Unlike most of my previous writing, what follows is not going to strive for balance. We are well past the point where careful assessment of opposing perspectives can help. Now is the time to mobilise every person who is able to see beyond their own nose. Why? Because a shitstorm of global proportions is approaching, and every minute counts.
The shitstorm matters to you (wherever you are).
Predicting what happens next in the USA is, even for an outsider like me, disarmingly easy. What do you think will happen the first time racial tension re-ignites anywhere in the US? Trump’s administration will enthusiastically turn against their own people. That’s what. They are currently busy arresting brown people who happen to be foreign and travelling. To start doing the same, Pinochet-style, with non-whites US nationals, all they need is an excuse. People are angry, so the excuse will be provided in a matter of days or weeks. Unfortunately, when it will happen (and it will), the tipping point will be reached. After that, every single person on the planet will implicitly be aligned with one or the other side: those happy to tolerate dictatorship and war on one side, those who are willing to defend peace and democracy on the other. Whoever will not actively put their view on record, or try to support their cause in more concrete ways, will automatically be in the former group, unfortunately. That’s how bad the current situation is.
After the next escalation, Trump’s room for manoeuvring will narrow down at an accelerating pace. Stakes will rise, and to remain in play, he will stretch the law more and more. This is the first thing we have learned beyond reasonable doubt in the last 72 hours: Trump isn’t playing safe (predictably), he is already stretching the law. As a consequence, soon enough appeasing his core voters will become a matter of life and death: his vociferous supporters, and the threat of generalised unrest (in a nation where vast numbers of citizens are armed and itching to shoot), will quickly become the only reason why he won’t get impeached and arrested. There is nothing that Trump won’t do, once his own skin will be on the line. Thus, the first convenient enemy will be chosen and depicted as the source of all ills, a war will soon follow. I cannot predict who this enemy will be, that’s because China is manifestly the most convenient, but even Trump should hopefully be able to realise that an open conflict against China is pure madness. It’s likely that Trump will try to use ISIS for this role, but ISIS is not strong enough to be credibly responsible for the upcoming internal unrest, so I don’t think the move will work.
If the above scenario will unfold as above (or in a comparable manner), every nation on the planet will need to decide whether to support the USA or not. If the prospect doesn’t scare you, you’re either cruel or a fool.
I will use the UK to exemplify why this division will happen, why it will be automatic and unavoidable, and why taking a stand right now is necessary. Unfortunately, it applies to all nations, and therefore to every human being on earth.
Brexit, May and Trump.
Arguably, the UK has already picked its side. That’s the other thing we’ve learned in the last three days. May was happy to be photographed hand in hand with the most dangerous person on earth. She is also happy to provide high tech weaponry to Erdoğan, despite the fact that Turkey is currently not even trying to present itself as democratic. Why? Because the UK is already trapped in a corner: a direct consequence of Brexit. May knows that she will desperately need every bargaining chip she can grab. She needs to make sure that the British 1% (her core constituency) remains able to keep piling up more and more money. This would be easy enough, if it weren’t for the inconvenient fact that she also needs to retain the support of the useful idiots who happen not to be rich, but do support Brexit.
You don’t need to be a genius to realise that the game she’s playing is already difficult: faced with Trump’s antics, it is clear that the only option she has is to walk the tightrope. May needs to keep Trump happy, while finding a way not to enrage every sane UK elector. Not easy, but she has to try. Unfortunately, once Trump will start deliberately murdering his own people (I reiterate: when this happens depends only on when someone will be fool enough to start a riot in the USA), the only way that May will have to retain Trump’s support without losing her job will be to actively spread more and more lies – she will have to actively deceive a significant proportion of the UK population, failing to do so will inevitably lead to a change of government. Unfortunately, she already is beyond recovery: the course for her is set, and with her, probably the course of the whole UK. The only option that remains is to unseat her. What should worry us all is that the time to do so before she will start using all the power of the state to save her own position is limited, and therefore, every single UK citizen needs to activate RIGHT NOW.
Looking beyond our own borders, sooner or later every other government on earth will face a similar situation. Trump doesn’t understand subtlety, you are either with or against him. Any government that will not oppose Trump’s methods to retain power (and again: he will soon start shooting his own people in city squares, I’m afraid), will be henceforth trapped: governments will start lying to try justifying their choices, and as lies will pile up, their possibilities to change course will vanish.
What can we do? (UK)
In the UK, it’s quite simple, but the time available for action is horribly short. Given the current situation, all parties (including the vast majority of the Tories) can harvest the support of all the voters who happen to be decent human beings. The mindlessness of Trump has abruptly lowered the bar to an unprecedented low threshold. All that is needed is to be able to communicate how bad Trump’s administration really is, and refuse to support him. Labour and the LibDems could do this in a blink of an eye, if they could find the courage to cooperate. Unfortunately, it seems that the current leadership of Labour is happily wearing the most tight ideological blinkers that I’ve ever seen. Based on what they are doing (forget what they say!), it seems that they are convinced that:
- The EU is irredeemably Neo-Liberal, and therefore an eternal enemy of Socialism. Thus, leaving the EU is moving one step towards the realisation of their Socialist ideals.
- They must have some hope that May will make some massive mistake and turn the polls around, all by herself… How this may happen, I have no idea.
- They also think that it’s impossible to change the minds of enough electors, explaining to the population that the current hardships are not caused by immigration, but instead, by the Neo-Liberal delusions of much of our ruling class (that is: the belief that markets can solve all problems. Yes, of course, this delusion is gripping also vast numbers of EU bureaucrats).
In other words, Corbyn and McDonnell think they can use Brexit as tool to bring about some socialist reform. Concurrently, they seem unable to realise how bad the situation is about to become. They are sleepwalking into their own obliteration. Once article 50 is invoked, the UK will be without respectable friends and the room for manoeuvre of whoever voted for Brexit will be reduced as a consequence. Stakes will rise, May will rank-up propaganda, helped by the right-wing media. May will also have a pre-packaged scapegoat: the evil EU bureaucrats will get all the blame. In this situation, how would Labour find the strength to command a change of course? It won’t, that’s how.
It doesn’t have to be like this: any Labour MP and/or Labour official who would like to retain their seat and, concurrently, avoid supporting fascist regimes (that is, one would hope: all Labour MPs), could immediately ask for change, if and when they will realise what the Trump and Brexit combination means for the UK. They should stand up for democracy and against state-sponsored violence. How difficult can it be? The current situation, horrible as it is, is also a huge opportunity: May’s position is about to become indefensible – but she can be effectively challenged only while the current course is still reversible. It will soon be possible to successfully challenge her, as long as you haven’t tied your hands already. Unfortunately, Labour’s current position is to support Brexit, and with it, its own pile of lies. Thus, Labour is currently busy tying its own hands, instead of preparing for a huge comeback, what a pack of fools!
Failing to challenge May, right now, by refusing to join forces with whoever is willing to uphold democracy, is effectively helping May to put us into an irreversible course. Brexit is the turning point, because it will make the UK irrelevant: during and after Brexit, the only way to retain some international weight is to snuggle up to the US. Befriending the EU will be impossible, so other options will be closed.
Call for action: please write to, or call your MP. Right now, it doesn’t matter what their party is. Ask them to stand up for democracy. Any price is acceptable as long as we can avoid supporting Trump. If you are a Labour member, a member of a union or a supporter of Momentum, please use your internal contacts to ask for the same. We cannot be seen to passively support Trump’s authoritarian turn. Refusing to do so will maximise Labour’s chances to return in government. [After publishing this, I will follow my own advice and do exactly how I preach.]
What can we do? (Rest of the world)
What can be done? I don’t know, it depends on where you are. If you are lucky enough to be based in the EU, you can help by showing just how horrible Trump is, and demand to your government to distance itself from the murderous policies he is busy implementing. It shouldn’t be difficult. The same probably applies to all the other American nations as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. In the US, it is imperative to do two things: (1) everything that slows Trump down would help, but above all, (2) it is crucial not to provide him with excuses to escalate internal violence. Please see the guidelines compiled by people who know (much) better than me. I don’t know about all the other nations, my ignorance blinds me, I’m afraid.