POTUS is among us. Today is day two of Trump’s state visit. Such events usually signify a diplomatic, political, ideological or, more usually, a commercial convergence between states.
What is distinct about this present state occasion is not that the interests of US capital and the political elite — which are shared with their opposite numbers in Britain — are threatened, but rather that the present incumbent of the White House himself is not fully trusted by either elite group.
Today the widest possible coalition of British public opinion will take to the streets to express, with exuberance, the many strands of disapproval for what Trump presents himself as being.
We should bear in mind that this craftily constructed vulgarian and Republican dissident was for decades a Democrat, a New York cosmopolitan and a Clinton confidante.
He was reinvented, and reinvented himself, for a particular purpose — to reconstitute a popular and ideological base for a section of US capital that desired a different orientation from that which the bipartisan bourgeois politics of the US elite preferred.
Trump’s reincarnation is the direct product of the global capitalist crisis which was signalled by the financial crash of 2007.
The market-mania which had become the unchallengeable economic orthodoxy in the neoliberal era of globalisation lost its credibility in a few short weeks of Wall Street crisis.
More than a decade later the structural problems which this crisis revealed have nowhere been tackled at root and, in every continent, the popular masses are on the move.
Gordon Brown thought he had saved the world by socialising capitalism’s banking losses and taking failing banks into state ownership.
Across the pond, after Barack Obama carried through a similar operation, he told the assembled bigwigs of the US banking system: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
They took note but failed to understand that Hillary Clinton was not the answer to their image problem.
The common features of the US and British capitalist crises are certainly economic, which is why Trump’s unconventionally undiplomatic foray in British domestic politics — in endorsing both Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson — is so illustrative of the political parallels.
If the US crisis produced both a Tea Party right and an Occupy left, Britain has the Corbyn phenomenon and the Brexit Party upsurge.
Capitalism has a real ideological crisis of confidence. A majority of US citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 have a higher opinion of socialism than of capitalism.
It is no longer possible to rely on the kind of bipartisan politics which linked Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation regime to New Labour’s PFI policies when even a majority of Tory voters desire public ownership of our railway system.
Trump won by the presidency on a minority vote by “attacking Wall Street in the name of Main Street” and concentrating on those sections of the US’s multiracial working class and those industrial states that had voted twice for Obama as the agent of change and found themselves unwilling to be fooled a third time.
If it is becoming abundantly clear that neither the neoliberal orthodoxy policed by the IMF, the World Bank and the EU, nor the narrow nationalism of the populist right, can provide answers for the real-life problems which concern working people of all lands, then one of the preconditions for socialist advance already exists.
A division in the ruling class is an opportunity for working-class advance only if there exists a political vehicle fit for the purpose.
This is why every bid to destabilise Labour’s leadership and weaken its radical manifesto commitments serves not the many but the few.
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