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Alex McKay

Feb 27, 2024

President Trump indulging in his typically transactional mode of politics.

The consistent meltdown triggered by the ever present spectre of Donald Trump can be baffling if one only considers what he actually did in office. Why do the liberals hate this man so much when a great deal of what he did was broadly in line with what their own idol, Barack Obama, did whilst in office.

Despite talking a big game about bringing the “endless wars” to a close Trump was easily stymied and bamboozled by institutional opposition within the militarist clique that runs the US federal government.

The question then remains, why do they get so enraged by Trump? Is this all for show? Is it simply electioneering? There are partial truths in these explanations. American liberals need to give their electoral base in the petit-bourgeoisie a good scare to get them out voting as the Democratic Party has absolutely nothing positive to offer even these relatively better off voters. But the sustained meltdown about Trump is not simply a game, nor is it just about disciplining an electoral base. The psychotic breakdowns you see everyone from the likes of Joe Scarborough to Congresswoman Occasio-Cortez engaging in are not staged, these are real and the root of them lie in the question of language and formalities. Why do these matter exactly? Let us begin with a truth spelt out by Marx Volume 1 of Capital:

Capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.Karl Marx – Capital Volume 1 – Chapter 31 – Genesis Of The Industrial Capitalist

The enormous amount of blood letting required to bring capitalism into being is well documented so I will not repeat it here but suffice to say that a system that is based on such immense barbarities requires a great deal of ideological justifications in order that its practitioners can justify it to themselves. Feudalism required the ostentatious grandeur of the Catholic Church in order to hammer home to both the aristocracy and peasants that this was an order blessed by the almighty himself. Capitalism requires something slightly different and that is of course the mythology of the sovereign individual.

This is of course far more true for the bourgeois than it will ever for the proletarian or peasant even in the countries of the imperial core but even for the ruling class it is only partially true. The capitalist is compelled to seek greater and greater profit, as Marx observed as early as the Communist Manifesto in 1848:

Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. Marx & Engels – The Communist Manifesto – Bourgeois and Proletarians

The capitalist is thus never fully in control of events which is part of the reason why bourgeois thought after the 1820s turns towards wild romanticism is that this lack of control even for the bourgeois themselves becomes ever more obvious. This is why ultra reactionary thought becomes so popular be it in the form of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche or Georges Sorel, it is a frantic attempt to recapture what the bourgeois believes he has lost and that is the ideal of the heroic unconstrained individual.

The gap between the appeals to universality in earlier bourgeois thought in the enlightenment period and the grim reality of industrial capitalism needed to be made up for by heroic stories that the bourgeois told themselves about how they were great Olympian, god like figures bestriding the world. We are now in a period when the imperialist powers are visibly declining and the lack of agency enjoyed even by the most powerful capitalists becomes more obvious than ever enmeshed as they are in a complicated and bureaucratised network of state and corporate structures a slave to their capital, albeit a far better remunerated one that most of us. In these circumstances the question of language becomes ever more important as the blood letting that US imperialism depends upon must be nuanced away at every turn. The modern day image that the US ruling class and its caste of intellectual eunuchs wish to present is one sold by the NGO’s they employ to carry out their work overseas is of a smiling multicultural paradise with an infinite number of sexualities and genders available for purchase.

That is what the left side of US imperialists wish to present. The more openly reactionary side of things prefers to stick with a story of “family, work and fatherland”. Both serve the same purpose. Left consumerism presents a world where any number identities and “experiences” can be yours if you serve the empire and the right tries to reinforce the bourgeois understanding of nation, family and discipline to paper over the giant cracks caused by alienation and cultural decay. Both left and right insist that with the right language games applied rigorously the devastation of decaying monopoly capital can be overcome.

This brings us right back to former (and probably future) President Trump. Trump disparages the games, mocks them, lampoons all of it and thus sends all of the political and media class into a nervous breakdown. His routine thuggish threats “we’re taking” the oil, the use of the most crude language in threatening other world leaders his refusal to play the sick games of the liberals all sends them crazy because these language games are how the system stakes its claim at legitimacy now.

The left and the old Republican Party all needed the language games though because to admit to simple crude banditry (as Trump does) forces them to come face to face with the reality of what they are doing. This is something that must be avoided at all costs because for decades now the institutions of the US and British states have been staffed by people with very liberal sensibilities who are obsessed with personal virtue. If you take that away from them then their entire, carefully constructed world falls apart and they are left facing the horrible reality. That reality is that they are servants of the most brutish, rapacious, destructive and murderous imperialist system the world has ever seen.

It’s brutal reality is on display every day in Gaza, which is being destroyed in the interests of American imperialism, hence why so many of the NGO caste have joined the (admittedly impotent) protests about this. Trump denies the institutional left their language rituals, he denies them the ability to proclaim that they are not part of the imperialist atrocity exhibition, he denies them distance between themselves and the crimes they are a part of. In this sense his return to the Presidency is a welcome development.

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