Published on http://www.counterpunch.org/
“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind”
So, we have a clear view of the Republican Party reaping their whirlwind: Donald L. Trump.
Those who are now deeply devoted to Mr. Trump, however, have been reaping their own whirlwind and they believe that Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants. “Insider” politics and politicians, political correctness, the media, foreign workers, foreigners, Obama, Obamacare, Hillary, Liberals, Socialists, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, the “browning of America,” the Spanish language, people who don’t love America, Chinese chicanery, and taxes, among other smaller offenders, have been sowing their whirlwind.
There is perhaps nothing sadder in history than assigning the wrong causes for tragic and often fatal events. Sometimes we come up with exhaustive explanations for why something has happened. Think of the 888 page Warren Commission Report that has its believers and its deniers.
In some cases, such as global warming, poverty and 20 Americans having more wealth than the bottom half of the population, we do not look for causes because they are taken to be “natural,” or the results of an order we cannot mess with. In the past, this might have been God’s hand that upheld an unimpeachable order but now it is the “invisible hand of the market” that owns that place.
Perplexing is the fact that the order of this invisible hand of the market is a throw of the dice order. Chance rules here. And ideology has chosen this privileged economic order.
The beneficiaries, the Monopoly game winners, have in turn used their fortunes to lobby in support of that ideology. This symbiotic, synergistic relationship was sealed during Reagan’s administration resulting in the plutocratic order we now have.
As wealth amassed at the top, the Neoliberal ideology became more devoted and obedient to the needs and demands of the wealth class. They were the Winners who secured our freedom, the common good, the American Dream. And so on. Thus, the ideology that brought a certain kind of economic theory into power found itself a servant of those who could fund political campaigns now run in a market/entertainment arena of competition.
So, the Republican Party moved from serving the common good of an egalitarian striving democracy, which thus far has achieved its greatest success by bolstering a strong middle class and economic mobility, to serving the plutocrats of a plutocratic order.
The whirlwind was gathering because the increasing number of those who have been left out from this compact would be increasingly diminished. Let us call these the Diminished Many. They would be living long enough to experience their fall from solvency, security and salutary expectations. With hindsight, we see that the Republican Party has been using a strategy of coded hate, discrimination, xenophobia, misogyny to gather the Diminished Many to their camp. Now what was coded has exploded in the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.
The Republic Party cannot disown their own creation, the Trump Whirlwind, who, ironically, has focused the ire of the Diminished Many on them. They are at the eye of the storm they themselves have brought into being. Along with the litany of “sowers” cited above.
So, it is not surprising that the “insider” and “moderate” Republican establishment has gone full tilt anti-Trump. The more they attack Trump, however, the more they credential the charges of conspiratorial, suppressive, oppressive “Old Order” that Trump lays on them.
His is a whirlwind, however, that is not connecting the dots between a runaway Wall Street capitalism or a wealth divide that makes the French Ancien Régime look egalitarian. He cannot do so because this is the economic system that has made him a mogul and because the Diminished Many respect and are drawn to mogul status. Trump is the dream doppelganger of every one of his followers. They do not attack, as does Bernie Sanders, the system that turns a democracy into a plutocracy of moguls and beggars. Their attentions are directed to victims of plutocracy, like themselves.
This is confounding, namely that a product of a plutocratic order that has led to the poor straits some 80% of the population are in is appointed their Redeemer. The “insider” Republican establishment has no interest in exposing a plutocratic order they sponsor and of which they have become part. They cannot lay out for public view the sort of economics that leads to a Trump, or indeed to the wealth constituency of their party. They can, however, attack him as not a true Conservative but actually a Liberal.
Trump leaves himself open to that charge because he has taken no oath to salute Paul Ryan’s view of “true” Conservatism. Trump may, for example, be a bigger threat to the immunity of hedge funds than Hillary would be. Trump clearly does not see globalized capitalism as inevitable, regardless of its consequences, as does Hillary. Ego has no party allegiance. Hillary is tied to the sowers of the whirlwind.
So, what the Diminished Many can know of an ego born into privilege and surrounded by those who must bend to his will is limited. The best they can expect from a Trump presidency is the table scraps of noblesse oblige, capricious whim and whimsy, demands for love and obedience, and tantrums that hopefully will not lead to nuclear war.
Very quickly into a Trump presidency, Americans will reap the whirlwind.
The Democratic Party will also reap the whirlwind with a Hillary presidency, or, more precisely, in the aftermath of her presidency.
Why? Because the anger of the Diminished Many who have been aroused by Trump will not dissolve when Hillary wins and he loses. We can expect that anger to increase because those foundational changes that must be made to the present economic system will not be made by Hillary.
Band aid policies, the Liberal strategy, spun into the Clintonian “Third Way” approach will do nothing to foster an economic redistribution of wealth at a level in which plutocratic rule is destroyed.
We can also expect that Bernie’s supporters will not go away and will not be satisfied with Hillary’s inevitable “leaning into” an already rigged and flawed economic and political system.
I think in 2020, we can expect a stronger socialist critique and program of recuperation than Bernie now represents. Trump may return but more likely, we can also expect a more autocratic provocateur than Trump, one whose own megalomania does not impede plans for a “New Order.”
Some argue that individual is already represented by Ted Cruz.
Unfortunately for Ted Cruz and fortunately for everyone else, Cruz rushed his emergence on the national stage by actions that alerted the Republican establishment that he was a threat to them. While Trump was, early on, not taken seriously as a threat to the status quo, Cruz had red flagged himself. It was the quickest path to national attention but it has crippled his chances at becoming the Great Anti-Trump Hope of the Republican Party.
Cruz may of course materialize once again in 2020 after Hillary has created an “Anybody But Hillary or a Democrat” America. Republicans then may cease pointing a finger at Cruz’s Machiavellian ways and he may re-emerge as a great guy in the Reagan image.
But right now in 2016 as the chance of a contested Republican convention looms larger, John Kasich’s win in Ohio will draw anti-Trump money to him by the truckload. Kasich, former managing director of investment banking at Lehman Brothers at the moment it fell in 2008, polls favorably right now in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Wisconsin, Connecticut and California.
A Kasich presidency would not sow a whirlwind as torrential as Hillary, Trump, or Cruz presidencies because his core Conservative economic views — income tax reduction, Scott Walker type attacks on collective bargaining, balanced budget and reduction of national debt, repeal the Affordable Care Act — raise no hackles among the Diminished Many. His “moderate” conservatism comes very close to Hillary’s “Third Way,” both sugar coating with distractions and seductions a grounding compliance with Market Rule.
Kasich, for instance, attended a gay wedding but voted to ban gay adoptions and holds that Bible stories are historical facts. Hillary has no such warming heartland credentials, thus the certain whirlwind resulting from her presidency. A Kasich presidency, perhaps eight years of it, would leave the plutocracy in place and the sans culottes stunned, perhaps equally by a Kasich presidency and the new generation of embeddable tech implants.
Very little is impossible on the American political landscape, mostly due to little historical memory and little capacity to see and understand who and what is sowing the whirlwind. That capacity and that memory are in the possession of the plutocrats, not the Diminished Many. Wealth has strategies to protect itself; the Diminished Many are unfortunately steered away from recuperating strategies, though the force of Bernie Sanders’s candidacy is a sign of hope.
It may also be possible that by 2020 those who are not benefiting from the arcane machinations of Wall Street will redirect their attention from those, who like them, are not beneficiaries. They may focus on the ways in which “the invisible hand of the market” works to create and maintain economic inequities. In other words, turn from targeting people to targeting ideology, practices and institutions.
What Bernie Sanders has done is show Americans that a politician can talk about the ways an economic system corrodes their lives and still get a following. Politics can be done by explanation and interpretation and not merely by tweet-size appeals to gut reactions that arouse an angry mob to storm the Bastille.
Whether the “Critical Thinking” campaign can win against a “Straight to Jugular” visceral campaign depends totally on ways communication now takes place in the U.S…
The mainstream TV media must treat politics like entertainment in order to attract the most eyeballs and thus advertisers. It gets even more venal when you consider that popular channels like FOX are owned by the plutocratic order you are trying to displace. Even the public interest, non-profit, no advertising PBS has not opted for explanation and interpretation of this 2016 Primary but has covered it in horse race fashion.
We are not to know how Trump breaches Neoliberal ideology or on what issues Cruz upsets the established order, and how Kasich’s politics come closer to that order, or, indeed, what that “insider” order, the “true,” “moderate” Conservatism may be. Not a word as to how Sanders’s democratic socialism differs from social democracy and why he does not advocate what any dictionary of politics tells us is Democratic Socialism.
What everyone knows is that no American will tune into a civics lesson or will respond to a candidate that offers tutorials. At a moment when we desperately need courses that develop understanding through critical interpretation in our schools, Market Rule is seeking their displacement with STEM courses, skills that serve our techno-capitalist rule.
So, we can expect that TV media is not going to give us what the Trump contingent will need to advance from Trump’s ad hominem attacks to a critical exploration of just who and what is creating the whirlwind.
Print media that gives more attention than TV does to a topic is being challenged by online communication more severely in the U.S. than elsewhere. Whether the myriad number of communicating flowers that bloom in cyberspace fracture the mission of solidarity, isolating us all on islands of personal preference, is yet unknown.
Time will tell whether the form of communication that is erasing all other forms of communication is itself a whirlwind of words, images and videos that rebuild the Tower of Babel.
It is clear already that “Front Page” news that put us all on the same page has now dispersed into a dazzling number of preferred apps or bookmarked websites. And this superabundance of information and sites of dissemination overwhelms to the point that brevity itself becomes a defense, a prophylactic.
So, if we need to avoid the whirlwind by properly identifying who the sowers of this whirlwind are, and we find ourselves led to an economic system and a political ideology in a complex and arcane entanglement, what kind of assistance can we expect from our preferred communicative choices, namely social media, viral videos and tweets?
We already know that it is best to avoid politics on Facebook or face shaming or just plain vitriolic attack. And if you follow a political hashtag on Twitter to get yourself informed of the informed views of others, you are definitely in the minority. This is a either a love fest or a hate fest site. Either you find warmth in lending your supporting 140 characters to others, or you find some pleasure in a virulent 140 character attack.
Thus fare cyberspace communication has not altered in any way the human preference for seeking information that supports what we humans already prefer to believe.
And in a culture in which “free to choose” and the “secret” of life is simply to assert your own will upon the world are peaking, it doesn’t seem as if “the alien other” to our own thinking is going to be reached any time soon via cyberspace.
But technology may, as many feel, overcome the predicaments that technology has gotten us into. We are waiting to abandon fossil fuels after technology can show us how to make a bigger profit by doing that than not doing that. We are also waiting for technology to take us to another planet when the effects of technology have made this planet uninhabitable.
So, it seems that the whirlwind of greatest consequence is the one this planet is facing. And that is a whirlwind neither our present Presidential campaign nor our media and educational institutions are recognizing. The reaping, however, is blind to our blindness.