Friday, November 11, 2016

All the King's Men Couldn't Put Humpty Back Together Again

Senator Huey Long
After the initial shock waves had subsided, it began to be apparent that the Trump victory was a revolution on the part of the disenfranchised, in this case non-college educated white males who had become sidelined by the forces of immigration and outsourcing. However despite the economic issues, it wasn’t a socialist or Communist revolution based on the redistribution of wealth. If that were the case then electing Donald Trump would be tantamount to deposing the Romanovs to elect the Czar. No the revolution in question bears some comparison to the populist uprising presided over by Huey Long in Louisiana which was so eloquently documented by Robert Penn Warren in All the King’s Men (though Trump was pointing his finger at politicians more than his fellow profiteers). It’s a revolution against elites that has a lot in common with what has gone on in England (Brexit) and in France under the auspice Marine Le Pen’s National Front. In America, England and France you have the same lethal cocktail of xenophobia and isolationism infusing a state of irrationalism. Pol Pot fanned similar flames in Cambodia where the Khmer Rouge uprising was predicated on the notion that the urban bourgeoisie and intelligentsia were at the root of the country's problems. In the case of the current election, Hillary Clinton became the sacrificial cow. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Take fairly insurmountable problems like obsolescence or terrorism and simply eliminate those who have been trying to come up with creative anodynes for 30 years. The Khmer Rouge following the example of the Chinese Cultural Revolutionaries before them murdered or exiled those with skills and placed them in rural reeducation programs. If Donald Trump has his way he will “drain the swamp” and generations of Washington insiders will be history. “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” was one of the campaign slogans of our latter day Ubu Roi. Hegel posited the notion of the world-historical figure who's the agent of forces beyond his control. Hindsight is 50/50 and it’s as difficult to fathom the causes of something while it's happening as it is to see a storm coming when you're out at sea; it’s hard to predict where this particular revolution or movement is going to lead. Hillary Clinton fought hard but her exercise of willpower was no match for the powerful force of circumstance which became her ultimate adversary.

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