29 January 2017

Judge Trump on "what he does" says Pope Francis

When Pope Francis was asked how he felt about Donald Trump's inauguration he said: "We will see what he [Donald Trump] does and judge accordingly". Later, in the same interview with El Pais, Pope Francis talked about Adolf Hitler and his political uprising in Germany in 1933. I couldn't help thinking that the pontiff was trying to draw a parallel between the two leaders?

The forgotten modern day Americans, left behind by the political status quo, may well be craving a saviour as millions of Germans did in the 1930s, but can Trump's meteoric rise, anymore than Hitler's, be attributed to the inspirational ability of one man alone?

Remarkable leaders have a habit of emerging when the need arises: Winston Churchill stepped in to save Britain from Hitler in 1940 who himself had been elected to save Germany from the Weimar Republic and economic oblivion in 1933 and so it is for America in 2017 that Donald Trump has appeared to save America from a thirty-five year Bush-Clinton political dynasty that has, from George Bush senior as Vice President in 1981 to Hilary Clinton, as Obama's Sectary of State until 2016, put a Bush, or a Clinton in the top three most influential political positions in United States government. Agree with Churchill, Hitler and Trump, or not, these strong leaders rose to power because there was a perceived political need for them to do so and, make no mistake about it, no politician can rise to the top of a democracy without significant popular and institutional support for radical change.

The rise of Donald Trump, the far right National Front in France, UKIP, with it's 4 million UK votes and the Labour Party’s return to grass-roots left-wing social activism through Jeremy Corbyn, is evidence of a political need to correct social imbalances created by decades of largely unregulated economic systems. It may well be that in the US, through Donald Trump, that the establishment has the collective wisdom to recognise the impending and potentially calamitous probability of political rebellion and, because of the fear of losing it's position at the top, will, temporarily, organise the sharing out America’s colossal wealth a bit more evenly.

My point is that it's not men like Adolf Hitler, or Donald Trump that the ruling elite have to worry about - it's failing socio-economic systems. Pope Francis is right to warn about the rise of fascism, but no one man, or woman, is sufficiently clever to single handedly mobilise millions of people and overthrow a modern day political system anymore than it was possible for a single French, or Russian subject to reverse 100s of years of absolute monarchy.  The way I see it, it's the failure of government to tackle wealth inequality and the feelings of unfairness that ultimately results in rebellion, civil war and the overthrow of the ruling elite.

Put it another way, there are optimistic signs that, particularly in the US, of an acknowledgement that the only safe way to avoid creeping world-wide fascism is for the owners of capital (i.e. the people who actually control the a country's political and economic affairs) to instruct the government to administer the provision of adequate food, shelter and employment for its entire people. This is what Donald Trump said as he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America:

"For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and, while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land..." Donald Trump, Inauguration Speech, Friday 13th January 2017.

In a civilised country a more even allocation of wealth should be a basic human right. Pope Francis appears to agree with this when he said: "I am worried about the economic inequalities in the world: the fact that a small group of humans has over 80% of the world's wealth..." Allocation of wealth is determined largely by what the establishment calculates they can get away with, but strange as it may seem, I believe that Donald Trump is the part of an political agenda that accepts the probability that if nothing is done to re-balance a world economy that concentrates 98% of the world’s wealth in the hands of 2% of the population, the ruling elite run the risk that the wars they fight to maintain their place at the top will no longer be fought in faraway lands, but much closer to home and they could, like the French and Russian ruling monarchies before them, lose the lot.