But Chomsky makes sure to note, in an extended paragraph, "I don't suggest that he's anything like Hitler. Hitler had an ideology, horrible ideology. ... As far as Trump is concerned, the only detectable ideology is pure narcissism."
Let us set aside the well-known fact that Trump keeps a book of Hitler's speeches by his bed. There is something absolutely naïve afoot among soft-socialist bourgeois scribblers. Maybe people do not remember, since it was sixteen years ago, but a common question about George W Bush was... how can he be so... stupid? Here is a typical scree from The Atlantic senior editor Jack Beatty in 2001: "he has the kind of difficulty with language, syntax, and coherence that, had he been born George Smith rather than George Bush, would likely have consigned him to a low-status job—speech being a cruel marker of class disadvantage." And yet, when it was time to pull together and root for Amerika's genocide of over 1.5 million Iraqis, The Atlantic was ready to publish Richard Brookhiser's dick-riding of W that goes to great lengths to show how no, Bush is not stupid, he gets up and does his job as U.S. President every day - including specifically, that he likes to hear from people he disagrees with, which goes against the "echo chamber" myth that plays off the bloodthirsty invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as self-righteous idiocy.
Here's war pig David Frum himself in the Atlantic recently: "Trump failed. He is failing. He will continue to fail. And Americans are paying for his failures." Well, just a minute. Trump is sitting in the White House. He is the ostensible boss of everyone at the Pentagon. Over 43% of Americans approve of the job he's doing, and that number hasn't fallen below 36%, ever. One might say that 36% support is not very good - but still, it's eighty million adult Amerikans who are pleased with how he is doing. A national television channel is devoted to predicting what Trump wants to hear and broadcasting that exclusively, and everyone around him is in constant fear of what might happen if they don't enable him to do whatever he wants - does that sound like failure, if we're talking about a "narcissistic psychopath"? To me it sounds like the loftiest ambition a psychopath could fulfill.
In hindsight, does anyone believe George W Bush was simply the Don Quixote of Capitol Hill? After his turn at the helm of the US regime wrapped up, even credulous opposition remora Jonathan Chait cashed in on both sides of the stupid vs evil debate, taking down such glass-jawed opponents as professional moron David Brooks and the urine-scented Jennifer Rubin. A common reacharound offered by journalists "critical" of Trump, as noted in The Hill for example, is that Trump has nothing on Bush - confirming that yes, Bush knew exactly what he was doing when he lied his way into an illegal war, deregulated the housing market, and tortured any poor soul offered up by Saudi Arabia at the gates of Abu Ghraib. (On the other hand, Bush didn't rape an unknown number of children with his close, lifelong friend Jeffrey Epstein, so, as often happens, comparing all-round Evil Scores proves more difficult than expected.) I admit that I myself have joked about Bush being dumb, and I still laugh when it is implied that he loves bananas. But we know now that whether Bush was stupid or not, he was malicious. He wanted bad things to happen, and he succeeded.
So, my fellow Amerikans, it's time to grow up a little bit and put the same logic to Trump. Trump and his administration are being given so many excuses for why they might be "unintentionally" endangering millions of people's lives, that they don't even have to come up with their own. For example, Trump is going senile, he can't see, he is addicted to drugs, he's addicted to the internet, and he doesn't even want to be president. As for his response to the covid-19 pandemic, some imply that he is adopting a "wildly irresponsible" plan out of short-term interest, attempting to stave off rock-bottom until after November. A nearly incoherent piece in the New York Times imagines that Trump is trying to emotionally manipulate voters by raising their Anger or Fear levels in ways that incapacitate Democrat voters but not Republican ones.
Why are these writers trying so hard to avoid saying what we all know? Trump wants people to die. Most of the articles linked above actually agree with this, but see it as a "tactic" that serves a more abstract political goal. By the same logic, Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs wanted to skin women, as a tactic to create extremely tasteless fashion - and it's his fashion faux pas that is really supposed to bother you. Supposedly, Trump wants people to die because it is expedient for him, in service of a larger agenda.
Agenda for what? What is the ultimate victory for Trump? Is it four or eight more years as President? Forty or eighty more years of GOP control over the US political system? Elevation of the Trump family within the network of elite families that run Amerikan imperialism? But if Trump is such a narcissist, if he is really the goldfish-brained clownfish we all know he is, do we really see him taking such a long view with each calculated maneuver? And while we're asking questions: if Trump only wants common people to die because it's expedient for a bigger plan that has nothing to do with killing lots of people, wouldn't there be times when letting common people die was not expedient and he would seek to avoid it? Can anyone list those times when Trump did something to help poor people survive?
Or, is his goal the restoration of Amerika to its "former greatness," as he himself claims? I don't think it's controversial to say that MAGA is a slang term for open white supremacy and subjugation of women. How could this goal be accomplished in any other way than killing people? The establishment of a white ethnostate, or a "truly free market capitalist" state for that matter, is inseparable from mass murder. If we simply admit that Trump wants to see lots of people die, what ICE has become under his administration makes sense. Separating families allows lots of people to die unseen, away from anyone who would remember them, while pimping out their valuable orphans to white adoptive parents. Predicting a future 80 years from now with temperatures 7° C above the present and carbon emissions doubled, and doing everything possible to bring that future about, has no logical explanation in narcissism, autocracy, oedipal anger, a fetish for human skin tanned orange, or any other internal state of mind, unless that state of mind wants to see as many people die as possible.
The restoration of white nationalism and the restoration of capitalism are symbiotic movements in the Trump administration, as a return to the Jim Crow era, meant to lock surviving workers out of upward class mobility, requires an enormous apartheid state to ensure surplus value falls into the right hands. Again, we return to the same basic political program of mass murder, because it's much more costly to suppress crowds of former homeowners than it is to take the homes of dead people. It's much more costly to support small dairy farmers who meet a real demand, but are no longer competitive due to the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit, than it is for those farmers to lose everything and starve, and have their farms bought for virtually nothing by a national dairy conglomerate. Trump may or may not understand the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit - but none of the pundits I've linked above do. Because if they did, they would understand that capitalism in crisis can be rescued quite easily, by destruction on a massive scale.
The economic catastrophe that has bloomed from the seed crystal of covid-19 is already being managed with this simple tool. For example, even though consumer demand for dairy is very high, and prices for dairy are also very high, huge amounts of milk are being dumped... straight into the ocean, maybe. Under communism, where all the people of the nation had democratic control over what the nation produces and how it uses its national products, this extra milk, which is already not being produced at a profit, would simply be free. Perhaps it would be subsidized to still be delivered to the same kitchens it was intended for, so that they can continue to make food for their communities even if they can't perform the same function of hosting them while they dine. But a planned economy would easily manage this "problem" of having too much of a good thing.
Instead, rational people find they have "excess" milk, because they live in an anarchist system of suppliers and purchasers fending for themselves with no national direction of production for the common interest. In fact, despite having an abundance of a product that everyone wants, dairy farmers are financially struggling. This very informative page gives us a lot more information: first, that even if this $19 billion bailout went entirely to the dairy industry, it would cover about one month of wasted milk. This article, written in June of last year, also complains that, even though dairy technology and yield per cow has increased over time, this has had the unwanted effect of driving prices down so low that smaller farms are not able to turn a profit, while simultaneously (the article doesn't admit this, but it's an obvious side effect of moving from small family farms to large industrial dairy facilities) driving down wages - exactly as Marx predicted in his formulation of the law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit.
For those who want to restore milk to its former greatness, what could be better than the current situation? People are buying milk out of panic. The government is going to be forced to get involved and pay off the dairy industry's obligations while it continues to collapse. Small competitors will fold up. Vast herds will become dog food before their udders can explode. The public will get used to milk costing an irritating, high price. Dairy workers can have their wages and even employment status reduced (if they are pushed into becoming subcontractors or paid under the table), while their potential replacements, desperate survivors of the covid-19 summer, grow dramatically in number each day. Sure, lots of individual farmers will suffer and die. Lots of children will be malnourished with calcium-poor diets. But after that period, we who own stock in the milk industry will see a great return on our portfolio.
The same thing is true throughout the Amerikan economy. Trump can easily "fix" healthcare, that is, restore the healthcare industry to profitability in a way that doesn't require constant, massive fraud and extortion of sick people. All he has to do is kill people who provide the least amount of profit to the healthcare industry. When the crisis ends, a great number of nursing homes will have gone out of business, their facilities bought up by private equity and a certain percentage shuttered to create scarcity for the survivors. Trump could easily solve urban housing crisis: let lots of people die. Think about how much your rent would go down if 20% of your city's population died! Traffic? A few days of bumper-to-bumper hearses will unclog those arteries. If we agree Trump is a sociopath, isn't this how a sociopath thinks?
Trump has a definite ideology, despite Chomsky's equivocation. It's fascism. The fascist program is the complete union of nation-state and capital, burning labor power in a bonfire to achieve its aims. Beyond the accumulation of value, these aims are largely theoretical; what matters is the bonfire of enemies, which enthralls the fascist gaze. In covid-19, Trump has an opportunity to kill a lot of people, and he's taking full advantage of it.
You might be saying, well, I guess we should get Democrats into power this year, if Trump is really so evil. But unfortunately, Amerika, the Democratic Party wants you to die too. Mass death is such an attractive political program, and represents such a great opportunity for business, that your pathetic, human life is never going to get any respect from people who have careers as politicians. Again, with this reality in the front of our minds, certain confusing encounters begin to make perfect sense. Well, have a great day in the greatest country on earth. I need to go tag over the "Thin the Herd" graffiti that has started appearing on sidewalks in my hip urban neighborhood.