Trump and the Fascism Danger by Marc Batko 5/27/2024

In the state of confusion, the Supreme Court isn’t independent but corrupted, special interests replace the common interest, elections become auctions, cowardice dominates over courage, causes of the housing and taxation crisis are not discussed, universities become “tentacles of the police state” (cf. economist Michael Hudson), the media become lapdogs not watchdogs, criticism and dissent are called threats to democracy, critics of the Gaza genocide are called anti-Semites and politics has long been a tank of sharks, polarized and paralyzed.  May our hearts and structures be open to transformation!

Problems don’t disappear when ignored.  Exploding inequality and unaffordable housing can be traced back to the tax avoidance industry, greed, and criminal indifference toward the future.

Months ago, I saw a homeless person with the sign “Anything Helps!.”  This actually summarizes Trump’s plight.  Enamored with himself, he gains support with constant fear, resentment, scapegoating and nonstop lies.  Constantly threatening and slandering, he decries policy, calls the left “vermin,” and denounces cooperation and dialogue as weaknesses.  The rule of law, self-criticism and commending others seem taboo.

The US is an empire in rapid decline as the US of amnesia (cf. Gore Vidal) or the US of denial (cf. Richard Wolff).  Capitalism must radically change to survive!   Simply infusing Wall Street banks with hundreds of billions of dollars monthly or manipulating interest rates is not enough.  The US economy of indebtedness and enrichment is marked by exploding inequality, unproductive speculation, a tax avoidance industry and unaffordable housing.

The state ruled by capital is “stabilized” by endless wars, paralysis and polarization.  The public interest is muzzled and distorted by special interests.  Cities are overtaken by blocks and blocks of homeless made invisible.  What the market cannot solve may not be solved.  All people except the top 1% or 10% feel totally unrepresented.  As George Orwell warned, two-minutes of hate would unite the population.  Scapegoating and wishful thinking seem to dominate foreign policy.  In truth, rivals are not enemies.  The old hegemon must admit its decline and accept its new identity as a partner state in the multi-polar world.

The US empire could become a republic as the British empire changed into a republic, a partner with other nations and no longer an arrogant hegemon.  The logic and chains of war must be broken!

Resistance and change are part of our nature as antibodies are part of our bodies.  Caterpillars becomes butterflies; children become independent adults.

Visions and utopias can be criteria or models.  If our hearts are open to transformation, God can help us identify and remove our prejudices and stereotypes. 

Capitalist socialization like the religion of work often turns out to be an inadequate socialization and a colonization of life and time.  Politics should decide over the economic direction and investments.  Instead, economics and speculative financial markets often control politics.   Special interests muzzle and distort the common interest.

In bloated hyper-materialist and hyper-individualist states, failure, tragedy and collapse are commonly hidden or drowned out by hubris, self-righteousness, inability to learn or a constant barrage of advertisements.  As Soren Kierkegaard said in “The Present Age,” our age is not one of courage but of advertising and publicity.  “Without humility, there is no sense of wonder.  Truth must well up within the individual and cannot be commanded.  The truth will set us free but the truth is a process, not a cudgel.”

Why are war critics sent to jail, not war-mongerers?  Vietnam, Nicaragua, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Gaza were all horrors where the US was either a plunderer or a funder.  The US was entangled in wars in 240 years of its history.  Seven million tons of bombs were dropped on little Vietnam.  The war in Afghanistan, the longest US war, lasted 20 years at a cost of $2.2 trillion or $300 million a day for 20 years.  The media and politics looked the other way.  Six or seven weapons companies were enriched along with retired generals.  What lessons were learned?

For centuries, universities and education encouraged dissent, critical thinking and innovation.  The human sciences (philosophy, history, literature, language, play and the arts) thrived along with the natural sciences.  Experience was different than experiment and called for a different methodology of inwardness (cf. Hans Georg Gadamer, “Truth and Method”).

Business schools expanded along with financial markets and financial products that no one could understand.  The financial economy made itself independent of the real economy with Clinton’s abrogation of the Glass-Steagal Act separating commercial from speculative banking.  After the 2008 financial meltdown, dozens of banks went bankrupt and millions of homes were foreclosed.

Can we learn the lessons of the 2008 meltdown?  The financial sector should be shriveled and the public sector expanded!  Both Germans and Americans finally recognize the folly of dismantling social housing and hope for a reversal of investments.  The market is neither a panacea nor a self-healing cure-all.  The market is only a helpful instrument after we decide what kind of society we want: pluralist and interdependent or oligopolist and monopolist.

Are teachers and nurses being trained?  Are corporations and the super-rich taxed fairly so states, cities and regions can be freed from revenue shortfalls?

Housing, taxation and bank stability were the first pillars of neoliberalism to collapse.  Did we hear the wake-up calls?  Did we see the signs on the wall?

Housing is a human work and a human challenge since we are not clams with built-in  housing.  Massive state investment in the US, Germany and elsewhere is imperative since private developers face higher material and labor costs and cannot build SROs (single-resident occupancy hotels) or affordable apartments on their own.

The homeless in 2024 number nearly 700,000 in the US., a firm in Everett, Washington, can build 60 lockable transitional shelters in ten days at a cost of $5500 each.  200 shelters can be built for $1.1 million.  Houseless persons are often ecstatic to have a roof over their heads.  Transitional communities already exist in California, Oregon, Washington and all across the country.  Is there a political will?  Or are we resigned to the status quo of stagnation, throwing money into the ocean or paying intermediaries $200K a year?

The state must buy up suitable land for affordable apartments and prevent speculation.  This was the secret or heart of the Vienna Housing Plan in the 1970s.  The state could pay for the land on long-term agreements.  Rents in Vienna were significantly lower than in Munich.  Housing can be in part non-profit or cooperative.  As poverty increases because of misguided policy (cf. Franz Segbers), housing as a fate or generalized insecurity happens when the political system is corrupted, paralyzed and polarized!

How can universities and the educational system encourage critical thinking, qualitative change, sustainability and innovation?  Education must be more than an appendage to the work society, training workers and oblivious to the emerging future.  More jobs are cancelled by the digital revolution of computerization than are created.  In Germany, the state partly subsidizes part-time workers so companies can free themselves from profit maximization.  The contradictions of capitalism portend its demise.   Labor extolled as the center of the economic system is also made expendable and superfluous by robots and artificial intelligence!

Profit-making is different than profit-maximizing (cf. economist Ulrich Thielemann).  On the quiet, profit-maximization can easily become an idol that drowns out stakeholders, nature and coming generations.  Cities become dystopias or de-industrialized wastelands when corporations and businesses can no longer afford to remain in business.  Security guards bump into security guards!  Neoliberalism, money out of nothing, redefines the state and society.  Students at 300 universities protest the six-month massacre in Gaza.  Ultimately, the US, the prime funder of the right-wing extremist Zionist Netanyahu must admit it has no idea about successful global security!

How can we know the signs of the weather but not the signs of the times?  How can we see the speck in our brother’s eye but not the log of militarism and speculation in our self-healing market?  By pretending the market is its own sustainable ethic, doesn’t the state run away from its responsibility as corporations run away from fair taxation, the price of citizenship said Oliver Wendall Holmes?

Democracy, the rule of law, and language are under attack by Trump.  The great misanthropic victim of the media and the culture wars was only an innocent bystander, he said.  When you’re a celebrity, they let you do anything.  The only one who understands the economy, banking, and taxation was a bank and insurance fraudster upgrading and downgrading his hotels and properties said he was “the Chosen One” and “didn’t mind being the Nelson Mandela of our time.”!  At the Libertarian Convention, he accused Biden of imprisoning people for their thoughts and words but said he would never do that himself! 

After denouncing the media, Obama judges, criminal Joe and the “witch hunt” against him, the loose cannon slandered different women at different campaign events.  Trashed at every chance, the corporate media put the Orange Monster at the top of their newswires (cf. Yahoo, Twitter, and Facebook) seven out of eight days!  George Orwell in “1984” warned that Big Brother would order two minutes of hate to unite or validate the people.  Trump has befriended his followers with eight years of hate (immigrant hate, Obama hate, Hillary hate, Biden hate and on and on).

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted!  Jesus calls us to create a new language and a new mathematics.  Whoever would be the greatest should be the least and the servant of all.  

Peace is a risk and a venture and cannot be found on the way of security, Dietrich Bonhoeffer explained.  Christianity must be re-imagined!  The swords must become plowshares!  Israel’s six-month massacre of Gaza is genocide, not self-defense! 

Russia was encircled with military bases.  Beginning with Clinton in 1999, NATO expanded from 16 to 31 states.  Like all countries, Russia has legitimate security interests and rights; a hyper-sonic missile from Ukraine to Moscow could only take four or five minutes!  Would the US be nervous if a Chinese or Russian military base were built in Canada or Mexico?  Peace is the imperative that should outweigh escalation and the unspeakable risk of global war!

The constitutional state must not be confused with the security state or the emergency state as Rousseau and the social contract must not be confused with Thomas Hobbes and the punishing or fearsome state.  Life is short and brutish, he said.  People would fight endlessly without the state or Leviathan. 

The constitutional state acts to protect the citizens from the ravages of profit-maximization.  In Germany, the legislature recently approved state subsidies for part-time workers so companies would not have to declare bankruptcy.  Vancouver B.C. rehabilitates a certain number of downtown hotels every year.  26 community centers offer meals, computers, libraries, gyms, laundry, counseling and classes and could be a third way beyond the state and the market.  The downtown Carnegie Center at Main and Hastings will surprise you with its $4 casserole dinners!  The US and its states could learn from the positive, resourceful examples of cities and countries with open and dynamic futures!  

Happy spring!  Happy reading!  Happy learning!

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