Wallerstein looks at the world in the era of Trump

Wallerstein usually doesn’t make short-term predictions, but has made an exception in the case of Trump. He says:

    It seems to me that everyone everywhere is focused for the moment on what will now happen in the short run. There seems to be no other subject of interest. Anxiety is at its maximum, and we need to deal with it.

It’s Commentary No. 440, January 1, 2017 when it passes into the archive.

His first prediction will not reduce anxiety one little bit:

    Let me start by saying that I think 95% of the policies Donald Trump will pursue in his first year or so in office will be absolutely terrible, worse than we anticipated. This can be seen already in the appointments to major office that he has announced. At the same time, he will probably run into major trouble.

He says that Trump has the knack of responding to people’s fears in a way that they find satisfying, without enunciating an actual workable policy.

Others fill in the gaps, and he is happy with that, even if they are contradictory, as long as they express confidence in his leadership.

    If he sensed any hesitation about endorsing him personally, he has been quick to wreak vengeance by attacking publicly the offender. He required absolute fealty, and insisted it be displayed. He accepted penitent remorse but not ambiguity about his person.

On foreign affairs, Trump’s focus is on Russia and China. Nixon, he says, tried to do a deal with China to weaken Russia. Trump is trying to cosy up to Russia to weaken China.

It won’t work, says Wallerstein. Russia has its own agenda, becoming a power of influence in the Middle east and the former Soviet zone. It will carry right on promoting its own agenda, as will China, asserting a dominant position in Northeast and Southeast Asia, and increasing its role in the rest of the world.

The real worry is how Trump will react when he finds that “he is not the alpha dog internationally to whom everyone must give obeisance.”

    What he might do once his threats are ignored is again anyone’s guess. What everyone fears is that he will act precipitately with the military tools at his disposition. Will he? Or will he be restrained by his immediate inner group? No one can be sure. We can all just hope.

It’s pretty much like that on the domestic front. Republicans in Congress, especially those in the House of Representatives have a different agenda than Trump’s. For example, they wish to destroy Medicare, and to repeal all social legislation of the last century.

    Trump knows that this could bring a revolt of his actual electoral base, who want social welfare at the same time that they want a deeply protectionist government and xenophobic rhetoric.

So how Trump will react and what will happen is essentially unpredictable, However:

    If somehow we reach in the coming year an interim stability within the United States and within the world-system as a whole, then the middle-run takes over analytically. And there the story, while still grim, has at least better prospects for those of us who want a better world than that which we presently have.

So with a bit of luck, what Trump does won’t matter very much in the longer run.

The earlier post was Wallerstein on the consequences of Trump.