People & Nation

A victory for “populism” in the heart of democracy
Donald Trump and his nation — united in the pursuit of happiness

A great president serving a great nation

In the USA at the end of January, a man came to power with an unshakable faith in the greatness of the American people and pure hatred for the country’s ‘political establishment.’

He holds the latter responsible for the disastrous state of the nation, which does not at all match the magnificent achievement Trump believes his countrymen capable of. Unlike his critics and competitors, who like to present good news about the economic dominance of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, the strength of the American military, and the openness, progressiveness, and dynamism of American scientific and cultural life, Trump detects one big disaster when it comes to business, domestic and foreign policy, and, not least, morals. He thinks the US is being beat in world trade by large and small competitors; the once glorious heartland of industrial world dominance has become a shabby Rust Belt; Americans willing to work hard are finding fewer and fewer jobs and making an ever worse living at them because the industrial companies their labor once made great would nowadays rather employ labor elsewhere. And America has not won a war in a long time, or much else either. For Trump, the USA as a world power is unacceptably damaged if it is no longer generally acknowledged in the world to be clearly number one in every way. This simply cannot be, because according to Trump the greatness of Americans means that — whatever they are or do as individuals — they are a collective of winners who outstrip their competitors across the globe in every field. There is no country or people on this earth as beautiful as America and the Americans, which for Trump is the same thing as saying that nothing and nobody can beat them in the fight that he sees in every aspect of the world. So if the American people’s circumstances, their nation’s wealth and their state’s power lag so far behind what this people is basically capable of and predestined for, i.e., being unbeatably superior in every arena that nations compete in, then the American people are obviously being prevented from showing their greatness in their own country; they’re no longer master of the house.

This must be rectified.

Donald Trump and the World

For Trump, it is a sure fact that the proud USA and American people are being bled by transnational business that has caused jobs in the country to be lost, whole industrial regions that once flourished to go to rot, American infrastructure to decay, the local population to sink into poverty, trade balances to be negative, and government debt to be gigantic. For him, this goes hand in hand with an alarming decline in American military power, which he sees not only in the curbed expansion of US weapons budgets over the last decades, but also in the USA’s lack of success in its military engagements over the last quarter century.

It’s clear to him that all this is the result of a sell out of American interests that is as huge as it is criminal. An utterly corrupt “establishment,” in his view, has allowed economic dealings by which American jobs have been stolen, thereby depriving his “hard-working” and “beautiful” Americans of their right to the happiness of achieving, by their superior proficiency, the prosperity for themselves and their families, and thus for America as a whole, that befits them and their nation. This picture of America’s deep crisis and its causes shows what Trump’s picture of the world altogether is like.

Morality — The Good Conscience of Class Society

Opportunities that hinder and prevent success in life: that is a contradiction that takes some coping with. Of course, those concerned could take it as an indication of the prevailing purposes that are inherent in their supposedly so neutral living conditions; and they would be wise to do so. For that would put the conflict of interests organized by the law-enforcing authority right on the agenda, and they would only need to win the class struggle. But that would mean abolishing this strange paradox and not constructively “coping” with it.

Who earns how much and why?
Against moralism in the income debate

Nobody wants to say that prosperity and poverty — free access to the wealth of goods produced in the world and exclusion from them — necessarily belong to our unbeatable economic system; that would be something like critique of capitalism, god forbid. The idea is that there is some match between money earned and job. As if one and the same yardstick showing thousands per month were applied to the different jobs, and one job ended at the second thousand while the other was only just starting at the twentieth or two hundredth. Differences in income aren’t all right just like that, they are all right because they are fair. Just as the double meaning of ‘to earn’ says: receiving income and being entitled to it belong together. The relation being, by common consent, that income depends on what a person deserves, not the other way round.

At least in principle. In the real working world, everybody, when it comes down to it, knows plenty of cases in which the equation between just deserts and financial remuneration doesn’t quite work out.

The social network Facebook
The new home of the bourgeois individual

Facebook, the social network, has been extremely popular with its members: 900 million registered users worldwide tap away at their keyboards, making the site one of the most visited on the web. Facebook, the company, is no less in demand among investors: they look forward to its IPO, estimating its value at $100 billion.

But there are also critical voices: politicians and the media denounce the lack of data protection. The German Consumer Protection Minister has indignantly deleted her user account while warning users to be more careful with their data.

Meanwhile, the “Facebook generation” is said to have instigated the revolutions in the Arab world that have been named after it, thus having advanced global democracy a great deal. The Pirates, the recently founded German internet party, has congratulated them on it.

The New Tea Party
A Second American Revolution to Restore the Health of the “Land of the Free”

Ever since Obama took office, the power struggle in Washington has been escalating. Political competition is no longer reserved for official political parties that vie for votes with policy proposals and candidates, and that after counting up the votes fight and negotiate with each other — the one side as the administration in power, the other as the opposition — over how to manage the country. That is precisely what a fundamentalist popular movement is no longer willing to tolerate, and its very name conveys its conviction that a new American revolution is necessary. Just as the Boston Tea Party sparked a revolt and a war of independence against the British Crown, the descendants of these early American revolutionaries seek to take back America for Americans, freeing them from an un-American oligarchy that has usurped power over the country, suppressing freedom and ruining the land: “We must take back our nation!” Crisis, rising debt, unemployment, lost and unwinnable wars, as well as the country’s diminished capacity to dictate American playing rules to the rest of the world — the movement views all these phenomena as representing a widespread decline of “God’s own country” owing to a betrayal of American virtues. But it is not only the ruling party and its president that have been accused of betrayal; the entire political establishment is under suspicion. Whoever wants to be cleansed of this suspicion must submit to a “purity test” to determine whether they have the proper ethos. So the Tea Party sets off on its quest to rescue the country. It is in the process of thwarting Obama’s healthcare reform; recently, their members in Congress nearly forced the government into default. In a number of states, they are demonstrating what the nation can expect in terms of policies toward immigrants, unions, and schools once they come to power. In the Presidential election campaign that is currently underway, movement activists are fighting to make the Tea Party program the official Republican party line. They have been turning Republican primaries into an opportunity to pressure candidates to commit to the movement’s core beliefs, promising support in return while issuing the warning that all candidates will be placed under strict supervision and voted down at the earliest opportunity in case of betrayal — that is, in case the politicians they have brought to power end up making compromises after all with those who are ruining America.

Nationalism worldwide
Foreigners and the problem they represent

Everywhere, there’s trouble with foreigners — more so than has been the case in a long time: in Germany and Austria, the United States and Canada; in France, which is deporting Rumanian Romanies; in England, where a British National Party is organizing campaigns to ban the employment of East European EU-citizens; and in a lot of other European countries, where xenophobic parties are winning elections. More and more often, and ever more strongly, political parties and governments are bothered by the existence, the number, or the state of parts of their population that they identify as not belonging and differentiate from their own people. This differentiation and exclusion comes from a distinction between two sorts of people that none other than the state brings into being. There is the one kind that belongs to it and is completely subject to its exclusive sovereign power, and so is required to serve its demands — as citizens, they enjoy the interesting right to be allowed to live within the territory of this sovereign. And there is the other kind: all those who belong to other states and who have no business being in the country, unless the state has particular reasons to permit them to live there — because and as long as it can make use of them. Whether and when they are a bother therefore does not depend on them.

South Africa’s Sensational Turning Point
Statesmen of diverse skin colors choose a new people

World public opinion has a simple and clear concept of what’s going on in the Cape: democratization. This is supposed to be, first, a good thing and, second, a necessary thing. The whole world sees an advance of civilization when the “verkrampte [stubborn]” Boers finally sit down at the table with their blacks and extend the human right of a free and secret ballot to the black majority. The granting of universal suffrage is considered so undeniably good that the lifelong functionary of apartheid, de Klerk, is forgiven all the sins of the regime he served. World opinion thinks nothing of him, along with longstanding victim of apartheid and ANC leader, Nelson Mandela, being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

How voting rights are supposed to be so good for the blacks: this the free world, to which the irresistibility of everything democratic has finally gone to the head, does not even want to know. At any rate, the advocates of “normalization” and “modernization” of this state don’t even claim that the material situation of blacks living in poverty would improve through elections and appointments of black politicians to state offices. Democracy itself is the value that has to matter — whether or not it is good for something else.

Josef Ratzinger retires — The papacy remains
Why an enlightened democracy can’t do without religion endowing life with meaning
[Translated from the analysis of the GegenStandpunkt Publishers on Radio Lora, Munich — February 18, 2013]

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