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"The one thing I am sure about is that WWIII is not about to happen."
Well, "thanks be to God and his Holy Mother" as we used to say in Ireland.
I have been mulling over tweets by Aaron Bastani of Novara Media and the
As I read him Bastani*, *who is one of the good guys, seems to believe that
the social media developments have been a big game changer and that Trump
is one of the first to recognize this. Bastani also appears to hanker
after some of the show business elements of Trump's approach. Trump does
not do boring and for Bastani that would seem to be one of the ways to go.
I have something of a different reaction. I was, to be frank, horrified at
the wrestling video Lou posted. The spectacle and I chose that word with a
nod to Guy Debord, of the future POTUS rolling around while the yahoos ( I
almost said 'deplorables') cheered. And that is headed for the Oval Room,
I thought to myself.
This morning I had something of an inflection to that initial reaction.
Prominence was given to Meryl Streep's criticism of Trump and of course the
twit's tweets in response. What I think is important to understand is that
Streep's critique was a moral one. We are not like that she seemed to say.
If we all become like Trump then society will dissolve into amoral
anarchy. The American commentator, whose name I did not catch, was at
pains to point out that Trump did not win the popular vote and that most
Americans did not agree with him.
So what did I make of all this? What is the inflection? Well, to begin
with I believe that the urgent task facing American and World capitalism is
to save capitalism from the capitalists as FDR did. I prefer of course the
task of creating world socialism, but that is beside the point. Can Trump
save Capitalism from the Capitalists? His anti-establishment postures seem
to suggest to voters that he would try. But that was all spin. He clowned
around and that was enough to persuade enough desperate people that he was
different. His appointments to his cabinet have put those illusions to
But there is one other element that to the coming Trump fiasco and Steep's
speech was directed to it. Leadership must have a moral dimension as well
as an aesthetic one. We are it seems to me back in Matthew Arnold's time
when he worried so much about the dangerous masses and the Philistinism of
the capitalism class. Arnold's solution was to advocate the teaching of
poetry to create 'sweetness and light' among the masses. He was acutely
aware that because of Darwinism, religion had lost ground. So poetry it had
This was again an aesthetic solution masking as a moral one. The 20th and
the 21st Century have seen the total collapse in the belief that an
education in the High Curriculum could lead to a better world. But
crucially, we were still offered an aesthetic solution. though importantly
this time it was the mirror image of the High Curriculum. At my former
university, Professor John Hartley and Professor Alan Mckee, radical
Philistines both, advocated the embrace of Reality TV as the way forward.
These academic cheerleaders for the new populism would seem to have got
their wishes. A reality TV star is in the White House. Hooray and
So to try and pulls these disparate thoughts together, Trump's elevation
exposes a vital flaw in the the leadership of American capitalism. At one
level it is startlingly naive, to say he is a moral disaster. But the
problem with us old Lefties, is that we are so immersed in struggles
against capitalism that we are unable to have the reaction of a "normal"
person to a moral outrage. Trump, it seems to me, can be summed up in the
phrase my old mother, God rest her, used to use - "You couldn't take him
nowhere". He lacks even the appearance of a moral dimension. Of course,
now that we are all supposed to be Beyond Good and Evil, that might not
appear to matter. But the reaction to Streep's speech seems to me that it
still does, at least in countries outside the US.
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