Dark Money Then, Trumpocalypse Now
A team led by University of Massachusetts professor emeritus Thomas Ferguson reveals that “a giant wave of dark money” flowed into Donald Trump’s campaign coffers in the last months of the 2016 election, enabling him to go heads up with Hillary Clinton’s $1.4 billion juggernaut in the final stages of the contest. The identity of Trump’s late-campaign godfathers is “shrouded,” according to a paper authored by Ferguson and his collaborators, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, but all signs point to “a sudden influx of money from private equity and hedge funds.” The cash infusion brought Trump’s total spending up to $861 million. Although that’s still substantially less than Hillary’s total outlays, Trump’s dark money arrived just in time to capitalize on Clinton’s failure to mount an effective blitz in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Thus, it wasn’t the Russians that brought us Trump, but the usual suspects: private equity and hedge funds bandits. Ferguson notes that a number of private equity managers “who do not appear in the visible roster of campaign donors” began to show up “prominently around the President” after his upset win—masters of dark money, creeping into the light to claim their rewards.
Prof. Ferguson specializes in tracing corporate money to deduce the political leanings and schemings of the various corporate sectors. During the Obama administration, Ferguson’s research showed Silicon Valley and the high-tech sector were Barack Obama’s most reliable corporate allies, in terms of campaign contributions and political support. (And he, in turn, dutifully served the digital oligarchs.) The new study indicates that Trump owes a huge debt to the vultures of financial speculation. But then, virtually every corporate sector is seeing its wish-lists fulfilled under this president, who over the past year has proven his loyalty to his class.
Or, some would argue that he has been bludgeoned into that posture. Certainly, the bulk of the ruling class and their attendants, interpreters and enforcers were horrified that the Orange Menace might destabilize the two-capitalist-party system, undermine the free global flow of capital and jobs, and allow the momentum of the military offensive begun by Barack Obama in 2011 to falter. That threat to the imperial order has passed. Trump’s savage assault on the very concept of regulation; his willingness to renegotiate NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership; and the rise of the generals as both day-to-day and overall policy managers in his White House, are “normalizing” Trump. The Republican tax cut—a looting spree—although not engineered by Trump, redounds to his benefit in 1 percent circles. As their unearned gains accrue, the Lords of Capital appreciate the uses of The Donald. Orange is the new normal—a measure of how insane late stage capitalism has become.
Democrats are not happy, sensing that their partnership with the clandestine services to eject Trump by non-electoral means is losing steam by the day. After almost two years, the predicate offense—that Trump and the Russians colluded in hacking the Democrats—has not been proven, or even convincingly presented. By now, the media-CIA-Democrat version of “resistance” is hoping that Trump will somehow self-destruct through some act or statement that is beyond the pale—except that nobody knows where “beyond” is.
Decent people thought Hillary Clinton had stepped beyond civilized discourse when she greeted news of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s murder, cackling, “We came, we saw, he died.” Nothing so vile and savage had passed the lips of any ranking diplomat of a major power since World War 2, yet Clinton not only kept her job, but would have become president were it not for the late campaign cash infusions from hedge funders to Donald Trump. Clinton’s murder-drenched cackle was a more shocking affront to civilization than any outburst yet recorded by Trump—a man not clever enough to paraphrase Julius Caesar—including his barroom cracker commentary on “shithole” countries.
The corporate Demo-press case for a Trump-Putin axis looks more and more like a Potemkin construct—a daily assemblage of front page portals to nowhere, all façade with no back. One must eat and breathe manure to pull the likes of Donald Trump even deeper into the muck, from below—but that has been the mission the premiere corporate media have assigned themselves. Whatever aura of fairness and credibility that still clings to their filthy corporate carcasses, is irrevocably fading. And that is a good thing, just as it is a good thing that President Trump is despised by about half the country; and that Hillary Clinton is even less popular than Trump; and that the global public’s trust in the United States has plummeted dramatically under Trump’s presidency. What true radical does not wish for the dissolution of the mad pox of U.S. imperialism and all its interlocking institutions, with hope that this will signal the end of half a millennium of Europe’s rapacious wars against the rest of the planet, and of capitalism’s war against the Earth, itself?
In truth, imperialism, internally and externally, shudders under the weight—not of Donald Trump’s orange mane, but of its own contradictions. Trump is an excretion of the system. Late stage capitalism is the mother of monstrosities, subverting science itself—the sum total of humankind’s acquired knowledge and labor—to the enslavement of the species; the path down which Amazon, Google, Apple and the other techno-omnivores are rushing, propelled by the same for-profit engine that carved up our ancestors’ worlds into edible chunks for a rich, white few.
The unraveling of this system is the overarching story of our times, a saga of great crime—and real resistance. The oppressors’ media cannot tell this story, so they must smother reality with a daily narrative of lies: “counter-speech,” as Google, Twitter and Facebook have dubbed their new policy. They want to monopolize (and, of course, monetize) the human story—no dissenting versions allowed. One immediate aim is to disappear Black Agenda Report and a short list of other left publications, and then move on to other white-outs.
(It is really quite amazing that senior and junior imperial heads of state—Obama, Merkel, Macron, May—and titans of industry—Bezos, Zuckerberg, Pichai—were so quick to affix their own imprimaturs to the crude hit piece put out by the red-baiters at PropOrNot, and showcased on the front page of the Washington Post, back in late November 2016. The combined audiences of the dozen or so targeted lefty sites would have little impact on a national electoral contest. But again, empire demands a monopoly.)
The main objective is to make endless war palatable, as imperialism attempts to bomb, blockade, occupy and bluster its way out of a cascade of crises. Unable to compete with the Chinese command economy, its “soft” power exhausted, the U.S. empire plays the only strong card it has left: its massive military, now centered on a special operations force roughly as large as the entire French Army. War becomes both the means of imperial survival and justification for its continued existence: the how and the why of empire.
That’s why there is no such thing as a “resistance” that is not loudly and consistently anti-war.
Glen Ford is the executive editor of Black Agenda Report and can be contacted at [email protected]