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Re: <nettime> What is the meaning of Trump's victory?
Keith Hart on Sun, 13 Nov 2016 01:55:28 +0100 (CET)


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


   There are clearly two tendencies on nettime at this time and many
   strung out between them. With some overlaps they are the two threads on
   Trump, started by Alex and Brian respectively. That is why I posted on
   Brian's. There is more I can relate to there, even though I don't
   expect to agree totally with my old friend Brian or him with me.
   Sameness-in-difference moves history, Hegel thought, and even poor mad
   Max Weber used similar arguments to moderate the polarised
   Methodenstreit (Battle over Methods) about economics of the late 19th
   century between Berlin and Vienna. We would not be interested in the
   Greeks if they were the same as us, he wrote, and we couldn't
   understand them, if they were completely different.
   I liked the exchange between Frederic and Brian a lot and I hope it
   continues. It made me feel more at home here than sometimes. It
   reminded me of my reaction to Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, the
   movie about the boys who shot up kids in their school. Moore grew up in
   Flint Michigan, a city that is plagued by the worst case of racism in
   the state and maybe for some distance beyond that. It goes way back and
   deep. It was not created by neoliberalism, but probably exacerbated by
   it. I don't know about that.� It needs a historical perspective,
   anyway.
   Moore asks, why is it that Canadians have as many guns as Americans
   (this may have changed lately), but kill people a whole lot less often?
   He takes a historical perspective, but it is literally a cartoon
   version. He says that Americans kill so many as a direct result of the
   racist origins of the country, rooted in slavery and fear of negro
   revolts.
   Two books published by CLR James in 1938: The Black Jacobins about the
   Haitian revolution and A History of Negro (now Pan-African) Revolt,
   which takes the story forward via the US in the early 19th century and
   the civil war to the imminent prospects for Africans to overthrow
   colonial empire. He told Trotsky he had got racism in the US all wrong
   and hated the duplicitous attitude of the Stalinsts (who were shooting
   at him in 30s Paris when he was researching the Haitian revolution). He
   wrote a text in the early 1950s when he was being ejected from the US
   after 15 years there. Anna Grimshaw and I edited it for publication as
   American Civilization in 1993. We thought it bore comparison with
   Tocqueville whom James draws on fully, as well as Melville and Whitman,
   but mainly US popular arts in the mid-20th century. It has been allowed
   to go out of print, but you can still pick up a copy on Amazon or ABE
   for about $15.
   I learned more from James than anyone else, both from his many books
   and from the years we spent together (with Anna) before he died in
   1989, between Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall. I will never forget
   watching the first with him on TV as a young man tried to obstruct the
   tanks. The occasion of the student protest was a meeting attended by
   Gorbachev. James held that were only two world revolutions left -- the
   second Russian revolution and the second American revolution. He once
   wrote a wonderful article comparing the American civil rights movement
   in 1956 with Nkrumah's Ghana revolution and the Hungarian revolution at
   the same time. He exaggerated the significance of Poland's Soldariity,
   but he was right about Africa and no-one, Europeans and Africans alike,
   believed in such a possibility when he wrote on the eve of WW2. Anyway,
   we were watching TV in May 1989 along with half the world; and CLR said
   to me "The Chinese communists will put down the students down easily,
   but the Russians won't hold onto Eastern Europe after this. He died two
   weeks later at the age of 88, so he didn't see the Berlin Wall come
   down six months later.
   Sorry for the digression, but the current topic is capitalism, racism
   and revolution in the US and the world. Back to Goodbye to Columbine. I
   almost wept when I saw that cartoon blaming US violence on racism. The
   root cause of our ills is private property, its indifference or
   hostility to the public interest. Nowhere has this been more developed
   than the US and never so far (perhaps) as in the Gilded Age and now in
   the neoliberal era that is collapsing around our ears. Americans have
   much less social protection (aka welfare state) than Canada or W.
   Europe, even though for some decades now their governments have rushed
   to follow them. The BRICS governments (China, India, Brazil, Russia and
   South Africa), all in their own distinctive way and mainly just for the
   sake of their own survival, have been trying to expand social
   protection for the millions recently brought into city markets without
   it. This echoes the era of development states, les trente glorieuses
   after 1945 in the industrial West, the post-colonial states and the
   Soviet bloc. The world had the biggest economic boom in world history
   then.
   It is because most American families have had so little to save them
   from the ravages of capital and markets based on private property that
   they turned to violence (domestic and public), religion and racism on a
   scale for which there ie no parallel elsewhere, except maybe in South
   Africa. The last three decades or more have made this much worse in the
   Anglophone countries, led by the US. In 2011, with the Arab Spring and
   Occupy, I thought that the world was on the move in a good direction.
   Remember the demonstrations in so many cities around the world when
   Occupy first happened? Many reacted with enthusiasm to the notion that
   the status quo was being challenged in its heartland, the centre of
   global empire.
   We have since learned, as after WW1 and WW2, that the race is on to
   determine what kind of states will come to rule the world, both in
   response to the ruin (actual and prospective) of societies and the
   world economy and to repair the damage brought about by reckless and
   lawless globalization. The contenders were before welfare state
   democracy, fascism and communism.They are still contenders, but the
   world has now been brought closer together by neoliberal markets,
   telecommunications and cheap mobility. Closer, but more divided and
   unequal at the same time -- an explosive recipe. Federalism and the
   nation-state are still the main options as they were 200 yers ago. Most
   of the big countries have federal origins, but have become more like
   nation-states since WW2. This is especially true of the US and may
   become more so under Trump. The EU, which I once saw as a beacon for
   the federal option, has become an undemocratic bullies club. I would
   not put it past the Europeans to launch WW3, as they did the previous
   two.
   What was new about neoliberalism, after all? Politicians have always
   needed money and moneymen political cover. Their alliance is at least
   300 or 400 years old and is probably universal. But they usually kept
   it under wraps, if they could. The Bank of England, Banque de France
   and Federal reserve are all based on private capital, but present
   themselves as an agency made by and serving the public interest. The
   difference is that neoliberals make a public virtue of this situation.
   God knows what variant Trump will come up with.
   In the meantime, we worry about what Trump is going to do -- and we
   have every reason to. But protesting in the streets won't do, at least
   by themselves. We need ways of imagining a better future, based on
   historical perspective and contemporary realism -- Hegel's (and
   Rousseau's) movement from the actual to the possible.The actual has
   deep roots in th epast as well as being global and not just local or
   national. My Facebook page if framed by a shot by a shot of Tahrir
   Square at night -- all that stirring agitation and animation, with
   cell-phone cameras flashing all around. It looks like something by
   Delacroix or Gericault. We all know what happened next in Egypt and its
   region.
   James would say the most people just want to keep what they have got
   most of the time -- and that is a good thing, he said, society would be
   impossible if it was run by a few professional agitators like him who
   spend all their time plotting to tu,rn everything upside down. But as
   Marx said, the revolution (and total war) comes like a thief in the
   night when no-one is expecting it. People now discover that they have
   lost most of what they had or are about to unless they do something
   about it and many of them join in with gusto. He would make up an
   illustrative example (he was also a novelist): you see this gut at th
   ebustop every day, buttoned up, never speaks to anyone. When the
   revolution comes, he could be organizing a street committee (soviet).
   In the revolution itself or war, the radical left may assume a position
   of leadership. since they have been dreaming about revolution all their
   adult lives. Or not, of course. It depends on who they are. Read
   Lenin's and Trosky's life history, for example.

   Keith

   On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 6:37 PM, Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

     On 11/11/2016 08:27 AM, Frederic Neyrat wrote:

     Here is my thought: as I don't think that racism is just a
     natural passion/affect/drive, I try to understand where it comes
     from. And, as I try to understand what happened in the USA, I
     thought that the neoliberal/capitalist/economic destruction of
     the economic, cultural, symbolic conditions of a certain number
     of white people, who however voted for Obama during the two last
     elections (at least some of them), fueled, generated or regenerated
     racism and a reactionary moment: to restore (or/and produce) a
     patriarchal/racist/misogynistic situation.
 <...>

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