An interesting comment from William Gillis, the director of Center for a Stateless Society.
“There’s a number of folk celebrating the collapse of the legitimacy of US civic institutions, but regrettably it’s not so simple as de-legitimize the state and presto anarchism. Liberal democracy is an incoherent, ultimately unstable and unsustainable system, but there are many more stable configurations of society and a lot of them are far more dystopian.
Our strongest critique against liberalism is not that its founded upon horrific, unnecessary and intolerable violence — although it is — but that it is insecure against slow rolls or sudden descents towards outright authoritarianism and fractious civil war.
When the civic religion of a country withers and the treaty of liberal democracy is revealed as nothing more than paper, smoke and mirrors, what is most often released is the mass of fascistic predators who have grown fat slowly nibbling the democracy’s flesh from within. The collapse of a democracy is most usually a reconfiguration of power, hardly ever its abolition.
That is not remotely to suggest that anarchists stop or show timidity in our efforts to delegitimize the state, but rather that we must stay steely-eyed about the incredibly hard work to prepare for such a collapse and survive it, much less guide it.
When the president of the Second Spanish Republic called his ministers, his assistants and secretaries and found that they had all abandoned their posts — his government de facto dissolved like a silly dream — the people of Spain were already building barricades and raiding the armories. Either for the fascists or for the anarchists.
We lost that war.
In part because we did not get to choose its outset. And were not ready for its vicissitudes.
There are far far far more Trump brownshirts in this country than there are anarchists.”
This body of comments contains some interesting insights, and some ideas that I certainly agree with. However, I think it is also an example of some of the limitations I have seen coming from various anarchist and leftist analyses of the present political situation. It is not uncommon to find commentary portraying Donald Trump as some unique threat to the established system of “liberal democracy” who is hell bent on moving the United States towards some kind of more overt authoritarianism if not outright fascism. This kind of analysis is common not only among the usual left-wing and left-liberal crazies, but also among many level headed people, and even some people on the right (such as the writers at National Review).
I think there are two main problems with this perspective. First, it overstates the threat posed by Donald Trump. Second, it understates the threat posed by the established American power elite and ruling class (for whom Hillary Clinton is clearly the chosen candidate). Donald Trump is a not libertarian of any kind. He certainly has authoritarian tendencies as exhibited by some of his proposals for opposing crime, terrorism, and illegal immigration. With the exception of trade policy, his economics are largely just recycled supply side nonsense. He is surrounded by a wide range of supporters and maintains endorsers with track records that are beyond terrible: Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, David Horowitz, Joe Arpaio, plenty of others. But how does this make him any worse than the normal Republicans?
Was it Donald Trump that launched the war in Iraq and killed a million people (a war for which Hillary Clinton voted to authorize as a Senator)? Was it Donald Trump who created the “war on drugs” and the subsequent police state and prison industry that have emerged from this? No, that was done by “moderate Republican” Richard Nixon, “limited government conservative” Ronald Reagan, “liberal” Tip O’Neill, the present Vice President, and Hillary’s husband, among many others. Was it Donald Trump that established the economic and trade policies that led to the present drift of the US towards a Third World model class system? Was it Donald Trump that launched the “war on terrorism” or enacted the Patriot Act or the National Defense Authorization Action with its provisions for unlimited detention without trial? Was it a Trump administration that created the current surveillance state that was exposed by Edward Snowden?
Democrats were as complicit in the enactment of all of these policies as Republicans. Has Hillary Clinton criticized any of this or pledged to reverse course on any of these matters in any serious way? Not from what I can tell. Trump’s foreign policy realism and business nationalism is arguably to the left of the neoconservative-led “normal” Republicans. His apparent lack of interest in Russia-baiting or toppling Assad puts him to the left of Clinton, and arguably to the left of Obama on important foreign policy questions (his hawkishness towards Iran is arguably Trump’s greatest foreign policy weakness).
Trump’s candidacy represents a last ditch effort by the remnants of 1950s America (mostly rural whites in the South and Midwest, and perhaps elderly working to middle class white people generally) to “go down with a fight.” That they’ve pinned their hopes on Trump, a huckster who’s not really one of them, is even more pathetic, and actually kind of sad. Trump is basically Nelson Rockefeller or Silvio Berlusconi trying to pose as America’s Marine Le Pen, only with a lot less sincerity and competence than Ms. Le Pen. Meanwhile, Hillary has received the near-universal endorsement of the entire range of elite opinion. The ruling class and power elite are circling the wagons, and she is their anointed candidate.
The cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s has now come full circle, as has its co-optation by the American empire. As I recently said, “My perspective on this is that the US over the last 40 years has shifted far to the Left culturally but far to the Right in every other way. So what we’re getting now is a kind of “Rainbow Fascism” where even transgenders can serve in the empire’s imperial legions, and you get fired for having conservative views on race or homosexuality, while paramilitary police forces conduct 80,000 raids on private homes annually, 1 in 30 adults are under the direct supervision of the “criminal justice system” (police state), where class relations are basically where they were 100 years ago, and where the empire kills a million people in the Middle East and threatens war with nuclear-armed Russia, and yet imperialism is considered to be “just another issue” like tax policy, gun control, or same-sex marriage.”
Trump’s candidacy is a signal flair being sent up by the sinking ship of the WASPish Red Tribe, as the totalitarian humanism of the Blue Tribe consolidates its hegemony within the context of the empire’s institutional apparatus.