Saturday, January 5, 2019


The new US Congress has some Beaujolais nouveau, probably better in present expectations than in future achievements. The Democrats are representative of a diverse, real America, hard to handle, but rewarding . The Republicans look like a remake of the movie Cocoon, older white guys who are losing control. Actually they act like their Chinese counterparts, unanimous in their praise of the leader, after having left their conscience in the cloak room of opportunism.

Trump still manages to hijack the show nevertheless. His Barnum noise is music to his "base" and his hyperventilating claims and lies are fodder for the stand-up comedians.  FOX, Goebbels news, is losing the little credibility it had in a crass misinterpretation of facts, not seen since the Saddam Hussein regime broadcasts during the American invasion of Iraq. The Democrats have their share of small discipline hickups with the likes of Representatives Rashida Tiaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. These two new Congress women seem, fortunately, impervious to the Stalinist discipline which prevails in the ranks of Trump's claque.

Nancy Pelosi, the new House Speaker, is a formidable personality. In the current chaos she is the mature player in the room. She might look too Ancien Regime for the major generational changes needed, but in this Trumpian nightmare (which  only gets worse by the day) she is the political Polar Star. One can bet that Trump will do anything to save his skin, be it at any cost. Only she is able to project an image of coherence and dignity, contrasting with his structural derangement.

The world had better get ready for a bumpy year on all fronts. The Middle East, China, Brazil, the Korean peninsula, trade, Brexit, NATO, Mexico, etc. create ample opportunities for Trump to reinvent history  His latest statements regarding the Vatican, Afghanistan and himself of course are "over the top". His banter comes easy since he does not give a damn about it. The year will be an other deathwatch in a room packed with broken alliances, shattered ambitions and expiring thought. It becomes clearer by the day that it is near to impossible to contain the barbarians who, contrary to the book, are no longer at the gate. They are among us. The arts--literature, painting, theatre, movies--have no alternative but to become a new Agitprop directed against the populist mudslide. Actually, socialism is looking again as a better alternative to this war against humanism which brings together the deplorables and the undesirables of this world.

However, it is no longer enough though to wage a facile argument. The inequality in capitalist societies is growing.  Piketty's R>G (the return of capital outspaces the growth rate of the economy) is confirmed by the dominance of inherited wealth and the alienation of many who are stuck in a frozen pattern of inequality. The formula should not be set in stone but the the malaise is real. The positive economic data do not translate into a mobilization of hearts and minds for a new economy no longer rooted in the exploitation of what was than in the creation of what is new and what requires learning skills and familiarity with new challenges, automation and artificial intelligence. Pushing workers into a Charles Dickens nightmare is not only wrong, it is amoral.

In the US and in the EU the political discourse needs upgrading. It might feel like an uphill battle but societies need a form of "economic/social peace making" if they want to regain the ground they have lost to a wave of "brown shirts". Only when legitimate conditions of progress look attainable will multilateralism return with a vengeance. One has to face the fact that in America this Congress will have to deal with a form of civil war and awakening. The Democrats will have to be creative without condescending. If they can help turn the tide, Europe too will find it easier to recover the terrain lost East and South. Ms. Nancy Pelosi might enter history : Survival comes easy, revival requires skills. This president's descent into hell might be his best career move.


No comments:

Post a Comment