Trump's Defeat

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes


Biden will not reverse the austerity policy imposed on the world economy, but Trump's defeat opens up flanks in the war of positions between workers and the super rich

For the April 1964 military coup in Brazil to be successful and the authoritarian regime to have the strength to consolidate itself, the role of the US government of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson was very important.

More than ten years later, with the election of the Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976, the US government began to put pressure on Brazil in cases of disrespect for human rights and, with this, began to erode international support for the Brazilian dictatorship.

If both "Yankee" presidents were governments of the Democratic Party, if both were supported by the same bloc of forces and represented the same economic interests, the same bourgeois fractions and maintained, fundamentally, the same international policy, the same imperialist policy of guaranteeing the “America for Americans”, what has changed? What made governments of the same party have different positions on the Brazilian dictatorship?

An exhaustive answer to this question must take into account different and complex aspects. From the global economic situation to aspects of conflict between different groups of local political elites. It is not the case we are dealing with here. But one element was decisive and stands out: from the tragedy of the Vietnam War, the consolidation of dictatorships in Latin America and the struggle for civil rights, a strong social movement grew to contest the US interventionist and imperialist policy. The pressure of public opinion, the mobilization of various sectors on the left and the adhesion of a large part of the youth and middle sectors of the large American cities to criticize the role of the United States in the world was decisive for the Carter administration to have to retreat from its organic support for dictatorships, including that of Brazil.

The result of the presidential elections in the United States, now taking place in November 2020, indicates the formation of an electoral college favorable to Joe Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, of the Democratic Party. The victory of one is obviously the defeat of his opponent, in this case the defeat of Donald Trump.

Much has been said that there is little fundamental difference between Biden and Trump. To some extent this is true. They are expressions of the same large field of economic interests and a common reason, neoliberal reason and its austerity policy, destruction of rights and contestation of sovereignties and autonomies of other peoples and nations.

But it is not the whole truth. If both express this neoliberal reason, they do not do so with the same strategy, nor do they apply it with the same methods and with the same subjects. It is about recognizing the distinction between a humanist neoliberal bloc and a reactionary neoliberal bloc, in the distinction proposed by Nancy Fraser. Between a bloc that opts for political hegemony, including to dominate, and a bloc that opts for suppression as a means of domination.

If both result in the domination of the same reason and the same large block, what do the differences matter? They matter a lot to those who want to subvert this domination.

Trump is the leader of a strong repositioning of the reactionary right in the world that, after years of retreat and political defensiveness, saw the macroeconomic crisis grow as an opportunity to present itself to big financial capital as the only political current capable of maintaining its high rates of accumulation based on the extirpation of rights for what would need an anti-democratic disposition and war. What Heinrich Geiselberger calls “the great regression”.

Trump’s policy and discursive reasoning became the basis of legitimation and support not only for the Brazilian reactionary right, led by Bolsonaro, but also for reactionaries in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Slovenia saw the growth of reactionary and neo-fascist parties in the last elections. From reactionary governments like those in Hungary, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, India, Ukraine and the Philippines. Of political coups like those attempted in Venezuela and carried out in Bolivia, already defeated.

Trump's electoral defeat is the great political fact of the moment and must be measured and understood in a context of combating neo-fascist and neoliberal regression.

First, because his political defeat and his reaction promising combat and denouncing possible frauds in the US electoral system points to a very big crisis in the relations between the big business groups with possible effects on this reactionary consensus.

Second, because Trump's defeat is also the expression of a strong reaction from social movements and from a left, in its broadest sense, which, by contesting Trump's reactionary policies, created important parts of the conditions for his defeat. The role of the social democratic left within the Democratic Party, led by Bernie Sanders, Stacey Abrams and Alessandra Ocasio-Cortez, the anti-racist movements, the anti-homophobic movements, the feminist movement, the anti-Wall Street socialist left, was decisive in shaking the scaffolding popular support for Trump.

This result creates a new political framework of international reaction to reactionary neoliberalism in the world and this is how the result of the plebiscite in Chile and Arce's victory in Bolivia should be read, reversing a coup d'état promoted by the Bolivian subordinate bourgeoisie.

There is no illusion here that Biden will reverse the austerity policy imposed on the world economy, but Trump's defeat opens up flanks in this war of positions between workers and the super rich.

*Jorge Branco is a doctoral student in Political Science at UFRGS.


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