By Javad Heirannia

Trump unashamedly right-wing, says professor of comparative philosophies

June 2, 2020 - 2:31

TEHRAN - Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, a professor in global thought and comparative philosophies, tells the Tehran Times that “President Trump is unashamedly right-wing”.

The professor also notes the protest over the murder of African-American under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” says a lot about the current situation in the United States and “the failed model that President Trump tries to force feed to the people.” 
Here is the text of Adib-Moghaddam’s exclusive interview with the Tehran Times: 

Q: Unfortunately, the number of victims of Coronavirus in the United States has exceeded 100,000. The Trump administration, had predicted the death toll would not rise to that number. How effective do you think Trump's performance will be in countering the virus in the run-up to the November presidential election?

A: As we are conducting this interview, the United States has not only by far the highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in the world, the country is rocked to its core by race riots, after the murder of George Floyd. Under the banner of “Black Lives Matter”, this movement tells us a lot about the current situation in the United States and the failed model that President Trump tries to force feed to the people. President Trump is unashamedly right-wing. The core of his voters are people who believe in a particularly divisive form of politics, somewhat comparable to a khodi and ghey-re khodi doctrine that is restrictive and self-defeating. Trump lodged into this right-wing political culture that was fostered by the “neo-conservatives” for decades and pushed it further to the Right. It was only a matter of time until a multi-cultural society such as the United States, would implode. When the sovereignty of a state is based on a formula that does not reflect the reality of the society it intends to rule, it will fail.
This deadly failure is even more apparent when pandemics such as Covid-19 strike because they require science and the truth to be combatted. Right-wing politics fosters the exact opposite, however. It is based on hocus pouks, lies, deception, fake news. But you can’t cheat death and this is what explains the situation in the USA right now. A government that is based on ideology, will always be hard put to fight a pandemic exactly because of the lack of knowledge that right-wing politics engenders. The tragedy for the citizens of the United States is horrific and I really feel for my friends and colleagues in the country. 

Q: The effects of the Coronavirus outbreak on the U.S. economy are also among the issues that have pushed Trump to try to end the lockdown sooner. To what extent can this contribute to the deterioration of the situation?

“The political culture of the United States is populated by a range of right-wing institutions that will put continuous pressure on any President to follow the international relations that they prescribe which includes confrontation with China and Iran and other geopolitically central countries such as Venezuela.”
A: Again, we can easily analyse any effort by an ideological government as impotent, as it is not based on science and knowledge, but some for of “black magic”, lies and deception that do not yield constructive results. Let’s put the apparent disregard for the lives of tens of thousands of US American aside for one moment. The idea that opening up the economy will help the inevitable catastrophe that Covid-19 will unleash on the U.S. economy can be framed as a politics of desperation. President Trump doesn’t seem to understand that the real benefit for the economy would have been to control the pandemic in the short run and to gradually open up the economy as other countries have done. China is a good example. Vietnam is another. There are thousands of U.S. Americans who are trying to flee to Canada and to Cuba in order to escape the pandemic, as they rightly believe that is it is uncontrollable. I don’t think that people understand that at this stage and under this administration Covid-19 in the United States is exactly that: uncontrollable. The long term economic consequences will be catastrophic, and they will contribute further to the re-ordering of the world. That much is for sure.

Q: One of the approaches of the Trump administration in foreign policy, which seems to be from Kissinger's, is to control China. Recently, Trump announced that he would pull companies out of Hong Kong if the Chinese government passed the Hong Kong National Security law. Trump, on the other hand, has stepped up operations in the South China Sea. What are the main reasons for tightening the screw on Beijing to contain China?

A: Again we have to analyse these policies from a strategic vantage point. The political classes in the United States have known for a while that China will be a global power that the U.S. model is hard-pressed to compete with. This is not only in terms of the economy, but politics too. The United States lost the fundamental asset that made it a special country for many people and for a long time: It’s rhetorical commitment to freedom and democracy. It was always rhetorical, as the country was built on rivers of blood. The extinction of Native Americans, and then the abomination of slavery followed by the imperial devastation of many places. But during the Cold War, U.S. society produced inspiring forms of resistance with truly universal appeal: The anti-Vietnam movement, Woodstock, even John Lennon went to New York because of the aura of freedom that existed in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s. But the political establishment slowly destroyed that counterculture and supplanted it with a fundamentalist adherence to capitalism and consumerism. This political culture created Trump and all the corrupt and decadent excesses that his type of politician stands for. Obama was a short panacea to that bigger phenomenon. Simply put: The United States has lost its appeal as a model. So whereas during the Cold War, the U.S. was equipped with that rhetorical freedom discourse, it has lost that appeal today. This explains the desperate efforts to contain China through sanctions and direct political confrontation. In the absence of the appeal of the U.S. model of governance and society, these are the only methods left. 

Q: If Joe Biden is elected president in the November elections, will he change approach toward China? Also, what will be his approach to Iran and the 2015 nuclear deal if he wins the polls?

A: There will be nuances. But as I argue in my forthcoming book “What is Iran?”: The political culture of the United States is populated by a range of right-wing institutions that will put continuous pressure on any President to follow the international relations that they prescribe which includes confrontation with China and Iran and other geopolitically central countries such as Venezuela. Having said that: If Biden manages this domestic context, then his instinct will tell him that it is better for the United States to engage China constructively with a positive-sum mentality as there is no other way. Obama understood very well that the U.S. has turned into a “normal” country - one amongst many. Biden has a similar appreciation, and he is certainly more intelligent than Trump. When Trump became President, I immediately said that Iran will be targeted. With Biden, Iran will be engaged differently. This repositioning will open up many opportunities for diplomacy. At that point of time, Iran needs to act constructively and move towards a) pacifying the domestic realm through concessions to the mainstream of Iranian society, and b) adopting an open mind about establishing full diplomatic relations with the United States, if Biden creates a supportive environment to that end. 

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