I don’t want to sneer. Truly, deeply I do not want to sneer. But then again I’m a socialist from the mean dinner tables of North London, with Jewish roots to boot, so allow me some latitude: it’s kind of my jam.
Now I’m not one of these people who cling to these unflattering clichés about America, such as them having no sense of irony. On the contrary, I think much of American comedy is bold and uncompromising, and makes ours looks moribund in comparison.
Nor do I think that their stupid are particularly more stupid than ours – it is to be noted that we do just barely better than them in the international league tables for literacy and numeracy. I do however, think that their stupid are far more numerous, far more flagrant and just plain more dangerous than ours.
A lot of this is down to the poor provision of state education in the country; lack of access to higher education; the lack of a social safety net which makes it hard for many household to contemplate anything other than survival; a completely market driven media which is a) so completely shorn of regulation as to be virtual disinformation – much of Fox programming is not actually classified as news programming by the network, but entertainment – and b) without the public provision which makes more esoteric, enrichening, and commercially unviable programming possible; a culture of long working hours which makes it difficult to stay up to date with current affairs – this is the same American model Tory Atlanticist traitors like Liam Hunt want for Britain; a hyper-masculine, hyper-militarised culture which places little value by intellectual feats compared to physical ones (star athletes are rewarded with medals, whereas honour students are not); and a climate of anti-intellectualism based on a deep-rooted folksy abjuration of formal learning in favour of “common sense” (oh would that Paine were still around today).
Which naturally leads me on to the US primaries, where one cannot move for being raked in the face by an egregious fallacy. [Hyperlink to sideshow Bob walking into rakes.]
Trump and self-finance
One of the principle reasons for people supporting Trump is that he is free of the influence of the maligned “elite”. One yokel who had just voted for Trump was recorded by the Guardian as saying that he did so he was not “owned by anyone”.
What people seem to forget is that Trump himself is part of the elite. The man boasts, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” In so doing he shows himself as showing the same contempt for the democratic mandate that characterises the elite.
So in order to obviate the problem of the undue influence of large corporations, we’ll just vote them in directly. That’s like a Nazi conspiracy theorist voting in a Zionist.
One would think that if someone were seriously perturbed by the corporate hijacking of American democracy that they would vote for a candidate such as a Bernie Saunders who has campaign finance reform as a central plank of his bid.
But that would be to ignore the huge and irrational stigma of socialism in the US.
Has been remarked just how brave z move it was of Bernie Saunders to describe himself as a socialist. Or rather “democratic socialist.” And therein lies the rub.
Why the qualification? How jarring would the phrase “democratic nationalist” sound?
And yet nationalists don’t have to make reference to this. Indeed, it would appear to be superfluous for a nationalist standing in a democratic election to stick that in there.
But is socialism any more inherently authoritarian than nationalism?
Yes, there has been a link between socialism and authoritarianism in the past, but socialism has been implemented in a democratic context enough times now for it not to have to distance itself from it. I don’t see European or American nationalists having to distance themselves from the iniquities of the Cold War juntas, which is odd when you think how complicit they were in them.
Democratic governments such as that of Allende’s Chile, João Goulart’s Brazil and Árbenz’s Guatemala were overthrown by militaries that were heavily subsidised by the US. Even as late as 2002 an attempt was made to overthrow Hugo Chavez’s administration in a coup. In fact the US did far worse at the US School of Americas, drilling the death squads of the region in the latest methods of state terror under the euphemism of “counter insurgency tactics”. The Republican administration of Reagan went so far as to ignore the express prohibition of Congress and fund the gruesome Contras of Nicaragua. And how was this achieved? By the proceeds of weapons sold to Iran – an activity which also banned. A clear case of liberty at home being subverted to close it down abroad.
This is not to mention the countries outside Latin America. The Egyptian Army that overthrew the only elected government in its history was the recipient of $10 million per year from the US government, and just this week Obama has proposed to remove restrictions on funding that have been put up after the event.
Unfortunately, the taboo of socialism will be enough to undo for Bernie Saunders, much as it has often done in far less right wing European countries who are happy to enact socialist practise, but often under the menacing portmanteau of social democracy. The sheer weight of stultifyingly ill-informed public opinion – the ballast of popular anti left-wing sentiment – will ensure this.