Friday, 27 January 2017

May's Britain Is Now More Supine Than Mexico

Donald Trump is one of the most obnoxious world leaders, and given the nature of many world leaders that is quite some feat. If Trump were the President of many countries around the globe, Theresa May would be calling upon “the international community” to treat him as a pariah, to isolate his country, and to consider various kinds of sanctions against it. Trump is a racist, misogynist, who has also ridiculed disabled people, talked about sexually assaulting women, now talks about calling on US forces to use torture, and appears to be threatening to steal money from Mexico, by some means, so as to pay for the cost of his ridiculous border wall. And Theresa May is rushing head first to meet him, and to grovel, as Britain's representative, in front of him. This is the servile, supine state that the Tories have reduced Britain to, as it isolates itself from the EU. Even Mexico, which borders on the US, and is closely economically tied to it, had the backbone to stand up to Trump, and to cancel its Presidential visit.

What we see is not that surprising. Its been seen before. In the 19th century, when Marx talks, in the Communist Manifesto, about capitalism and says,

“The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate”,

many have taken this to be Marx talking literally about the expansion of capital into places like China, or India and so on. In actual fact, what Marx was particularly referring to were those Central European kingdoms and principalities that tried to erect protectionist barriers to the outside world, to prevent the spread of capitalism into their midst. What we see with Trump, and with Brexit is a re-emergence of these old bigotries, and the “intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners”, as it is whipped up and harnessed by right-wing, xenophobic, populist politicians for their own aggrandisement.

But, as Marx indicates here, all such attempts are doomed to fail, as with Canute's endeavour to hold back the tide. As life inside the wall ossifies, and living standards fall, ultimately, the wall collapses not from pressure from outside to get in, but from the clamour from inside to get out. That is the case, whether the “wall” is the limitations placed on the movement of serfs during the middle ages, or the movement of peoples trapped behind the Iron Curtain, risking their lives to get out. And the protectionist measures necessitate that life inside the wall will ossify, that costs of production will rise, that innovation will slow down, and that living standards will fall.

May's supine crawling on her knees in front of Trump is also a necessary consequence of the diminished condition that Britain, facing life outside the EU, now looks to. That too was described by Marx and Engels in relation to those small central European kingdoms and principalities. Some of these small nations had failed to establish the necessary conditions to become nation states. They looked to larger existing states, particularly in relation to the Slavic peoples, to Russia. Wherever, a people are led to have to look to such external support for their future, it means that they have to adopt a supine position to their external benefactor, and to acquiesce in, or be party to the most grotesque policies of reaction.

And, of course, its not just a supine attitude that May must assume in front of Trump. A Britain looking to life outside the wider remit and power it enjoys as part of the EU, is led to look to continue to obtain the favours of the unsavoury feudal rulers of Saudi Arabia, to be able to continue to sell them billions of dollars of arms to suppress their own peoples, and the peoples of the surrounding area; to continue to funnel billions of dollars of oil revenues through the City of London; and to encourage those tyrants to continue to buy up multi-million dollar properties in London, to spend vast amounts on luxury goods from Harrods and Oxford Street; to continue their purchases of luxury yachts and planes; and to continue to buy the services of high class escorts. 

May's Britain as an increasingly diminishing power, has to put itself in hock to Trump's America, which means that in order to garner some scraps from its table, it will have to do Trump's bidding in the world. In order to trade with the US, Britain will have to surrender all of its own controls and regulations, on things like privatisation of the NHS, use of genetic crops and meat, environmental controls that Trump is shredding, and all protections for workers' rights. Ironically, for now, that also means putting the UK in hock to Putin's Russia, vicariously, as Trump appears in hock for now to Putin.

Whether, this latter relation is simply a matter of a meeting of two giant egos (it is impossible to talk of a meeting of minds in Trump's case, because it is increasingly clear that nothing cerebral is going on under that huge ridiculous thatch, he simply spurts forth, from his mouth, a series of unconnected words, that may be contradicted the following minute) or whether the Kremlin actually does have something on Trump, enabling them to use him as a puppet is for now unknown. Either way tying Britain into such an unstable arrangement is dangerous.

If the Kremlin has something on Trump, then at some point, the US ruling class will remove him by one means or another. If his relation to Putin is simply two right-wing demagogues, with large egos, grooming each other, that is a recipe for a large scale falling out on a personal level at some point. Anyone who watches Trump will recognise the psychological traits that have led some psychologists to analyse him not just as a narcissist, but as psychologically unstable. One day he describes the Washington Post as a terrible organisation whose business is in a state of collapse, the next day he describes it as a vital national institution; one day he describes the US intelligence agencies as acting like the Nazis, and the next says he is there greatest supporter. With Trump anything and everything is either the worst of things or the best of things, depending upon whether in that instant of time he sees it as supportive or critical of his own position and desires. What might be wonderful and astounding today, tomorrow will be awful and on the state of collapse tomorrow. In a world in which there is no need for factual verification, only emotional outburst, nor is there any room for anything but extremes of black and white.

This is rather like the wild swings that Stalin's politics endured in the 1920's and 1930's, going from industrialisation at a snail's pace, to be dropped for forced march industrialisation; the politics of the Third Period, dropped and swapped for the Popular Front. And, of course, whenever the policy zigged from one position, or zagged back from another, all those sycophants that were dragged along in its train, risked not switching their own position quickly enough, finding themselves on the wrong side of Stalin's true course, and thereby liable to become overnight an enemy of the people, put up to a show trial and summarily shot.

That is the world that Theresa May is taking Britain into. Mexico was well shot of its visit to Trump, well shot of occupying the position of being the next bit of “pussy” for Trump to grab with his tiny podgy fingers.

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