By Marcus Otono, TN
Donald Trump’s presidency has galvanised opposition. But turning resistance into victories will not be easy. Republicans control both houses of Congress, the Presidency and hardline conservatives will undoubtedly soon control the Supreme Court. At a state level they hold power in 32 state legislatures plus 33 governorships, covering 61 per cent of the U.S. population. Democrats only control state capitols 13 states, some 28 percent of the country’s population. Many attacks will be launched at state level like the “right to work’ anti-union laws of many states.
The upsurge in mass demonstrations since his inauguration proves that millions are ready and willing to fight Trump if given a lead.
But workers who want to use the collective strength of their trade union organisations to face down Trump’s attacks face a problem: the trade union bureaucracy. Take Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO. He won’t be out on the streets protesting Trump anytime soon. His response to the new president’s address to Congress was:
“Will we partner with him? Absolutely! Will we partner with him to try to rewrite the immigration rules of the country? Absolutely!… Using the bully pulpit to say this is your country, this is where you owe your allegiance, this is where you should be investing and building, that is a good thing.”
Indeed Trumka egged Trump to go further on immigration and go for stopping legal as well as illegal migrants, saying: “I was actually pleasantly surprised to hear him say the system is broken and it’s legal immigration, as well as undocumented people.”
Those who remember the final scene of Orwell’s Animal Farm will recognise Trump and Trumka, indeed the great bulk of the trade union bureaucracy.
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
For this reason it is vital to link up with union locals that have fought back in recent years – longshore workers, Chicago teachers, the Service Employees International Union, all those involved in the Fight for 15 movement – and draw them into the mass resistance. At the same time the entire movement needs to
support and promote the growth of rank and file control within organised labor and a massive drive to recruit millions of new union members.
The con job that Trump pulled on his working class supporters by promising to “bring back the jobs” and “make America great again” will not work and the illusions will soon turn to disappointment and anger. To bring back jobs to America under capitalism, Americans must join the race to the bottom. Protectionism is a delusion in the age of global capitalism. And Trump knows this. He has already stated that American workers are overpaid.
There is a growing consciousness amongst workers, women and men, black and white, immigrant and US-born, that to resist Trump direct action will be needed. This can be seen by the frequent calls for “general strikes”, for a nationwide stoppage on May Day. The “Day Without Immigrants” action on 16 February shut down many businesses in many sections
of the country, especially ones that rely heavily on migrant labour.
These types of mass actions need to become more widespread, more “general”, and involve all of the targeted minorities and their supporters in concert with the majority of workers, those whose social, trade union and democratic rights will also be under attack from the Republicans.
To foster this, representatives of all groups that are under attack should come together to plan strategies and tactics for a more coordinated and therefore more effective resistance. An effective resistance will need a strategy that challenges the logic of a system that produces everything for profit, by supporting taxation and investment based on public need. But to challenge the system we need to break free of the Democrats – the alternative party of the billionaires.
The Democrats’ job is to restrict resistance to speeches and votes in congress. Openly or covertly their message is to wait and vote for them in the next round of elections. And above all to do nothing to challenge the system, as dear to Hillary Clinton as it is to Donald Trump.
Even Democrats like Bernie Sanders won’t really help. Sanders likes to call himself a socialist and praises Eugene Debs; but Debs was a revolutionary socialist who supported and led strikes, who fought racism and scapegoating immigrants, who went to jail for opposing imperialist wars. Above all he helped build an independent working class party.
It is Debs’ example that we should follow today: a working class party that can unite all the exploited and oppressed and wage a class struggle against the political establishment and the ruling class it serves.
Red Flag is a
socialist organisation campaigning within Labour for a democratically planned
and owned economy. We campaign for grassroots democracy in the labour movement,
militant defence of the oppressed and an anticapitalist programme for the
Labour Party. Against Brexit, for free movement. Anticapitalist and
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