Much has been written, and more has been said about Trump and what many see as the dawn of authoritarianism. Scholars of authoritarian movements have long observed the current socio-economic-political conditions make America “ripe” for a fascist cult-of-personality to seize the levers of Jeffersonian democracy.
Less has been said about Trump and what might likely be the rise of mafioso like gangesterism. Not only do Trump’s ties to organized crime mobs go back decades, they are also well documented by a number of investigative reporters — including Wayne Barrett, who observed, “The mob connections of Donald are extraordinarily extensive.”
But this is essay is less about Trump and the mob, and more about how Trump is blazing a path that will likely result in elites turning towards organized crime and non-state actor perpetrated violence as a means for maintaining their hegemonic survival.
In other words, Trump is creating the political-economic conditions for gangsterism to not only thrive, but also for organized crime groups to seize political power — much the same way they have in Russia. Yes, I can hear you now. “That could never happen here,” you say. Well, you’d be wrong. It’s already happened here. Gangsters ruled the country hand-in-hand with business and political elites during the interwar years.
“Listen….I don’t get the idea I’m one of those goddam radicals. Don’t get the idea I’m knocking the American system…My rackets are run strictly along American lines and they are going to stay that way…This American system of ours…call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you like, gives to each and every one of us great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it,” said Capone shortly after elected to run the American Scicilian Mafia.
So, how is this relevant to the presidency of Trump?
Trump campaigned as an economic populist, promising to “drain the swamp” of Wall Street elites, DC insiders, and corporate lobbyists. He was running on a promise to lift up the downtrodden, forgotten about working class white guy. He mocked Hillary for her ties to Goldman Sachs. He mocker her for her pro-corporate credentials. But, like the entire documented history of Trump’s business life, whereby he has scammed even his closest fans out of tens-of-thousands of dollars (Trump University) and working class contractors out of thousands more (multiple golden parachute bankruptcies), he has already scammed the 60 odd million Americans who voted for him.
Trump has assembled not only the richest presidential cabinet in American history, in terms of net worth, he has also filled almost every senior economic position with Goldman Sachs executives, DC insiders, and corporate lobbyists, while at the same time promising a continuation of the same failed economic policy that has wrought so much economic devastation on the very people who voted for him: tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Otherwise known as, well, you guessed it, trickle down ecomomics.
No sophisticated crystal ball is needed here. Reagan cut taxes on the top earners when he first came into office. Nearly caused a recession. Bush cut taxes twice, and crashed the entire fucking universe.
While it’s far too early for Trump voters to realize they’ve been scammed by the masters of all cons, the realization will come. The forces of globalized capitalism cannot be pulled back. Trump cannot bring back jobs that have been replaced by robots (automation), nor can he bring back process line jobs that long fled to Mexico, India, Bangladesh and elsewhere. Capitalism has only one goal: maximize profit. Automation and offshoring are the very means to capitalism’s singled minded pursuit. As Richard Wolff, an economics professor at the University of Massachussets remarked, “Capitalism has abandoned the United States. It’s time for the United States to abandon capitalism.”
The point here is this: when Trump’s white working class voters realize the Alt-Right Fuhrer has duped them, that it’s politics as usual, and that the same old elites are still in control of the levers that have already deprived their lives of economic hope, the backlash that follows will cause a political swing towards the far left — towards the kind of leftist economic populism espoused by 2016 Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders.
Inevitably, labor unions will be back in vogue. Workers parties will form, as will socialist and even rabidly anti-capitalist forces.
These are the forces the elites fear most. Elites don’t fear facists for facists perform the dirty work of state protected elites. Facists punch down. Far left reactionary forces punch up, and a left uppercut is what every elite fears most, and when it’s the far left doing the punching, elites will do what they did during the era of Capone — they’ll turn to organized crime to protect their interests.
Criminal organizations played a central role in suppressing and crushing left-wing politics and labor unions during the 1920–30s, observes Alfred Schultz Bockholt, a professor of Criminology at St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia. “For example, to prevent unionization during the 1920’s and 30’s, US corporations such as Ford and General Motors kept private armies to terrorize sympathetic workers. Once unions were established, criminals played a role in running them to gain access to their treasuries, but also to assure the acquiescence of workers, and to keep them turning to the left through threat and murder.”
Bockholt notes that this dynamic, whereby a politically-economically state has run adrift, has played out countless times during the past 50–70 years. From Bolivia to China; from Peru to Thailand. Bockholt observes that the Nazis were nothing but a criminal syndicate, and that Weimar German elites were willing to exchange the loss of political power for Nazi protection. A promise the Nazis filled by crushing socialists, communists, and organized labor groups.
So, what will they look like here?
It’ll mean violence against leftist movements will soon become the norm. It’ll mean small business owners will be harrassed for protection money by organized crime racketeers. It’ll mean violence between rival organized gangs, like the St. Valentines Day Massacre 1929, might be coming to a restaurant near you.
Trump is already creating fertile soil for this inevitability by creating a culture of fear and intimidation. Even elected Republican officials are coming forward to say GOP congressmen are scared of confronting Trump on any issue given he has the power to crush them via what is his state-run media outlet — Breitbart — and his twitter account, while intimidating them with death threats carried out by his millions of twitter trolls. Fox News anchor Meghyn Kelly recently spoke out on how her and her children were threatened on dozens of seperate occasions because of Trump’s ability to corral dark forces.
Be vigiliant. Watch for these trends, and watch this space.
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