What does the Trump election mean for neoliberalism as a doctrine? Adam Kotsko over at An und für sich has some interesting thoughts on the matter; what follows is intended as a constructive engagement. As I posted last week, I think Trump’s victory is inseparable from what Foucault calls state racism, and the appointment of Steve Bannon and nomination of Jeff Sessions certainly adds evidence to the theory that his will be a government of White Supremacy (I am not going to engage in the parlor game of distinguishing “white nationalism,” “white supremacy,” and so on. It’s a parlor game that requires white privilege even to play, and all the iterations mean the same basic thing: white people should be in charge). One of my points there is that the system is structurally rigged against cities and other places where non-Trump voters live. At current count, Clinton – garden variety neoliberal – is up by nearly 1.7 million votes in the popular vote count, and that number is growing. This means that more people who voted want neoliberalism than want Trumpism, for what that’s worth. At the very least, it means that we need to think about neoliberalism as a dispositif of biopolitics, and how that intersects with the 1930s version that Foucault’s remarks on state racism address and that Trump seems to channel.
Kotsko thinks that we should grant that Trump isn’t a neoliberal, and think about the ramifications for neoliberalism. All of this is thus necessarily a speculative exercise. Still, I think a couple of points are worth noting, beyond the more general one that if neoliberalism can survive the financial crisis intact, then we should always be skeptical about reports of its death. Here are two reasons I’m not convinced that Trump and Trumpism aren’t neoliberal in a fundamental way.