Events threaten to overwhelm my mind. The world stands on the brink of a crisis, and I cannot tell whether the world will drown me, or whether a disordered mind is drowning out the world.
Everywhere the crisis is held at a point of tension, and so much seems to hang on how events will unfold in America. The daily news from the US seems to matter so much because there is more than a choice between politicians – erratic Trump and corrupt, compromised Biden – on the ballot of this election in the United States of America.
Unusually, this election appears to be a choice between regimes, empires and cultures. Will American revert to a gerontocratic neo-liberal consensus in the service of the financial and tech oligarchs? Or will it gamble with a very uncertain remake of a Jacksonian populist republic? Will America or China win their 100 year marathon struggle, of which this election is one crucial hill run at the 30 kilometre mark? Will the Red Guards bombard the headquarters and control all the opera houses? Or will new Benedictine orders blossom in remote emerald isles?
And these choices weigh on the whole world, not only America. Steven Bannon says “this election is the most important in China for five thousand years.” In his view, Trump represents a choice for nationalism that could destroy both the globalist elite or Party of Davos and the regime of the Chinese Communist Party, and so free “old hundred names” (lao baixing) whose sweat and blood flows into the bytes and gold of Big Tech and the financial oligarchs. Although I suspect this dream of liberating together the deplorables and old hundred names is a reinvented dream of American exceptionalism, Bannon’s predicate is surely correct. The oligarchs of America and China are bound together by deals, the shadow security state, compromat and the betrayal of their fellow citizens. Treachery, your name is Biden.
The election itself is not only decisive. So much will depend on the moral choices of American citizens when the results unveil in the count and then in the courts. Over the last few months there have been bad omens in the behaviour of the rioters, the media, Big Tech, and the para-political class of lawyers, think-tankers and commentariat. For nearly four years, and with febrile mania since June, they have denounced Trump as a tyrant about to destroy democracy while they themselves sabotage the forms, norms and rules of the constitutional republic. They fight for anarchy and oligarchy, not a political order where political enemies can live freely at peace within the borders of civility and a constitution.
What will we see when the polls return on the night of 3 November 2020? Will the resistance reemerge? Will riots and peaceful protests become more violent and more desperate and more undemocratic? How ruthless will the lawfare challenging election results be? What rulings in the courts might decide the election? Will political actors abide by the procedures of the Constitution to decide the President? Will Big Tech censor political speech again? Will they shut down the New York Post and the accounts of the White House? Will Democratic Party operatives urge the military to intervene? Will the octogenarian Pelosi commence another impeachment? Will the FBI and CIA conspire again to impose the rule of espionage? Will dark armies clash at night? Will there be a coup? Will blood be spilled? Will the republic fall?
All the threats to the rule of law that I see come from the Democratic Party elite, who have made, I fear, a dark bargain with oligarchs, intelligence operatives and insurrectionists. For them, the election results may indeed be incidental. The real action comes after the polls, so long as Biden is within the margin of litigation, and within the zone of intimidation by a street fight.
If there is a close result, we could see an ugly few weeks that would surely be exploited by America’s geostrategic rival, China. Could China move on Taiwan amidst a power struggle and street riots in Washington? Will the constitutional order withstand this domestic stress test? Events could rapidly spin out of control.
If Biden wins decisively, I fear for the effect on the culture. A triumphalist cancel culture will swing out onto the streets. There will be a vengeful struggle for power. Robert Reich may get his “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to expunge the heretics and infidels. But the progressives will soon learn they have been put in charge of the opera houses to keep them away from the guns, the spies, the banks and the oligarchs. They will soon realise they have reinstalled a corrupted elite.
If Trump wins decisively, how will those affected by Trump derangement syndrome react? Will they admit defeat and error? Will the prgressives lash out or will they turn on the old corrupt operatives within their own party who imposed Old Corruption of their Brave New World? Will they live and let live? Or will all the conspiracies begin again? Will a Trump victory herald the rebuilding of the institutions of Jacksonian American Republic on the drained swamplands of the American Empire? Or will the Trump victory commence the disintegration of the American Republic, and with it the collapse of the modern democratic mind?
Image Source: Canberra Times, Police protecting the White House from riots or protests in Lafayette Park, June 2020