Credit: Paco Anselmi/PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved.So this is what the victory of Donald Trump means.
It means that the reactionary forces of the far-right are resurgent. Trump’s victory is the latest in a global trend which was previously manifest in Britain’s Brexit vote, which saw Britons vote to get out of the European Union. That itself follows a growing wave of popularity for right-wing extremists across Europe.
It’s no surprise that among the first in Europe to congratulate Trump on taking the White House were far-right leaders like France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders.
That is because, as I’ve documented elsewhere, Trump’s advisory team has close ties to Europe’s fascist political parties.
His campaign rhetoric has meant that the forces he rode to victory are hardly a secret.
As the incoming president and commander-in-chief, Trump represents a threat to ethnic, religious and sexual minorities inside the US; to women and women’s rights; to the people of Iraq, Syria and beyond, where he thinks massive aerial bombing and oil-grabbing is the solution; to the environment, because he’s a rabid climate denier who wants to burn all the fossil fuels available everywhere; and to Europe, which he thinks should be broken up (a view he appears to share with his mutual admirer, Vladimir Putin).
But Trump won because more and more people are fed up with what they see as ‘the establishment’. Voters bought into Trump’s rhetoric about ‘corruption’, about being a maverick operating outside the Washington beltway. They believed his promises to shake up power.
Never mind that his ‘vision’ of making America “great again” is shallow, self-contradictory and vacuous. It appeals to so many because since the 2008 financial crash, and the convergence of economic, energy, and environmental crises that have escalated since then, it is clear to most people that business-as-usual isn’t working.
The problem is that there no alternative.
Faced with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who of all the candidates received by far the most campaign funding from Wall Street, Trump won by playing up the fact that he is not part of the establishment two-party machinery.
Neither was Adolf Hitler.
But Trump is a man whose portfolio of businesses remains at least $650 million in debt to Wall Street; who grew his businesses by breaking the backs of the workers he employed; who, along the way, has been accused of routinely harassing and sexually assaulting women; and whose contempt for Muslims, Jews, “the blacks”, and Hispanics raise urgent questions about the president-elect’s plans to remake America.
The sentiment that brought Trump to power is not just sceptical of ‘the establishment’ – but of everyone else too, anything that can be remotely categorised as ‘Other.’
And this is what happens when anxiety reaches a crescendo, without understanding the real causes of events driving anxiety in the first place.
The problem is that nothing Trump does will solve the problem. Whether or not he builds a wall between the US and Mexico, bans Muslim immigration to America, destroys US environmental policies, gives a free ride to his corporate and banking friends to evade tax, whatever he does, the deeper structural causes of the social, economic and political crises erupting across not just the US, but the entire world, are not going to go away.
They are going to get worse because Trump is not about structural, system-change solutions. He is not, by any stretch of the imagination, going to fight corruption in Washington – the man didn’t have the balls to disclose his own tax returns.
But the fact that he was voted in by people who sincerely believe that Trump is going to actually “make America great again” speaks volumes about where we are, today, as a species.
We are thoroughly, utterly, deluded. So deluded that the self-serving lies of a billionaire bigot just got him elected leader of the free world.
Let’s take stock for a moment. This is happening at a point when the world is now well on the way to breaching the 2C limit into dangerous climate change; when global debt levels now exceed pre-crash levels in 2007; where global inequality is so high that half of all wealth is controlled by the 1%; where governments continue, despite all this, to spend massive amounts of money on wars in the Middle East, only to escalate the threat we’re supposed to be fighting; while civil liberties are being eroded amidst the consolidation of mass surveillance and other draconian state powers to intrude into the lives of individuals merely for daring to dissent against the status quo.
Where does this leave us?
Now is not the time to simply despair, to clutch our heads and lay down in shock. Although, by all means, we might need to go through that process.
Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves, and get to work. Because Trump’s victory proves we just haven’t worked hard enough.
It also proves that it’s only a matter of time before the self-serving fantasy he has woven to win the White House unravels. Trump will, inevitably, pull the rug out from under his own feet.
Representing the most predatory, machoistic, egoistic dimensions of what is politically possible, Trump’s efforts to follow through with the outlandish, destructive policies he has proposed throughout his campaign will not make America great again.
They will hurt America, and they will hurt all of humanity, and they will hurt planet earth. They will do so because Trump does not represent any sort of alternative at all, but merely a more regressive, aggressive version of business-as-usual.
And the more Trump, in his raving glory, does so, the quicker America, the world and humanity will wake up to the folly of what he stands for.
In the meantime, we must raise our voices together and louder than ever in the fight for fairer, cleaner, safer and more inclusive societies for all.