The need for a progressive international movement was never as urgent as today

Croatian philosopher Srećko Horvat comments on the American elections.

Slawek Blich: Donald Trump, a candidate openly advocating bigotry, racism and misogyny, was elected the 45th president of the United States. How the hell did we get here?

Srećko Horvat
Srećko Horvat (born 1983) is a Croatian philosopher, and a co-founder of the Pan-European Movement DiEM 25.

Srećko Horvat: Whatever has been said about WikiLeaks, the vast amount of Podesta emails and DNC leaks offer the best insight into the anatomy of American power we ever had. It also gives an explanation for Trump. On the one hand, as the latest post-election leaks show, he is a creation of the Democratic Party, since Clinton’s advisors actually believed they were smart building up Trump as an opponent. On the other hand, it is the Democratic Party which was not ready to support Bernie Sanders as the only alternative to Trump. So what we have now is a sort of boomerang which hit not only the US but also the rest of the world. To explain Trump we should also look at Brexit. What we can see all over the world is a dangerous trend of white working class turning against the establishment. Hillary Clinton is a repulsive representative of the US establishment – representing Wall Street and Silicon Valley – but the main cause for losing the elections must be sought in economic and social problems which Obama failed to solve. Only during Obama’s presidency, the US was involved in 7 wars! In that sense, Trump must be seen as a product of a deep global economic and social crisis – not as a politician who succeeded. What we are facing now, with German and French elections coming, is a dangerous period in which not only Le Pen might be our new Trump but also Sarkozy already announced he is willing to work with Trump. A choice between Le Pen and Sarkozy is the same false choice as the choice between Clinton or Trump. What all progressive democrats around the globe must do now is to unite and create a genuine third option if our civilisation wants to have any future at all.

Slavoj Žižek controversially said he would rather opt for Donald Trump as the apparently less dangerous choice in the US election than Hillary Clinton struggling to shake off her establishment past. His argument follows that it would bring us all down to the bottom-end, which will eventually bring about a re-invigoration of political engagement. Will it really?

Although Žižek was immediately attacked for his statements about Trump, he was one of the first to destroy the myth about Hillary Clinton.

His thesis that this political shock might open the space for a new progressive mobilisation is to some degree already coming true. DiEM is reaching out to all progressives not only in Europe, but also in the US, to join forces that would be able to oppose both Trump, as the representative of a new pre-fascism, or Hillary as the representative and establishment. We are living in dangerous times in which, to borrow from Žižek, Left Nationalism is never an antidote for National Socialism. We need progressive internationalism more than ever.

An unexpected ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US has emerged: it is the relationship between Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. In the meantime Diem25 calls for even more democracy, however the people themselves have just totally democratically elected Trump and called for Brexit. How do you want to convince people to vote against malicious populism and in their own best interest?

It is not democracy that brought us to Trump or Brexit, it is precisely the undemocratic policies of the establishment, from the Clintons to the Blairs and Hollandes. Just after Brexit, I went to Port Talbot in Wales to speak to the workers of their biggest steal factory. And you know what? Although the establishment demonised the working class, these workers quoted Keynes and spoke about economy better than any of the daily commentators you can find in British media.

Let us not be fooled and believe all of those who voted for Brexit or Trump are racists or idiots.

That would be a dangerous failure in understanding our predicament. As the “Eurobarometer” data shows, people feel increasingly uncomfortable about their democracies. According to a survey of last year, 62% of Europeans believe that things are going into a wrong direction, 48% declare that they don’t trust anymore their governments and 43% say that they are unsatisfied with their democracies. Trump and Farage offer cheap solutions and xenophobia, but they succeeded to mobilise precisely the unsatisfied working class. On the one hand, it is a failure of the establishment, on the other – it is also a failure of the Left not being able to talk to the working class and offer a new political imagination.

What is DiEM actually able to achieve in the current political climate?

DiEM already mobilised thousands of Europeans who share our conviction that we already live in a post-democratic and pre-fascist world. We are active not only in all EU countries, but also beyond, including Turkey or Serbia, which are not member-states. At the moment we are working hard on creating a common ground with progressive forces in US, since the need for a progressive international movement was never so urgent as today. Early next year we will present our progressive economic plan for Europe and we will also be active during the French and German elections. DiEM is a movement growing day by day, and it is certain now, even for those who were blind, that without this kind of progressive internationalism even Trump will, from a near future retrospective, look like only the beginning of a nightmare that is in its making.

Would Bernie Sanders have defeated Donald Trump?

Unfortunately Philip K. Dick is not alive anymore to answer this question, but his “Man in High Castle”, which imagines a world in which the Nazis won Second World War, might turn into reality very soon.


Digital editor, journalist and webmaster at Krytyka Polityczna/Political Critique.