Saturday, February 13, 2016

Trump & Trotsky

Like many others (including me, I'm ashamed to say), my Trotskyist friends took to calling Donald Trump a fascist. He was, in their view, a nativist, racist, homophobic, "stupid," ignorant, lewd and crude Republican.

As it turns out Trump is not a fascist, but rather something nearly as bad: he's a Democrat. I've made that case (I think convincingly) here, and it's an opinion shared by most of his competitors for the Republican nomination. Donald Trump, far from being a "true conservative," is a big-government liberal long associated with the Clintons. ABC News (h/t HotAir) quotes Ted Cruz claiming Trump supports "touchback amnesty." See also Ted Cruz's (marvelous!) attack ad against him. Despite coming from the Cruz camp, I believe this is factually accurate.

But Mr. Trump is certainly more than just another Democrat. However transient his own political career may or may not be, he represents a significant rearrangement of America's political furniture. Both Democrats and Republicans are fading away, to be replaced by different parties having different agendas (though perhaps they'll keep the same names). I described that in a previous post.

A global realignment of political movements will inevitably have an effect on Trotskyism. Indeed, they'd be deeply insulted if big changes happened without them, believing themselves to be responsive to the "class struggle." While their lodestar supposedly remains unchanged, the tactics must adjust with circumstances.

But Donald Trump drives a wedge right through the middle of Trotskyism. He makes it impossible for them to continue business as usual.

There are two bits to Trotskyist dogma that until recently seemed inseparable. The first is announced on the masthead of The Militant: "A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people."

Trump's campaign clarifies what is meant by "working people." There is, indeed, a class conflict in Trump World, but it isn't primarily between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Instead it's between the Producer Class and the Parasite Class. The former are people who build stuff--not just the workers, but also the engineers, architects, financiers and marketers. In response to Elizabeth Warren's infamous charge, "You didn't build that," the Trumpers loudly proclaim "we sure as hell did build that, asshole. Just who do you think you are?" Mr. Trump proudly puts himself on the side of his employees and workers generally, sharing credit with them for manufacturing all the stuff that makes Americans rich.

Of course he's quite right, and workers across the country thrill to his banner.

The Parasites, on the other hand, are personified by Mr. Trump as "the Establishment," or just as often "the Republican Establishment." (His frequent vilification of Republicans is another reason to suppose he's a Democrat in disguise.) These are people who live off of tax dollars. They include all politicians for sure (that's what makes politicians evil), but also most civil servants. Trumpers will regard professors, teachers, federal officials, zoning enforcers, etc., as Parasites, along with welfare and food stamp recipients.

So that makes it sound like Trump is a small-government Republican. But he's not--he just thinks government should spend it's money differently. Social Security needs to be defended and expanded. Obamacare should be "repealed and replaced" so that affordable health care is available to all. (In his previous life Trump supported single-payer.) We need to help our vets. None of this is cheap, but all of it is money that's supposed to go to Producers rather than Parasites. On the other hand, Donald is not a fan of expanding the education or regulatory bureaucracies--they're all Parasites.

Never mind that none of this is ever going to work.

But Trotskyists have a problem. They have to meet the "working class" where they're at, and those folks understand that "workers" are not just factory laborers. The Producing Class even includes some billionaires--people like Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, and Donald Trump. At the same time workers don't generally count public employees among their numbers--those folks tend to be Parasites who deserve to be fired.

So Trotskyists are going to have to address Donald Trump. A commenter on this site (John B.) reports that "the SWP has taken to selling The Militant at Donald Trump rallies lately!" Now The Militant may not agree with Donald (they most probably do not), but they can't simply discount his argument or ignore his audience. On the other hand, other grouplets such as Socialist Action and Solidarity are still dismissing Mr. Trump as a fascist. He isn't.

The other problem Trotskyists have with Donald Trump is political correctness. I think Trotskyists actually invented the concept back in the 1970s, or at very least they took it to unheard of lengths. But the Trumpers understand what PC is really about. It is a tool of the Parasite class to divide and conquer the Producers. After all, property taxes are so high because teachers need generous pension plans, which is all about racial equality dontchyano. If you even bring up the subject you're a racist, sexist, homophobic, knuckledragging, Redneck idiot.

And likewise with the distinction between "people of color" and "colored people," a subtlety that normal people can't comprehend. Or the abolition of "Miss" and "Mrs.", or the ridiculous ban on any synonym for "woman." Or the prohibition on words like "queer" or "fag," even when no insult is intended.

Working people, i.e., "Producers," talk the way normal people talk. They're not privy to the code words that Parasites use to send secret messages to each other. Non-PC language is not usually intended to be insulting, but it is honest. There is, after all, nothing either insulting or dishonest about referring to an unmarried woman as "Miss."

The use of PC language establishes you as a member of the Parasite class. It means you're a politician or a professor or a half-wit bureaucrat or a welfare caseworker or a police officer or some other clown or jerk or asshole. Is that the crowd Trotskyists want to hang out with?

For some, apparently yes. Socialist Action and Solidarity are all-in going after Bernie Sanders supporters. Bernie is the archetypal Parasite, strongly advocating Parasite-friendly policies.

So Trotskyists have a choice. They can either put their chips on PC, abandon the working class and double down with the Parasites. Environmentalism is the classic Parasite issue--it puts Producers out of a job and transfers money to bureaucrats' pockets. It's no surprise that Socialist Action and Solidarity are gradually going from Red to Green.

The Militant on the other hand, is standing true to its masthead. How they deal with political correctness remains to be seen.

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