Workers' Voice mailing list
February 2, 2017
RE: A serious anti-Trump movement should support the democratic struggle in Syria
The SCSG leaflet for the mass anti-Trump demonstrations of January 20 and 21 was reprinted earlier in the DWV list (see www.communistvoice.org/DWV-170117.html). It was updated for use at subsequent protests. Below are its main new sections:
Billionaire Donald Trump has begun implementing his reactionary political agenda. How far he gets – and whether it can be rolled back – depends on the resistance struggles put up by the masses of people. These are beginning to take shape. Trump's inauguration was met with protests, and they've continued everyday in various parts of the country.
A center of Trump's campaign was telling nazi-style big lies against immigrants and refugees (rapists! terrorists!). This racist and bigoted incitement "made America great again" after the election with daily abuse and physical attacks on immigrants and refugees. Now Trump has gone on a rampage of executive orders coupled with more big lies that will make the lives of tens of millions of people in this country a worse hell than it already is. While Obama promised to admit a measly 10,000 war refugees from Syria, Trump has shut the door to them indefinitely. He's also shut the door for four months on refugees from six other mainly Muslim countries until new vetting rules are written. (These people are now being detained or arrested at airports around the world.) Obama's vetting process was a guilty-until-proven-innocent outrage, and Trump is making it still more extreme. Obama deported more immigrants than Bush, and Trump promises to deport still more – which forces millions of people further into the shadows as super-exploited wage slaves. Both parties united to build over 650 miles of walls and fences at the border with Mexico, and Trump wants to build his notorious wall. And knowing the American people have broadly supported the sanctuary cities movement, Trump has said he will pull their federal grants.
All these injustices must be fought tooth and nail. More, the aim of billionaire Trump and the capitalist class behind him should be clear: they're scapegoating immigrants and denying them rights as a first step for big assaults on all the working people. We can't let them get away with it. In every part of the country large numbers of people have been filling the streets to denounce Trump's anti-people executive orders. Our spirit should be "an injury to one is an injury to all!" Our demand should be "full rights for all immigrants!"
Police killings rose to their highest level in 20 years under Obama. Native Americans and African Americans bore the brunt of this savagery. Donald Trump? He's called for a national "stop and frisk" policy.
The rights of the poorest of the poor – women, especially national minority and immigrant women – have been eroded under both parties for decades. ...
But some four million people marched against all this on January 21: the largest protest in U.S. history. More protests are being planned, including for International Working Women's Day, March 8. Let us work to deepen this movement!
[Trump's] already ordered the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines ahead, and ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze its grants and contracts. More is to come. But in every corner of the country people are in motion against this profit-driven destruction of the planet.
In fact, the leaders of the Teamsters and nearly every major construction union have met with Trump and praised him! Meanwhile, these traitors to the working class have done their best to prevent, undermine and sell out strikes for generations.
The masses of American people are fighters. It was the large, deep and self-sacrificing mass struggles – especially in the 1930s and the 1960s and early 1970s – that brought the economic gains and political rights that both capitalist parties have been taking back. But the present big demonstrations are often been led by liberals seeking to orient them toward reliance on the Democratic Party, writing letters to officials, symbolic actions, and the mildest forms of struggle. We should fight this by bringing our own signs, banners, slogans, chants, leaflets, etc., to all the protests – while building the protests and building our own movement! Let us everywhere expose and denounce the class content of Trump's attacks on the masses of people and the environment. Let us everywhere stress the need for working class organization and ferocious resistance!
(The full leaflet can be found at www.communistvoice.org/Sea170129.pdf.)
By Joseph Green, Communist Voice Organization
Trump's presidency has ushered in a dangerous period in which many of the things which people relied on for so long will be taken from them. But it has also ushered in a wave of mass protest on a scale that hasn't been seen for a long time. Without this protest, the election of Trump would have drowned people in despair. Instead there is a spirit of defiance growing in the country.
There was no honeymoon for Trump administration. From even before his inauguration, people have declared that "he is not our president". The demonstrations at his inauguration, and the millions of people who turned out the next day in the US and elsewhere for the Women's March, have underlined the illegitimacy of his rule. It is not the rule of the people, but the rule of the ultra-rich.
One of Trump's first measures was the brutal travel ban aimed at Muslims from seven countries. Trump and the far right thrive on racism and attacks on minorities, immigrants, and refugees. The travel ban is intended as just the first of many measures. It was supposed to make everyone tremble before Trump, and show that the most long-standing rights could be stripped away at the stroke of a pen. Thus even Green Card holders, who are supposed to have the right to permanent residency in the US, were stripped of travel rights.
But this led to the next great wave of protest against Trump's reactionary program, as thousands upon thousands of people came out to airports and other locations to defend refugees and immigrants. The protests spread from coast to coast, and they took the Trump administration by surprise. Citizens showed that they knew that their rights are connected with the rights of noncitizens; Christians, Jews, atheists and others showed that they knew their rights are tied together with those of Muslims; working people said that they will not be divided and picked off one by one. It was also a step in the direction of uniting the struggle in the US with that of working people abroad; the protests were internationalism in action, and probably not what many people expected to see happen in the US.
There are a number of leftists who argue that American workers don't care about what happens to people in other countries. For example, there are those who say that the workers don't care about what goes on in Syria and that it is wrong for the Detroit Workers' Voice and the Seattle Communist Study Group to put so much effort into supporting the anti-Assad struggle in Syria and other struggles elsewhere. But the massive protests at the airports show that working people do care about internationalism. There may be widespread confusion today about how to view the situations in Syria and elsewhere around the world, but when it came to defending refugees, including Syrians, the protesters were adamant. This shows an intuitive understanding of the connection between their rights and ours.
It's become fashionable in some sections of the left to denigrate the Women's March and the anti-Trump movement in general because of its varied character and the different viewpoints of those who are taking part. They sneer that it doesn't make sense to denounce Trump because Obama, during his presidency, already oppressed the workers, deported immigrants, and carried out imperialist crimes around the world. They essentially ignore the connection of the present movement with a series of struggles, such as Black Lives Matter!, that took place during the Obama administration, or that the advent of Trump means deepening attacks on the masses.
But more generally, it's the role of conservatives and reactionaries to mock a mass movement in this way. It's the job of defenders of the status quo to denounce protesters because they didn't rise in protest earlier. It's the job of revolutionaries and the true left to welcome new protesters and to reinforce the movement against oppression whenever it does arise. After all, should the left have denounced the French Revolution that executed King Louis XVI because, after all, Louis XVI was no more an autocrat than Louis XV or Louis XIV? Didn't the struggle against one king lead to a struggle against monarchy itself? It is the job of true activists to help people to become more conscious of the need to oppose the whole class of oppressors, not to mock the protesters for rising in large numbers against this or that atrocity.
Of course there are varied views and class standpoints in the anti-Trump movement. It's inevitable that there would be different trends in any great movement that broke out at this time. Seeing how extensive the protest movement has been, the bourgeoisie has taken a certain part in it. Indeed, the travel ban weakens long-standing institutions that are important for US imperialist influence around the world, and implements a cruder and clumsier form of imperialism. But the opposition of the liberal imperialists would be weak, concerned mainly with giving Trump a chance to straighten up, if it weren't for the opposition displayed by the masses of people. Obama sat through Trump's inaugural speech, even though it basically declared war on the world while being insulting towards Obama and the liberal politicians. But with the mass opposition in the streets against Trump, even Obama had to give a bow towards it. Thus it is working people and progressive activists who are the real heart of this movement, a movement which saw the Trump administration have to let in various people who had been detained at airports and even back down with respect to people with Green Cards.
The role of a real left, a left that can influence events, is to know how to deal with the different trends and help the movement persist and deepen despite the obstruction from bourgeois trends. The bourgeois trends want to keep the movement in check. The Democratic Party leadership at first called for giving Trump a chance, but the Democrats will posture as opponents of Trump. The top labor bureaucrats also generally wanted to give Trump a chance; the building trades union bureaucrats embraced Trump at a meeting on January 23; and AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, along with the Congressional Democrats, wants to work with Trump with respect to trade treaties. It's militant workers and some locals and smaller union groups that were active in the mass protests, not the top spokespeople for the labor movement. But still, Trumka also issued a statement against the travel ban. Such pro forma opposition is the stock in trade of the top union officialdom and the politicians. This is different from the burning anger of millions of working people; even the establishment media has noted how the Democrats are being pushed by the supposedly unreasonable masses.
The anti-Trump movement will be only one stage in a struggle that has a long way to go before it gives rise to an organized class movement. It's a movement in which a large number of people are angry and want to see a determined struggle, even if they still believe, to this or that extent, in forces that aren't on their side. No matter how many times the Democrats betray the anti-Trump struggle, as soon as a prominent Democrat says something oppositional, there will be dreams of transforming the Democratic Party. It will take more experience before the different trends in the movement become clear to large masses of people and the different class trends separate. We need to know how to defy the Democrats and other backward trends by helping people break through the backward orientations of the Democrats and pro-class collaborationist union bureaucrats even while they still have illusions about the Democrats as a whole.
This doesn't mean being silent about the betrayals of the struggle by the Democrats or other backward trends. Quite the contrary. One of our tasks is to utilize ongoing events to explain the role of the different trends, the nature of the Democrats as a capitalist and imperialist party, and the reason for the misleadership of the unions. And we must also deal with the crisis of orientation and theory in the radical left. One of the placards that was carried at the Women's March mocked Trump's slogan of "Make America great again" with the counter-slogan "Make America think again". Indeed, we also need to "make the left think again". It's not just the bourgeoisie that is in crisis, it's many of the old trends in the left as well.
The Detroit Workers' Voice list is devoted to both the anti-Trump fight and clarification in the left. Today, a large section of the left denounce popular struggles here or abroad, so that it's impossible to consistently defend the mass struggle without dealing with the crisis of the left. We will persist in defending the interests of workers around the world, even when what we say is anathema to the current left orthodoxy, such as when we defend the Syrian uprising against Assad, when we denounce Trotskyism as well as Stalinism, or when we show the need for direct environmental regulation and control as opposed to the neoliberal pricing measures accepted by both the Green Party and the IMF. We will never betray the interests of the working class and the mass struggle, or abandon the revolutionary Marxist path.
Resist, resist, resist! Take part in the demonstrations, protests and meetings! Defend those under attack from the capitalists and the Trump administration!
Organize, organize, organize! Build groups that will keep the struggle going between actions, and that will spread the truth to workplaces, communities, schools, and unions! Help turn the anti-Trump struggle into a class struggle!
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Posted on February 5, 2017