Personal Blog of Mark Hoskins – Anarchist Writer and Community Organiser
What the state needs the state gets. In 2008 it was Obama. After the Bush years the legitimacy of the US State was in question. Obama, the first president who wasn’t a white man, gave the state the cosmetic appearance of being a changed entity. He talked about hope and change and things that resonated with working class people and minorities. In power he continued to show the outward appearance of being cool, normal, like the rest of the population, but behind the scenes the state continued its usual business of suppressing popular revolt and bombing other countries, spreading its empire, deploying troops.
But while Obama remained a popular figure, the sentiment that took him to power – change – hope -was not quashed, it was transformed into a sentiment that cried, “we were promised so much more than this, we’re going to create our own hope and bring about our own change”. That sentiment once again has threatened the legitimacy of the state, but this time the ruling class was truly divided about how to procede.
On the face of it, Hillary Clinton looked like the safest pair of hands to continue the neoliberal programme at home and the hawkish foreign policy that the American establishment favours. However Clinton’s supporters and the mainstream of the establishment had a problem. HRC’s appeal was that she would be the first woman president, following on from Obama, the first black president, giving the USA the appearance of a state that has delivered the dream it promised from its inception- that if you work hard enough, you too can get to the top. However, after eight years of Obama, to many Americans, the change she offered must have looked as cosmetic as it was. While she convincingly won the popular vote, she didn’t inspire the same popular devotion and packed rallies. She was not tapped into the popular spirit in the same way that Obama had been eight years previously – that role was divided this time between Sanders and Trump, and though, as a last resort, if Sanders won the state could have nullified his effectiveness in office, it feared the popular sentiment he was stirring up for an albeit mild version of socialism.
So the United States got Trump as it’s next president and despite the protestations from the liberal elite, he is exactly the president that US state power needs right now. He is ultra right wing and he will attempt to crush popular and labour resistance to capitalist and state hegemony and he can also mobilise the reactionary elements of the American lower classes. He’s not Hitler, but he can draw upon the fascist methodology if he needs it and that’s something unique in terms of modern American presidents.
In the long term Trump’s volatility will endanger the stability of the state once again and the establishment will look for a replacement- but if Trump succeeds in crushing resistance, the state would be unwise to return to the democrats. The German ruling class benefited from Hitler’s rise to power, from his crushing of the trade unions and communist, socialist and anarchist organisations, but it ultimately was damaged by Hitler’s deranged foreign policy and his policy on Jews. The US elite can benefit from Trump, as long as it gets rid of him before his regime implodes. What it needs in the long term is a Franco, not a Hitler, someone who can maintain long term stability, and perhaps it will get that by, down the line, impeaching Trump and replacing him with Pence or in the last resort a military coup.
That paints a very bleak picture of the future of the United States, but it needn’t be that way. The popular resistance against Trump and his policies, the black lives matter movement, movements like no DAPL, can win, as long as they are willing to go beyond the state and the law and can build a mass movement that spans the whole country. They can give hope to the world and bring about a change we really can believe in.