Donald Trump

The working hypothesis among many people in the US at the moment is that what's really going to happen in the Trump presidency won't start until an opportunity of a specific type presents itself. That "specific type" would be a disaster of some sort: an economic crash brought on by international events, a terrorist attack, a Katrina-style natural disaster or similar. At that point, and in line with the argument Naomi Klein has made about capitalism, the "shock doctrine" kicks in: the disordered situation is available for a radical reconstruction of social life, and this can be done along neoliberal lines. State and collective institutions can be privatised, and any resistance to this can be suppressed by a government that claims for itself the right to suspend democracy and rights, because, after all, it's an emergency.

The shock doctrine in its purest form applies to societies that have been wholly disrupted by humanity or nature. Chile in 1973 is one example of the former: only a dictatorship could instantiate the first neoliberal society in a place with strong resistant traditions. Haiti in the 2010 earthquake is an example of the latter, when things are so devastated that whoever comes with food, shelter, etc, can establish a beachhead for imposing a new state order.

But there's a modified form of the shock doctrine available in a society like the US, which is so dominated by spectacle, imagination and fear that a relatively small event could be magnified into a sense of national emergency, without the government having to do much of anything at all. The trick for a Trump administration, working hand-in-glove with a Republican Congress, would be to convince a section of Trump supporters gained from the economic "left" -- those who want industrial jobs, infrastructure, etc, as well a preservation of entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare -- that, now there's an emergency, all previous commitments are off, and anyone who moans about it isn't a patriot.