Sailing Into Uncharted Waters
By Dennis Loo (3/10/17)
“Think outside of the parameters you are accustomed to thinking and consider seriously what you would normally think impossible or highly improbable. That is the only way you’re going to grasp what is really going on.”
Some thought or engaged in wishful thinking that Trump would not adopt the radical right wing/fascist policies that he's known for already. Almost no one would've anticipated the high degree of paranoid – crazy – unhinged Trump tweets. Yet, that is exactly what happened.
One of the indicators of global warming is freakish weather events and we have an abundance of those occurring, with more to come and increasing frequency. Too little here, often too much elsewhere. The problem of refugees fleeing political and/or climate change problems is already a major political issue worldwide and will become an ever-growing problem. Rising waters is going to force people from their homes in scores of countries and island nations in the millions – or tens of millions. Facilities that are built near the ocean such as in the Northeast with military bases cannot withstand rising waters and the cost of relocating those resources is practically prohibitive.
We are, in other words, sailing into uncharted waters and facing storms the magnitude and variety of which humankind has never experienced.
The improbable and thought-of-as-impossible are increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception. In correspondence with this shift, the way we think about things has to change as well. How do you know, though, the difference between rational thought about unaccustomed situations and purely irrational thought based on conspiracy thinking?
The fundamental answer to that question lies with understanding in depth the actual nature of things and events as they are unfolding. Another way of saying that is this: what is the nature of the systems that are driving this to occur?
The short answer to that beginning question is: capitalism and imperialism. They are the overriding system worldwide that is in the driver’s seat. It is important to realize that even authorities in charge of the system do not know really how the system itself works and are not in charge in this sense that they can control events beyond a certain degree. In fact, they more personify the system of capitalism and imperialism rather than direct those systems.
In the face of existing and pending disasters, it is perhaps comforting to seize on simple solutions for they provide a kind of emotional comfort for most people. But this route, taken by those who, for example, voted for Trump can only lead to greater confusion and catastrophe. As a weak leader of a relatively strong state, Trump is extremely ill-equipped to cope with this with many of his problems brought on by his own incompetence. It is nevertheless the case that if Obama or Hillary Clinton were in charge, while they would not make some of the same spectacular self-inflicted wounds of Trump, they would still face the same set of fundamental contradictions that Trump faces: the destruction of the planet due to the workings of capitalism and imperialism in the policies of neoliberalism.
The fundamental problem here is that capitalism and and imperialism are driven by the logic of profit-making over the social needs of the people and of the planet. It is not a problem that could be reformed out of the system while still retaining capitalism and imperialism, though many will try mightily to make that work. They do that because first of all, reform seems a lot easier than replacement. Second, people's understanding of the difference between capitalism, socialism, and communism is very superficial or mostly just plain wrong. See here and here. Third, in today's present world the countries that call themselves communist or socialist are not. So what goes on in those countries under the guise of those names pollute the waters and clarification has a lot of work to do. Fourth, it is much harder by far to take the high road then to take what seem like easier paths but those paths end up very quickly in very different destinations. One clue that one is taking the wrong path, as a rule of thumb, is whether this is easy or hard. If the path seems very easy and popular, especially at first, it is almost surely wrong.
As I wrote previously,
To begin with, the two elements that I cite in the title [“The Difference Between the Way Things Are and Where the Public Is At” ] tend to be confounded as one and the same thing in most people’s minds: the situation in the nation or world is viewed by most people as the way it is because public opinion is the way it is.
These are in fact two separate things and not that closely related to each other. The objective situation – e.g., the reigning public policies in the various nations and the dominant economic system of capitalism – are not a result of most of the public wanting these to be in command.
The ruling ideas and the governing policies are from the ruling class (those who actually run things) and the system’s logic that they lead. Those who lead are fundamentally personifying that system logic. The people in charge are not truly in charge but compelled to follow the system’s logic, even while there is some scope for their subjective choices. But that scope occurs within the parameters of the dominant system. The leaders do not have a choice, for example, to overrule the operations of the laws of profit over human and planetary needs.
The globalization/”free trade”/deindustrialization policies that economic and political elites have been spearheading for decades are not the result of public demand. In fact, the repudiation of the EU by the UK voters is the most recent example of the public catching on that these job losses for them are against their interests. It is now the majority sentiment worldwide that the existing system and its leading political parties are bankrupt. What happens to that sentiment is what is now in play. It’s a sentiment that needs to decisively break out of the ties that keep it confined to electoral politics and existing channels, which are cul-de-sac dead ends.
The scapegoating that right-wing figures such as Donald Trump are engaged in by blaming immigrants, minorities, and women for these economic problems has some traction right now and is based upon the historic entitlements of whites and especially white males against these groups who are being scapegoated. But the hostility felt by most people now to globalization is not fixed as simple knee jerk racism and sexism as Trump and other right-wing leaders want to keep it.
This formula that mixes the anti-globalization sentiments with reactionary politics can be reforged, not easily or without complexity, but a reforging is in fact the only way these problems can in fact be resolved. The only way this reforging can occur is through a revolutionary analysis and leadership. Some of those who are now in Trump and similar right-wing leaders’ sway can under the right circumstances and under the right alternative leadership be won to stand against those they are following now and the system they represent.
By its very nature, therefore, to grasp properly what is going on requires seeing beneath the surface of things to the underlying dynamics. So if anyone gives you an answer that does not do that or is engaged in some form of sloppy conspiracy theorizing you can automatically rule that out.
For the last part of this first lesson, so to speak, is here.