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<nettime> Fwd: What is the meaning of Trump's Victory
Keith Hart on Thu, 24 Nov 2016 23:20:27 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Fwd: What is the meaning of Trump's Victory

I agree with Alex -- the end of liberalism in all its forms is nigh and the
West/Security Council will soon be 'fascist', with the possible exception
of poor old Blighty which, according to me, is breaking up and its state no
longer able to project power inside or outside its territory. But to use
the term 'fascist' is to focus on the wrong period, like referring to
post-2008 as a return to the Great Depression. We need a longer-term
perspective, such as the 20th and 21st centuries taken together, if we want
to place our moment in world history.

In 1900, Europeans controlled around 80% of the world's land. Europe itself
had a population of 400 million, a quarter of the world's population (36%
including lands of temperate zone new settlement). Its expansion was
fuelleded by a demographic explosion, 1830-1930. It was the main centre for
imperialism and machine industry; Africa had a share of only 7.5%, hardly
any cities and almost no machines -- the 'scramble for Africa'  from the
1880s was easy, feeding notions of White racial superiority. By 2100, Asia
is projected to have 42% of the world's population (down from 60% today)
and Africa 40% (up from 15% today). The rest -- all the New World, Europe
and Russia, Australasia and Oceania -- will muster 18% between them, Europe
6% (including many migrants from Africa and Asia). This shift is extremely

Between the 1880s and 1914, 50 mn Europeans left home, 37 mn to the US; 50
mn 'coolies' from India and China moved to the Tropics - they had to be
kept apart since Europeans earned 9 shillgs a day and Asians 1 shilling for
the same work. But the two met in the US and South Africa, where whites
already controlled substantial black populations who weremoving fast into
the cties. Robert Vitalis, in White World Order, Black Power Politics: The
Birth of American International Relations, shows that IR was first driven
by racism and imperialism, not by power struggles between states or
geographical blocs, as it has been since 1945 (with racism latent, not
overt). Foreign Affairs started out in 1910 as The Journal of Race
Development. The question was how the whites could retain control in the
face of a declining share of the world's population.

The outbreak of World War 1 changed everything. In the previous three
decades, financial imperialism (what Polanyi called haute finance aka the
Rothschilds, JP Morgan etc) ruled the world, the Russian economy grew at an
average annual rate of 10% and all that movement transformed art and
science -- cubism, relativity and quantum etc. Until then, no-one thought
that nation-states could control the turbulence of urban markets,
industrial capitalism and population movement -- stated were a fixed and
outmoded relic of an agrarian age lasting 5,000 years. A new alliance
between capitalists and the military landlord class in revolutions of the
1860s and early 70s gave birth to national capitalism, gestated through the
age of imperialism until it became the 20th century's dominant social form.

After the Great War, the senseless slaughter of the trenches undermined
Europeans' belief in their own monopoly of reason and civilization. The hit
movie of 1922 was Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, showing an
Eskimo's resilience in the face of appalling natural forces. In the same
year, Malinowski launched modern anthropology with Argonauts of the Western
Pacific, TS Eliot published The Waste Land, Joyce Ulysses and Wittgenstein
his Tractatus.

During the war, states mobilized and killed off vast armies, they
controlled industrial production, set prices in markets and rationed
supplies, monopolised propaganda. Trade, transport and migration were
severely disrupted. After the war, the race was on to determine which kind
of state would rule the world -- welfare state 'democracy', fascism or
communism? The world economy, led by Wilson -- who saw that nationalism
would undo the European empires, especially the British -- turned inwards
to national capitalism import-substituting industrialization (socialism in
one country) for 60 years.

WW2 knocked out fascism, unleashed the anti-colonial revolution and the
Cold War, followed by les trente glorieuses of developmental states in the
western capitalist, Soviet bloc and newly independent countries. For the
first and only time, governments gave priority to increasing the purchasing
power of working people and investing in public infrastructure. This was
the last world revolution; Reagan and Thatcher's neoliberal conservatism
(ably assisted by Kohl and Nakasone, not to mention Deng, Pinochet, the
Chicago School etc) was the counter-revolution.

The collapse of national capitalism and of neoliberal globalization in our
time is more reminiscent of 1913-14 than anything else, with the US as
Britain now and China as Russia. British power was already in decline then
and many would like to think that American power is on the way down now. I
beg to differ and so does Trump. The US still has all those weapons and
bases around the world, a third of the world market, the world currency (a
haven in times of turbulence) and generates most of the hardware, software,
content and giant organizations of the internet/cell phone economy, which
is fast becoming the world economy. Mercantilism has never gone out of
fashion. American rulers can ensure that the fighting takes place somewhere
else, unless they are foolish enough to declare war on Mexico.

Europe will be the main and permanent loser in this world crisis. China
imports massive quantities of food and energy and, like the other Asian
manufacturers, still relies on exports without having yet replaced them
with production for the home market (Lenin's recipe in The Development of
Capitalism in Russia, 1899, still the best book on early capitalist
growth). Africa's future is highly indeterminate and, with 2 out 5 human
beings by the end of this century, that is worth thinking about.

Clearly there is nothing inevitable about any of this -- the demography,
world money and markets, war, the internet's future, the end of national
capitalism, its replacement, the political forms emergent now. I would bet
that the US will emerge stronger from what's coming up. In any case,
progressives had better start thinking outside the box of an introverted
Western politics and link up with where all the people are. The most
hopeful political coalitions when I was younger were the anti-war and
nuclear disarmament movements. No doubt we want to forget nightmares. We
need a vigorous global anti-war movement before it happens. Maybe that is
as unlikely as a solution to the world's money problems soon. Many people
will have to lose a lot more than they have already before they will
contemplate the radical changesi necessary to address these contradictions

In 1938, CLR James published a little book, The History of Negro (now
Pan-african) Revolt in which he predicted African emancipation from
colonial empire soon. He had no takers from African politicians then and
the European far left (he was Britain's most prominent Trostkyist at the
time) insisted that the revoluton had to take place in Europe before they
would give Africans their independence. WW2 changed all that. WW3 would do
the same. We have to decide if we would rather stop it or, like the
Bolsheviks in 1917 and the fascists afterwards, take revolutionary
advantage of the disaster.


 On Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 8:51 AM, Alex Foti <alex.foti {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

>    trump has brought neoliberalism to an end - he's a nationalist not a
>    conservative - in my view it will bring the demise of liberalism in all
>    its forms (including those protective of individual rights) across all
>    of what used to be called the west....

Prof. Keith Hart
135 rue du Faubourg Poissonniere
75009 Paris, France
Cell: +33684797365

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