TJ Coles’s book exposes the forces backing Donald Trump — and they’re the usual capitalist suspects, says STEVE SWEENEY
President Trump, Inc: How Big Business and Neoliberalism Empower Populism and the Far-right by TJ Coles (Clairview, £14.99)
THE ELECTION of Donald Trump last year sent shock waves around the world. Many, including Hillary Clinton, expected the 43rd US president to be the first woman in the White House.
Posing as an anti-Establishment candidate, Trump sought to exploit deep working-class mistrust of Clinton, whose sense of entitlement and membership of the political elite alienated vast swathes of the US electorate.
In this book, TJ Coles exposes how Trump is supported by every layer of the political establishment, from big business to the FBI. In “Trumpland,” the president is far from being an “anti-politics” rebel — he is the personification of neoliberalism.
The billionaire businessman has gathered around him the richest administration in US history and Coles argues that major corporations now control policy and shape the US and, by extension, the world in their class interests.
And with more generals represented at any time since WWII, the drumbeats for war are no surprise.
From the Muslim ban to misogyny, racism and homophobia, Trump has edged the world closer to nuclear annihilation in his dangerous game of brinksmanship with North Korea, while his embrace of the so-called alt-right — another, supposedly more palatable, term for white supremacism — culminated in the death earlier this year of Heather Heyer, killed by a fascist in Charlottesville.
Trump has tried to appeal to the romantic mythical past of the American Dream with his mantra “Make America Great Again,” but this America was deeply divided, with segregation and a bitter war against African-Americans.
The billionaire Warren Buffet was right when he said that his side had triumphed in the class war. And Coles recognises that, while Trump is the figurehead, what lies behind him is the capitalist system.
Many think that getting rid of Trump is the antidote, but behind him is the entire neoliberal apparatus of class exploitation and accumulation of capital.
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen described Trump’s victory as “an additional stone in the building of a new world.”
However, while many fear that the right is on the rise — and it undoubtedly is in the US and across Europe — it is not written in stone that it will win and, if it does, hang on to power.
Coles cites Ukip in Britain and the National Front in France as examples of the success of the right.
Yet, in the short time since this book was published a few months ago, Ukip has been through two leaders and is reduced to a rump organisation, while the National Front’s popularity has plummeted in France.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has 600,000 members and a strong showing in June’s general election has shown that clear anti-austerity politics can fill the void exploited by the right. In France, Jean-Luc Melenchon came from nowhere and confounded the political commentariat with a strong showing in the presidential election.
Coles says that grassroots movements and community organising are essential in bringing change and he concludes with a message of hope in the resistance shown by millions of people standing up to Trump in the US and across the world.