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Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

Richard Lachmann

Donald Trump entered the presidency in 2017 with an electoral mandate to reduce US military involvement around the world and to abandon the trade and investment treaties…

Abstract

Donald Trump entered the presidency in 2017 with an electoral mandate to reduce US military involvement around the world and to abandon the trade and investment treaties that empowered global corporations. Yet he mostly continued the foreign policies adopted by previous administrations. In recent decades, those policies have increasingly served particularistic elite interests at the expense of the US ruling class as a whole, and they have also been unsuccessful in stemming the decline of US imperial power. This chapter explores the factors that explain this continuity of policy. In analyzing the reasons for policy stasis, it offers an analytical basis to evaluate what might change under President Biden. It also assesses what strategies might be most effective for those who hope to resist US militarism and to undermine the US capacity to enforce a hegemony based on rapacious capitalism.

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Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

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Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

Kevin A. Young

Most US activists place a high priority on elections. The default strategy for those seeking policy change is some combination of electoral campaigning and pressure…

Abstract

Most US activists place a high priority on elections. The default strategy for those seeking policy change is some combination of electoral campaigning and pressure campaigns targeting politicians. Yet policies show a high degree of continuity across recent presidential administrations. Despite substantial differences in rhetoric and legislative agendas, the policies resulting from Republican and Democratic presidencies have stayed within a narrow range, defined by the promotion of corporate profits, the impunity of law enforcement agencies, the defense of imperial prerogatives, and nearly unfettered ecological destruction. Focusing on the Trump and Biden presidencies, I analyze some of the structural barriers that inhibit major policy change. I also explore why the ruling class as a whole has not yet united against parasitic industries like fossil fuels and pharmaceuticals that endanger the interests of other capitalists. I argue that activists must move beyond electoral and legislative approaches by directly disrupting ruling-class interests that have the power to change policy. Only then will we win major progressive reform.

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Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

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Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

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Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

Book part
Publication date: 24 June 2014

Mark S. Mizruchi and Mikell Hyman

We argue that the United States has experienced a decline of economic, political, and military power since the 1970s, and that this decline can be attributed in part to…

Abstract

We argue that the United States has experienced a decline of economic, political, and military power since the 1970s, and that this decline can be attributed in part to the fragmentation of the American corporate elite. In the mid-twentieth century, this elite – constrained by a highly legitimate state, a relatively powerful labor movement, and an active financial community – adopted a moderate and pragmatic strategy for dealing with the political issues of the day. The “enlightened self-interest” of corporate leaders contributed to a strong economy with a relatively low level of inequality and an expanding middle class. This arrangement broke down in the 1970s, however, as increasing foreign competition and two energy crises led to spiraling inflation and lower profits. In response, the corporate elite waged an aggressive (and ultimately successful) assault on government regulation and organized labor. This success had the paradoxical effect of undermining the elite’s own sources of cohesion, however. Having won the war against government and labor, the group no longer needed to be organized. The marginalization of the commercial banks and the acquisition wave of the 1980s exacerbated the fragmentation of the corporate elite. No longer able to act collectively by the 1990s, the corporate elite was now incapable of addressing issues of business and societal-wide concern. Although increasingly able to gain individual favors from the state, the elite’s collective weakness has contributed to the political gridlock and social decay that plague American society in the twenty-first century.

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The United States in Decline
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-829-7

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Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

Corey R. Payne and Beverly J. Silver

Many analyses point to Trump's behavior on the world stage – bullying and racketeering more reminiscent of a mafioso than a statesman – as a personal character flaw. We…

Abstract

Many analyses point to Trump's behavior on the world stage – bullying and racketeering more reminiscent of a mafioso than a statesman – as a personal character flaw. We argue that, while this behavior was shocking in how unvarnished it was, Trump marks the culmination of a decades-long trend that shifted US foreign policy from a regime of “legitimate protection” in the mid-twentieth century to a “protection racket” by the turn of the twenty-first. While the temperaments of successive presidents have mattered, the problems facing the United States and its role in the world are not attributable to personalities but are fundamentally structural, in large part stemming from the contradictions of US attempts to cling to preeminence in the face of a changing global distribution of power. The inability of successive US administrations – Trump and Biden included – to break out of the mindset of US primacy has resulted in a situation of “domination without hegemony” in which the United States plays an increasingly dysfunctional role in the world. This dynamic has plunged the world into a period of systemic chaos analogous to the first half of the twentieth century.

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Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

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Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

Kevin A. Young

The US fossil fuel industry is vulnerable to opposition from other sectors of the ruling class. Non-fossil fuel capitalists might conclude that climate breakdown…

Abstract

The US fossil fuel industry is vulnerable to opposition from other sectors of the ruling class. Non-fossil fuel capitalists might conclude that climate breakdown jeopardizes their interests. State actors such as judges, regulators, and politicians may come to the same conclusion. However, these other elite actors are unlikely to take concerted collective action against fossil fuels in the absence of growing disruption by grassroots activists. Drawing from the history of the Obama, Trump, and Biden presidencies, I analyze the forces determining government climate policies and private-sector investments. I focus on how the climate and Indigenous movements have begun to force changes in the behavior of certain ruling-class interests. Of particular importance is these movements' progress in two areas: eroding the financial sector's willingness to fund and insure fossil fuels, and influencing judges and regulators to take actions that further undermine investors' confidence in fossil fuels. Our future hinges largely on whether the movements can build on these victories while expanding their base within labor unions and other strategically positioned sectors.

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Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

Kevin A. Young

Most analyses of Donald Trump's presidency stress its uniqueness. For many commentators, the “crisis of democracy” refers to Trump's January 2021 coup attempt and his…

Abstract

Most analyses of Donald Trump's presidency stress its uniqueness. For many commentators, the “crisis of democracy” refers to Trump's January 2021 coup attempt and his other authoritarian machinations. Some analysts speak of the “Trump effect” on the Republican Party. Yet in most respects Trump is an extreme expression of longstanding patterns. Trump's style of demagoguery draws from the historic repertoire of the Right, while most of his policies as president were consistent with those of his predecessors. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, appears incapable of stopping the spread of far-right politics, largely because the party is unable and/or unwilling to deliver major redistributive reforms. Trump and Trumpism are symptoms of this deeper systemic crisis. This brief introduction previews the chapters that follow, which will examine the roots, impacts, and future prospects of Trumpism and the possibilities for combatting it.

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Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

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Abstract

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The United States in Decline
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-829-7

Book part
Publication date: 24 June 2014

Richard Lachmann

Is the United States in decline? If so, what are the causes and dimensions of that decline and is it irreversible? Will American decline be accompanied by the rise of a…

Abstract

Is the United States in decline? If so, what are the causes and dimensions of that decline and is it irreversible? Will American decline be accompanied by the rise of a new hegemon? To what extent are that rise and decline merely concurrent processes, determined by forces internal to each polity, or are American decline and the rise of its competitors both manifestations of a single global dynamic?

This introduction defines decline and presents the answers to those questions offered by the authors of the chapters in this volume. I conclude by analyzing the effects of internal US decline upon the global economy and geopolitics and offer an agenda for future research on politics and nationalism in a post-hegemonic world.

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The United States in Decline
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-829-7

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Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2022

Malik Miah

Trumpism seeks to maintain white domination. President Trump's policies aimed to restore white power at a time when it seemed to be in jeopardy. This chapter examines…

Abstract

Trumpism seeks to maintain white domination. President Trump's policies aimed to restore white power at a time when it seemed to be in jeopardy. This chapter examines Trump's policy record and its impact on the US Black population, focusing on voting rights, policing, and criminal justice. I also discuss the far right's attack on history curricula and public education, specifically its demonization of Critical Race Theory. These efforts to protect and extend white power are not new. They are based on the principles articulated by the Founding Fathers, who asserted the right of white settlers to control the nation. More recent precedents for Trump's racism include the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, who, like Trump, ascended politically by mobilizing white racism. While many have labeled Trumpism a fascist movement, I argue that it is better understood as a precursor to fascism. It represents a continuation of the racist origins and traditions of the United States, where the national oppression of African Americans is core to the operation of capitalism. In closing, I offer a strategic proposal for stopping this reactionary movement and preventing it from developing into a full-fledged fascist movement.

Details

Trump and the Deeper Crisis
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80455-513-2

Keywords

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