Most of Marche’s narratives seem more imaginable than a future in which Jan. 6 turns out to be the peak of right-wing insurrection, and America ends up basically OK. “It’s so easy to pretend it’s all going to work out,” he [Marche] writes. I don’t find it easy.
Like its antecedents, Trumpism appealed to many of its supporters as a response to perceived structural, class-based injustices. Like its antecedents, it said it would seek to shift the balance of social forces in favor of the left-behinds and underdogs. And like its antecedents, it finally couldn’t break free of the myths that are part and parcel of the American economic order and that help legitimate it.
The “American carnage” Donald Trump railed against in his 2017 Inaugural Address was the product of specific policies and a specific mode of economic governance. The symptoms of the “carnage”: stagnant real wages; pervasive health and job insecurity; the disappearance into thin air of America’s industrial base; ruthless labor, tax and regulatory arbitrage by corporations, in the form of offshoring and open borders; the corollary decline in union power in the private economy; the ravages of fentanyl; and, at the level of cultural and ideological production, the rise of Big Tech, with its power to discipline not just what workers do and earn but also what they can say and think.
To reverse the carnage would have required reform and a sturdy willingness to govern. On those counts, the Trumpians came up short, beholden as they were to American populism’s irrepressible libertarian spirit.