Against the Parties of Reaction & Recuperation
It is difficult to have astute or timely socio-political or social ecological analyses when things are in a period of rapid development, as has been the case for the better half of 2020 and into this year. For those politically active in such times, one must try to navigate the open situation and hope their general analysis going in is able to hold up and adapt. This shows the importance of having a solid analysis before events accelerate.
The U.S. seems to have survived the Trump administration, but finds itself looking out across a drastically different political landscape. After months of uncertainty and attempting to navigate very open and accelerating developments, some general, prevailing forces at play have emerged.
Alongside, and intermingling with the political forces at play within the United States is the global pandemic. While on the surface the economic impacts of the pandemic may not be as far-reaching or long-term as once thought, it has nevertheless accelerated large structural changes: the theft of additional wealth by the billionaire class at the expense of the poor and working; the increased strength of digital monopolies by the largest corporations; the displacement and automation of the workforce, driving many into precarity and piecemeal “gig economy” work; the death of the 9-to-5 office job and birth of the 5-to-9 hustle; and a general upending of consumer relations affecting everything from physical currency to retail and entertainment.
This massive push into the virtual will further erode senses of community, connection, and belonging, and increase alienation and most likely immiseration in the Marxist-humanist sense. If left unchallenged, these unmet human immaterial needs will continue to be insubstantially met by irrational and reactionary tendencies like the cult of QAnon, sending us further down the path toward fascism.
The reaction to Trump’s far-right, conspiratorial, populist reaction has been a return to the “normalcy” of establishment Democratic neoliberalism as embodied in the Biden administration. Domestically, this lesser evil might slow the lurch to the far-right and stabilize the financial situation of poor, oppressed and working Americans for a moment (while simultaneously speaking over them to address the “middle-class”). However, the return of America to a “leadership position” internationally can be read as the return to militarism and imperialism.
Here again we can see the complementarity of the two-party system in the U.S.:
The GOP, as the party of reaction–now entirely and shamelessly beholden to Donald Trump–chaotically, violently, and incompetently lurches the U.S. further right; the Trump administration raising military spending while taking an isolationist posture;
The Democrats, as the party of recuperation, serve to channel any outrage or non-electoral movement into the “safety” of the electoral system, then call for “unity” as a way to appeal to the center-right, marginalize their left-wing, and keep their monied establishment in power; they will most likely call for reduced military spending even as they take a more militaristic posture [the recent bombings of Shiite militants along the Syrian/Iraqi border seem to substantiate this].
Meanwhile, faced with the impeachment of their leader for violence he incited, the GOP similarly calls for “unity” of a different sense, in order to move past the events and avoid any sort of consequence.
The morbid dance continues.
The last point in this brief analysis is this: Joe Biden will not address the systemic issues that produced Donald Trump. It is possible, perhaps likely, that another Donald Trump will be churned up sooner than later. Those on the far left cannot assume there will be plenty of time. We must learn from recent events and get ourselves educated, organized among each other and in our neighborhoods, and create the mechanisms and material preconditions necessary for a sustained, oppositional, mass movement.