Mar 16, 2016
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TRUMP AND SANDERS

Two sides of the same coin

2016 American presidential campaign confirms the trend that has been going on in Europe for more than a decade. A grand coalition between century old contenders, the republicans and the democrats, might materialize as the most viable solution against the radical threats; Trump and Sanders, no matter how different from one another, represent a radical drift of Western politics. A histrionic Donald Trump is definitely the most apparent character on stage. Moreover, compared to Sanders, he has more chances to win his party’s nomination. The issues that the multi-billionaire candidate raises are garnished with a discriminatory and insulting attitude that scandalizes a large part of American conservatives. The visceral and offensive manner in which Trump poses insurmountable obstacles for rational discourse and may well be the best hoax to avoid a serious debate. All pondered issues are dismissed as populist empty talk and no one considers that, hidden in the insults, there are radically alternative visions of the world that are permeating the collective conscience of most Westerners.

Peeling back the layers, Trump’s disjointed vision is worth discussing. To achieve this goal we need time and intellectual endeavor. However, nowadays instead of being fascinated by the imagination of the future, intellectuals prefer to be used to re-propose the past. On the other hand, it’s a mistake to belittle the meaning of Sanders’ success. A candidate to the Presidency of the U.S. who declares himself a socialist and vows for an expansion of federal spending proves a novelty in the modern American political milieu. Unfortunately, Sanders calls for an old approach that is no longer applicable lest you strengthen that very establishment-dominated bureaucracy that in principle he wants to fight.

Hence, the real contest will take place –- as has been happening in Europe for more than a decade -– between an establishment offering an obsolete political and social model versus a hazy “new” (dis)order that recalls Gramsci’s quote: “The old is dying and the new cannot yet be born. In the interim, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” In Europe we have our Trumps (Farrage, Le Pen, Salvini, Petry and more), our Sanders (Corbyn, Varoufakis, Landini) and our Clintons. And of course we also have some Republicans à la Romney who are available to vote for Clinton in order to preserve the power structure. In Italy the good news is that the Five Star Movement is neither part of the old fashioned left nor of the vulgar and racist right wing. FSM offers an original and promising political alternative, but is of course still troubled by ingenuity and contradictions. Often it runs into contradictions as it lacks a sound ideological foundation. It’s the task of free thinkers –- if there are any -– to elaborate and present a political theory that is both radically new and coherent. It’s not going to happen overnight, of course, and all we can do is hope that vulgar and disjointed populism won’t take over in the interim.