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Now that we’re awake, what’s next?

Posted on March 10, 2017 by Ben Boyce

The ongoing political destabilization provoked by the unlikely election of Donald Trump has now escalated to what may be a constitutional crisis. The Trump Organization’s open challenge to the legitimacy of an independent judiciary, cracks in our international role as leader of NATO, tension in Asia over antagonism to the Nixon-era One China policy, instability and uncertainty in the patchwork ACA private insurance based health care market, and the deep skepticism about the Administration in the CIA over the growing evidence of an indeterminate level of collaboration with Russian intelligence services during the campaign have created a highly volatile political atmosphere in the U.S.

Add to that flux the erratic performance of the hard-right novice political operatives drawn from the ranks of the Breitbart and Fox News cellar-dwellers, and the appointment of appallingly unqualified Cabinet officials. Compounding the general dysfunction is an unprecedented number of billionaire tycoons with no governmental experience.

Trump’s inflammatory and mendacious Twitter-fueled public communications style has magnified social stress and political polarization. Lots of citizens who thought they had the luxury of disengagement from politics got woke fast. Welcome to the party. The progressive activists have been waiting for you to show up for decades. What do we do now?

We’ve already flunked the national Darwin IQ test by elevating a psychologically unstable right-wing authoritarian conspiracy kook to the most powerful position on the planet. Comic relief now relies on gallows humor. The good news, such as it is, is that the odds are that we’re more likely to die fast en masse in a global nuclear conflagration than to slowly decline over decades in a climate change-induced long emergency. Cheer up!

The most troubling development has been the unveiling of an international white nationalist political movement. There is unanimity among all 17 of the national security agencies that there was intervention by Russian intelligence into the U.S. election. This is not unique to the U.S. There have been major interventions in European elections by the Russian FSB (successor to the KGB). There’s documented funding from the Russian government (through various intermediaries) for right-wing parties in Germany, France, Hungary, and the Netherlands.

The continent has been shaken by the Brexit vote to withdraw from the European Union (EU) that was spearheaded by Nigel Farage, a leader in the British white nationalist United Kingdom Independence Party. Farage made a special trip to the U.S. to personally express his satisfaction at the election of Trump.

What we’re now seeing rise to power in America is the western edge of an international phenomenon of right-wing white nationalist parties in an arc across the Northern Hemisphere. The Russian Federation, under the autocratic rule of the petro-state Godfather Vladimir Putin, is an inspiration and a key resource for this new entry into the Western political landscape. This movement does not have to be seen as a foreign conspiracy. The degree of coordination, organizationally and ideologically, is still unclear.

What we can say with certainty is that this white nationalist movement is rooted in pre-existing right-wing nationalist parties. The downside economic effects of neo-liberal globalization policies have animated them and they have grown in strength due to social and economic stresses on native working class populations impacted by the mass immigration and Third World outsourcing promoted by the globalist corporate agenda.

They have a genuine social basis, independent of Russia, which has its own material motives to de-stabilize NATO and the EU. The drivers of this loosely connected international political movement are the downward economic mobility of the native working classes, a collapse of confidence in the Davos class internationalist ruling elites, deep social status anxiety and loss of cultural identity and alienation by the groups on the losing end of globalization. The political paralysis of Western democracies due to an excess of special interest veto points has whetted an appetite for authoritarianism.

That’s the aerial view of where we are now, historically. The progressive movement for decades has predicted the devolution of democratic capitalism into oligarchic authoritarianism. Over the next few months I want to lay out an alternative agenda, the progressive movement response to this challenge. We have a better plan.

The progressive movement has been around for over 200 years, mostly as a party of social critique and economic reform. In Europe this has been called democratic socialism, and in America has gone under the banner social democracy or progressivism. The tectonic plates of history grinding up against each other do not have to end in dark authoritarian nationalism and the loss of an open and inclusive democratic society. There is an alternative.

Political change arises from cultural transformation. The disengagement of the American counter-culture from politics over several generations has led to our present perilous situation. That specious sense of privilege enabled widespread abdication of the responsibility of citizenship. This political vacuum led directly to rule by dangerous, undemocratic toxic predators. Left unchecked, they will eventually intrude into these privileged lives in ways that will shock and dismay them. The era of fashionable political passivity is over. Pay attention, stay engaged.



3 thoughts on “Now that we’re awake, what’s next?

  1. Ben…first of all I would like to take issue with the “unanimity among all 17 of the national security agencies that there was intervention by Russian Intelligence into the U.S. general election”

    Just what are they calling interference? The revelation that the DNC manipulated the Democratic primary to favor Hillary Clinton? It seems to be a moot point whether the Russians or Wikileaks did it. The only reaction has been mainstream media anti-Russian hysteria without any serious effort to remedy the problem revealed.

    And if it was the Russians, what might Putin’s motives be? Isn’t the expansion of NATO to the borders of the Russian state a provocation? Hasn’t the government of Ukraine been bolstered by the CIA with anti-democratic fascist factions? Doesn’t Ukraine remain on life support from the IMF which will one day exact austerity on the country and turn it into another Greece?

    Crimea was only given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1956 in an administrative directive. Over 90% of Crimeans are Russian speakers. Are we to continue the Cold War because a cabal of special interest think tank wonks find it profitable?

    The very same national security agencies that are in unanimity about Russian interference in our election process had no qualms about interfering in Russian politics when Gorbachev was undermined to install Yeltsin(and a neoliberal market economy).

    So why all this beating of a lame horse? The one positive thing about the Trump administration is his stated commitment to work in tandem with the Russians to defeat ISIS. Why are corporate sponsored Democrats obsessed with working with neocon Republicans to continue the Cold War? Why are their think tanks funded by Saudi Arabia? We all know Putin is an autocrat but that doesn’t mean his proposal for cooperation in the MidEast has no merit.

    As it is RT America(English language Russian television)offers the ONLY platform for the alternative left in the T.V.media with programs like Boom Bust(global business news)and The Big Picture(Thom Hartmann) where you can actually witness intelligent and civilized debate. A recent interview of Richard Wolff with Lee Camp illustrates this point. Has Richard Wolff ever appeared as a guest on MSNBC or PBS? Yes, of course, the news has a bias, but I find it refreshing compared to the corporate propaganda that pervades other news channels.https://www.rt.com/shows/redacted-tonight-summary/356447-capitalism-crisis-libertarianism-paradoxes/

  2. Mr. Herrschaft, you miss the one big one in all your points. Oil. Russia has oil and lots of it. As the EU and US wean themselves off oil and the rest of the world tries to follow, Russia losses out. Forget all the James Bond spy stuff about who is who and what is what, and look at the money. Of course Putin wants Trump and climate change deniers in. For Trump himself too, it is all about money. The people he is putting in power make their money in oil. It is all pay to play. We are not playing politics here, we are playing big time corporate business. This is win win for all of them, and die die for the planet and the rest of us.

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