Friday, December 16, 2016

‘TrumPutinism’ Based on Fighting the Future, Armenian Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 16 – The resemblance between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in terms of their “rhetoric, cynicism, and relativism” is such that “this phenomenon of contemporary social life should be called by their names or for the sake of brevity by one common term, TrumPutinism,” Tigran Khzmalyan argues.

            But in his analysis of its “sources and moving forces,” the Armenian analyst argues that it is more than just a question of the similarities of their personalities. Rather, “TrumPutinism” reflects a common commitment to rejecting the directions the world is moving in and turning back the clock (истоки-и-движущие-силы-трампутинизма/).

            This new phenomenon, he argues, includes “a broad spectrum of events and processes” that have led “the current triumph of demagoguery over democracy, nationalism over tolerance, and isolationism over openness and it has affected far more countries than just the Russian Federation and the United States.

            That reality, Khzmalyan says, naturally “excludes the explanation of what is taking place on the basis of the correspondence of the characters and personal qualities of the political leaders” of these two countries or of others.

            “In fact,” he points out, “Vladimir Putin at the start of his presidency was viewed as being very much part of the all-European understanding about a technocratic bureaucrat and Donald Trump until recently was satisfied with the reputation of an eccentric showman.” Now they are both viewed and view themselves very differently.

            “The messianic pretensions of these and other ‘leaders’ could not have manifested itself without a broad social demand for this rhetoric and policy, which they instinctively felt – and which liberal democratic elites have ignored.”  And that basis rests on economics or more precisely the reaction of the leaders of traditional businesses to the shock of the new economy.

            It has become a commonplace to compare Putin and now Trump with Hitler, the Armenian commentator says; but typically, these analogies are superficial and fail to note the support all three of these men received from the leaders of big businesses that were threatened by change, in the case of Hitler by the depression, in the case of the other two by the IT revolution.

            In 1932, the leaders of major German businesses got together and backed Hitler as someone who could stabilize the situation and restore their position. Now, businesses engaged in traditional extractive or manufacturing industries have gotten together to promote politicians who promise to defend their positions and to oppose the new. 

            To put it briefly, Khzmalyan says, these business leaders were suffering from the phenomenon Alvin Toffler described in his 1970 book, “Future Shock.” The analyst was focusing on the way the world reacted to the changes of the 1960s; now, it is time to see how this is working at present.

            The leaders of traditional businesses know that their time is passing, but instead of changing, they are making a bet on politicians who promise to stop the clock or even reverse it, to bring back a world that no longer exists and that cannot be recreated as much as some would like to.

            In making this “deal with the devil,” however, Khzmalyan says, these businessmen are at risk of losing “not only their souls in which they do not believe but also their bodies which they so want to save.”

            “Had Thyssen, Krupp, Stinnes, Mannesman and Flick known in 1933 what would happen to their beloved Germany and all Europe 12 years after they issued an ultimatum to Hindenburg” to appoint Hitler …”

            “Had Berezovsky, Gusinsky, and Khodorkovsky known in 1999 what would become of them and Russia ten to fifteen years after their ultimatum to Yeltsin…”

            And “had the heads of Exxon Mobil, Shell, British Petroleum and Total the ability to look into the future to see what would happen to the world after their present-day decisions…”

            “But history doesn’t teach anyone anything. Indeed, that is its chief lesson,” the commentator says. “And we are entering into a short and inglorious era of TrumPutinism, which will leave after itself ruins and the destruction of our fates. Don’t say then that we didn’t warn you. Your greed and stupidity will destroy us and you too.”

            And he concludes: “our descendants will be surprised only by the weakness and stupidity of their ancestors. If they manage to survive.”

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