Trump under fire — the ruling-class dilemma

All the indictments, plea bargaining, immunities, exposures, etc., amount to this: The anti-Trump forces in the ruling class are doing a dance with Trump.


Donald Trump has suffered a series of blows from the anti-Trump forces in the ruling class and the legal establishment. This has undoubtedly encouraged progressive and revolutionary forces who rightfully want to see this reactionary, authoritarian, racist, misogynist Trump go down.

Recent events have pummeled Trump. His campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted at trial of eight criminal counts of fraud and tax evasion. His long-time lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, pled guilty and pointed the finger at Trump for campaign law violations. These developments came on the same day.

The following day it was revealed that the CEO of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, who operates a pro-Trump scandal sheet, had been granted immunity to talk about how he worked with Michael Cohen to suppress stories critical of Trump by buying and then not publishing them.

Twenty-four hours later it was revealed that the CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, was also given immunity to testify. Weisselberg has been in charge of Trump Organization finances dating back to the days of Trump’s racist, pro-Nazi father, Fred Trump.

Wall Street, Pentagon draw line — at Russia and DPRK

Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was forced to call off his trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with one week’s notice. Pompeo had already chosen the head of Ford Motors to lead the delegation. Last week we noted that Trump’s military parade was canceled and how the Pentagon and the ruling class were resisting his attempt to realign U.S. imperialist foreign policy toward Russia, which the establishment has blocked. (“Revolt of the spymasters,” WW, Aug. 23)

The latest move to cancel Pompeo’s trip to the DPRK is the ruling class’s answer to Trump’s attempt to realign U.S. foreign policy on the Korean peninsula. Finally signing a peace treaty with the DPRK — for a war that ended in a stalemate 65 years ago — is a condition for moving forward. The entire military and political establishment is opposed to this and finally won out, even as Trump was being weakened in court.

The ruling class has laid down the line on the essentials. They can live with Trump’s fascist atrocities on the borders, separating immigrant families. They can shrug off his support for police brutality and murder in the Black and Latinx communities. They can live with his racist slurs against Africa and Haiti.

But when it comes to basics, aggression toward Russia and opening up peaceful relations in Korea, Wall Street and the Pentagon draw a sharp line.

Bosses reject impeachment for now

It must be noted that these developments have been accompanied by a concerted effort to bury any incipient movement for impeachment, which has been quickened by Trump’s legal setbacks.

This effort to quash any talk of impeachment comes from both the Democratic Party leadership and the Republicans alike. A long story in the New York Times tells how the Democratic Party hierarchy is trying to put out impeachment fires among rank-and-file Democrats. The party line is to protect the Mueller investigation and let it play out. (Aug. 25)

Right now, the ruling class is wary of stoking an impeachment movement. There are at least two reasons. First, they are making tons of money in profit from the Trump tax cuts and deregulation. The entire trillion-dollar tax cut directly reduces corporate expenses and goes straight to the corporate bottom line. Profits have been shooting up for two quarters. No boss or banker wants to rock that boat.

Second, they are afraid of provoking a right-wing rebellion from Trump’s base. They listen to Trump rallies, which continue on just as they were during the campaign, despite all the revelations about what a low-life racist, misogynist, bigoted crook Trump is. The bourgeoisie is always collaborative, conciliatory or cowardly in the face of the right wing — and this is a lesson the working class must always remember.

All the indictments, plea bargaining, immunities, exposures, etc., amount to this: The anti-Trump forces in the ruling class are doing a dance with Trump. Right now the ruling class is trying to weaken him primarily with legal and publicity attacks. This may change under future circumstances, for instance, if the trade war with China gets out of control or some other catastrophic development threatens their capitalist  interests. But, ultimately, they hope to remove him through the 2020 election process.

The best case political scenario for the anti-Trump forces in the ruling class is for the Democrats to win the majority in the House of Representatives. This will give them the power to call hearings, bring witnesses, subpoena testimony and documents, and wage a public relations war against Trump, while leaving the question of impeachment open.

At the present time the masses are faced with three practical alternatives to removing Trump: indictment, impeachment or elections. All three are ruling-class solutions in arenas dominated by capital.

The radical and revolutionary left were definitely growing, even before Trump got in. But given the present-day relationship of political forces, and given the relative numerical weakness of the revolutionary and radical left, these ruling-class solutions are the only paths to actually removing Trump at the moment.

Ways to fight Trump and Trumpism

However, there are many ways to fight Trump and Trumpism on the ground, such as bringing down racist symbols, fighting to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, putting immigrant detention centers under siege, supporting the present prisoners’ strike, fighting police brutality, defending Native land rights, demanding women’s right to reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights, demonstrating against the war drive, etc. All of these are righteous struggles that can be directly related to the struggle against Trump. They can and must be waged.

Propaganda and agitation against the Trump reaction are other important avenues to be used, especially as the bourgeois elections get closer. This is a time when the masses are open to listening to politics. The real left, the revolutionary anti-capitalist left, may not be decisive in the electoral arena, given the current relationship of forces. Some social democrats, however, are running as Democratic Party candidates.

It may be that the role of the left will be best carried out by a campaign of demonstrations and propaganda. In some states, or more likely local contests, revolutionary forces may be able to participate in elections on a revolutionary basis for propaganda purposes as well as for gaining representation.

Propaganda and agitation during the current campaign have to be sensitively crafted. They must bear in mind the anti-Trump sentiments of the undocumented who have suffered fascist-like measures on the borders, including the separation of families from their children. These fascist-like measures are not restricted to the borders, but are carried out by ICE in immigrant communities and at workplaces across the country.

This propaganda must bear in mind the anger in the cities and Black communities all over the country against the police and Trump’s open support for police brutality and Confederate racism.

It must acknowledge that there are close to a million DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients who have the threat of deportation hanging over their heads. In addition, hundreds of thousands, including Haitians, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and others whose Temporary Protected Status has been lifted, are awaiting deportation.

Bearing all this in mind, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist propaganda can be fashioned which not only condemns Trump, but also shows that salvation does not lie in the Democratic Party, a party whose leadership is inextricably tied to corporate and military interests.

Socialism gaining popularity

There is much discussion and publicity about the growing popularity of the term “socialism.” Since the campaign of Bernie Sanders in 2016, the term has become respectable, particularly as capitalism decays and brings suffering and gross inequality to the masses. The term “socialist” got a further boost when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican activist, a Sanders ally and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won a primary against an entrenched Democratic Party hack, Joe Crowley, who was in line to be named Speaker of the House after Nancy Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez will represent a district that spans the Bronx and Queens.

While her primary victory has inspired a great deal of enthusiasm among progressives, it has also bred illusions among many young people, especially on the left, that they are on the road to taking over the Democratic Party and bringing forward a program of wiping out inequality, winning universal health care, affordable housing, even government ownership of industries, etc.

These illusions must be dealt with by Marxist arguments, and should not be contemptuously dismissed. For example, the most progressive president of the 20th century, Franklin Roosevelt, put down the independence movement in Puerto Rico in the Ponce Massacre of 1934. Roosevelt took U.S. imperialism into World War II, not initially against the Nazis but against Japanese imperialism, and justified the internment of Japanese people in the U.S.

While Roosevelt is well remembered now for the New Deal, which granted some rights to the impoverished working class at the time, in preparation for war Roosevelt broke an aircraft strike on the West Coast, made alliances with southern Dixiecrats, allowed segregation to remain in place, including in the military, etc. And this was the most progressive Democratic Party president ever! He raged against “economic royalists” but did their bidding in the Pacific and later on in Europe. Before entering World War II, he said “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars” — until U.S. imperialist interests were challenged.

Only struggle will win

How did the working class win concessions from the Roosevelt administration?

The New Deal was not a gift granted from above. It was won beginning with demonstrations of the unemployed in major cities; hunger marches; municipal general strikes in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Toledo in 1936; the sit-down strikes in Akron and Cleveland, culminating in the Flint sit-down strike the same year, which led to the organization of the United Auto Workers, the Congress of Industrial Organizations and the mass organization of the industrial working class.

This was the force that led to the Works Progress Administration, Social Security, unemployment insurance, the right to strike and to organize unions, and many other gains associated with the New Deal.

The same is true for the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and other legislative gains, including the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and those confirming lesbian and gay rights. They were won first in the streets in the bloody South and then by massive rebellions and marches in northern cities.

Socialists trying to make gains by getting a foothold in the electoral system and the Democratic Party need to know that the great steps forward have come from the class struggle — the militant organization of the workers and the rebellions of oppressed communities.

In the long run, only the mass struggle can bring social progress, and only revolution can bring socialism.

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