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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 10/14/20

Bill Barr's Useful Idiot: Donald J. Trump; plus an Appendix on the Nature of The State

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

As long as we have Abbott, we've got that one, whether they vote for us or not.
As long as we have Abbott, we've got that one, whether they vote for us or not.
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The term "useful idiot" may, or may not, have been invented by either Vladimir Ilyich Lenin or Joseph Stalin. But in any case, historically it has been associated with Russia/the Soviet Union and has been taken to mean "a naive or unwitting ally of a ruthless political movement." In our own time, by his enemies it has been applied to Donald J. Trump to describe his relationship with Vladimir Putin (and the only thing that latter has in common with Lenin is their first names). But in terms of what is happening to the political economy of the United States and the very real possibility that if Trump becomes President for a second term (note I did not use the term "win") the United States will turn fascist. But who is really driving this process in politico-economic terms? It's not Trump. A) he is hardly smart enough and B) personally he is driven by his personal needs and neuroses, not any consistent, complex, political ideology (which he couldn't understand even if he wanted to). The driver, rather, is William Barr. (And Trump's yelps at Barr are entirely irrelevant to the Barr-Plan-for-Fascism.

As it happens, and is well-known, because of his obviously close relationship (on a variety of levels) with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as noted Trump is often referred to as Putin's "Useful Idiot." But in terms of what is happening with the development of capitalism and the battle for the control of the capitalist state in the U.S. (see the Appendix below for a brief discussion of the nature of the capitalist politico-economic system and the Nature of the State), it has become clear that the leader of the wing of the U.S. ruling class that wants to install a fascist state is Attorney General Bill Barr, not Donald J. Trump.

As noted, Trump is simply is not smart enough to be able to do that. But since he always ran his companies in a dictatorial fashion and is obviously trying to do more of the same for the United States, he is very useful for Barr and the U.S. ruling class segment that he, Barr, represents. Those would include: fossil fuels, the petrochemical industry, factory farming, certain elements of banking/finance, the prison/industrial complex, the military/industrial complex, the elements of the gun industry (weapons, ammunition, and sales), major elements of the "health" care industry including the "insurers," and so on and so forth. (See, e.g., Bill Koch's interests.)

As noted in the Appendix below, under capitalism there can be three different patterns of organization of state power (all, of course, designed to maintain a capitalist ruling class in control of the state apparatus). The first is what can be called "social capitalism" (a term which I prefer to "social democracy") which maintains ruling class control of State Power by providing a reasonable level of economic benefit to the members of the non-owning classes (see the New Deal, and "Bernie's" version of what he calls social democracy, or "democratic socialism," which it isn't). The second is what I call "repressive parliamentary capitalism," that is, as noted below, while maintaining parliamentary/constitutional forms it has gradually whittled away many of the "social capitalist" protections/benefits for the non-owners, while pretending to be protective. See Thatcher/Blair/Reagan/Clinton-Democratic-Leadership-Council. This is what the U.S. has had under Obama (with a Republican Congress) and certainly under Trump (with much more whittling).

However, as is well-known: a) Republican/Trumpian rule is being threatened; b) major elements of the Democratic Party are moving back towards the "social capitalism" model; c) the coming demographic changes in the U.S. are threatening to upend the whole political system away from the major right-wing trajectory that has been followed since the election of Reagan. And so, along comes William Barr. He is a right-wing Republican going back to the time when he rescued G.H.W. Bush from the potential highly negative outcomes of the Iran/Contra scandal. He has been a promoter of the concept of the "unitary executive" (a major feature of fascism, by the way) since that time.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
 
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