In response to an FT article by Gideon Rachman on 9th May 2016, entitled ‘How Donald Trump has changed the world’
“How Donald Trump has changed the world”
Firstly, he hasn’t changed a thing…yet. And he may sink back into the night without ever having changed a thing - as I have no doubt that you would wish him to Mr. Rachman.
The anger and the frustration that he is a manifestation of, and a mouthpiece for, was here first…and will NOT sink back into the night however. That frustration, that disgust, and the object of its anger – the ‘establishment’ - have ‘caused’ the phenomenon called ‘Donald Trump’, not the other way round. No politician is that powerful, no matter what the poor little dears may think when they look lovingly in the mirror.
Donald Trump is an ‘effect’, a Johnny Come Lately one at that. He is not a ‘cause’ of anything. Bad news for anyone who’d like to duck the real issues and blame the establishment backlash on Trump, Sanders, the left, the right, Uncle Tom Cobbly or the Tooth Fairy.
Donald Trump did not start a war in Iraq, preside over the financialisation of the economy, bail out the banks, or instigate the greatest wealth transfer from the poor to the rich in the history of the US. He has not gone back to Congress year after year, decade after decade, on the pay of vested interests, doing nothing for the votes that put him there, and everything for the money.
Now, you may say that he would have done no better than the shower of incompetents and crooks that got us to where we are. You may even be right. But you can’t blame Trump for any of that.
Those decisions were all made by the established power players, operating within the established system. That being the case let’s look at your five things in a slightly different light. The light of: what have the establishment done or not done to get us to where we are?
1. First, a rejection of globalisation and free trade
US politicians have been spinning a litany of lies to the ‘common people’ for decades. The biggest lie of all is that trade deals like TPP or TTIP remotely resemble ‘free trade’. They don’t. If Adam Smith were hired for a day to come down from upstairs to assess these deals he would be back playing his harp within ten minutes having announced that they are ‘harmonisation’ at best, ‘crony corporatism’ at worst
2. The second theme is nationalism, epitomised by Mr. Trump’s slogan of “America First”…the global implications of American nationalism are much more serious since the US underpins the whole international security system and issues the world’s reserve currency, the dollar.
Firstly, the global implications of America’s interventionism have been disastrous, unless, for example, you think a middle east that is ‘on fire’ is either:
a) A good thing or
b) Nothing to do with the US
Secondly, the country that supplies the global reserve currency is destined for perpetual deficits - Triffin’s dilemma. In short, the reserve currency is initially a privilege, but eventually it is a curse – and in my view at least, the US has arrived at the curse stage – ask Janet Yellen how she feels about it (on second thoughts, don’t bother, she’d have to lie to you).
This is just one reason why a global reset of the monetary system is necessary. Central Bankers must know this, the IMF do know this (and want it), maybe there are even one or two politicians or journalists who get it. You might like to ask yourself the question – why does the US not address this before it is too late? But let’s agree it’s not the fault of the guy with the weird hair.
3. A third idea is the embrace of the notion of a “clash of civilisations” between the west and Islam. Even as President George W Bush launched a “war on terror” in 2001, he rejected the idea that the US is at war with Islam itself.
Do you think Al Qaeda or ISIS got Junior’s memo Mr. Rachman? Now, you may know something I don’t about Trump, but here’s what I think he is saying – my words not his:
‘We are at war with radical Islam AKA fundamentalist jihadists; who have made it abundantly clear they want to kill westerners indiscriminately. And we will not open our doors to Imams who preach about ‘outbreeding’ the infidel. Until such time as we can accurately assess who is arriving at our borders we should disallow entry to all Muslims. That policy can change when we are in control of the situation’
As someone who marched against the National Front in the seventies, who played benefit concerts for ‘Rock Against Racism’, I have witnessed fascism and racism ‘up close and personal’…I’d say the jihadists are the Nazis in this equation, and Trump wants to keep them out of his country. I’ll get in Trump’s face the minute I hear him speak hatred, but as yet, I haven’t heard it. If you have heard him declare war on Islam, or on any race or religion Mr. Rachman, please put me right on this.
4. “A fourth theme is a relentless assault on the “elite”, including Washington, Wall Street and the universities. A populist distrust of elites has been a perennial theme in US politics for decades, if not centuries”
So that makes it OK then does it Mr. Rachman – because it’s not new? If that’s not the most pathetic excuse I’ve heard this decade then it’s close. If it’s so old then why aren’t you campaigning for term limits and campaign finance reform? Why aren’t you rooting out corruption? ‘Relentless assault’…aw diddums, poor down trodden elites…where’s my tissues…
5. A fifth and related trend is the denunciation of the mainstream media as untrustworthy and an embrace of alternative, conspiratorial narratives that are flourishing on the Internet. Mr. Trump, for example, has promoted the baseless idea that President Barack Obama was not born in the US. This embrace of conspiracy theories is pernicious for democracy, which requires some agreement on basic facts as the foundation for debate.
If Trump has promoted the idea that President Obama was not born in the US, then he’s a plank. On the other hand, and speaking purely personally, I find the mainstream media’s coverage of many crucial issues to be dire, or sometimes just plain dismal. The FT’s coverage of the rise of Trump has been an example of that. Trump is not the lesson – he is a symptom of a global trend – a backlash against elites. At no stage have you analysed this, at no stage have you looked in the mirror and asked the question:
‘What does this say about how the establishment elites have managed national and global affairs? How should the ruling elites respond?”
You haven’t done that. Your response has been avoidance and blame.
In summary, the FT continues to miss the point about the rise of Trump. At first I was convinced that you just didn't 'get it'. Now I'm beginning to think that FT journalists are aware of the trend unfolding, and are equally aware of the corruption and mismanagement of the elites that has led to it...but are hoping it goes away. It won't...and 'whistling past the graveyard' will not make it so.