In the English philosopher John Stuart Mill’s 1859 essay entitled “A Few Words on Non-Intervention”, Mill sets out his (qualified) case for why states should not forcibly intervene in the sovereign affairs and domestic struggles of other sovereign states. Mill argued that it was as wrong to subject another sovereign state to the imperialism of the intervening state’s ideas and ideals as it was to, for example, go to war in the pursuit of territorial expansion. The kernel of his argument rested on the proposition that, in the case of the liberation of a people from their native rulers, intervention is not legitimate because if: “they [free men] have not sufficient love of liberty to be able to wrest it from merely domestic oppressors, the liberty which is bestowed on them by other hands than their own, will have nothing real, nothing permanent.”

The Women’s March on Washington last weekend was a justifiable exercising of the democratic right to protest against what many women in America view as Mill’s “domestic oppressor” in the form of a president who has hitherto managed to offend and undermine the rights of many of US society’s demographics. In cahoots with Washington, the women-led marches in various cities around the world (including London) also protesting at The Donald’s inauguration, give Mill’s philosophy a highly contemporary relevance.

Apart from a show of solidarity with their trans- Atlantic sisterhood, what exactly were those placard waving “remote interventionists” trying to achieve in London, Sydney, Berlin, Paris and Cape Town etc? Leaving aside the fact that the London march seemed to morph into a free-for-all for any crackpot cause that the populist phenomenon has managed to incubate, at its causal epicentre were women’s rights. The placard “This pussy bites back” will be familiar.

Except that pussies in London and anywhere outside US sovereign territory aren’t biting anything, apart from the freezing cold that marchers’ extremities were greeted with. The bottom (no pun intended) line is that a lot of people outside the US loathe Donald Trump, the democratically elected leader of another sovereign state. Aye, there’s the rub. Unless you have a problem with the principles of the governmental system whose etymology empowers the demos (people) with the kratia (rule), marching because you merely don’t like another country’s leader has no practical, intellectual or democratic basis. Worse than that, it is an irrelevant and distracting sideshow that ultimately undermines the very Western principles that such public demonstrations seek to protect: the Kremlin and Beijing (the increasingly emboldened power brokers in this regressional dawn of zero-sum realpolitik) must have looked on in red tinted glee as the foundations of Western democracy and ideals are rocked by the populist mob and the law of unintended consequences.

What of Trump’s reaction to this indignant and hysterical interventionism from faraway lands? Nothing. Nichts. Nada. Niente. Rien. Not even the merest ruffle in that golden mane. Could he honestly give a Washington rat’s ass for the bleating of foreign malcontents towards whom he has precisely zero accountability? Of course not. Why? Because, very simply, his ensconcement behind the desk in the Oval Office confers upon him a democratic mandate to lead the United States of America in whatever way his voters have entrusted him to choose.

Of course, for the 500,000 odd that marched on Washington, they vehemently oppose this mandate as is their democratic right. Pussies bit back with gusto. You go girls! I hope Trump hears y’all. Unfortunately for your foreign based sisterhood, shouting into thin air is about as far and as flawed as such international solidarity gets.

In the US election, 42% of women voted for Trump versus 54% for Clinton- a convincing, if not landslide, win for the female candidate. But distil the apparently chauvinist-misogynist’s vote further and a different picture emerges: Trump won 53% of white women voters and 61% of white women voters without college degrees. This does rather dispel the myth that females vote according to gender identity and that there were other, more important, female voter considerations at play. As Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s spiky campaign manager, insightfully remarked, the outcome of the election hinged “on things that affect them, not just things that offend them”. Cue big ticket issues like the economy, jobs and homeland security. It was ever thus.

There is therefore no anti-Trump consensus split by gender lines.  So where does this leave the credibility and relevance of the foreign female marching army? Shot to shit. Trump has millions of female supporters that helped propel him to the White House. Foreign marching against Trump is to undermine, to belittle and to question the female authenticity of those women who voted for him.

It’s blue on blue; pink on pink. Pussy is biting pussy.

So fuck marching from the comfort of remote lands; it is pointless, flawed and feeble. The way to hurt Trump is, harsh as it may sound, to hurt the people that put him in office: those plain folks of America of whom Mencken was so disparaging. When Trump rants to put America first (“buy American, hire American”), marchers should play him at his own game as consumers: do not buy American, do not hire American. And when Trump wakes up to the fact that the UK runs a large trade surplus with the US and may want to redress the balance with tariffs, don’t sell to America either. That’s protectionism in microcosm. And it will hurt Trump’s domestic fiefdom.

Trump has only been in the job a week and the portents for his presidency do not look good from the outsider’s point of view. The language is incendiary; the executive orders are nationalist; the direction of travel for global security and prosperity uncertain. We will all suffer if a 1920s style US isolationism allows liberalism to be gangbanged by the forces of economic nationalism and protectionism; a global power vacuum will be filled by Russia and China upon US retrenchment.

The uninspiring orthodoxy and dour competency of “Establishment” politics that populism seeks to smash suddenly won’t look so bad.

First and foremost, this is America’s problem and the American people’s problem. If the US populist experiment fails (and I am confident that it will, given that Trump has promised so much to so many with so much contradiction and so little coherence), the biggest losers will be Americans. It is their right to self-determination that spat out Trump; and it is only that same right to self-determination that will prove Mill’s philosophy of liberation from within by delivering their epiphany if Trump doesn’t, well, come up trumps.

It’s got fuck all to do with us. Let the Americans get on with it and allow them to reap what their democracy has sown.

 

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