aka, “Next Steps for the anti-Trump protests”
Post-Trump, the identity politics Left and class Left are at a point where they don’t even want to talk to each other.
The class left is like, see, it should have been Bernie, told you so, you alienated the country with your non-class identitarian activist jargon horseshit and now we have Trump.
The identity politics Left feels under attack, hurt, defeated, lost, in denial, still delusionally clinging to hopes in the Democrats literally after Election Day, and not even feeling like talking to anyone.
What we’re going to have to realize is both sides actually do need each other.
I’m not saying the class side of the Left should not be scoring points right now. It should. This comeuppance has been a long time coming, the identitarian Left has been out of touch with reality for a long time and reality has finally struck back in the form of Trump. (Reality is, you can’t win the majority over to anti-oppression politics on the basis of moralism, you have to do it on the basis of class. Burn it into your mind.)
But the lesson the class Left could absorb right now is this: we could be engaging the identitarian Left in more than told-you-so right now. Since we are the ones with the upper hand at the moment, leadership falls to us. What do we do?
We need to be putting forward practical next steps. And the truth is, identity politics is part of that picture.
It’s true that Trump got elected because he exploited economic pain to push a message of bigotry, and we best respond to that by pushing back with a message of class war, continuing class demands and class organizing. That is one big thing it falls to us to do: continue raising living standard demands like $15, rent control, tenants’ unions, universal healthcare, debt cancellation, and generally spread & educate socialist ideas and build socialist organization.
But we also need to acknowledge that bigotry IS in the air. It’s true the Democrats have a vested interest in panic-mongering, but Clinton and Obama seem to he doing the opposite, urging a peaceful transition. We need to organize groups for solidarity and defense of the groups targeted by Trump’s rhetoric. These can be easily done as an extension of the anti-Trump protests. They don’t need to have guns. They can just use the power of numbers and social pressure, and fists if necessary. Guns can come later if it comes to that.
What do we ask of the identitarian Left? We ask that they join the defense groups, and act as core organizers for them! They will do so enthusiastically. We ask that they consider getting or staying on board with the push to keep class on the agenda. A good number of them probably would.
Beyond that, all we can really ask is that they learn. We ask that they learn to realize they need a deeper politics than judging people for having the wrong beliefs, they need to identify with the working class whatever its flaws, and work with people persuasively and non-judgmentally. We need to convince them that people’s consciousness is determined by material conditions, and transformed in the process of struggle against the bosses, not by education and telling them they’re a bad person because they’re racist or sexist. And we can only ask the identitarians to learn these things if we actually engage them in a way where we are actually engaging them persuasively instead of aggressively.
Will all of them learn? No. Some of them deserve the continued mockery and dismissal we have already been giving them, if for no other reason than to annoy them away from our spaces, because let’s not mince words, the hardliners are frankly obstacles to productivity. But for those open-minded, those willing to engage, they may just actually be future revolutionaries.