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Thoughts on Trump's win?

+2 votes
So we had the same question for Brexit. Now that we're nearing the end of this unusual year, and given how often the two events are shoe-horned into the same social-political-media narrative I'm interested to hear the thoughts of my anarchist friends across the pond. So what do y'all think or feel about Trump winning the presidency? Will it change anything? Does it mean anything for anarchists? Anything you thought was particularly remarkable about this election? Are you just sick and tired of all the hoopla and would prefer not to talk about it? Wondering with tired eyes and a weary heart how many more questions I'm gonna ask?

Season's greetings to you all :)
asked Dec 22, 2016 by Yosemite (6,310 points)
this past election campaign gave me great moments of laughter, and i'm sure there will be more once the donald gets into office. but by and large, the entertainment factor is wearing thin.

the level of whining coming from the left is truly pathetic, especially given their undying support for the system that gave them this bogeyman.

i don't think there will be any systemic changes in the 4 or 8 years to come, although there will no doubt be specific things that affect certain people more than others. by and large, i doubt anyone's daily grind will change very much. though i do understand the fear felt by those that trump has announced specific intentions to fuck with (true believers that they are).

i doubt there has ever been anyone in the potus role that is so unabashedly pro-rich-fucks, but that just means his agenda is more on-the-table and out in the open. his blatant conflicts of interest are probably more out there than previous presidents. if he can get more wealth to flow up the pyramid than reagan/bush did, he will have no doubt succeeded in his mind.

and will his presidency be enough to get folks to see through the sham of democratic authority? i know where i'd put my money if i was a betting man.
It's annoying to me. Trump is just the more openly racist, nationalist version of the Deporter in Chief aka Obama, imo. If Trump carries out his immigration goals, he can just point to Obama's policies of the mass detention and deportation of immigrants and so on.

I've wonder when people'll realize playing the lesser of evilism game isn't working out for them and is a joke. Hmmm... probably not anytime soon.
to me, trump is a wild card, but he certainly isn't up to anything good, my prediction is just he will continue fucking people lower on the socioeconomic ladder, and the united states seems to be slowly gravitating towards being like a third world country. Trump's win definitley signifies a shift towards a larger role of russia in the world's power grabbing.

But you can't really predict anything with certainty in politics unless your looking to be poetic about it...for example: phillip k. dick predicted in his books that advertisements would fallow you all over the place in the future (which is now since his science fiction was written in previous generations). A lot of free-marketeers pride themselves on predicting the housing bubble, but the economy just consists of lots of bubbles, always being on the trend towards collapse rather than surplus and post-scarcity magic

4 Answers

+2 votes
As with Brexit, I'm personally quite pleased with the outcome of the US election. For me, any popular uprising that weakens a centralized state is a small step in the right direction: towards the autonomy of regions, then of communities, and ultimately of individuals.

Many people think the American mega-state will actually be strengthened under Trump. After all, his campaign did draw on fear and nationalism. He is certainly not opposed to capitalism or the forceful repression of troublemakers. However, his election is largely the result of a mass rejection of globalization, elitism and, basically, the "system." There were a few statements and slogans in the Trump campaign I found exciting. For example, the appeal to inner-city blacks with "what have you got to lose?" and to anti-corruption voters with "drain the swamp." That the best way to discourage violent crime is by encouraging people to arm and defend themselves. Overt rhetorical attacks on mass media propagandists, bankers, career polticians, special interests and influence peddlers... casting doubt on the world-unifying war on global warming, casting doubt on the utility of foreign military operations, supranational political organizations and treaties like Nato and the UN... taking important local issues like education and health-care away from national government bureaucracies... the fact that all this really stirred up division and critical thinking is, in my opinion, very encouraging.

The best outcome of the Trump election is the increased likelihood, however small, of a peaceful break-up of the United States and its transformation into a federation of autonomous, smaller countries. I see decentralization as a slippery slope towards anarchy; considering that the vast majority of people today are uncomfortable with anarchy or find it a ridiculously utopian pipe-dream, I believe small steps that give people a taste of self-determination should be welcomed.
answered Dec 23, 2016 by Syrphant (890 points)
edited Dec 23, 2016 by Syrphant
it doesn't seem like change has ever come in the small steps, linear way that you're describing, syrphant.

yosemite: i found the last election fascinating (most people hating both candidates, people liking obama and voting for trump, etc), but i believe the u.s. has a phenomenal capacity to color inside the lines, and this isn't going to change that. it will just get even uglier on the street. as has already started for sure.
Well, I also don't see how change can be linear.

Change is always happening, though. "steps" are being taken all the time. Now, purely as an intellectual excercise: let's plot an index of median individual autonomy of American humans (index goes from quadraplegic sex-slave at 0 to God at 100) against time.  We can't stop time and we can't stop the plotted line from getting longer.

Visualizing this two-dimensional graph I have unexplainable positive emotions when I see or predict upward trends; negative emotions when I see or predict downward trends. More autonomy is better than less autonomy. A step leading to more individual autonomy is better than a step leading to less.

There are two ways the Trump election could tip the index upward: (1) he does turn out to be what most of his supporters hope (at least the supporters I know), and he breaks the system; (2) he disappoints his supporters and they lose all hope of ever "making america great again."

I'm betting on (2). Half of Americans are already too cynical to bother voting; half of those who do vote hate and fear Trump beyond reason; the other half of those who do vote unrealistically expect him to smack down the global elite.

It is quite possible that within a couple years 90% of Americans are ready to just drop the US government, just ignore it, just let it die of irrelevance. Anarchy is unlikely, let's face it. The americans I know, if they decided to turn their backs on Washington, would look to their state governments to provide the public services they think they need.

The question is: would states be allowed to secede peacefully? or would the elite use force to hold them together?

The reason I think the Trump victory is great: simply put, Trump was the rebel candidate. The rebels won against the establishment and its shame-slinging propaganda. Now expect same -- now empowered -- rebels to rebel against the Trump administration, this time joined by those who hated Trump from the beginning.
what can i say syrphant? i hope you're right!
+5 votes
I disagree with Syrphant’s take on the election, in that I don’t think that it is destabilizing centralized power in the United States, at least not in any way desirable or useful to my goals as an anarchist. This is not say that I would’ve preferred a Clinton win (or that of a Sanders, Johnson, or Stein), but I think it is important that we not just pretend like all outcomes of elections are the same, and while I don’t think that the potential increases of suffering of the masses or whoever justify voting defensively, I also don’t embrace an idea of accelerationism that celebrates the wheels coming off the bus we are all riding in. The stakes are just too high for me to be flippant or glib.

The part of your question I am mostly responding to, Yosemite, is where you ask, “Will it change anything? Does it mean anything for anarchists? Anything you thought was particularly remarkable about this election?”

I would answer that it does, it should, and without a doubt.

To start with, I was not actually particularly surprised at the outcome. While I went to work the evening of the election having heard the initial projections and assuming that Hillary would win, when I was able, during my work night to check the news online, it had totally flipped. A lot of folks I know really did assume there was no way that Trump could win, whereas I had long suspected that he was tapping in to a deep wellspring of dissatisfaction and unease in the American public, and was doing so in a way that had a unique appeal the American psyche. I also have no underestimation of the depth of misogyny that is present in the United States. Liberals (and leftists, and often anarchists) assume that they can win hearts and minds through superior reasoning and logic. It is far more effective to appeal to the visceral emotions (“hope” in the case of Obama, “fear” or “anger” in the case of Trump).

What does a Trump election change? There seems to be a really good chance, based on his cabinet appointments, that a lot of things such as environmental regulations, labor laws, access to basic healthcare (including reproductive rights) will be under an intensified attack. Trump is also already taking some steps which seem to lay the groundwork for consolidating his own power. He has the precedent of Obama’s overuse of executive orders to justify his own. These things in and of themselves don’t necessarily change the course for anarchists, I would argue that if anything they are merely escalating a trajectory we would be on regardless of who occupies the oval office. What it does though is change the day to day terrain in which we are operating.

Trump’s election also emboldens the far right. I won’t go in to detail about it here (there are lots of places where everyone, from antifa groups to NPR, elaborates on this). I absolutely think that there would still have been a reactionary uptick in white supremacist action and violence if Clinton had won, but Trump winning emboldens and gives permission in a way that is different, and this difference needs to be taken in to account. It isn’t just that they are acting more, but that they have some degree of sanction for their actions and beliefs from those in the halls of power. Not just in the way that American hegemony always reinforces white supremacy, but actual allies and fellow travelers.

What does it mean to anarchists specifically? That we need to adapt our tactics and strategies accordingly to the shifts in terrain. We might find new accomplices in those who feel most betrayed and disillusioned with the democratic process (it is not insignificant that this is the second election within 20 years where the winner of the popular vote didn’t win the actual election – although if this is actually going to be useful, we need to be clear that we are not calling for a more “direct” democracy, but a destruction of all representative politics in total). On the other hand, there are many who will turn their attention to putting out all of the small fires that are started as a result of Trump policies and will lose focus on the need for total rejection and attack. Some of our most energetic comrades will most certainly slip back into an activist mode of engagement. I have been around long enough to know that this is exactly where we often lose people to the compromises of what is practical and achievable.

Beyond what I’ve already covered, I think what makes this election remarkable, at least from my perspective as someone in a certain protective bubble that exists within the larger bubble of the West Coast is that I am seeing many people who are, if not accepting anarchy per se, acknowledging that perhaps some of what we have been saying all along is true. I see a lot more people who have been dispossessed of the illusions that marriage equality and universal health care and a black president actually represent the watershed moments in progress and tolerance that they were advertised as.

All that said, I am going to keep doing anarchist things that I have done. I will attack when I can, I will defend when I have to. I will still seek out those whom I share affinity with and will explore what projects we can engage in together. I will also be wary of falling into an ideological rut or self-righteousness, because the truth is none of this is a game, and we need to be sober in our engagement with the ways our actions affect real lives, not just our own.
answered Dec 23, 2016 by ingrate (23,670 points)
edited Jan 27 by ingrate

You write beautifully, Ingrate. Where we part ways on this question is

I also don’t embrace an idea of accelerationism that celebrates the wheels coming off the bus we are all riding in. The stakes are just too high for me to be flippant or glib.

I love the idea of the wheels coming off the bus. I don't feel like we have anything important to lose because I feel that an individual's dignity is more important than his/her physical or material well-being. I want to drive my own bus dammit! The trouble -- the contradiction -- is that mutiny on the bus requires collective action (any individual's lone attempt is vain suicide) and a collective is just another bus.

Honestly, I also like the feeling of the wheels coming off the bus, I just think that looking at what direction the bus is pointed is important, and, at least for me, part of my dignity is wrapped up in that my choicese and actions do have real life affects on others. That doesn't change my underlying anarchist ethics, but it does inform how I engage.

I fucking love this, btw: "I want to drive my own bus dammit! The trouble -- the contradiction -- is that mutiny on the bus requires collective action (any individual's lone attempt is vain suicide) and a collective is just another bus."
"I see a lot more people who have been dispossessed of the illusions that marriage equality and universal health care and a black president don’t actually represent the watershed moments in progress and tolerance that they were advertised as."

that's a great point, ingrate. i wish the liberal/progressives in my family (and in the nearest town to where i live) were so dispossessed.
+4 votes

This may be considered by some, if not by all on @101, the perspective of one pessimistic, if not paranoid, anarchistic vagabond, but I do sense we’re long past the proverbial fork in the road. At best, we’re on a two-lane highway where we might make a lane change before the one we’re in merges with the other anyway. This election cycle has just been too over-the-top, far too spectacular, for me to smell anything other than dead, decomposing, fish. Far too much attention has been focused upon Trump, his buffoonery, his contradictions, as well as that the racists, Zionists, cops, and country-club Republicans have been emboldened by his victory in strange and even unforeseen ways. This, however, has aroused my rebellious eyes to the periphery. What is that just out of full view?

Inverting the old saying somewhat, what goes down must go up, and the dourness self-designated ‘progressives’ have demonstrated post-election play into these shenanigans in a way which, I think, will come haunt us all. Entertain for a moment the possibility that Trump gets ousted (impeached) from the Presidency due to his ‘conflict of interests’ (as if the Presidency isn’t a conflict of interests!). There is already talk of it, that he will be almost unavoidably be ‘breaking the law’ on his very first day in office. What then?

Sure, the threat of a right-wing insurrection is real, particularly if one considers the relatively recent events which unfolded in Oregon. There seems to be a fair amount of sympathy for the very sentiments in the region within which I live. Liberals are taking over. Progressives are trying to force their hand via the Federal gov’t, etc. At least that’s part of the story. Will such an insurrection become widespread or even ‘succeed’? Who knows? But with enough evidence on spectacular display, even some of these may back down. Many, probably not as ‘my’ region changes from Team Red to Blue.

Another scenario I don’t see as hard to image, to speculate happening, in more urban and/or ‘progressive’ areas is a collective sigh of relief, perhaps euphoria. Dancing in the streets. Our Democracy Works! Crisis averted! The evil capitalist in league with the evil autocrat toppled before he could do too much damage. LBGTQ rights saved, wilderness areas intact, ACA continues, and the ‘black community’ can finally put their hands down! I’ve sensed that many where I live are already primed for this eventuality, just in being so bummed.

Paraphrasing Rahm Emmanuel: why let a crisis go to waste...or its aftermath.

What better moment to pass a draconian trade deal, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which only last year was very unpopular and failed being ‘fast-tracked’ through Congress by Odronekiller. After all, 40% of the world’s economy; extra-national legal re-definition, with particularly stringent IP law enforcement, in favor of the likes of Fedbook, Google, Apple, etc.; all this and more will look so much the better, even when paired with authoritarian states bearing ‘People,’ ‘Democratic,’ and (currently less popular) ‘Republic,’ in their titles after the ‘force’ between Don Vader and the Evil Emperor is broken. Oh yes, Manichean morality in the eyes of an elated populace steeped in the spectacle of the Star Wars mythos.

Big T’s measly $ 3.5 billion got nuthin’ on almost half the world’s economy, y'know?.

And as for a  trend I’ve noticed over the years, and I think which contributes to this mess: it’s easier for donkey-straddlers to believe they’re on the high-horse of reason rather than engaging in the activity of reasoning. I don’t anticipate questions, like, well, “whatever happened to the TPP?” at this time. Or, why did the only outspoken politician against TPP (Sanders) cave so early and so easily when Clinton was fairly unpopular and he had quite the fan-base? Why was Clinton’s response to her position on TPP tepid and basically a wait-n-see approach (that is, wait ‘til it goes through and see how you proles are fucked again!)? I certainly wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for these folks to investigate the strands, threads and filaments of just how bad TPP would be in the long run, who it’s connected to, how it might effect our lives in dire and unforeseen ways. There’s just far too much Democracy to celebrate, ‘rights’ to be grateful for, new tech-toys made in shitty Asian factories to fondle, and wilderness areas to be enclosed...er...protected by capitalist law...oh...I mean, the democratic process to go play in.

Perhaps it’s too late, but a generation or two raised on reality TV, whose relations are heavily mediated through capitalist gadgetry, etc., seems mighty vulnerable to the spectacle before us all. Yes, Trump is horrible. With nuke codes in his hands ‘You’re fired!’ may now be considered an existential threat to the living. Yes, racists are emboldened like they haven’t been in decades and the likelihood that the demise of his Presidency contains the potential for a right-wing insurrection is high. But this makes the specter of yet another 'progressive' trade-deal a la NAFTA no better a turn. Combined with 20+ years of being relegated to 'fly-over country' by coastal liberals, and stereotyped as a bunch of sister-fucking Uncle Daddies drooling over the day when the South shall rise again,the hatred is understandable to some degree and it's not hard to contemplate the possibility of some shitty days ahead.*

I will add here, though, that TPP, or a renamed version of it, is bigger and badder and I can’t believe for a single moment interested ‘foreign’ parties, more than likely with far more reach than Putin, weren’t working with their domestic buddies here during this election, and now after it, driving the populace onward with the carrot and the stick of Politics and Economy. We may very well be witnessing the wane of the nation-state and, simultaneously, the greatest leap toward an extra-national, Global Economotopia.

What, me pessimistic? We are talking politics after all. And, I’ll admit that perhaps maybe I’m thoroughly deluded. I sincerely, and presently, desire this is the case.

* Here, I point the reader interested in American political-economic history to Gabriel Kolko’s “Triumph of Conservatism” which outlines the Progressive Era’s posturing of the good State regulating evil Capitalism’s excesses, but actually contributing in a major way to our current corporate state. Kolko was (is?) a New Left historian, btw. Also, as most of you know, I’m no fan of industry, but am I the only one who can make an attempt to understand why there might be anger toward H. Clinton in middle-America? Despite the dibs on being 'the reasonable, it's been my experience many ‘progressives’ utilize Bush-the-Shrub type logic: yer-fer-us or agin us. Any attempt to understand equates to collaboration.

answered Dec 30, 2016 by AmorFati (8,720 points)
re: your ending point - this seems a symptom of media/internet filtering. there's less and less information that is middle of the road... people hear worse and worse stories about The Other Side... affects politics most obviously, perhaps.
great post, af.

to me, the primary difference between the current political landscape and any number of past ones, is the extent to which technocracy has settled into the drivers seat. social media/networking has almost completely subsumed all other forms of relating and communicating. even long-respected news outlets now provide their product in sound bites, with no apparent copy editing. russia used tech to try to influence the election (apparently successfully). the world is getting smaller, alright.

there was a huge racial backlash when reagan was elected as well... but he and his faithful didn't have twitter to rely on. could trump have been elected without reality tv and social media? are people consciously unlearning how to relate to other individuals in meaningful, direct ways?

fuck it. people across the political landscape are angry, with good reason. i wish they'd aim that anger with more radical focus, but that seems unlikely at best.

dot, funky@; indeed, not only is the medium the message, but is fast becoming our habitat. i've been thinking and writing on this very issue, particularly in context of where i live with the issue of 'wilderness areas' at front and center. what most greenish folk can't seem to accept that the word 'area' is the dominant term and idea in this equation within our global capitalist habitat and more to the point Econonomotopia is much of our habitat already: its law, it mores and values,its measurements (ex: 'area'), its fences,...it's media, etc. they tend to see the debate as 'selfish interests encroaching on public lands' and with no confrontation with capital they are destined to lose only by 'saving' the lands for later exploitation. more can be said, but i'll leave it for now.

thanks for your comments.


0 votes
I really dislike the attitude that many anarchists have of favoring destabilizing leaders, war economies, and people in power who so blatantly serve the bourgeoisie, because it will result in more revolutionaries and an economic collapse. This mindset is entirely out of touch with the day to day interests of the working class, and I'm not about sacrificing fellow proletariats in the short term to destroy the state in the long term.

Also, I don't see internal state collapse as a path to anarcho-communism, though "anarcho"-capitalism might emerge which imo is even worse. The state decaying because of itself won't solve anything. Only the workers and the people exerting external pressure, as people refusing to work as part of the system, will make real change. Either through confederacies of unions or some other means.

There's a reason the phrase is 'seize the means of production' not 'wait for natural resources and land to go unclaimed then stop anyone from asserting themself as owner of said means.' The former>the latter.
answered Jan 27 by Denver332 (480 points)

"There's a reason the phrase is 'seize the means of production' not 'wait for natural resources and land to go unclaimed then stop anyone from asserting themself as owner of said means.' The former>the latter."

i prefer leaving the view (and goal) of "production" behind, in contrast to thinking about who controls it - more along the lines of your statement about workers refusing to work (as in jobs - and not wanting to).

i don't necessarily hope that trump causes major, rapid instability. but i do hope his blatant and obvious manner causes more people to give pause to the idea of the state itself - to stop working so much, stop believing so much.

So do I, but it's not worth the cost, either way.
not sure i understand...what is not worth what cost?
Increased awareness of the oppression of the system isn't worth the suffering leaders like Trump cause.
i don't know that trump will cause any more suffering than any other "leader".

regarding the worth of it if he does (assuming one can actually measure such a difference anyway)....well, he's there now, so i say use whatever suffering comes out of it as a means to new thought patterns.

i also don't know with much certainty what increased awareness will do or not do. but i'd sure like to experience it when i talk with and interact with people.
I think this is the tension that anarchists always grapple with, and it is something not to be taken lightly. As I said in the thread to my answer to this, we are talking about policies and actions that affect real lives- both those of already marginalized folks and those of anarchists (and, of course, these categories are hardly discreet).

During Bush 2 ("Guantanamo Bugaloo"), people talked about voting, and participating in liberal- or left-initiated actions, and of tamping down the growing anarchist militancy (albeit mostly in an activist-oriented direction) of 1998- 2001 in terms of the potential cost of his presidency running unchecked being worse than holding back.

Similarly, there was a lot of fear... the implications of the PATRIOT Act then felt very similarly ominous to the implications of the Trump executive orders we are currently seeing. Here's the thing, by focusing too much on the situation at hand being unlike previous paradigms, it allowed Obama to expand the CIA'sa role as a paramilitary force, as opposed to an intelligence agency through drone strikes, and probably other stuff we don't know about. Our supposed allies on the left were silent while Obama expanded executive power (excused as either being due to the intransigence of Republican legislators or because it was for what they perceived as morally good things like marriage equality), we were told to not complain because it helped the racists of the right.... perhaps we even harbored some of that bigotry since we weren't willing to fall in line...

These (among many other) factors are what have brought us to where we are today. I do not believe that anarchists need to go hard all the time in the way that some insurrecto-friends do. I do think it calls for us to be uncompromising in our position(s). Compromise has always led to us being under either facing tighter controls, increased surveillance, and more despicable repression, or it will lead to us losing all vesitges of what made us anarchists to begin with. Or we will be dead.
There's always the balance of compromising too much, and making your anarchy lose meaning, or not compromising at all, and now your politics are so abstract that you lose sight of the day to day plight of your fellow workers. I lean towards the former, because I want my life to help the proletariat whether or not a revolution occurs. Incremental help is better than none, so I don't see Anarchy as an all or nothing thing.

There are so many people being oppressed and suffering, I will help them even if it means using capitalist systems to do so. The real world stakes are too high, especially for so many less privileged than myself, that I prioritize my socialism over my anarchy, even though both are intertwined.

As to the claim that Trump won't cause more suffering than the average US president, well, our perception of reality is clearly so different that I doubt we will find enough common ground to debate that.
i didn't claim Trump wouldn't cause more suffering. i said i didn't know. you claim to know. and i also said i don't have any way to determine that anyway. the process of thinking about it creates abstraction for me, not less. so what i said feels quite different to me than how you interpreted it.
I don't see how else to interpret being pleased that Trump won. I've seen that position before, and I hold to my claim that it is out of touch with the proletariat at large. How are we supposed to reach out to our fellow workers when we view the struggles of their lives through a lens of 'will this bring us a step closer or farther from my ideal' rather than 'how much is this thing hurting my comrades.'

Anyway, I can't know for sure that Trump will cause more immediate hardship for the bottom half of society than HRC would have, but I can make a pretty damn good educated guess.

i also didn't say i was pleased he won (i wish you'd read my words a little more carefully). i said now that he has won i hope that some effects (which i see as beneficial) may come from it. 

and, i'll use it as an opportunity in my own life to open cracks with people who previously held fast to belief in state hierarchy.

I apologize, I mixed you up with Syrphant.
no worries. interesting. because i rarely find agreement with syrphant, even though i've enjoyed some of the exchanges.