Trumpism and crony capitalism

by John Quiggin on December 11, 2020

Some tentative thoughts, for a chapter I’m writing about the decline of neoliberalism, and the crony capitalism I see as replacing it. (unless we can achieve a leftwing alternative)

An important difference between Trumpism[1] and neoliberalism (in both hard and soft variants) is that Trumpism is associated with crony capitalism, rather than global corporations and finance. This is obscured to some extent by shared interest in corporate tax cuts and deregulation. But it’s a clear pattern,exemplified by Erdogan, Modi, Orban and Putin (search “X + crony” for illustration). Why is this? The core appeal of US Trumpism is a negative kind of identity politics, reaffirming the rightful dominance of the “unmarked category”, or default identity, that is assumed when a term like “real Americans” is used. Unmarked categories in the US context include white, male, employed, English-speaking, Christian and cis-het.

Trump’s global counterparts have the same kind of politics, but their unmarked categories are different, most obviously with respect to language, race and religion. These differences are problematic for global corporations, who want to operate in different national markets and employ the best talent they can find anywhere.

As long as neoliberalism was dominant, Trumpist voters could be bought off with gestures, while policy was run in the interests of global business. But now that the Trumpists are in charge, they are demanding measures that harm global businesses both economically (restrictions on trade and investment) and culturally (by making ascribed characteristics, rather than market outcomes the measure of esteem). By contrast, local capitalists (like Trump himself and the billionaires who now back him) mostly benefit from these measures as well as from pro-rich policies in general. Even under neoliberalism, many operated largely on the basis of connections. Provided they can stay in the good graces of the strongman (not guaranteed, as various Russian oligarchs have discovered), they are well placed in the new environment. And, unlike global corporations, crony capitalists can operate with a short time horizon. Even if Trumpist policies are ultimately disastrous in economic terms, they have time to make their pile and cash out.

fn1. In 2016, I used the unsatisfactory term “tribalism”, for want of a better alternative, but Trumpism fits the bill perfectly.

{ 83 comments }

1

johne 12.11.20 at 5:54 am

“Trumpism,” as defined in the post, occurred in some 19th-century Latin-American republics in the 19th century, and has been a regularly recurring feature of the region ever since.

2

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.11.20 at 8:27 am

I remember in the early noughties, when Enron happened, that I thought “well, I guess we can’t say that we different from Indonesia anymore …” (they’d had a big scandal a few years previously, and all the usual suspects were busy patting themselves on the back for our rule of law and deep, transparent markets). As in all things Trumpist, I fear that we’ve been infested with crony capitalism for a good while: Trump just make it more obvious, and of course amps it up to 11.

3

nobody 12.11.20 at 8:37 am

Calling the current American situation Trumpism overstates Trump’s personal impact. He, and his politics, are the culmination of many decades of societal rot created by the Republican party.

The delegitimization of Americans–regardless of race–who do not support the Republican party started bubbling up in GOP opposition to Bill Clinton. Elite perception of government as a tool whose primary goal is to enrich the billionaire class began with Reagan. Elite perception of government as a tool whose primary purpose is the enrichment of specific cronies dates to Obama’s predecessor. Trump has simply built on this foundation and added enough racism to make it popular.

It is more accurate, although undoubtedly more confusing, to refer to the US ruling ideology as (capital-R) Republicanism.

As johne (#1) notes with regard to Latin America, this style of government is normal in much of the undeveloped world. Interfacing with existing literature on corrupt, criminal, and kleptocratic governance in the undeveloped world may yield some insights.

(A tangential argument can be made that the status of the USD as the reserve currency puts the US in a resource curse situation. The ability to borrow money indefinitely allows US elites to self-deal, much in the way resource wealth allows elites in kleptocratic resource curse states to self-deal, without the need for the consent of the governed to pay taxes. Given the durability of resource curse kleptocracies elsewhere, Republicanism may be much more durable in the United States than similar right-wing populist movements could be in other developed countries.)

4

Hidari 12.11.20 at 8:37 am

Mike Davies has, an essay (which is excellent, as you might expect) in the NLR about the sources of Trump’s power, which more or less backs up what you are saying here.

Key extract:

‘If Reagan came to power aligned with a historic anti-union offensive led by the Business Roundtable—a coalition of Fortune 500 corporations—Trump came to the White House thanks to the love of Jesus and a motley crew of what Sam Farber refers to as ‘lumpen capitalists.’ Although defence contractors, the energy industry and Big Pharma pay their dues to the White House as is always the case when Republicans are in power, the donor coalition that financed the revolt against Obama and after the defeat of Cruz in the primaries, united behind Trump, is largely peripheral to the traditional sites of economic power. In addition to family dynasties, mainly based on oil wealth like the Kochs, who have been around since the days of Goldwater and the John Birch Society, Trump’s key allies are post-industrial robber barons from hinterland places like Grand Rapids, Wichita, Little Rock and Tulsa, whose fortunes derive from real estate, private equity, casinos, and services ranging from private armies to chain usury.’

And so on. The rest of the essay is well worth reading.

https://newleftreview.org/issues/ii126/articles/mike-davis-trench-warfare

5

Thomas Beale 12.11.20 at 8:57 am

The core appeal of US Trumpism is a negative kind of identity politics, reaffirming the rightful dominance of the “unmarked category”, or default identity, that is assumed when a term like “real Americans” is used. Unmarked categories in the US context include white, male, employed, English-speaking, Christian and cis-het.

The way America mostly works is that if you run your life according to the American Dream playbook (work hard, get rich), others don’t really care about your innate qualities or unchosen affiliations. There’s always some clannishness in a society, but that’s human nature.

But now that the Trumpists are in charge, they are demanding measures that harm global businesses both economically (restrictions on trade and investment)

Well, many current global businesses operate off what is effectively slavery in China, Bangladesh and other undemocratic countries, and without a human rights legal overlay on globalised trade, it is arguable that Trump’s crude measures may do more good in some places than the current regime.

6

Peter T 12.11.20 at 11:10 am

I think you could make more of the overlap between neo-liberalism in practice and Trumpism. Inside states, the core of the neo-liberal agenda was the transference of state capacity and functions to private parties, using international finance and off-shoring to break local resistance. In practice, the transfer was to the connected, and the process built up a large body of interests whose financial well-being was dependent on political favour. Real-estate, US health care, companies like SERCO, employment agencies, the IT cartel…all spend furiously on lobbying, provide havens for out of work politicians and are major political contributors.

The latest are the contracts for PPE handed out to those with a private line to British ministers, but Australia has plenty of good examples, at both state and federal levels.

7

MisterMr 12.11.20 at 11:33 am

My two cents:

First of all, the kind of economic nationalism that is associated with “Trumpism” is not really really anti-international-trade or anti-megacorporation. For example Trump did try to push China into adopting stricter IP laws to protect american companies working in China, which makes no sense if he really wanted american companies to relocate back in the USA.
The confusion comes from the fact that most ideologies we are familiar with are universalist: if you are a socialist, for example, you would like the whole world to be socialist, if you are a free trade pro-capitalist you want the whole world to be pro fre trate capitalism etc.
Nationalism doesn’t work the same way: if you are an America First nationalist you don’t want the whole world to be first, or to be similar to America (USA) for that matter. You want the USA to “win” against the others, that is this is not an universalist ideology.
When we speak, for example, of trade, you want your companies to be able to export, but you don’t want the other countries’ companies to be able to export to you: this is protectionism, that is not the same thing that the absence of international trade, but rather the attempt to “win” international trade by exporting more and importing less.
So as long as american companies are advantaged by employing peoples in poor countries this is not a problem for trumpism, the problem is when non american corporation export to the USA, regardless from how poor their workers are.

Second, my sense is that crony capitalism is quite natural unless your country is an international industrial powerhouse so that a really large percentage of your products are for exportations (where your government can’t help you). 19th century capitalism + colonialism worked like crony capitalism because european government could project their power in colonies or other peripheric places.
As in many industrialised countries the share of the economy that is made of exportable goods is falling, crony capitalism is rising.
Part of this though I think is directly due to the wave of privatisations of the 90s.

As a general rule though it seems to me that we are reverting to what was the normal style for pre WW2 (or perhaps pre WW1) capitalism, so since the period post WW2 was created by the “new deal” kind of government, we are just going back to the “old deal” normal capitalism. As neoliberalism was basically an attempt to undo the new deal, “trumpism” is really just the prosecution of “neoliberalism” once the new deal state has been largely undone.

8

Tm 12.11.20 at 11:42 am

My feeling is that this analysis treats both Trumpism and neoliberalism waayyy too gently. Capitalism should in theory be antagonistic to nationalism, racism, sexism etc but in practice – let’s not kid ourselves! And Trumpism is in part motivated by naked grift and cronyism but this goes way deeper. The desire to destroy liberal democracy is sincere. The hate is sincere. The grift is an added bonus but it’s not the essence.

9

Tm 12.11.20 at 11:53 am

„But now that the Trumpists are in charge, they are demanding measures that harm global businesses“

This analysis makes the frequent mistake of lumping the international capitalist class together into a single monolithic bloc. That is nonsense. The capitalist class is divided into factions that have different motivations and interests. Trumpism represents certain factions (e. g. the mining and fossil fuel faction). Other factions are agnostic or antagonistic. It would be a very important analysis to conduct to understand these different factions and their interests. Alas I haven’t seen any attempt at such an analysis. Which is indicative of the shallowness of the current political discourse.

10

Roland Papp 12.11.20 at 11:59 am

“Trump’s global counterparts have the same kind of politics, but their unmarked categories are different, most obviously with respect to language, race and religion” – no, not in the case of Hungary at least (and I strongly suspect that it is not the case elsewhere either). Like typically all nation-states, Hungary tends to be much more homogeneous ethnically, and while oppression of some minorities exist (the Roma come to mind) and the conservative government is hostile to non-cis-het individuals on religious grounds, favors are awarded primarily based on political affiliation and loyalties (when not directly to family and friends.) There is no such thing as an “unmarked” category that is based on any ethnic or sexual factors, or any other factor for that matter, and I suspect this to be a typically American phenomenon. Only loyalty to Orbán matters. Openly non-cis-het individuals, Roma individuals can hold high office, and will receive favors (contracts, tax rebates, etc.) without problem, as long as their political loyalties are not compromised. Orbán is pragmatic, not an ideologue. His hostility toward immigrants and hist purported allegiance to christian values are but a facade to please his constituents, he will not let this get in the way of his political interests. Global companies do not (and cannot) engage in the quid-pro-quo favoritism that is needed to be awarded lucrative state contracts, this is why they have difficulties, not because of whom they employ.

11

slikts 12.11.20 at 12:45 pm

The way America mostly works is that if you run your life according to the American Dream playbook (work hard, get rich) …

So it mostly doesn’t work like that, since the American Dream has been recognized as a myth for how long now?

12

steven t johnson 12.11.20 at 1:44 pm

Crony capitalism and kleptocracy strike me more as pejoratives than concepts. The difficulty in clarifying them by pointing at real world examples is fairly conclusive I think. The closest thing to “crony capitalism” and “kleptocracy” in actual usage are Russia and China…except the oligarchs in Russia, as those who seized the socialized property were simply restoring capitalism. And even though when it suits the political arrangements in China are condemned, whenever possible these arrangements are hailed as the return of capitalism and the wonders wrought thereby are proof that capitalism works. Not “crony capitalism” or “kleptocracy,” mind you, but just plain capitalism. The idea that crony capitalism or kleptocracy is a Bad Thing, and a nefarious perversion of True Capitalism, takes a beating.

The natural retort is that various governments in places like Latin America or Africa are commonly accepted as corrupt. The problem with that rebuttal is that global corporations and decidedly non-crony capitalists devote lavish efforts, including subversion, covert operations, economic warfare and even open warfare to maintain these governments. If they are an indispensable functional part of the global capitalism system, it is entirely unclear (to me) how they are No True Capitalisms.

Once again, my judgment that Trump’s popularity is manufactured by billions of dollars in support from widespread capitalist owners of mass media and the capitalist purchasers of advertising on that mass media. Plus in this last election, he had the incumbency to help him. The notion that the vile mob foisted Trump on us is backwards, that it is rather Trump and his backers have organized the mob. (This is often historically true of lynch mobs and vigilante groups, that were organized by the respectables, as I understand it.)

Last and least, it is not clear to me that “global corporations” take so much longer a view than cronies.

13

eg 12.11.20 at 2:03 pm

@nobody #3

While I take no issue with your description of the Republican contribution to America’s malaise, it strikes me as incomplete not to observe how persistently complicit the DNC and the donor class of the Democrats have been in this process. If Judith Stein’s “Pivotal Decade” is accurate, Jimmy Carter may have been the first neoliberal President.

In any event, America is a turkey with two right wings.

14

kinnikinick 12.11.20 at 4:41 pm

The Mike Davies essay referenced to in @4 is well-thought-out, and chilling.
It helped me to understand the seemingly paradoxical bias against expertise and specialized knowledge that has been a constant theme of Trumpism, peculiar since much of the myth of “America” has been rooted in notions of techological progress, of a willingness to rethink the obvious. Silicon Valley has been ambivalent about Trump, as seen in the conflicts over visas for skilled workers – there is money to be extracted from research, if your position allows it. If the sponsors of Trumpism get their money “from real estate, private equity, casinos, and services ranging from private armies to chain usury”, not to mention oil and coal extraction, then their business models imply a range from indifference to outright hostility to education and innovation. When you need your clients and workers uninformed and without other options, when scientific progress implies you sell less of your product, why would it be otherwise?

15

Hidari 12.11.20 at 5:04 pm

Just one wee note, for the hard of thinking:

From the OP ‘(unless we can achieve a leftwing alternative)’.

As the Democratic Party Right (they call themselves the centre but they are in fact the right) and the Labour Party Right (see above) have made it perfectly clear, by their treatment of Sanders and Corbyn, that, despite all the shouting and hooting and hollering and wailing about ‘fascism’ and ‘Nazi-ism’ and Russian plots, that, at the very end of they day, they would far rather see (or at least risk)* a Johnson PMship or a Trump Presidency, as opposed to anyone to the left of the Liberal Democrats (in the UK), or the DNC (in the US) coming to power: and as I say, as long as this remains the case, the chance of creating a leftwing alternative in either of those countries remains absolutely and precisely zero**, and I think that everyone reading this, in their heart of hearts, knows this to be the case.

*Like most objective statements of fact on CT threads, this one will get shouted down, but it remains a fact that Trump’s Presidency was doing well, in terms of the opinion polls until about March, and it was only with Black Lives Matter and (still more) Covid that his poll numbers started to plummet. In other words, when the Democrats put Biden up for the Presidency they were taking a hell of a chance, one which (more or less) worked out for them. But it was still a hell of a gamble, and the alacrity with which they crushed the Sanders insurgency (twice!) shows that the DNC would still rather risk Trump than have a democratic socialist anywhere near the levers of power. CF also Labour ‘centrists’ fake and empty ‘opposition’ to Brexit.

So, regardless of what ought to be the case, what we are going to get for the next 30/40 years in the ‘advanced’ capitalists states is crony capitalism or neoliberalism, and I would imagine that alleged distinction between these two options is going to get harder and harder to spot.

**Assuming a compliant and power worshipping corporate media apparatus, which seems a reasonable assumption.

16

John Quiggin 12.11.20 at 7:26 pm

TM @23 “This analysis makes the frequent mistake of lumping the international capitalist class together into a single monolithic bloc. That is nonsense. The capitalist class is divided into factions that have different motivations and interests. Trumpism represents certain factions (e. g. the mining and fossil fuel faction). ”

The big divide within capital is between global and national/crony as I said. Global capital is already out of coal, which is now the business of cronies like Murray energy, Adani, the Polish state companies etc, who can’t get funding from global finance. With the exception of Exxon, most are also looking to transition away from oil and gas.

17

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.11.20 at 8:10 pm

Thomas Beale @ 5:
The way America mostly works is that if you run your life according to the American Dream playbook (work hard, get rich), others don’t really care about your innate qualities or unchosen affiliations. There’s always some clannishness in a society, but that’s human nature.
This is gaslighting, pure and simple. Though, I guess it’s possible the commenter is a moron.

18

Thomas Beale 12.11.20 at 9:40 pm

slikts @ 11
So it mostly doesn’t work like that, since the American Dream has been recognized as a myth for how long now?

Obviously it’s a myth (indeed, the American Dream is a pyramid scheme). But people love myths, especially those with the promise of personal success for them. Why do you think people spend money on lottery tickets?

The point is, people who play the standard game in the US are mostly treated as part of the culture.

19

nastywoman 12.11.20 at 11:15 pm

”*Like most objective statements of fact on CT threads, this one will get shouted down”,

Laughed down –
not ”shouted”-

20

nastywoman 12.11.20 at 11:19 pm

and about:
”So, regardless of what ought to be the case, what we are going to get for the next 30/40 years in the ‘advanced’ capitalists states is crony capitalism or neoliberalism”,

as AOC isn’t neither – and I still have this outstanding bet that she will be US President in my Lifetime – and as y’all know I always win my bets –
let’s say we’ll have AOC.
(and I gladly celebrate with you guys – if y’all still alive?)

21

nastywoman 12.11.20 at 11:28 pm

”Capitalism should in theory be antagonistic to nationalism, racism, sexism etc”

It actually is – as there isn’t enough ”capital” in nationalism, racism, sexism – as trump and all of his fans will find out the hard way in the coming bankruptcy-times –
and about:

”It would be a very important analysis to conduct to understand these different factions and their interests”.

How true – as I always had this theory that my homeland only can be reformed by a rich capitalist like FDR.

22

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.12.20 at 4:51 am

Thomas Beale @ 18:

The point is, people who play the standard game in the US are mostly treated as part of the culture.

Again with the blatant lies.

23

nobody 12.12.20 at 5:16 am

@eg, #13:

The Democratic party has so little influence on elite consensus formation / formation of the national narrative that I don’t feel their views are relevant at this level of analysis. They’re passengers on this train, not engineers/drivers or track builders.

24

nobody 12.12.20 at 5:41 am

@Hidari, #15:

Arguably, the only difference between neoliberalism and crony capitalism / kleptocracy is who gets the economic rents.

Neoliberalism is about handing as much economic rent as possible to transnational (but generally American) businesses run by people who used inherited wealth to get into the right schools.

Kleptocracy is about handing as much economic rent as possible to national leaders and the people who know said national leaders personally.

For those of us who will be paying those rents, the economic distinction is very close to irrelevant.

From a sociopolitical perspective, however, western kleptocracy will be far worse. Neoliberal rentierism is driven by inhuman, but largely impersonal, greed. In contrast, the rising western kleptocrats are driven by a mixture of greed and sadism.

Elites who want to see their victims suffer are capable of far greater depths of atrocity than those elites who simply don’t care about the impacts of their actions on others. Neoliberal entities, like the IFIs, don’t care if their policies cause people to die of thirst. For kleptocrats, the cruelty they inflict on people they see as subhuman is part of the point.

25

nastywoman 12.12.20 at 7:34 am

”They’re passengers on this train, not engineers/drivers or track builders”.

You mean in a ”Land of Entertainment” the ”engineers/drivers or track builders” always will be ”a-political”?
And Trump and his fellow Idiots just put on their show of STUPID (law cases) – just to make US smile?

And as even Trump couldn’t manage to destroy capitalism – now our last hope is Taylor Swift?
(and Americans shouting: I wear no f… mask!)

26

Hidari 12.12.20 at 8:18 am

@20: AOC may well end up as President of the United States, but she will not end up as President of the United States with the politics she has now.

That, I guarantee you.

27

Chris Bertram 12.12.20 at 8:56 am

Excellent analysis John. Worth adding Johnson and Brexit to the list. One of the scandals of the last year in the UK has been the awarding of COVID-related contracts in the billions to people and firms with Conservative Party connections, usually without proper scrutiny or competition for the contracts. Some of these firms, paid vast amounts to supply PPE, and based in offshore tax havens, have no previous record of supplying the kinds of thing they won the contracts for, and, unsurprisingly have not been very good at providing the quality or quantity they contracted for. Meanwhile the ethics advisor to the UK government has resigned, the trigger being the Home Secretary’s behaviour but, it turns out that the actions of a housing minister in clearing the way for a billionaire’s property development were part of that story.

28

Thomas Beale 12.12.20 at 12:51 pm

CHETAN R MURTHY @ 18:
Again with the blatant lies.

Just 30 years of observations while working and travelling in the US. Yes, anecdotal, and no, I didn’t say there was no racism. But the idea (to which you appear to subscribe) of the US as a white supremacist state doesn’t correspond with reality. Certainly Trump’s Black and latino supporters don’t think so. (This isn’t a pro-Trump argument, I just think that characterising ‘Trumpism’ as primarily a re-assertion of some imagined straight white male culture is to badly misunderstand it.)

29

Mike Huben 12.12.20 at 1:24 pm

nobody @ 24 wrote:
“Arguably, the only difference between neoliberalism and crony capitalism / kleptocracy is who gets the economic rents.”

In this respect, they are competitors, and that is the important point. Yet they are compatible, as cronies can be paid off (or hired) with the rents from either.

OP wrote:
“The core appeal of US Trumpism is a negative kind of identity politics, reaffirming the rightful dominance of the “unmarked category”, or default identity, that is assumed when a term like “real Americans” is used. Unmarked categories in the US context include white, male, employed, English-speaking, Christian and cis-het.”

But I consider that only a tactic, used by both neoliberals and crony capitalists. Ronald Reagan, for example, was quite neoliberal, and relied heavily on this same tactic.

30

john v burke 12.12.20 at 3:53 pm

“Now the guy’s got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with a bill, he can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy’s got to come up with Paulie’s money every week. No matter what. Business bad? **** you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? **** you, pay me. The place got hit by lightning, huh? **** you, pay me. Also, Paulie could do anything. Especially run up bills on the joint’s credit. And why not? Nobody’s gonna pay for it anyway. And as soon as the deliveries are made in the front door, you move the stuff out the back and sell it at a discount. You take a two hundred dollar case of booze and you sell it for a hundred. It doesn’t matter. It’s all profit. And then finally, when there’s nothing left, when you can’t borrow another buck from the bank or buy another case of booze, you bust the joint out. You light a match. ”
–Goodfellas

31

bianca steele 12.12.20 at 4:28 pm

When I was in college in the 80s, a leftist professor informed me that entrepreneurship was a myth: it just didn’t happen; big corporations and government planners decided what was to be made and sold. This, in my opinion, is the generative mistake from which at least 80% of discourse about varieties of “capitalism” stems. Some people will think ”neoliberalism” is that central planning, some will think it refers to deviations from that ideal. There’s plenty of room for interesting leftist reading about the reasons reality doesn’t live up to the ideal, or the present is different from the past, which is the same thing. All this logic-chopping about definitions has little impact on that thought, which isn’t intended to inform its readers in a productive way, anyway, but to provoke thought and discomfort.

Trump I think is a product that fits a handful of market niches, one of them being people who think crony capitalism would be a good thing, one of them being people who think global finance capitalism values people like Trump.

32

nastywoman 12.12.20 at 4:39 pm

@
”AOC may well end up as President of the United States, but she will not end up as President of the United States with the politics she has now”.

You got it –
as when AOC finally will be elected –
ALL the people –
(and not only Michelle Obama) –
will hate ”politics” that much – that AOC will be elected after she (also) has confessed that she doesn’t run as ”a Politician”.
And that is in no way related to ”Trump” who ran as:
”I’m not a Politician” –
as Trump also ran with the promise to burn the whole place down – and my sister AOC never will do something like that…

33

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.12.20 at 7:14 pm

Thomas Beale @ 28:
(This isn’t a pro-Trump argument, I just think that characterising ‘Trumpism’ as primarily a re-assertion of some imagined straight white male culture is to badly misunderstand it.)>
And yet again with the lies. And just to be clear, Red Hat, I’m not debunking your lies, because you’re not engaging in good faith here. Anyone with a knowledge of the history of our country, will know that everything you’ve posted here in 100% bullshit.

34

PatinIowa 12.12.20 at 11:09 pm

Mike Huben @29

Having lived through the Reagan years, I can assure you that President Reagan’s racism wasn’t merely a tactic. It was a deeply held belief on his part, as close to a core value as he had. He was consistent, his policies derived from his beliefs, and when his guard was down (see the Nixon tapes) he could be quite clear.

It was obvious to everyone, including a compliant press, who chose to keep their mouths shut out of corporate fear and anxiety about perceived “bias.” While the his campaign’s decision to highlight it was a tactic, no one doubted his sincerity and that of the political movement of Nixon and Buckley and Goldwater and Falwell.

It was his ability to convey that sincerity that altered the electoral landscape, making the Republican party a comfortable home for that peculiar mix of rump segregationists and Christian jihadists that distinguishes it from the other right wing of the American political landscape.

He spoke to genuine anxieties of white people of all classes (not just the working class, this is a canard) who felt from experience how rigged the game is, and wanted help believing they deserved the (sometimes marginal) comforts they had, often at the expense of others.

35

nastywoman 12.12.20 at 11:38 pm

And I’m sorry if I sound a bit confused but one thing I’m pretty sure about –
that there never was anything like ”Trumpism” – even if there always where ”Racist Reactionary Right Wingers” and the American Type of ”Racist Reactionary Right Wingers” have some –
may I call them ”character traits” which overlap with trumps primitive racism – and parts of his stupidity –
BUT –
otherwise it’s all… ”random” – or some kind of ”crazy accident” that the Idiot was elected and that he has all these fans – who thought it was kind of cool that a complete Idiot could become US President and show ”the man the finger” –
BUT as he wasn’t successful in burning the whole place down – and it will become more and more obvious for his fans that he –
indeed –
is just: ”this loser” –
and my fellow Americans really don’t like losers – there will be no ”Trumpism” in the future – which doesn’t mean that there won’t be any ”crony capitalism” as my homeland America always was a lot about ”crony capitalism” –
but that’s another… script –
as we first have to accept that ”the script” about an Idiot becoming US President finally became reality by accident.

And now we’re back in… reality – even if millions of Americans live in a completely different reality as WE.

36

Alan White 12.13.20 at 1:34 am

First to John–if this is just a distraction I apologize. But since some have weighed on on just the phenomenon of Trumpism here, something that occurred to me tonight made me think about a link of Trumpism to music.

I have long argued that Trumpism is in part–and maybe more than that–linked to emotion much more than reason (so I argued that emotivism is explanatory here, but I’m not interested in advancing that.) Tonight while I had dinner I just left the tv on after the news and it played an infomercial for country music–the kind of nostalgic country music that my boomer generation grew up on in the south (as I did)–Pride (just dead today), Parton, Cash(s), Rogers, and on and on. And then I thought about the role of emotion and politics and music and did some after-dinner research–country music is about as popular as ever, and to my surprise about 60% of millennials listen to it at least sometimes. The overall number of at least occasional listeners is in the 100 million range and probably much over. And then I began to think about cause and effect. Is it possible that country music–especially country music during and post-Vietnam–became a big emotional anchor of conservative views? I know, I know, correlation and all that. But since I’ve been thinking these last few years that emotions drive political world-views rather than reasons, is it possible that Limbaugh et al were surfing along with the waves of family-country-personal failure-devotion-betrayal-etc. that typifies country music’s lyrics and messages? In short, did country music set the stage for Trump using Lee Greenwood to open every damn rally as homage to the long inculcated attitudes reflected in a lot (not all) of country music that overall support Trump’s image? After all–Trump, even if he is not at all southern in any way by heritage, personally embodies the overall messages of country music, good, bad, and ugly (but mostly the latter two). But hen I thought something else–could more contemporary country music, by being more open to progressive messages, eventually turn around emotions as the generations move on? Well, this is all just suggestive and probably nonsense, but I do wonder how much something like music in mass consumption actually drives us instead of just expresses us. FWIW and I apologize again if this is stupid.

37

john v burke 12.13.20 at 6:36 am

@Alan White: not stupid at all, I think. Let me recommend “Prius Or Pickup? How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America’s Great Divide” by Jonathan D. Weiler and Marc J. Hetherington, which traces many of the same links, including musical ones, that you’re observing.

38

bad Jim 12.13.20 at 9:43 am

Alan White, though I largely share your sentiments, I think it unlikely that kinder gentler country music offers any hope. It was probably there at the beginning. It’s not hard to find it in Johnny Cash, or even Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson has never been shy about sharing his inclinations. It doesn’t matter. It’s beside the point.

Trump opens his rallies with the Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want.” One might think “Sympathy for the Devil” more appropriate, but it probably wouldn’t generate the same response.

Bruce Springsteen was outraged by Reagan’s use of “Born in the USA” not least because it completely missed the point of the song. This is a generally applicable point. An arbitrary verse can easily be extracted from its context and weaponized.

Let me suggest that the problem lies less with country music than its listeners.

Trailers for sale or rent, rooms to let, fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets.
I ain’t got no cigarettes!
Two hours of pushing broom
Buys an eight by twelve sleeping room
I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road

39

nastywoman 12.13.20 at 11:00 am

@
”but I do wonder how much something like music in mass consumption actually drives us instead of just expresses us”.

Three ”Musicians” – Justin Bieber with 113 Mill. – Katy Perry with 109 Mill – and Rihanna with 99 Mill – ALL have more Fans than ”the STUPID” –
which proves that music ”in mass consumption actually drives us much more than ”trump” or/and politics”.

And the point that Obama is on the top of the list of ”most followers” -(with 127 Mill.)
just proves that Obama is ”a Rock Star” too – and actually never was a ”politician.”

So Mr. White – you comment wasn’t a distraction AT ALL –
and if Hidari says so – let’s tell him how few Americans following ”politics” instead of Justin Bieber – Katy Perry – Rihanna AND ”the ex-country-music star Taylor Swift –
on Insta – where politicians are nearly non existent.

40

Thomas Beale 12.13.20 at 12:16 pm

MURTHY @ 33
And yet again with the lies.

A lie is a mis-representation of a true fact. An opinion is something else. Seriously, you need to work on your epistemological categories. Personal abuse isn’t a good look either, for you or the forum.

41

Robert Weston 12.13.20 at 3:07 pm

The OP raises significant questions about U.S. global power, which is based in large part on allies’ acceptance of Washington’s primacy in return for access to the American market. Of course, there are all the coercive elements – military dominance, extraterritorial reach of U.S. law, domination of the global banking system, etc. But there is also very genuine belief among global policy elites in the desirability of the so-called rules-based international order.

If, say, the next Republican administration returns to a policy that harms global trade and investment where does that leave an export-based economy like Germany’s? Do all major German CEOs begin playing crony capitalist games with Trump, or his anointed patsy?

42

Andres 12.13.20 at 6:14 pm

Hidari@26
”AOC may well end up as President of the United States, but she will not end up as President of the United States with the politics she has now”.

nastywoman@32
You got it –
as when AOC finally will be elected –
ALL the people –
(and not only Michelle Obama) –
will hate ”politics” that much – that AOC will be elected after she (also) has confessed that she doesn’t run as ”a Politician”.
And that is in no way related to ”Trump” who ran as:
”I’m not a Politician” –
as Trump also ran with the promise to burn the whole place down – and my sister AOC never will do something like that…

nastywoman gets down to the practical truth of running for elected office in the U.S., especially for POTUS. Unfortunately, I have never been a practical person and I am repelled at the core by politicians who water down their principles in order to get elected, whether or not I vote for them. The day that AOC runs for president by claiming to be a non-politician who will drain the swam or burn down the rotten structure will be the day that she either does not get my vote or gets my vote only after I hold my nose, in preference to whatever new monster the GOP nominates.

43

Andres 12.13.20 at 6:38 pm

My apologies John, but I think your starting premise that crony capitalism is replacing neoliberalism is seriously flawed. As I have stated many times, neoliberalism is not a set of policies trying to create the competitive free market utopia that stupid economists sing the praises of, as much as it may give lip service to such policies. Neoliberalism is the modern version of mercantilism, where state policies are tailored to favor transnational finance and transnational capital. Monopoly and oligopoly “markets” (which are in often nothing more than transfers between different parts of multinationals) are thus the natural equilibrium of neoliberal regimes.

So in the end, crony capitalism is not an antagonist but a logical outcome of neoliberalism, though whether crony capitalism becomes permanent or simply a temporary state of affairs for neoliberalism is determined by the political system. Right now the Democratic Party–a classically neoliberal party in terms of its economic policies–has managed to claw back some of the control that it lost after the 2016 disaster. But crony capitalism, which overwhelmingly favors the Republicans, still holds a strong edge.

The grand flaw in neoliberalism is that the concentration of economic power that it creates allows individual capitalists to buy political power, if only indirectly. And when that happens the footprint of those individual capitalists–kleptocracy, racism, hatred of democracy, among other things–is stamped onto the government. I have in mind here more Murdoch and the Koch brothers than Trump, who is simply a middleman even if he isn’t aware of being one.

44

Andres 12.13.20 at 6:58 pm

Thomas Beale@28

But the idea (to which you appear to subscribe) of the US as a white supremacist state doesn’t correspond with reality. Certainly Trump’s Black and latino supporters don’t think so.

Thomas, I will have better manners than Chethan Murthy in that I will give you the benefit of the doubt, which in your case means asserting that you are not a liar but that you are deeply self deluded. Trump’s black supporters were (a) the late Herman Cain and (b) Ben Carson, but since Cain passed away you need more than one person to be able to use the plural.

As for Trump’s Latin American immigrant supporters, sorry to say this but this is also a case of white supremacy at work. The majority of these supporters are better off immigrants from Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela, and are of predominantly white/European descent. The left-wing movements in their country that they are running away from are not simply socialist in theory, but their supporters are predominantly of African, native or mixed race descent. One of the things that irritates me continually in discussion of latino attitudes is the conflation of the term “latino” with a racial category.

It is quite reasonable to debate whether economic objectives drive white supremacist policies in the U.S. or vice versa. But it is utterly deluded to say that white supremacy is not a major determinant of U.S. political outcomes.

45

Michael Cain 12.13.20 at 8:15 pm

as AOC isn’t neither – and I still have this outstanding bet that she will be US President in my Lifetime – and as y’all know I always win my bets –
let’s say we’ll have AOC.

Can I get a small bet of that, say for a nice craft beer? Not that I have anything against AOC, I’m just a believer in the theory that Democratic candidates from the northeast urban corridor have a lot of trouble generating enthusiasm among the bulk of the Democratic voters in other parts of the country. Biden didn’t have to generate his own enthusiasm this year — Donald Trump took care of that for him.

46

nastywoman 12.13.20 at 8:26 pm

@42
”Unfortunately, I have never been a practical person and I am repelled at the core by politicians who water down their principles in order to get elected, whether or not I vote for them”.

Unfortunately there must be some kind of…
misunderstanding?
As I really didn’t want to… imply that AOC would water down her principles in order to get elected – as only the type of ”typical politicians” –
we all don’t like –
tend to ”water down their principles in order to get elected” –

And so by telling that she is not a ”politician” AOC just would tell ”the people” that she isn’t one of these ”typical politicians” who tend to water down their principles –
and the point that trump used this… ”argument” in order to fool the American people was just a reminder that AOC isn’t the type of liar the Idiot is.

47

PatinIowa 12.13.20 at 9:30 pm

Alan White @ 36

I don’t think it works. Lots of country music, going back pretty far, is pro-union and a more leftish populist than we imagine if all we listen to is Toby Keith and corporate country.

Some of it is downright progressive, at least relative to the politics we imagine working white folks to hold.

Johnny Cash is a case in point. While he was both religious and patriotic, he was also, in his lyrics quite committed to an expansive view of social justice and keen awareness of the downtrodden.

In the current moment, artists like Jason Isbell, the Dixie Chicks, Sturgill Simpson, and many others have thoroughly contemporary and progressive attitudes towards race, war, economics and gender.

There’s pushback, to be sure. And the corporations definitely want that sweet NASCAR/US Military recruiting money.

But the music itself is flexible enough to span West Virginia union songs, odes to beer and the flag, feminist anthems, and (Isbell) reflections on white privilege.

Expecting country music to be reliably rightwing is as dead an end as expecting a blues musician like Eric Clapton to be reliably anti-racist. It has a surface plausibility that evaporates as soon as one looks at empirical reality.

Just for fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzWOa8loCDI.

48

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.13.20 at 11:07 pm

Thomas Beale @ 40: “Personal abuse isn’t a good look either”

You are a white supremacist. That is a brand of Fascism. Fascism is not a set of ideas to be debated, nor a set of opinions about the state of reality. It is a set of actions to be opposed.

You spread bullshit [in the technical sense of Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit]. The only viable response to a bullshitter, is to impeach him, full stop. To engage with him is foolish, because he will use both truth and falsehood to his end, which in your case is defending white supremacy.

Contra Andres, it is precisely the right thing, to ill-mannered-ly bash your sorry excuse for discourse.

49

J-D 12.13.20 at 11:19 pm

Hidari@26
”AOC may well end up as President of the United States, but she will not end up as President of the United States with the politics she has now”.

nastywoman@32
You got it –
as when AOC finally will be elected –
ALL the people –
(and not only Michelle Obama) –
will hate ”politics” that much – that AOC will be elected after she (also) has confessed that she doesn’t run as ”a Politician”.
And that is in no way related to ”Trump” who ran as:
”I’m not a Politician” –
as Trump also ran with the promise to burn the whole place down – and my sister AOC never will do something like that…

nastywoman gets down to the practical truth of running for elected office in the U.S., especially for POTUS. Unfortunately, I have never been a practical person and I am repelled at the core by politicians who water down their principles in order to get elected, whether or not I vote for them. The day that AOC runs for president by claiming to be a non-politician who will drain the swam or burn down the rotten structure will be the day that she either does not get my vote or gets my vote only after I hold my nose, in preference to whatever new monster the GOP nominates.

Nobody knows whether Alexandria will ever be President; nobody knows whether she will ever seek the Presidency; nobody knows what platform she will campaign on if she ever does seek the Presidency; and nobody knows how she would use the powers of the Presidency if she ever did become President. I don’t know the answer to these questions; you don’t know; nobody knows; and people who tell you they do know have a grotesquely exaggerated confidence in their own judgement and are unlikely to be offering any opinions worth attending to.

50

Frank Wilhoit 12.14.20 at 12:49 am

Tm @ 9, John Quiggin @ 16,
It is simpler and worse. The thing that unifies all capitalists is the demand for unaccountability. That is the signal, everything else is noise.

51

J-D 12.14.20 at 1:37 am

… I’ve been thinking these last few years that emotions drive political world-views rather than reasons …

Reason by itself, in the absence of emotion, is no motive for anything. It can’t be.

Consider:
‘Why did you make that safe move instead of the aggressive alternative?’
‘Reason told me that saving the draw would maximise my chances of first prize in the tournament.’
‘Why are you trying to maximise your chances of first prize?’
‘Reason tells me that the prize money will be sufficient to stave off the loan shark from breaking my legs.’
‘Why don’t your want your legs broken?’
‘Nobody wants their legs broken!’
‘Maybe so, but it’s not reason that tells them so.’

Reason can steer but it can’t drive; it can plot a course but it can’t select a destination.

52

roger gathmann 12.14.20 at 8:42 am

John, honest question: why isn’t Macron on your list of crony capitalist leaders?

53

Thomas Beale 12.14.20 at 8:45 am

Andres @ 44
Firstly, I agree with you on the problem of ‘latino’ as a racial id, but that is how the US media characterises a certain voting constituency, which is known to have voted more heavily for Trump (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-us-election-hispanic-latino-voters/).

Thomas, I will have better manners than Chethan Murthy in that I will give you the benefit of the doubt, which in your case means asserting that you are not a liar but that you are deeply self deluded. Trump’s black supporters were (a) the late Herman Cain and (b) Ben Carson, but since Cain passed away you need more than one person to be able to use the plural.

Well, Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele, Candace Owens, Tom Sowell etc – all names I am sure are never supposed to be mentioned here on CT – but nevertheless, if we’re being factual, I believe we’re back in the plural. Not to mention the increase in the popular vote. Oh I forgot 50 Cent, Ice Cube …

From memory, ‘delusion’ relates to a dislocation from reality, not a correspondence with it…

It is quite reasonable to debate whether economic objectives drive white supremacist policies in the U.S. or vice versa. But it is utterly deluded to say that white supremacy is not a major determinant of U.S. political outcomes.

You are seriously saying the US is a white supremacist state? In 2020? Its institutions are racist? Non-whites live in fear for their lives? Groups like the KKK are a major political presence? Or perhaps are you talking about the eternally and irredeemably racist thoughts that must automatically pervade the mind of every US person who happens to be born white? I and my US friends and colleagues (of many colours) are interested to know.

54

John Quiggin 12.14.20 at 11:01 am

@50 I’ve always regarded Macron as a soft neoliberal. I search for Macron+crony, and only found allegations that he had appointed friends allies to diplomatic jobs, which isn’t what I mean by crony capitalism, roughly, favoring business allies with government support. All politicians do some trading of favors, and all are involved in capitalism, but that doesn’t make them all crony capitalists in my view

55

Thomas Beale 12.14.20 at 11:17 am

Murthy @ 46
You are a white supremacist. That is a brand of Fascism. Fascism is not a set of ideas to be debated, nor a set of opinions about the state of reality. It is a set of actions to be opposed.

I’m reasonably sure I’m not a fascist (or a white supremacist), but what would I know about my own state of mind that you would not know better?

I have to say though, if your idea of opposing fascism consists in accusing everyone whose opinions don’t agree with your own of being a fascist, I don’t think any real fascists out there have much to fear.

You spread bullshit [in the technical sense of Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit].

You clearly don’t understand what this is about: I’m either a bullshitter or a liar, they’re quite distinct, according to Frankfurt. (Again, I’d suggest you examine some basic epistemic categories before going down this particular path).

But since you are just throwing derogatory terms around in a generic fashion I think we can reasonably assume that you have no substantive response to anything previously said.

56

Lee A. Arnold 12.14.20 at 12:40 pm

I think you are talking about “internationalism” (or “cosmopolitanism”) vs. “nationalism”. I thought that “neoliberalism” broadly means “marketization”, no matter which jurisdictional level. Trump would be an international neoliberal, IF HE COULD. He fancies himself an international hotelier, basically to chase supermodels around the world. Foreign countries rejected his development plans, presumably due to his shady dealmakings and unsavory associates; see for example the case of Sydney. The jet-set shunned him. Most businesspeople who’ve ever met him have turned around and run in the opposite direction. He ran for President out of narcissistic spite. The list of foreign allies he argues with, correlates to the places where he hasn’t managed to build hotels. But the GOP got everything they would want out of any other President, and certainly not a serious attack on their crony neoliberalism. The fact that he became the titular icon of a quasi-fascist, populist upwelling is coincidental to his study of Hitler’s speeches. The fact that the GOP hopes to find a way to twist it all to their advantage is par for the course.
Certainly Cruz, Hawley, Cotton, Ron Johnson are wasting no time. Opportunistic neoliberals, all of them. Whether cosmopolitan or nationalist, they intend to marketize everything in your pockets “Trumpism” describes a carnival barker, not a political economics.

57

Tm 12.14.20 at 2:55 pm

@15 The world of Hidari

Corbyn wins the primary of the UK Labor Party – “The people have spoken”
Sanders loses the US Democratic Primary twice because he fails to mobilize enough young supporters and his appeal to African Americans is insufficient – “The Sanders insurgency was crushed by the DNC”
Corbyn loses the general election twice – “The Labour Party Right would rather support fascism than a leftwing goverment”
Clinton wins the popular vote by 3 million – “She was a terrible candidate”
Biden wins the Presidency with the second best result since 2000 – “It was a hell of a gamble but Democrats were lucky Covid came along”
Trump’s vote share was both times below 47%, lower than Romney’s and lower than that of any Democratic candidate since 2000 – “Trump proves that Americans are fed up with establishment politicians”

In the real world, Trump’s approval rating has never exceeded about 45% and was similar in spring 2020 as it was in fall. Polls during the primary indicated that both Sanders and Biden could defeat Trump but most polls gave an advantage to Biden over Sanders. Of course, poll reliability is questionable but I am aware of no evidence to the effect that Sanders would have been a safer bet. The effect of the BLM protests and Covid on the election outcome are speculation, exit polls are questionable. But the existing evidence and common sonse both suggest that the effects were mixed and Covid might have helped Trump more than it hurt him because plenty of people with a protofascist mindset are impressed by their leader ostentatiously stepping over corpses.

In any case, this kind of speculation is fruitless. Fact is that pluralities of American voters have favored Clinton and Biden over both Sanders and Trump, while Corbyn lost. French voters favored Macron over both left and right wing alternatives. I could go on. (Otoh a genuine socialist won the Bolivian election handily.) I’m not discussing the desirability of a Sanders presidency. I’m discussing the unwillingness of a certain brand of leftism to acknowledge reality. In truth, this denialism has nothing to do with leftism. It is the opposite of genuine left politics.

58

Tm 12.14.20 at 2:59 pm

@15 The world of Hidari

Corbyn wins the primary of the UK Labor Party: “The people have spoken”
Sanders loses the US Democratic Primary twice because he fails to mobilize enough young supporters and his appeal to African Americans is insufficient: “The Sanders insurgency was crushed by the DNC”
Corbyn loses the general election twice: “The Labour Party Right would rather support fascism than a leftwing goverment”
Clinton wins the popular vote by 3 million: “She was a terrible candidate”
Biden wins the Presidency with the second best result since 2000: “It was a hell of a gamble but Democrats were lucky Covid came along”
Trump’s vote share was both times below 47%, lower than Romney’s and lower than that of any Democratic candidate since 2000: “Trump proves that Americans are fed up with establishment politicians”

In the real world, Trump’s approval rating has never exceeded about 45% and was similar in spring 2020 as it was in fall. Polls during the primary indicated that both Sanders and Biden could defeat Trump but most polls gave an advantage to Biden over Sanders. Of course, poll reliability is questionable but I am aware of no evidence to the effect that Sanders would have been a safer bet. The effect of the BLM protests and Covid on the election outcome are speculation, exit polls are questionable. But the existing evidence and common sonse both suggest that the effects were mixed and Covid might have helped Trump more than it hurt him because plenty of people with a protofascist mindset are impressed by their leader ostentatiously stepping over corpses.

In any case, this kind of speculation is fruitless. Fact is that pluralities of American voters have favored Clinton and Biden over both Sanders and Trump, while Corbyn lost. French voters favored Macron over both left and right wing alternatives. I could go on. (Otoh a genuine socialist won the Bolivian election handily.) I’m not discussing the desirability of a Sanders presidency. I’m discussing the unwillingness of a certain brand of leftism to acknowledge reality. In truth, this denialism has nothing to do with leftism. It is the opposite of genuine left politics.

[Sorry for double posting]

59

nastywoman 12.14.20 at 3:23 pm

@
”I don’t know the answer to these questions; you don’t know; nobody knows; and people who tell you they do know have a grotesquely exaggerated confidence in their own judgement and are unlikely to be offering any opinions worth attending to”.

or such ”people” just got you writing what you wrote?
And sometimes it’s really… weird?- on ”teh Internet” – and especially on a blog called:
”Crooked Timber” – getting back such… straightforward chunks of wood –
for –
”crooked timber”…?

60

Tm 12.14.20 at 6:55 pm

Re 20, 26, 32: why would anybody want to waste Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez‘ political talents on a government position?

61

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.14.20 at 7:37 pm

Thomas Beale (noted White Supremacist): “You clearly don’t understand what this is about: I’m either a bullshitter or a liar, they’re quite distinct, according to Frankfurt.”

Oho, very true! See, you’re doing it again! Yes, I agree, you’re not a mere liar, but instead a gaslighter. I’m glad you agree with me, Mr. Fascist.

62

J-D 12.14.20 at 10:37 pm

… To engage with him is foolish …

Why are you yourself behaving in a way which you yourself have just affirmed is foolish?

63

DavidtheK 12.14.20 at 11:12 pm

TM – @57/58 is a spot-on response; but unfortunately I think you fail a bit @60. AOC is currently a Congressional representative which is an important position, definitely a political one, and by any definition a government one. Should she gain the more powerful position of the Presidency there is a hope that she will bring a reform to what the government service is; and what it might be expected to do for its most disadvantaged citizens. A mindset change of a type FDR and JFK/LBJ could be said to have ushered ushered in. Perhaps this is idealistic and not realistic in her case and our times – certainly good faith arguments on either side can be made. But it is this hope that animates Nastywoman; and if it comes to it the author of this comment.

64

J-D 12.14.20 at 11:32 pm

Firstly, I agree with you on the problem of ‘latino’ as a racial id, but that is how the US media characterises a certain voting constituency, which is known to have voted more heavily for Trump (https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-us-election-hispanic-latino-voters/).

That’s misleading in a number of respects.

The descriptor ‘Latino’ is used by the media, but it’s not used solely or predominantly by the media. It is also used by the US Census Bureau, and it is also used as a self-descriptor by multiple organisations, including the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, the Latino Commission on AIDS, and the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations.

As those examples also illustrate, the term is not used solely or predominantly in contexts related to voting.

Although it’s been estimated that the proportion of voters from this background who voted for Donald in the 2020 Presidential election was higher than the proportion who voted for him in the 2016 Presidential election, it’s still less than the proportion who voted against him and also still less than the proportion of people from other backgrounds who voted for him.

Well, Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele, Candace Owens, Tom Sowell etc – all names I am sure are never supposed to be mentioned here on CT …

Your comment itself demonstrates (res ipsa loquitur) that our hosts will do nothing to prevent the mention of these names, so when you write that you are ‘sure’ that their names are not ‘supposed’ to be mentioned, you are engaging in self-indulgent posturing which demonstrates nothing but your grotesquely exaggerated confidence in your own judgement.

You are seriously saying the US is a white supremacist state? In 2020? Its institutions are racist? Non-whites live in fear for their lives?

Although I am not in possession of direct evidence, to me it seems plausible to suppose that a significant proportion of non-white people in the US fear for their lives much more in common situations than do white people in the US. If you are sure that it isn’t so, it’s not clear on what your confidence is based.

65

nastywoman 12.15.20 at 8:34 am

@
”Re 20, 26, 32: why would anybody want to waste Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez‘ political talents on a government position”?

BE-cause she is NOT ”stupid”?

66

nastywoman 12.15.20 at 11:13 am

@63

”AOC is currently a Congressional representative which is an important position, definitely a political one, and by any definition a government one. Should she gain the more powerful position of the Presidency there is a hope that she will bring a reform to what the government service is; and what it might be expected to do for its most disadvantaged citizens. A mindset change of a type FDR and JFK/LBJ could be said to have ushered ushered in. Perhaps this is idealistic and not realistic in her case and our times – certainly good faith arguments on either side can be made”.

Thank you – as you said it so much better than I did –
as ”Nobody” might – for sure – know ”whether Alexandria will ever be President or whether she will ever seek the Presidency –
BUT don’t we all know –
”what platform she will campaign on if she ever does seek the Presidency”
and that –
”she would use the powers of the Presidency”
as you wrote:
”to bring a reform to what the government service is; and what it might be expected to do for its most disadvantaged citizens”.
– and people who tell you – they do know THAT – might have ”a grotesquely exaggerated confidence in… ”judgement” –
AND we need them –
”to be offering any opinions worth attending to”.

67

nastywoman 12.15.20 at 11:22 am

AND about the ”crony capitalism” –

Didn’t Americans –
(or actually ”the Whole Wide World)
just NOW got the lesson that (STUPID) Crony Capitalism does NOT WORK?
At least that’s the view from Europe – and if some… people in the Anglo-Saxon World didn’t understand this lesson – do we really have to wait until all of the devastating consequences of the Pandemic –
also the utmost devastating ”economical” ones –
(like the Eviction Crisis for Americans) –
finally come to pass?

68

Thomas Beale 12.15.20 at 11:29 am

J-D @ 64
Although it’s been estimated that the proportion of voters from this background who voted for Donald in the 2020 Presidential election was higher than the proportion who voted for him in the 2016 Presidential election, it’s still less than the proportion who voted against him and also still less than the proportion of people from other backgrounds who voted for him.

Sure all of these figures are somewhat rough, and I don’t dispute precise math applied to particular subgroups. But the basic truth is that the overall latino and Black vote for Trump actually rose slightly in 2020 – if Trumpism (as per the OP) truly represented a return to the ‘rightful dominance’ of ‘the default’ of the ‘unmarked category’, i.e. ‘real (white) Americans’, one would expect a massive vote against him by those who would clearly be threatened by this. But there was no such vote, and indeed, the trend was mildly in the opposite direction.

Well, Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele, Candace Owens, Tom Sowell etc – all names I am sure are never supposed to be mentioned here on CT …

Your comment itself demonstrates (res ipsa loquitur) that our hosts will do nothing to prevent the mention of these names, so when you write that you are ‘sure’ that their names are not ‘supposed’ to be mentioned, you are engaging in self-indulgent posturing which demonstrates nothing but your grotesquely exaggerated confidence in your own judgement.

Actually it was just mild humour. I think perhaps you have just demonstrated your own claim about yourself …

You are seriously saying the US is a white supremacist state? In 2020? Its institutions are racist? Non-whites live in fear for their lives?

Although I am not in possession of direct evidence, to me it seems plausible to suppose that a significant proportion of non-white people in the US fear for their lives much more in common situations than do white people in the US. If you are sure that it isn’t so, it’s not clear on what your confidence is based.

‘Plausible to suppose’? Seriously? You want to split hairs on the precise breakdown of the latino vote, and then just ‘suppose’ that the US is probably a white supremacist state? That’s the same kind of thinking that assumes that most Blacks in the US live in downtown ghettos, a view that is 40 years out of date.

One only has to travel extensively in the US (I do), work in the US (I do), read e.g. law enforcement statistics, any decent book on race relations, or watch something informative on YT by any Black scholar, or anybody really, as long as they argue from real world statistics. Have a look at anything from Coleman Hughes or John McWhorter for example (both non-Trumpists). Take a proper look at reality and you will see that there is no ‘significant proportion’ of non-whites ‘fearing for their lives’ in ‘common situations’. I’m not denying any of the common everyday racism or bigotry that occurs on the streets, unjustified stop and search or whatever you may want to point to. All of that is bad and needs to stop. Police murders of unarmed Black – and white – individuals need to be addressed in law. And so on. But the simple fact is that the statistical picture of the US doesn’t come anywhere close to your supposed idea of it.

I’m not making a debating point here: it’s important to get a handle on reality before building an picture of white supremacy and eternal race war. The truth is: these positions are founded on sand – they’re ideology, not reality.

An incorrect characterisation of reality will lead to failing strategies. For example the police question: to think killings of unarmed Black people is primarily because the police are institutionally racist will lead nowhere, because that fact obscures other facts such as a) the fact of unarmed white people killed by US police (numerous), b) the number of killings of unarmed people versus the number of incidents in which armed miscreants threaten and/or fire upon the police (vastly greater) and so on. An examination of statistics and stories shows that unarmed deaths are primarily because of other factors: poor quality recruitment (standards have been reduced over the last few years), poor training, the inevitable and necessary assumption of deadly weapons in incident situations and so on. Sure there are racist police, but that’s mainly a result, not a cause. Strategies to fix recruitment and training might eventually fix the problem of unarmed killings (although in a country with 350m guns, the current statistics might not be far from the best that can be done).

Regarding the OP, I think that the idea of Trump representing the interests of ‘crony capitalism’ is close to the truth, but I doubt very much it’s founded on any racial-ideological basis. It’s founded on something much simpler: greed, and (crucially) the tacit idea that the rules of the capitalist market are for other people.

69

ozajh 12.15.20 at 1:18 pm

PatinIowa @ 34,

Having lived through the Reagan years, I can assure you that President Reagan’s racism wasn’t merely a tactic. It was a deeply held belief on his part, as close to a core value as he had.

I have the exactly the same opinion about Trump, and I think that worldview is hugely important to his psyche because it allows him to believe his own BS regarding his superior intelligence, business acumen, film star good looks, etc. etc.

70

Tm 12.15.20 at 5:32 pm

David 63: thanks for friendly words. I guess in US parlance I should have used the term „administration“ instead of government.
Ocasio-Cortez is a gifted politician and communicator. She can do a lot of good in her current position and she has a lot of freedom to be unconventional and radical. Far more than as president. Of course she will likely move on to other offices during her career. But I wish people would stop talking about politics as if the presidency were all that matters.

71

dbk 12.15.20 at 8:13 pm

I suspect some of the difference outlined in the OP between “neoliberalism” and “crony capitalism” relates to the sector in which a given neoliberal/capitalist is active.

Some sectors are unavoidably bound to place; that’s the case with Trump, who was foremost a NYC real estate developer. When he expanded operations to other cities (e.g. Chicago, Las Vegas), he employed the localist/cronyist approach to getting what he wanted – strong-arming local zoning boards, inspectors, city councils, etc. – and acquired a cadre of “cronies.” Viewing Trump as a NYC real estate shark who treated the U.S. government like the NYC zoning commission – a body of individuals who could be forced to his will – is perhaps useful here. When he expanded abroad, he employed the same approach (cf. his golf course in Scotland, where he ran afoul of locals).

Other sectors fit more neatly into what JQ characterizes as the “neoliberal” mode – Finance, for example, which is international in scope and mentality (“cosmopolitan”). This sector operates only notionally in a given locale – but such locales are concentrated in “international,” “cosmopolitan” cities which offer the requisite amenities to financiers and back-office expertise international finance requires (think London, NYC for the West).

Other sectors are mixed – here, the extractive industries come to mind. In this case, both crony capitalism and neoliberalism (as defined in the OP) obtain. If you want to get an idea of crony capitalism at its finest (sic) at the local level, consider the petrochemical industry and its ownership of the government of Louisiana since World War II, or West Virginia, which is still essentially owned by the coal industry despite the latter’s demise in the state. Or Pennsylvania and the fracking industry …

For sectors which have been off-shored in the past 50 years – e.g., clothing, heavy equipment – the capitalist/corporation, not having a long-term relationship with locals, must rely on ISDS treaties and bribery, inevitably.

It would be worth examining the breakdown of R and D pol donors by sector – some lean heavily R (extractive industries in the U.S.), some lean heavily D (Silicon Valley; entertainment/Hollywood), while others hedge their bets (Finance).

One further point: I’m not sure “negative identity politics” is the term I’d use for Trump’s followers. They are by and large supportive of (a) lower taxes, (b) a much-diminished state, (c) anti-abortion legislation/jurisprudence, (d) the Second Amendment (gun rights), (e) voter suppression, just to name the first few that come to mind. This seems to me an “opposing” IdPol, not a “negative” one, although I understand it’s often referred to as such.

72

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.15.20 at 11:39 pm

J-D @ 62: “to engage with him is foolish” — by this I mean, to engage with a gaslighter’s arguments is foolish. But you can’t stay silent and just let him speak, b/c others might be taken-in. So it’s a duty to point out that he’s a gaslighter, and to impeach his good faith and decency. That is one way of interpreting “Fascism is not a set of ideas to be debated; it is a set of actions to be opposed.”

He’s a Fascist: it’s important to oppose him, and not to engage him.

73

CHETAN R MURTHY 12.15.20 at 11:40 pm

J-D @ 62: I’d be happy to not have to do this; but it’s either point out when people argue in bad faith, or never visit this site.

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Andres 12.16.20 at 1:41 am

Well, Thomas Beale@53 is amusing, if only because he has not resorted to using the snarl worlds that are tell-tale signs of the fascism that Murthy accuses him of. Still, the following are humor-worthy:

“Well, Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele, Candace Owens, Tom Sowell etc – all names I am sure are never supposed to be mentioned here on CT – but nevertheless, if we’re being factual, I believe we’re back in the plural. Not to mention the increase in the popular vote. Oh I forgot 50 Cent, Ice Cube …”

Ah yes of course, prominent black celebrities speak for the demographic as a whole. By any chance, could you give us the share of the black vote that went for Trumpie? How does it compare to the share of WASP, Asian, and Latin American votes for him? Show me that the share of black votes for Trump was anywhere near as high as the share of white votes and I might stop making fun of you.

Not quite as amusing as this, however:

“You are seriously saying the US is a white supremacist state? In 2020? Its institutions are racist? Non-whites live in fear for their lives? ”

Sounds like your cable and internet service ended in February while you really hunkered down inside your bunker. Good luck to you, and go get some fresh air.

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Andres 12.16.20 at 2:02 am

nastywoman 12.15.20 at 8:34 am

@
”Re 20, 26, 32: why would anybody want to waste Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez‘ political talents on a government position”?

BE-cause she is NOT ”stupid”?

nastywoman for Congress would get my vote. But being NOT “stupid”? is the main qualification for being red-baited, snarl-worded, harassed, and violence-threatened by the right-wing media and its audience, not just the alt-righties but the MAGA crowd in general. And not just AOC but also moderate and neoliberal Dems like Gretchen Whitmer and HRC. COVID19 is only one of several pandemics with a death grip on the country, MISOGYNY00 and RACISM_X being one of several others.

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Andres 12.16.20 at 2:54 am

Ok, getting back to the debate on hand, John@50 makes an important distinction. Crony capitalism is not simply what I call the “policy market” where corporations purchase government policy not through bribery but through campaign finance, media advocacy, revolving door employment, etc. The policy market is a sine qua non of neoliberalism.

Crony Capitalism is an outgrowth of the policy market under a too-successful neoliberal regime. That is, individual capitalists are able to interact directly with individual politicians in order to engage in grand theft of consumers, employees, and taxpayers. The U.S. isn’t quite there yet. As late as 2001, for G.W. Bush to have bailed out Ken Lay and Enron would have been political suicide. Even during the housing bubble, the crony capitalist moment was not the 2008 bailout but the wholesale deregulation of mortgage lending several years in the past, which allowed players like Angelo Mozilo to make a killing, if only temporarily. Trump and Giuliani have now given U.S. politics a glimpse of its likely crony capitalist future; we’ll see what happens. By contrast, Macron, Obama, Biden, and even Bush are classical neoliberals in that they favored corporations, the financial system in particular, but not individual players.

The other outgrowth of neoliberalism is Grifter Capitalism. Media advocacy is such an essential element of both the neoliberal policy market and of neoliberalism’s defense against social democracy and Marxism, that it becomes vulnerable to takeover by demagogue-type personalities (“populists” in the neoliberal media’s clueless description of the term) who can both build up a large political movement while also mollifying the main corporate players. This balancing act can only be accomplished by playing on the worst impulses of the uneducated population: anti-intellectualism and anti-Semitism back then, anti-science and Islamophobia now. That the worst impulses of the uneducated population can also be milked for lots of money just happens to be a side benefit. In Grifter Capitalism, the theft of employees, consumers, and taxpayers takes on a racist dimension, and government-sanctioned theft can also start to extend to shareholders and creditors as well. Grifter Capitalism is as old as Napoleon III and the Eighteenth Brumaire; Marx would be surprised in the least by today’s events.

So Frank Wilhoit@50 is right, if only in an indirect sense. Unaccountability for impersonal corporate entities, the main goal of neoliberal policy, is in perpetual danger of turning into unaccountability for individuals. As so often, Russia showed us the way in a accelerated manner: the neoliberalism of the Yeltsin era morphed into the authoritarian Crony/Grifter regime of Putin faster than would have been possible almost anywhere else.

This doesn’t mean that successful neoliberal regimes will always collapse into Crony/Grifter regimes, but it does mean that they will always have such moments of disequilibrium just as it is impossible for someone to live to be over 100 without surviving one or more episodes of cancer or other degenerative disorders.

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hix 12.16.20 at 3:00 am

“and by any definition a government one”
No not really. Those often very extensive definition of the word government are a US speciality. Pretty much no one else would define being in congress in a presidential system as being part of the government.

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J-D 12.16.20 at 11:15 pm

Although it’s been estimated that the proportion of voters from this background who voted for Donald in the 2020 Presidential election was higher than the proportion who voted for him in the 2016 Presidential election, it’s still less than the proportion who voted against him and also still less than the proportion of people from other backgrounds who voted for him.

Sure all of these figures are somewhat rough, and I don’t dispute precise math applied to particular subgroups. But the basic truth is that the overall latino and Black vote for Trump actually rose slightly in 2020 – if Trumpism (as per the OP) truly represented a return to the ‘rightful dominance’ of ‘the default’ of the ‘unmarked category’, i.e. ‘real (white) Americans’, one would expect a massive vote against him by those who would clearly be threatened by this. But there was no such vote, and indeed, the trend was mildly in the opposite direction.

Mathematically, a trend in the direction of X is compatible with a massive vote against X. If, for example, I go from 1% of the vote to 10% of the vote, then there is a trend in my direction and also a massive vote against me. You have seized on a truth about the election results, one of a great many, without justifying your description of it as the basic truth.

Well, Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele, Candace Owens, Tom Sowell etc – all names I am sure are never supposed to be mentioned here on CT …

Your comment itself demonstrates (res ipsa loquitur) that our hosts will do nothing to prevent the mention of these names, so when you write that you are ‘sure’ that their names are not ‘supposed’ to be mentioned, you are engaging in self-indulgent posturing which demonstrates nothing but your grotesquely exaggerated confidence in your own judgement.

Actually it was just mild humour. I think perhaps you have just demonstrated your own claim about yourself …

What I have demonstrated about myself (and I’ve got no problems admitting this) is that I perceived in your comment no humorous intention. Judging by the response you received later from Andres, I wasn’t the only one.

Perhaps your experience has been different from mine, but I have found repeated instances on the Web of people insisting, not humorously but in self-righteous indignation, ‘I know you won’t let this comment be published’ (or words to that general effect). I suppose it’s unwise to draw too definite a conclusion from a single such statement, but (in my experience) the people who write that sort of thing often turn out to be full of it. You might want to consider avoiding similar formulations if you wish to avoid giving an unfortunate impression.

You are seriously saying the US is a white supremacist state? In 2020? Its institutions are racist? Non-whites live in fear for their lives?

Although I am not in possession of direct evidence, to me it seems plausible to suppose that a significant proportion of non-white people in the US fear for their lives much more in common situations than do white people in the US. If you are sure that it isn’t so, it’s not clear on what your confidence is based.

‘Plausible to suppose’? Seriously? You want to split hairs on the precise breakdown of the latino vote, and then just ‘suppose’ that the US is probably a white supremacist state? That’s the same kind of thinking that assumes that most Blacks in the US live in downtown ghettos, a view that is 40 years out of date.

One only has to travel extensively in the US (I do), work in the US (I do), read e.g. law enforcement statistics, any decent book on race relations, or watch something informative on YT by any Black scholar, or anybody really, as long as they argue from real world statistics. Have a look at anything from Coleman Hughes or John McWhorter for example (both non-Trumpists). Take a proper look at reality and you will see that there is no ‘significant proportion’ of non-whites ‘fearing for their lives’ in ‘common situations’. I’m not denying any of the common everyday racism or bigotry that occurs on the streets, unjustified stop and search or whatever you may want to point to. All of that is bad and needs to stop. Police murders of unarmed Black – and white – individuals need to be addressed in law. And so on. But the simple fact is that the statistical picture of the US doesn’t come anywhere close to your supposed idea of it.

I’m not making a debating point here: it’s important to get a handle on reality before building an picture of white supremacy and eternal race war. The truth is: these positions are founded on sand – they’re ideology, not reality.

An incorrect characterisation of reality will lead to failing strategies. For example the police question: to think killings of unarmed Black people is primarily because the police are institutionally racist will lead nowhere, because that fact obscures other facts such as a) the fact of unarmed white people killed by US police (numerous), b) the number of killings of unarmed people versus the number of incidents in which armed miscreants threaten and/or fire upon the police (vastly greater) and so on. An examination of statistics and stories shows that unarmed deaths are primarily because of other factors: poor quality recruitment (standards have been reduced over the last few years), poor training, the inevitable and necessary assumption of deadly weapons in incident situations and so on. Sure there are racist police, but that’s mainly a result, not a cause. Strategies to fix recruitment and training might eventually fix the problem of unarmed killings (although in a country with 350m guns, the current statistics might not be far from the best that can be done).

Do you think black people in the US fear for their lives in encounters with the police?

If it’s true that they fear for their lives, that raises questions about what the causes are of those fears, and what the causes are of those causes, and those questions would be well worth discussing. However, a discussion of why they fear for their lives only makes sense in a context in which it is in fact the case that they fear for their lives.

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steven t johnson 12.17.20 at 12:23 am

Andres@76 wrote “As so often, Russia showed us the way in a accelerated manner: the neoliberalism of the Yeltsin era morphed into the authoritarian Crony/Grifter regime of
Putin faster than would have been possible almost anywhere else.” This of course has it completely backwards. The use of cronies to seize state property and suddenly become a billionaire was untrammeled by any considerations of law, much less disposition in an orderly, much less fair, manner by republican institutions. And of course, Yeltsin’s aid in dispensing with the social welfare, in creating a traumatized and atomized working force was just as cronyish.

Putin has sharply reduced the open cronyism in stealing yet more. And the grifters trying to buy the state to steal more for them had their hats handed to them by Putin. There is a reason why Putin has been very popular on occasion, he posed as the opposite of the crony/grifter heyday of Yeltsin. If there really is a thing as crony capitalism it’s found in places like Somoza’s Nicaruagua, or Trujillo’s Dominican Republic. The interesting thing is that the animus against labor unions isn’t any weaker in the non-cronyish capitalism.

It is no doubt very tempting to play the keeper of the canon, where properly certified professors of literature can decide what Good, and what’s not. But in a scientific approach, you don’t try to define an ideal, then rate the goods by it. In a scientific approach, consulting the literature means assessing it all, at least as much as you can.
As foolish as Andres’ remark was, imagining a black-and-white difference only to confuse the colors, it’s a product of using ideals as verbal clubs.

And a note on verbal clubs? I’ve forgotten pretty much anything Beale has posted, though I have a vague impression that a lot of it was basically backwards, reactionary. And I have an impression I don’t like the comments made. The corruption in the police forces of this country for instance decisively rules out the pro-cop attitude Beale has. But fascist? Maybe somewhere else, not this thread.

Yes, covering up the magnitude of police corruption is Murthy’s sin too. But Murthy is a Harry Frankfurt exemplar, so what is to be expected? There are white parents who give a version of The Talk to their adolescent children too, after all. And the logical conclusion to policy a la Murthy would be to disband the police, leaving the black neighborhoods to be patrolled by their young men, especially the ones who can provide their own weapons. Nothing like putting some skin in the game, right?

80

Hidari 12.17.20 at 9:44 pm

81

nastywoman 12.18.20 at 5:10 am

@80
this is even –

dumber
than
trump

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Hidari 12.18.20 at 1:13 pm

The ongoing ‘debate’ between Jimmy Dore and AOC has been most illuminating, incidentally in terms of how AOC (and by extension, ‘the squad’ and by further extension the post-Sanders Democratic Left) will develop her career and politics over the last few decades.

83

Kiwanda 12.18.20 at 5:57 pm

Thomas Beale, you are thinking of the obsolete definition of “white supremicist”:
“the belief that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races”, but that’s not the modern definition. When Chetan R Murthy calls you a white supremacist, he only means that probably you favor the use of SAT scores for university admissions, nutrition education programs for poor people, individualism, objectivity, and the written word.

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