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Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain (1991) - Article - President Trump

Why President Trump?

So Donald Trump has made it all the way to the White House supported, among others, by the Klu Klux Klan and Alt-Reich the political hub for fascists and extreme survivalists. it all the way to the presidency? And why the support for a campaign based on hate, fear and conspiracy theories? Why, in particular, do so many working-class Americans fall for his racist, bombastic, bullyboy ranting?

US governments have pursued a policy of expanding their Free Trade Zones for some decades now, driven by the 'free trade' dogma which claims that the free flow of capital and labour creates the most efficient economic conditions for creating wealth and prosperity. They first expanded to include Mexico as part of the Zone with no border tariffs. The result, as predicted by the trade unions, was that many manufacturers closed down their US plants and moved to south of the border where they were free of trade union “restrictive agreements”, health and safety regulations, and US taxes and of course labour rates were cheaper!

In an article in NEW POLITICS (winter 2010, Vol: XII – 4), an academic, Dan La Botz wrote of the decline of the industrial worker in the US:

The industrial worker core had been declining for some time, a result of both new technology and offshoring, and now its decline became precipitous. The statistics tell the story. In 1960 out of a total non-farm workforce of 54,274,000, there were 15,687,000 manufacturing workers representing 29 percent of the total. By 2009 out of a total of 134,333,000 non-farm workers, there were only 12,640,000 manufacturing, representing just 9 percent of the total. That is, manufacturing workers fell in the last fifty years from almost one-third of all workers to less than 10 percent

And he went on to say:

Manufacturing workers, especially those in heavy industries such as steel, auto, rubber, glass, and electrical industries, had been among the most highly unionized workers in the country. Such industrial workers often had higher wages than other workers such as those in professions like teaching, in health care, or in services. The industrial shakeouts and manufacturing relocation to the South or offshore devastated the unions, reducing union density and weakening union power. In 1973, 38.8 percent of manufacturing workers were in unions; by 1979 that percentage and fallen to 32.3; by 1990 it was only 20.6 percent; and by 1995 just 17.6 percent
http://newpolitics.mayfirst.org/fromthearchives?nid=179

Twenty years later the Bureau of Labour Statistics gave the figure of 9.7% as the number of manufacturing workers in unions. Organised labour declined and so did the number of days lost due to strikes. Employers told workers either to take wage cuts or the firms would re-locate abroad
(http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf).

Another result – the law of unintended consequences - was that towns and cities across the US were hit by massive unemployment and the ruin of the local economy. Shops and so on closed down as their customers either moved away or if stuck and living on 'welfare/dole' money, had very little by way of spending money. At the same time local councils lost a lot of revenue due to the closure of so many businesses and the loss of a lot of their population base. During the last economic depression some unemployed workers were forced to live in cars and vans and to create tent cities not seen since the 1930’s.

All these factors have contributed to the disaster in towns like Flint after General Motors and other car companies moved away. Later manufacturers moved their operations again and again to other countries, mainly Asia, always looking for where labour costs were lowest.

A similar process has taken place in the UK. Northern textile manufacturers closed down their plants and exported their machinery to new businesses in various Asian countries. These companies moved again and again to wherever labour was cheapest, never staying put very long it seemed.

That also worked in another direction: foreign firms were encouraged to set up in depressed areas of the UK - e.g. Mittal, Tata, Japanese car firms, and in Northern Ireland De Lorean cars - bribed with Treasury sweetheart deals such as tax holiday agreements. Likewise in Eire, where Dublin was so attractive to many multinationals, looking for offshore tax havens for their Treasury operations, and so a huge financial services industry grew up in that part of Dublin.

The whole 'globalization' issue was driven by capitalists determined to hunt out the cheapest possible labour costs, driving down labour rates and union demands by force of competition: London workers are now competing with workers in Dacca, Burma, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines and China. The downward pressure on wage rates is partly due to historic differences in the cost of living and in living standards, but also there is the huge amount of new labour entering the labour market as so many Chinese peasants have entered the labour market in great numbers.

Is protectionism the answer as Trump asserts or uses as political rhetoric to gain working class support? Protection is in effect the state support of one industry at the expense of those who pay for the whole cost of administration, that is the capitalist class. Protection by way of tariffs or subsidies cannot in the long-run overcome the world conditions governing the whole mass of a country's trade, nor would it improve the position of the working class. Neither free trade nor protectionism can meet the interest of the working class. They are just two sides of the same capitalist coin.

Unemployment is a world-wide phenomenon and can only be understood in the context of capitalism, the trade cycle, capitalist competition and the world market. And it is a social system driven by a class struggle between those who own the means of production and distribution and those who do not. The problem for the working class is that there is a vast pool of workers, skilled and unskilled; the capitalist class can tap into. Class power allows capitalist to do this; to hire when it is profitable and to fire when it is not; to import cheap labour or go where cheap labour exists.

The working class is a world-wide working class lacking in socialist understanding and prey to snake-oil politicians like Trump. He will not be able to solve the problems facing the US working class any more than Clinton or Obama or any number of Bushes could. Workers have to show class solidarity and recognise that only the establishment of socialism will solve the problems they face. Workers have the numbers, and the conscious and political means to take power away from the capitalist class. Socialism should be the answer to the Trump’s, Sanders and Clintons of this world.

The support Trump received to become President was driven by a fear of what capitalism is doing to the workers’ lives and a mis-guided hatred towards those a Trump-voting working class believed are responsible – immigrants, China, Liberals and the Federal State. Conspiracy theories, political correctness “gone mad” and unseen powers pulling political strings add to this heady brew of infantile politics which cries out “USA!USA!USA!” while draping their minds and blind-folding their eyes with the Stars and Stripes. Such a world-view of political ignorance and blind-faith in leaders will only benefit the conservatives and the fascists applauding from the lawn of the White House (incidentally built by slave labour), Donald Trump’s acceptance speech of the Presidency of the United States of America.

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