Saturday 21 January 2017

All Changed, Changed Utterly: Thoughts On The Day Of Donald Trump's Inauguration.

President Trump: Nothing will ever be the same again.
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Easter 1916 – W. B. Yeats
HAD YOU BEEN LIVING in Germany on 27 January 1933 the chances are good that you would have considered Adolf Hitler a busted flush. Two months earlier, in the last nationwide elections, his Nazi Party had suffered a small but highly significant loss of support. The newspapers were filled with confident predictions that the National Socialists had peaked. The trade unions even dared to entertain a small measure of optimism about the future. It was known that the present Chancellor, General Kurt von Schleicher, was drawing up a comprehensive plan to put Germany back to work. Things were looking up.
The following day, however, General Schleicher was forced to tender his resignation. Unending backstairs intrigue had finally succeeded in persuading the German President, Paul von Hindenburg, to get rid of the inveterate military schemer once and for all and replace him with Adolf Hitler. The right-wing aristocrats, soldiers, politicians and businessmen advising Hindenburg were firmly convinced that Hitler could be “controlled”. The Nazi Party and its charismatic leader would be the pawns of German reaction – not its master.
Negotiations between Hitler and the President’s advisers continued for a further 24 hours. The following day, 30 January 1933, Hindenburg announced that he was appointing Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany.
Nothing would ever be the same again.
In Washington today, 20 January 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. The route by which he has arrived at the White House is very different from that which led Hitler to the Chancellery, but with the investiture of executive power in Trump’s person, the American Republic, like the hapless Weimar Republic before it, will be changed, changed utterly.
As his angry inaugural address makes clear, Trump intends to remake America in ways no other president has dared to contemplate. He feels empowered to do this because his election represents not a vote of collective confidence in the American system, but an act of collective repudiation. Not by all Americans. Not even by a majority of Americans. But by enough of those who consider themselves to be “real” Americans, and who possess the means to determine the course of events. These Americans, like the “true” Germans of 1933, have become convinced that they can no longer rely upon the American political system to protect their interests – and so, that system must be changed, changed utterly.
The forms of American democracy will remain – at least for a while – but its substance will be steadily emptied out. With all three branches of the US government: the Executive, the Legislature, and (very soon) the Judiciary under Republican Party control, the “checks and balances” in which America’s founding fathers placed so much faith will be rendered inoperative. Exactly what is meant by “We the People of the United States” will become the subject of drastic revision.
The progressive expansion of American citizenship: the historical journey that began in the depths of the American Civil War with the Emancipation Proclamation, and which ended with President Barack Obama bathing the White House in all the colours of the rainbow, will be halted. Worse – it will be thrown into reverse.
In Nazi Germany the process began with The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour and The Reich Citizenship Law – both passed at a special session of the Reichstag convened during the 1935 Nazi Party Rally in the city of Nuremburg. It was through these so-called “Nuremburg Laws” that German Jews found themselves definitively excluded from what it meant to be German.
That is how it begins: with exclusions; deportations; preventive detentions; the construction of walls.
But that is not how it ends.
This essay was posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road on Saturday, 21 January 2017.


peteswriteplace said...

An interesting future for our American friends and allies.

Polly said...

God only knows what is going to happen.
I sought solace in prayer this morning.
Now having a few beers and the vodka bottle is starting to look inviting.
Whilst waiting for solid direction, if that is possible from what looks like a loose cannon, I shall continue to look for solace by my usual methods.

Spratcatcher said...

You can give Trump two or so years until he has to campaign for a second term.

If he hasn't done what he promised in the Rust Belt, he'll be a one term president and history will regard him as a loser.

Nick J said...

Fortunately for us Trump has never penned a deeply psychotic racist tome that spells out annihilation of an entire race and the invasion of neighbours. In his speaches he has promised the opposite.

Chris this Hitler thing is going a bit far. So is the Nazi bit. If you want to see fascists look no further than the Washington elite and their corporate connections. If you want to see totalitarianism look no further than the academic promotion of all the latest "isms".

I am going to say it again. Trump is no "free trade neo lib". He is no friend of the deep state, nor of corporate finance. He has stolen a march on the Left. He has not stolen the Lefts policies. They were left laying by the roadside.

I really think Trump a danger, not by his policies but with their possible execution. Meanwhile that Left whose children became middle class and full of their newfound liberal principles look down their noses at the lower class "deplorables" that voted elsewhere. Is this new class hatred why the middle class Left hates Trump and his supporters?

jh said...

I see the NY Times liked showing off a low attendance while not pointing out that 61% of Washington voted for Hillary.

fegimon said...

As much as I find the republican party generally repugnant, I find it hard to believe that Trump's administration is going to lead to the formation of America's Third Reich. The circumstances that befell the Weimar Republic and Germany's economy in the 1930s is very different from that of the US at present. Of course, from a progressive view point, there will be some issues that will regress (climate change, race relations) under his administration but drawing a parallel with that brutal murderous regime and what the US could become under his watch will likely prove to be a tenuous link. Time will tell of course but I do not think that the situation may be as apocalyptic as some progressives claim it to be.

greywarbler said...

It is frightening how heavy an idea can be. We build a physical object and weigh and measure it. A political idea, an idea about what politics is, what it should do, be and so on, differs from person to person, gets passed around like the game of 'Pass the Parcel' and if a political lightweight in judgment and wisdom gets hold of it, then its weight becomes beyond control.

Our present ideas can crush and damage all our human systems so carefully crafted over decades. The idea of democracy has been tainted; it now seems like an old idea. Can we change it employing our minds? Or is armed conflict likely made necessary by the lack of constructive thinking?

This from Avaaz. Are the rightwingers going to gather adherents as feared?
Racist French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, a friend of Putin, just tried to secretly meet with Trump. Then she headed to the summit of hate to talk about launching a Europe-wide united far right, sights set on elections in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and beyond.

Kat said...

Ask Kimbo for his take on the comparison of Trump & Hitler, should be least.

Patricia said...

Just because you don't like a person Chris does not mean that he has no good policies.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"not pointing out that 61% of Washington voted for Hillary."
Washington DC is 51% black. Many of whom are poor. So I'm not surprised. It's probably so obvious to an American that it's not necessary to point out.

Polly said...

As I have said previously God only knows what will happen, though of course we can all have sincere opinion.
The post by Nick J (21 Jan 17.37) give some balance to much of the general viewpoint on most left blogs.
That he became President without divulging his tax returns is amazing and there are now reports stating that he has not fully let go of his business interest's which apparently is illegal.
He is Commander in Chief of the biggest militarily force the world has ever seen and he was a draft dodger?.

Nick J, I hope you are right though I will stick with "God Only Knows" and accept that millions of people including people who use this blog do not believe that a God exists.
He may not but prayer does give solace.
So does Vodka.
God bless America. Please.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris

Inof Clearinghouse's James Petras makes a nazi Germany comparison too; But he has the CIA leading the Deep State as the nazi comparison , in an orchestrated campaign to delegitimise the president elect, as we have all been watching.

I think some consideration for what the man himself is saying he wants to do should not be completely dismissed in favour of calamitous expectations arbitrarily attributed to him, should not be abandoned quite yet.

He was elected.
Cheers David J S

Wayne Mapp said...


I am pretty unimpressed with this article. You know perfectly well that the Hitler comparison is extreme. Being a populist does make a person a HItletarian.

There are a vast numbers of reasons why such a comparison is foolish. Just to take three.

The first is that the US is a mature democracy, Germany was not. We know there will be US elections in two and four years from now. the rule of law will apply.

The second is that Trump has never tried to attempted a putsch.

The third is that he has never written anything like Mien Kampf.

But Chris, you know all this. There are plenty of reason to criticise Trump without drawing on a ludicrous Hitler comparison.

Even if you think he he has utterly changed America, experience shows that is highly unlikely. Not unless he has the impact of FDR or Reagan. How likely is that?

JanM said...

I am intrigued by Polly's solution for dealing with stress and uncertainty - prayer and vodka - why not - he he

Chris Trotter said...

As a man comfortably ensconced in the NZ Establishment, Wayne, your comments are entirely predictable. The status quo has always treated you well and it is clearly beyond your powers to imagine a situation in which all the comforting icons of your world are by turns besmirched, upended, smashed beyond repair.

No two historical eras are ever exactly the same, but the forces driving historical events are remarkably consistent.

The men and women who rise to leadership on the back of the political forces unleashed by massive economic and cultural disruption may be far-seeing and creative - like Franklin Delano Roosevelt - or sociopathic monsters - like Adolf Hitler.

Donald Trump is no FDR.

Watch and learn, Wayne. Watch and learn.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I'm not particularly fond of Hitler comparisons, but there are similarities. Trump shows the inclination to shut down the press. He has surrounded himself with authoritarian figures, who want to roll back the rights of American people, particularly women and LGBT people. His economic policy I find confusing so I won't comment too much. But he has also surrounded himself with racists, and tends to blame minorities for America's problems. One would hope that America's political institutions are a damn sight more robust than those of Weimar Germany though. And he does seem to have energised what Americans call "liberals" to get off their arses and actually do something. If this can be translated into some form of subnational activism and organisation, it may help. But there are number of things that militate against this. It's going to be interesting to see if the Democrats can stop his Supreme Court appointment/s. It's going to be interesting to see if the gerrymandering that's been going on for the last God knows how many years can be rolled back, but there is some small hope here.
Personal comparisons with Hitler I think are okay though. Essentially lazy, narcissistic, suspicious of everyone who doesn't kiss his arse repeatedly, sense of entitlement. Not as good a speaker as Hitler, but still able to rouse the rabble. AND... He wants to start doing infrastructure. Autobahns anyone? :)

Wayne Mapp said...


i agree Trump is no FDR, my question on that point was entirely rhetorical.

But neither do I think Trump is remotely like Hitler or any sort of analogy thereof.

It is true that I can't really imagine the icons of my world being smashed beyond repair. By that I mean the end of liberal democracy.

Trump may be troublesome, but I am pretty sure he won't bring about the end of the West. Because that is what a Hitler analogy is supposed to imply.

Otherwise why would you not just refer to him as a populist. Instead you invoke a much more dread fear. Populists have well trodden paths (in NZ Muldoon being an example), but they operate within democratic parameters. The election of populists does not forecast the end of democracy.

But your article seems to imply that. That the election of Trump is basically the end of the 250 year American experiment with democracy.

Well I guess that is your view, or perhaps you are simply being provocative.

David Stone said...


This is me in complete agreement with Wayne Mapp! .... Some weird shit going down here!

Maybe you'r right Chris and nothing will ever be the same again.
Cheers D J S

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"a column about the success of Venezuela perhaps of what a great man Castro was......"

And after that, columns about the Somoza regime, the Salvadorian junta, the Banza dictatorship and the Stroessner "government". All great men, particularly good at killing off their enemies and dismembering them with chainsaws. All supported by that bastion of democracy the USA.

jh said...

This morning CNN had extensive coverage of the protests against Trump. One woman claimed "we are the people", an actress was calling for a doubling down of efforts saying we need younger people to lead the fight; "we cannot go back - we must always go forward".
Johnathon Haidt talks about sacrilisation as a way of bonding human societies. Progressives have sacrilised equality (gender, race etc) and these have become non-negotiable. Also there has been a massive shift in the make up of tertiary institutions in humanities and social sciences (liberal in proportion to conservative). The result is opposing points of view are blasphemous and no one dare raise them. This translates to government and media. The treatment of Dr Greg Clydesdale ("New Zealand's most racist academic") is our own best example. Trump was a reaction to this "political correctness".

Bushbaptist said...

Trumpy is not Hitler much as we would like to describe him as such. He is not intelligent enough to ever be another Hitler. He's more of a Putinist.

What his election has shown us is what we already knew -- the US IS America Inc.

Contrary to the rants of rightwingers, the Left has been decimated but is still there. Bernie showed just how many Yanks believe in a better and fairer society. They simply have no voice in the US because their ingrained two party system. The traditional Left there was the Democrat Party but the Clintons turned that into a Nixonian ( Centre right) Republican Party. The pushed the Republicans out into the arms of the religious fringes. So the US has two right wing political parties. Democans and Republicrats.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I could also say – no I've seen the news this morning – that Trump's administration is similar to the Nazis and that they lie a lot. And they are now lying about something that is easily verifiable one way or the other. And I might add utterly unimportant. The crowd size at the inauguration. FFS there are photographs, there are witnesses, and they are still claiming that it is the biggest ever. Well, they are trying – but I think they have a little bit to learn from Joseph Goebbels yet.

Nick J said...

Writing after all of the post inauguration protests by women in particular I remain bemused by this very evident suspension of the ability to percieve reality.

Chris replies to Wayne that he is too comfortably ensconsed in the status quo to see Hitler in Trump. Watch and learn says Chris.

I would challenge both Chris and Wayne with the same charges in terms of the bigger picture. We do have a crisis of the age and nobody in the mainstream cares to name it. Former British diplomat Crooke sums it up here

In short our current model of economy, finance and energy, resource and environmental exploitation are terminal. Our woes derive from this. The inability of our current orthodoxy to respond gave usamong other joys the Don.

How this plays out politically who knows but a repeat of the 1930s which occurred in a growing industrial world of adequately available resources is possible as availability winds down. Grab and defend what you can. Whatever happens all of us, Chris and Wayne inclusive can say farewell to our "certainties " and status quo.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Progressives have sacrilised equality (gender, race etc) and these have become non-negotiable. "

So these things should be negotiable? Equality? If they are negotiable, in what way should they be negotiated? Where do you draw the line on equality? Do women get three quarters of the status of a man? Sounds a little bit like the old three fifths of a man for a black person in slave owning America. Jesus this is Bullshit. What sort of a person are you? (Well actually I think we know.)

Also there has been a massive shift in the make up of tertiary institutions in humanities and social sciences (liberal in proportion to conservative).

Funnily enough I know the figures for the US. Thirty years ago 60% of HARD SCIENTISTS identified as Conservative/Republican. Now it's down to below 20%. That's because as the Americans say, "Facts have a liberal bias."

Bushbaptist said...

Trumpy has surrounded himself with a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires who have never set foot outside of their gated communities. Example;Betsy De Vos as Education Secretary. She hates Public Schools and has never even walked passed one! She married into the family who started Amway and made millions out of it. Her brother Erik is the boss of Blackwater, the soldiers for hire company.

A good description of Trumpy is here:

Mark Hubbard said...

For the record, Chris, while we're on fascism and silencing (and extreme, absurd comparisons, as Wayne Mapp points out), you silenced by initial post, and, no doubt, this one.

jh said...

The Crowd size at the inauguration

jh said...

So these things should be negotiable? Equality? If they are negotiable, in what way should they be negotiated? Where do you draw the line on equality? Do women get three quarters of the status of a man? Sounds a little bit like the old three fifths of a man for a black person in slave owning America. Jesus this is Bullshit. What sort of a person are you?
Sorry i should have issued a trigger warning

Guerilla Surgeon said...

JH. I don't need trigger warnings for Bullshit. My Bullshit monitor works quite well thank you. Amazing how you can always find a rogue academic to backup your Bullshit though. Have you not once wondered why they are considered rogue academics? Quite possibly because they spout Bullshit. Perhaps you should retreat your safe space snowflake.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The inauguration crowd comparison. I think comparisons were also made with the number of subway rides taken on that day. In which case Trump comes out pretty low. You into "alternative facts" now? Oh sorry, you always were.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I see the Pope is on your side Chris. Not that that would be any great consolation to me but who knows.

jh said...

Of course, most consider antiracism a position, or evidence of morality. However, in 2015, among educated Americans especially, Antiracism … is now what any naïve, unbiased anthropologist would describe as a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so …

For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates … is formally classified as a celebrated writer. However, the particulars of his reception in our moment reveal that Coates is … a priest. Coates is ‘revered,’ as New York magazine aptly puts it, as someone gifted at phrasing, repeating, and crafting artful variations upon points that are considered crucial — that is, scripture …

This became especially clear last year with the rapturous reception of Coates’s essay, ‘The Case for Reparations’ … People loved Coates’s article not as politics, since almost no one thinks reparations are actually going to happen … People were receiving ‘The Case for Reparations’ as, quite simply, a sermon. Its audience sought not counsel, but proclamation. Coates does not write with this formal intention, but for his readers, he is a preacher …

The Antiracism religion, then, has clergy, creed, and also even a conception of Original Sin. Note the current idea that the enlightened white person is to, I assume regularly (ritually?), ‘acknowledge’ that they possess White Privilege. Classes, seminars, teach-ins are devoted to making whites understand the need for this …

The call for people to soberly ‘acknowledge’ their White Privilege as a self-standing, totemic act is based on the same justification as acknowledging one’s fundamental sinfulness is as a Christian. One is born marked by original sin; to be white is to be born with the stain of unearned privilege.

jh said...

Aristotle often evaluated a thing with respect to its “telos” – its purpose, end, or goal. The telos of a knife is to cut. The telos of a physician is health or healing. What is the telos of university?…

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” –Karl Marx, 1845

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion…” –John Stuart Mill, 1859

Marx is the patron saint of what I’ll call “Social Justice U,” which is oriented around changing the world in part by overthrowing power structures and privilege. It sees political diversity as an obstacle to action. Mill is the patron saint of what I’ll call “Truth U,” which sees truth as a process in which flawed individuals challenge each other’s biased and incomplete reasoning…

no university can have Truth and Social Justice as dual teloses. Each university must pick one. I show that Brown University has staked out the leadership position for SJU, and the University of Chicago has staked out the leadership position for Truth U…

Anonymous said...

Just another hater of Trump, along with all the leftie media.
ha ha, Trump won, Marxism lost, the tide is turning, and about time.
Our little socialist PM must be cringing - he has shown his true colours, no better than the slippery Key!!
Go Trump, and hurrah for democracy!! We are saved.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus wept, the cut-and-pastes just keep coming don't they. At least I've actually read Ta-Nehesi Coates. I doubt you have. I also doubt that you understand half of what you post. Just stop. My crap alarm keeps going off and it's keeping me awake.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well done anonymous 11:41. Your cogent reply cuts to the heart of the matter. I have completely changed my mind – thank you./Sarc, because you never know.

Victor said...

Trump is certainly not another Hitler. Nor is he a Nazi. But he is clearly and obviously a fascist.

Let me stress that I’m not using the “f’ word as a blanket form of abuse for just about anyone on the right wing of the political spectrum. Margaret Thatcher was not, to my mind, a fascist, nor was Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Enoch Powell, Ronald Reagan or George W Bush, exorable though they all were in many ways. Nor, for that matter, would I use the term to describe old-fashioned military despots such as Pinochet, Suharto or Mobutu.

Trump is a fascist because his ideology, prejudices, strategies, tactics and attractiveness to many voters (who should all know better) resemble in extraordinary detail those of European regimes and movements from between approximately 1922 and 1945, with which the term fascist has been conventionally associated and which often claimed that label as their own.

Moreover, Trumpism has emerged in circumstances that are extremely similar to those that fuelled the previous fascist surge , viz a period of great economic uncertainty, associated with the apparent collapse of a once deeply entrenched liberal hegemony and the inability of the democratic left to make a sufficiently coherent or compelling counter-appeal to voters.

In addition, of course, Trump’s victory is part of a global wave that may very soon sweep even more clearly fascistic parties to power in a number of other western nations, including, perhaps most notably, France.

As a centre-left European immigrant to New Zealand of more than thirty years standing, I must say that I’m struck and a mite disappointed by the apparent failure of the New Zealand left (as evidenced by contributors to threads on this subject on Bowally Road) to recognise fascism when it’s staring them in the face. And I’m certainly appalled by those making excuses for it.

jh said...


I doubt you have. I also doubt that you understand half of what you post.
My friend wants to buy a house in Dunedin. He is at his lawyers finalizing his divorce where he reads a Property Investor magazine. A fat blond woman is leading a delegation to China to get them interested in Dunedin property. She says it is too bad if prices go up "it is our turn".
How do they get away with it? Part of the reason is that anti-racism has become religion on the left and institutionalised.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"How do they get away with it? Part of the reason is that anti-racism has become religion on the left and institutionalised."

No, the reason is unregulated capitalism and right wing greed.

jh said...

No, the reason is unregulated capitalism and right wing greed.
The future of Auckland is the focus of a panel discussion chaired by Bill Ralston at the Auckland Museum. It features Marina Matthews from the law firm Chen Palmer; and Waikare Komene, a young architect from Otara, along with Professor Damon Salesa from the University of Auckland, and business commentator Rod Oram, well-known to RNZ listeners.

Bill Ralston: I mean Marina picking up on the Herald thing and based on your massive study. Going back (I think it was 2001) 67%of our island city was pakeha. Now it is down to 54% and falling rapidlyIt wont be long before Pakeha Aucklanders are a minority. Is that necessarliy a good thing or could it be a bad thing?

Marina Mathews: I think it could be a good thing. I'll just draw on my experiences working 10 years in the public sector in Wellington. I mean when you look at Wellington it has it's own ethnoburbs as well. Um the population and ethnicity of folk in Eastbourne (across the water) is a bit different to that of Cannons Creek by Porirua . So it is slightly systematic. It 's starting to grow across NZ. Asia NZ did a survey (a 2015 report)on the population of house buyers in Auckland. It was just a little more scientific than Phil Twyford may have ventured about people who had surnames that might have sounded like some foreign word who were house owners. What they did say is that 25% of the population of Pine Hill in NZ are Chinese. Um 10% of the population of house owners in Glenn Innes are Indian and so what is happening as a result is that businesses are having to alter what they are doing, how they are delivering and how they are coping. The number one seller at Pac nSave in Albany is white rice (not white potatoes). Another big seller is chicken feet. And so you are seeng the market (I love the French market in Parrnell) It's a lot different to if I went down to Otara on a saturday.

Ralston: It's a lot different to if you went down Sandringham Road where there's a whole pile of medium spice shopsand Restuarants, um and down the back of Dominion Road there is the biggest Chinese Supermarket I've ever seen (bout 2 or 3 football fields in size) and you can buy whatever you want. That's the gift, I suppose, that diversity brings.

Rod Oram: Absolutely! That makes Auckland a fabulously interesting city. And obviously the key thing we need to care a lot about about are that people are moving around and are appreciating and taking more interest year round rather than just turning up at Albert Park for a lantern show or Diwhali festival. And of course there are people who just hunker downin their neighbourhood or their community. But I'd like to thinkthere are people particularily amongst the younger generation who are strong in their own identity but are keen to appreciate other identities too.

jh said...

Johnathon Haidt and EO Wilson are reopening the case for group selection. Johnathon Haidt also suggests we have had sufficient time for disparate groups of humans to evolve traits which give them advantages or disadvantages over other groups. Anti racists say we are like jelly-babys: soak us in water and we are all gelatine underneath. Our government is supposed to be looking after the best interest of the people of this country (or that country). Does it matter if it takes the locals a bit longer to qualify as doctor, dentist or plumber than group B from across the water?