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News & Analysis > All
News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
Third World “raping” Amerikans: Donald Trump’s ignorant remark is a product of the Western so-called Left
May 2, 2016
U.$. presidential candidate Donald Trump said recently, “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.”(1) The context includes, “The entire state of Indiana has lost one in five manufacturing jobs since Congress put China in the World Trade Organization in 2001.” About 15 minutes later: “We have a $500 billion trade deficit with China. We’re going to turn it around, and we have the cards. Don’t forget. We’re like the piggy-bankers being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China. . . . It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”(2)
The response of some has been to use this as an opportunity to support the Democrats as if Trump were attacking females and not agreeing with what “progressives” have been saying in opposition to international-business-oriented politicians for years. The reality is it is common in Amerika to believe China is preying on the united $tates economically in some narrow sense, and that the Third World sexually oppresses or threatens Amerika. Liberals, including Clinton, have contributed in their own way over the last many years to portraying migrants, Muslims, and people in the Third World, as sexually backward, even rapists—but forget that; Trump’s remark is somehow about Hillary Clinton. Amerikans are actually in a position of great privilege economically and socially in the world.
Much of the blame for the widespread belief in an external economic predator has to go to the so-called leftists and progressives of the united $nakes, which has nothing good to offer the world politically and continues to play the victim in economic matters. These so-called leftists/progressives have talked more about how great liberal Western sexual culture is supposedly than about how notions of cultural superiority (including gender culture chauvinism), combined with concern—shared by imperialist country workers and capitalists—about the trade deficit, are related to fascism. Many phony socialists and non-socialist Democrats less offensive than Trump are actually just as fascist, just less obviously. Non-stop rhetoric about inequality, millionaires, and corporations, and elites working with Third Word capitalists to exploit or victimize Amerikans, out of context of Amerikans’ exploiter privilege globally, paved the way not only for liberal Democratic warmongers claiming to be progressive, but also for Trump.
Discussion of what should be basic concepts, such as unequal exchange, still sounds academic in 2016 to Amerikans because the u.$. “Left” largely rejects the concept in favor of false notions of fantastic Amerikkkan worker productivity and basically agrees with Trump about international trade agreements, u.$. government-defined poverty, China (including “cheap crap” from that country), and people speaking English with accents taking jobs. (There is some discussion of terms of trade, but typically not as being involved in First World workers’ privilege globally.) Decade after decade, there is the same old talk about supposedly lower living costs in the Third World driving down wages in a global economy or hurting Amerikans in jobs, and talk of recession resulting in some Amerikkkan uprising—which never happens except in a fascist way.
There is instability related to trade deficits, but it is possible for instability to coexist with continuing international exploitation. Five- and ten-year graphs for the u.$. dollar relative to the forex Majors plus the rouble, the rupee, and the yuan, show there has actually been a long-term increase (since 2008) in the value of the dollar with the franc being an exception. It is just since January or February that there has been a downward trend, coinciding with an increase in oil prices. Other countries need to do more to stop using the u.$. dollar as a reserve currency.
In terms of net flows and the significance of a surplus, trade balance isn’t everything. A country could have zero trade deficit or an “unfavorable” trade balance and still make out nicely because trade figures don’t adequately represent differences in physical or labor content of exports between First and Third World countries. The united $tates gets physical useful things in exchange for I-owe-yous (IOUs), higher education, services (financial, legal, etc.), intellectual property licenses, and machinery, equipment and vehicles that are either overpriced or represent the hidden value of inputs made by Third World workers.
Despite the outflow of currency or debt (capital inflow), importing more than exporting could be a sign of theft in a sense. On top of that, imports from the Third World are priced less than they would be if there were international wage equality, such that if the united $tates had a trade surplus it would be misleading in not reflecting the net transfer of value in other senses (ecological, labor) to the united $tates. International trade is a major area for exploitation benefiting the united $tates and the tangible realization of the benefits of dominance. Even if the dollar tumbles for the next six months in connection with the trade deficit, it is China with lots of dollar-denominated assets that is the victim. China still has more than a trillion dollars in U.$. Treasuries alone. What a sick joke really. Steal goods from the Chinese people and then talk about “rape” while the value of the IOUs you gave China decrease in value.
By using the word “rape,” Trump may have actually elided the issue of exploitation in an overall sense or in the sense of price and wage differences resulting in a net transfer of some kind. Trump talks about manufacturing jobs moving to other countries, the balance of trade, currency manipulation, and tariffs, perhaps because to say more openly that the Chinese are exploiting Amerikan workers would sound too much like what some Trotskyists might say or be ridiculous. If other countries’ tariffs prohibited trade through which the united $tates would lose in a net transfer, Amerikans might be against that trade anyway, but Trump wants fewer barriers to u.$. exports because the united $tates already gains overall in general. Trump’s idea of being robbed involves not being able to exploit other countries even more. Despite China’s advances in some indicators, the idea that a country like the Dominican Republic, Peru or Thailand is already greatly exploiting the united $tates in an overall sense is not believable even to many Amerikans. More likely is having a notion that each country’s capitalists exploit its own workers with relatively little net transfer between the countries, and that a Third World country is encroaching in certain areas. Trump may have used “rape” not too much unlike the way “Bernie Bro” Amerikan tourists might have talked about poor locals “robbing” them in Mexico or Jamaica during spring break.
The Chinese government has to talk about things more in terms of mutual benefit for China and the united $tates and cannot publicly fully address the extent of exploitation of China by the united $tates so you have to read about it here. So-called leftists lying to the world about the united $nakes’ having a proletariat won’t talk about it unless it can portray Amerikan workers as victims with the benefits going to the upper class. Trade surpluses and currency devaluation are good for market share if one thinks capitalism is going to last forever, but the combination of both is a pathway to exploitation by an another country.
Trade surpluses are thought to be related to higher GDP, and the money and assets a country gets for exporting more are viewed positively. However, the GPD per worker-hour (“productivity”) of China is many times less than the united $tates’, by a factor of more than 10 according to this writer’s calculation for 2015. The united $tates continues to have one of the highest GDP-per-hour figures even among Western imperialist countries, which is even more remarkable because of the large size of the united $tates and its working population. It is not that Chinese workers actually produce less, but that Chinese workers are being exploited when they produce goods traded with the united states. The higher “productivity” of Amerikan workers represents transfers from other countries, and increases in a typical Third World country’s GPD at this time mostly represent receiving a small portion of what the country’s workers make. The money the united $tates gets from exporting Hollywood movies, other pornography, and software and patent licenses, can be used to buy tons of so-called cheap goods from the Third World, which could actually cost more, or import goods that merely appear to have little value added.
Making a big deal about a country’s GDP separately from exploitation or in isolation from other countries (as if it more or less accurately represented wealth that should be distributed within the country) was never a real leftist thing. It belongs to the right or the left wing of parasitism in the imperialist countries, or to subservient neo-colonial thinking. There are First World countries with large trade deficits, and there are First World countries with large trade surpluses. In trade-deficit First World countries, denying the majority of wealth transfer to the united $tates while exaggerating the importance of trade deficits or so-called balanced trade is false economic thinking leading to fascism. ◊
1. “Donald Trump: China’s rape of US must stop,” 2016 May 2. http://www.australianetworknews.com/donald-trump-chinas-rape-us-must-stop/
2. “Full Speech: Donald Trump Rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana (5-1-16) Allen County War Memorial Coliseum,” 2016 May 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5dxTg4X1tM