Donald Trump’s the Perfect President for the Times
If you’re looking for a symbolic, non-spin, unwhitewashed representation of the state of things, you simply can’t get any better a president than Donald Trump.
Pic: White House official Flickrstream — CC — now seems to have been taken down
A fast food president is exactly what is most needed right now — a president who highlights so crassly what a society under late-stage capitalism truly looks like without any PR whitewashing. Who better to represent the kind of decay that has happened to our societies after rich politicians like Trump sold them from under citizens’ noses over 40 years ago to … well, to rich businesspeople like Trump?
Of course, the sucking dry of our public commons has been going on for a long time now, especially since it was decided capitalism — and therefore inequality — was a good idea. It sped up in the last 50 years and now, in the last 10 or so, it’s running at warp speed, so that even people not much interested in the machinations of politics, and the health of the social fabric, are seeing the frayed rasps of warped threads flapping as they studiously step over the bodies of rough sleepers on the streets of both America, the richest economy in the world, and mine, Australia, the 13th richest, in order to escape inside the sanctuary of our homes.
Of course, it is easy to not see how warped our societies now are if we remain committed to the hyper-individualist idea that everyone sleeping rough on the streets is there because they deserve it. Moral failure, blaming the individual, is a core tenet of neoliberalism. It is scary how easy it is to take upon ourselves what is not so much a failure of ours as it is a failure of the society on which, if we are able to be humble enough to admit, we depend. This self-blame thing works so well that it’s been one of the most relentlessly used tools in the playbook of politicians and the corporations they work for. It’s been like a shielding cloak to keep themselves invisible.
Well, not any more.
All of this unravelling was going on under Obama, too. Nothing much has changed really between him and the Orange. Not in the wider view. It’s horrible to acknowledge, but bad treatment at borders was going on under Obama’s watch too. Just not anywhere near as bad. Greedy people nearly sent the entire world economy completely over the edge under Obama’s watch. And the response of his government? To sell out the people, save the banks and arrest no one. Which is exactly what just happened in Australia at the final findings of the Royal Commission into corrupt banking practices. The number of individuals recommended for criminal prosecution? Zero.
Maybe Obama was just too hot and eloquent a president for us to believe capitalism is one evil motherfucker. But we believe it now, right? Even those of us who weren’t all that into politics entered into political conversations when the Donald was elected and America caved in on itself. It felt like the sky was falling in, this clown who stumbled over his words, who’d appealed to those people in America who were struggling most under the callous effects of globalisation — of manufacturing jobs gone to China, of few prospects for getting ahead under a system that has offered up the poorest of a society as mince to its austerity fodder machine. Those people who Hillary Clinton, from her perch of true privilege, called deplorables.
Of course, Hillary, Donald, Obama, they all sit on the same perch in the end. That we all fight amongst ourselves about which of their party gangs we belong to is a particular kind of blindness, that of people who believe they are being political when really they’re just playing tribal politics. The reality is, Democrats, Republicans — and Labor and Liberal here in Australia — all play by the same playbook, ultimately. It’s a playbook we don’t need to take too much notice of here in Australia if we don’t want to, though many of us who’ve fallen into harder times have felt the bloody edge of austerity’s blade here. The playbook they play from is endless war and furthering inequality and continuing neoliberality, or supporting Washington and London to do so.
There are no answers to the greatest of our problems from any of those parties, because the answers we need cannot come from parties that are hollowed out, empty as gloves, existing now only to serve the corporations and the rich who pay for their adherence.
This is why Scott Morrison is our perfect prime minister for Australia’s times. What better PM for a country which has most unswervingly done Washington and London’s bidding, ever since the MI5 and CIA came to Gough Whitlam in 1975 and told him his party’s time was up? Both major parties have known the limits of the boundaries ever since. It’s true that the LNP needs to go. But when Labor comes in — what then? They don’t have the answers we need to the problems our frayed society faces, to the zombie economy teetering on its feet, to the climate change we are seeing the effects of but cannot address in our policies and in our financial system because both parties are unable to change the status quo — a cancerous system of endless growth that must continue killing the world’s old growth forests so that multinational corporations can make more profit from razor blades and dishwashing detergent.
They don’t have the answers we need. They make it very hard to believe there are any answers at all to the question of whether it’s even possible to live in societies where inequality does not rule. But increasing evidence from anthropology and archaeology suggest that humanity’s first cities were actually egalitarian. In places such as Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and the Basin of Mexico, say anthropologist David Graeber and archeologist David Wengrow, “there is mounting evidence that the first cities were organised on self-consciously egalitarian lines, municipal councils retaining significant autonomy from central government. In the first two cases, cities with sophisticated civic infrastructures flourished for over half a millennium with no trace of royal burials or monuments, no standing armies or other means of large-scale coercion, nor any hint of direct bureaucratic control over most citizens’ lives.”
If they could do it then, why can we not return to that again now? Because we sure need it. We need societies that work for sanity and sustainable flourishing. But first we need to believe they are possible at all.
And us humans are overwhelmed with the chaos going on in our societies. It is far too easy to go inside, shut the door and shut it all out.
But it’s the one thing we cannot do. We cannot turn away. As that revolting song said, we are the world. When enough of us turn on the status quo, it must bend and change. But we must turn on it. And this is why Trump and Morrison are the far better leaders for our countries at this time. They represent it’s true crass, ugly face, when we are told a million times a day that a little bit of tweaking and everything will be okay. We need our noses rubbed in them till we understand how truly ugly, dead and stupid this capitalist system is. They are not its anomaly but its epitome.