It’s an ill wind that blows no good. Trump didn’t actually win, and well meaning candidates Johnson and Stein may have prevented the Electoral College vote from matching the popular vote, but we have to look forward.
In recent blogs I linked the possibility of a Trump win to the ‘unexpected’ success of Farage, Sanders and Corbyn. Despite huge differences they are all perceived as outsiders, not part of the gang that has a stranglehold. For me, the most telling result was Ohio. Trump won overwhelmingly in the ‘rust belt’, which used to be reliably Democrat for as long as anyone could remember. The same thing happened with Brexit in similar parts of Britain: they are in distress, and believe promises which will not materialize. (It could have been so different if Jill Stein, or the UK Green Party really understood the Citizens’ Basic Income, but I mustn’t cry over spilt milk.)
So how much does Trump matter? Democracy actually became even less relevant than it was a week or so before the USA election, when Wallonia finally succumbed to CETA, the Canadian trade and investment deal. Democracy was already more or less nominal, but now the full rigour of TTIP, to which some were beginning to wake up, has come into force through the CETA back door. American corporations have only to open operations in Canada. Europe, which still includes the UK, must do as it is told, or at least not do anything ‘Canadian’ businesses do not like.
Trump is still a worrying phenomenon. Are his plans to torpedo last December’s Paris Agreement on Climate change any higher on his ‘to do’ list than his campaign ‘promise’ to arrest Mrs. Clinton? The most hopeful sign is that he has already started to break promises, for example not necessarily trashing the whole of ‘Obamacare’.
But in that case, how much reliance can we put on his stated intention to tear up existing trade agreements? His motives are of course purely isolationist, with no regard for wider considerations, but who benefits from all that trade anyway? Certainly not the ecosphere. Some of us (not just me) have been trying to suggest that a Basic guaranteed income for individuals is going to be a necessity in the near future, trade or no trade, so it would still be useful if Jill Stein and the Green Party read my blog. Once that is in place, people will be able to buy what they need, and small businesses in Wallonia will have the possibility of holding their own against invading American (sorry, Canadian) firms. World wide, individuals governments and corporations will all find it easier with a Basic Income to take decisions which protect the ecosphere.
So in this topsy turvy world, could TTIP or CETA actually be blessings in disguise once we have a Citizens’ Basic Income? They may be no more than straws to clutch at, but Trump’’s arrival does make one think the unthinkable. But surely, the malign purpose of TTIP and CETA is to ensure that commercial interests are in control, not democratic decisions? Some years ago there was a terrifying programme on BBC Radio 4 (so no link). The gist was that democracy would have to be sacrificed if there was to be any hope of keeping the planet in a fit state for future generations. The necessary decisions would be too unpopular. Even without Trump, and even though ‘Paris’ has been ratified far earlier than expected, it is not certain that enough countries will implement their promises to ensure that the global temperature remains below 1.5 degrees. Even that may be enough to cause mayhem. Once enough Arctic or Antarctic ice cover disappears, a ‘tipping point’ is reached beyond which the temperature rise will be unstoppable.
But there is a ray of hope. Exxonmobil knew about climate change as long ago as the 1970s. They lied, and put the whole weight of their publicity into denying it. But who can blame them? Some of us do of course, but as I have pointed out in ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, (see my Page, Book Resume, for a more succinct explanation of the link), the optimum response for a competitive organization as Limits to Growth approach, is to be the most aggressive for as long as they dare.
But there are signs that even Exxonmobil recognizes when to stop. They have been playing a hard game of Poker, but at the end of the day they are not really stupid, just appalling risk takers. Exxonmobil knows that trashing the ecosphere is not in the interests of their long term profitability .
The power now lies with the corporations free from popular (populist?) constraints who despite denials, have understood the dangers of climate change all along. TTIP is designed to control elected governments. What if we have the bizarre spectacle of TTIP being used to prevent President Trump from wrecking the ‘Paris’ agreement? Not to mention changing our own British Conservative government’s approach to the environment. Could the oil producers even decide that fracking in overcrowded Britain is not their best option? Perhaps that is a hope too far. I put no date on these er, predictions, but bearing in mind Corbyn’s prospects at the May 2015 general election, or Trump’s prospects 18 months ago, could they be about as likely as Corbyn becoming Prime Minister?
Mind you, if we have to do without democracy, and I think that is already the case, then a Citizens’ Basic, guaranteed income for everyone, everywhere, is a must.
But every cloud, even Trump or TTIP, has a silver lining.