From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters
PHILOSOPHY AND REVOLT VS. TRUMPISM
The Draft Perspectives (“Philosophy and Revolt Confront Trump’s Drive to Fascism,” May-June News & Letters) poses that we can’t “apply” dialectics. We have to recreate it by listening to and understanding what the movements from below have to tell us, as well as by helping these movements to fully embrace/unleash their self-development toward freedom. This is precisely the meaning of one of its last phrases: “It is crucial to recognize both the indispensability of the movement from practice and at the same time the indispensability of its unity with theoretic preparation for revolution, if we are to help change the objective course of the world.” That’s a very powerful statement. Still, I would have liked that the parts dedicated to critiquing fascism—particularly, Trumpism—were shorter, and the ones that grasp the meaning of the movements from below, longer. The analysis of other important parts of the world in rebellion, like Latin America or Africa, could have been included.
The thing that I fear most is that the opposition to Trump often becomes separated from social class and from its roots in labor. I am happy that the Draft Perspectives addresses this. It’s not so much Trump as it is the vacuum on what is called the “Left” that allowed his election to happen. That void continues as different sectors of the ruling class and different elitist “leftists” attempt to take advantage of this disaster to promote their self-limiting ideologies, and try to blame the situation on exogenous forces rather than their own failures. To be part of the “Resistance” is relatively easy, but to reach for truly new beginnings is another thing altogether. The Draft Perspectives for 2017 have been well thought through and are a great new beginning.
Bay Area, Calif.
TRUMP AND THE LEFT
Trump wants senior citizens to suffer. His initial budget called for the elimination of community development block grants that fund, among other things, Meals On Wheels, which helps feed seniors. That budget called for cuts to Medicaid, heating and rental assistance and State Health Insurance Programs that provide guidance to seniors on their Medicare. Even as the marches and other events for Pride took place, Trump’s budget sought to keep out the voices of LGBT seniors, dropping them from the annual National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants. The administration retreated after an uproar. I am heartened by the ongoing resistance to Trump. Seniors, their organizations and other supporters, such as the Services for LGBT Seniors/SAGE, are seeking ways to help seniors anyway.
Born in Tokyo
Thousands of protesters in Los Angeles marched on April 15, demanding President Trump release his tax returns. People were shouting in unison: “Release your taxes,” “You work for us, not Russia,” “Fighting sexism is fighting fascism,” “Impeach Trump!” Protesters included middle school children with their parents and adults—young and old. A young girl’s sign reflected the spirit of our times: “I can do this every weekend.” Other subjects addressed by protesters included “My body, my choice,” “We are all Americans,” “NO deportations!” and “I welcome you to America.” I saw people expressing their willingness to challenge and change what Trump paints as “America First.” He pretends to protect the rights of workers while his treatment of the Las Vegas men and women who worked in his hotels and tried to form a union show what Trump really stands for.
It is not just the mainstream media that fails to distinguish between rebels and reactionaries. Noam Chomsky was interviewed on Democracy Now and essentially did the same thing. He said no one can report from the rebel side in Syria because they execute those who don’t say what they want said. Your web statement “Trump won’t smash Assad’s genocidal regime—support the Syrian Revolution!” is my first time hearing about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and her trip to Syria, in sympathy with the Assad regime. Among Left/progressive activists, the depravity of leaders like Trump and Bush seem to inspire a knee-jerk defensiveness for opposition state actors. I used to be that way with Chavez and to lesser extent Castro. Why should we choose one or the other? Why not choose the people building a new society in opposition to both private and state capitalism?
INJUSTICE TO IMMIGRANTS
I am writing to call for fair and unbiased immigration hearings for both Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nunez. It seems unjust that they were ever arrested in the first place. As a longtime resident of Fairfax, Calif., I see and meet so many hard-working and friendly people from Mexico and Central America. They generally work much longer shifts than most other workers in town; and I’m sure that they are not being paid that well for all their efforts. The migrants in the U.S. deserve to be treated much better and more humanely than the government is treating them. President Trump was totally wrong to have set such a horrible example by saying cruel and untrue things about them.
ANTI-WOMAN, ANTI-LABOR UBER
All the revelations about the toxic culture at Uber—including sexual harassment, sexism and bullying—are true, but we should remember that it was toxic from the get-go. Uber was started to destroy and replace the taxi business, regardless of the consequences for the drivers.
I’m a Gay white man living with AIDS for over 30 years. I agree with most of what Mr. Gordon wrote (“30 Years Later: AIDS activism and ACT UP Chicago,” Nov.-Dec. 2011 News &Letters). We were ACT UP Chicago colleagues. I always have and still support people of color and women. I was not one of the single-issue Gay white men. I have always recognized the dignity and value of all human life. I believe that we are all in this together. And I stood up to other Gay white men who were not as sympathetic to the plight of others. ACT UP Chicago was comprised of different people at different times who came together to fight AIDS. Some were seasoned activists. Others were HIV+ Gay men who were dying and afraid. It was a time of great urgency.
A new video shows poor people protesting inside an Iranian bank for taking their life savings. The vulnerable poor—seniors, chronically ill and other low-income folks—are the primary victims of Iranian banks that promised super-high interest. People counted on paying rent, medication, education out of the “great deal.” Only a couple of months after they open an account, banks stop paying interest. Then they refuse to pay the principal and voila: Money vanished altogether in the black hole of bankers’ pockets. The poor now have not a penny left from their life savings. Meanwhile, bankers are fully protected by the government.
We the Mexicans are suffering and fighting for change, but we are divided. The Mexican government is not going to yield power, but still I support any struggle as long as it’s to throw out the present government. Political party work is hard but the other side is not doing anything, just condemning the political parties. Mexican people are indignant, they can’t take it no more. If people don’t want the parties, they should show what they want. If we allow these parties to take another six years, we won’t be able to throw out the government because once the transnationals are exploiting the natural resources they’re not going anywhere. Anyone that speaks out will be disappeared. That’s why the army is out in the streets. A law coming up will allow them into your house with no warrant. They disappear you.
It’s sad that we don’t know what’s happening in Mexico with the power the government has now, supported by the U.S. That’s why the work of the Zapatistas is important. They have shown us that even in these circumstances, we are all capable of doing something like they are doing. Of course the government goes against them with brutality, inhumanity. But they’ve been able to construct a good civilization there that serves their community with healthcare and education. They’re showing us it’s doable. The government, paramilitaries and narcos kill thousands of people but those people are learning too. They’ve been working on the National Indigenous Congress for years now and organizing. Maybe you don’t have weapons, but organize with thought. They’re showing us that that’s what gives the good result they have there, in Chiapas specifically. Weapons without thought do nothing.
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Daytona Beach, Fla.
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