Countercurrents.org | July 07, 2017
There’s warning and concern, there’s assurance and optimism, and, there’s accusation and threat. All these were delivered and expressed by Mr. Donald Trump, the US president.
The US president was in Warsaw, a historic city, and was delivering a speech in front of people gathered at Krasinski Square, and was speaking at a news conference. All these happened on July 6, 2017, a Thursday, near-end of a week, and on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, also a historic city, now being secured by mobilizing at least 20,000 police in the face of forceful protests by thousands of people denouncing capitalism and inequality, and expressing concern over climate crisis.
President Trump warned that the future of the West was at risk. The US president warned: a lack of collective resolve could doom an alliance, which endured through the Cold War. He seemingly searched soul there in Warsaw: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. […] Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
President Trump said the US would confront the threat from North Korea very strongly. It was his first public remarks since North Korea’s recent ICBM test. The US president warned: a “severe” response to North Korea’s “very, very bad behavior”.
President Trump hit out at Russia, and urged: “We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran.”
President Trump warned of “dire threats to our security”.
President Trump expressed optimism: “I declare today […] [o]ur values will prevail.”
Trump made a significant announcement: the US stands “firmly behind Article 5, the mutual defense commitment.” His statement comes following criticism of his stance on NATO.
President Trump cautioned: “On both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger” – a “steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people.”
The deliberations of the US leader stand out as a signature of the time the planet is passing through. There’s urgency, there’s limitation, there’s competition and confrontation within the world capitalist system. These facts have been told by the US leader, which is not an individual’s choice and preference. A ruling system is facing a reality, and is trying to find out a route to escape from the reality. But, that’s impossible within the system.
The empire’s allies are concerned about the empire’s commitment to NATO. On the opposite, the empire desires that its Atlantic allies bear more burdens of the problems they have created. Its allies have limitations. There’s a conflict of interests, and there’s a unity of interests. Both sides have to find out a compromising ground.
The compromise will benefit the armaments industry, and the burden will be borne by the tax payers in countries. Increased expenditure on armaments is the unity of interests. A beefed up military industry have to organize “games” of war – conspiracies and interventions, bombings and bombarding, killings and displacement of people, destruction of human habitat and ecology.
North Korea is not an isolated case. The case has roots and connections. It’s not a case that requires a military solution. The lords of the earth may realize the fact.
There’s a fractured Europe. Having a collective resolve by the NATO alliance on the fractured continent is difficult to attain. It can be attained only by capitals dominating the scene. But the capitals are in competition with each other. Camp followers play no role in the matrix.
Discord on the issue of climate crisis is the show of a competition among the capitals. Angela Merkel, the powerful German chancellor, likes to defend the 2015 Paris climate accord while the US leader vows to withdraw from it.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another area to see the disunity among the capitals. Angela Merkel likes “free, rule-based and fair trade”. She feels “globalization can be a win-win situation.” But for the global capitalism, it’s impossible to define “free, rule-based and fair trade”. There’s the US leader, not an individual, not an individual’s choice; but representing an interest, well-organized and matured. The problem increases as the factions in the interest are fighting each other, which is regularly taking the shape of vulgar and nasty political shows within home.
There’s the issue of regulating financial markets – an arena with powerful players. The players are creating havoc in countries. The market is so powerful that it regularly tries to regulate all instead of getting regulated. It’s a difficult contradiction to contain for the dominating political system as the system is blessed by the players.
The US leader has asserted in Warsaw: the West has the will to survive.
But, the fact is: the system, which has been identified as “the West”, acts against its survival. Its economy and politics are the self-devastating actors. This pushes the system to befriend backward forces, against which it rose a few hundred years ago.
The US leader calls to protect their borders. But, it can’t. It needs cheaper labor, and migrants are a source of cheaper labor. So, it invites migrant labor while it wrestles with it from self-security-concern, and due to condition in labor market in a number of countries. It creates causes for migration while it fails to fence in migration. These are reflections of the system’s limitations.
It’s difficult for Mr. Trump to solve this contradictory reality; and at the same time, it will create mistakes to try to define the entire reality as acts of an individual – Mr. Trump.
A faction of the capital engaged with competition with another faction is trying to color all these issues as “Trump circus”. It’s the faction’s trick to win over majority opinion/tax payers/voters. The incidents are not parts of “Trump circus”. These are part of capitalism’s problems, which are gradually going beyond control.
These make the empire appear listless, lost in a turbulent sea. Today, its leadership-role is vigorously questioned, and, sometimes, ignored.
Hamburg-streets, which witnessed violent clashes on Thursday between police and protesters is a reflection of the reality. The number of people protesting in the German city will reach hundreds of thousands. Anti-capitalism activists from other countries are joining the protests. They are assaulted with water cannons, pepper spray and batons. A powerful answer to people’s protests!
But the use of force can’t preserve capitalist civilization as the system is acting against it, is generating its opposing forces.
About 37 years ago, on a September-day in 1990, Ronald Reagan warned in a speech in Warsaw: Difficult times may come.
That was the empire’s one of the fine hours. There was Lech Walesa, chairman of trade union Solidarity, and a trusted friend of the empire. But, that hour has passed by, and the friend has lost his charm.
The empire is now facing a difficult time. A few of its friends are fighting each other. For its survival, it is fighting one of its allies as it is facing “dire threats”, as Mr. Trump said in Warsaw, to its security from the ally. It’s fuelling the ally and fighting the ally simultaneously.
It’s not a strange situation. Capitalism creates similar situation for it. It erodes the values it once fought for. It’s characteristic of capitalism. So, Mr. Trump’s saying in Warsaw – “our values will prevail” – is a daydream. It’s neither an individual’s problem nor Mr. Trump’s problem. It’s capitalism’s problem. The other faction – the diehard anti-Trump faction – has the same problem. That faction is not a pious soul.
The “steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people”, as Mr. Trump told his Warsaw-audience, is the condition of capitalist states as the states face problems beyond their comprehension, as the states turn more autocratic in the face of rising resistance. It’s a sign of weakness. The machines of rule can’t survive without draining vitality and wealth of the people. Capitalist countries around the world stand as witness to the reality.
So, the presidential-sayings in Warsaw and the protesting street scene in Hamburg are reflection of a single problem: the world capitalism.
Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not authored/edited any book in English other than Micro Credit, Myth Manufactured (ed.), The Age of Crisis and What Next, The Great Financial Crisis (ed.), and he doesn’t operate any blog/web site.