The November 6th U.S. Elections: Catastrophe or Salvation?

Commentary No. 484, November 1, 2018

The short answer to the question is neither. As I write, one week before definitive counts in the U.S. elections, the consensus seems to be that they are too close to call. Most analysts believe this is a Trump election in two senses:

First, most voters are choosing their candidates for senator, representative, governor, or lesser offices as a function of their feelings for Donald Trump.

Secondly, the outcomes will affect profoundly Trump’s further political strength.

If the Republicans keep the Senate, they will be able to fill federal judicial offices with probable control for a long time to come. For the anti-Trump coalition this represents catastrophe.

If the Republicans keep the House, even by one vote, they will be able to ensure a fiscal program of their preference. In addition, a Trump victory would make far easier repressive behavior that the anti-Trump forces see as the great danger – another catastrophe.

If Republicans win the gubernatorial elections, they will be able to gerrymander electoral choices to their benefit for at least a decade – a third catastrophe.

Inversely, if the Democrats win the Senate, they can force more so-called moderate nominees to be appointed – ending a dream of the pro-Trump coalition.

If the Democrats win the House of Representatives, they can pursue harassing investigations of Trump and his people, thereby gaining more strength in the presidential elections of 2020 – catastrophe for the pro-Trump forces.

If the Democrats win gubernatorial elections, they can reverse much gerry­mander­ing of the past to their benefit.

Of course, there could be results that are a mixture of these results, with uncertain consequences. Any loss for Trump will weaken still further his power within the Republican Party.

What is wrong with these analyses is the assumption of long survival of the victorious electoral behavior. Office-holders die. People are chased from office. The economic realities change drastically and with such change there often follows a change in political atmosphere, despite previous electoral results.

We must not forget that we are living in the chaotic fluctuations of a structural crisis of the modern world-system. Wild fluctuations are the basic reality. Nothing lasts too long. Catastrophe today, salvation tomorrow. Catastrophe then again.

To be sure, we must still vote as we think best to prevent short-term negatives. But the victories are necessarily short-term – important but never decisive.

Human Rights, Anyone?

Commentary No. 483, October 15, 2018

It is extremely difficult to find a country or other political structure that has not violated human rights in some way.

Sometimes, the violation involves killing a dissident.

Sometimes the action is less severe, but nonetheless has a very negative effect on the life and activities of the victim of the violation.

With rare exceptions, the political structure accused of violating human rights denies that it has done so.

Read More »

Poor Brett Kavanaugh: He’s Irrelevant

Commentary No. 482, October 1, 2018

The only one who cares if Kavanaugh is appointed is Kavanaugh himself, who has wanted this job all his life. For everyone else, he’s just a pawn in what the others – Republicans and Democrats alike – really care about, which is the Senatorial elections this coming November.

The crucial thing is to have a majority in the Senate in order to appoint or not appoint a right-wing Republican to this lifelong job. If Trump or the Republicans in the Senate have to sacrifice Kavanaugh to achieve this, they will do it. What everyone is trying to figure out is what will swing a small number of voters in a small number of states, such that their party’s candidate will win a majority in the Senate. There is no consensus on the tactics required to do this.

Read More »

Trump’s Risky Bets in the World Arena

Commentary No. 481, September 15, 2018

There are two things concerning Donald Trump about which everyone, friends and foes, seem to agree. No one can be sure what he will tweet next. And he wants to stay in power.

Trump has made three risky geopolitical bets: He will get North Korea to denuclearize. He will be able to force Iran to renounce any attempt to have nuclear weapons. He will dismantle NAFTA to the benefit of the United States.

Read More »

Good News, Bad News?

Commentary No. 480, September 1, 2018

Most of us receive daily news by reading some set of headlines available to us. We tend to classify these headlines as good or bad news about our local community, our country, or the world as a whole.

But what is good news or bad news? The most obvious question to ask is: good news or bad news for whom? It is not at all simple to answer that question.

Read More »

Samir Amin: Comrade in the Struggle

Commentary No. 479, August 15, 2018

I first met Samir in the early 1960s. I had read his early works, and they resonated with me.

I was passing through Dakar and asked if we could meet.
I don’t think he knew who I was or had read any of my writings.

Read More »

Is Trump in Trouble? Everyone’s Question

Commentary 478, August 1, 2018

This is the question that all anti-Trump individuals and groups are asking today, loudly and regularly. They are hoping of course for a positive answer, but they are not sure they will get one.

This is the question that Trump supporters and Republican politicians are asking in private, seeking reassurance that the answer is negative.

This question is debated as well by Democratic politicians, hoping to get a positive answer. They discuss it more publicly however than their Republican counterparts.

Read More »

Two Cheers for Mexico’s AMLO: A Great Victory for the Left

Commentary Number 477, July 15, 2018

On July 1, 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known by his initials as AMLO, was elected President of Mexico by a sweeping margin. He won 53% of the votes. His closest rivals were Ricardo Anaya (of PAN) with 22% and José Antonio Meade (of PRI) with 16 percent. In addition, his party alliance, MORENA, won a majority of the seats in the legislature.

His victory has been compared to that of Lula in Brazil and that of Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain. But Lula did not come near having a majority of the votes, and his broad party alliance included reactionary groups. Corbyn is still struggling to maintain control of the British Labour Party and, even if he succeeds, faces a difficult election.

Read More »