Will the greed of some capitalists bring about a class war?–How Trump and Clinton’s policies play into the equation.
The growing wealth and income gap between the top 1 percent and the other 99 percent has reached staggering dimensions. And now, more than ever, the “have-nots” are made up largely by the middle class, which now includes many “workers.” Years ago I dismissed Marx’s class conflict theory as yet another, albeit more radical, utopian socialist dream. Then in my first, of a long line of classes, taken and then taught, about communism, in both theory and practice, I continued to be intrigued by Lenin’s 1917 tract: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Now, nearly 100 years after Lenin wrote his theory of imperialism, and the first time since The Great Depression, Lenin’s check-list for revolution appears close to being realized. Ironically that is largely due to the policies of the “haves” themselves. Whether this has come about mostly by greed or by ignorance is unclear. What is clear, however, is that policy differences between Tump and Clinton will go a long way towards deciding how peaceful a revolution it will be.
In the foreign policy arena, Communist Russia had its own imperialist policies, and saw their “vassal ” states: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, all reject communism, and fall from Russian control like dominos once the cold war’s vast costs bankrupted the Soviet Union into dissolution. Make no mistake, however, the current Russian ambitions pushed by former KGB thug Vladimir Puten unsurprisingly, are similar to those of it’s communist predecessor, as their moves into Crimea and the eastern part of the Ukraine demonstrate. These ambitions have become much more likely to be achieved with Trump’s suggestions of leaving NATO and other alliances. Chinese forages in the South China Sea have been similarly encouraged by Trump’s remarks about our alliances in that region. His words along those lines have already roused uber-nationalist extremists in those countries. In addition to their outright derision of Trump, newspapers throughout Europe showed with glee, a large piece of “wall art” in Estonia depicting Putin and Trump kissing each other on their lips in a romantic manner. Hillary of course supports our alliances, put in place by decades of leaders from both parties. She also favors increasing the role of NATO in the Syrian fight. Trump’s vision is perhaps withdrawing from NATO, at the least raising doubt as to whether U.S. support for our allies can be absolutely counted upon in case of an attack against them. Trump apologists say this uncertainty can be used as a bargaining chip to squeeze payments out o our allies. The short-sightedness of this policy, if used for such purpose, bogles the mind. Destabilizing the deterrence balance in the nuclear age is both reckless and dangerous, to say the least.
In Asia, The Peoples Republic of China, found it necessary to embrace foreign capital, and capitalism’s innovative skills. A thriving stock exchange has blossomed in Shanghai. Zhou Qunfei, a former factory worker in Shenzhen, with a 28 million dollar home in Hong Kong, heads the list of World’s Richest Women. The authoratarian nature of the leadership in China, however, did help eliminate extreme poverty in China. When I visited Beijing just before the Olympics in 2008, I marveled at how the once horrific overpopulation, with poor shanties crowded too close to one-another to be believed, were replaced by seemingly endless miles of skyscrapers, even as Beijing maintains its historic places: the Forbidden City, with its glorious Heavenly Palace, right next to Tiananmen square where the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong overlooks it’s entrance; the Summer Palace; An entrance to the Great Wall of China, to mention just a few of Beijing’s most famous historic sites. But Communist rule has never come close to the Communist ideal–where the state withers away. There are many examples of their failure to create a classless society, including special benefits for the party’s nobility, and vicious, sometimes fatal, intra-party competition for power wielding.
What was Lenin’s theory of imperialism? More relevant to current polemics, how do Hillary and Donald’s policies affect the prospects of a class-driven physical revolution in the United States–one built upon the growing gap in the distribution of wealth between the haves and have-nots. In Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, he concluded that the path to revolution in the capitalist stage was as follows: First, facing lower and lower returns at home, we’d see the concentration of capital in the hands of a small number of oligarchs. Second, as returns from capital went lower in the capitalist, developed world, that capital would then have to be exported abroad to get greater returns. Third would come the formation of international cartels. Fourth, we’d see the exploitation of the underdeveloped world, by those cartels, which would temporarily yield super-profits. Fifth, these super-profits, would hold off the revolution at home, by giving the workers, though their crooked unions, some apparent share in the profits generated by their labor. Conversely, taking away the capitalist colonies, the source of their super-profits would disappear, and they no longer could pay the workers a fair share of the profit, which would produce resentment on their part, if not severe unemployment, or a reduction in salaries. Now, nearly a century later, Lenin’s predictions seem closer to realization. One by one, his steps can be checked off. Even the last step in his Imperialist Theory appears closer, and greedy policies at home are likely to exacerbate frustrations and angst by the “have-nots” in our economy–which now include many from the middle class. Will this result in a bloody revolution?
Here are some of the policies articulated by Clinton and Trump most likely to to affect the wealth gap: Trump seeks to put in place a highly regressive tax plan that would benefit those at the top the greatest benefits. Corporations would also receive large tax cuts in Trump’s plan. This would exacerbate the gap between the top 1 percent and the 99 percent. Hillary also wants a tax cut, but one that would benefit the lower and middle classes, the revenue offset by higher taxes for the top earners. Hillary, unequivocally, want’s to quickly effect a larger increase in the minimum wage than Donald. With so many woman now working, many single mothers, among others, are struggling to survive after paying babysitting expenses. Hillary has long championed day-care legislation. Donald wants to eliminate what he calls, “the death tax.” This is nothing more than an elimination of estate taxes. If Donald’s plan became law, his 3 billion dollar estate would be free of taxes. Guess who benefits from this? And, guess whose benefits would have to be cut out to offset the income generated by estate taxes?