Saturday, 4 February 2017
What'll happen if 'business' gets fed up with Trump and Bannon?
Business (capitalism) likes to present itself as 'not political'; it just gets on with doing business. Some of us think this is nonsense: it just kicks the huge, daily, pressing matter of how we are organised to make a living (and how we are engineered to be so unequal) into touch. It's supposedly just 'nature', 'life', 'how it is'. (It isn't 'nature'. It's humanly made and very political!)
Even so, every now and then, business has to get political and all sorts of 'voices of business' come into the political field and express an opinion because, they say, what's going on is 'threatening business' - and we should all quake. That's because, as I say, 'business is nature'. If business is 'threatened' then surely that must mean the end of all things and we won't know how to organise ourselves to make and distribute the things we need and want.
Usually, what 'threatens' business are people like Corbyn because they want to shave off a teeny bit of the tax privileges, or defend areas of public ownership or dare to suggest that everyone is entitled to live somewhere or have enough money to live off without borrowing themselves into the grave. All this 'threatens' business.
The Remain-Brexit thing was interesting because 'business' was forced to argue with itself about which of the two arrangements was better for business. Clearly, they can't make up their mind about that - and anyway we should always remember that no matter how united business are that the mass of people should earn the least possible money, they are not united on the matter of how to beat the next business person. They are at each other's throats in competition with each other, and the key way for them to do that is to keep pay as low as possible.
Now business has got another problem: Trump-Bannon. Their aim is to create a new world. They are biblical. They want a new world where all those old alliances based ultimately on America being world top-dog, battled for through wars and 'spheres of influence' is being pushed to one side. The new dominance has got to come through nationalism - which as a bloke on the radio said this morning - we know how that ended 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. So, though US sanctions on Iran may look like good old US foreign policy, a new nationalism is being pursued, with something else behind it: a weird and mystical 'end of times', 'last battle' thing: some kind of final showdown. These people are mapping the biblical Armageddon on to the modern world.
We might quake in the face of this. Why not? We might wonder if we have enough resources to combat it. We might wonder if there are enough people in the US to defy it. I do.
On the other hand, Trump-Bannon have another problem: business. Business likes to be non-political? Well, one of their biggest guys decided he would be. That seems to have gone down well with at least one section of people as represented to us as the 'rust belt'. If not 'well' then 'well enough'. But how is modern business taking it? Trump-Bannon seem hell-bent on making enemies of anyone they think of as 'liberal', not as committed to their view of a world conflict with Islam and so on. One problem: a vast section of business is 'liberal'. I don't mean socialist, or even socialistic. I mean with liberal attitudes to social and religious matters. What's more business doesn't like cataclysm. Business likes consent. Business doesn't like thousands of people out on the streets. Business doesn't like the pages of its newspapers full of stories about chaos in central government.
I very rarely do crystal ball stuff but I can't help feel that very soon, Trump-Bannon are going to face real problems from their own kind. All sorts of big business types are going to express serious worries about what they're up to.
We often talk of fault lines and contradictions for those in power. I can't help thinking that Trump is going to face some of these: big ones.
I wouldn't do anything more by way of the crystal ball than that. I would hope that those who supported Bernie Sanders and many others would know how to stick up for working people, if those in power were at each other's throats.