The Meaning, Consequences and Lessons of Trump‘s Victory: Chapter III. Global Consequences: The Beginning of a New Era


Note of the Editorial Board: The following document is an extensive study of the consequences of Trump's victory. It contains 12 figures and 5 tables. The figures can only be viewed in the pdf version of the document here for technical reasons.


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Trump’s assent to power will have major consequences not only on the class struggle in the US, but will also fundamentally reshape global politics economically, politically and militarily. As we said, it has opened a new era for both US and world politics.


The starting point for understanding the rise of Trumpism is the decline of the US as the dominant Great Power. Trumpism implicitly recognizes this decline while at the same time expressing the will of the ruling class to reverse this trend. In fact, the Trump campaign acknowledged this decline in its selection of its key slogan: not “Keep America Great” but rather “Make America Great Again.


We have demonstrated this decline of the US in many of our publications. [1] To briefly summarize, we will cite here a few facts that reflect the US’s rapid decline during the past decade. America’s share of global industrial production declined rapidly in a relatively short period – from close to 30% in the early years of the 21st century to less than 20% by 2015 (see Figure 7). Similarly, its share in Global Fixed Capital Investment declined from 20% (2003) to 13% (2013) (See Figure 8).




Figure 7. Rise and Decline of Great Powers: China’s and US’s Share of the World Industrial Production 1980-2015 (in Percent) [2]





Figure 8. Distribution of Global Fixed Capital Investment, 2003 and 2013 [3]





Finally, the U.S. decline is reflected in the substantial reduction of its share among the world’s biggest corporations. A comparison of the Forbes Global 2000 list shows that in 2003 the US had a share of 776 (38.8%). By 2016, this share had declined by nearly one third to 540 (27%) (See Table 5). [4]




Table 5 U.S. Share among the World’s 2000 Biggest Corporations (Forbes Global 2000 List) [5]


Number                                 Share


2003                                                       776                                         38.8%


2016                                                       540                                         27%




This decline has been mirrored politically in the wrecked US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and in the failure of the Obama administration to intervene in the Ukraine and Syria to stop Russia’s expanding influence. Yet another manifestation of this decline was the Iran deal after the US unsuccessfully tried to bring down Teheran via sanctions and military threats for decades.




7.             The Accelerating Rivalry between the Great Powers




We have said that Trumpism is in fact recognition of the US’s decline while at the same time an expression of the determination to reverse this descent. In this sense Trump’s victory, which has been acclaimed by both Moscow and Beijing, is also confirms that, geopolitically, Russia and China have become imperialist powers; and this despite the dogged denials of numerous “left” social-imperialists who maintains that the workers’ movement should side with Putin and Xi against Washington.


While Trumpism currently has nothing approaching a concrete program, there are nevertheless some axes around which such a program is likely to evolve. The policies of America’s past administrations were based on the assumption that Globalization works to the benefit of US imperialism. This was obviously a correct assessment insofar as it enabled US corporations to make huge profits by exploiting cheap labor forces in semi-colonial countries. However, as we have shown, in the end the era of Globalization has been more beneficial to the US’s rivals – first and foremost China – than to America itself.


Trump’s program represents a departure from Globalization and a turn towards protectionism. Naturally, Trump is not opposed to trade agreements, but he has promised to more actively use protectionist tariffs in order to better impose US interests on others states. Consequently, the president-elect has already announced that, on the first day of his presidency, he will withdraw from the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP) – Obama’s main project to advance US hegemony in Asia against China. [6]


It’s not difficult to imagine the consequences of such a policy: the provoking of a chain reaction encouraging other Great Powers to speed up the creation of trade blocks which they themselves dominate as a means of protection against their rivals.  As we have pointed out in previous documents, for some time this process has already begun. (See, for example, our discussion of the China-dominated RCEP as an alternative to the US-dominated TPP) [7]


The result of all this will be a significant disruption of world trade and the entire global economy, and may escalate to major trade wars between the US and China. This, in turn, will have major consequences not only on trade but also in the realm of world finance. As we have pointed out in the earlier documents, China is the most important foreign holder of U. debt – it currently holds $1.25 trillion (20% of all foreign debts), followed closely by Japan, which holds $1.13 trillion.


In a major conflict between Washington and Beijing, China will refuse to continue financing the rapidly growing US public debt. Under such circumstances, Beijing will prefer to sell its holdings which would cause tremendous harm to the US. In fact, we have recently witnessed a strengthening of the trend whereby foreign countries are selling off US treasury bonds. [8] In 2015, central banks sold off a net $225 billion in US Treasury debt, the highest figure since 1978 (see Figure 9). Trump’s protectionist policy will likely accelerate this process and thereby increase difficulties for the US in financing its rising debts.




Figure 9. US Treasury Bond Net Purchases per Year by Foreign Central Banks (2006-2015)[9]



One consequence of Trump’s victory will be that the European Union will have to face, more than ever before, the dilemma of either speeding up its unification or crumbling. [10] The discussion about the formation of a supra-national EU army is an indication that EU leaders are willing to move towards closer union, even despite Brexit and the rise of right-wing nationalists. [11]


Donald Trump repeatedly stated during his campaign that he plans to finance a massive armament program. In his recently published book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again he wrote, with the inimitable style of a pubescent narcissist making an entry in his diary:


There is no one-size-fits-all foreign policy. We need to make our beliefs very clear and let them form the framework of our policy. Everything begins with a strong military. Everything. We will have the strongest military in our history, and our people will be equipped with the best weaponry and protection available. Period. [12]


One hardly needs a lot of imagination to understand that this will provoke a global chain reaction among rivaling Great Powers which will also massively speed up their armament programs.


This will not only affect the direct rivals, China and Russia, but America’s traditional allies as well. This is because Trump is planning to significantly reduce US expenditures for maintaining its troops stationed abroad in Europe and East Asia, as he stated in his book:


We defend Germany. We defend Japan. We defend South Korea. These are powerful and wealthy countries. We get nothing from them. It’s time to change all that. It’s time to win again. [13]


The pro-Putinist left has hailed Trump as a “dove” – as opposed to the “warmonger” Hillary Clinton – and some like the fake-left philosopher and star of the petty-bourgeois academic left, Slavoj Žižek, even openly called for his election. [14] They hope that the Trump Administration will operate a less confrontational foreign policy towards Russia and China.


It is possible that Trump will avoid such confrontations in the first period because of the necessity to consolidate his regime and because he shares Putin’s goal of liquidating the Syrian Revolution. However, sooner or later major confrontations between the US and its rivals will become inevitable, because the decline of the capitalist world economy and the accelerating global order will lead to clashes between the Great Powers, as they all struggle to increase their share of the world’s wealth at the expense of their rivals.


Furthermore, it is very likely that, as Trump is forced to adapt US foreign policy to the country’s loss of hegemony, this will also lead to an expansion of the geopolitical influence of its major rivals. Such a trend may even be strengthened in light of the protectionist policy of the US, which may even encourage semi-colonial countries to align themselves with other powers, like China. This may possibly even include an expansion of the influence of Chinese imperialism inside Latin America, which the US has traditionally considered as its own, exclusive backyard.




8.             More Imperialist Wars




Trump has repeatedly announced that the US should only wage wars against enemies which constitute a threat to the U.S. He has criticized Bush’s war against Iraq in 2003 and he has urged for more cooperation with Putin in order to liquidate the Syrian Revolution. This has led the Russian and various other governments, as well as the “left-wing” supporters of Putin and Xi, to hope that America led by Trump will become less interventionist and more “peaceful.” [15]


While we cannot exclude that Trump will initially attempt to avoid major military interventions in order to consolidate his regime (Hitler was also a “pacifist,” in terms of foreign policy, in his first years of power), it is clear that his administration will pursue a thoroughly militarist policy. In fact, the appointment of General Flynn, who advocates a “multi-generational world war against Islam,” as Trump’s National Security Advisor, reflects an agenda of the Trump administration that will make George W. Bush’s tenure look like that of a peace dove.


Naturally such a “war against Islam” creates a justification for military operations in wide areas of the globe, from Western and Central Africa to Somalia, the entire Middle East up to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.


Such a “war against Islam” has also the advantage from the US imperialist point of view in that it will not necessarily provoke a direct clash with the other Great Powers. We should note that not only the US but the EU, Russia and China are also oppressing Muslim minorities at home and waging wars against countries with Muslim populations abroad.


For these reasons the Trump administration will most likely make the “War on Terror” a priority under the pretext of waging war against Daesh. In his book Trump wrote: “Unfortunately, it may require boots on the ground to fight the Islamic State. (…) We could also easily expand air operations to make it impossible for ISIS to ever find safe haven anywhere in the region. (…) However, I have a unique perspective on what action we should take. While ISIS is our most violent enemy, they ended up with oil in Iraq and Syria that we should have taken. That oil, along with ransom and extortion, is funding their army. I’ve advocated bombing the hell out of those oil fields to cut off the source of their money. This would barely affect the world oil supply, but it would dramatically reduce their ability to fund terrorism. [16]


In reality, this would be a war not only against Daesh, but against various Islamist-led resistance movements fighting against dictatorships and imperialist occupation.


A second major target of Trump’s militarism will be Iran – a long-time enemy of US imperialism as well as of Israel. It is hardly surprising that Trump received enthusiastic support – irrespective of his numerous anti-Semitic remarks – from Israel’s Netanyahu government, as well as from many right-wing Zionist forces. [17]


It is therefore likely that the Trump administration will revoke the nuclear deal with Iran. However, it is unlikely that it will manage to isolate Tehran as neither Russia, nor China and probably not even the EU, will be prepared to follow Washington’s confrontational course against Iran. The next possible step in escalation could only involve military threats.


This does not necessarily mean that the US will inevitably attack Iran. It is possible, however, that Trump will encourage and support Israel to attack Iran. Obviously this would provoke major tensions and unrest in the Middle East and beyond.


In general, Trump has made it clear on many occasions that he will increase the unconditional support of the US for Israel and its expansionist plans. This will likely encourage the Zionist state to initiate wars – be it against the Palestinian people in Gaza, against Hezbollah in Lebanon or, as already said, Iran. All of this will provoke major political explosions around the globe and see Israel more isolated and hated than ever before.


It is hardly surprising that Trump’s victory was greeted enthusiastically by arch-reactionary dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The former hopes for a more active collaboration between the US and Russia in order to liquidate the Syrian Revolution. And General al-Sisi looks forward to even stronger support for his bloody repression of people belonging or supporting the Muslim Brotherhood or leftist democratic forces. [18]


One important change – compared with past US administrations – will be that the Trump’s will be much less inclined to purport that it’s waging wars to spread “democracy” or defend “human rights.” Rather it will much more explicitly and unabashedly defend “American interests,” without resorting to the camouflage of some civilizing mission. In other words, Trumpist foreign policy will be similar, to a certain degree, to the neo-conservatives concept of the Bush era, but without the pretensions of spreading “democracy.”


In short, the Trump regime will be epitomized by neo-conservatism under conditions whereby the US has lost exclusive global hegemony – in contrast to the Bush era, when the US was stronger and hoped to retain its absolute dominance with an aggressive militarist foreign policy.




9.             Reactionary Offensive and the Rise of Chauvinism




The future Trump administration has already threatened to pull the US out of the Paris climate change accord, to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, repeal environmental regulations, and cut climate funding. The president-elect is pushing to revive the fossil fuel industry, in particular the coal industry. [19]


This is hardly surprising, as Trump – ever an extraordinary fool– has repeatedly called climate change a “myth” or even a “Chinese hoax.” Thus, one can read on the American president-elect’s Twitter account: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive. [20] He even welcomes global warming: "It's freezing and snowing in New York –we need global warming!" [21] Then-President George W. Bush once remarked that one doesn’t need to be very smart to become president of the US. That was certainly an accurate self-characterization, but is even more true in the case of Donald Trump.


Trump’s policy of anti-immigration chauvinism and protectionism will also have dramatic consequences for semi-colonial countries – in particular for Latin America. His plans for mass deportation of undocumented migrants, the creation of a wall along the southern US border with Mexico, [22] and the renegotiation or even abolition of NAFTA will affect these countries in several ways. [23]


Firstly, it will result in massive losses of remittances sent by migrants to their families in countries of origin. In 2013, for example, migrants from Mexico in the US sent more than $23 billion to their families at home. Families in other countries are also very dependent on remittances – e.g., in the same year migrants in the US sent $10.84 billion to India and $10 billion to the Philippines. [24]


Secondly, mass deportations of migrants back to Mexico will create additional burdens on that country, as these millions of people will have to be looked after by the Mexican state. It will also affect other Latin American countries, as the Mexican government will use the forced return of its own citizens as an excuse to deport migrants from other countries who have settled in Mexico itself.


Regardless of whether Trump abolishes or renegotiates NAFTA, the terms of trade for Mexico in relation to the US will certainly worsen. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s victory has already led to a substantial devaluation of the Mexican peso.


In addition, Trump´s victory is likely to politically damage the conservative Mexican government of Enrique Peña Nieto. Peña already welcomed Trump in September, during the election campaign, which infuriated many people in his country. The PRI government has already become unpopular and his sympathies for Trump will only increase this.


Furthermore, Trump’s victory will undoubtedly strengthen right-wing populist and chauvinist forces in many countries around the world. This was already become evident from the triumphant reactions to the outcome of the US election by Marie Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, Golden Dawn Party spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, in Greece, Austria’s right-wing leader HC Strache, as well as among Israel’s right-wing extremists inside and outside of the government.




10.          The End of the Ideological Superiority of the US as the bearer of “Democracy” and “Human Rights”




The outcome of the US election will also have major ideological consequences. Until now, the US – as a result of its character as the strongest economic, political and military power – could play the role of a “world leader.” This was also reflected in Washington’s global ideological leadership as a “defender of human rights” and advocate of “democracy.” With the Trump administration, such pretenses will come to an end. Nobody can seriously see “The Donald” as a compassionate liberal man caring for the poor and oppressed around the world. Of course, we are fully aware that such liberal, cosmopolitan language was pure rhetoric used by past US presidents to deflect attention from the real goals of US imperialism. But for Marxists it is also important to understand the illusions of sectors of the middle class and how they will be affected by recent developments.


Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (but George W. Bush, hardly not) were able to attract hopes and illusions among millions of middle class people in other countries. They could create a certain kind of “global ideological consensus” among these layers. With Trump this is over.


It is hardly surprising that numerous liberal intellectuals around the world have started to panic since November 8 about the loss of the “leadership of the free world”! [25]


In other words, we think that the US’s decline as the leading imperialist power is also reflected in its loss of ideological hegemony – something which it had a virtual monopoly on for many decades.




11.          Acceleration of the Class Struggle




The coming to power of the Trump administration will bring about a massive acceleration of all class contradictions. Immediately after the election, we saw spontaneous mass protests in all major US cities. This will be a government that not only attacks the workers, migrants and poor. It has and is bound to continue to provoke wide sectors of the population – including the liberal middle class – with its chauvinism, sexism and simply outrageous idiocy.


We can expect new upswings of class struggle if and when mass deportations start and if the government launches yet another war. The next Great Recession, waiting in the wings, will accelerate the economic and political contradictions even more.


Furthermore, it is nearly unavoidable that Trump’s foreign policy (rescinding agreement to the climate protocol, protectionism, wars, etc.) will also provoke mass outrage around the globe. We experienced similar developments during the Bush era. Bush’s Iraq war provoked the biggest global mass movement since the Vietnam war, with about 15-20 million people demonstrating around the globe on 15 February 2003 against Bush’s planned aggression. Trump is Bush squared and, as we said above, the new administration is a Molotov cocktail only waiting to be ignited.


In summary, the new era which has commenced with the election of Trump confirms our characterization of the new historic period which opened in 2008, one characterized by the decay of capitalism and the acceleration of the economic, political and military contradictions of the system. As we stated a year ago in our World Perspectives document:


To summarize, capitalism is in the throes of a historic period of decline which threatens not only the world economy but also the living standard of the popular masses, and even puts the survival of humanity in danger. The current period is characterized by what Trotsky described as a “declining curve of capitalist development”. It is the decay of the productive forces which constitutes the fundamental, the most important factor, for the acceleration of the contradictions between the classes which is so characteristic of the historic period since 2008. It is because of the declining dynamic of capital accumulation and the growth of profits that the bourgeoisie is forced, lest it face ruin, to relentlessly attack the working class. For the very same reason the imperialist bourgeoisie is forced to relentlessly strangle the semi-colonial countries of the South and to wage more and more military interventions and occupations. And it is for the very same reason that the rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers is accelerating, since they have to struggle against one other to gain a larger share of the relatively decreasing production of global capitalist value. Finally, if the imperialist Great Powers are not smashed by revolutionary international working class, their rivalry will lead to World War III. The working class can only end this continuous chain of misery, wars and catastrophes via a world socialist revolution. Rosa Luxemburg’s statement that humanity is faced with the alternative “Socialism or Barbarism” is more relevant than ever. Under the conditions of the early 21st century, the concretization of Luxemburg’s statement means: “Socialism or Widespread Death through Climate Destruction and World War III”! [26]


[1] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2013,; Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character (2014),

[2] Credit Suisse: China In Pictures: Under Pressure, September 9, 2015, p. 7

[3] OECD: Economic Outlook, Volume 2015/1, p. 210. However, one should note that these figures most likely are exaggerated since they are calculated in PPP and not in exchange value. Nevertheless, they reflect a real shift which has taken place.

[4] Forbes: The Global 2000, 7.3.2003, and Forbes: The World’s Biggest Public Companies,

[5] Forbes: The Global 2000, 7.3.2003, and Forbes: The World’s Biggest Public Companies,

[6] Tom LoBianco: Donald Trump outlines policy plan for first 100 days, CNN, November 22, 2016,

[7] See e.g. RCIT: Advancing Counterrevolution and Acceleration of Class Contradictions Mark the Opening of a New Political Phase (Chapter IV.1. The Accelerating Rivalry between the Great Powers),

[8] Matt Egan: Foreign governments dump U.S. debt at record rate, CNN, 5 March 17, 2016,

[9] Patrick Gillespie: China leads global U.S. debt dump, CNN, February 17, 2016,

[10] We have elaborated on this issue extensively in Michael Pröbsting: Marxism, the European Union and Brexit. The L5I and the European Union: A Right Turn away from Marxism. The recent change in the L5I’s position towards the support for EU membership represents a shift away from its own tradition, of the Marxist method, and of the facts, August 2016, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 55,; RCIT: After the BREXIT Vote – Stormy times ahead for the workers and oppressed in Britain, 24.6.2016,; RED*LIBERATION (Bulletin of Socialists in the Labour Party): UK: No to Cameron’s Trap: Neither YES nor NO to UK membership in the EU! For Abstention in the Referendum! We call on Momentum to create a “Third Camp” and to launch a socialist and internationalist campaign! For international Unity of the British, Migrant and European Workers! 25 February 2016,; RCIT und RCIT Britain: Boycott Cameron’s Trap: Neither Brussels, nor Downing Street! For Abstention in Britain’s EU-Referendum! For international Unity and Struggle of the Workers and Oppressed! Fight against both British as well as European Imperialism! Forward to the United Socialist States of Europe, 2 August 2015,; Michael Pröbsting: The British Left and the EU-Referendum: The Many Faces of pro-UK or pro-EU Social-Imperialism. An analysis of the left’s failure to fight for an independent, internationalist and socialist stance both against British as well as European imperialism, Revolutionary Communism Nr. 40, August 2015; RKOB: The European Union and the issue of the accession of semi-colonial countries, 14.10.2012, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 6,

[11] See on this e.g. German Foreign Policy: Make Europe great again, 21.11.2016,; German Foreign Policy: Die Supermacht Europa, 16.11.2016,; German Foreign Policy: Der Trump-Impuls, 11.11.2016,; German Foreign Policy: Strategische Autonomie, 13.09.2016,

[12] Donald J. Trump: Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Threshold Editions, New York 2015, p. 52. As a side-note we draw attention to the fact that, despite Trumps claims of being a “successful businessman,” reality shows that, despite his being born into a billionaire family, he is very far from having achieved this! See e.g.,;;

[13] Donald J. Trump: Crippled America, p. 41. On this, also see the following article by two of Trump’s supporters: Alexander Gray, Peter Navarro: Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific. How the Republican nominee will rewrite America’s relationship with Asia, November 7, 2016,

[14] See Zizek: Electing Trump will 'shake up' the system, Al-Jazeera, 16 Nov 2016, and Channel 4 News: Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek says he would opt for Donald Trump as the apparently less dangerous choice in the US election, Another shameful example for a “left-wing” politician hailing Trump’s victory is the British ex-MP George Galloway. (See the letter signed by him and other: Trump's victory has paved the way for Corbyn's win in 2020, The Independent, 14.11.2016, )

[15] See e.g. Al-Jazeera: Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discuss mending ties, Kremlin says Vladimir Putin congratulated US president-elect Donald Trump in phone call that also covered Syria war, 15.11.2016,

[16] Donald J. Trump: Crippled America, pp. 42-43

[17] See on this e.g. Yossi Schwartz: Israel Loves Donald Trump who Loves Israel but Dislikes Jews, RCIT, 20.11.2016, In this article, comrade Yossi Schwartz rightly drew attention to the fact that such a combination of support for Zionism and hatred against Jews is not unique. It even reached more ugly proportions in the years after 1933 when the Zionist Federation of Germany collaborated with the anti-Semitic Hitler regime. The Zionists perceived Hitler’s persecution of the Jews as a blessing, since it forced Jews to immigrate to Palestine and pushed more Jews to support Zionism. (Of course, we are not characterizing the Trump Administration as a Nazi regime, despite its extreme right-wing tendencies.). In this context, we refer readers to Yossi Schwartz’s pamphlet The Origins of the Jews which the RCIT published last year. (See Revolutionary Communism No. 38 and

[18] See e.g. Assad willing to cooperate with Trump, 10/11/2016,; Reuters: Egypt's Sisi congratulates Trump, looks forward to new era of closer ties, Nov 9, 2016,; Shahira Amin: Why Egypt's Sisi welcomes Trump win, Al-Monitor, November 10, 2016,

[19] Valerie Volcovici and Alister Doyle: Trump looking at fast ways to quit global climate deal: source, Reuters, Nov 14, 2016, see also Tom LoBianco: Donald Trump outlines policy plan for first 100 days, CNN, November 22, 2016,

[22] To be precise, there has for a long time already been a wall along the US-Mexican border to prevent Mexican migrants from entering their northern neighbor. However, Trump wants to build an even bigger wall.

[23] On this, see e.g., Jonathan Levinson: Mexicans react to Donald Trump's election win. From fears of inflation to speculation about what it may mean for undocumented migrants, Mexicans reflect on the result, Al Jazeera, 2016-11-10,

[24] Simon Tomlinson: Revealed: How immigrants in America are sending $120 BILLION to their struggling families back home, The Daily Mail, 31 January 2013,

[25] See e.g. Yascha Mounk: Donald Trump Is the End of Global Politics as We Know It. What it means to live without a leader of the free world, Foreign Policy, November 11, 2016,; Benjamin Soloway: Under Trump, U.S. Allies in Asia May Look to Themselves for Security, November 11, 2016,; German Foreign Policy: Der Trump-Impuls, 11.11.2016,

[26] See World Perspectives 2016