Two Books You Must Read About Trump After You Take Your Bong Hits (or those shots of whiskey)
Perhaps by the time you read this the impeachment will be over. The guy from Queens will be free and the empire will roll down the tracks like a runaway train. I have spent the impeachment time reading some pretty good critiques of the madness rather than watching the hearings. Here are two for you to track down as this thing we have all created (or allowed to happen) turns into a blob.
First, there is Alain Badiou’s book — Trump. This one can be read in one day. It is pretty decent too, and for the Democrats it is instructive. According to Badiou, Trump became President because there was no real contradiction politically. Each of the two major parties in the United States bow at the altar of global capitalism, according to Badiou, and because of this one salient truth, regardless of Trump’s bigotry, corruption, dishonesty, misogny, and other ills and horrific traits, he won the election.
According to Badiou, Hillary Clinton and Trump, in regards to the election of 2016, were “very different” but still, they “both belong” and belonged, “to the “small worldwide oligarchy that is capitalizing its profits on a worldwide scale.” In the 2016 election, Badiou contends that it was Bernie Sanders who was a contradiction to Trump yet he was not the nominee. Clinton and Trump were only relative contradictions, according to Badiou, within the same parameters; Sanders was a “possible vision of the world that might go beyond the world that is imposed on us.”
In that respect, Badiou believes that unless there is a true shift more towards Sanders and similar candidates worldwide, Trump’s kind of candidate will continue to be successful. Here is how he says it:
We can no longer content ourselves with people like Hillary Clinton, or anything of the kind. We must create a return, if possible, towards a true contradiction.
Badiou is also important to note that something new must created. It is not enough to “resist” he writes or “criticize.” A new beginning is needed according to Badiou. That beginning, Badiou strongly suggests is a return to a politics in service of people, rather than capitalism.
If Badiou’s book is a call to action for a contradiction candidate, Haki R. Madhubuti and Lasana D. Kazembe’s Not Our President: New Directions From the Pushed Out, the Others, and the Clear Majority in Trump’s Stolen America is anthology that predicts what we see now. A collection of essays and poetry from a wide variety of known and less known writers and observers, Madhubuti and Kazembe’s book is, like Badiou’s offering, “a call to action for critical thinking, democratic formation and progressive movement building among everyday people.”
While the book begins with well known writers (Cornel West writes the foreword; the celebrated poet, Nikki Finney offers a great poem, “The Good Fight, Again”) the book gets going in the first essay by Bill Ayers, “Myth or Reality.” Ayers’ claim to fame is varied. He was involved very early on in the campaign to elect Barack Obama, President of the United States but he was also part of the Weather Underground, a radical group from the 60’s. Regardless of what anyone thinks of Ayers his essay launches this book with powerful energy.
Ayers reaches deeper in his essay not limiting his critique to Trump but looking at the big picture, calling these days a “precarious, dangerous, and terrifying time.” Much of this is due to the rise of Trump, describing his rule as “autocratic despotism with an American face.” He adds: “the predicament we find ourselves in is in no sudden reversal; no shocking disconnect from the path the country has been pursuing for years, and, in fact, we’ve been on this road — step by treacherous step —for decades now.”
While Ayers initially describes what that is as a “steady and irreversible decline” and a climate of “patriotic nationalism,” “the criminalization of whole communities,” it is also other things: austerity, privatization, dismantled social safety nets, the “crushing” of unions, the “liquidation of jobs,” and “a relentless attack on public education.” After reading Ayers tight and poignant general essay, the other pieces, more specific in their rejections of Trump and everything he is, flow even smoother and the book feels like one statement.
Herb Boyd uses his space to denounce Trump through the lens of hip-hop, by calling his essay “President Agent Orange,” the name the rapper Busta Rhymes gave Trump at the Grammy Awards. In that respect, Allyson Horton brings a hip-hop flavor to her essay, “Art of the Deal: How to Grab the Nation By the Pussy One Vote At a Time.” Horton appropriately uses her time to examine who voted for Trump despite his lack of moral character and his well known bad behavior:
“Collectively, pussy possessors make up 50.8 percent of the population,” she writes, “therefore, powerless we are not i.e., until we relinquish it.” But, as Horton stresses that power was not exercised in the election that gave us Trump, as white women identified themselves with Trump rather than Hillary Clinton, and women did not stand together.
My favorite essay is by New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu who uses his space to call for the removal of Confederate monuments. It is a compelling call and on point. Trump, a proud and consistent racist, is not in favor of the removal of the monuments. Landrieu makes the case: “The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery.”
Who else is here: current candidate for President, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Ishmael Reed, the celebrated writer. Haki Madhubuti. Howard Dodson, Jr., and countless others who dissect this decadent and devolutionary time (Ayers points out how when empires are in decline the body count rises). The topics are not all about Trump but the consistent push is to reject him and his agenda and state emphatically that there is no reason that his ways and his world should be allowed to rest easy and thrive.
As Theodora Regina Berry writes in her essay, “While this particular season of authoritarian, elitist government may feel especially new to many people in the country, those who have been positioned as ‘pushed out’ or ‘othered’ recognize this political climate.”
Serious thinkers, activists, change agents, reformers, writers, artists, readers, would be wise to pick up these two books and read books that are outside the normal fare. This is Us, as the popular television show notes. Or in the spirit of Achebe, these are the voices and the views of the lions, and not the hunters.