Like a spoiled six-year old having a temper tantrum, Trump is flailing about and out of control. How can they keep any semblance of stability, how maintain respect by foreign forces as well as by at least most workers at home for the top representative of US capitalism? How can they ensure that the right decisions are made? How can they keep the ship of state on course, headed in the right direction, if the captain is mentally incapacitated?
If they had reason to worry before Trump made his precipitous decision to allow Turkey to invade Northeast Syria, now they are doubly concerned.
Exhibit A is an article by George T. Conway III in The Atlantic magazine. A harsh critic of Trump, ironically George is the husband of Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway (that must be an interesting relationship!). However, he is also an important figure in his own right. He is a top corporate lawyer at a boutique corporate law firm, has argued cases before the US Supreme Court, and was considered by Trump for the post of Solicitor General as well as assistant attorney general (which he turned down).
That’s why when he talks we’d better listen. And readers are urged to read the full article.
George Conway sets out the case like a legal brief (he is a lawyer, after all!) that Trump is constitutionally incapable of carrying out his “fiduciary” duties as head of state.
“You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don’t need to be a mental-health professional to see that something’s very seriously off with Trump…” Conway writes. He also explains that in certain cases, one needn’t directly examine a subject to know that that subject is psychologically incapacitated. He reports “someone familiar with current discussions in the White House [is] warning that there is “increasing wariness that, as this impeachment inquiry drags out, the likelihood increases that the president could respond erratically and become ‘unmanageable.’”
Conway then proceeds to produce the evidence that this describes Trump, about whom one former White House official said, “he’s losing his shit.”
Exhibit 1 – the DMS
Exhibit #1 is Conway’s claim that Trump suffers from “narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder”, both of which are serious mental illnesses recognized in the official “guide book” of the American Psychiatric Association, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is no accident that Conway bases himself on the DSM, whose views are accepted in a court of law.
Conway meticulously combs through Trump’s behavior to show that there is something seriously wrong with him, that he cannot tell fact from fiction, that he cannot seriously observe the outside world or the behavior of others due to his obsessive concern for himself, that he is incapable of understanding the feelings of others. Some might say, “so what? All capitalist politicians and corporate heads are like that,” but it’s not true. They might lie, but a successful politician at least knows the difference between fact and fiction and is capable of telling the truth when it suits them, and at least not lie so blatantly and regularly that they get caught out time and again. they may not really care about harming others, but at least they are in touch with ow others feel. They have to be in order to be able to manipulate others! (Trump’s lizard brain may resonate with the feelings of a minority, but that’s different from awareness. Then there’s another issue: Trump’s lack of impulse control. Conway quotes a Washington Post reporter: “Ive been covering Donald Trump off and on for more than 25 years, and what has always struck me is his lack of impulse control…. He ended up presiding over six – count’em, Six – bankruptcies because he kept making business decisions with his gut rther than with his brain.”
Will get worse
These problems will get worse. “He may be suffering cognitive decline,” writes Conway citing the evidence. The more Trump comes under attack, the more erratic and impulsive his behavior becomes. This chain reaction will continue. Conway concludes: “The question is whether he can possibly act as a public fiduciary for the nation’s [meaning the capitalists’] highest public trust.” And Conway’s answer is a resounding “no”.
The fact that this is written by one of the nation’s top corporate lawyers is just as significant as what is written. Nor is Conway alone. As the Washington Post reports, a ‘White House official who listened to President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s leader described it as “crazy,” “frightening…”‘
Crisis of US capitalist class
All this (and much more) shows the extreme crisis that the US capitalist class faces. As a result, they are now mounting a general offensive to either get Trump under control (which as Conway shows will be extremely difficult if not impossible) or get him out. At the very least, they want to ensure that they – the US capitalist class – don’t have to endure another four years of this unbalanced head of state.
They are not completely united in this effort, as demonstrated by most (but not all) of the editorials in the Wall St. Journal, as well as by the $100 million plus that Trump raised in the second quarter of this year. This, in itself, shows the degeneration of the capitalist class. It shows how some are so besotted with the next quarter-s financial statement, with their own immediate profits, that they cannot take into account the needs of their own system. (There are also the dinosaurs among their class that believe it’s actually possible to turn the clock back 100 years.)
But the majority is concerned. Every night on talk TV and on the comedy shows like The Daily Show and The Late Show, Trump’s insane blundering is the subject. Even Fox News has started to turn critical. Trump’s latest blunder – the troop withdrawal – has even been opposed by his most faithful (literally) supporters – the evangelicals. Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson has said that Trump “is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven” due to this action. The Turkish invasion of Syria – a war which is over 6,000 miles away and doesn’t involve US troops – is now on the minds of millions of US workers. So is the overall crisis – the “shit show” as (George) Conway put it – in the White House. Slowly, bit-by-bit, millions of US workers are starting to pay attention.
Bonapartism vs capitalist democracy
There is another element to this crisis: Trump’s drive to establish one-man rule, also known as “bonapartism”, and the challenge to what the capitalist press calls “the rule of law” – capitalist democracy. In large measure, this takes the form of a presidency that is unchecked by the capitalist media, by the other wings of the federal government and even by the president’s own political party and members of his or her own administration.
As the Washington Post reports ““It’s just gotten steadily worse with each president being more and more resistant to congressional oversight,” said former Republican congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, who chaired the House Oversight Committee from 2003 to 2007. “The tendency over the last 40 years has been, the president’s party tends to under-investigate and the opposition party tends to over-investigate.”
Davis added: “It didn’t start with Trump; he’s certainly taken it to the next level.”’
The increased power of the executive wing of the government is not only a problem for the working class, it’s a problem for the capitalist class itself, as shown by the erratic behavior of Trump. Nor is it simply a matter of his mental illness; how could it be, after all, that a president could get elected who has deep ties with a major foreign and rival capitalist class – the Russian mafia capitalists? Just as with the fact of decreasing check on the presidency, Trump’s ties with the Russian mafia capitalists are an indication of the degeneration of capitalism itself. As Oaklandsocialist has repeatedly pointed, his ties stem from his long time role as a money launderer for the Russian mafia capitalists, but money laundering for the drug cartels is rampant within the real estate industry as a whole!
Turkey and Syria
Now, this all is coming back to haunt them. What, after all, inspired Trump to open the way for Turkey’s Erdogan to invade Northeast Syria? It’s true that Trump has an affinity for strongmen rulers like Erdogan, but that can’t have been all. This invasion will increase the influence of Trump’s ally, some might even call him Trump’s “handler”, Putin. It now seems likely that this is what stands behind Trump’s precipitous action. That plus the fact that he sees it as just a good business decision, why waste that money there? Nor can the fact of Trump’s having a large investment in Turkey be discounted. (Although he wrote his piece before Trump pulled his troops back in Syria, Conway also deals with the issue of Trump’s corruption, of Trump putting his own personal financial interests before those of his class as a whole.)
But taken all in all, Trump’s general mental illness, his likely growing senility, plus his links to the Russian mafia mean a direct threat to the interests of the US capitalist class itself. This means increased instability. It is exactly such a volatile situation that tends to awaken the working class.
Preference for rule through democratic means
All together, this shows why the capitalist class prefers to rule through “the rule of law”, or democratic means, over one-man rule or Bonapartism. In the latter, they actually have less control over the ruler. It is also a less safe means of ruling because a Bonapartist dictatorship cannot las forever, and in its collapse all sorts of dangerous (to the capitalists) situations can arise.
The very fact of President Trump shows both the crisis of US capitalism as well as the crisis of the US working class. The mainstream of the capitalist class has so lost its base in society that it was unable to secure the election of its preferred candidate. As Oaklandsocialist has pointed out many times, their preferred candidate was Jeb Bush. He was considered a shoo-in for the Republican nomination. He never even achieved lift-off. Next up was Hillary Clinton. Although not as good as the original, she was a perfectly acceptable substitute. She crashed and burned.
US working class
The strategists and spokespersons for the mainstream of the capitalist class will continue to waken the working class as they struggle with their unhinged ship’s captain. The fact that the capitalist class is not completely united will only further raise the awareness and increase the ferment within the working class and in US society in general.
That is what is being played out in the melodrama that is just starting on TV and in the news: the impeachment “inquiry” orchestrated by the clever conductor Nancy Pelosi.
Role of socialists
It is exactly because workers are starting to pay attention that socialists must understand the significance of the capitalists’ political crisis. Unfortunately, all too many are confused. The leadership of the 60,000 member Democratic Socialists of America is claiming that the reason that Pelosi opened the door to impeachment is that Trump has now gone after her and the Democratic leadership’s favored candidate, Joe Biden. Another group that has a little traction at least online is Left Voice. They dismiss the significance. “We shouldn’t fall for the Democrats distractions,” they write. And a prominent member of theirs wrote online “as a socialist I won’t pick sides in this fight because it’s not my fight.”
This is not a matter of supporting the Democrats (“picking sides”) in some “distraction” that they are orchestrating; it is a matter of understanding how a movement can develop and how to intersect with, influence and learn from that movement and from the situation as a whole. But as far as impeachment itself: Why shouldn’t the working class demand the removal of Trump, any more than our class should make any other demands on the capitalist politicians? This is not a matter of supporting Joe Biden (as DSA would have us believe) nor a “distraction” (as others on the left claim); it’s a matter of what will advance the interests of the working class.
Democrats will not save us
This does not imply reliance on the Democrats to save us. They have shown this up until now by their refusal to open up the question of Trump’s money laundering – a refusal which is due to the prevalence of money laundering throughout the real estate industry.
Nor will they decisively stop voter suppression and voter fraud. They proved that in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election, where they insisted on relying on the courts as opposed to mobilizing protests in the streets. (The AFL-CIO leadership, ever their foot soldiers, were complicit in this.) The Democrats proved this once again in Georgia last year, where massive voter suppression enabled the election of a Republican governor. (See this article on the 2018 midterm elections.)
What may tend to happen is that the mounting campaign against the unstable and “unpatriotic” (in the sense that he’s more loyal to a foreign capitalist class than to his own class) president could swing the sentiment so massively against Trump and the Republicans that even voter suppression cannot overcome it. It’s also possible that the suppression and fraud could be the last straw in provoking a new mass movement.
For working class independence
This is what socialists should be agitating for and organizing – for a movement in the streets against Trump. This movement must be free from the control not only of the Democrats, but also of their representatives – the nonprofiteers and the union leadership. It should link up the repression and reactionary policies of Trump with the failure of the Democrats and the need for a mass working class party.
And if none of this happens, and Trump is able to bully and fraud his way back in, then look out America and look out world!