Felix Stalder on Thu, 17 Nov 2016 06:40:01 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> What is the meaning of Trump's victory?

On 2016-11-15 01:17, Angela Mitropoulos wrote:

>> I think this is precisely it. Neo-liberal policies very deliberately
>> > destroyed social solidarity and increased competition andmassive rise
>> > exploitation. The effect was a  in social inequality,
>> > economic insecurity and total lack of any sense of collective destiny
>> > (aka what's the greater purpose of all of this?).

> With all due respect, the myopia in this discussion is breathtaking.
> If the explanation of declining social solidarity were true, then
> why was it white people who overwhelmingly voted for Trump? Why
> isn't fascism's constituency made up of those who are poor rather
> than those who are white (irrespective of income)? etc. The reason
> is fairly straightforward: because "social solidarity" meant "white
> solidarity."

The reason why primarily white people see fascism (or whatever it is
that Trump represents) as an option is pretty straight forward. No? It's
a project that promises explicitly to privilege them at the expense of
other groups, through repression and dispossession. Now, one can -- like
David Harvey -- argue that capitalism has always been doing that. Fair
enough. But while capitalism has clearly been a white man's project, but
I think this is less true in the 21st century than it was in the 20th
century and thus does offers less analytical purchase than it used to.

And to argue that all forms of social solidarity that existed in the
post-war period (such as the welfare state, unions, community churches
and so on) where simple white solidarity seems also overly broad.

This is not to say that race is not a deciding factor in shaping
people's lives, but it was precisely the promise of (center-left)
version of neo-liberalism to soften that and on this promise, Democrats
built many winning coalitions (while loosing the South).

And, on some limited level, they were successful at that, though that
did strengthen also the racists, the same way that homophobia is still a
brutal reality, despite the legalization of same-sex marriage.

I'm not in the US and might be misreading shifts in the collective mood,
but I don't think that the US is a significantly more racist country
today as when it elected, twice, Obama for president. What Trump did, in
my view, was to let overt racism into the general discourse which
emboldened closet racists to have a coming-out of their own.

What happened is that what Tareq Ali called the "radical center" --
mainly the people who agreed that individual choice was the only way to
solve collective problems than that the market is the is the best
mechanism to express choices -- disappeared. They were no longer capable
to mobilize around their candidate in the republican primary and around
Clinton general election. More than Trump winning the election (he got
about the same number of votes than Romney 4 years ago), it was Clinton
who lost because she could not longer mobilize the coalition that
carried Obama to victory. After close to 4 decades, she represented a
spent dream that was too obviously detached from reality and loaded to
with too many scandals to be credible anymore. In some ways, it seems to
be, the democrats made the same mistake than the republicans in 2012.
They put up a candidate that represented the status quo to the extreme
at a time when people demanded change.

So, rather than pointing out how awful Trump and his gang of
ethno-nationalists are -- they are, no doubt -- the story more close to
home is the utter emptying out of the center left (not really much news
here for most people on nettime) and inability of the radical left
initiate something of a populist movement that combines diversity with
solidarity and a strategic vision of the enemy.


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