19 May 2017

With apologies to Herbert George Wells

I told you so. You damned fools.

The past is prologue; and Donald Trump was never going to be the Great White Alt-Right Hope of a war-weary Middle America that his more fanatic supporters imagined him to be. He was never going to be anything more than a grifter and, ultimately, a servant of those established interests which could do him the most favours. And among the people willing to buy in, the Saudis and the Israelis were always going to be the first in line. It should therefore come as no surprise at all that Trump would join the well-funded neoconservative do-something brigade and bomb the secular and Shi’ite protectors of Christians in the Middle East.

In fact, bombing the Syrian Arab Army is just the first and most egregious of several ridiculously bad ideas that Trump is floating on behalf of his Saudi creditors. The idea of creating an anti-Iranian Arab counterpart to Nato is perhaps not as ordnance-heavy, but is still overwhelmingly likely to exacerbate problems in the Middle East rather than fix them, as well as creating a precedent for any harebrained interventions our bloated, thuggish Salafi Gulf State ‘allies’ want us to bankroll, arm and execute.

But Hillary would have been worse!’ Or so I keep hearing from Trump supporters. Whether or not I actually agree with that, at this point, it’s not only a moot point and an outright evasion of responsibility, but one of the single most pathetic, pusillanimous things one could possibly say in support of Trump. Trump supporters spent ages and torrents of ink and bandwidth telling us how disastrous Lady Macbeth would be for our relations with Russia and for Christians in the Middle East. And for that period of time, there was good reason to believe it. But now? We have a puppet at the beck and call of the neoconservatives and the Salafis, whose actions seem expressly calculated (by minds much sharper than his own) to provide a pretext for armed conflict with Russia, and Christians are now more than ever being forced to leave the Middle East because of the gasoline Trump is pouring on the fire under their feet. Whether or not Clinton would have done worse, the idea that we should be satisfied or complacent with the utter stupidity and immorality Trump is bringing to bear on both aspects of our foreign policy is, to say the least, insulting.

So, those of you who voted for Trump: this is all on you. Your nationalist ideology and your ressentiment against what you broadly categorised as ‘the Left’, blinkered you to the fact that you were being conned the whole time. And you didn’t listen because you wrongly assumed that leftists (even idiosyncratic conservative-leftists like me) who were warning you, were your tribal enemies in a total war of cultures. But in the meantime, Christians, and Shi’ite and Ezidi allies of Christians, are being raped, starved and brutalised to death by the crazy right-wing Salafi headloppers your boy in the White House is bankrolling and supporting from the air. Trump supporters: you don’t have a clue what actual total culture war looks like; be thankful for that much. But what you do have is a responsibility now to oppose the gross iniquities Trump is committing in your name.

Do not shirk that responsibility.


  1. Greetings Matthew!

    By all means indict Trump. It is ones duty. However, I really don't think it fair to indict his voters on these grounds; they didn’t vote Trump to get more of the same abroad or at home, although they should be judged by how they react to his actions. Backing him struck me as a clearly desperate punt on an outsider to challenge the neoliberal/neocon synthesis that is gutting the USA. I am sure a great number of Trump voters were under no illusions at all about their chances of getting much from him. However, their choice must be set against the reality of the alternatives, the chosen faces of an establishment utterly resolved to pilot America onto the rocks. I am not surprised people rallied behind Trump, who at least had the wherewithal to point out that Uncle Sam had no clothes. It is worth reiterating this one fact: after 13 years, no other GOP candidate had the nerve or wits to say that the Iraq war was folly. When the denial of reality has become a political orthodoxy, all power will go to the knave who can tell a few home truths. Unfortunately, this does not stop him from being a knave.

    As for Trump voters’ resentment of the left, who is closer to the spirit of the self-identified ‘Left’ today, Christopher Lasch or Susan Sontag, the atheist libertine who described white people as humanity’s ‘cancer cells’? If Trump voters hate the left it is because they know all too well that the feeling is returned with interest and has been since c.1965. If they believe a culture war is being waged against them, it is probably because so many self-described ‘leftists’ are quite candid that they are fighting one against the type of people who support Trump. The simple truth is that ‘left’ and ‘right’ have long been gutted of meaning by the dominance of liberalism in its political, cultural and economic forms. In their places are people sent mad by the fevered dreams of liberal eschatology, but who cloth themselves in the garments of dead labels to hide their emptiness. As a man of the right, the ‘left’ fruitcakes strike me as the more obviously insane and certainly the noisier. However, at this stage in the game, it is a question of which poison one prefers, cyanide or hemlock.

    Doubtless there a few progressive Jacobites who hanker for President-Bernie-over-the-water. All I can say in response is that if the necons can get to Trump, they would have got to him as well. You'd better believe that Sanders would have gladhanded the Saudis, or there would be tears before bedtime. The ruling class is entirely neocon in worldview, whether or not its members would own to that label. Any chief executive who tries to change tack, seriously left or seriously right, will therefore be hobbled by any and every means necessary. The grim truth is that we all living in a late-stage empire.

  2. Hello, Luke! Welcome to the blog, and thank you for the thought-provoking comment. I'm sorry I haven't responded to you earlier.

    Here's the thing: tribal loyalties are hard to break, and I'm all the more hard on Trump for the closeness of many of my views to his campaign promises. Particularly as they regarded œconomic nationalism, protection, broader employment, attention to rural and working-class concerns, realism in foreign affairs.

    That's why his seeming volte-face, which from my vantage point was wholly predictable from the moment he selected Pence as his running-mate, rankles so heavily. It's disingenuous of his supporters - you included, Luke - to claim that he is the victim of larger neolib-neocon forces when his behaviour clearly indicates that he was always willing to cut a deal with those forces. I've seen this argument advanced in various forms before, including the argument that Trump had no choice but to staff his administration from neocon sources. Bullshit. He had golden opportunities to appoint Tulsi Gabbard and Jim Webb, at the very least, to key cabinet positions, and he turned them down in favour of whom, exactly? Haley? Bolton? Acosta? Mnuchin? Cut me a break.

    Nearly thirty percent of the American electorate has left-of-centre œconomic views combined with moderate-to-conservative approaches to cultural and social issues (traditional marriage, secure borders, culture of life). The Sontag left might predominate American élite discourse, but the Lasch constituency is larger than most people imagine, despite its underrepresentation.

    I'm not entirely a Bernie Bro, but Sanders would have done better; I'm wholly convinced of that. He was not and is not beholden to the same neolib-neocon interests, at least not in the same way. And even if we are, as you say, in the late stages of imperial overreach, there are still choices to be made, and some of those choices are better than others.