As the night moves on in the U.S. and with it the vote count, it becomes clear that the final results are going to be contested and disputed and that they will possibly not be consolidated into the official victory of one of the candidates until a few days from now. What matters in the current situation is not so much the detail and the trickle of partial results in the race but what the situation itself shows us about the leading world power.
Questions in the air
Katrina again and again. Outside the United States, for two generations raised in the Cold War and impressed by the war displays of the two Gulf Wars, the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans was surprising. The absence of basic infrastructure, the massive poverty that became visible, the desperation and the every man for himself of looting in the middle of an emergency situation, the lack of means of a military force which overwhelmed entire countries but which, in its backyard, did not even have pumps to bail out water… And that was just the beginning. The media in Europe and Latin America took for granted a rapid reconstruction presented in all its glory. It never came. It was the Katrina moment, the first realization that the state of the world’s greatest imperialist power was far from being that powerful and efficient machine of the pandemic movies. And in fact the current pandemic made it clear that the U.S. had less than 1/3 of the hospital beds per capita of Japan or Korea and less than half that of Germany. However, with 3 times more homeless people per thousand inhabitants than Spain and a rate of prison population seven times higher than China. The United States is already on its third wave of Covid and between one wave and another it has never managed to reach the lowest point of the previous one.
The European press and televisions present all this as part of the US social model and increasingly use it to argue the supposed superiority of European state capitalism over the American one. In other words, according to European propaganda these are things that should be sidelined because they reflect nothing more than political and cultural options, acts of collective will. This is a falsehood. But now is not the time to discuss it.
The question is… How is it possible for the world’s leading technological power to lack an uncontroversial and rapid system of electoral counting? How can it be that a state capable of moving half a million soldiers to the other side of the world in three weeks is incapable of ensuring that the votes sent by mail will arrive on time at the polling stations? How can it be that in the middle of election night judges needed to order the intervention of entire postal districts to find lost votes.
Error 500 keeps happening again and again. The USA is the Mecca of information technologies, big data and Artificial Intelligence development. They tell us that the predictive capacity of the new process technologies is such that we should fear a supposed singularity which would allow to replace massively all kind of workers by software and robots…
The famous predictive and poll-based models used by the major American media, gave Trump no more than a 10% chance. A supposedly easy ride for Biden which, regardless of the outcome that is finally confirmed, is very far away from the outcome of the ballot box. In the end, gambling houses seem to have reflected much better the way opinion was developing.
So the obvious question is: how can it be that the leading technological power, the vanguard of the information analysis industry and the largest ideological and media machinery ever seen have not managed to even approximate the results of their own work as opinion creators (which is what electoral systems measure in a democracy).
Why have there been so many bitterness and signs of violence around these elections?
Four years ago, Trump was able to ride the amorphous revolt of a part of the impoverished petty bourgeoisie in order to align it with the interests of capital and the industries most dependent on the domestic market.
The fear of losing key technological races to Chinese capital, until recently subaltern, and the accumulated erosion of the internal market, which expressed itself as the fragility of social cohesion, produced a strange protectionist alliance in the US. The rage of a petty bourgeoisie that felt the breath of the bankruptcies, the massive evictions of land in the countryside and pauperization, joined that of capital centered on the internal market – like the extractive industries– and a part of finance capital that bet on a change in the rules of the game of global capital and feared that if it waited any longer it would be late. The result was a rupture in the US bourgeoisie that ended in the agonizing and polemical victory of Trump. And with it the passage from “multilateralism” to the one-to-one renegotiation of trade and military agreements putting on the trade negotiating table, literally, the entire US arsenal. It had nothing to do with Democrats vs. Republicans beyond certain forms and embellishments […] Trumpism was giving them good results even if, perhaps, they would prefer other forms.
And it was those good results that, in reality, sustained the new consensus of U.S. capital in the second half of the Trump mandate. The protectionist tendencies in the Democratic Party, which were expressed under the rise of socialists like Ocasio and Sanders integrated a new generation of leaders blessed by the apparatus – like Kamala Harris.
The proof that the rupture within the US bourgeoisie has been overcome is that today even Germany is preparing for a worsening of the pressures and the trade war with the US. No one expects real change from Biden and imperialist tensions are not going to diminish
This is precisely what has driven the centering and sharpening of the Democratic opposition around identity-based campaigns and approaches during these four years, culminating in the Strike for Black Lives. The Democratic strategy to topple Trump has tried to frame and encourage the rebellion of the black petty bourgeoisie, the discontent of religious minorities, the restlessness of the petty bourgeoisie of university education and feminist sensibility… In other words, it has tried to exacerbate all the anti-egalitarian tendencies, all identity-based movements, in order to create a wave capable of taking advantage of the discontent over the criminal management of the pandemic… since the democratic management of this pandemic has been no different or less criminal for the great mass of workers than the Trumpist one.
In other words, identity politics has served the US bourgeoisie to release tensions by mobilizing votes in this campaign… without addressing any of the real divisions and fractures in US society. Fractures that, as in the whole world, are class fractures, not identity-based ones, neither sexual nor racial… although the sharp racism permeating the American national identity from its origin tends to racialize social class; and the interests of the black petty bourgeoisie, the unions and big business converge in fracturing workers into racial subgroups.
In any case, today has been a day of success for the entire U.S. ruling class. A record voter turnout has been set. And although the vote paradoxically does not seem to have reflected the false homogeneity of identity categories, the use of identity politics as a tool of mobilization around democracy has revealed a still enormously powerful strategy of mobilization. So much so that everything else has been concealed: from the pandemic disaster to the incompetence of the opinion industry to produce and predict clear electoral outcomes. But these are their problems, not those of the workers, who at dawn will again face alone and with all political parties against them, the rampant slaughter of the Covid and the precarization of their jobs.