Notes on Trump 29

1. Others are starting to notice that a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives will spend the next two years pointlessly impeaching etc thus improving his chances in 2020.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/16/trump-impeachment-reelection-midterms-778968

I disagree with only the last part of the article. Trump should find it quite easy to get bipartisan results from a Congress with less Clintonite Democrats and Koch brothers Republicans than the present one. As predicted the GOP primaries have consolidated Trump’s grip while the Democrats are running “moderates” in Purple States and quite a few Sanders type social democrats in safe seats (as well as lots of noisy “identity politics” types in safe seats who will irritate everybody and ensure tactical paralysis).

Trump will find it much easier to get medicare, infrastructure spending and big deficits that he needs for re-election while still being able to rant about immigration etc.

2. Meanwhile media has convinced itself that convictions of Manafort and Cohen are massive blows against trump:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-22/donald-trump-robert-mueller-victory-might-be-tipping-point/10150984

I mean MASSIVE

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/22/politics/paul-manafort-michael-cohen-donald-trump-tick-tock/index.html

The WORST

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/21/politics/michael-cohen-plea-deal-donald-trump/index.html

Like it even eclipses Omarosa.

Happy 25 millionth! People are precious – and not the problem.

workers have no country

‘… only reactionaries can shut their eyes to the progressive significance of this modern migration of nations… ‘

–  Lenin, 1913

‘All the gang of those who rule us/Hope our quarrels never stop/Helping them to split and fool us/So they can remain on top’

– Brecht, Solidarity Song, 1929-1930

* * * *

 

Australia’s population reached 25 million the other day – way ahead of schedule. Experts thought it would happen at least a decade from now. The increase is mostly a product of immigration.

 

I’m all for mass immigration, primarily because it’s very good for immigrants. Of which my parents and I were three, in 1954. But even if I wasn’t one myself, I’d still be all for it. It’s also good for the locals, as it expands economic opportunity in the domestic market and enriches the culture and cosmopolitan sense.

 

At the time my parents arrived, Australia’s population was barely ten million. With more than double the population today, Australia is a much better and more interesting place than it was back then.

 

It makes me angry to hear politicians – sometimes ‘left’ and sometimes Right – suggesting or directly stating that migrants – ‘too many people’ – are to blame for infrastructure problems, unemployment and high house prices. How difficult is it really to run more trains in the cities at peak hour and to plan ahead? These are services that we are generally happy to pay taxes for.

 

Unemployment? The only way to reduce unemployment is by creating jobs, something the economy is meant to do. When we have the government actually creating the jobs, or even seeming to, we have an economy that is losing its mojo and acting as a restraint.

 

House prices? The great majority of people who own more than one property are Australian-born.  Stop blaming immigrants!

 

Let’s question capitalism rather than immigration levels. No wonder bourgeois politics is pretty much on the nose all over the advanced world.

 

Infrastructure expansion is a political question, as is the development of new cities and regional centres. Capitalism is such a backward system in countries where it has reached maturity and outlived its previous usefulness that rapid growth doesn’t happen and people – the most precious of all things – are regarded as a problem. What’s with a system that has always had a ‘reserve army of labour‘ – the unemployed – when there is so much work that could and should be done?

 

Don’t blame immigrants for the fact that capitalism is a sluggish moribund system, not dead yet but certainly unable to realize genuine, realistic, opportunities for all round development, and that the governments administering it can only do good things on the basis of increasing debt.

 

* * * *

 

Many years ago, possibly the early 1990s, I was at a party in a beautiful property in Sylvania heights, Sydney, overlooking the Georges River. The property was set on several acres of attractive native bush.

 

Among the guests was Tim Flannery, whom I had known very briefly at Melbourne’s La Trobe University in the mid-1970s. Tim told me, with characteristic earnestness and enthusiasm, that Australia’s optimum population was seven million. By optimum, I think he meant what ‘the natural environment’ could ‘sustain’, without being changed for the worse.

 

I politely told him that he needed to consider what kind of society Australia was when the population was seven million, which was in 1947. With a population of approximately 17 million, as it was in the early 1990s when we talked, Australian society was a much better place, especially for women, than it was in 1947.

 

I also pointed out to him that Canberra, where I had settled, was now a very lush green place with tree-covered hills and a rapidly growing population of almost 250,000, yet in the early 1900s, when the population was barely a thousand, the landscape had been mostly denuded of trees.

 

* * * *

 

What kind of times are these, when/To talk about trees is almost a crime/Because it implies /silence about so many/horrors?

–   Brecht, To those who follow in our wake, 1939

 

* * * *

 

Reactionaries adhere to an essentially Malthusian view that says resource development and food supply cannot possibly keep up with population growth. Malthus wrote that, ‘The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation’. (An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798, Chapter VII) This has been proven wrong – thanks to human ingenuity, democratic politics, science and technology. While population has increased to 7 billion, world hunger has declined greatly over the past few decades, as this data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation shows.

 

The Greens and some trade union bosses also tow an anti-population-growth line. The Greens want only ‘sustainable’ population growth, which logically must mean no population growth as more people will always strain existing infrastructure and require more physical space (which involves destruction of some ‘natural environment’). The union bosses warn against competition from foreign workers who, they say, will undercut local wages and conditions. Yet this happens when such workers are only allowed to work in Australia on restrictive temporary visae rather than on the same basis as everyone else.

 

The left has never fallen for such views. When it comes to ‘foreign workers’, we understand that there’s no such thing: the working class is a class not a nationality.

 

Marx appropriately said of Malthus’ population theory, which blamed the poor for their poverty, that he was ‘a shameless sycophant of the ruling classes’.

 

‘Utter baseness is a distinctive trait of Malthus—a baseness which can only he indulged in by a parson who sees human suffering as the punishment for sin and who, in any ease, needs a “vale of tears on earth”, but who, at the same time, in view of the living he draws and aided by the dogma of predestination, finds it altogether advantageous to “sweeten” their sojourn in the vale of tears for the ruling classes’.

Marx, Chapter 9, Theories of surplus value, 1861-63

 

* * * *

 

A final note: this year marks the 50th anniversary of Paul Ehrlich’s bizarre book, ‘The population bomb’. I read it back then and it made me quite worried about the future.

 

In 1970, in a magazine wrongly titled ‘The Progressive’, he argued that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.” Fifty years ago, this was extremist  stuff, more on the periphery (although ‘newsworthy’). Now it is thoroughly mainstream: a reflection of ongoing and deepening crisis.

 

In the 50 years since the first edition of his ‘Bomb’, the opposite has happened on most measures, from longer life expectancy through to greater education opportunities and women’s rights, better health and greater prosperity across the globe (with a few exceptions). Check out this excellent article from The Guardian for more evidence of just how wrong Ehrlich was and is.

 

And in that time, world population has doubled from 3.8 billion to more than 7 billion.

 

* * * *

 

Lenin’s words, from ‘Capitalism and Workers’ Immigration’ are still relevant:

 

‘Capitalism has given rise to a special form of migration of nations. The rapidly developing industrial countries, introducing machinery on a large scale and ousting the backward countries from the world market, raise wages at home above the average rate and thus attract workers from the backward countries.

 

‘Hundreds of thousands of workers thus wander hundreds and thousands of versts. [A verst is a Russian measurement equal to about 1.1 kilometres]. Advanced capitalism drags them forcibly into its orbit, tears them out of the backwoods in which they live, makes them participants in the world-historical movement and brings them face to face with the powerful, united, international class of factory owners.

 

‘There can be no doubt that dire poverty alone compels people to abandon their native land, and that the capitalists exploit the immigrant workers in the most shameless manner. But only reactionaries can shut their eyes to the progressive significance of this modern migration of nations…

 

‘The bourgeoisie incites the workers of one nation against those of another in the endeavour to keep them disunited. All the gang of those who rule us/Hope our quarrels never stop/Helping them to split and fool us/So they can remain on top. Brecht Class-conscious workers, realising that the break-down of all the national barriers by capitalism is inevitable and progressive, are trying to help to enlighten and organise their fellow-workers from the backward countries’. enlightening them that the problem is not development, but ownership.

 

– Lenin, ‘Capitalism and Workers’ Immigration‘ 1913

 

* * * * * *

 

 

If Bertolt Brecht were in Alice (Springs)…

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Many thanks to Tom Griffiths for this excellent poem.

For overseas’ readers, Alice Springs is a town in central Australia. The population is about 24,000, of which 18% is Indigenous. The town has very serious crime problems and is the ‘murder capital of Australia’. Domestic violence is especially bad.

The level of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities has been described as “out of control” by the Northern Territory Coroner. Women are taking the lead in calling for an end to violence.

Tom has been working in Alice with a family violence program run out of Tangentyere Council. The group program is for anyone but is overwhelmingly attended by men from the town camps or public housing. It addresses men and women of all ages who want to draw a line in the sand. The need on the ground and the adaptation of the original reminds us that art (of whatever form) must strive to do more than reflect reality, but must strive to change it.

 

Praise of Learning

Learn the simplest things. For you

Whose time has already come

It is never too late.

Learn your ABC’s, it is not enough,

But learn them! Do not let it discourage you,

Begin! You must know everything!

You must take over the leadership.

 

Learn man in gaol

Learn woman in the camps

Learn child roaming the streets

Seek out the school, you who are homeless!

Sharpen your wits, you who shiver!

Hungry man, hungry woman, reach for the book: it is a weapon.

You must take over the leadership.

 

Don’t be pushed around sister

Don’t be humbugged brother

Stand by your children parents

Stand up for yourself

And for others

You must take over the leadership.

 

Don’t be afraid to ask brother!

Don’t be won over sister,

See for yourself!

What you don’t know yourself,

You don’t know.

Add up the reckoning.

It is you who must pay it.

Put your finger on each item,

Ask: how did this get here?

You must take over the leadership.

 

* * * * * *

Maksakovsky – The Capitalist Cycle

I still intend to write a proper review and explanation of why it is really important to study this short book, together with more recommendations for preliminary reading.

Meanwhile there is a sale ending August 23 for hardcopy paperback at $10 half price so here are the details to order RIGHT NOW.

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/278-the-capitalist-cycle

Amazon and Book Depository are quoting over 4 times that so get 4 copies NOW.

Seriously, also get some extra copies for future distribution to others. This book is REALLY important.

Foĺlowing is from front page of my still unopened blog.

“The Capitalist Cycle: An Essay on the Marxist Theory of the Cycle by Pavel V. Maksakovsky is also available in paperback for AUD $27.06 with free delivery. Available till 2018-08-23 for USD $10 plus shipping in half-price sale of all Haymarket books.

This site is mainly for my notes on why it is important to study this book and how to do so as well as developing the theory generally. Collaborators are welcome.

Many references to related books and papers linked from here, including the above, are for free “one-click, no registration required” downloads from Library Genesis. Naturally that is blocked by internet censorship in some countries. For details on how to gain access when blocked, click that link.

Recommendations for reading:

Postpone the long translator’s introduction until after finishing at least chapter 2 of Maksakovsky’s own work.

Short Foreword and author’s introdction are only 11 pages so much better than long translator’s introduction for a quick look immediately to decide when to read the rest.

Chapter 1 is 34pp and confirms this is not “the usual” one gets from “Marxians” nor Soviet dogmatism. Worth reading next.

The core of Maksakovsky’s theory is Chapter 2 only another 57pp. That covers the “real” side. If those 102 pages don’t interest you the rest probably won’t either. But he only deals with “The Role of Credit” in Chapter 3 on the basis of first having dealt with the underlying “real” cycle that is “amplified” by credit.

Further help with suggestions for preliminary reading will be provided when this site is ready for public use but it won’t be ready for a while. Meanwhile the blog posts available from “Blog” link are just notes to myself with no navigation structure but I can be contacted by leaving comments.

Notes on Trump 28 – Does the Wall Street Journal get it?

This Wall Street Journal article has a similar analysis to mine.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-lose-the-house-strategy-1532990285

I have left in the boring details. But the main point is that Trump is fighting for a Senate majority and does not care about losing a House majority.

I would add he wants a senate majority with as much displacement of traditional GOP by Trumpists as feasible in both Houses without endangering the minimum one third of Senators needed to avoid impeachment so without unnecessarily antagonizing the non-Trumpist GOP senators that cannot actually be replaced.

I would also say positive advantage to non-Trumpist House GOP incumbents losing to Democrats if not to Trumpists even though that annoys the remainder of GOP House. They will still be just as or even more stuck with GOP base mobilized for Trump as now. Democrats will provide the margins needed to sideline anti-Trump republicans in both housess with Trump posing “bipartisan” (needs 60% votes in Senate anyway so paralysis can ONLY be overcome with such confusion)

Even without Pelosi as Speaker a Democrat House majority pointlessly trying to impeach him while also helping sideline the Koch brothers on trade and deficits will be optimal for the political paralysis and economic inflation Trump needs for 2020.

Trump’s Lose-the-House Strategy

He might not mind Speaker Pelosi as a political foil for 2020.

Does President Trump care if Republicans lose the House of Representatives this November? If that seems like an odd question, consider that Mr. Trump is running a campaign strategy that puts the House at maximum risk while focusing on the Senate. The latest evidence is Mr. Trump’s threat to shut down the government in September if he doesn’t get money for his border wall.

***

It’s always risky to use the word “strategy” about Mr. Trump because he’s so impulsive and capricious. Only last week GOP leaders thought they had his agreement to delay a wall-funding brawl until after the election. Then on Sunday Mr. Trump tweeted that “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!”

Potomac Watch Podcast

Did Mr. Trump pop off on a whim, or did he consult Stephen Bannon, his former White House aide and strategist from 2016? The shutdown threat fits Mr. Bannon’s midterm election strategy, which is to stress issues that polarize the electorate to drive voter turnout among the Trump base. This means muting talk of tax cuts and the economy and talking up immigration and trade policies that bash foreigners.

“Trump’s second presidential race will be on November 6 of this year. He’s on the ballot, and we’re going to have an up or down vote. Do you back Trump’s program, OK, with all that’s good and all that’s bad? Do you back Trump’s program, or do you back removing him?” Mr. Bannon said recently, though Mr. Trump’s name won’t be on any ballot.

A shutdown brawl fits this polarize-and-hope-to-conquer strategy. Mr. Trump may figure that shutdown pressure would force Senate incumbents running for re-election in Trump-leaning states into a corner on voting for the wall. One problem with this strategy is that Senate Democrats have enough votes to block wall funding even if they give eight of their incumbents a pass to vote for it.

The bigger problem is that what works in Senate races in Trump states might boomerang in House districts where the majority will be won or lost. These are swing districts where moderate Republicans and independents determine who wins. Think Miami-Dade, northern Virginia, the Denver and Philadelphia suburbs. Hillary Clinton carried 23 of those seats in 2016, and Democrats need to gain only 23 seats to take the House.

Hostility to immigration and trade aren’t popular in those districts by and large, and a shutdown wouldn’t be either. Voters know Republicans control the Congress. While the polls typically show that voters blame both sides in a shutdown, the GOP risk is that they’d hold the party in power more responsible. This is all the more likely if President Trump is inviting a shutdown on Twitter.

The Bannon belief that this is a “base election” may work in Senate races in North Dakota or Missouri, where Republicans have a party advantage. But the opposite is probably true in swing House seats. A constant focus on immigration and making this a referendum on Donald J. Trump will drive up Democratic turnout.

Take Loudoun County in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Republican Ed Gillespie carried Loudoun by 456 votes in his Senate race in 2014 that he narrowly lost. Mr. Gillespie increased his Loudoun vote by 795 in the Governor’s race in 2017 but lost the county by an astounding 23,432 votes as Democrats poured out of the subdivisions to register unhappiness with Mr. Trump. This bodes ill for Barbara Comstock, who represents Loudoun in Congress.

Mr. Trump might not welcome a Democratic House, but he also might not fear it as long as Republicans keep the Senate. More than even most politicians, Mr. Trump always needs a foil, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be from central political casting.

A Democratic House would mean the end of most of Mr. Trump’s agenda of the last two years. But Mr. Trump’s policy alliance with House Republicans has been in part one of convenience. Mr. Trump could cut deals with Democrats on paid family leave, public-works spending and trade protectionism.

House Democrats would start up the impeachment machinery, and once underway the momentum would be hard to stop. But as long as he’s safe from conviction by the Senate, Mr. Trump might figure he could benefit from a backlash against impeachment the way Bill Clinton did. The President and Mr. Bannon also might think a Democratic House improves Mr. Trump’s chances for re-election as Republicans and independents conclude he’s the only barrier to a left-wing government led by a President Elizabeth Warren.

***

The biggest loser in all this would be a genuine conservative agenda. Judges aside, the House has been essential to Mr. Trump’s main achievements that have lifted the economy—corporate tax reform, deregulation—and whatever government-reform victories they’ve had. If they lose the House this year, Republicans aren’t likely to get it back until the end of the Trump Presidency.

The Bannon strategy is an incitement to Democrats to vote in precisely the places where House Republicans are most vulnerable. The more the election is a referendum on Donald Trump and his polarizing political style, rather than on a reform agenda for the next Congress, the better for Democrats

But I don’t think they fully get it. Their preoccupation with a “genuine conservative agenda” led them to previously moderate their hostility and conflate parts of trump’s successes as theirs.

It is particularly odd for them to be puzzled at Trump pushing for funding a wall that Democrats can easily block in Senate even without purple state Democrat Senators afraid to join the no vote. It should be obvious that Trump doesn’t need an actual wall. He only needs the issue and can find better things to do with the money saved while still campaigning on it in 2020.

The WSJ moderation has enabled a more serious analysis than from liberals, but that is a pretty low bar these days.

It’s always risky to use the word “strategy” about Mr. Trump because he’s so impulsive and capricious.

That is a long way better than liberals telling themselves Trump should be removed as mentally incompetent.

But it isn’t far from the latest psychobabble. Here is USAtoday persuading themselves Trump has no strategy with an elaboration of much the same thought that makes WSJ hesitant about belatedly seeing the obvious.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/07/30/trump-lies-reversals-rudderless-unprincipled-leader-psychologist-column/848728002/

Some liberals are also starting to think strategically and are even aware that their hostility to workers is helping them lose.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jul/30/donald-trump-worst-politician-ever-on-path-to-re-election-thomas-frank-says

Conceivably a more “workerist” Democrat could defeat Trump in 2020. But meanwhile they would only help get what Trump needs in deficits etc through the House, intensifying divisions with both the WSJ rump of the GOP and the rest of the Democrats. If elected their protectionism would have even more of a mass base than Trump’s and could do more to inhibit re-emergence of a genuine left.

As for “blundering his way to victory”. It takes real skill to convince one’s opponents that there is little point trying to understand your strategy.

The Blunder – Notes on Trump 27

Ok, with Newt Gingrich and the like demanding and getting an immediate retreat we can assume Helsinki was just a blunder.

Certainly not the biggest (not after appointing Flynn as National Security Adviser despite him being as deranged as Obama’s CIA head now raving about treason). Certainly the fastest reversed – even quicker than on separating immigrant families.

The mockery of the pathetic explanation of having misspoke the opposite and blaming press for quoting what he did say instead of what he now wishes he had said is quite understandable. Some of the responses to this are actually quite humorous instead of just the usual ranting.

I am of course rather less outraged about anybody not trusting US intelligence but it is understandable that the actual Democrat leaders Schumer and Pelososi would now join their lunatic fringe and ex-CIA head Brennan in screaming treason and insisting that Trump is both inept and an agent of Putin who is blackmailing him with compromising information.

I also agree with Putin that it is ridiculous to trust any of them and that whatever “russian patriots” may have hacked the DNC and exposed the fact that the Democrat primaries were rigged did a good thing. One should not expect Trump to admit that this help from “russian patriots” might have swung the election by reducing turnout for the Democrats who nominated a rigged candidate. This would be like either side admitting that Nixon won because his “dirty tricks” people successfully got an unelectable Democrat nominated

However it was not only understandable but entirely predictable and Trump has plainly been oriented to tipping them over the edge in this way.

What better could he hope for than for his enemies place their hopes in “the Russia thing” instead of actually solving their total lack of policies that could defeat Trump?

Its interesting how so much faith is still placed in each new outrage finally discrediting Trump despite the fact that this just keeps on not happening and that the same people paralysed with this stuff had already started to realise that they are mainly preaching to themselves with the unconverted tuned out from them completely.

My guess is that Trump really did “misspoke”. He intended to merely downplay obfuscate, cast doubt and encourage those of his supporters who want to believe in conspiracy theories as he usually does and continued to do after reading out the prepared correction for him. He probably did not actually intend to explicitly side with Putin against the US intelligence agencies but just got carried away in the moment.

After all Chuck and Nancy could have been relied on to eventually start raving without that. So why take the risk of doing it deliberately and unnecessarily annoying others and looking weak with the walk back?

Mistakes happen. But they keep not doing much damage because the Democrats really ARE as inept as they think Trump is. They should have taken the same solemn reasoned stand against Trump’s blunder (and trade policies) as say the Wall Street Journal. But they simply cannot do that and instead will keep right on insisting that demanding Europe builds up its defences against Russia instead of relying on gas pipelines from Russia is helping Putin because of blackmail.

Another aspect is that the latest Mueller indictments document in detail that the “Russian patriots” were senior intelligence officers whose activity was tracked in detail by US intelligence. Either this is giving away a great deal of information about US capabilities and Russian weaknesses to fix or it is confirmation that the 12 people identified were clowns rather than the careful operators that would have been assigned to do it without being monitored if it was an authorised operation. Russia is not a superpower but it does have competent hackers. It also has clowns and cowboys, as demonstrated by the use of novichok for a failed revenge operation which could only damage Russian interests.

Russians must (and will) be held responsible for the activities of clowns with access to prohibited weapons of mass destruction like novichok and with senior positions in military intelligence agencies just as the US has responsibility to prosecute former Director of National Intelligence Flynn and equally deranged former CIA Director Brenner.

World Cup Pussy Riot protest – ‘the heavenly policeman’

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A few hours ago, four members of Pussy Riot ran onto the soccer field during the World Cup final match, to protest against the Putin regime. They have been arrested.

They are very brave and their demands, as expressed on facebook after the protest, deserve support.

Youtube has apparently taken down a video of the protest, put up by Pussy Riot, due to copyright complaints by FIFA. But here is other footage:

 

My only gripe with the Pussy Riot demands is that there is no mention of Russia’s military aggression in Syria, no demand for an end to Russian military adventures.

Still, the other demands deserve the support of every leftist worthy of the label.

Here’s what they put on their facebook page:

Today is 11 years since the death of the great Russian poet, Dmitriy Prigov. Prigov created an image of a policeman, a carrier of the heavenly nationhood, in the russian culture.

The heavenly policeman, according to Prigov, talks on the two-way with the God Himself. The earthly policeman gets ready to disperse rallies. The heavenly policeman gently touches a flower in a field and enjoys Russian football team victories, while the earthly policeman feels indifferent to Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike. The heavenly policeman rises as an example of the nationhood, the earthly policeman hurts everyone.

The heavenly policeman protects baby’s sleep, the earthly policeman persecutes political prisoners, imprisons people for “reposts” and “likes”.

The heavenly policeman is the organizer of this World Cup’s beautiful carnival, the earthy policeman is afraid of the celebration. The heavenly policeman carefully watches for obeying the game rules, the earthly policeman enters the game not caring about the rules.

The FIFA World Cup has reminded us of the possibilities of the heavenly policeman in the Great Russia of the future, but the earthly policeman, entering the ruleless game breaks our world apart.

When the earthly policeman enters the game, we demand to:

1. Let all political prisoners free.
2. Not imprison for “likes”.
3. Stop Illegal arrests on rallies.
4. Allow political competition in the country.
5. Not fabricate criminal accusations and not keep people in jails for no reason.
6. Turn the earthly policeman into the heavenly policeman.

 

* * * * * *