Brexit in America? Supertrump just did it. Liberal, progressive, identity politics-obsessed America should face it, regroup, and antagonise it. A little soul-searching in the so-called left-wing moderates won’t do any harm either: the antiphon hammered for so long that the class conflict had been superseded, alongside the categories of left and right, has just been dramatically contradicted. The society of spectacle of course played its part.
After all, you cannot bombard an impoverished and neglected section of society with decades of Darwinist trash television (the Apprentice) and not expect a backlash. Hillary Clinton has been consigned to history and this is not too bad either, considering her foreign policy record. Better female politicians will get there, eventually. It is a long journey, but the Suffragettes have shown us the way. The repulsive individual that has just been elected will radicalise the struggle against him and this can only be a good thing. Politics in the good old modern sense has come (back?) to the Usa. Sorry, postmodernism.
Just like Brexit England, US capitalism is retrenching, withdrawing from a global stage it has not enough economic energy or will left for hegemonising or directly command. Such energy has now to be redistributed to make up for the monstrous wealth gap itself has for so long been feeding from. The historic, structural weakness of the radical Left in the so-called post-industrialised and virtualised West and the factual political aphasia of the centre ground-obsessed, moderate Left have created a vacuum where an obscenely rich, greedy, misogynistic white male can connect with the working classes better than a standard representative of the establishment, like Clinton. The fact that she is a woman played undoubtedly a part, but maybe less so than we think.
But there are a few considerations to be made from an Italian perspective. For years Italy, a latecomer in the spoliation perpetrated by imperialist Europe, has been – and still is – considered a sort of Cinderella of the West. A country often admired for its beauty and its former glory as one of the cradles of Renaissance civilisation (despite a gender studies-drenched, identitarian political view disputes this: but for the sake of brevity let us stick to such view) alongside Athens, Paris, Vienna, Berlin (London? Great for trade and industrialisation, but a place that would, sometimes reluctantly, import bourgeois art and ideas instead of producing them, at least until the Sixties).
Italy was forcefully dragged into modernity. Its “backwardness”, due to its belated and sketchy import of the industrial revolution, its lack of cultural and linguistic cohesion, and – luckily, of a rapacious imperialistic instinct to speak of, still haunts it. It is amongst the causes of mafia and extended corruption for instance, and one of the reasons the country was the theatre of the post WWII most intense European class struggle. And it has created a deep-seated sense of inferiority, of which Italians are painfully aware. This is why they are their own most staunch and ruthless critics (until of course someone else criticises, ridicules or stereotypes them). The obsession with being a latecomer, this typically petty-bourgeois complex, has created terrible things, which the rest of the world was all too quick in learning. The malediction of Fascism, for starters: not only as a way to crush a socialist revolution, but also as a desperate and totalitarian attempt to speed up the catching up of rivals, particularly Britain and France. An evergreen and sinisterly resurging beast, it is the most infamous ideological export of ‘Made in Italy’.
Post Berlin wall fall, after Western democracies and the spectacular narration pursued by Friedmanite “centrecentric” neoliberalism had carved up the significance of politics as a force for change and the betterment of all and not only a few (all this with the enthusiastic collaboration of a Suicidal communist party) Italy proudly produced Silvio Berlusconi: a crass, misogynistic, corrupt and fundamentally petty-bourgeois illicitly enriched man who has squatted democracy thanks to his media control and left an indelible mark on the rest of the world: in a nutshell, a proto-Trump.
For years Italians have been looked at with condescension and a dash of scorn by the “international community” precisely for this reason (and the mafia, of course). But surely now it’s time to better focus onto this and reconsider. For reasons that surely deserve investigation, Italy seems to have the uncanny ability to forebode and resolve the developmental meanders, contradictions and dilemmas of postmodern capitalism. Only, in the worst possible way. For once, the world superpower in the idolatry of which all Italian ruling classes have been brought up is catching up. A record hardly to be proud of.
(il manifesto global, 10/11/16)