Keep It Left. Keep It Socialist.
First things first, Trump has no majority. Get your head on straight. Trump’s victory may represent a new demographic of assholes, but those assholes do not have a majority on society. Voter turnout was low. They have a guy in the White House. That’s not everything. The USA still has a progressive majority in a cultural sense and that’s more important than whoever sits in government for we who seek to radically alter the social system we live in by creating a bottom-up insurgency of self-organized units of workers’ power.
In a cultural sense, it’s not like the Internet or social media is going anywhere, so the USA will continue getting gayer, more drugged-out, more hipsterish, and more godless. It’s pretty obvious that the USA’s electoral system does not reflect the majority, so we can end up with electoral results that don’t reflect the majority. Trump won the electoral college votes and not the popular vote, not that I voted Clinton (I chose the Jill Stein middle finger).
So, if you need a reminder, here’s a repost of the stats reminding you that a third of Americans have a positive view of socialism, and Americans aged 29 and younger actually prefer socialism to capitalism something like 40% vs. 30%.
The Protests: Socialists vs. Democrats, Class Politics vs. Identity Politics
So I went to an anti-Trump protest, I quickly see developments going in a few directions.
Fortunately the protest I went to, in Philadelphia, was called by Socialist Alternative, so it avoided a few major pitfalls that it could have collapsed into otherwise. The main message was that Democrats ruined everything by screwing over Sanders, and there was a nice balance between saying that we need to keep pushing for an economic/living standard agenda ($15 wage, healthcare, student debt cancellation, etc.) in addition to demographic-specific social justice (black lives matter, trans rights, gay rights, defense of all threatened PoC against Trump-inspired racists).
However it’s real important to point out that Socialist Alternative was definitely acting as a pivotal counterweight to what would have otherwise would have been a catastrophic spontaneous direction to this thing, as it played out in multiple other cities.
In other cities, the theme of the protests is basically angry oblivious Democrats. Their message is what? Vote Democrat in the midterms in 2018, in 2020? Keep protesting Trump? Sorry, I’ve got bigger things to do, I’ve got vaster goals.
In other cities, the theme of the protests has nothing to do with continuing a Sanders-esque economic platform. Those things don’t get mentioned. Socialism definitely doesn’t get mentioned. Instead, it’s about the several different oppressed groups that the Trump campaign rhetorically targeted as scapegoats having a giant freakout about how their lives are about to end, and all other concerns must be put to the side. This is, uh, not a recipe for a confident path forward. Of course if these concerns were expressed in the forms of practical plans to form organizations for solidarity or defense of oppressed groups, that would be one thing, but instead it just takes the form of rhetorical moralism to shut all other political thought down.
The Path Forward
The entire lesson of Clinton’s defeat should be obvious: when the DNC threw Sanders under the bus, they abandoned the class populism that would have allowed the Democrats to win. We shouldn’t abandon it again in order to build the resistance to Trump in power. Instead the Democrats opted for a hysterical fear-mongering identity politics that compares Trump to Hitler in order to scare people into voting for a piece-of-shit pro-corporate machine Democrat. They had to resort to this because they had no other way to get people to vote for someone as awful as Hillary Clinton. Whether Trump is actually Hitler or not, and I say no, is beside the point; the point is that getting people to vote AGAINST Hitler never works, you actually have to get them to vote FOR something inspiring, and that wasn’t Hillary Clinton. The inspiring thing is also not identity politics, and I will write more on why this is the case later — identity politics actually connects less to the oppressed than class politics does, because the main determining feature of the lives of the oppressed is typically economic disadvantage and working life, but more on that later. The inspiring thing, however, which lets you win against Hitler, or Trump, is a strong message of class struggle like Sanders had.
We can do both in the same breath. I think the leaders of the Philly anti-Trump march pulled that off. But I don’t think most of the marchers understood that remotely. I think they were in a total knee-jerk reaction against Trump’s demographic-specific reactionary politics, and not having the forethought to realize that we don’t beat him just by defending against his attacks on the oppressed, but also by going on the offensive with a vision of class struggle and economic demands.
We need both offense and defense — defend the oppressed, and go on the offensive with class struggle. But the Left as it currently exists always remembers one, and always forgets the other.
We had Occupy Wall Street, after an eighty-year national amnesia of forgetting class politics since the 1930s. We continued it with the Sanders campaign. We can’t let Trump be why we lose our continuity and memory of class politics. I’m making it my job to see that we don’t. I will be as fucking annoying, “problematic,” and relentless as I must to ensure this.
That is my job as Emperor.