Friday, 5 February 2021

Trump: Faux Revolutionary

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Now for the second event. When pro-Trump protesters invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, they also did the right thing for the wrong reason: they were right in protesting the US electoral system with its complicated mechanisms whose aim is to render impossible a direct expression of popular dissatisfaction (this was clearly stated by the Founding Fathers themselves). But their attempt was not a Fascist coup. Prior to taking power, Fascists make a deal with big business, but now “Trump should be removed from office to preserve democracy, business leaders say.” So did Trump incite the protesters against big business? Not really — recall that Steve Bannon was thrown out of the White House when he not only opposed Trump’s tax plan but openly advocated raising taxes for the rich to 40 percent; he also argued that rescuing banks with public money is “socialism for the rich.” [my emph.] Trump advocating ordinary people’s interests is like the titular character from Orson Welles’ classic movie Citizen Kane. When a rich banker accuses Kane of speaking for the poor mob, he answers that, yes, his newspaper speaks for the poor ordinary people in order to prevent the true danger, which is that the poor ordinary people will speak for themselves.
As Yuval Kremnitzer demonstrated, Trump is a populist who remains within the system. Like any populism, today’s also distrusts political representation, the pretense of speaking directly for the people. It complains about how its hands are tied by the “deep state” and financial establishment, so its message is “If only we didn’t have our hands tied, we would be able to do away with our enemies once and for all.” However, in contrast to old authoritarian populism (like Fascism), which is ready to abolish formal-representative democracy and really take over and impose a new order, today’s populism doesn’t have a coherent vision of some new order. The positive content of its ideology and politics is an inconsistent bricolage of measures to bribe “our own” poor, to lower the taxes for the rich, to focus hatred on immigrants and our own corrupt elite outsourcing jobs, etc. That’s why today’s populists don’t really want to get rid of the established representative democracy and fully take power. “Without the ‘fetters’ of the liberal order to struggle against, the new right would actually have to take some real action,” and this would render obvious the vacuity of their program. Today’s populists can only function in the indefinite postponement of achieving their goal since they can only function as opposing the “deep state” of the liberal establishment: “The new right does not, at least not at this stage, seek to establish a supreme value — for instance, the nation, or the leader — that would fully express the will of the people and thereby allow and perhaps even require the abolition of the mechanisms of representation.”
What this means is that the true victims of Trump are his ordinary supporters who take seriously his babble against liberal corporate elites and big banks. He is the traitor of his own populist cause. His liberal critics accuse him of seemingly controlling his supporters ready to violently fight for him, while he is really at their side, inciting them to violence. But he is NOT really on their side. On the morning of Jan. 6 he addressed the rally on the Ellipse: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women. And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” However, when the mob did this and approached the Capitol, Trump retreated to the White House and watched on television as the violence unfolded on Capitol Hill.
Did Trump really want a coup d’├ętat? Unambiguously NO. When the mob penetrated the Capitol, he made a statement: “’I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order.” Trump blamed his opponents for the violence today and praised his supporters, saying, “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you; you’re very special.” And when the mob began to disperse, Trump posted a tweet defending the actions of his supporters who stormed and vandalized the Capitol: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.” He concluded his tweet with: “Remember this day forever!” Yes, we should — because it displayed the fakeness of US democracy as well as the fakeness of the populist protest against it. Just a few elections in the US really mattered, such as the California gubernatorial election in 1934, when Democratic candidate Upton Sinclair lost because the entire establishment organized an unheard-of campaign of lies and defamations. (Hollywood announced that, if Sinclair won, it would move to Florida.)

Slavoj Zizek.

H/T Farmer.

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