Brian Holmes on Fri, 3 Aug 2018 09:09:35 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> What does Trump get right?

What does Trump get right?

As a socialist, who votes Democratic but doesn't believe in it, I have been able to tell you the answer to this question for the last 20 years. Now that Apple is valued at $1 trillion, the New York Times finally agrees with me:

The shorty: Trump gets it that a mere 30 banks and corporations take half the profits of the US economy. These companies have emerged from the tech boom, they are so-called knowledge-based industries, their HQs and design labs are staffed by the hippest university-educated urbanites in the world, and their vanishing labor force is either located offshore (like Apple's) or paid the most abysmal wages imaginable, for example to pick products in warehouses so hot that employees are routinely carried out on stretchers and revived with salts before being sent home, wherever that might be (tent, trailer, SRO, nearby freeway bridge, you name it).

I say "vanishing labor force" because the same companies are currently automating the redistribution of the wealth out of existence, without any plan for how society will be able to reproduce itself even ten years into the future.

Trump gets it that a massive pattern of social injustice has been engineered by global elites, including US liberals. That he is a rabid right-wing member is those selfsame elites, that he is supporting them with most of his policies, is obviously his own form of incoherency and self-delusion. But it doesn't take away from the raw truth that he has been the first President to baldly enunciate.

Those who immediately want to write back in protest, But Trump this, or Trump that, remain blind. Trump and his racist thugs emerged from the self-interested vaccuum of the center-left, those who believed in the Democratic Party, voted for it, and did not even seek to change the world in their imagination, much less their own actions. You wanna fight Trump? Clean your own house at the same time.

It's obvious to me that the Apple iPhone is the definition of the commodity fetish in our time. Do you love that thing? Ask yourself what you love.

But don't do it on Facebook, even if the actual human beings you love are posting their children's pictures there. Because if you do, you will contribute one more neuron to the marriage of the surveillance state and monopoly capital.

I believe that if the US Democratic Party does not realize that its historical mission is to dismantle the mega-mind-control corporations of the net economy that they empowered in the 1990s, they will lose to the party of rapacious fascist extractivism, which, given the parlous state of the other so-called democratic societies, will probably succeed in dragging the whole world down into an authoritarian hell made inexorably worse, every year, by the pressures of runaway climate change.

I have said these kinds of things for the last twenty years, since my first nettime post in 1998 which was around the time that I started to have a global political consciousness. Over that time I have been keenly aware that so-called ordinary people (not you, dear reader) have considered me wierd, scary, extreme and frankly insane. Yet now, they might find themselves thinking, not more so than the scary social world surrounding all of us.

A few years ago, some believed that this emerging nightmare of a political economy could be reversed by the self-organized uprising of critical collectivities able to pierce the ideological veil and offer new pathways of productive development. Instead the multitudes got fascinated with their iPhones. More recently there has been the hope that the most oppressed (ie anybody who's not straight and white) could transform the culture while the rest of us applauded and liked. Both those generous hopes are a naive evasion of responsibility. Today it's socialism or bust. Salvation, if such a thing is possible, springs from a disciplined, formal, electoral change in the hard-wired structures of social organization--a change underwritten but not opposed by a patient, sweeping transformation of the culture of domination that has brought us to this pass.

Here's the most challenging thing: the only practicable instrument of the formal institutional change, in a rigid bipartite system like that of the United States, is a thing called the Democratic Party. Renew the center or go down in its flames.

It's quite amazing to see the mainstream grappling, albeit timidly, with exactly these core issues. My advice: Don't just look. Don't just critique from the sidelines. Engage with the process, somehow, in many different ways. It will take a lot of people, not just in the US or in the so-called West, to learn how to run the world differently.

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