Feb. 19 — What is behind the ouster of Donald Trump’s national security adviser, retired Army General Michael Flynn, and the surge in attempts to generate panic over Trump’s “ties to Russia”? And what concerns do the working class and the oppressed have in this matter?
A major struggle is going on over the diplomatic/military orientation of U.S. imperialism. It is between the Trump White House, on the one hand, which has been seeking a rapprochement with Russia, and, on the other hand, the mainstream capitalist class, large sections of the military, both Democrat and Republican political establishment, and the media, all of which have a firmly anti-Russia orientation.
Struggle over two imperialist war policies
This struggle is basically over two different policies for imperialist aggression. The Trump grouping, which includes Steve Bannon, his strategy advisor, and Michael Flynn (now fired), wants to use a realignment with Russia against China and is for an expanded war in the Middle East, allegedly against Islam.
The working class, the oppressed and the progressive movement should oppose both camps and seek an independent policy in opposition to Washington’s aggressive stance toward Russia while at the same time not being lured into Trump’s so-called “peace” camp.
For the working class and progressives to get a clear view of the matter, it is best to set aside all speculation about what Flynn and others might have said to Russian officials, who may have hacked into whose emails or affected the election. It is not necessary to know any of that to understand this struggle.
But, for clarity, we will cite Time magazine of Feb. 27-March 6. In an article titled “What’s Wrong with Russia?” Time gave its version of the conflict with Russia and then continued:
“Perhaps the most important front in this new conflict has been unfolding in the West Wing. Over the course of the past three months, according to senior Trump administration officials and others who have participated, quiet but consequential talks have taken place there over whether the U.S. should resist Putin in his new campaign or cede to Russia a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe [and,] in return for an alliance against ISIS, work to reduce nuclear-weapons stockpiles and help constrain China.
“Donald Trump has publicly enunciated parts of such a grand bargain, as have top advisers Steve Bannon and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The White House officials who have advocated such a deal … see nationalism as the basis for all-important fights against Islamic extremism and China’s rise.
“Opposing a Russia deal are such Cabinet secretaries as Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson … backed by virtually the entire foreign policy establishment.
“Flynn’s ouster makes it politically more difficult for those who would like to advance a pro-Moscow strategy.”
Trump called for realignment during entire campaign
Whether or not the Time article is correct in its details or its formulations, it is not difficult to understand the axis of the struggle. Trump has been saying it out loud since his campaign began.
He has constantly pleaded from the platform, in between his racist, misogynist and anti-immigrant diatribes and his wild attacks on the media: “Wouldn’t it be a good thing if we got along with Russia. We could join together and fight ISIS … and terrorism.”
He’s been saying for over a year, “We could reduce nuclear weapons,” etc. And each time he says it, it sets off alarm bells in the Pentagon, in the spy agencies, in the anti-Russian mainstream media, in the political establishment and in the board rooms of military corporations.
Bannon, the ideologue behind Trump
Trump’s attempted political maneuver with Putin, which may already have failed, is promoted by his political guru, right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon. Bannon has an apocalyptic worldview that calls for war against Islam and China.
The South China Morning Post reported on Feb. 17 about Bannon’s outlook: “The United States and China will fight a war within the next ten years over islands in the South China Sea, and ‘there’s no doubt about that.’ At the same time, the U.S. will be in another ‘major’ war in the Middle East.”
This attempt to reorient Washington’s foreign policy, however, is a completely naive move by Trump. His overblown ego leads him to believe that it is possible to tear up all the Pentagon, State Department and CIA plans to subdue Russia.
That is why the biggest hawks in the Senate, pro-Pentagon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have led the charge to investigate Flynn and the White House. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence were in Europe defending NATO, warning Russia that there would be no military collaboration and pledging support to Ukraine.
Military high command wants Bannon out
It is significant that retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward twice turned down the Trump administration’s request that he take Flynn’s place as national security advisor. Harward was a Navy SEAL, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, the representative of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the National Counterterrorism Center, and the director of strategy and policy on the National Security Council staff.
For such a former high-ranking officer to turn down the president is almost unprecedented. Harward explained his objections: Trump and Bannon refused to let him have his own staff. Beyond that, Harward told the White House that “he wanted a clear chain of command reporting directly to the president, and most importantly, to restore the NSC structure of prior administrations … so that political advisors like Steve Bannon would not have a seat on the Principals Committee.” (“All In with Chris Hayes,” MSNBC, Feb. 17)
The military high command are opposed to Bannon telling them where and when to make war. Additionally, returning to the previous NSC structure would mean returning the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a standing position on the NSC Principals Committee, a steering committee of sorts that meets frequently and is the most powerful organ in the foreign and military policy structure.
Trump forces reorganized the NSC to put Bannon on the Principals Committee and at the same time removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the head of National Intelligence, reducing them to members who would be invited at “appropriate times.”
It is clear why the Joint Chiefs and the head of National Intelligence were removed. They would be opposed to a rapprochement with Russia.
U.S.-Ukraine coup a turning point
The entire Pentagon, Wall Street and the political establishment have been geared up to threaten Russia ever since Washington failed to completely take over Ukraine. The fascist coup in 2014 was engineered by the Clinton State Department and the CIA and begun by the European Union. Its progress was halted by the resistance in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.
Washington and the Pentagon were furious when the Putin government moved with lightning speed to take Crimea back for Russia. (Crimea, which has a majority Russian population, was originally part of the Soviet Union separate from Ukraine.) Russia then effectively supported the insurgency in the east against the pro-Western imperialist government in Kiev, backed by fascist storm troopers.
Russia was seeking to prevent NATO from advancing further east to its borders. The taking of Crimea can be understood as a strategic move to block the Pentagon and CIA from seizing Russia’s only Black Sea port at Sebastopol.
The seizure of Ukraine by Washington had been preceded in 1999 by the incorporation of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO, in violation of Washington’s pledges not to do so.
For workers and oppressed ‘the enemy is at home’
In the struggle between Russia and Washington, the workers, oppressed and progressive forces of this country must follow the Leninist dictum that “the enemy is at home.” We must be against our own ruling class trying to subordinate Russia to U.S. imperialism.
The Democratic Party leadership is vigorously promoting the anti-Russia line to explain their loss in the presidential election, thereby adding their weight to Washington’s aggressive, warlike policy toward Russia. The masses of activists who are mobilizing to resist the racist, anti-immigrant and reactionary Trump agenda should not fall into the Democrats’ trap.
By the same token, the workers, small farmers and oppressed peoples in Russia, while defending their country against U.S. imperialism, must fight Putin and their own oligarchic ruling class.
Who is Putin?
Putin represents the oligarchs who engineered the destruction of the Soviet Union, divided up socialist property to enrich themselves, and turned the country into a capitalist nightmare.
Putin wants to expand Russia’s control into the “near abroad,” meaning the former Soviet republics that have also gone capitalist. Putin is supporting the right wing in Europe, most of which is racist, nationalist and anti-gay. The right is opposed to the European Union and some also oppose NATO, but on reactionary, nationalist grounds.
Moscow funded Marine Le Pen’s racist National Front with bank loans in 2014. (Politico, Jan. 4) Le Pen just called the masses who rebelled against police brutality in Paris “scum.” The Russian government in December signed a long-term agreement of cooperation with the right-wing Freedom Party in Austria. And conferences of the European right wing have been held in Moscow.
Putin espouses Christian “morality,” Russian nationalism and anti-gay laws against public display of affection between members of the same sex on the grounds of protecting children.
Most important, since Putin came to power after pro-U.S. Boris Yeltsin was ousted, Russian billionaire oligarchs have consolidated Russia’s finance and industrial corporations; their overseas direct investments have expanded from $40 billion in 2000 to $406 billion in 2013. They have holdings all over the world, from Latvia to Africa to Europe. There are over 100 billionaires in Russia.
Trump and the press
Trump has been attacking the press ever since his campaign began. Trump and Bannon have called the press the “opposition party.” And recently Trump called the press “the enemy of the American people.” This is an ominous pronouncement from an authoritarian figure.
The capitalist press represents various factions of the ruling class. It is actually an informal part of the capitalist state, sometimes called “the fourth estate.” The media are the modern means of ideological compulsion. They promote the general line of the ruling class, informing the bourgeoisie of trends and events important to them. They are also used to persecute leaders of the workers and the oppressed or radicals.
But at times, when the interests of large sections of the bourgeoisie are endangered by a part of the capitalist government, the press is used to help enforce the discipline of the ruling class.
Trump knows this and is trying to counter the current press campaign, which is not only against his attempted reorientation to Russia, but also against his racist, authoritarian Muslim ban, and in general his threats to upend the basic foundations of bourgeois stability.
He knows the media were used in the struggles against Joseph McCarthy, against the Pentagon’s Vietnam War, against Nixon in Watergate. His attacks on the media are preventive measures against attempts by the bourgeoisie to discredit his regime.
The working class needs freedom of the press both to protect its own press and because it can get valuable information from the capitalist press to carry out the class struggle. The venal, anti-working class capitalist media are no friend, but freedom of the press is a democratic right that the working class must defend.
By February 14, 2017posted on
Feb. 13 — Donald Trump has suffered a series of setbacks in his foreign policy promises while escalating attacks on the workers and oppressed at home.
Trump campaigned against China all throughout his candidacy. He made aggressive charges that China was “raping our country” through currency manipulation and unfair trade. Trump threatened trade retaliation and questioned the One China policy by taking a phone call from the president of Taiwan, which is rightfully part of China.
Reality set in last week. After a phone call with the president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, who represents 1.3 billion people and the second-largest economy in the world, Trump announced he would follow the One China policy and not recognize Taiwan.
During his campaign, he curried favor with the most right-wing, pro-Israeli forces, like billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, by vowing to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No other imperialist country has an embassy in Jerusalem.
But when he sought Saudi and Egyptian help in the Middle East, he was told to drop the idea of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. He has not mentioned it since.
Trump vowed to restore torture as official policy and to reopen secret torture sites that the Bush administration had established in other countries but later outlawed. In the face of potential antagonism from the hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East, Trump has had to quietly back away from both these pledges.
Of course, his ban of Muslim immigrants and refugees has blown up in his face. It provoked widespread demonstrations throughout the U.S. and other continents, which are still going on.
Escalating attacks on undocumented
While the capitalist media were focused on the courts and the travel ban, Trump introduced sweeping new rules for deportation. President Barack Obama was rightfully known as “deporter in chief” for the millions of deportations under his regime. In his last years, however, Obama relaxed the rules governing deportations to exclude all but the most serious crimes.
Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 25 changing the rules. His new rules call for deporting anyone with a chargeable offense, whether or not they have been convicted of a crime.
Chargeable offenses include crossing the border without documents, using a false Social Security card (without which no one can work) and any minor misdemeanor. The new rules give local immigration authorities complete discretion in deportation proceedings.
These rules make all 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S. subject to arrest and deportation at any time.
Immigration, Customs and Enforcement immediately carried out 160 arrests in Los Angeles. An additional 200 undocumented workers were arrested in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. About 200 were arrested across Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin. (New York Times, Feb. 12)
Breaking up a family
Trump’s message was clear in the high-profile deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 35, a mother of two who came to the U.S. in the 1990s when she was 14. Garcia was arrested in an ICE workplace raid in 2008, but the agency worked out an arrangement for her to remain as long as she reported to ICE periodically. She had reported eight times since then.
In 2013 an order to deport was instituted, but Garcia de Rayos was allowed to remain. But when Trump changed the rules to allow priority deportation for any illegality, she was seized on Feb. 8 when she reported to ICE and deported within 24 hours.
Protesters were arrested at demonstrations to stop her deportation.
As to the raids over the last week, Trump has announced he was “carrying out my campaign promise.” In other words, he is stoking fear in the immigrant community and stoking hatred in his reactionary racist followers.
Billionaires on a rampage
One of the reasons political machines under capitalist democracy have been hesitant to put billionaires personally in charge of the White House, as opposed to allowing them into the cabinet and other high positions, is the fear that their greed will lead them to wreck the economy and endanger the system altogether.
But now there is a billionaire boss, who came from outside the political establishment, who has moved directly into the White House, and has complete domination of the most powerful governmental executive position in the world.
The Democratic Party administration of Bill Clinton laid the basis for the great financial crash of 2008. Financial policy was dominated by Robert Rubin, Clinton’s secretary of the Treasury and former head of Goldman Sachs, along with Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan, all voices of Wall Street.
This group cast aside regulations that had put a lid on bank speculation. They overturned the Glass-Steagall Act, passed after the Great Depression. The Clinton group fought against regulating a major new speculative instrument called financial derivatives. That unleashed Wall Street and the banks to do as they pleased.
It took less than 10 years for the massive speculation in mortgages and derivatives to build up a bubble. The bubble burst and the Great Recession of 2008 crashed down on the U.S. and the globe. It made the cyclical capitalist boom-and-bust crisis immeasurably worse.
Now the Trump administration is busily crafting new ways of removing all restraints on the banks and financiers.
In the wake of the 2008 crash, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed to put some restraints on the banks going forward. Trump boasted to a host of bankers that he was going to get advice from Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase on how to take apart Dodd-Frank, among other regulations.
The working class must get ready for a reenactment of speculative frenzy among the bankers and the bosses if Trump pushes through his financial “reform,” which includes his plan to lower corporate taxes and do away with regulations on corporate crimes against the workers and against the environment.
Attacks breed resistance
The right wing mobilized anti-abortion forces nationally on Feb. 11 to demonstrate against Planned Parenthood. Trump has promised to defund the organization, which provides not only abortions but basic women’s health care throughout the country.
The right-wing demonstrations were met by equal or greater pro-choice forces supporting Planned Parenthood in cities large and small across the country. For example, in St. Paul, Minn., the anti-abortion forces numbered 500 while the pro-choice forces numbered 5,000. (CommonDreams, Feb. 17)
A massive pushback by tens of thousands in the movement against Trump’s Muslim travel ban panicked the ruling class and the courts. Trump suffered a setback as Ninth Circuit Court judges unanimously upheld a Seattle district court ruling that temporarily stopped the travel ban. There is no evidence that Trump has given up the ban, but he has had to say that he might have to redraft it to make it more acceptable in court. But the mass opposition is already in motion.
As demonstrations against the deportations broke out throughout the U.S., a massive demonstration in Mexico City was part of a Mexico-wide mobilization against the wall and the persecution of immigrants. Meanwhile, in the U.S., workers have been demonstrating against anti-union, “right to work” moves in Wisconsin and Michigan state legislatures.
The temporary victory in court against the travel ban and deportations is the result of both the demonstrations down below and the harm that the ban does to the tech industry, the universities, hospitals, agribusiness and other capitalist institutions. It is a case in which the movement on behalf of the oppressed benefited from a combination of their own struggle and a split in the ruling class.
Courts no friend of workers and oppressed
The court ruling on the travel ban has been accompanied by mountains of capitalist praise for judicial checks on the executive, the great “separation of powers,” “checks and balances” and so on.
The Seattle and the Ninth Circuit courts issued liberal rulings. Trump will undoubtedly try again, since the judiciary, and especially the federal judiciary, is the most reactionary branch of the three branches of the capitalist state. Federal judges are appointed for life. They cannot be removed by any ordinary means. Therefore, no one should be inveigled into relying on the courts.
Of course, the workers and oppressed are always in favor of rulings they can take advantage of. For example, the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education overturned the racist doctrine of “separate but equal,” which had been the legal basis for Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation in the South.
But that 1954 ruling was in anticipation of the coming massive Civil Rights Movement and the general Black Liberation struggle rising in the South. It was an anticipatory ruling.
Similarly, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion was a ruling in reaction to a mass movement of women. It had nothing to do with any progressive leaning of the court. In fact, it was a Nixon court with a majority of Republican-appointed judges who were under mass pressure.
By contrast, the history of the Supreme Court is overwhelmingly reactionary. An 1806 Supreme Court ruling that a union organized by shoemakers was a “criminal conspiracy” was applied to other unions for much of the 19th century.
The Dred Scott decision of 1858 declared that runaway fugitive enslaved people were still property of a master and had to be returned. The Plessy v. Ferguson ruling of 1896 upheld the pernicious “separate but equal” doctrine of racial segregation in public facilities.
This reactionary history extends all the way to this century’s Citizens United decision, which unleashed billions of dollars to further corrupt the voting system and gut the Voting Rights Act, disenfranchising millions of African American and Latinx people.
As for checks and balances, these are applied by currents of the ruling class to check each other when needed. These checks and balances, now being hailed by the capitalist mass media, have little bearing on the condition of the workers and the oppressed.
There are no checks and balances on the extreme capitalist exploitation and accumulation of wealth in the U.S. that has left the top 0.1 percent of the population with more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
There are no checks and balances on mass incarceration or racist police killings. There are no checks and balances on the persecution and deportation of immigrants or on the destruction of health care for millions of poor women. There are no checks and balances on imperialist wars of aggression or on the death machines of the military-industrial complex.
As a rule, these atrocities are either ignored or blessed by the courts.
The only true check on the aggression of the ruling class against the workers and the oppressed is the mass struggle.
By Fred Goldstein
Feb. 6 – Donald Trump is struggling to stabilize and consolidate his authoritarian, ultra-rightist, racist, misogynistic, anti-working class regime. His government is under siege from below and criticism and legal challenge from above.
Trump is down in the polls and falling lower. He had an anemic turnout for his inauguration, which was drowned out by the national Women’s March of 3.3 million the next day. He is now reeling from the sea of demonstrations across the U.S. and worldwide hitting his Islamophobic travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries.
All the countries targeted have been attacked by the Pentagon. All have either U.S. imperialist troops or Washington’s puppet forces intervening on the ground.
Excluded from the ban are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, the Gulf oil states, Afghanistan and Jordan. They are all props of U.S. imperialism in the region.
The ban was temporarily halted by Seattle federal Judge James Robart on Feb. 3. After it was appealed by Trump’s Justice Department, Robart’s order was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco on Feb. 5.
The inhumane ban has prevented students from returning to classes, turned away workers trying to get back to their jobs, kept families separated, harmed patients coming for medical procedures, barred doctors from getting to hospitals, and in general has caused widespread suffering.
Ruling-class interests also harmed by ban
The mass movement against the ban, the border wall and other odious parts of the Trump program has generated so much pressure that sections of the ruling class and the military, who are also being undermined by the ban, want to contest Trump’s order. They have no other way to legally intervene right now, other than through the federal court system, since the other two arms of the capitalist state, the executive and the legislative, are presently unavailable. Furthermore, the Trump administration remains hostile to the established capitalist media, has sought to discredit it and remains impervious to bourgeois media criticism.
The ban is being contested in a dozen states and by the entire tech industry, including corporate giants Google and Microsoft. Hospitals, universities, scientists and a wide section of bourgeois society have been affected.
The ban has also upset sections of the military, which continue to be fiercely engaged in a campaign to reconquer the Middle East. The ban complicates U.S. relations with puppet forces, for example, in Iraq. It also further inflames anti-U.S. sentiment in the region.
The ban affected between 60,000 and 100,000 people whose visas were revoked late at night on Jan. 27. This is, of course, a potentially impeachable offense. However, a move to impeach is not on the agenda for now.
Building an ultra-rightist circle in the White House
Trump has brought into his administration ultra-rightists who have been outside the capitalist establishment and on the fringes. He has also brought in forces whose roots are in the establishment, but who are willing to work in the Trump administration.
It has always been the goal of the ultra-right to topple the conservative political establishment. The goal was to reduce taxes for the rich; destroy regulations on corporations; attack Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; defeat the minimum wage; enact anti-union “right to work” laws; and so on. This is what the Tea Party was about. Now this current is in the White House and is even further to the right.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is a far-right, extremist ideologue. He ran Breitbart News online — a platform for fascist, racist and anti-Semitic elements. He is an Islamophobe, with an apocalyptic vision that includes war on China.
Trump violated long-standing bourgeois practice by elevating Bannon, a civilian policy ideologue, to a chief position on the National Security Council principals’ committee, a seat usually reserved for the military, the CIA and high national security officials.
Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama has been nominated attorney general. He is an arch racist who has opposed voting rights, civil rights and immigrant rights. Nominated to become a federal judge by Ronald Reagan in 1986, his virulent racism caused the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject him, only the second such rejection in 48 years.
Trump’s national security adviser, former three-star Army Gen. Michael Flynn, was ousted as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 because he was a volatile, ultra-militaristic Islamophobe who spread false information.
Others nominees include Andrew Puzder, a fast-food executive who hates unions, regulations and the minimum wage, to head the Department of Labor; Tom Price, a congressperson from Georgia who opposes the Affordable Care Act, for Health and Human Services; Rick Perry, who has campaigned to abolish the Department of Energy, to head that department; Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma who is in the pocket of the energy industry and signed on to 14 lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency, to head the EPA; and Betsy DeVos, who wants to abolish the public school system in favor of charter schools, to head the Department of Education.
This is a short list of the fringe elements who want to destroy the gains of the masses. While the capitalist establishment sympathizes with many of the goals of the ultra-right, many are fearful of a mass uprising should the ultra-right get its way.
Trump also has members in his cabinet with roots and connections to the establishment, especially the military.
Trump struggles to build base in ruling class
Because Trump is in a precarious and deteriorating position in regard to capitalist politics and corporate support, he is racing to hand out concessions to the bosses. He wants to seduce and neutralize them with rewards while putting in place his ultra-right program.
He quickly extended sanctions on Iran for exercising its right to self-defense by developing a ballistic missile. The sanctions were hailed by the entire ruling class. But he was sure to take care that Boeing was exempted from the sanctions, so that billions of dollars worth of its airliners can be produced and shipped to Iran.
He is also rewarding Lockheed by endorsing the sale of hundreds of F-35s to the U.S. government. Lockheed had long ago lowered its price for these most expensive planes in the U.S. arsenal of death, but the company allowed Trump to take credit for the reduced prices. And he signed an executive order calling for a major buildup of U.S. military forces.
One of his first acts was to issue orders to start up the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. He also cancelled restrictions and regulations on the coal industry, including a rule that protects streams from pollution caused by mountaintop mining
These were not only concessions to the fossil fuel industry. They were also aimed at building support among sections of the labor bureaucracy. He invited the building trades unions and the Laborers’ International Union to a meeting, and the bureaucrats left with praise. He also brought in leaders of the United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers to discuss NAFTA.
Sitting between Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, which manages $361 billion in hedge funds, Trump announced his intention to do away with the banking regulations spelled out in the Dodd-Frank bill. The regulations prevent banks from speculating with their depositors’ money. Trump is also going to do away with the fiduciary rule designed to protect workers’ pensions by preventing financial sharks from investing pension funds in risky financial institutions.
When he met with pharmaceutical industry bosses, Trump kept his mouth shut about “negotiating for drug prices,” which he had promised during his campaign. The man who “makes deals” forgot to bring it up.
This is only the beginning of Trump’s plans to destroy banking regulations while lowering taxes and restrictions on corporations in general.
Movement must stop Democratic Party from taking over
Democratic Party leaders are rushing to get in front of the burgeoning anti-Trump movement. Some have shown up at demonstrations. They are making an appeal to the movement to focus on rebuilding the party along more popular lines.
The surge in the popular movement against Trump poses both a danger and an opportunity. The danger is that it will be channeled into a harmless path of reliance on the Democratic Party and the capitalist courts.
The opportunity is for the revolutionary movement to reach out to hundreds of thousands of people, especially youth, and offer them an independent working-class path to struggle.
An example of a trap is the way the Democrats hailed the acting attorney general whom Trump fired and the dissenting letter by State Department officials denouncing the travel ban. The fact is that the State Department officials who complained about the ban were actually complaining that Trump was messing up their carefully laid diplomatic plans to strengthen U.S. imperialism’s stranglehold on the world. It had nothing to do with solidarity.
The same goes for Democratic Party leaders who have started wars, gone along with the so-called “war against terrorism,” allowed the police to murder Black and Latinx youth with impunity until the Black Lives Matter and similar movements arose, and refused to protect immigrants until the mayors of several big cities were forced to take a stand as sanctuary cities. The Democrats have let the big banks and corporations rule.
The Democratic Party is actually the enemy of the movement. Because it has a mass base, and because it is loyal to and controlled by the capitalist ruling class, it is the instrument to mislead the working class and the people.
The only way to stop Trump is to organize mass resistance on the ground, in the streets, in the communities, on the campuses, in the workplaces.
It is completely timely for youth especially to organize anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-war fighting organizations. Even if the Trump regime is not fascist itself, it has stimulated the development and the confidence of fascist, racist and ultra-right groups all over the country. These groups pose a threat to the masses.
Trump himself has flirted with fascist symbols. He refused to denounce David Duke and the KKK. He tweeted a Jewish star with dollar signs on it. His regime refused to name Jews as part of the Holocaust and suppressed his own State Department statement on the Holocaust that mentioned the Jews. He supports the fascist Breitbart propagandist Milo Yiannopoulos, who was properly driven off the Berkeley campus. And his chief strategist Bannon is an open anti-Semite, who told his spouse during a divorce fight that he didn’t want his children going to school with Jews.
For these and a hundred more reasons, the time is now to launch a revolutionary, anti-fascist, anti-racist movement and attract the best people from this new surge of resistance to Trump.
Goldstein is the author of Low-Wage Capitalism and Capitalism at a Dead End. Both are available at online distributors.
By Fred Goldstein, posted February 1, 2017
Jan. 30 — The wave of airport protests against Trump’s Muslim ban represents a new high-water mark in solidarity with Muslims in the U.S. These demonstrations are a political rebuff to the vicious Islamophobia stoked for a year and a half by Donald Trump, along with his Mexico bashing and many other reactionary themes.
In fact, Islamophobia has replaced anti-communism in the 21st century as the primary divisive, racist, divide-and-conquer strategy to foment war, intervention and police surveillance. Now the Islamophobes are being pushed back.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, and the World Trade Center bombings, Muslims and those in the movement who support them against ruling-class prejudice and persecution have been on the defensive. Solidarity activities have been relatively small and have been in the shadows.
But Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, Gen. Michael Flynn and company, now hunkered down in the White House, changed all that by issuing a 90-day ban on people coming from six predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — and banning Syrian nationals and refugees indefinitely.
This reactionary White House circle apparently did not get the message from the 3.3 million people who demonstrated around the country on Jan. 21 at the Women’s March. That march was marked by a high degree of solidarity with Muslim women. Instead, Trump and his reactionary circle, which is moving sharply in an authoritarian direction, provoked a massive movement that was already in motion.
100 demonstrations in 42 states
As of this writing, 100 demonstrations in 42 states have been carried out or are planned. Tens of thousands have already gone to airports to protest. (getgroundgame.com/airportprotests)
Television networks have carried the larger, more prominent ones in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and so forth.The movement has been powerful enough to force courts in four states to put stays on the deportation of immigrants caught up in the ban and its sudden application. Requests for injunctions have been granted in New York City, Seattle, Virginia and Massachusetts. The Massachusetts injunction goes further than the others, which block deportation but permit detention. Massachusetts is not allowing detention.
The original ban included all people with green cards. This amounts to a ban on hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In their rush to push the ban through, Trump and his National Strategy Adviser Steve Bannon, an ultra-right, Islamophobic, anti-Semite, informed U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration Services of the ban on the very afternoon it was promulgated. Only the massive struggle that erupted at airports the next day forced the head of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, to rescind the green card ban.
In their fanaticism Trump, Bannon, Reince Priebus, Flynn and company showed no concern for all the students from the seven Islamic countries covered by the ban who were returning to continue their studies. They did not care about workers, scientists and technicians returning to their jobs. They showed utter contempt for people coming to be with their families. Even after several court injunctions were obtained, CBP officials refused to allow attorneys to see some detainees and turned away members of Congress who were attempting to find out the status of those detained.
This reflects the authoritarian stamp of the Trump inner circle.
Ideological and political step forward
The legal struggle to eradicate the ban altogether has a long way to go. It will take a great deal of political struggle in the streets, on the campuses and in the communities to push back the Trump administration. But the struggle has begun in a very inspiring way.
A new sense of solidarity has swept the movement, which got a sense of its power at the J21 Women’s March. That power has been transformed into solidarity and militant rejection of Islamophobia.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has been a fundamental ideological and political prop of the ruling class and much of the political establishment since Sept. 11.
By coming out en masse across the country, the airport demonstrators have put up determined resistance to the Trump refugee ban. But they have also struck an ideological and political blow against the Islamophobic poison of the ruling class. These demonstrations have laid the basis for future political steps forward.
Islamophobia has been used to build Homeland Security. It has been used to militarize the police in cities across the country. Above all, it has been used to promote the so-called “war on terror.”
Under the pretext of the “war on terror,” U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon have intervened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and lately in Yemen. The military-industrial complex — the makers of drones, smart bombs, military satellites, bombers, fighter planes, helicopters, tanks, munitions of every kind, military robots, etc. — have prospered producing arms for the “war on terror.”
From solidarity to anti-imperialism
The solidarity shown with Muslims can cause many to question the ideological and material basis that led to the ban in the first place. It is supposedly to protect the U.S. against terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group (IS). But the ban is part of a broader offensive against the oil-rich and geostrategic Muslim world of the Middle East and North Africa.
It is precisely the Pentagon and the CIA that are responsible for the rise of groups like al-Qaida and IS. Washington has bombed 11 Islamic countries in the last 25 years. The Pentagon has inflicted untold destruction, suffering and death upon countries from Afghanistan to Somalia. The CIA has destroyed all the progressive secular nationalist forces, all those openly anti-imperialist, all the socialist and communist forces in the Middle East.
But the imperialists have not stopped their plunder and their oppression. They have taken Iraq’s oil. They have destroyed Libya and taken its oil. They have financed a devastating war trying to topple the independent government of Syria. The region is strewn with millions of refugees escaping the destruction of drone warfare, F-16s, A-10 killing machines. The oil barons are searching and drilling for oil in the coastal areas of Islamic North Africa. U.S. troops are spread throughout the region.
Under such conditions, with all progressive and secular forces weakened if not destroyed, it is inevitable that the vacuum of resistance will be filled by reactionary forces. The IS group is a patriarchal, medieval, theocratic organization pledged to drive the Western powers from the Middle East — the powers that divided up the region in the first place.
Such forces are at the same time the enemy of both the masses and of imperialism. The “war on terror” has nothing to do with helping women or freeing society. It has to do with reasserting the dominance of imperialism over the oil-rich Middle East and Africa.
Along with fighting Trump and his reactionary anti-Muslim tirades, the movement should try to match its dynamic political resistance with a determination to get to the bottom of the problem. The movement must see the commonality of racism, misogyny, LGBTQ and all gender oppression, anti-immigrant poison and the struggle against the multinational working class as based in the same substance as Islamophobia.
At the root is imperialism, the profit system and the domination of the world by capitalist monopolies.
Goldstein is the author of “Capitalism at a Dead End” and “Low-Wage Capitalism,” both of which can be purchased from online booksellers.
(Houston airport photo: Gloria Rubac)