AWL on Trump, Fascism and Brexit

February 3, 2017 at 8:52 pm (AWL, Europe, fascism, Human rights, immigration, Islam, populism, posted by JD, protest, reaction, Trump, United States)

 Steve Bell 03.02.17
Above: Steve Bell, Guardian

Also published on the Workers Liberty website and in the current issue of Solidarity:

Organise, on the streets and in the labour movement! Argue for socialist, democratic, internationalist ideas which offer a real answer both to Trump’s rancid, right-wing, regression, and to the discredited status quo. That is how we can block Trump.

Trump’s “executive order” of 27 January has stirred up protests across the world. Trump’s “Muslim ban” halted the entire US refugee programme for 120 days, and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees fleeing Assad’s butchery and the sectarian Islamist militias. All travellers who have nationality or dual nationality of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are not permitted to enter the US for 90 days, or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. Customs and Border Protection agents have defied the orders of federal judges halting deportations.

Besides this outrageous act of anti-Muslim and racist discrimination, Trump has also signed executive decisions:

• To build a wall along the US-Mexico border

• To withdraw US federal grant money from “sanctuary cities” in the USA which refuse to deport undocumented immigrants

• To advance construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines

• To order the commerce secretary to develop a plan (likely to breach WTO rules) requiring US-made steel for the pipelines

• To order public agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” all portions of Obama’s Affordable [Health] Care Act that create financial burdens on states, individuals, or healthcare companies

• To ban federal money to international groups that perform or provide information on abortions

• To withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks. Trump has suggested that South Korea and Japan develop nuclear weapons and US forces withdraw from those countries.

He has courted Russian president Vladimir Putin, but talked of rescinding the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, in which Russia was an interested participant. He has favoured the use of torture, but suggested for now he will defer to Defense Secretary James Mattis on that. He has promised to build up US militarism. He has given a green light for more-or-less unlimited Israeli settlement and creeping annexation in the West Bank.

On 27 January, too, the Holocaust Memorial Day statement from Trump’s White House, unlike previous such US presidential statements, omitted Jews and antisemitism. Trump’s chief of staff defended the omission: “I mean, everyone suffering in the Holocaust including, obviously, all of the Jewish people affected… is something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad”.

Trump’s style is often fascistic: authoritarian, demagogic, militaristic, nationalist. The analytic difference between this and full-fledged fascism has importance. As Trotsky explained in the 1930s, when the Stalinists had the habit of describing all they disliked as “fascist”, fascism requires a street-fighting “movement of large masses, with new leaders from the rank and file… a plebeian movement in origin… from the petty bourgeoisie, the lumpenproletariat, and even to a certain extent from the proletarian masses… with its leaders employing a great deal of socialistic demagogy”.

The reactionary mass movement gives fascism the facility, which ordinary decree from above lacks, to crush the labour movement, civil society, and civil liberties, and to impose demagogic, nationalist, racist, protectionist, militaristic policies which even the majority of the bourgeoisie dislikes. “Such a government does not cease being the clerk of the property-owners. Yet the clerk sits on the back of the boss, rubs his neck raw and does not hesitate at times to dig his boots into his face”. In return:
“From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years”.

To declare a right-wing government “fascist” before time amounts to declaring that social civil war has been lost in advance. Trump’s turn, however, can do great damage, and build conditions for actual fascism after the next great economic crisis. Already it shatters complacencies. Already it breaks up the comforting assumption that even if things get worse under neoliberalism, not all of them do, and worsening is slow, so if you have an established citizenship and good jobs you can keep ahead.

The globalised neoliberal world order has resilience. It has negotiated and absorbed many shocks. A great swathe of top-level opinion considers Trump maverick and dangerous. Within a few days of Trump’s “Muslim ban”, over 9,000 US academics, including 50 Nobel prize-winners and 82 winners of Fields medals or similar, had signed a protest, and they included the doyens of neoliberal economics, Eugene Fama and Robert Lucas. Yet, as the conservative writer Jonathan Rauch pointed out last year, the system of political mediations, consultations, information-flows, safeguards for continuity and coherence, in the USA, had substantially fractured even before Trump, replaced by a chaos of demagogues negotiating an atomised and disinformed electorate and a welter of wealthy lobbyists. In this fracturing, and with the confidence of orthodox bourgeois leaders shaken by the crash of 2008 and the disarray since then, a militant and cohesive bourgeois minority — and Trump may be able to assemble that — can take the initiative. The rest will mostly adapt (as Theresa May and Boris Johnson are doing) or shrug ineffectually.

In the USA’s State Department (equivalent of the Foreign Office), top officials had, as a conventional formality, submitted resignation letters on the arrival of a new president. Usually new presidents ignore most such letters and maintain some continuity of management. Trump has accepted all the resignation letters and made a clean sweep.

Against a determined push by Trump, the liberal bourgeoisie will not safeguard the moderate extensions of women’s and LGBT equality, the modest opening of opportunities to ethnic minorities, the relative freedom of movement for some across some borders, the mild cosmopolitanism, on which it prides itself. Having already let so many civil rights be swallowed by the “war on terror” and the drive for “labour flexibility”, it will be no bulwark for the rest. The liberal bourgeoisie may not even safeguard the achievement of which it boasts most, the reduction of economic barriers between countries.

Before the USA’s Smoot-Hawley tariff law of 1930, which started a catastrophic spiral of protectionism and shrinking world trade, “economics faculties [in the USA]… were practically at one in their belief that the Hawley-Smoot bill was an iniquitous piece of legislation”. Over a thousand economists petitioned the US administration against it. It went through, and its effects spiralled. It falls to the labour movement to defend even the limited bourgeois ameliorations.

The labour movement cannot do that unless it mobilises; unless it cleanses itself of the accommodations to nationalism now so common over Brexit; and unless it spells out socialist answers which can convince and rally the millions of the economically marginalised and disillusioned. It falls to the left to make the labour movement fit for those tasks.


  1. Mick said,

    Ah, the Left are boiling! When you see life not going their way for once, you see their true colours. I guarantee you there’s no problem with that, I guarantee it.

    Trump’s making pretty much all the right moves. He’s bolstering the border, telling students they will get no money if they riot all the time and getting that oil flowing in what’s actually one of the safer ways. Oh, and he’s rescuing private health practices from going broke by making sure they’re not forced to offer healthcare at literally ruinous prices.

    My ex, an American doctor, says Obamacare was breaking her balls. But then, sod the doctors. Funny attitude from left wingers, especially when these guardians of life and morals want babies killed on convenience.

    And when it comes to executive orders and business deals getting the jobs and money pumping through again, the professional whingers in the LGBT lobby and others are frankly no more than an irritant. Saying men can use a ladies’ bog because he might just say he’s a woman is little counterweight to the real power of Trump’s momentum for real life.

    • Mick said,

      Oh, and the ‘Muslim ban’? That’s been shown to be a block on terror countries the last administration already identified. And with more of the better judges now bet to be on their way to the Supreme Court, legal tantrums by the lawfare left will need a lot more effort to spoil what half all Americans have been found to like.

      So those taxi drivers and yobbos ruining other people’s travel can rest assured that they are only ruining the holidays of other New Yorkers who typically voted Hillary anyway!

      God, I’m enjoying every minute of this government. Especially the leftist cartoons about it, which only get more bitter in their fanbase’s helplessness.

      • Jim Denham said,

        “Oh, and the ‘Muslim ban’? That’s been shown to be a block on terror countries the last administration already identified”: and why do you, Mick, think Saudi Arabia -where the 9/11 bombers came from – is not banned?

      • Mick said,

        Probably because Saudi Arabia’s also saved its backside by providing copious intelligence on other volatile Sharia states, states like those banned in the Executive Order.

        I’m no fly on the wall but things like that do leave a nasty taste, regardless how diplomatically beneficial. But I can still say that we can still leave Sharia Law at the door of Europe and the USA in return, which is something the likes of Obama or Merkel have been loath to do.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Mick: “Probably because Saudi Arabia’s also saved its backside by providing copious intelligence on other volatile Sharia states, states like those banned in the Executive Order”:

        If that’s an answer, then this remains an unanswered question: “why do you, Mick, think Saudi Arabia -where the 9/11 bombers came from – is not banned?”

      • Mick said,

        It is the answer, for me, and a staple. Guilty and dirty as it is, Saudi Arabia can’t really be knocked over or bruised because it has made itself valuable.

        It is valuable for fuel resources, allies since the Cold War in all that espionage and it certainly can swing balances in diplomatic talks. Governments are very reluctant to condemn even Saudi terror attacks using weapons we sell them and it’s all part of the murk of international power balances.

        Until one main support vanishes, like the oil running out, Saudi Arabia’s pretty immune.

      • Jim Denham said,

        ” Guilty and dirty as it is, Saudi Arabia can’t really be knocked over or bruised because it has made itself valuable”: so Trump’s anti-Muslim racism has nothing to do with the terrorist threat?

      • Mick said,

        I didn’t say that. I’m just saying that’s my guess, for now.

        As time passes for the new administration, they may indeed cast the net wider by renewing bans, extending them or finding some way to wring concessions from trickier terror states by negotiation.

        I would certainly hope so. If Trump is indeed keen on blocking the ingress of Islamic extremists, this flight ban is just the first step, and one which certainly rattles a few cages. He’s good at that.

      • Mick said,

        Oh, and you say it’s racism. Never mind the names, we’re looking at what may be certain policy.

      • Jim Denham said,

        “I didn’t say that. I’m just saying that’s my guess, for now.”: so you really know fuck all, do you, you miserable apologist for the racist buffoon Trump? (I mean *you* Mick)

      • Mick said,

        And out comes the foul language! We got there in the end, didn’t we Left.

        You asked me for my view, based on facts I know, and I gave them. And it’s quite true that Trump’s office said the travel ban would not be extended ‘at this time’.

        So yeah, the Left can’t win, so they swear. That’s why they wreck London and urinate on war memorials when the wrong people win elections. (And go nuts at even Jeremy Corbyn after his LGBT speech!)

      • Jim Denham said,

        “And out comes the foul language”: ah, didums: a supporter of Trump and Bannon is upset by foul language. I’m so sorry to have offended you, Snowflake.

      • Mick said,

        Who said I was offended? I just pointed out where you were triggered.

        And you did it beautifully, sugar pie.

      • julietsm said,

        Liberal tears are soooo delicious!
        When Obama was committing TREASON, we’re we out rioting, torching cars, and pepper spraying his supporters?
        A truly classic liberal act was when the lefties torched a limo, believing it was Trump’s
        …alas, it belonged to a Muslim.
        Another thing that amuses me is that the lefties in the Occupy “movement” supported Hillary
        …who was supported by WALL STREET!
        Yes, the left is pretty damn funny
        …good thing, too, because a few laughs are ALL they’re good for!

      • Mick said,

        Indeed, absolutely so. The left is coming apart at the seams and it’s a joy to behold. They can’t pretend to be measured and pure any more, as even more tempers fray just having a reasonable Q&A.

        It’s in the latest example of Nigel Farage’s tweet: Sadiq Khan hates the ‘Muslim ban’ so much, he proved it by bitching about it with ambassadors from Muslim states, which ban Israeli Jews! Not so much about equality is he, especially when most Muslims can still access the USA anyway.

        But there it is. The left side with evil now, just to hit others they don’t like. That’s how the terror-linked Muslim Council Of Britain is leading a new anti-Trump march for fluffy bunnies this weekend.

    • julietsm said,

      Have you seen what they’ve been up to at Berkeley? It’s so ironic, Berkeley was huge in the 60s, known for their rioting FOR freedom of speech. Now, they’re rioting AGAINST it. But you know the left, “I may not agree with what you say, so I’ll defend to the death my right to quash it.”
      Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak, but according to the protesters, he’s a fascist. Interesting… the left used violent intimidation to achieve its goals
      …who does that remind you of?

      • Mick said,

        I saw, I was disgusted and I tasted the bitter irony. ‘So when you talk about destruction, Don’t you know that you can count me out…. In!’, indeed!

        But the actual fun doesn’t stop here… oh my god, I’m so giddy! At an EU conference in Malta, the island’s president said ‘We will not be trampled on’ by Trump. Guess what, Trump doesn’t care about using his power for bullying the EU.

        ..But the EU cares about paranoia and pushing the USA, as Brunhilde Merkel now demands the broken EU ‘unites’ in a superblock to punch America, for the good of PC values and spite!

  2. julietsm said,

    Yes, how DARE the president defend our borders and enforce immigration laws! For those who claim that what he’s doing is unconstitutional, (like Obama, who flagrantly defied these laws) the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act makes it crystal clear:

    In Section 212 Chapter 2, Prohibits entry into America any IMMIGRANTS belonging to an organization seeking the unlawful overthrow of the federal government of the United States by force, violence and other unconstitutional means.

    Now, I think that ALL Muslims should be banned across the board, because the Qur’an specifically states that Muslims must “seek the unlawful overthrow of the government, by force, violence and other unconstitutional means.”

    Yes, I must surely be a racist to hold such views, right?

    • Jim Denham said,

      Yes: and you’re barred from here.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Jim, have you checked if the Koran says what he is alleging?

      • Mick said,

        “Yes: and you’re barred from here.”

        What a good idea, let’s purify the echo chamber again. And incidentally, the Koran and Hadith books of Islam DO literally advocate Islamic law over any other.

        It’s easy to see how Islam allows its adherents to go utterly mad with no checks. There’s nothing like it in New Testament Christianity.

  3. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Jim, do you concede that muslims are running amock and killing at random wherever they can. I note a French left poitician says we have to live with it!
    Do you agree with him?

    • Jim Denham said,

      “muslims are running amock and killing at random wherever they can”: what bollox: Islamo-fascists (a tiny minority of Muslims) are a threat to all civilised people (including Muslims) and must be stopped by all means necessary. BTW: the main victims of the Islamo-fascists are Muslims.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        So Berlin, Paris and Brussels did not happen! And almost Paris again.
        Is it your sense of humour Jim?

      • Mick said,

        And I’ve heard the argument that because Islamofascists hate or kill other Muslims, it makes the extremists invalid Muslims on that score.

        Wanna bet? Well, Sunnis and Shias are automatically disqualified from Islam then! They’ve hated and killed each other since the day Muhammad’s body went cold. Also, the holy books always tell Muslims that jihad is vital, regardless whether they want it, and that killing Jews and becoming terrorists are plain English commandments!

        Friendly Ali down the paper shop may not bother with that crap – likely as not, he came to ESCAPE that rubbish. But the fact remains that the instruction manuals for the Islamic religion publish all this and that Sharia nations still enforce what they can.

        SO no wonder you get Islamic atrocities all across the world, all the time.

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