Americans and the Trump "Victory"
It is raining in Paris. I am sitting upstairs at the Café de Flore, writing these meager words. I am sitting here, watching French businessmen discuss world affairs, writers writing at their small tables (a middle age French woman is writing a novel across from my table surrounded by classical wood paneling and soft lamps on the walls) while an upper class Algerian family is having a late morning breakfast to the side of my table. In France, we knew the results of the presidential elections before the majority of Americans. Americans were still sleeping restlessly or quietly in their bed (or on the streets if they are homeless), unsure of the election results and the possibility of a Trump ‘victory.’
It is raining in Paris, and I am wondering about a quote that Marx wrote in his time in which he said more or less that the leadership of a nation mirrors the people’s will. Yesterday, the American people voted for an American that actually reveals their national character today. This is the harsh portrait in the public mirror of what it means to be an American. In his remarkable work, Grundrisse, Marx said about all human societies: “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.” Trump is not a great individual, but he is as human as the rest of us, and he is not a modern Roman statesman like he might think he is in his deepest psyche. Trump is merely part of the sum total of who Americans are in their interrelations, and he therefore mirrors the American people.
It is raining softly in Paris, and I am thinking of how Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Aragon once frequented this café, and what they had gone through during the Nazi occupation of Paris. I am also wondering about the Americans, as I look up at the gray clouds that I can see through an elegant window at the Café de Flore. The bells of the Eglise de Saint German des Pres are ringing, as it is noon in Paris. The rain is still coming down. Americans are beginning to awake to a new history, not a history of phony neo-liberalism, but another, more singular reality of nationalism that could be eventually garbed in black boots and garish uniforms. Trump is a man who thrives on gaudiness and Hollywood melodrama, and is not subtle in his vanity nor monetary exploitation, unlike Obama and his henchmen or the Clintons with their false modesty and little care for the plight of others while they amass wealth. And if violence comes upon the streets of America, then Trump will deal with it in a vigorous fashion, not unlike Benito Mussolini did with anyone who opposed him on the streets of Rome.
Americans have always been obsessed with “law and order.” Once Trump enters the White House in January, unless there is a national crisis or a declared Third World War, he will give the American people all the law and order that their hearts desire. He will give them enough rope to hang themselves, but he is weary of about being hung himself, or as Stalin put it so succinctly about American capitalism: “When we hang the capitalist they will sell us the rope we use.” It would be interesting to note that the rope was not only sold to the American people by the neo-liberal factions like Obama and the Clintons, but also oligarchical families like the Bush family who have contributed to the selling of such rope to the American people to hang themselves at the nearest lamp posts.
Americans are a naïve and backward people, although they pride themselves on being generous to those who have less than them abroad. But when it comes to helping the American workers in their struggle, particularly the African American working class, the Mexican American farm workers, or the plight of the Native American Indians, that is another thing. But one thing that we should remember about this donnybrook that has occurred in the American presidential election is what Lenin wrote: “Since the emancipation of the Negroes, the distinction between the two parties has been diminishing… Their fight has not had any serious importance for the mass of the people. The people have been deceived and diverted from their vital interests by means of spectacular and meaningless duels between the two bourgeois parties.” The Americans, in their struggle for economic and social emancipation, have been lied to since the American civil war and have in effect become slaves of the electoral system that has been abused and controlled by the capitalist elite of America. Trump is a part of the electoral system lie. When the American people destroy the two party system and create a worker’s party that gives profound meaning to their lives, only then will their leadership mirror a profoundness to the world.
I am looking out the window behind me again at Café de Flore. The rain is letting up, the French people are running their daily errands, going for a late lunch or meeting with friends, family, or a lover at some café. Such is their way of life in Paris, but not for all of them. They have their own economic and social problems, as serious or as severe as what has taken place in the United States. The French people also have their own indifference towards the politics of other nation-states. However, they also have an elegance in life that can be only be found and nurtured in Paris. What we must remember is that the French Revolution began with intellectuals and revolutionaries in the cafes of Paris. And it was the French army and navy that helped secure victory for the first American Revolution.
I came to the Café de Flore to write about the American presidential election while it was still raining outside in Paris. The rain has stopped.