|Volume 51 Number 2, January 23, 2021||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
TML Monthly supplement, January 20, 2021
On January 20, the Trump presidency will be over and the world is breathing a sigh of relief - even though what comes next looks like more of the same in too many ways. Trump's election in 2016 indicated that the old way of doing things was finished; civil society arrangements would no longer serve to sort out problems of any kind. Four years of Trump rule could not reveal this more vividly. It remains the case and defines the present, despite wishes it were not so.
The armed military camp that will occupy Washington, DC for the next 30 days, along with seven-foot fences topped with razor wire, broad closures of public places and transportation, are an indication of government plans to contend with resistance by the people. Another indication that police powers by the executive will increase under Biden is the Joint Intelligence Bulletin issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Counterterrorism Centre. It identifies those it labels "violent extremists", "anti-government and anti-authority violent extremists", and "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists", along with militias, saying they pose the greatest domestic danger. Given that the striving of the people for equality, justice and accountability - including in relation to COVID-19, demands for the right to healthcare, housing and a livelihood - will persist and the government is giving itself the authority to decide who is and is not an "extremist", the likelihood of increased repression against the people is evident.
In a neo-liberal world where cartels and coalitions made up of oligopolies have directly seized the powers of the state in the US and other capitalist countries, the rulers cannot sustain a political process. Trump positioned himself to break the bounds of the Constitution and oversee the consolidation of a state of police powers, developed under Obama as well, such as with drones and mass deportations. At this point police power is not concerned with legitimacy so it tramples underfoot the old forms of claiming legitimacy through elections. It considers they are no longer required. Similarly, it does not recognise the validity of having a civil society which pressures government. Instead, it is pushing the need to preserve the security of what it calls constitutional order.
Internationally, the Trump presidency and the military that backed him were opposed to nation-building as an activity of the military. All hitherto set ways for conducting international relations were smashed, affecting all bilateral and multilateral relations and institutions, including not only relations with the closest US allies and the United Nations and UN agencies but also the aggressive US-led military alliance NATO. Contention and collusion with all rivals has been carried out on the basis that the President is "in the game". Trump's "art of the deal" jives with oligopoly where everything is used to seek advantage. Trump's foreign policy did not position the US for or against Russia or China but on how to pit them against each other, to both contend and collude and seek advantage.
No sooner Trump was elected, the overall stand of the US polity and most of the world was one of revulsion and repulsion along with every effort on the part of the monopoly media to divide the polity by blaming the people for electing a racist, anti-immigrant and misogynist person. The Old Guard presented themselves as not racist but, on the contrary, champions of civil rights, the police powers at their disposal notwithstanding. All of it was done to divert from the US's known persona as a racist state which unleashes various police and other forces to run rampant and commit crimes against Black lives, immigrant lives, the lives of the working people and indigenous peoples as well as war crimes.
Great credit goes to the working people of the United States who have waged a vigorous fight for democracy, not only distancing themselves from what is done in their name but demanding equality, an end to police impunity, injustice and the abuse of the human person. Not only will the battle for democracy in the United States, against the use of police powers and replacement of rule of law with police rule continue, but so too the battle of democracy which is still incomplete and demands to go forward. It requires the politics of empowerment, a political process that provides for the elimination of the condition of slavery, privilege and the rule of the few over the many.