those earning less than $25k of 16% to Trump from the last (Obama) election. You know, facts that might tell you something about how people actually feel.

    Or indeed, when Peter tells us:

    ‘Traveling across the Mid West last week I was struck by the ambivalence of many towards Trump. But what was even more striking was their contempt for Hillary Clinton.
    ‘Well of course Hillary is corrupt…’ even her voters would say. Why? Emails. Benghazi. The Clinton foundation. Few people possessed facts but there was an endless supply of conjecture and supposition’

    No, what it actually tells us is that you’re shit at asking questions.

    If you ask people what they think of Hillary or indeed Trump, you’ll get these answers. That makes you just the same as the rest of the plods in the NYT, The Guardian and the BBC. If you ask them about their communities, their jobs, their life chances then you’ll get corresponding answers that deal with those topics.

    You say you travelled across the mid west last week. Really ? and this is what you have to show for your travels: No destinations, no insights, no local information or colour ?

    Did you set out with an agenda looking for these reactions ? – Because thats the impression I get. Maybe you did those ask those questions, but self edited to produce a piece that would equally be at home in The Times or The Scotsman. If so, that’s shameful.

    Seriously Bella, If this is ‘new’ journalism, you can keep it.

  11. Alf Baird says:

    On the quaistion o turnoot, shuirly nae kintra onywhair can beat the near 90% turnoot us braw Scots achieved in the 2014 referendum. We must be the wuirld champions oan turnoot (or is that gullible chumpions)! Like Nicola, A respect thon result (aye richt).

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Here are turnouts from some other recent elections…
      2015 Danish election: 85.8%
      2014 Swedish election: 85.8% (the same as Denmark? How very suspicious…)
      2013 Norwegian election: 78.3%
      2012 French presidential election: 80.35%

      And those are just normal elections, not historic referendums.

      Could it be that the turnout for the 2014 referendum was actually just a result of the enthusiasm everyone had for the vote, rather than some devious MI5-related conspiracy?

      1. Alf Baird says:

        You seem desperate to defend Scotland’s rather unbelievable near world record turnout, the latter especially noticeable when compared with Scotland’s typically far lower average turnout, or when compared with traditionally high turnout locations, the latter influenced by compulsory voting which does not exist in Scotland. Clearly Scotland’s ref14 turnout was unbelievably even better than some countries which have compulsory voting. Don’t you think that is at the very least questionable, and at worst could be the result of voting irregularities?

  12. muttley79 says:

    ‘Well of course Hillary is corrupt…’ even her voters would say. Why? Emails. Benghazi. The Clinton foundation. Few people possessed facts but there was an endless supply of conjecture and supposition. Those, as huckster lawyer Lionel Hutz in the Simpsons says, are types of evidence.

    Peter, you can do better than this can’t you? There cannot be much doubt that the Clintons are thoroughly corrupt (the Clinton Foundation is an appalling vehicle/racket/corporation of greed and neo-liberalism). Hillary Clinton is a dangerous warmonger, a chicken hawk, a stooge of the MIC. She did not get paid $600,000 to give speeches to Goldman Sachs for nothing. Nor was she on the board of Walmart out of concerns for social and economic justice for the masses in the USA. Clinton was bought and paid and sold out decades ago, so was/is Bill Clinton. The facts are well known and all you do is read Wikileaks. Just because Trump is an in your face appalling, narcissistic bully, and possibly much worse, does not mean you should pretend not to know full well what the Clintons represent. Sadly I think you do and that makes this article that much worse.

  13. Stu says:

    Marine Le Pen might object to you referring to them as always men.

  14. Alan says:

    This might all sound melodramatic.

    It does but appears typical of a lot of mainstrean and social media coverage so far. He’s not even president yet. 

    the first bona fide authoritarian US president

    Really? America has had some God-awful presidents and survived. For example, Andrew Jackson: populist and authoritarian. And America has also gone through some horrendous periods in which the country has been bitterly divided and recovered e.g. the 1960s and early 1970s (Vietnam, political assassinations, civil rights, urban rioting, …). So my bet is that there’s a period of maybe violent turbulence but let’s keep it in perspective: American democracy has them.

    Trump aside, I think there’s plenty of room for debate about how well the checks and balances in the American political system continue to work. Historically there has been an increasing concentration of power in the executive which has included a massive expansion of the administrative state under both political parties, despite the rhetoric of “small government”.  The rise of the administrative state is often dated to the New Deal and then followed by the rise of the Military Industrial Complex after WWII. Despite “Washington gridlock” there has been quite a lot of debate on how ineffective the Congress and the courts have been in checking the Executive recently e.g. torture and mass spying. This debate has been rumbling on for a long time. See for example The Power Elite, Eisenhower’s farewell address and Schlesinger’s The Imperial Presidency. And of course more recently debates about the Bush presidency post 9/11 and Obama’s presidency. See, for example, Ackerman, Savage on Bush and “Savage on Obama, and Schwarz. All this is to say the event that is Trump may be much less significant that gradual changes and shifts over many decades. And that the Trump presidency will be analysed in this historical and constitutional context. 

    Assuming Trump actually tries to accomplish all the things he promised, i.e. that his promises weren’t mere political rhetoric of “The Vow” sort, you have to assume Congress and the courts will go along. His chances look good on paper as Republicans will dominate the Senate, the House and he gets to nominate the 9th member of SCOTUS. In practice a lot of Republicans hate his guts and have little in common with his political philosophy (which credits him with having one). Sure, a lot will opportunistically change their stripes but there will be plenty who won’t. He also has to get the massive administrative state to go along. The latter is a threat to democracy as it escapes proper accountability but that’s not always a negative. The rather right-wing national security establishment, for example, is deeply critical of Trump. And one could go on about Wall Street and corporate America and their entrenched interests. And for that matter, there are the the states and state government. Regional government is far more powerful and significant in the US (cue jokes about a certain “most powerful devolved parliament” in a northern part of the UK). And the large areas of the country, mostly the urban areas, Northeast and West Coast that are predominantly cosmopolitan and liberal. Maybe those people sitting in that bar in NYC  know something you don’t. Viewing the presidency as some sort of dictatorship where the president snaps his fingers and things happens is to ignore the practical exercise of presidential power. In my experience Americans, and this would include many people who voted for Trump, are far more sceptical of government and politicians than Brits. Much as they like to watch British period dramas about the aristocracy and British elites on TV, they don’t really go in for the hat-doffing crap than many Brits go in for. Suckers for fantasy but at the end of the day they are more “Live Free Or Die”. Those who don’t already hate his guts will soon enough.

    1. Alan says:

      I should add that if Clinton had been elected the period of political turbulence would have happened anyway. Neither she nor Trump are the solution to the cause. They are symptoms of the root problem.

  15. Jo says:

    “As I wrote in these pages, Trump successfully used propaganda and falsehoods to muddy the waters around his democratic opponent.”

    I had to keep re-reading this to check it really said what I thought it said in the first place.

    “Propaganda and falsehoods….”

    About Clinton?

    You’re not serious! We KNOW about Clinton, or at least any of us old enough to remember her track record does. Evil you say? Of Trump? I’d say you want to see evil take a good look at this!


    Now that is the face of one evil callous creature. And her name is HIllary Clinton who was up for creating even more mayhem in Syria than she did in Libya as soon as she got to be President!

    I’m sorry, but this article is so one-sided it’s embarrassing.

  16. Alan says:

    Much as I find Peter’s writing interesting, on this I think Gerry Hassan’s commentary is better: How Trump Shook America and the World: My Letter from America>. Michael Moore also called it along time ago: Clinton was poison in the Rust Belt, key states she needed to win. Don’t get too distracted by the racism and sexism surrounding Trump. That’s not where a lot of people who voted for him are coming from (although that will be part of what’s served up later). It’s the economics. And as Moore writes: “You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you!” And a Molotov Cocktail he is. It seems unlikely that the Rust Belt will benefit from a Trump presidency any more than the northeast of England will benefit from Brexit. The rapacious corporations, the plutocrats and oligarchs, and their apologists will continue as before. He’s not a fix; he’s an accelerant.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      The first sentence of Gerry’s piece is hilarious…America is apparently compounded when he presumably means confounded. I stopped there. As I tend to do with Gerry. He should be writing for The Guardian. He is far too bad a writer to be independent. ..

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        And Gerry’s piece appeared in The Scottish Review too. I’m surprised that old grouchy Dominie Kenneth Roy didn’t give Gerry a good skelping with the tawse for such an elementary mistake… or maybe just his jotters…

      2. Alan says:

        If such mistakes concern you so much you really should give up reading Bella as well. Better that you should look past such errors and address the ideas and analysis?

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Oh but what I do if I stopped reading Bella? My problems would only be confounded and myself compounded…

          …Gerry can take it, Alan. He’s a well respected journalist with a Honoris Causis degree from the University of the West Of Scotland after all.

          The question I ask myself is how can so many Scottish journalists, from the free press to boot, go running off to America and all come back with the same story? And not even that: it’s not even the real story of the American Election. The real story is the Clinton emails….

          1. Alan says:

            Nobody gives a crap about the Clinton emails. The Democrats and the a Republican political elite are corrupt and running a rigged system. You don’t have to read her stupid emails to figure that out.

          2. Redgauntlet says:

            “Nobody gives a crap about the Clinton emails” says Alan.
            Yer the Pilger – Assange interview has had over 1.5 million views in 5 days…
            Why do you think Trump won the election!!!
            To a great extent because Hilary Clinton is demonstrably corrupt and could well end in prison!!!
            Clinton lost the election more than Trump won it.
            They were shouting “jail her, jail her” at Trump meetings for Christ’s sakes!
            That was portrayed in the UK and its totally bullshit biased media, like corrupt penpushers like Freedland, to be some kind of redneck primitive insult as opposed to what it is: a real and actual possibility or likelihood….
            To finance her campaign, Hilary Clinton went to the paymasters of the ISIL mass murderers who gunned down the sons and daughters of the European bourgeoisie in the restaurants and bars of Paris just a few months ago. Not to mention invade Libya for the same purposes.

            You think “nobody cares” about that Alan? I would say that is highly unlikely…this is just beginning.

          3. Alan says:

            People in the Rust Belt states that were key to the election voted on economic issues. They’ve seen lots of jobs dissappear elsewhere, the Democrats ignoring their situation, and the Clintons getting paid millions by Goldman Sachs and the like. That’s what lost the election. And if Trump doesn’t deliver economic progress for them, he and the Republicans will get the boot as well.

            The only people obsessed with the emails at this point are the Democratic establishment who want to pin the blame on Comey rather than confront their own failings.

          4. Graeme Purves says:

            “Oh but what would I do…”

            I hope Mike has his tawse to hand!

          5. Bryan Weir says:

            With regard to Clinton’s alleged crimes and misdemeanours, it depends on who you believe!


  17. J Galt says:

    Oh dear I see the reality is not fitting in with your “slavering Trump brutes shouting down the nice innocently peaceful anti-Trump protesters” scenario!

  18. Redgauntlet says:

    Alan, can you cite me one specific case of this, once again, general charge made against Julian Assange that he publishes without giving a damn for the effects on those involved?

    This, I suspect, is just another one of the things people say about Assange without any concrete detail, a kind of constant insinuation about Assange, you know, this idea that he is in some way a little bit dodgy, that he is tainted or self-seeking…a drip-drip-drip effect of negative and low intensity calumny against Assange… and it works. Your perception of Assange is probably fairly typical.

    If you go to the Wikileaks web page, it is very clear that is a serious organization, with some serious backers, providing serious information which has been cited in numerous court cases, and is founded on a very basic principle: that the First Amendment of the US Constitution prohibits any curtailment of the right of Freedom of Speech.

    That is a fundamental principle of democratic society, the right to freely publish and circulate information and opinion, and it is one which the neo-liberal Establishment is seeking to curtail, and which has never been more important than in the age of the 24 hours news stream.

    Most people don’t actually scrutinize their own opinions. Where do they come form? How are they formed? How do we come to form these general ideas about things? If you actually stop and analyse the framing, the general parameters established around almost any issue in the mainstream media, it is always underpinned by a neo-liberal Western ideology.

    And the analysis we have of the US election is a good example of that. So, the liberal press in the UK and Europe at large, are tearing their hair out and saying “America has voted for a soft fascist. How did it come to this?”

    To which my answer would be, the USA has been moving continuously to the right for the 30 years at least, including its “liberals”, and if you keep moving to the right, you will eventually become a fascist country. Somebody like Trump was inevitable. And “liberal” America has traveled further than Conservative America has, if only because it started further away on the political spectrum.

    I mean, the only person who could effectively run for office outside the two main parties is a multi millionaire, so what kind of democracy was that anyway?

    And here in the UK we have a political prisoner, in London, Assange, and nobody is talking about that? And Nigel Farage – who actually makes a joke about Trump groping the Prime Minister of the UK; completely incredible – has been justified and legitimized and empowered by the move of British politics to the right, from Blair and Brown to Cameron….

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      “To which my answer would be, the USA has been moving continuously to the right for the 30 years at least”

      Would this include Obama’s two terms?

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Well, Obama’s cabinet was named by Citybank, so I think that tells you all you need to know.

        Under Obama, the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer, which has been the trend in America for about 40 years. The obscenely rich in America now have an official President, that’s all that has happened. The Americans deserve to ruled by a fascist like Trump, who is a creation of the US media just as much as Farage is of the BBC and the Daily Mail.

        Obama’s foreign policy, driven by Hilary Clinton, has seen US militarism reach new heights, with military intervention in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen – a recent addition which nobody is talking about – and more drone strikes carried out than under any other American President, not to mention the biggest arms deal in the history of the world – 80 billion dollars with the fascist state of our times which is Saudi Arabia – and a doubling of US arms sales under Clinton.

        Obama himself as a person, I think is admirable, and he’s a very polished and articulate man. He is a pragmatist who obviously can point to Obamacare and deals with Cuba and Iran as his legacy.

        But the overall picture is one of rising inequality, rampant militarism, American imperialism in Mulsim countries, and of course, corruption….corruption because the only you can become US President is to take money from Wall Street, or even worse, the islamo-fascism of Saudi Arabia.

    2. Alan says:

      I missed your last post as it wasn’t part of the earlier thread on this topic.

      Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets.

      Glenn Greenwald: “You’d have to be a sociopath to think that we ought to just take all of this material and dump it all on the internet without regard to the impact that it will have for innocent people.”

      1. Alan says:

        Oops. First link was broken. Here it is again:
        Private lives are exposed as WikiLeaks spills its secrets.

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