Letâ€™s assume that Donald Trumpâ€™ s intelligence and knowledge are at least on an average level, or higher. Then one must conclude that he not for a minute can believe that illegal immigration is the root of 30 yearâ€™s stagnation or decline in living conditions for ordinary Americans. However, he is a master demagogue and knows what upset people the most. And he used that skill to manipulate the democratic system and win his first election.
Weâ€™ve been through this before in Europe and it ended no good. Trumpâ€™s tactics regarding foreign peopleÂ are similar to those used by fascists then.
With some simplification one may say that neoliberalism has been the cradle in which todayâ€™s neo-fascism was nurtured. It goes like this: unfettered capitalism fails and creates crisis of all kinds. The result is stagnation for a majority and fabulous wealth for a few, while everything in the common sector crumbles.
Itâ€™s no mystery who gains and who suffers from this focus on privatizing everything and destroying the commons. Those who profit are calling all the shots, not least in the media, and will certainly not spend any energy informing the public about the real causalities. When people finally runs out of docility, up comes the right-wing populists with their popular but false answers.
Immigrants are the easy targets for populists. (We all have some innate xenophobe traits and it takes conscious thinking to repress them.) But peopleâ€™s real grievances have of course only marginally to do with immigrants. That should be particularly obvious for US citizens with their rich countryâ€™s entire wealth created by immigrants. Still the Stranger Card pays off for populists â€“ big!
Sweden is known for its open borders. With the surge in refugees arriving we had last year the largest percentage population growth since 1861. Is this from benevolence only? Hardly! This is where immigration is hurting ordinary people to some degree, namely in holding down workerâ€™s wages, something the ruling property owners find most welcome (here they have a common interest with humanitarian liberals).
Thatâ€™s not to say that immigrants and refugees are responsible for ordinary people’s problems. The main reason for these problems is instead a power-grab by the ruling elite, the capital owners, by which they have impounded most of the economic growth the last 30 years and funneled it to very few pockets (more pronounced so in USA than in EU, and even less so in Sweden).
But nor is it to say that immigration is problem-free for the society as a whole orÂ above all for the newcomers. They are forced to live in quite meager circumstances, have difficulty learning a new language and finding jobs. The Social network in Sweden is not what it used to be and people are left to solve their own problems, not an easy task for individuals fleeing war zones and burdened by traumatic experiences. Desperation sometimes leads to riots with violence and counter violence between immigrants and right-wingÂ groups, which adds to the aversion against immigrants and refugees.
Donald Trump knows quite well that the immigrants to US didnâ€™t cause the depressing conditions for people during neoliberalism. He just uses them as a potent political weapon among his deceived constituency. He is probably also aware of the real reasons for peopleâ€™s grievances. He just acts like the businessman he is: go full ahead and donâ€™t bother about consequence beyond the next quarter, regardless of how dire they are.
On the other hand Trump has shown some insight into what created the current, giant refugee crisis, namely Westâ€™s unwarranted wars in the Middle East and North Africa. His expressed ambition to withdraw US from these wars is a hopeful sign (and a significant deviation from historic fascist practices). But on this issue he is at odds with strong forces in both parties and the outcome of that remains to be seen.