Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Importance of Being Wrong

There's good news and bad news.  The good news is that my unblemished record of incorrectly predicting the winner of presidential elections is.......still unblemished.  That's 36 years and 10 presidential elections in a row, and I defy anyone to show me a record that approaches mine in consistency, steadfastness, and error.

The bad news?  The bad news is the "soul-searching" and the "self-examination" and the despair and the hope and all the other crap that will now pile on this outcome.  We've got the "Jesus Christ, not this."  We've got the "I told you sos."  We've got the "Economy has had the slowest, weakest recovery since XXXX."  We've got "It's a global phenomenon."   We've got the "Pushback against the elites."  We've got the "International alliance of sinister forces sabotaging..."

We'll get the "Don't mourn, Organize."

We're gonna get it all and more including the Muslime raus!  Latinos raus! Juden raus! (except for accountants and tax lawyers, because Trump wouldn't want to cut off their noses, as it might spite his own face).

But before we go down any of those roads, let's dispose of the supposed "lucid, direct" appeal to the "white working class" made by Trump.  And let's dispose of it like this.  Rural areas, smaller cities, and married white males provided the deep reservoirs of Trump's support. There is no questioning the devastation that has been wreaked upon those rural and small city areas since 1973, and more intensely, after 1979, with asset stripping, de-unionization, and  capital flight.  But.....but has the "white" working class suffered more than black workers?  Is the unemployment rate higher for white workers than black workers?  Is the unemployment rate, incarceration rate, death rate, higher for white rural youth than for black rural youth?  Are incomes for whites higher than incomes for blacks?  Are white workers generally employed in higher paying jobs than black workers?    No, no, yes, yes??  Well, just one fact for your consideration, since 1980, black and Hispanic hourly earnings have shown no progress in reducing the hourly wage differential that keeps those earnings at about 70 percent of the earnings of their white counterparts.  So.......?

So why didn't/doesn't the Trump appeal appeal to black and Hispanic workers?  Because the appeal is anything but lucid, and direct.  Because the appeal is precisely to prejudice, status, privilege, to class non-solidarity and class collaboration.  Because the appeal is to the aspiration to becoming a little bourgeois unto himself, and it's not unlike the appeal that kept the poor white Southerner in line for years  working for lower wages.  Because the appeal is designed to obscure class, and target color, race, gender, ethnicity.

It's the same appeal Trump made to flog enrollment in Trump "University." "You too can become a slaveholder" is now  "you too can be a real estate developer.  you too can become a (petty) bourgeois."  Trump appeal to ethnicity, not to class.  His was the identity politics writ large.

So when some Marxist tells you how "chattering classes" have stigmatized the white workers as dumb racists, let's point out that today the "chattering classes" are all talking about the "alienated, angry, neglected, white working class,"  so incensed over a worker from Honduras working at a job a white worker would never accept, for money that's below what the white worker accept... let's point out to those "Marxists" that in talking about the chattering class, they are talking about themselves.

The election was secured not only by and in the once working class strongholds of the Democratic Party-- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin-- but just as, importantly, by the impact of voter suppression actions throughout the country, particularly in Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.  The fact that the chattering class Marxists have ignored this extensive and intensive policy of the bourgeoisie, have never even entered the field of opposition to this suppression by seeking to mobilize the population in direct action, and independent of the Democrats and NGOs, shows how effective the rollback, the erasing, of the entire experience of the civil rights struggle has been over the last 4 decades.  We can't ever remember how we even accomplished anything.

So here's a prediction.  The alt-right, new-right, Trump-Breitbart-Murdoch government will begin a campaign in or out of Congress to either repeal outright, or allow states to opt out of the 14th and 15th amendments.  Nothing portends the approach of the second civil war, like the repeal of the accomplishments of the first civil war.  The specter of Radical Reconstruction arising from the grave, threatening  the reconstitution of  the former slaveholders through and in Redemptionist governments will not be banished until those violations of "states' rights" are reversed.

On that, all the Republicans in this now current Redemptionist government can agree.  Take that Thaddeus Stevens!

The Marxists will have yet another opportunity to screw the pooch and leave the battle to the Democrats and the NGOs.

Moving on, let's smack ourselves in the forehead-- no, not you, just me, I smacked myself in the forehead, because......because for 45 years, I've been following the US oil industry major corporations, the movement of their profits and profitability, and I became somewhat adept at linking "policy" and "politics" to the conditions within that sector, which happens to be the most technically intensive sector of the economy.  

Where has the price of oil been for the past two years?  Where have profits been in the industry for the last two years?  And how could I, of all people, have forgotten what happens when the profitability of the oil industry tanks?  How could I have forgotten what happened in 2000 after the price of oil dropped in 1998 to $10 per barrel?  Or how could I have forgotten what happened in 2003 after the price of oil in 2002 dropped to $20 per barrel.

So two things, or relations, or moments of capital are returning:  1. a big-ass recession  2. a US war in the Mideast to get the price of oil up.  

Putin likes Trump?  No doubt.  The price of oil will begin to climb.  He might not like it so much when Trump starts threatening Iran with tactical nuclear weapons.  Like it or not, it's going to happen.

That's another prediction.

November  9, 2016


  1. Well, this time you were scarcely alone...I recollect your fine prediction in the 1980 election that was to give Jimmy Carter his second term with a landslide...and used it this year in hedging my bet when predicting great success for Clinton.

  2. Technically she "won" in the sense that she got more votes than Trump - so I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about this wrong prediction.
    I've put up a link to this page in the entry for 9/11/16 (UK method of dating) here:

    How do you see the anger developing in the US as a result of this - ie what - if any - different course would genuine struggle take given his victory as opposed to previous expressions of opposition? Of course, you can't predict it - but what kind of things do you think MIGHT happen? At the same time I was wondering if you thought some of the anger might be diverted into pointless demands for electoral reform, or for some equivalent to Bernie Sanders (even him maybe) to become eventually the next Democrat candidate.

    1. I wish I knew the answers. Look, the US working class has had the snot knocked out of it pretty steadily for 40 years, without even mounting anything that looks like resistance. The anger over Trump's election might be-- check that, is definitely righteous, but the power and the state machinery is the hands of those who are angry rightists. Trump really is immaterial. He doesn't remember what he said from one day to the next, but those who will be brought in to executive branch, will. Pence will make Dick Cheney look like Mother Theresa.

      I think we'll see the usual demands for abolishing the electoral college, led by those who were Sanders supporters until Clinton was nominated, and then flipped to her.

      I honestly thought that the Republican Party would fall apart and get routed in this election, leaving its "core" to the wannabee brownshirts gathered around the Trump campaign. Silly me.

      Now, do the Democrats fall apart? Is anyone ever going to believe that the Democrats have an answer to anything? Beats me. But they still have 49 senators, 193 reps--which forces will now be dedicated to seeking accommodation with those who have understood the message in Hobbes Leviathan-- war of all against all-- all of US against all those who are NOT US.

      Given what I think will happen with police forces, and the security services, I think any revolutionary organization that doesn't start to build an underground network solely to protect its members from targeting is making a fatal mistake.

  3. Anonymous6:21 AM

    What the fuck just happened? America has elected a reality TV show host as President, the guy that can listen to our phone calls and watch all we do on the Internet and drop nuclear bombs on people and shit. A racist, rapist, misogynist. He's George Bush on PCP.

    But don't let that scare you too much, right?

    Trump said during race he could shoot someone in broad daylight and he'd still get elected. Guess we should have listened. The media bares massive responsiblity, the investigative stories were glossed over. They took him seriously from day one. Gave him a chance. What's good for News ratings may be bad for Americans but who cares? Not CBS news.

    Trump is an idiot and a failure. And a criminal. He's notorious for not paying people who owe him money and bankrupted a casino of all institutions. Nevertheless, outperformed both McCain and Romney with African-American and Latino voters, and Hillary Clinton with white women.

    Things are polarized in the States. Like, really polarized. The social climate has become more and more toxic as the election has progressed, and many people have stated it's set to continue or get worse, as if the election never finished! To the more sensitive and less conscious it must seem nightmarish. But even for the (semi?)conscious it's hard not to also feel some sensitivity when confronted with things like this:

    The bottom line right now is to not allow ourselves to become demoralized. Yes, the American proletariat has been getting their butts kicked for 40 years (aka many's whole damn existence on earth) by the ruling class, but it isn't emotionally and motivationally defeated, at least completely...There is evidence for this; 13 million for Sanders. 10 million (mostly white) Americans voting for a Black junior Senator with an African Muslim background to be President, all the art and culture it has still managed to produce during this time, and I don't mean the crap that reinforces bourgeois ideology, the youth and others who have marched out already against the phrase "President-elect Trump".

    Some people are angryscared. They are running around doing leftist activism. They're more critical of democracy and the American way than ever. But on the other hand---there are almost 60 million Americans who see a vote cast for Trump as a middle finger to the establishment, as essentially pro-worker. Boy are they about to be proven wrong. (cont'd)

  4. Anonymous6:23 AM

    (cont'd) One of the main messages here that can't be ignored is that of patriarchy. There was tons of shit like "a woman isn't fit to be President" during the elections. How much change can the straight white American "bro" tolerate? This "swing to the right" is a pure reaction to the polarized social climate of the last 8 years. The climate where the far and alt-right nutters have grown maybe three or four fold. Men's rights, white power, etc. etc.

    Yes, part of it is also racial backlash from whites after the percieved racial progress taking place over the last 8 years. A BIG part of it. They wanted to say: "Fuck the system (but the cops are OK). Soros and Black Lives Matter are part of that system because obviously white lives matter, too." When they take their anti-depressants they say "All lives matter!" but it's all the same crap.

    Let's just accept that half the American working class are idiots who are prone to fascism and move on. I mean seriously what else can we do? There was so much misinformation during the campaign, especially on social media, Facebook. We live in a post-factual hyper-reality, a cyberpunk dystopia more sleazy and corporate than even William Gibson could imagine. Don't believe me?

    There's also the astounding irony of all the claims of a "rigged system" during the election cycle. Well, yeah, it's called the Electoral College. For the second time in four elections the rigging has been committed by the electoral college against democrats. So basically a group of corporate shills have picked the president twice in the past decade and a half. Why would the bourgeoisie risk that advantage on Fascism haha? The Sanders people are also saying the system is rigged, remember. And the claim the FBI swung the election is a valid claim, outside the realm of alt-right conspiracy nuts. It could be investigated in an official capacity before the current government exits.

    One last point. Trump was supported most in the corporate realm by Big Oil and the banking sector. He wants to frack and pump it all, denies climate change, and is supposedly going to appeal banking regulations and end the Fed. That ain't good.

    Closing out, I have to wonder how much of the vote was reckless protest. People were saying, "Vote Trump! End the system quicker." How much of that could come true, or is? There is a massive protest aiming to shutdown DC and the inaugration. That's going to be the biggest direct confrontation between leftists and the State since at least the early 2000s or before. I think we have some bonus effectiveness in our critiques of democracy, electorialism, etc. Anyway. End rant.


  5. "Let's just accept that half the American working class are idiots who are prone to fascism and move on."

    If that's the case, then really, there is no "moving on."

    What I honestly don't get is that if Trump's appeal is truly to the "angry white workers" and is based on some sort of appeal to "righting" the US economy, how can the bullshit about reducing taxes, eliminating regulation, etc. be THAT appeal, since that's been the mantra for 40 years, and been the "cover" for driving down wages and living standards, asset stripping, etc. etc? Is the "white" working class that stupid? Of course not.

    The fact is, it's impossible to disentangle the so-called "economic fears" from the racism that has been so essential to the composition, and organization, of the US working class.

    I don't think Trump appealed to anyone's "hope" for a solution to economic problems. I'm not sure that the Trump voters, no matter what their class, want solutions. They want victims.