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Re: <nettime> What is the meaning of Trump's victory?
Brian Holmes on Thu, 10 Nov 2016 19:15:58 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> What is the meaning of Trump's victory?


On 11/09/2016 05:48 PM, Michael Goldhaber wrote:
In fact, Hillary won a plurality of the popular vote, with probably a
larger margin than Gore in 2000, once the California tally becomes final
in a few days (absentee ballots mailed on election day have three days
to arrive and still be counted).

On 11/09/2016 11:51 AM, Eric Miller wrote:
> We can’t just focus on the flaws of capitalism.  To me, Trump’s
> election is Exhibit A in what we can expect if we don’t find a way to
> give people meaningful lives in an emerging world of automation owned
> by big capital.

Both of you make important points and it's true that what I wrote
is the expression of long-held ideas, restated at three in the
morning under the influence of sorrow, rage and alcohol. It doesn't
necessarily advance the thinking of this new situation, mea culpa.

It was noted after Brexit that young people voted massively for
remain, and tonight I crisscrossed Chicago with many thousands of
young people blocking Lake Shore Drive, expressing solidarity with
everyone Trump has threatened, and uttering slogans so fierce and
intelligent that my heart is flooded with admiration for this new
generation.

However, politics is implacable, and when I said majority I meant
the single largest voting bloc ("white no college"). It goes beyond
those with no degree. When Eric Miller describes the difficulties his
Midwestern relatives have faced compared to the coasts, he's talking
real. After two major defeats, if you say: "We are the real winners,
we just happened to lose again," then there is some kind of illusion
going on.

Eric points to the disempowering force of automation. To that you
can add offshoring and the downward pressure on wages that comes
from massive numbers of non-citizen workers. Together these three
conditions have broken the social contract of all the advanced
industrial democracies. My point is that we can't pretend these
contradictions don't exist. Automation, offshoring and the cynical
exploitation of the most defenceless immigrant workers are expressions
of pure capitalist principles (profit at any cost). Pure capitalism
is self-destructive, unless it is tempered and corrected by a social
democracy that changes some of its basic axioms. I agree with Eric
that the real question is how to do this tempering and correcting.
It's not so simple as rejecting the entire system.

I don't think Basic Income will do it. The US, like the UK before it,
is losing its empire and cannot pay with expropriated money to make
up for the injustices of its core principles. (That holds for all the
old industrial countries btw). The problem is not just that we don't
have the jobs and we don't have the cash. The problem is that even
unlimited growth is gonna kill us through climate change. Or to put it
in Eric's terms: if we get the self-driving cars, we still won't know
where we're going.

How to live in North America, when the US and Canadian working classes
are being shafted and Mexico is threatened with collapse due to
narco-capitalism? How to live in the world, when the tremendous growth
of ill-conceived exchanges is undermining the reproducibility of not
just the human species? I think that a deep transformation of our
ways of life can be carried out in such a manner that it provides
meaningful work for everyone. There is no way to be satisfied with
life if you can't build your own future in the knowledge that you are
contributing to that of others.

The Democrats pay lip service to Black Lives Matter. But they have
not done a damn thing about the impossible conditions of life in US
ghettos, or in the countryside, or in all those formerly industrial
cities overcome by the epidemic of heroin addiction. There's no way
to pay all those people off. Trump is farther ahead than the Dems,
because like Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn, he says we have to
reformulate the political economy.

Easier said than done. The whole so-called "Western" world (including
Japan, and why not all of Asia?) knows full well that we are living
in the grip of a parasite class, the financial managers that steer
development for their own profit. The outcomes are obvious and tragic.
The great achievement of the US Democratic Party since 1968, which I
don't mean to deny in any way, is to to have made all those groups
formerly called "minorities" into crucial components of a voting bloc.
That's a starting point. Now let's ditch the financial elites that
currently control the Democratic Party, and replace them with at least
a part of the working class, or the so-called "majority" (which is
another desperate minorty in its own right, like all of us). Let's put
people - and ourselves - to work on creating a survivable environment
for the 21st century.

Credit is the most abundant thing in the world, because you can just
invent it whenever you really need it. The Donald is going to try that
(it's his instantly famous "infrastructure policy") and then he's
gonna fuck up and crash and burn. On the left, we have to get serious.
We did not win this election and this is not the best of all possible
worlds. The full majority would be all the oppressed minorities cut
free from their hypocritical masters: a political formation that is
currently non-existing. Such a majority has to be built with ideas
and labor intermingled. It has to reject the idea that you can profit
from a disastrous form of development, and somehow use the mysterious
"excess money" (where is it?) to pay for those who have been shafted.

Credit is only due where there is a viable plan, a lifelong return
on just investment. Capitalism as I see it - call it by any other
name - is the automation of human beings out of any other reason for
existing. The first important labor for working intellectuals is to
name the many reasons for a majority to transform the conditions of
existence on this earth. The second major thing would be to test out
these hypotheses, and see if they actually work in real people's
hands. The proof is in the life that the majority (or much better,
the sum of the minorities) actually leads. Government means giving
people the conditions to actually make their own private lives better
for everyone. And that's nothing so abstract as "the critique of
capitalism."

thanks for your ideas Michael and Eric -

BH



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