Tag: Trump

Threats to democracy can be resisted with activism, educational programs & organization: Noam Chomsky at the JLF 2021

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Photo- JLF

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 21 February 2021: Prof. Noam Chomsky, 92, celebrated American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist while expressing concern at the decline of democracy and the global ‘drift into authoritarianism, feels this greatest threat to democracy can be addressed with activism, educational programs, and organization. He was in conversation with Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV on day 3 of the virtual Festival.

Talking about the US, he said, Trumpism is very much around and so is Trump. The session opened with Professor Chomsky speaking of the recent storming of the United States Capitol, and how it was a turning point for the country. He shared what it was like to wake up in America in the ‘aftermath’ of Donald Trump. The duo discussed whether Trump can still pose a tangible threat to American democracy, seeing as he is no longer in power – with Professor Chomsky speculating possibilities of continued propaganda for very real support for Trump by his ‘voter base and insisted that the democracy had ‘serious problems’ even before his presidency.

Speaking about the rise of authoritarianism, Professor Chomsky delved into the ‘neoliberal assault’ of the last few decades, explaining how inequality and authoritarianism appear to be inextricably linked. He mentioned an example from a study by the RAND Corporation, a well-respected quasi-governmental organization in the US, which estimates that the transfer of wealth from the lower 90% of the population to a fraction of the top 1% has been about 50 trillion dollars over the last 40 years.

The conversation also raised wider questions about the state of democracy, which appears to be in as much danger from radical majoritarianism in the United States, or in India, as it is from the European Union shifting the seat of several governance decisions away from state governments to Brussels, to an unelected bureaucracy. Responding to Jain’s question on what can be done to resist the threats to democracy, Professor Chomsky said, “There’s no magic key! “You fight it the way you’ve always fought it, with educational programs, with organization, with activism.”

Discussing solutions to push back against the radical majority, Professor Chomsky spoke about the need for the popular forces within an ideological party to press for progressive social action. He spoke about this in the context of the American political system and highlighted how the Biden government’s legislative program on climate change, possibly even better than Obama’s, reflects the direct impact of activism and popular forces within the party pushing the agenda.

Touching the US and India, the Prof. said, America was facing very serious problems and the dismantling of secular democracy in India was a concern. “One cannot give up thinking nothing will happen or decide to do whatever one can do,” he said.

“Over time any political or social movement can work,” he said, pointing to the Independence Movement in India. “It takes dedication and commitment. It doesn’t happen by itself, you have to fight for social programs and reform,” he added.

Reflecting on some of the critical progressive movements like the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and the women’s rights movement among others, he talked about the significance of coming together in solidarity and with constant, dedicated struggle. “There is no point being optimistic or pessimistic. The point is to face the challenges, take the opportunities, get to work, and overcome the problems. It can be done – and optimism says yes, let’s do it,” he said.

Prof. Noam Chomsky lives in Arizona, which he said, a wreckage of the Trump era had the severe onslaught of the pandemic because Trump did not do anything. He is in isolation. His daily life with interviews and answering hundreds of letters he gets daily makes it a very busy life, he told Sreenivasan Jain.

The Jaipur Literature Festival 2021 will take place till 28th February on an exclusive virtual platform.

Website- www.jaipurliteraturefestival.org

Victory of Joe Biden will energise liberal forces in the free world

The White House is seen at sunrise during the election day, in Washington
White House Photo – ANI, Nov 2020,

A global alliance of liberal forces, like the one forged in the post-Nazi and fascist era in the 1940s, is needed to defeat toxic, bigoted, and racist majoritarianism.

By Zafar Aga

NEW DELHI, 8 Nov 2020: The world has heaved a sigh of relief with the United States finally electing Joseph R. Biden as its 46th President on November 7th after four days of nail-biting counting. Kamala Harris made history by becoming the first woman Vice President-elect of the USA.

The US Presidential election this time round hooked not just Americans’ attention but also of the people across the globe. It was an election wherein the USA was not supposed to just elect another president. But the Americans had to decide whether they would continue to endorse President Trump’s brand of illiberal, divisive, and racist politics for four more years that impacted many parts of the world in the last few years.

Americans finally resoundingly rejected Trump and to a great degree even Trumpism as Biden won the polls by a margin of over four million votes. Biden also made history, polling the highest number of votes ever polled by any past president. Electing a Jamaican-American father and Indian-American mother’s daughter Kamala Harris, they also conveyed that America stands for a plural society, not just for Whites, and for liberal values and the US as a melting pot where immigrants as well as people of all races can live peacefully as opposed to Trump’s white supremacist nation.

American election results, underlining the victory of liberal and inclusive politics, are globally significant as they may lead to the decline of the right wing identity based divisive politics that was on upswing for the past almost a decade sweeping many parts of the world, including India where Narendra Modi stormed into power in 2014, marketing his identity based majoritarian politics with the carrot of fantastic economic growth.

Ultra-nationalists like Valdmir Putin in Russia, Erdagon in Turkey and many other right-wing rulers captured power and gave rise to ultra-nationalist politics that generated widespread racist and anti-minorities tendencies in many countries.

Rise of Biden in America and possibility of victory of a liberal alliance in the eastern province of Bihar in India raise renewed hopes of return of liberal and plural brand of politics once again.

Free market economy coupled with high tech capitalism leading to loss of millions of jobs generated huge inequality and insecurity across the globe that right-wing demagouges like Trump and Modi exploited and succeeded in raising the spectre of the ‘other’ in the guise of immigrants in America and minorities like Muslims in India to capture power. They generated a hate-filled toxic atmosphere that bread social division and tension harming a vast majority of people ruled by right wing racist rulers like Trump and Modi.

Democrats led by Biden built a wide centrist and left leaning alliance of white middle class urbans, coloured working-class immigrants, black Americans living in suburban areas. young students and American women that finally defeated Trump’s racist and right-wing hate politics in America.

Herein is a message for Indian liberal democrats to build a wide national alliance cutting across communities and castes like Tejaswi Yadav did in Bihar recently or Congress President Sonia Gandhi did in 2004.

Indian voters, frustrated with wide-spread unemployment and massive economic slowdown, seem to be looking to return to the normal course of politics away from identity politics.

Narendra Modi’s magic is clearly on the wane as his ability to win elections on his own appeal is receding fast. In the last few years, BJP lost half a dozen assembly elections in states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Delhi, and even in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, where BJP engineered defections to claw back to power. In all these elections, Narendra Modi had staked his own popularity, image, and agenda. Voters in all these states called the bluff and now even Bihar seems to be slipping out of the NDA’s grip if the exit polls are to be believed.

But the threat of right-wing identity politics is not yet over. New York Times rightly pointed out: “Mr. Trump may have lost, Trumpism is yet not defeated”. So, the danger looms

It is, therefore, necessary for democratic and liberal forces to forge a global alliance as they did in the post-fascist era during the 1940s-50s after the fall of Hitler in Germany.

America with the Biden-Harris victory has shown the way to defeat racists by forging a rainbow alliance of whites-Blacks-coloured-immigrants together. It is now for the rest of the world to stand up and defeat hate mongers, Islamophobes, racists, and ultranationalists in their respective countries by forging a new social alliance to put a stop to toxic politics.

Sorce- National Herald

VIEWPOINT: Even if Joe Biden wins in a blowout, the ‘Global Economy’ Is not coming back

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By Marshall Auerback*

COVID-19 has not only presented the global economy with its greatest public health challenge in over a century, but also likely killed off the notion of America’s “unipolar moment” for good. That doesn’t mean full-on autarky or isolationism but, rather, enlightened selfishness, which allows for some limited cooperation. Donald Trump’s ongoing threats to impose additional tariffs on a range of EU exports are exacerbating this trend as the old post-World War II ties between the two regions continue to fray. Even the possibility of a Biden administration is unlikely to presage a reversion to the status quo ante. Regionalization and multipolarity will be the order of the day going forward.

Many will regard these developments as chiefly driven by geopolitical prerogatives. But over time, the driving engine of the process will be a combination of maturing technologies that are rewriting the laws of profitability in manufacturing and production for advanced economies. The various capacities that enabled a far-flung global supply chain and sent the economies of Asia into hyperdrive over the past 40 years have continued to mature. The rise of China, South Korea and Japan in this period is just a phase of a larger series of advances that are now likely to become more distributed and at the same time reshuffle the geopolitical trend lines we currently experience.

The reshuffling is coming in large part because America’s historic military dominance has less relevance in a world where the new forms of competition place greater weight on access to advanced research and technologies, rather than the projection of brute military force (especially given the increasing proliferation of nuclear technologies and the rise of asymmetric warfare). Furthermore, the lack of American manufacturing capacity has left it open to a significant loss of influence to the benefit of other regions, notably China (in Asia), and Germany (in the European Union).

China in particular will likely remain both a geopolitical and economic rival to the United States for the foreseeable future, especially as it already supersedes the United States in some areas of technology (such as 5G), and is increasingly becoming the locus of economic activity in Asia. As yet, Asia is by no means a cohesive economic or strategic bloc (such as the European Union), especially given the ongoing American influence in countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. But longer term, it is hard to believe that an independent democratic Japan would embrace a foreign policy stance that risks antagonizing a country of almost 1.4 billion people with nukes. According to some projections, by 2050 Japan will likely constitute about one-eighth of China’s GDP, South Korea much less. On the basis of that size disparity, strategic triangulation is a non-starter. Japan will no more be able to “balance” China than Canada today can “contain” the United States. It is likewise difficult to envisage Seoul continuing to have its own relations with the North being continuously subject to the vagaries of Pentagon politics in D.C. Heightening instability on the Korean peninsula is hardly in the long-term interests of either Seoul or Pyongyang.

By the same token, the idea of a broad but shallow trilateral United States-EU-Japan bloc against China is also a fantasy because the European Union, like Japan, increasingly finds its own interests clashing with those of the U.S. These tensions have manifested themselves fully in the current dispute over Huawei, China’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer. The Europeans, especially Germany, may well be too invested in China to side with the United States in this particular dispute given its strong pre-existing commercial ties with the former, as Wolfgang Munchau’s Eurointelligence highlights:

“China is Germany’s biggest trading partner. Merkel continues to seek dialogue with China and insisted that ties with the country are of strategic importance to the EU. If this can be called a strategy it is clearly motivated by economic interests. These days, German car makers are dependent on the Chinese market, where record sales in Q2 compensated for the fallout from the pandemic in other markets, the FAZ reports.”

This also applies in the specific case of Huawei, where the U.S. is spearheading an attempt to limit the Chinese company’s global reach on national security grounds. Berlin in particular is seeking to balance the tensions of preserving an increasingly fraying relationship with the U.S. versus safeguarding emerging German commercial interests in China. The Merkel government is expected to make a definitive decision on Huawei by the autumn when the German parliament reconvenes; this will have significant implications for Europe as a whole, as an increasing number of EU member states are moving away from the firm’s 5G wares.

German political opinion remains sharply divided on the issue of Huawei. The decision is also complicated by the fact that “Deutsche Telekom, a 32%-state-owned company, is the country’s largest mobile provider and already relies heavily on Huawei equipment. It has lobbied strongly against any action that would make it harder for it to roll out 5G,” according to the Economist. If the Berlin government fails to follow the lead of the United Kingdom (which recently reversed an earlier decision to incorporate Huawei equipment in its growing 5G infrastructure), it will send a very powerful political signal in terms of how Germany prioritizes its long-term interests, which are no longer axiomatically tied to the U.S.

However Germany decides on Huawei, Atlanticism as a concept is largely dead in Europe. Even before the onset of the pandemic, for example, Italy had already become the first European country to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in response to ongoing economic stagnation. COVID-19 has, if anything, accelerated this Sinification of the Italian economy, given the ham-handed response of Brussels to the country’s plight (and which is still governed by old prevailing austerity biases). Although the tangible economic benefits of the BRI have likely been overstated, Rome-based journalist Eric Reguly has written:

“The Italian government rolled out the welcome mat to Chinese President Xi Jinping in part because it is desperate for foreign investment. Italy suffers from crushing youth unemployment and never fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. It felt it was more or less abandoned by the U.S. and the rest of the EU on the investment front. The anti-EU sentiment among Italians rose during the migrant crisis, when other countries of the bloc refused to relieve Italy’s migrant burden, and rose again earlier this year, when Brussels ignored Italy’s initial pleas for help to fight COVID-19.”

It is important to note that Huawei is but a symptom of a broader EU disengagement from the U.S. Even if Huawei’s role in Europe’s future 5G networks is minimized, the big winners will be European companies, Nokia and Ericsson, not American ones. The 5G deficiency is but one illustration of how America’s failure to prioritize a robust manufacturing sector has contributed to a loss of influence and leverage in Europe.

That in turn explains the relatively tepid response to American pressure in many European capitals. Many EU member states have made the calculation that their interests are no longer inextricably tied to those of the U.S. One also sees this in response to American threats over new Russian natural gas pipelines, which the EU is largely ignoring. Europe has outgrown the suffocating embrace of Cold War exigencies.

The one outlier might well be the United Kingdom in its post-Brexit incarnation. Via the Five Eyes intelligence coordination among the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it is possible that there will be a further tightening of the Anglosphere countries. Their current convergence on Huawei is one illustration of this, although Huawei’s Chief Digital Officer, Michael MacDonald, concedes that the battle over 5G dominance is small fry compared to “the total Digital Economy, which is generally accepted to contribute as much as 25% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025-26, [and] will be worth approximately $20 trillion, with 5G contributing just 0.2%.” And here the U.S. has everything to play for, given its ongoing dominance through American Big Tech behemoths such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

As far as the U.S. itself goes, that also means a narrow but deep North America strategy (United States/Mexico/Canada), especially given the American government’s increasing proclivity to view economic warfare through the prism of national security considerations (as it did during the original Cold War). Those national security calculations have changed somewhat: In a reversal of old Cold War norms, whereby the strategic importance of Japan via America’s offshore naval presence was paramount, Mexico is now being prioritized, at least in regard to manufacturing and investment flows via the new North American trade agreement. As U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer writes in Foreign Affairs, the newly reconfigured United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement reinforces this trend by “overhaul[ing] the ‘rules of origin’ that govern trade in the… [automobile] sector,” increasing the threshold from 62.5 percent under the old NAFTA to 75 percent under the new USMCA.

These concerns are becoming bipartisan, as both parties are now tacking increasingly toward an overt form of economic nationalism.

Multipolarity need not usher in a Hobbesian-style world of eternal conflict. But as it becomes more of a reality, it signals the increasing eclipse of America as a preeminent superpower of one. Asia’s rise in particular simply returns the distribution of economic activity to what it was before the first industrial revolution. That’s not a bad thing, except for those rooted toward an embrace of American hegemony that must be retained at all costs, peacefully or by war. If anything, one could argue that America’s status as the world’s sole global superpower ushered in considerably greater global instability, given the absence of any restraining counterweight, as Washington went from one unilateral war of choice to another. A Joe Biden victory in November may temporarily arrest these trends, but the die has been cast.

*Marshall Auerback is a market analyst and commentator.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Source- newsclick.in