20 November 2016

Elections and Establishment: The 2016 US Presidential Drama and the French Centre-Right Primaries

The numbers aren't fully in yet but it would appear that Francois Fillon has won the first round of the French Centre-Right primary and will face Alain Juppe in the second round. Juppe will likely win the primaries and has a very good chance of being the next president of France. This represents a stunning defeat of former president Nicholas Sarkozy. Sarkozy was the obvious favourite of the US Establishment and his defeat will be disappointing to some within the US power structure. This isn't to say they can't work with Juppe as well, but Sarkozy in particular was beloved in Washington for moving Paris solidly into the US and NATO orbit.
Does the Trump victory in the US presidential election and now the defeat of Sarkozy mean the US Establishment is losing power and influence? Not at all.

There is an understanding out there in some of the alternative-conspiracy media that everything is rigged and controlled, even micromanaged. It's simply not the case. I would say rather that everything is spun and manipulated. The control of the Establishment is neither monolithic nor absolute. There are conspiracies to be sure but usually they are not on the scale or of the nature that is often perceived. They are often open, easily seen by anyone who bothers to look. In a sense the system itself is conspiratorial but not every event is some kind of staged or contrived happening.

Are elections sometimes rigged? Without a doubt, and history has proven this. Many believe it's something that doesn't or cannot happen in this country but that's clearly not the case either. Why didn't the Establishment rig the 2016 election so that Hillary Clinton would win? To some extent they probably tried to and failed. And yet their failure is not as meaningful as some would have it. Why? Because Trump is not the threat that many think he is. He may not represent the leadership that was desired but it's clear he's manageable and for all his rhetoric he's not really an outsider at all.

More often than not the Establishment rigs the election (especially in the United States) by rigging the system itself. The choices are false and the mechanisms are artificial and manipulated.

What happened in the 2016 US Presidential Election? Clearly it got away from the power structures of the ruling class. Trump is not the figure that most of them wanted to see elected. That said, the notion of a monolithic rule or a unified Establishment is also clearly false. 

But that needs to be qualified. It's false in the sense that there are indeed very hostile factions within the Ruling Class or Establishment. There was and is genuine anti-Clinton sentiment in some quarters. Yet, for all their differences as Obama pointed out the other day, the battles are intramural, they are in-house as it were. It was a telling statement and a true one. People may genuinely disagree and dislike each other but generally speaking if you want a stake in the game and a place at the table you have to accept certain norms and play by certain rules. Trump it would seem smashed through these walls and is perceived as an outsider.

While I don't think the majority of Establishment architects and players are happy with his victory the notion that he's an outsider is something that I've always rejected. Trump breaks rules in terms of style, in terms of saying things you're not supposed to say. He's a fraud and a buffoon and yet the majority of his ideas fall within the confines of ruling class circles and their ideals. As I've said before the values he represents are not so much outlandish but instead represent impulses and assumptions that have always been there... but are supposed to remain under wraps.

Even the Internationalist class is committed to American power. It's the foundation of the system which empowers and enriches them. They too are largely 'nationalists' in a broader sense. The US is the anchor of the system and its dominance guarantees the stability that makes the world order work. Internationalism built on Globalist economic doctrine in that sense is something of a facade. America is still at the center of it all. Trump, the buffoon doesn't understand how that works. Trump the populist brings an economic message that resonates with the US working class.

And yet the irony is, and (despite his rhetoric) it's becoming very clear that he's going to disappoint them. An outsider he is not and this is already apparent.

It would seem, and at this point that's all we can say, it would seem that though this election got away from the Ruling Class they have already re-asserted control. Trump is in way over his head and apparently has no grasp of what he's gotten himself into. I don't want to downplay the danger of his executive powers nor would I want to suggest that those in the Establishment aren't nervous regarding his potential damage. His words can lead to wars. A mass round-up of illegals could do a great deal of economic and diplomatic harm. Let's be clear, Trump has the potential to wreak havoc and unleash destruction.

While the media is focusing on his appointment of former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, certainly someone who can be placed within the orbit of fascism, this is not really that great of a surprise. There's no doubt that with Trump there will be a radical swing to the right in certain respects. And yet this current has always been present in Washington power circles and has often exercised influence even if shrouded by language or has been forced to operate in the background. McCarthyism didn't just appear and it never went entirely away.

This kind of hard-right nationalism is not really what the bulk of his popular support was after. This might seem like something of a semantics game but there is a nuanced difference between Nativism and Nationalism. They're cut from the same cloth but they're governed by slightly different impulses. Nationalists are Nativists to be sure but they project outwardly in a way a pure insularist Nativism would not. One can be a Nationalist and not a Nativist and while Nativists are certainly nationalistic they don't always share the same goals and outlooks with Nationalism when it comes to geopolitics and militarism.

From an ethical perspective both camps are built on racialist and more often than not racist assumptions.

Or to put it another way, the remnants of Paleo-Conservatism a la Hoover, Robert Taft and the Austrian School are going to be very disappointed with Donald Trump. Steve Bannon is only the first hint of this. While he shares some of their values he's not one of them nor are the other people within Trump's circle.

While Trump's working class supporters were certainly stirred by anti-immigrant sentiment, there wasn't a lot of clamour for militarism and the security state. If anything these measures were being associated with the Obama administration and represented what many of these people wanted to leave behind. Trump is clearly not going to pursue an Isolationist policy. Already the figures that he's surrounding himself with are part of the classic pro-Pentagon and Wall Street right wing. Banking executives, aggressive military figures and militarist diplomats like John Bolton, let alone figures like Giuliani are not going to make for an Isolationist posture. Militarism abroad means repression and police measures at home and that's clearly where things are headed.

Trump it would seem, is going to reinstate an amplified version of the  post-9/11 Bush apparatus. It's already shaping up to be a more robust version of the kind of Neoconservative statist and militarist policies that have dominated GOP politics since the Reagan years.

So much for change. So much for draining the swamp.

Thus far we have every indication that Trump will follow the Reagan-GW Bush model of presidency. He will be a 'big picture' executive. Like these two beloved figures of the Right wing, he's not going to read briefings and reports. He's not going to immerse himself in the details. Intuition will be his guide and yet the real power will rest in the hands of those around him. His Chief of Staff, Vice President and dominant figures within the cabinet will wield the real power. They will frame the questions for him and like Reagan and Bush he won't have the capacity to understand otherwise, and won't know what questions to ask. They will present the world to him through their eyes and he will be given manipulated choices and false options to 'decide' on. He will be an unruly figurehead that they will manipulate and most of their attention directed toward him will be in the realm of restraint and damage control... trying to keep him from saying stupid things and unnecessarily insulting the wrong people.

The Trump presidency means that yet another administration will be dominated by a faction of the Praetorians.

The big question is and continues to be, what will happen to his followers? Will they be intelligent enough to figure out they've been deceived and misled? How will they react in two years, in four years?

There's no telling and there are many possible outcomes.

But the lesson here is that in this election we saw two 'outsiders', Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and both have clearly demonstrated that they never were outsiders at all. In fact all they've done is provide a relief valve for social anger. It's like the Trade Unions of the past forty years. They no longer seriously advocate for the workers they represent. The union officials are now completely integrated into the corporate and executive apparatus. They've been bought by the corporations and now instead of representing the grievances of the workers their task is to manage them and manipulate them. On occasion they are forced to allow the workers to strike for a day or two, maybe even a week or so in order to let off steam. It's a false exercise and disingenuous. The Unions are bought and paid for. They are owned by Wall Street and the Corporations.

So too are the campaigns of these 'outsiders'. They are clearly either part of the Establishment or being used by it.

The most disgusting aspect of this political kabuki is the post-election fawning and reconciliation. Trump lost the popular vote and received a lower percentage of votes than Romney did in 2012. He has no mandate by any stretch of the imagination and yet Sanders, Warren and Obama have all 'reached out' to him and urged the public to support him. I'm not suggesting they should (under any circumstances) be pushing for insurrection and rebellion but in terms of US democracy and its precedents he has no 'mandate' for change and no popular support for his agenda. The Democratic Party has shown its true colours in its capitulation. Their dismay is as disingenuous as their crocodile tears.

Once again it's clear that Trump is not the 'outsider' figure that people think him to be.

Elections rarely have to be rigged and it's becoming clear, just weeks after the election that Trump doesn't really represent an anti-Establishment threat. Neither did Obama. In terms of a kind of Hegelian Dialectic, the swing to the Right is to be expected and it's clear that since the end of World War II, despite the programmes of the Johnson era that the US is on a rightward trajectory. That statement will cause some to scoff because they think the Left has overtaken our culture and now dominates it.

Even the identity politics of the US Left, often mistakenly labelled as 'post-modernistic' are a fruit not of genuine Left-wing social concerns but are instead a result of bourgeois hyper-individualism and consumerist culture. Often falsely labeled 'Cultural Marxism' by the ignorant this trend is in reality something of a social disease that is the offspring of degenerate Classical Liberalism and Capitalism in a stage of decadence, representing its own corruption and internal contradictions. It has never arisen in the context of genuine socialism and these ideas are not promoted by its thinkers.

The US Left wing Establishment is solidly pro-Wall Street and pro-Pentagon and thus being a faction that embraces Capitalism and militarism, it cannot be considered Left-wing at all... despite its positions on abortion and homosexuality. This country and society continue to move to the right and one wonders if the entire Obama facade wasn't just another episode of 'blow-off' or relief for the social masses. Under Obama the Right-wing agenda has (for the most part) marched on.

Returning to France, while the US has in the past manipulated their elections and in some cases directly so, even a Sarkozy defeat does not represent a total failure. Juppe is pro-Wall Street and certainly doesn't represent a threat to US plans for the EU or NATO. He also seems to have plenty of skeletons in his closet, something that often proves useful in terms of keeping politicians in line. That's also something to consider when it comes to the limits of Trump's power and the tools that can be used against him.

Just as there was little existential danger to the 2016 US presidential election, the American Establishment has little to fear when it comes to the 2017 presidential election in France. Hollande who has hardly been resistant to the EU-NATO agenda has all but self-destructed. The French Right will return to power probably in the form of the Centre-Right. The Front National will once again do fairly well but will likely fall short of capturing significant power. Their pathway to the Elysee Palace is a long and slow one, if it will ever actually happen. Regardless they will continue to play an important role in French Society. They were (at least in the past) supported by the United States but given the geopolitics of the present many no doubt would like to use them to push French politics to the right but at the same time wouldn't want them to actually wield power.

The Establishment fears real democracy as it threatens their power. Elections are sometimes rigged but usually they prefer to manage them and govern the context and conditions. The 'drama' is for the masses who continue to be manipulated and fooled. When real democracy takes root as it did in the 2011 Egyptian uprising, it was quickly suppressed and within a short time destroyed. The secret that very few seem to grasp is that democracy is a sham, it's a phony system and rhetorical framework used by the powers that be to manipulate the masses. Those who hold the power and the money don't believe in it and would never want to see it actually function. It's a failed idea that doesn't work and really never has. The Greeks learned that ages ago and ultimately abandoned it.


  1. As it stands, it looks like the Establishment will give Trump a chance to govern and if he operates within parameters comfortable to them, they'll leave him alone. Otherwise, given his scandal-ridden past, they'll just do to him what they did to Nixon and let Pence take his place.

  2. He's already caved on most of the agenda that he laid out. I wonder what his followers are thinking now? It's amazing, he hasn't even taken office yet and already he's 'flip-flopped' on most of the big items. I suppose we just have to wait and see what he actually does.

    I know many Christians will be thrilled by his pick of DeVos for SecEduation. She's married to the son of Mr. Amway and her brother is Erik Prince of Blackwater fame. Vouchers and the dismantling of the public education system are what she's about and so many will celebrate.

    I have to say regarding the French election increasingly it looks like Juppe might lose to Fillon. Wall Street will love him but the US State Department will not... not sure yet on the Pentagon.

  3. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-idUSKBN13M001?il=0

    Amazing, who would have guessed? Well, again Wall Street will be pleased.

    1. He also cuts at Le Pen's support base, she being a much more un-handleable sort of candidate. A free-market France is a France more in the pocket of Anglo-American interests than quasi-fascists like LePen. And a smaller-state candidate would, I'd imagine, further entrench dependence on American arms viz. NATO to keep Europe in line. With Trump possibly mangling the alliance, a more malleable sort is probably for the best for the apparatchniks.

  4. How quickly has Fillon's star fallen! It's now questionable as to whether or not he's even going to stay in the race. Emmanuel Macron's centrist and Third Way position is suddenly looking like the favourite. It's still too early to tell but what a shake-up.

    While Washington would probably prefer the Centre-Right Republicans, Macron's pro-EU Tony Blair-ish platform would probably be acceptable. They won't get the labour and economic reforms, but.... well, many a Leftist has proved to be a crypto-Rightist.

    Crazy times.