President Donald Trump wraps himself in the flag and appeals to the moral and religious sensibilities of his followers because his economic plan is working only for the rich, wrote Charles Derber and Yale Magrass in a piece that appeared Monday on Salon.
“Capitalism strives to win the support of the 99 percent through a utilitarian pledge of a higher standard of living for everyone willing to work hard,” Derber and Magrass wrote in “In extreme crises, conservatism can turn to fascism. Here’s how that might play out” – subhead: “When liberal capitalist societies fail, nations turn to glory, honor, nobility and war to legitimate the system.”
“It will be shared, but not equally. The gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent shows this is not a promise kept. Accordingly, if capitalism is going to win the acquiescence of the vast majority, it must find another way of legitimating itself – a kind of glorious cause. This becomes urgent when inequality zooms up and workers are forgotten.”
Derber and Magrass did not name a single country that has failed as a result of capitalist economic policies. They cite as proof workers have been forgotten that the Dow climbed 27 percent in Trump’s first year as president but working people’s wages remained stagnant – as they have since the Reagan administration. They also note that the pay disparity between CEOs of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies have increased from 42 to1 in 1980 to 347 to 1 now – a hate-the-rich stat that surveys show workers know little about and care even less.
No citation is offered for wages remaining stagnant, and the authors must know that is not the case any longer. According to a Census Bureau report released last week, average household wages climbed $400 during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration and $1,043 in the eight years of the Obama administration. But in three years under Trump, they already have climbed $5,003 and reached $66,000 – the largest such figure in U.S. history.
Moreover, there are about 1.4 million more jobs than job seekers, wages are growing by more than 3 percent per year, and the lowest 25 percent of earners have seen the biggest gains. Unemployment has reached record-low levels for women, African-Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups.
The authors then state “Western Capitalist democracies proclaim equality, material prosperity and security but produce extreme differences in wealth and power.” What capitalism promises is equal opportunity at material prosperity and security. It does not seek to guarantee them, and inequality results from people putting varying degrees of effort into claiming prosperity and security.
When those promises are broken, they say, “elites often turn to other visions – partially borrowed from feudalism – to win public support. Nations turn to glory, honor, nobility and war as a way of winning over workers and legitimating the capitalist system itself.”
These differences “produce a cultural divide,” the authors wrote. On one side are “cosmopolitans – mainly urban people, who see themselves as citizens of the world, not one region or country, identify as secular, value critical thinking, preach multiculturalism, champion racial diversity, entertain state welfare systems and are cautious about going to war.
Their “opponents” are “’traditionalists’” … “primarily people who live in rural areas, reject welfare, tend to be racist, are super-patriotic, and often living paycheck to paycheck, feeling left behind, economically insecure and culturally deplored. They typically champion community, tradition, authority, God, family and their race and nation.”
There is work to be done to eliminate this capitalism that is growing earnings and providing jobs in never-before-seen numbers for American workers, the authors admit.
The key for the left will be to address “the rational interests of people” Marxists and others consider the victims of capitalism.
“On the other hand, rightwing movements, including fascism, the American Christian right and the Ku Klux Klan, effectively won followers by offering an alternative to “disenchantment,” and appealing to the “irrational,” an alleged reality – not knowable through science, reason or empiricism.”
They failed to mention the Klan was founded by Democrats.