Many are breathing a sigh of relief this week because the Trump administration has taken a step to play down its escalation of tensions with China, and has even suggested it will have to accept the comprehensive agreement with Iran for the removal of sanctions and normalization of relations. But although we may not be facing the apocalypse this week, we should not consider that we are out of the wilderness.
The threat is not merely that Trump will start some other military conflict up elsewhere, but also that the very manner in which he governs will guarantee a systematic breakdown in the United States that will be a tremendous threat to the United States and to the world.
We first have to understand the breakdown in American politics and governance which led to Trump’s victory.
It is not the case that a madman suddenly and mysteriously took control of the United States. Rather the entire structure by which policy is made and implemented in the United States has become so decayed that anyone who showed sufficient audacity, and who actually wanted the position, could seize it. Policy making has been outsourced to private consulting firms and investment banks. Whereas half of the graduating class from Harvard Law School went to work in government back in the 1960s now it is closer to 5%. Government is increasingly administered by corporations and what government employees remain lack the self-confidence to resist increasingly barbaric politics.
Trump’s success in the 2016 election can be read like this: imagine you had a solemn cathedral built of solid stone and someone started running up and down the stairs pounding the walls with his fists. Everyone would take him for a madman and dismiss any possibility that he had any authority. But then, suddenly, his fists started going through the stone walls and the entire cathedral started to shake and crumble from his tiny blows. At that moment the madman takes on a magical power because he is able to tear apart institutions which were assumed to be solid. In fact, Trump’s political antics proved that the entire government in the United States has been reduced to a shell over the last twenty years of privatization and that it can be easily torn apart.
And tear apart is exactly what Trump intends to do. He and his people, like corporate raiders, intend to strip off all the assets from the United States for their own profit and leave behind a rotten carcass.
He has appointed a cabinet full of vultures and hyenas whose function is not to run the government, but rather to tear it apart. His chief adviser Steve Bannon has stated explicitly that he is like Lenin in his desire to destroy the state. But Bannon is just the tip of the iceberg. Secretary of Educatio Betsy Devos is dedicated to destroying public education, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier who is deep in the pocket of big oil, as is the Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump could care less if he is impeached. His intention is to make as much of the commons into his private possession as quickly as possible.
The radical and rapid decay of the United States federal government has implications that go far beyond the challenges facing American citizens. As the American system falls apart, America’s problems are going to become the world’s problems.