Thursday, January 12, 2017


Trump press conference: The oligarchy rules

Trump press conference:
The oligarchy rules
By Patrick Martin

12 January 2017
Donald Trump’s press
conference Wednesday morning was an hour-long demonstration of oligarchic
arrogance and contempt for democratic principles that has no parallel in modern
American history.
The occasion for the
press conference was the president-elect’s announcement of plans to put the
Trump Organization, his main business entity, under the management of his two
sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. The senior Trump would step down from all formal
management roles while retaining his status as the principal owner.
These arrangements
have been denounced by former government ethics officials as a travesty of
longstanding norms: every US president in the modern period, no matter how
wealthy, has been compelled to place all his assets in a blind trust to prevent
overt conflicts of interest.
The event was
dominated, however, by the issue of alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic
National Committee and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 elections, with
many questions relating to a document containing unverified allegations that
the Russian government collected compromising material on Trump with an eye to
future blackmail.
While the Democratic
Party has chosen to center its critique of Trump on material provided by its
allies in the CIA, the real assault on the public embodied in the incoming
administration was visibly demonstrated at the news conference.
A significant portion
of the event was given over to Trump’s legal advisor, who declared that the
“business empire built by President-elect Trump over years is massive,” and
proceeded to explain why conflict-of-interest statutes do not apply to Trump.
She assured the American people that Trump “is not exploiting the office of the
presidency for his personal benefit.”
Trump aides piled up
hundreds of manila folders allegedly comprising documents showing the various
arrangements to be made with respect to the Trump Organization. While the
president-elect boasted of his wealth and success, he reiterated that he is
exempt from conflict-of-interest rules (due to an obscure 1978 law passed to
retroactively legitimize the free pass given to billionaire Nelson Rockefeller
when he was appointed vice president by Gerald Ford in 1974). 
Trump was not just
citing a legal technicality. He was declaring the complete immunity of the
capitalist oligarchy from the laws and regulations that apply to the
general population. All laws and democratic principles are subordinate to
oligarchic privilege.
Insisting that he had
the right to do whatever he wanted, Trump at one point declared: “As president,
I could run the Trump organization, great, great company, and I could run the
company—the country. I’d do a very good job [at both], but I don’t want to do
The Freudian slip,
mixing up “company” and “country,” was the most revealing moment in the press
conference. For Trump, the “country” and the “company”—and, more broadly, the
oligarchy—are one and the same.
significant during the news conference was Trump’s menacing of the press. He
flatly refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, accusing the
network of being “fake news” because it was the first news outlet to report on
the document claiming that Russia had obtained compromising material on him.
Trump also made an ominous threat against the Buzzfeed website, which published
the document online, declaring, “They’re going to suffer the consequences. They
already are.”
There was a
heavy-handed atmosphere of bullying throughout the event, which had a fascistic
smell to it. There is no question that the administration is prepared to use
extreme levels of violence abroad and within the United States against what it
perceives to be its main threat, the working class.
The personnel of
Trump’s cabinet shows—in such figures as billionaire asset stripper Wilbur
Ross, multi-millionaire fast food magnate Andy Puzder, former Exxon Mobil CEO
Rex Tillerson, and billionaire heiress and charter school advocate Betsy
DeVos—that the new administration will be one of unrelenting war against the
working class, destroying jobs, social services such as education and Medicare,
and any remaining restrictions on the exploitation of labor.
Behind it all is an
overpowering element of decay, nepotism and social filth—a new low, even by the
tawdry standards of American capitalist politics. It represents the
establishment in the United States of government of, by and for the financial
The new occupant of
the White House is the personification of what has been developing over
decades: an ever-increasing concentration of wealth at the very top of American
society, and the crystallization of a semi-criminal ruling class whose wealth
is derived from financial manipulation, not the development of the productive
The Democratic Party
bases its opposition to Trump not on the social character of the new
administration as a government of the oligarchs, but on disputes over foreign
policy, in which the Democrats happily embrace the opportunity to adopt a
neo-McCarthyite anti-Russian stance and align themselves closely with the
military-intelligence apparatus.
This is because the
Democratic Party too is a political instrument of the billionaires, a different
variant on the same theme. Indeed, everything that Trump will implement has
been prepared by the Obama administration.
There is deep and growing
anger among workers and youth. According to the latest poll figures, Trump—the
most unpopular president-elect in history—now has a favorable rating of only 37
percent, with the majority of the population viewing him unfavorably. This is
before he even takes a single action as president of the United States. Masses
of people are in for a shock beyond anything they are prepared for.
There must and will
be mass opposition. It will come from the working class, the vast majority of
the population that is completely excluded from official political life. To
prepare for these struggles, the working class must be politically organized
and mobilized, and armed with a revolutionary and socialist perspective.

No comments:

Post a Comment