The Value of Trump
Donald Trump is an invaluable asset to socialists. In one single, highly visible person, he personifies all of socialists critique of capitalism. By the hour, he exposes all of the humbug spouted by the apologists of capitalism.
Marx quoting Shakespeare says something like money turns every dimwit into a genius. Is there any clearer, more visible expression of that truth than Donald Trump. Here is an example, of a totally ignorant, boorish, buffoon who inherited billions, and with that wealth was able to buy the brains he required to run his business empire. Even then, he managed to go bankrupt four times, with the source of his money used to finance his current business operations open to doubt, and investigation by Robert Mueller and others, as Trump refuses to publish his accounts, and relations with Russia. But, the truth as Marx indicates is that with the billions he inherited, there was no need for Trump even to have risked that wealth in any business activity to have appeared a genius.
$1 million, simply deposited at interest, even with today’s low rates of interest, will provide you with $10,000 a year in revenue. A billion dollars, however, will provide you with $10 million a year of revenue, risk free! It’s why those social-democrats who criticise Labour’s decision not to impose heavier taxes on train and lorry, drivers, or head teachers and so on, earning moderately higher wages than the average, of £50,000 a year or more, act as defenders of workers’ real enemies amongst the ruling class. On the one hand, they undermine the solidarity of the working-class, by setting one group of poorly paid workers against other groups of better paid workers, thereby falling for the oldest trick in the capitalists playbook, of divide and rule, whilst giving the false impression that the route to a sustainable improvement in workers’ condition, can come from bureaucratically taxing one group of workers, that has managed to improve its situation, and then handing over their money to another group of workers that has paid poorly, in the process, thereby subsidising all of those inefficient, poorly paying bosses, who get away with paying low wages for a while longer.
Its like those backward sections of workers who attack civil service and local government workers for having what the Tory media tell them are “gold-plated pensions”. They seem to think that because they have failed themselves to join trades unions, or to fight in those unions to keep or obtain, final salary scheme pensions, that their position would somehow be ameliorated, by demanding that other groups of workers that have fought to defend such pensions, should also lose them! But, someone like Trump exposes the totally shortsighted, and wrong-headed character of such thoughts. A billionaire like Trump, or even someone with $100 million or above, not only obtains an income way above any wages that any actual worker, who sells their labour-power, might obtain, but because that income does not in any way depend on doing one minute of labour, they are ensured to continue to receive it, for as long as they live, blowing out of the water, even the best pension that any worker might obtain.
Trump exposes in glaring orange colours the reality stated by Marx 150 years ago that the road to socialism lies not in the realm of distribution, of taxing one group of workers only to transfer it to another group of workers, but in the realm of production. It resides not in dividing ourselves between poorly paid workers and better paid workers, but between workers per se, and capitalists, like Trump. Indeed, Trump exposes that division even more glaringly than most. The apologists for capitalism have always been able to point to the small amount of actual labour performed by entrepreneurs as the basis of the capitalists revenue. The reality is, of course, that those firms although numerically dominant, are economically subordinate to the big socialised capitals. Moreover, the profits of those companies are derived, as with any other from the capital itself, on the basis of the average rate of profit, not from any unique characteristic of the particular entrepreneur, whose contribution to any such differences is always marginal. But, not even that excuse can be claimed for Trump. When he has got involved in actually using his inherited wealth, he has gone bankrupt, often as with his exploits in Atlantic City, causing economic chaos in his wake. But, Trump need perform no labour to enjoy $10 million a year in interest off a billion dollars of savings. In fact, with even a moderately good financial advisor, a billion dollars could bring in a lot more than $10 million a year in risk free, interest and dividends.
And another example of this same principle that money can turn a dimwit like Trump into a genius applies in other ways too. We heard Trump’s claims, for example, that he could freely walk up and grab hold of women’s pussies, because they just allowed him to get away with it. And, of course for those that don’t, his money can also be used to simply pay them off. Not only does money turn a dimwit into a genius, but it also turns a boorish, ignorant and unpleasant oaf into a Casanova. Does anyone think that this man whose facial expressions vary between that of someone who has just been Tangoed practising for a gurning competition and total vacuity of mind, whose head looks as though a passing wind has just dropped a bird’s nest on top of it, whose every word shows not only the extent of his stupidity, but also of his self-obsession, would have attracted the women he has, other than for his billions of dollars?
Trump exposes the fundamental lie at the heart of capitalism that wealth is obtained by hard work, or the application of some special skill, talent or knowledge, because Trump has none of those things, and yet has billions, and thereby the ability to have billions more simply flow into his pockets. The fact, that Trump despite his idiocy, and abhorrent views, despite his record of bankruptcy, could be elected President of the United States also says a lot. It says a lot about a United States democracy, where only billionaires, or those with access to them, can be in a position to be able even to stand for that office, and where money buys all of the support, media and other things required to get elected. It also says a lot about how that situation created politicians such as Hillary Clinton, who couldn’t get elected, because even against such a distasteful person as Trump, they are seen as part of the problem not the solution, as par of the same old corrupt system, especially after it was shown how Bernie Sanders bid for the nomination had been undermined.
Trump exposes all of those lies at the heart of capitalism simply by being. The large number of backward elements that voted for Trump might, in the short term, be moved to vote for him, out of ignorance, and as simply an unthinking means of lashing out at their condition, in the same way that similar elements supported Trump’s equivalents such as Bojo and Farage, over Brexit, but at the same time, Trump has acted to vitalise many of those more advanced sections of the US working-class that mobilised as part of the Occupy Movement, into organised political action, mobilising within the grass roots of the Democrat Party, swelling the ranks of the Democratic Socialists of America, and its activity within the Democrat Party, bringing democratic socialist candidates on to the political stage, and into Congress, and State legislatures across the country, for the first time in decades. And, they are doing that now, not by appeals to those same old billionaires, but as with the movement behind Corbyn in Britain, by mobilising large numbers of grass roots activists that go out, and recruit even larger numbers by activity within their communities.
But, Trump exposes the lies that are at the heart of capitalism also by his own stupidity. I have written in the past about the fact that lying is central to the continuation of capitalist rule, and bourgeois politics. But, the lies at the heart of bourgeois ideology work because they are subtle, and wrapped in layers of false consciousness, which itself derives from a superficial appearance of reality as it presents itself to individuals. The idea of “A Fair Day’s Work for a Fair Day’s Wage”. for example, appears superficially fine, and morally defensible, until you analyse the reality that workers wages never amount to anything like the new value that workers create by their labour, and that the difference between those two things, which gets ever wider, as capitalism develops, is the basis for capitalists like Trump to obtain their large profits without working, and that it allows similar capitalists to receive huge amounts of income purely as interest payments, even without giving any semblance of taking any part in the productive process, or of risking their wealth in any way.
The lies at the heart of bourgeois ideology rely upon a modicum of truth, and a careful weaving of a narrative that appears believable. But, Trump, is such an idiot that he is unable to see that. He makes the lying at the heart of capitalism apparent, because his lies, which he produces on an industrial scale, every day, in his inane tweets, and via his press statements, whenever he goes off script, are so obvious, and ridiculous. But, Trump’s real damage to capitalism is not when he lies, which merely makes him an object of derision and contempt, comes rather from when he tells the truth!
For decades, bourgeois ideology claimed the moral high ground, particularly after it was not so apparently supporting apartheid in South Africa, dropping megatons of bombs and napalm on men, women and children in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, or supporting death squads in El Salvador. Bourgeois ideology attempted to have us forget all of that side of its activities, as bourgeois democratic regimes emerged in Latin America, and the Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians joined in with their Chinese brethren in adopting the capitalist road. The bourgeoisie was able instead to point to immorality, and cruelty of communism, as Stalin, then Mao caused the deaths of millions by starvation, and outright murder.
They were helped in that by those sections of the fake left, who themselves gave credence to the socialist credential of the Stalinist butchers, and who worse gave left cover for all of those reactionary nationalists, and clerical-fascists, such as the Iranian regime, Hezbollah, or Hamas, as well as those like Chavez and so on, solely on the basis of their supposed “anti-imperialism”. The reality was always that capital uses democracy and fascism only as means to an end. Wherever it can it prefers the former, because it has lower overhead costs, and ensures a greater degree of control. Fascist regimes are always bureaucratic and inefficient, as they preside over what is essentially slave labour, and the fascist rules in such regimes have a tendency to also want to line their own pockets rather than those of the ruling class. But, whenever capital has to it is just as at home dealing with fascists as with bourgeois democrats.
US capital had no trouble dealing, via its links with the Saudi regime, with Osama Bin Laden, building up his resources through the intermediary of the dictatorship in Pakistan, to be able to establish the Afghan Mujaheddin to fight the Soviets. And, it used Bin Laden as intermediary to build up the criminal gangs that comprised the Kosovan Liberation Army, also to undertake attacks on Kosovan Serbs, so as to provoke a civil war, and create the conditions for attacking Serbia, as NATO pressed ever eastwards, surrounding the former USSR, and positioning it strategically on China’s western flank. But, the bourgeoisie, and its political representatives have always undertaken such activities under cover of carefully constructed narratives, of intervention on humanitarian grounds etc., with the lies that underpin those narratives carefully hidden. But, Trump is an idiot, he sees no need for such lies. He understands the actual truth about capitalism and its money making endeavours, acts upon, it and when asked explains how and why he is acting upon it.
So, for decades capitalist regimes, despite all of their moralising have been happy to sell arms to any tinpot dictator anywhere in the world, in order to make money. Many Labour MP’s have adopted that stance too. Instead of standing with workers, and creating alternative workers plans for production, as for example the Lucas Aerospace workers did, in the 1970’s, they accept all of the lies of capitalism, and the right of capital to produce what it wants unimpeded, and so conclude that capital has to be allowed to sell arms to South Africa’s apartheid regime, or to the feudal regimes in Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf States, and so on, “because jobs depend on it.” These are the same bourgeois politicians who praise the decision to abolish the slave trade in the 19th century, but of course, that is now safely in the past. If it were today, those politicians would be arguing that it would have to continue, because the supply of slaves, and of cheap cotton, sugar and other products from the Caribbean, and the Southern US states, was vital to maintaining British jobs, and living standards.
Some of those politicians, like Theresa May, make the same kinds of arguments in relation to selling arms to Saudi Arabia today, despite its murder of Kashoggi, and its daily slaughter of hundreds of Yemenis, and its barbaric rule over its own people. But, May couches her support for Saudi in nuanced terms. It is necessary to counter Iran, Saudi provides intelligence against terrorism (despite the reality that it is Saudi that has financed the jihadists in Syria, Libya and elsewhere, and which fosters clerical-fascist ideologies across the globe by its financing and support of a network of Madrassas, promoting Wahabism. Trump has no truck with such niceties. He is openly prepared to sanction the Saudis murder of Kashoggi, a US citizen, simply because he is not going to let a small thing like morality get in the way of capitalist money-making. Trump says openly his position is “America First”, by which he means American capitalism, and the interests of American capitalists like himself first. To that end, he will deal with any butcher, murder, tinpot dictator if it means making money. he thereby destroys the whole ideology of the bourgeoisie built up in recent decades about the moralistic nature of capitalism and imperialism. Lenin, of course, knew the reality long ago, and said that the imperialists in their drive for profits would sell them the machines required to surpass the capitalist states, and the weapons with which to fight them when the time came.
But, Trump gave another example of that the other day that was closer to home. The reality has always been that Brexit is a dangerous illusion, again built upon a series of lies that are exposed on closer inspection, or on contact with reality. The idea that the UK could walk away from the 70% of its trade that it does with the EU or with other states covered by EU negotiated trad deals, was absurd. But, the idea was promoted not just by the Brextremists, but also by Theresa May, with her appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary that Britain could somehow have a deal with the EU that provided it with frictionless access to the EU single market, and Customs UNion, whilst simultaneously negotiating its own trade deals with countries such as the USA, China, India and so on. But, of course, it can’t, in reality.
Firstly, the EU is not going to give the UK effective membership of the Customs Union and Single market, without taking on the other conditions that come with it. But, secondly, as Trump has pointed out now, the US is not going to do a trade deal with a Britain that is also covered by the restrictions, rules and regulations of the Single Market, because the US has its own competing sets of restrictions rules and regulations that it seeks to impose on its trading partners, so as to maximise US advantage in those relations. Some other, more subtle bourgeois politician would not have simply stated that openly. Trump is invaluable in that respect, because his lies are so palpably ridiculous that they simply bring forth scorn, and discredit on the capitalist system upon which Trump sits atop, and his stupidity leads him, when he does speak openly, to expose all of that nasty underbelly of capitalist self-serving, and immorality that the bourgeoisie would rather have remained hidden.
Originally published at boffyblog.blogspot.com on November 28, 2018.