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Jan 24 2017

Resist!

This is not the definitive report on my personal experience, instead it is a piece I found at The Guardian that makes several good points.

‘Millions have done something together’ – why the Women’s March will spark the resistance
by Paul Mason. The Guardian
Monday 23 January 2017

On Saturday night, for Donald Trump’s inauguration ball, police turned an entire grid square of Washington DC into a maze of fences, checkpoints and deserted roads, just to protect the partygoers. But even the cleverest maze has to have an entrance – and it took just a couple of hundred peaceful but courageous protesters to block it. As a result, thousands of rich people had to thread their way across a square mile of wire and concrete in their tuxedos and taffeta.

I know it annoyed them because I walked with them. In the absolute silence, I could hear they were angry and afraid. They looked, collectively, like a George Grosz painting of the Weimar elite come to life.

And then, to annoy them some more, one out of every 100 people in America marched to reject Trump’s project in its entirety. In the US, nearly 3.5 million people marched, the majority of them women, a huge proportion of them wearing pink, woolly “pussy hats” (There were marches against Trump in 20 countries around the world).

When a million people choke the transport system of a city, exchanging sudden and ephemeral chants, jokes and slogans with people they’ll never meet again, it is the collective memory they establish that truly records the event. For people who were not there, the media records such events according to an established formula: a soundbite from Madonna, a wide shot of the crowd, a vox pop with somebody’s grandma and finally a sceptic saying it’s all a waste of time. But events such as this alter people’s lives. They thrust big and complicated political questions into lives of routinely depoliticised people.

But you would miss the historic significance of the Women’s March if – as with Trump’s army of trolls – you viewed it only through the frame of something called “feminism” or “identity politics”.

To comprehend the power of Saturday’s demos, we have to understand the true nature of the threat Trump poses. The dominant trope in the US media is delusion. It says Trump is a charlatan, who will be restrained by the American constitution, tamed by office and gone in four years.

The importance of this delusion is that, for the liberal section of the US elite, it allowed them to justify continuity. They could go on ingesting the standardised prose of the New York Times, even though its editors were “timid” (according to its public editor) in the face of the emerging news story about Trump’s links with Russia. They could cling to the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote; that the Russians probably rigged the election. They could, above all, cling to the belief that US capitalism has turned a corner permanently, towards corporate social responsibility, equal opportunities and low-carbon energy.

One of the many things that annoy authoritarian populists in the US, according to pollsters, are “human rights”. Human rights, to the rightwing middle classes, appear as privileges for other people: blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, gay people and women, welfare recipients and trade unionised workers.

Hitler and Mussolini created armies of enraged middle-class losers because the bourgeoisie of Germany and Italy were too weak, powerless and hidebound by constitutional beliefs to act decisively against the perceived enemy (in both cases, it was above all communism and organised labour).

But once the efficacy of rightwing populism was proven, a section of the rich elite became all too willing to abandon constitutional democracy and go with the flow. Lest we forget, in both France and the US in 1934, there were serious, elite-backed attempts to overthrow elected governments, using millionaires’ cash and fascist street protests. Though not the weapon of choice of the corporate lawyer or property developer in his tuxedo, if offered the combination of a reactionary mass movement and a liar with a DayGlo tan, history suggests they will take it.

So the challenge for the truly liberal section of the elite is – as in the 1930s – what to do. If you work for a bank, a law firm, an Ivy League university or a Silicon Valley giant, and your employer is systematically accommodating the new, post-factual reality, you are – even now, just weeks into the Trump era – living a double life.

What’s good for the employer is to double down on the advantages of the new kleptocracy: fewer taxes, fewer climate oblig ations, fewer regulations on business and an 11-million-strong undocumented migrant workforce cowering in fear every time the doorbell rings.

Saturday was, above all else, the sound of the progressive middle classes rejecting what’s good for the employers and embracing what’s good for the people. The DC hotel I stayed in turned, on the eve of the Women’s March, into an organising base for 200 low-paid cleaners and care workers. Spanish, Filipino and Caribbean-English words began to drown out the chatter of journalists and politicos.

Winnie Wong, a key figure in organising the march told me: “The beauty of the Women’s March as a fledgling movement, which is now both decentralised and already global in scale, is that it will be very hard for any one institution to co-opt the messaging. This creates headaches for the bad actors in the influential spheres of the Democratic party who have helped to build the neoliberal institutions which are culpable for driving the slow erosion of our democracy.”

Even a rightwing ideologue such as Glenn Beck, who trailblazed the essentials of Trumpism in 2011, has understood what is happening and pulled back. But Trump cannot pull back. His rage is only getting greater – as the ridiculous White House briefing fiasco over the size of the inauguration shows.

The task in the US, inspired by the millions of women in pink hats, is to create a workable alliance of progressives. It can, with solid groundwork, remove at least the lower house from Republican control in 2018 and defeat Trump in 2020. But the horizons of resistance should be immediate.

That resistance will, of necessity, start out as fragmentary. The domestic workers will go back to Queens, Phoenix and Los Angeles to fight to defend migrant women from deportation, and fight for the $15 minimum wage. Black communities will face off-the-leash policing, its impact more random and brutal as the rule of law is eroded, egged on by white supremacists who publicly fantasise about genocide.

Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, progressive employees will go to work this week more determined to resist the corporate rollover to Trump. But the Women’s March showed – in a gesture as inchoate as it was decisive – that these struggles can be united in the face of a common enemy. What’s more, there is network of millions of people who have now done one thing together they had never done before.

(T)he Women’s March showed us the gestural power of mass action. Yes, it could end up as ineffectual as the anti-war demos of 2003 were at stopping war. But stopping social injustice should be easier than stopping war for one obvious reason.

In a war, the enemy is someone else. In the social war Trump is about to unleash the enemy in us. And – as the disappointed white petit-bourgeoisie who love him now will soon discover – you can’t eat racism; military parades do not raise your wages; owning eight guns and having 4chan bookmark does not matter if your home is repossessed.

What I most object to is the word “progressivism”. It’s easy enough to substitute ‘Neo Liberal’ for ‘Liberal’ but to pretend that “Progressivism” exists except as shameful way to hide one’s political affiliation after Republicans made ‘Liberal’ a dirty word is to deny its contemporary history and meaning.

Certainly the Institutional Democratic Party isn’t the least bit “Progressive” by any conventional definition, especially after 8 years of the self identified “Moderate Republican” Barack Obama.

Instead let’s speak plainly- what we need is Socialism and Redistribution of Wealth, or if you are squeamish “Social Democracy”. Populism is democracy, the will of the people, it has no ideology and can be used by the Right or the Left. What the Elites fear is that they will lose their control over the vast majority of us, the 99%, and with it their Wealth and Power.

They should be afraid because we must and will make this happen. Otherwise we are no better than slaves.

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