At times likes these, it can seem as if Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn, as an example left-right pairing, represent paths for society that go in opposite directions – one being progress and the other being regression. But this is an illusion. Trump’s belief that protectionism and closed borders will make Americans more prosperous is false. As is Corbyn’s belief that democratic socialism, nationalisation and government money printing will do the same for Britons.
Both of these political ideologies, however socialistic or fascistic, can only impoverish the people they are imposed upon. We know this from history and we can deduce this with sound economic reasoning. And so the two paths, which appear to go in opposite directions, actually bend around and converge at an unseeable (but not unknowable) point in the distance. Three grave stones at that point read: prosperity, peace and progress.
We should never forget that the struggle is not between Left and Right, but between power and freedom. And this has always been the defining struggle in the story of humanity. The paths to power circle endlessly around the state, but the paths to freedom, prosperity and progress go in every direction away from it.
The only difference between the Donald Trump now and of a few months ago is the nature of his power. Before he became president, his wealth gave him power but only the power of persuasion. He had more persuasion power than most, but as a citizen, he was subject to the law like everyone else. Which meant he couldn’t force anyone to do anything they didn’t want to.
But now, as President, he is effectively above the law and can force millions of people to act according to his will by making his will the law. He no longer has to persuade anyone to give him something he wants or to do something he wants by giving them something in exchange. He just has to sign an executive order.
And the coercive apparatus of the state, from policemen to bureaucrats, enforce and administer everyone’s compliance. This network of state agents cemented into the foundation of American society does the nasty work for him. Just like mafia goons do the roughing up, not the mafia boss himself.
It’s important to remember that there was a time in America’s short history when this network, the Deep State as it has become known, didn’t exist. And yet American society flourished to an astonishing degree without it.
Trump the billionaire didn’t need to harm anyone in order to benefit the many people he did by virtue of being wealthy. But Trump the president can either only harm the people his executive orders are aimed at or else can only give to some people by first taking from others.
So it’s not Donald Trump the man who people are afraid of. Who’d be afraid of some guy in his seventies with a bad hair do? It’s Donald Trump the President, the head of state, the ultimate decision maker and the man with the world’s most powerful army at his disposal who people are afraid of. It is the power that America’s political system grants to Donald Trump the President that terrifies people.
That power is the legal right to coerce people on mass and the power to kill people on mass. That’s what the state boils down to. This legal evil is the greatest evil in the world, but it usually goes unrecognised because the skilled rhetoric of professional politicians and the rationalisations of state intellectuals, who often believe that state power is virtuous or else that it is a necessary evil, masks it so well that it appears to many to be the greatest force for good in society.
But with Trump, who makes no attempt to appear to be an intellectual and doesn’t bother mincing his words or disguising his intentions, the state’s mask has become transparent to many people on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Suddenly, they can see what was once obscured by a dense fog of statist ideology: the many, many guns pointing at their heads. The guns have always been there and so they really shouldn’t be shocked by them, but they are.
Trump’s presidency is enabling many people to see the state for what it truly is: a force for social regression, the ultimate tool of evil. Lots of people are reeling from the effects of this at the moment. But when a new president arrives in either four or eight years’ time, will they revert back to seeing the state as they saw it before Trump arrived or will they remain looking in the eye the evil that is really there?