A Discussion Document
by Bob D., a member of First of May Anarchist Alliance and an eviction defense activist in Detroit
The following is a discussion document drafted for both First of May Anarchist Alliance and the movements we are participants in. We welcome feedback.
“The Democrats and the Republicans are both the parties of the ruling class and the billionaires. They just have different strategies on how best to contain and oppress the working classes and poor people. The Democrats use the “smile in your face and stab you in the back” philosophy, talking about being concerned about “middle class families” and communities of color, while the Republicans don’t smile and just stab us in the back. Choose your poison.
What is different in the current election is the upsurge in struggle from Ferguson to Baltimore to Minneapolis to Milwaukee and beyond. Hundreds of thousands across the country have taken to the streets to resist the ongoing police attacks on communities of color and poor people. And the usual ruling class strategies are wearing thin.”
The longest election campaign in the history of the universe is now within 90 days of actually taking a vote. Jesus. None of the candidates have anything to offer the working class and communities of color. Clinton and Trump and the minor party candidates all represent the ruling class, the billionaires and the status quo. None of the candidates represent the interests of the working class.
Trump is a right wing opportunist who is flirting with fascism and has won the Republican nomination for president. This is cause for very serious concern. Trump is dangerous. Ordinary people in this country have been hit hard by the economic downturn of recent years and, by and large, have not recovered. Middle class jobs have been lost, good paying working class jobs have been lost, professionals and the petit bourgeoisie (small business owners) have been hit. Jobs have been lost, incomes are down, replacement jobs don’t pay as well, benefits and pensions have been cut, homes have been lost to foreclosure and small businesses have closed. This hits all working people: Black, Latino, Arab, white and everybody else. This is the source of widespread anxiety and insecurity across the population.
The rulers, the billionaires, the corporations, their government, the privileged few, Wall Street and the capitalist class and capitalist system are the sources of these attacks. Trump talks about trade and government and outsourcing of jobs, but he talks mainly about immigrants and the undocumented and Muslims and so on. When Trump says “make America great again,” what he means is make America white again. Trump gained a lot of traction a few years ago with the birther stuff, saying Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. Now he is gaining support with his attacks on immigrants and Mexico, with all his talk of “building the wall and making Mexico pay for it” and with his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
These are proposals of a new sort. He is speaking to the anxieties felt by whites and providing people of color as scapegoats. When Trump talks about bringing back the American dream, he is talking about strengthening and defending white supremacy. He is telling white folks, stick with me and you’ll get yours and we’ll take it from immigrants and Mexico and Muslims and blah blah.
Trump is flirting with fascism. He is running as a Republican, but when he was asked to disavow David Duke’s endorsement, Trump waffled and said he needed to see what the group was about. This was a clear signal to the Klan and Nazis and white nationalists that they were welcome to the Trump camp, and many are actively supporting Trump. Duke, a former grand dragon of the Klan, is running for the senate in Louisiana as a Republican, again, and says Trump is saying what Duke and the Klan have been saying for years. When Trump says raise your right hand and pledge allegiance to me, he is doing a takeoff on Hitler at Nazi rallies and imitating the Nazi salute.
Trump says we need a strong leader, and he presents himself as the strongman. Many of his supporters appear to embrace the idea of an authoritarian leader and believe Trump may be the guy.
Trump is running on the idea and the fact that demographics in America are changing, that white folks will no longer be the majority. He is urging his supporters to join in the fight to defend and continue and reinvigorate white supremacy. He is saying don’t fight the billionaires or the capitalist system, fight the immigrants, fight the Muslims, rebuild white supremacy and make it last.
Several million people already have voted for Trump in the primaries. He has broad support. Some of his supporters may be more enthralled with his business experience or his stance on trade, but, unfortunately, it appears most of his supporters like what he is saying about immigrants and people of color and, less explicitly, about standing up for white people. Klan supporters and Nazis and others are coming to his rallies and are engaging in attacks on the opposition and especially people of color in the opposition. Trump says “this is a movement.” He may be right.
Trump is not a fascist, but he appears to be taking notes from the right wing nationalist parties in Europe, especially in the attacks on immigrants/the other. He is mobilizing, calling out and unleashing what looks to be a mass base for fascism in this country. There will be more battles, and we have our work cut out for us. We don’t want to overstate what is happening, and we don’t want mistaken analysis. But we do not want to understate. This is real and dangerous.
At recent rallies in Pennsylvania, Trump called on his supporters to mobilize on Election Day to watch the polls in “certain areas” to look for voter fraud. This is Trump calling on his supporters to be present at polling places in Black and Latino neighborhoods and to attempt to intimidate voters and prevent people of color from voting. This is not new; Republicans have been doing this in the past few elections. But what is new are the Trump supporters, the Klan and Nazi types who support him, the white supremacists who are mobilized/unleashed and who will be attempting to intimidate voters in neighborhoods of color.
The Trump candidacy makes fascism appear as mainstream. Some fascists openly support Trump and appear at his rallies. The Klan and the Nazis are organizing openly in many communities around the country. A white guy in Raleigh, North Carolina stands in his garage with a shotgun and murders a young Black man who is walking past, leaving a party in the neighborhood. A racist killer in Tulsa, Oklahoma runs down an elderly woman, his neighbor, who is an immigrant from Lebanon, calling her a “dirty Arab.” The woman survives, but the cops and the courts release the racist and he shoots and kills the woman’s 31 year old son, who is simply standing on the porch of his own home. This is the atmosphere Trump and his supporters are encouraging and unleashing.
The Democrats will not protect us and will not fight the fascists. Elections won’t protect us or solve the problems. We need direct action and community self defense to defend our communities against the fascists, the police and all predators and oppressors who attack us. This oppressive system survives because much of the working class remains tied to the Democratic Party and the trade union bureaucrats, the civil rights bureaucrats and the other misleaders and agents of the capitalist class.
Hillary Clinton is the candidate of Wall Street, the banks and the status quo. She represents more of the same and worse: more austerity, more cuts, more attacks on communities of color and more police murders with a candy coating only the Democrats can offer. In fact, Hillary’s campaign looks like Republican campaigns of the past. Her campaign trumpets “Republicans for Hillary” and brags about the endorsements from billionaires like Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban, Michael Bloomberg, Meg Whitman and others. Since the Democratic convention and the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Clinton has moved predictably and certainly to the right. Her main argument is that she is not Trump.
The Democratic Party under Obama and now Clinton has led the charge against the working class for the past eight years. They bailed out the banks and big corporations after the crash of 2008, but they have done nothing to bail out workers and communities of color. The Democrats took charge of the foreclosure crisis and stood up for the banks by standing on the necks of working class homeowners and pursuing a policy of foreclosures, evictions and attacks on working class communities. The Democrats continued the policies of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and elsewhere with Obama carrying out a policy of more drone strikes and murders of civilians throughout the region. Here at home, the Democrats and Obama have expanded the attacks on undocumented workers and their families and Latino communities with record numbers deported and incarcerated.
The Democrats run most of the cities in the country, and they have carried out massive attacks on public education and teachers. The Democrats are pushing schools of choice and privatization of public schools and call it “education reform” in true double speak. Public schools throughout the country but especially in the cities are in a shambles thanks to the policies of the Democrats and Republicans. When the Democrats come with a “reform,” look out because it means an attack on the working class.
The Democrats have specialized in supporting the police attacks on communities of color, while claiming to be concerned about those same communities. The police murder of Freddie Gray in Baltimore is a clear example of the policies and role of the Democratic Party in upholding the system of white supremacy. After the police broke Freddie Gray’s neck during a brutal takedown and arrest, they threw him in the police van. Freddie Gray’s neck already was broken when they threw him in the van. The damn police nearly tore his head off when they threw him down during the arrest, knees on his back and yanked his head back. When they dragged him to the van his legs were limp and he was in extreme pain. Freddie Gray didn’t break his own neck while in the van; the police broke his neck before they threw him in the van.
When the people of Baltimore rose up in response to the police murder, when the people of Baltimore were in the streets and fighting the police, the Democrats did their job for the ruling class. The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, urged the people to end their resistance, told the people to be calm and let the investigations continue and unleashed the murdering police to attack the people in the streets. The Democrats rewarded her by letting her open the Democratic Party convention this summer. The prosecuting attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, also a Democrat, did the best service to the system. Remember? While the people of Baltimore were in the streets and fighting, the prosecutor came out and said she was indicting the police officers who were responsible for the murder of Freddie Gray and she would get justice. This was conscious deception to get the people of Baltimore off the streets. The prosecutor followed the false narrative that Freddie Gray was fine when the cops put him in the van and that Freddie Gray broke his own neck because the cops didn’t buckle him in. The judge acquitted the cops of this charge, and the prosecutor said she had done her best. No cops are held responsible for the murder of Freddie Gray because the cops and the mayor and the prosecutor acted together to defend the police and to mislead and attack the community.
And the Obama administration did its part at the end of this fiasco by issuing a report saying the Baltimore police have violated the civil rights of Black people in Baltimore and they will have to do better. The role of the Democrats could not be clearer. They defend the police and the police murders of Black people by claiming to be concerned about the Black community and urging people to “respect the rule of law.” This is the role of the Democratic Party, of the mayors and prosecutors in our cities, and of Obama and Clinton. They try to sugar coat police murders of Black people, claiming they will investigate, and all the while the Democrats support and defend the police and carry out these attacks on our people and our communities. What prevents us from building a more massive movement to fight this system is the fact that the trade union bureaucrats and civil rights bureaucrats remain in the pocket of the Democratic Party politicians and lead our communities from one disaster to another. To build a revolutionary movement for justice and freedom, working people and communities of color must break from the Democratic Party and all illusions in the party of Wall Street and the billionaires, the party of Obama and Clinton.
The Democrats and the Republicans are both the parties of the ruling class and the billionaires. They just have different strategies on how best to contain and oppress the working classes and poor people. The Democrats use the “smile in your face and stab you in the back” philosophy, talking about being concerned about “middle class families” and communities of color, while the Republicans don’t smile and just stab us in the back. Choose your poison.
What is different in the current election is the upsurge in struggle from Ferguson to Baltimore to Minneapolis to Milwaukee and beyond. Hundreds of thousands across the country have taken to the streets to resist the ongoing police attacks on communities of color and poor people. And the usual ruling class strategies are wearing thin. The scenario and the narrative repeat. The cops kill a Black person for no good reason. People in the community are outraged and take to the streets in anger and frustration. The cops explain that the person killed was no good or was out of place or resisted or had been arrested before. The corporate media spreads the cop message. But this doesn’t work anymore. People expect this and are aware of this police tactic. Then the police say the person the cops murdered had a gun or was threatening or deserved it. The community doesn’t buy it anymore. Everyone knows the cops are lying and always lie and nothing the cops say can be believed.
Then the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate media all chime in and say this will be investigated and this is complicated and this will take time and the rule of law and law and order must prevail. But this is wearing thin also, because time after time as in every time, the investigations find that the police acted lawfully and feared for their safety or if a charge is brought the cop or cops are acquitted or there is slap on the wrist. Our people know that this system does not provide justice for members of our community murdered by the police. The police get away with murder and are supported in this by the Democrats and the Republicans and the media.
We will not gain our freedom, we will not end oppression, and we will not destroy capitalism and white supremacy through elections or through the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton or her agents. Elections are a dead end and a safe out for the capitalists. It’s not just elections or politicians or Democrats or Republicans that keep us in chains, it’s electoralism as a whole. It’s electoralism as the alternative to organizing and direct action and fighting this system. When workers rise up, as in Wisconsin a few years ago, militants call for direct action and a general strike, but the trade union bureaucrats and the Democratic Party say, no do the recall campaign against the Republican governor instead. These recall campaigns, as much as voting for capitalist politicians, are the death of our movements and the death of our strength. Electoralism and elections are a dead end for the working class and help to save and prop up the capitalist system and white supremacy.
The struggle against fascism and the struggle against capitalism are also the struggle against white supremacy and patriarchy. There is no way forward for working people in this country other than by destroying the system of white supremacy, which is intertwined with the capitalist system and always has been here. We have to win white workers or a good chunk of them to the understanding that the enemy is the class enemy, the billionaires and wall street and their system, and that the rest of the working class, Black, Latino, Arab and internationally, are working class allies in the struggle for revolution. There is no shortcut. We have to urge white workers and all workers to join the fight to destroy white supremacy. That’s the only way forward to liberation for all of us, and the only way forward in the fight against fascism and capitalism.