By Ferhan Bayır
We are living through strange times indeed, times akin to the astonishment of a man getting lost in the streets of a place he knows like the back of his hand.
In the first moments of this astonishment, the person feels estrangement, then a certain blurring of reality. In this brief moment when the human is exposed to a place that has become a void, he is filled with the desire to flee, recognizing the situation to be psychically intolerable. When he reaches his safe house, one can only smile at his own disappearance.
What happened in the wake of the recent US election has dramatically shown how the West has lost its way within its own liberal values and institutions. The proud conqueror of the Cold War and ruler of the world entered its elections with political tensions reaching levels not seen since the civil war era.
The supporters of the republican and democratic party carried out “election work” with weapons in their hands. Just days before the election, Trump announced that the election would be manipulated addressing the public. The US, which has been the gendarmerie of the world since the Cold War, has been incapable of ensuring the security of the ballot boxes in its own country.
As the election results began to become clear, all televisions stopped the broadcast while the US president was speaking. The Jerusalem of “freedom of thought” has contaminated its holy shrine with its own hands, censoring its own president.
It is in the nature of bourgeois society to condemn everything that it once held sacred in times of political and social crisis.
THE DECLINE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS
The democrats seem to believe that liberals, still deeply committed to the values of the decadent West, were disoriented by backsliding during the Trump era. Now, with Biden’s win, they can start to feel at home again.
Trump was just a bad nightmare within the American Dream. Now that they have awakened from the nightmare, the sweet and serene American Dream can continue. But what exactly are these dreams?
After the official announcement of the election, ‘Follow your dreams’ Harris said, having become the first female vice president in American history. Biden said what the American people should dream of: “Re-strengthening the middle class, empowering the nation, and uniting us here at home.“
Obama, who became the first black president of the US after winning the election after the warmonger Bush, said in his first speech, “I will raise the middle class again“.
This middle-class dream is, indeed, essentially a summary of the American Dream. In a murderous everyday life where everything is shallow and superficial, the American dream has begun to feel rather stale. The desire to be middle class, which consists of dreams of a good job, a big house, a luxury car, is a nostalgic longing from years of prosperity, a thing of the past, impossible to reach.
Elected for two terms and with great hopes, Obama did little more than make a timid health reform on behalf of the middle class. The abandonment of Keynesian policies that distribute prosperity to relatively large sections of society at home was accompanied by the depletion of war booty that US imperialism exploited from the oppressed world and brought in.
In this sense, the American middle-class dream is directly tied to the imperialist policies of their own states, which is confirmed by the desire of all democratic Americans to gently cling to the wings of a falcon like Biden for the most shameful dream of the earth.
It is very difficult for Biden to restore lost hegemony, just as the sacred neoliberal policies that cause the social wealth to gradually concentrate in the hands of a minority and the private property of the oligarchy cannot be touched.
In this objective situation, the American government, deprived of any magic that would revive the middle class, preaches hope in every election like a Sunday sermon, despite the clear futility.
The inevitable decline of the American middle class since Reagan frightens the evangelical, conservative American people as much as the fall from heaven. The irony is that the American Dream seems to be surviving disenchantment around its central myth of class mobility.
Thomas Jefferson, who had utopian goals in founding Philadelphia, the city of the brotherly love in America, has been replaced by vicious and cynical politicians. This is the inevitable end of class separation in bourgeois society, which cannot think beyond the fence of its own property.
Moreover, with the crisis in 2008, mortgages were placed on the households of thousands of Americans, thousands of homeless were left to die on the streets, and millions of debtor Americans were far from feeling safe at home; Biden has provided no answers as to how he would unite these crowded people, nor in which house he would be able to do so.
In America, it is no longer possible to tame the large groups of working people in the system by selling the dream of advancing, moving up to the lower classes. The American Dream is nothing more than a consolation, a salve that will restrain the petty-bourgeois fears of the middle classes that are beginning to fall into the working class, something clearly visible in the election.
THE END OF THE DREAM
While the inevitable decline of the middle classes in America marked the end of the American Dream, it also made Marx’s foresights visible again on the horizon.
The liberal discourse suggesting that the welfare state has been able to reconcile the classes in spite of Marx’s predictions has also become obviously untenable.
While this buffer class between the bourgeoisie and the working class is rapidly disappearing today, it is generally accepted that the young, white-collar, educated people representing today’s middle class are predominantly sympathetic to socialist ideas.
Although the American system cannot prevent the decline of the middle class today, it tries to prevent the young working people trying to find their own class identity from reaching class consciousness by underlining all kinds of ethnic and sexual identity.
In a desperate effort to settle class based and racial tensions, a figure of different ethnic origin was presented under the spotlight on the steps of the White House, Kamala Harris. This cultural illusion is the last turn of the American system in its desire to escape from implications of class conflict, but it is purely symbolic.
American imperialism has come to a dead end. The nightmare will soon stop the American Dream once again; the Trumps will come much more powerful, as they are not the cause but the result of social problems.
Humanity has reached the boundaries of bourgeois society, and as long as it remains within the confines of this society, the rise of a more reactionary, authoritarian, anti-popular political challenge to every crisis of liberalism is inevitable.
Rising right-wing populism in the bright capitals of the West and a lack of revolutionary, anti-imperialist workers-oriented left parties signals that history will repeat itself for the West, as it did a century ago.