What’s your best-case scenario in the next, let’s say, five years in American politics?
Well, most optimistic would be the dissolution of the American government and state. Just kidding — if that happened, I’m sure the outcome would be far worse than what we have now. The left in this country, if we’re being realistic, is not nearly big, organized or powerful enough to step in. We’re not in a situation of, like, 1917 in Russia in this country. So, within the confines of just being realistic and not just my fantasy, best-case scenario, pretty much everyone in the American government would be liquidated or sent to work on some sort of moon colony for the next 1,000 years.
Barring that, I think it’d be easy to say, “Every progressive Democrat wins their election and kicks out the [establishment] Democrats, [then] adopts a broadly popular social democratic agenda that addresses the material concerns and injustices in people’s lives in this country.” If they were winning elections I think that’s what they’d do, but it’s back to my point that I think the people in charge would rather be more powerful in the weak institution than see their power diminish at all in an overall stronger institution. So, it’s really hard for me to sketch out optimistic scenarios for the next five to 10 years in American politics. Honestly, my big fear with Hillary Clinton, when I thought she was actually going to win the presidency, was that she would be defeated in 2020 by someone even more frightening, like Tom Cotton or something like that.
I really fear that the best we can hope for and ask for, realistically, is just slightly better Democrats or a Democratically-controlled Congress, or a different president. I think that would be good, in that it would be better than what we have now, which is a completely unleashed and untethered right-wing in charge of every lever of power, which is truly frightening. But I also really worry that, if the Democrats are shuffled back into power again, they will do what they always do and sort of allow that safety valve off a little bit, relieve some of the pressure that people feel, but not do anything to change any of the underlying problems that have led to [a] situation like Donald Trump. And that people will only get more angry and more untethered from reality and turn to ever more increasingly blood and soil right-wing nationalism, which is what we’re seeing in this country and certainly Europe, as well.
In “The Chapo Guide to Revolution,” on page 66, you write, quote, “In fact it was not a surge of blood and soil nationalism that made everyone look like assholes after they posted their prediction maps. But merely the same people who always show up for Republicans doing what they always do, against the discouraged, disinterested, and disenfranchised Democratic coalition.” I see where you’re coming from about that, but following the events of Charlottesville in 2017, I think it’s pretty obvious that there has been this more pervasive white supremacy in America.
Yeah, that’s true. What we’re referring to there is: I don’t buy the idea that it was some big upsurge in Pepe activity that won Trump the election. I think Trump won with, like we said in the book, the same people who always vote Republican. It wasn’t like the largely suburban middle- to upper-middle-class white people and business owners and things like that — not like teenage Pepes with torches in Charlottesville — however, I will say they certainly regard [Trump] as their guy, and I think he has given permission to these people to be more open and more virulent and repellent in their views and voice. I think you’re right. It’s here, and it’s not going away. I don’t think it will go away until there is an alternative to the increasing alienation, atomization, and brutal competition that the market necessitates among people.
I think in that passage we’re also sort of referring to this idea that, yes, Donald Trump ran a campaign that was openly nationalistic and racist. But I think a lot of the times when people talk about that, they’re like, “Oh, you know, he was just undefeatable. Sorry, it was, unbeatable, you know, as soon as Donald Trump started talking about Mexicans and started stirring up all this racial fervor in America. There was nothing Hillary Clinton could have done.” I think that’s bullshit. That absolves her for her failings in this campaign. Donald Trump did not make her not-campaign in Wisconsin or Michigan or basically Pennsylvania at all. “Racism was such an unbeatable thing in American politics”? I’m sorry, Obama did win in two elections by basically landslides in modern history and won all of those same white working-class states, to use a bad phrase, that Hillary lost. So there had to be something else going on other than just, “Oh, America is so irredeemably racist that as soon as the bad man started saying the bad things, there was just nothing you could do about it. It was like an act of nature.”
By my observation, there’s a large population of Americans — I think they’re mostly white, and, to be fair, I think they’re mostly (but not all, because we know white women preferred Trump) men — that may not be explicitly white supremacists. But they are at least comfortable enough with the idea that as long as long someone on “their team” stands to win an election by employing white supremacy as a tool, then they will take no issue with it. They have apathy towards it.
I think that’s fair. Look, Republicans have always been a racist party. This is not to absolve the Democrats — they’re pretty racist, too. Look at the Clinton administration when they were in the White House. They certainly enacted some very racist policies and ran a fairly racist campaign in both ’92 and when Hillary Clinton ran in 2008.