ALL AH WE IS ONE: The US unravels
THE MARTINIQUAIS THINKER and statesman Aime Cesaire, in his Discourse On Colonialism written in 1955, offered a clinical analysis of the end of European empire, which provides a useful framework for understanding what is happening with Donald Trump’s America today.
In reflecting on the collapse of Europe after the World War II, Cesaire insisted one needed no further proof that Europe could no longer justify itself “either before the bar of reason or the bar of conscience”, than the rise of Adolf Hitler itself.
In short, after creating Hitler as a logical and natural outgrowth of all of Europe’s historical past, not as a unique aberration, Europe had lost all legitimate claims to being civilised, a claim upon which its imperial actions had been rationalised.
Today, with the election of Donald Trump, and with his actions reducing the United States to the laughing stock of the world, it can be said that the era of American end of “world leadership” has arrived.
Quite ironically, Trump’s campaign was built on the notion that indeed the USA had become globally less powerful, hence his goal to “make America great again”. Unfortunately, his chosen method has been to appeal to economic nationalism, xenophobia and militarism as a way of “imposing” American greatness upon the world.
Trump stands in relation to America precisely where Hitler stood in relation to Germany following World War I. Defeated in the Great War, with its currency in free fall and its economy in shambles, Hitler adopted extreme nationalist and global militarism as his method of “making Germany great again”.
The rest is history, except to say that it took a new globalised Keynesian order to allow West Germany to recover from Hitler’s failed approach.
At the centre of this new globalised economic order was the Marshall Plan which pumped billions of dollars into West Germany, as part of the Western world’s response to its competition with European communism, which incidentally had accounted for splitting Germany into East and West, literally reducing Germany’s potential to half of its former possibilities, until the 1990s.
The lesson in all of this is that the future path of Trump’s United States can be easily read from history. Whilst Barack Obama had recognised that in the new world it was necessary for America to redefine its mode of engagement with global humanity, Trump is deluding himself into thinking that by offensively shouting “America first” in the ears of friends and foes alike, that he can change the world.
If America’s decline is an objective fact, then Trump’s historical role may very well be to hasten it. He certainly is a symptom of it, as suggested by Cesaire’s analysis of Hitler and Europe: “A civilisation that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates,is a decadent civilisation.”
Trump symptomises America’s decadence.
•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org