An Anarchist Response to the Election of Donald Trump
First of May Anarchist Alliance November 2016
PDF version available here
The surprise victory of Donald Trump this past Tuesday has quickly presented people in this country (and around the world) with a vastly different political landscape than we had expected. We are seeing a rise in right-wing attacks as the far right is emboldened by the victory, much like what happened earlier this year after the success of the Brexit referendum in the UK. The incompetence and capitulation of the Democratic Party has forced many of its former supporters to recognize that the fight against the far right cannot be won by liberal electoral politics. This new reality forces anti-authoritarians of all stripes to rise to the challenge of building strong movements for working class self-defense in this new atmosphere.
Much writing in the coming weeks will be dedicated to figuring out, from the Democratic perspective, “what went wrong.” Already many authors have argued that Trump’s success is solely the result of white nationalism and misogyny. Part of Trump’s appeal is that his ideas are a racist response to there currently being a black president. Trump’s open embrace of white supremacy and patriarchy was crucial to his victory, but we do not believe it can tell the whole story. It cannot, for example, explain why Trump received more votes than other recent Republicans from latinos, women, and black voters.
Another narrative states that in the rust belt as in Europe, the devastating effects of decades of austerity, neoliberal trade agreements, and an orientation towards multinational corporations have been challenged. That challenge in the U.S. and elsewhere has come in the form of xenophobic nationalism. There is a significant amount of truth to this as well, but it can’t explain much of Trump’s success without acknowledging the serious appeal that open white nationalism and misogyny has gained in this election.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this moment is that after spending months describing Trump as a grave threat to the lives of women, people of color, queer and trans people and the disabled, the entire Democratic Party has immediately capitulated to him. They have made clear that they always held preserving their broken system to be far more important than our lives. Many among their base are for the first time seeing the party’s true colors, and are reaching out to radical organizations in the interest of carrying on the fight that the Democrats so quickly abandoned. Already we are seeing attacks on muslims, immigrants, people of every color besides white, queer and trans people. This is not abstract, it is already happening. We should expect more of this and must make organizing to oppose it a top priority.
For anti-authoritarians, this presents a fundamental challenge that we must rise to. Many on the left will continue to advocate for independent candidates, third parties, or “progressive” Democrats like Bernie Sanders. In response, we must not only articulate that this is a dead-end strategy but offer serious alternatives for people to engage in and understand what we mean by our watchword of Community Self-Defense.
Across the US, from cities to rural areas, it is imperative that anarchists and anti-authoritarians strive to build organizations to battle the emboldened far right, to advocate through militant action the needs of working-class communities, and to combat state repression. We must encourage broad participation from those who are now looking for an alternative to the failed strategy which has got us to this moment. Moving forward, we must be sure to resist the pull of nonprofits and electoralism which will surely return to stymie any radical activity once the Democratic Party recovers.
Trump is an opportunist who understood the frustration of mostly struggling white people and tapped into that anger. He is not currently a fascist but has fascist tendencies that emboldens fascists and authoritarians of many stripes. Calling him one can limit our understanding of fascism, which we need to develop in order to better oppose it.
We are encouraged that so many have taken to the streets across the country. We hope more will do the same. Trump’s attacks in the form of policy and his supporters physical attacks and intimidation, must be opposed from day one.
Our organizations must be effective. The sense of despair many are feeling is grounded in the reality of an ascendant far right. Right now, they face little resistance. The sense of urgency many of us have felt is a recognition of the need to build that resistance. It is time for us to take up that task, to find new comrades ready to fight, and to fight. No one is coming to save us–we cannot use the electoral system to fight the far right effectively. It’s time to stop waiting and defend each other in the streets!
What Needs to Be Done:
1. No to National “healing”, working with, or a grace period for the Trump Regime
2. Take to the streets – build a militant resistance
3. Build working-class defense organizations that resist racist attacks, sexual assault, immigration and homeland security raids and deportations, police brutality and state repression
4. Agitate and organize for workers actions – including a general strike against Trump
5. No to containment of the struggle back into the Democratic Party, electoralism and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex