Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A United Workers' Movement can Defeat Trump

By Facts For Working People

A large part of the US population (and the world) woke up this morning and were stunned at the headlines that Donald Trump, the degenerate billionaire, is the next president of the United States.

Trump is a sexual predator and serial abuser of women. He is an exploiter of workers, a liar and a conman. He based his campaign on an openly racist and anti-immigrant program that included mocking the disabled, and the LBGT community. He is undoubtedly the most ignorant of all modern day candidates for president of the US.

The world and the US is a more dangerous place this morning. There are reports of some people, particularly women, weeping as they head to work. The Canadian consulate website had crashed by midnight last night as people from the US tried to enquire if they could emigrate there. It is shocking what has happened. The authors of this Blog wish to look at events and also our own writings on this topic over the past weeks and at mistakes we made and what mistakes we did not make.  

We explained that given our tiny resources we could not predict with any certainty who would win the Presidential election. However we did say that we thought that it would most likely be Clinton. We said this because we saw that the most conscious and powerful sections of the capitalist class, Wall Street, the Military Industrial Complex, Silicon Valley and the new high tech industries were behind her as she was the most experienced and stable candidate when compared to Trump. However as the days went on and as Trump partially pulled himself back from his most sexist, racist and misogynist rantings and spoke more of economic issues such as taxes and lost jobs, we became more cautious.

We explained in our statement of November 6th that it was "not excluded" that Trump would get elected. However we must be honest, we still thought that that Clinton would win. There were a few factors that changed this and that resulted in Clinton being defeated. Some of these were secondary and some primary. It is necessary to look at these and draw conclusions. 

With the backing of the dominant sections of the capitalist class and the most progressive sections in society, women, minorities, a section of the working class of all backgrounds, it seemed until two weeks ago that Clinton was heading for victory. Then the Republican head of the FBI opened up a new phase of his investigation into her emails. He closed this again two days before the election but the damage was done. Her impetus was cut across. It is not clear the extent to which this was deliberate sabotage by a wing of the FBI. It seems it was and this wing was working with Trump forces. But this was not the decisive reason why Clinton lost. There are a number of related reasons. 

US and world capitalism has been on the offensive against the working class in the US and internationally now for decades. This offensive has intensified recently as the world capitalist economy has gone into deeper crisis. This has taken the form of slashing wages, benefits and conditions and shifting production from the advanced capitalist countries such as the US to the low wage countries, free of unions and regulations that are an obstacle to profit taking.

Years of concessions and cuts and the resulting, “race to the bottom”, has decimated the living standards of US workers. This had a huge affect on the core of the unionized working class and the trade union sector of the Democratic Party. The Midwest has not become known as the "rust belt" for nothing. 

But in their arrogance and disregard for the conditions of the working class in these industries, the more concessions, the more aggressive the big bourgeois has become. The leadership of the US capitalist parties, both the Democrats and the Republicans, sailed on with their global capitalist offensive. The Democrats especially were hard hit by the anger this has evoked. The support they counted on and expected from the trade unions was alienated and eroded as the trade union bureaucracy’s ability to convince their members to vote for a party that has been an integral part of the offensive against them, waned.

Clinton with her ties to Wall Street and her 30 years in Washington and her husband as a two time former president was just not able to present herself as somebody who would fight for workers interests and as a symbol of change or as an outsider to Washington. Trump was more able to do this.

The born again, racist, sexist base of the Republican Party was not alienated from Trump in anything like the same way as sections of the Democratic Party’s base, especially as some sections of white working class supporters were alienated from the Democratic Party.

On the contrary, the contempt and outright hatred the Republican Party base has for the Washington elite and Wall Street, that is, the top layers of the capitalist class and their international trade policies, and their offensive against the working class helped Trump and damaged Clinton. A powerful demand for change developed. But Clinton and the Democratic Party could not present themselves as an agent for change. Thus the basis for an alternative in US political life was created.

This thirst for change, this thirst for an alternative, this anger at Wall Street and the rich manifested itself in the huge support given to Sanders who stood on the left of the capitalist Democratic Party. But Sanders by capitulating to the Democratic Party leadership also gave no alternative to this mood. So a huge vacuum came to exist. 

The question was who or what would fill this vacuum who or what would provide this alternative? The authors of this Blog did not think that Trump would fill this vacuum. We did not because we thought that his racist, sexist, anti immigrant ranting’s would be too repulsive to win him majority support. On this we were wrong. Of course, approximately half the US voting age population does not vote, but even so we have to face up to the fact that tens of millions of Americans, many of them white workers, and also some sections of minorities, voted for a racist, sexist, semi-fascist thug-----one with links in the past to the KKK and who refused to denounce the KKK. This is no small detail.

We overestimated a section of the US working class, mainly in small town, rural America. The conclusion that has to be drawn is that when workers and middle class people’s lives are being changed and when they become increasingly anxious about their futures and when there is no progressive alternative then sections of them can go to the right, at least for a temporary period, to reactionary ideas.  

This has occurred in this election despite exit polls showing that about seven in ten voters said they were “bothered” by the accusations made against Trump by women and his overall treatment of them.

It is not only the economic blows that have affected workers in the old industries and that resulted in them voting for Trump. There have been other changes in the lives of many of these people, many of them rural small town working and middle class. Social, racial, sexual changes have taken place. Real progress has been made on these fronts.

But as this has happened the old ways were undermined. The old ways where "white men were men and ran things, where women knew their place, where all minorities knew their place" these have been rapidly receding into the past as marginalized communities and youth fight for their rights in society. Combined with the economic changes, and the rise of new technology which so many of the older workforce could not operate, these changes undermined the world of many of these rural working and middle class voters. This is where Trump came in. "Make America Great Again.". This was a battle cry to take the US back to the old ways. This is how Trump stirred up a movement and built his base and won the elections.

White voters are a smaller share of the electorate this year compared to 2012 but Trump also picked up 29% of Latinos and 29% of Asians. Much of this could be the fear that immigrants already here fear that increased immigration could destabilize their communities lumping them all together. It’s hard to say at this point. What’s as important is that it was the thirst for change that contributed greatly to the Trump victory and that the Democrats were not seen as a party for change.  

Both the Trump phenomenon and the rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party are products of this mood for change. Trump won 80% of the 4 out of 10 voters who said that the ability to bring about change was the most important quality for their candidate in this election.

Bernie Sanders’ betrayal of his supporters is another factor in this situation. Two thirds of Sanders’ supporters refused to support Clinton.  One third of them went over to Trump with the rest going to the Greens or the Libertarians in the main, according to reports. With his capitulation Sanders also played his part in leaving the door open for Trump.

Sanders’ played a very negative role.  And unfortunately many on the left sowed illusions in him including Socialist Alternative and its member on Seattle City Council Kshawa Sawant.  At one point, leading figures in that organization claimed publicly that the group would support Sanders as a Democrat if he won the nomination, a historic change in policy for a socialist organization with a Trotskyist tradition.

With Kshawa Sawant’s huge electoral victory in Seattle, this blog argued that the next step was to use this victory to build a mass working class direct action United Front movement to reach out to all the forces that have been fighting the affects of the global capitalist offensive, mostly in isolation. From the Flint water issue, to anti-fracking campaigns, housing issues, education, wages and the protests against mass incarceration ands police brutality and the heroic battles against the TPP in North Dakota, people were and are resisting. The task was and is to bring all these struggles together in a mass direct action united front of struggle.

As Trump wins the election in the US, huge changes have also been taking place in Europe, the vote for Brexit in Britain; the rise of anti immigrant sentiment and right wing racist parties and movements and now the rise of Trump in the US.  

These movements all spring out of the crisis of capitalism, the drive for capitalist globalization and the working class being made to pay the price for this crisis. However we have to see that not all the discontent takes a right wing form. There has been the rise of new left wing parties and movements in Europe also, the Syriza party in Greece, the Podemos in Spain, the Corbyn movement in Britain. In Asia we are witnessing a struggle over loyalties and shifting of allegiances between the two dominant powers, the US and China. In Australia this debate is taking place as well as Australia is a South East Asian country dependent to a great degree on trade with its neighbors including China and is being pushed by US capitalism in to further conflict with its neighbors as the US tries to undermine China’s influence in the region.

What is happening is that the economic foundations of US society are cracking and as this happens the political superstructures also crack. The US is in for a rough ride.

What is to be done?
More than ever a mass united front movement must be built to take on and throw back the offensive that will be stepped up by the Trump victory. This movement will have to work to draw together all the movements that will be attacked by Trump and the capitalist offensive and to do so by mass direct action, mass strikes and occupations. This movement must be based on united front bodies based on the working class, in the rank and file of the unions, the workers in the workplaces, in the working class communities, in the schools and colleges.

Trump will step up the capitalist offensive. He will initially raise the confidence of the most right wing and reactionary forces in the country. But he will also force increasing opposition forces to stand up and take a stand. A mass direct action united front movement of the working class and youth will have to be built, and a movement that will have to be prepared to take on the racist fighters directly and drive them off the streets.  When racism or sexism rears its ugly head we all have a responsibility to combat it, not passively, but openly. This is particularly so with regards to white workers as the white racist ruling class appeal to us as "one of them". For those white workers who might have been conned in to voting for Trump because they think he will improve their lives if we don't speak up, if we don't stand with all oppressed communities that a racist and misogynist like Trump targets, our own loved one's, our own children will suffer as the working class will be divided, weak and the 1% made stronger.

The potentially most powerful force in society are the trade unions with their 14 million members. Tens of millions more members could be organized if the union leaders fought against the bosses offensive and fought for a better life for all.  The leaders of this movement more than any other strata in society are responsible for Trump being in the White House. They put the resources of their members into supporting the right wing Democratic Party. These leaders have to be removed from their positions. Trump says that he is going to Washington to "drain the swamp." The real swamp that has to be drained if working people are to have a future is the swamp of the trade union leadership. Rank and file fighting squads have to be built in the rank and file of every union body, in every workplace, in every working class community, in every school and college. An alternative anti capitalist leadership has to be built in the working class and the trade union movement. The existing leadership has to be removed. 

In Trump’s acceptance speech he was not the Trump of the campaign trail. He assured the US ruling class, Wall Street Goldman Sachs, finance capital and the big bourgeois in general that all will be well. He will safeguard their interests. Of course in doing so he will intensify the war against US workers, unions and public services.

He also assured foreign competitors that his campaign rhetoric was simply an election strategy as his comments were seriously undermining the US as the world’s beacon for democracy and morality. Already weakened by the numerous wars of plunder, Trumps lewd and racist comments gave representatives of foreign governments ammunition with which to attack the US and also to strengthen their credibility with their own population

Some comments:
“It is a dangerous thought when some say making concessions with the US will help resolve our country’s problems. How can a crisis hit country help other countries?” Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khomeni aimed at the moderates in Iran calling for closer relations with the US.

“This was the dirtiest campaign in US history…..everything turned out to be so disgustingly fetid that it makes one a bit squeamish about why America’s still called a democracy.” Dmitry Kiselev, Russian TV commentator.

“The ugliness of American Democracy has been thoroughly exposed”,  China’s state news, adding that  “American-style democracy has been  reduced to a game controlled by a small number of rich people and influencers, and as a result, the American Dream becomes further and further out of reach.”

Along with all the other issues such as the intervention by a section of the FBI, and the censorship of the privately owned mass media in the US, is the undemocratic US electoral system. On this question Trump is correct. The system is rigged. But not the way he says. The 5 smallest states have 3.5 million of a population. The 5 largest states have 120 million of a population. Yet they have the same number of people in the Senate. The electoral college is also rigged in this way. The idea is to weigh the system against the urban working class and in favor of the rural and small time middles class. Anybody who watched this election saw again and again where Clinton was ahead and then caught up by Trump when the small town and rural votes came in. On top of that there is the rigging where Clinton won more votes than Trump but he through the rigged Electoral College system won more electoral votes and became president.

Many people are stunned by the result of this election. But as the dust settles we will see the development of a counter to the Trump phenomenon.  The election of Trump has polarized the class lines further as the US economy in his first term will demand he continues and steps up the assault on workers. The new recession that is virtually certain to come in his first term will also add to his attacks on the working class and the class polarization. World capitalism will try for a further period to continue with the so- called neo-liberalism which is the basis for the offensive of capitalism against the working class.

However this is coming up against more and more opposition and will increasingly be opposed. Trump’s nationalism, the rise of nationalist parties and forces in many other countries, the rise of new left parties also, these are all signs that capitalism’s drive to capitalist globalization and its offensive against the working class are coming to an end.   A new era has opened.

Like Sander’s base, only Sanders base was in the main much more progressive than the majority of Trump’s, the racist, right wing white nationalist and misogynistic base that Trump’s campaign conjured up will not go away. These forces will not be pleased with Trump’s acceptance speech when they realize that he means a lot of it. These people here will have to be dealt with.

The authors of this Blog are members of the Green Party. We fight within that party to explain and campaign for its eco-socialist policy, we fight for it to become a workers party, we fight for an end to its undemocratic internal life. We are seeking to organize a network in that party to achieve these ends. If this is successful the Green Party can play an important role in building a workers movement and be part of a workers party to give an alternative to the working class. If such a network is not built the future of the Green party must be in doubt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i am really sick and tired of supposed liberal/socialist commentators like yourself denigrating Bernie Sanders.

If not for him, the topics of income inequality, an economy rigged for the billionaire capitalist class would have never ever made it into the debate at all, which inspired so many young voters.

All this and with a virtual media blackout on Bernie. I have no use for people who do not see the facts before them.

I respect Jill Stein, but was she pulling crowds of 10,000 or 20,000 or more at rallies. That was the only reason the MSM finally had to cover Bernie at all.

kind regards. Look at the facts. Then let me know how your green part works out.

I was with Bernie and then and will continue to be until he calls it quits. If and when the Green party finds as charismatic a figure as Bernie and has as significant an impact on a the american political duopoly, i will pay attention.