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Resisting Trumpism Requires a Grand Unifying Theory


#1

Resisting Trumpism Requires a Grand Unifying Theory

Sonali Kolhatkar

Through a corporate profit-making lens, there is no profit value in addressing racial and gender justice, universal health care, quality education, higher wages or pristine air, water and land, because funding such goals leaves less money for the wealthy elites.

A Donald Trump "Nope" parody of Shepard Fairey's Barack Obama "Hope" poster. (Pixabay)

#2

Though I appreciate Sonali Kolhatkar’s allusion to the necessity of embracing a scientific, as opposed to an unsubstantiated rhetorical manipulation as is currently the ‘currency’ being floated, it is precisely DIVERSITY that represents strength rather than “power”. Cut the ‘current’, maintenance of which is the sole purpose of Trump, et al (including the democratic national party) - and the machinery of manipulation goes silent.

The ‘grand unifying theory’ is precisely the inversion of its moniker. As the designation for our species homo sapiens sapiens implies, self-aware homo sapien, knowledge does not halt like a stagnant pool of water in a container. It is constantly flowing, adapting, adjusting and changing. FULL DYNAMIC DIVERSITY IS REQUIRED FOR THIS. This is what predatory capitalism is incapable of internalizing. It is a death wish made manifest. It leaves death, sterility, toxification, tell-tale reductionist extinctions and negation in, on and around everything it touches.

I would also raise one of the most delusional linguistic conflations of the century: Dignity vs pride. Pride is what is left when the integral whole of DIGNITY (think: to dignify an argument or statement - see the drift?) has been fragmented. There are numerous such linguistic travesties floating in the mass media. Simply consider the slang and ‘catch phrases’ that marketing firms are paid millions to come up with and test in order to make you think you need/want their " product".

Keep a pad and pen whenever you watch TV - and movies - and make note of phrases and phrasing that ‘ping’ you. This is not hyperbole.


#3

A grand unifying theory for politics would be able to unify identity politics with economic class based politics. What is presented here is the same old economic class based politics and calling it a grand unifying theory. Actually resisting Trump requires less of changing people’s minds and more making the election system fairer. The number one problem to address is gerrymandering. While both parties do this the Republicans have taken this to a new level, particularly now that more data analysis is available. Another problem is voter suppression laws like voter ID laws. Here the Republicans again are the main party doing this. Getting rid of the electoral college would also be helpful so the president could be elected by receiving the most votes. Trumpism is to large extent is the product of redistricting in 2011 which resulted in the Tea Party gaining power and the beginning of the Freedom Caucus in the House. That is when the right wing extremists really gained so much power which is very evident now.


#4

Seen through a profit-making lens, there is no longer a reason for the working class to support Democrats.

The Ds aren’t shy about announcing who they serve. Hillary spent the months in the lead-up to her November loss raising money from tech and Hollywood elites in California. When she was warned that her rust belt firewall was collapsing, she ignored those sounding the alarm because she cares more about Wall St than Main St.

I have no doubt she believes what Chuck Schumer believes, even after her butt whooping:

“For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

So, if the author’s Grand Unifying Theory is going to be based on fighting corporate elites, it’s going to have to be built on an alternative to the two corprate parties.


#5

Redistricting happened because when the Ds had total control of government, they delivered RomneyCare, a continuation of war, a bail out of Wall St and the hollowing out of Main St, and lots of excuses for why their hands were tied by Republican minorities in congress.

Their base is abandoning them in direct proportion to their openly abandoning their base.


#6

You’re correct as far as you go, but you stop short of acknowledging that the majority of US citizens have given up voting at all.

To think that 535 individuals divided between two political parties can fairly represent nearly a third of a billion people is simply absurd. The real outrage of voter suppression lies in the thoroughly bipartisan campaign to prevent the rise of a leftist third party (of course, far-right constituencies are welcomed within Brand R ranks).

The Grand Unifying Theory must begin with the founders’ rejection of hereditary monarchy. The national story from then to now can be traced in the ups and downs of common folk as we compared our lot to the lessons we were taught in school.

We found that “some are more equal than others” based solely on wealth, and that any attempts to reconcile that fact with our notions of liberty, equality and fraternity would be resisted—in some instances with fraud, in others with force.

And now we face a situation in which the protections against meritless and unwarranted accumulation of power our forebears established have been either weakened or destroyed. I, and the majority who have given up voting at all, will have to look outside the current system for deliverance.


#7

Yes.
Time for pulling together what is good for life on our planet, and for humanity --the new progressive agenda.

Needed now is a published in black and white, clearly articulated set of values and priorities --what is good for life and for people
–a new Port Huron Statement.

People need to know, not just what issues are in the interests of a healthy planet, and a healthy humanity, but also that energies opposed to these are counter to what’s good for planet and people --no matter what the latest cute jingle might suggest, or the new propaganda might claim, or the latest demigod might proclaim.

This list of what’s most important must work for both the intellectual elite and the masses, not just local (but local too), not just state, (but state too), not just national, (but national too), but especially what’s good for human beings, world-wide --for a healthy humanity, and for a healthy planet.


#8

I’d add that it is, more than the wealth itself, the willingness to plunder the earth and one’s fellow human beings for the ‘security’ of wealth connected to the bludgeon of MIC.


#9

Simply absurd? BINGO!

And what exacerbates the absurdity, is the majority of the 535 belong to two corrupt parties, that are suppose to represent the American people!


#10

Beyond resistance, what are we to organize around? Where are the meaningful proposals for economic assistance to the working poor of this nation?


#11

I’m not sure that “wealthy elites control everything” is much of a unifying theory. It is nice that you go beyond left/right dualism and see that unity beyond. But that’s like … a unified theory of The Enemy. A unified theory of what we’re against. It’s not a unified theory of who we are, what we want and deserve. It’s not proactive, but reactive. How about a unified theory of the inherent worth and dignity of every human being? A unified theory of our divine nature? Our universal goodness?


#12

True.
How do we teach citizenry to Think Big --beyond events, to the issues raised by the events?
We must place as central in public discourse, those key Big Picture issues, then help all recognize How particular events hurt/help.

Oh, that’s what the MainStreamMedia is supposed to do --you know …NEWS.
Work needed here if democracy is going to have any chance at all.


#13

"How about a unified theory of the inherent worth and dignity of every human being? A unified theory of our divine nature? Our universal goodness?

How about the place of humanity Within nature?


#14

Real glad both of you two said something (you and Robb). I gravitate more to what you wrote than Robb’s comment. But that’s alright…I am glad Robb said on this score what he thinks. Like both of you I think Kolhatkar’s paragraph looks back at the system, whereas IMO as well there’s a better potential in the article’s title. For me it makes more sense to look to what we must do rather than how they’ve operated [I could get into the latter and might be obliged to below]. Kolhatkar’s paragraph is great though! And it’s probably enough, though I am very tempted to check out “Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times,” or at least one item somewhere by Derber.

Beantime’s quizical and he studied metaphysical (but wasn’t Maxwell some kind of a nut?). Right now, though, in what I’m writing at this moment…I’m abandoning that ship a little. Unified action without a unifying philosophy can end up with early big strides later turning into internecine squabbles. Don’t think I don’t know it! But still, with all my study I’d say focus on action. Revive the platform measures that’ll survive…triage. If you look at our current (pop) culture alone…originalness is the standard. Tribes of X performer find it hard to appreciate Y performer, and that’s the way it is with philosophy. Society is divided up into imitating a gazillion hyper-unique icons. Very convenient–we can’t unify. Back there a ways it looked harmless, and I understand how it happened. Everyone had enough time to go hunting unique wines. Maybe how it started was the principle of pluralism over the principle of The Republic…ideally a good thing. But we’ve taken it over into artificial lip service-ville, while minorities are scapegoated all over again. I’d rather look at things like we’re on a trip, and everyone has something they must do. Everyone has something important to do, so everyone has merit.

It’s Nature that puts the pressure on doing, regarding the environment…that and the absolute risk of nuclear war (where the counterpart is negotiation). In a Grand Unifying Theory of action we would have at present an advantage. Nations could go overboard with this, but…do the opposite with computing power than what is done with it today. Instead of calculating maximum layoffs/minimum costs feasible, calculate who should produce what and where. Calculate advantages of organic over a dead Gulf of Mexico. Calculate where you can grow cotton without deep aquifer water, and calculate what the agricultural workers will need in terms of income, housing, health insurance, etc. No more cotton slaves. That’s just one example.


#15

Learning requires active participation. To me it is important to start teaching at the earliest point and that is why the citizen is in trouble. Not many are taking the time to teach children the basics instead relegating this important job to “others” including television.


#16

“Labor intensive,” green tech, GAW, public option, JPOA, demand-driven approach not
debt-driven. Sorry, minute planning (environmental)–but at the same time Popperian brakes on authoritarianism.


#17

The only unifying theory that Americans need is the recovery of their integrity.
A populace that is so morally bankrupt that sacrifices the future of their children, the survival of their parents and their own livelihood to justify at all costs the illegitimate and immoral actions of the politician they voted for, while ferociously attacking the ones they did not vote for when they do exactly the same things, does not have the capacity to unite against it’s oppressors.


#18

This is a very interesting article. It is nice to see Kolhatkar weigh in on a unified theory. I am particularly glad to see economic inequality and social class attended to.

A theory deserves attending to; there are a couple things here that I would like to look at.

Let’s not give the Republicans the advantage of their chosen framing. The party as a whole increases the national debt persistently, though of course the Democrats tend to help:

  • W increased the deficit over 8 years by a series of wars, though of course Obama extended these.
  • HW, W’s father, extended the deficit, particulary after his Sec’y of State gulled Saddam Hussein into invading Kuwait.
  • Reagan set big spending records for central government and deficit while cutting services.
  • Nixon spent freely, carrying the war in Southeast Asia into neutral countries and dumping record numbers of bombs.
  • Eisenhauer had his misgivings about the MIC, but in practice gave them a pretty free hand (as comes out in Daniel Ellsberg’s new book The Doomsday Machine.

Let’s hit this openly. Cutting spending has not been a Republican priority since Herbert Hoover. Getting out of debt is not a Republican priority. Spending for violence and coercion instead of to address social ills is a Republican priority because they believe in a sort of forced labor: people are to work for the owners or suffer deprivation, and the greater the suffering, the more effective the coercion.

It has been difficult to find Democrats willing to address these issues openly of late, perhaps mostly because most officials of the Democratic Party are effectively tarred with the same brush. But Kolhatkar’s work over the years shows that she is not insensitive to these issues. I’d love to see a lot of people hold to them right through the election cycles, rather than back off of Democrats who go the routes that we usually associate with Republicans.

Next ----

If you reread Trump’s message in Utah as quoted here, you might note that it is not “against government,” simply, but “against government in Washington.” I am not going to pretend that this makes it more sincere. But if you are standing in Utah or Alabama or Indiana or Kansas or even rural California, that is a big difference. It is, admittedly, a difference often blurred, but it is a big difference.

It does not work to accept the association of a greater and better social net and better social services with the poor with “more government.” It’s not only discouraging, it is grossly incorrect. Helping people is one thing that can be done by government or others. Coercing is another thing that can be done by government or others.

Still, it might be nice to have a grand unifying theory. What would we like to call it?


#19

A grand unifying theory sounds to me something along the lines of Marx (who I did not read because I was too lazy to deal with his style…though I got some of the concepts from Jacques Ellul). I told Robb & Joe down below that, though I agreed with Joe, I’d prefer more to triage out some priorities here in the now. Marx himself was “grand” in his sweep. I agreed with Joe, but I wouldn’t go back to the young Marx. Ellul agreed with Marx on many scores, but neither do I think we need to go about in Marx’s manner attempting to state eternal market truisms (we can go to Michael Hudson’s material anytime and he’ll take us all the way back to Babylonia). Some principles, though, would be useful. Some mechanics. I think a snapshot of current mechanics is probably the right middle ground. Only if we focus on current are we likely to gain understanding of the quicksand spots. These are where people stop debating…stop conversations…because the issues are too complex…trade treaties and exchange rates for example. Too many progressives can’t dive quickly into trade treaty issues and bring up anything. What, are they just going to go away when Sanders becomes president or something? No, we need to know how to deal with them now when/while they’re not going away. Louis Utichelle proved this to me on the Nader Radio Hour. What exists right now is quite complex. Why it exists vis a vis eternal human desires/nature is something we almost don’t have time for…IOW too much to bite off. The danger as far as I can see is we won’t grasp the breadth of it as it is in the present…the mechanics of it in the present.

Dec '16 http://ralphnaderradiohour.libsyn.com/the-truth-about-american-manufacturing

It’s sleet’n so I’ll put this much up now in case something freezes.

continued


#20

continued from above

This relates to my above idea that maybe we could agree or unify over what is going on now versus what wil always be going on forever. The following was once a comment for a fb friend, never sent. I got the idea to put it up at a CEPR blog; maybe they didn’t think it was one-to-one germane enough…thought it a rant IOW.

Have you ever noticed how in the lives-of-the-published many of these cats have enlightenment (in their fields) for a streak and then it’s gone, or vice versa? Einstein for instance.

This is off. http://michael-hudson.com/2016/07/trump-the-neocons/

But this seems to be real “on.” http://www.unz.com/mhudson/money-imperialism/

I’ve already mentioned to you the divergence among ultra-right groups in their attitudes toward Russia. And this also seems to be characteristic of ideologies as they move in their beginnings…sort of bipolar in nature. Michael Hudson and Mark Weisbrot give the saner side of SCO, and Lord knows I can see it! True, in some ways its members are stressing infrastructure instead of the “rentier” theme, but if you look at it in another way…who owes who what? The US owes China $700 billion. And toward a number of sectors of their population China is outright “rentier”…like miners. Re the second Hudson link, I can see that the West is going into a “purer” rentier phase. But the strange thing about China’s supposedly waning rentier is that what remains of it is conspicuous…recall Snowden’s job of sleuthing out their hackers ripping billions off the US. Are there warning signs around that the east puts out infrastructure PR [and the real stuff, which is also good PR], but that it’s a titanic struggle to get to where it says it wants to go? My thoughts at this point go off on a tangent…that electronics augment rentier, whether nations are saying they’d like to get away from the paradigm or not. Like the immense environmental cost transporting poses at sea with bunker fuel [a lot’s gotta go on each trip and what else could ships that gargantuan afford to burn?]…with the ultimate rentier mandates getting set up on Wall Street there’s also a speed of delivery/transfer factor…high frequency trading. Maybe Bruce Schneier and Frank Abagnale have a point re regulations for the
road(s)/routing?