There is one question that is being asked around the world, by both the working-class and the bourgeois: what will the world look like under the Donal Trump presidency? The world is truly at a precipice today, where currently only a handful of countries around the world are not in war or engaged in a proxy war. The political divide between the left and the right parliamentary parties have widened considerably with the ultra-right fascist groups winning more seats in parliaments and the left wing parties increasingly depending on grass roots movements and street protests for political power. The environment, the climate, is at a tipping point due to greenhouse gases. Change, economically and politically, has become increasingly fast and is now being discussed in every workplace lunch room, during every break, and front and centre on televisions and radios in every home. Now, with the election of Trump as the president and commander and chief of the most powerful economic engine and military on earth, everyone is holding their breath to see what comes next.
The answer to what Trump means for the United States and concomitantly around the world can be understood in relation to the neoliberal engine that has driven the US economy for the last four decades. This supply-side economics – cuts and austerity based economic policy- is embedded into the contradictions that are already ossified into the engine of capital. There will be some important political choices that Trump can make in relation to trade, and foreign relations, however his administration functions within a neoliberal political and economic machine that he cannot divert from (nor that he would want to). In this way, the path of neoliberalism will remain uninterrupted, but will now continue with a greater intensity due to the exponential compound growth of global capitalism, and will accelerate its draconian impact at the cost of working-class: socially, economically and psychologically.
Under Donald Trump, the wage suppression of the working-class in the United States will continue against the rate of inflation and increasing production, thus further shrinking the purchasing power of the working-class. The use of credit cards to fill the gap between the supply and demand in the market will also continue, increasing the indebtedness of the working people. Further, the contradiction between the production and realization of capital will also widen. The places that produce many of the goods consumed in the US, such as factories in South Asia, will have even more pressure to reduce the wages of the sweatshop workers and expose the workers to further deplorable working conditions. This will be in order to keep the goods that are produced as cheap as possible to meet the disposable income of the working people in the US and other Western countries. This will be the continuation of the Primark and Walmart phenomenon selling ever-cheaper goods to make lower wages more acceptable.
Other trends that will continue under Trump will include further erosion of the welfare state, which already almost bereft of all funding, will be cut further. This will include the privatization of Medicaid that currently supports millions of Americans with healthcare. Other changes will include the lifting of health insurance caps that Obama had put in, which will have a deleterious impact in relation to social reproduction of labour. The worker will have ever more difficult time procuring enough purchasing power to pay for rent, food, housing and education.
Privatization of what we now consider as public ownership will also continue – meaning increasing monetization of what we now consider as “free”. This will include a growing number of companies that will capitalize on empty rooms in a house (such as Air B&B), or the trek in the family car to work (car sharing), the space for storage in a house, and even leftover food after a family dinner could be sold on the market for a price. All and everything will soon have a price-tag attached to be sold. The market, under Trump, will continue its trend to monetize all “use-values” into “exchange-values”. All things, spaces, biological processes (such as the human DNA) and ideas will only realize their value through market mechanisms. This is a trend that Trump cannot and will not curtail.
Another continuing trend will be in the development of new technology (at an increasing rate) and its impact on the working-class. The increase in productivity of labour via the computerization of the workplace, will also mean the replacement of workers with machines (as witnessed in industrial workplace and in supermarkets). This will continue to place downward pressure on working-class wages and benefits, their ability to for strike action, and an upward pressure on the rate of unemployment. Further, the turnover rate of current technology will also increase ever shortening the planned obsolescent of technologies such as phones and laptops. It will also continue the “need creation” aspect of the market, introducing new and innovative tools and gadgets that the working people never thought they would ever need.
At a psychological and social level, the working-class alienation from his/her human nature will further increase. Alienation at the workplace will include the working-class being denied access to the very products of his/her own produce. Relationships between co-workers and management will increasingly become contractual. The working vs. living divide will only increase with the working day increasing in its intensity and duration. There is also the human alienation in relation to nature with the degradation of the natural world now matching the fast-paced growth of global capital.
In order to support capitalism’s accelerated expansion, at compound growth, and to support its profit engine in the coming years under Donald Trump, politics of creating further divides in the working-class will be utilized more than ever. Racism, gender discrimination, xenophobia and the dehumanization of the other, will be increasingly hardwired into the daily praxis of the state (the police and legislative bodies). This will be used to continue the fragmentation of working-class unity in order to quash movement against the neoliberal order, such as movements against austerity, for higher minimum wage, and universal benefits including healthcare and tuition-free higher education. This has been a campaign promise of Donald Trump.
Another campaign promise of Donald Trump was to “bring the jobs back” from demand-side economies like China. However, this is very different from emancipating the working-class from the international division of labour organized to benefit capital. Decoupling the American economy from the world market today, in the hopes of “bringing the jobs back”, is not only an empty campaign promise, but an economic suicide for the U.S. The 40 years of neoliberal economic trend has been to remove all potential barriers in the circulation of capital in order to crush working-class political power from the point of production (where a commodity is produced) all the way to the point of realization (where a commodity is sold). These barriers included disempowering worker associations through removing trade tariffs (companies moving to cheaper and unorganized labour sources). It is very unlikely now to think that Donald Trump, himself a beneficiary of the neoliberal order, is going to reverse the four decade trend that was solely created to make people like him rich in the first place.
Today a left-wing revolutionary party needs to have a response, politically and economically, to capitalism’s monopoly on job creation and sole vehicle for “needs” satisfaction in society through the exchange-value market system. A left-wing party that needs to be, above all other things, intrusive. I use the word “intrusive” to characterize a political party that does not gag the working-class with labels and name calling but challenges its ideas and seeks class struggle and emancipation from wage slavery as a common denominator for unity. What we have today is a traditional left that is labelling the 60 million people that voted for Donald Trump as unequivocally racist. Excluding the hardened KKK racist movements that undeniably exist in the U.S, this point of view is quiescent when it comes to the pernicious economic impact of 40 years of neoliberal order on the working-class. This includes decades of de-industrialization, stagnant wages and benefits, erosion of the welfare state and ultimately the workers’ associations. The traditional left is also quiet when it comes to planning for the future, so what is to be done next despite the Trump presidency and the so called “60 million racists” in America? Only an intrusive left-wing political party, supported by wide scale street movements, can now challenge the Trump presidency and the neoliberal order. Only such a political party can challenge the administration that will follow the incessant path of the neoliberal order in its total alienation of the working-class politically, economically and psychologically.
2014 © Chia Barsen. All Rights Reserved.