The millions protesting the ascension of Donald Trump and his circle of neo-fascists understand that this is a moment of existential crisis for U.S. society. The Women’s March on Jan. 21 was clear in its absolute rejection of this confessed sexual predator having power over women’s lives. It signaled a profound struggle to be waged over what kind of society this will be.
Nothing clarifies this more than Trump’s shocking reorganization of the National Security Council after the model of Hitler’s Reich Main Security Office by replacing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence with his chief ideologue. The Nazi agency was overseen by Heinrich Himmler—a role perhaps long coveted by Trump’s political strategist, Stephen Bannon, who has been elevated to the NSC. Hitler’s agency was charged with coordination of the various police agencies, both State- and Party-controlled, as well as extralegal paramilitaries, in order to combat designated enemies of the Third Reich. It combined this function with the promotion of racist ideology and law.
The architect of Trump’s plan saw how ripe the huge U.S. police/intelligence apparatus has become for it. Most likely this was Bannon, who is steeped in Nazi history and has promoted racist ideology as head of the far-right Breitbart News. It is no wonder that Trump’s first presidential speeches have drawn praise from David Duke—this clique knows the language of the Klan/Neo-Nazi political underworld. Patrick Buchanan called the Trump administration a fulfillment of his views on “ethnic nationalism” and the desirability of curtailing (non-white and non-Christian) immigration.
MUSLIM BAN A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
This is the sinister backdrop to the Executive Order banning Muslims from seven countries, including U.S. residents with green cards and even holders of U.S. passports, from entering the country. Flying in the face of all legal advice, the Trump administration decreed this unconstitutional order, which was promptly challenged by an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit and stays issued by Judge Ann Donnelly and three other federal judges. (Which doesn’t nullify the order—residents currently overseas remain in legal limbo.)
The heartrending scenes of families ripped apart by arbitrary detention were a measure of this administration’s inhumanity. This was met by new mass demonstrations, at dozens of airports and elsewhere around the country, in solidarity with those targeted. The two Americas are defining themselves very clearly.
Nevertheless, many Customs and Border Protection agents refused to release detainees or allow them access to lawyers, in violation of the judges’ orders. The defiance of legal injunctions by the administration is a brewing constitutional crisis.
This outright lawlessness—what fascists hail as audacity—caps a week and a half in which Trump promised to defund essential government services and nominated opponents of civil rights enforcement, women’s health, public education, and climate science to head agencies meant to deal with these areas. (See “Inauguration of neo-fascism faces widespread revolt,” January-February 2017 News & Letters.) In line with longtime Republican policy, he means to do away with all restraints on capitalism.
YET MORE POLICE AUTHORITARIANISM
Trump understands that in order to do all this, he must increase the coercive powers of the State. Police heeded the signal given, even before Trump took office. Thus we see hundreds who were arrested protesting his inauguration being hit with felony riot charges carrying sentences of ten years and $250,000 fines. Those charged included legal observers, reporters, and street medics. Police used tear gas, stun grenades, and water cannon on demonstrators.
As with the airport detainees, police in Washington used confiscated cell phones to search people’s email and social media accounts. This is a police power Trump intends to expand.
We have now seen a Trump supporter freed without charge by Seattle police after shooting a demonstrator at an appearance by Trump surrogate Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart News. Meanwhile, under cover of the inauguration, police in North Dakota launched a military assault, with mass arrests, on the water protectors resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Following Trump’s order to reopen construction on the pipeline, lawmakers in that state are considering a bill to legalize “negligently” running down and killing protestors if they are on roadways.
Whatever the scruples of some judges and more liberal sections of the ruling class, Trump has powerful support among the racist and rabidly authoritarian local and national police forces. Heavily armed with U.S. imperialism’s surplus weaponry, these thugs in blue have already dared to label Black Lives Matter a terrorist group. While other agencies of government will be starved, expect these attack dogs to be very well fed.
NO TIME FOR ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’
Trump and his neo-fascist clique realize that they represent a minority—albeit sizeable—of U.S. society. It is only the slave society vestige of the Electoral College that put him in the White House. But their anti-democratic belief system can thrive on that knowledge. With control of the presidency and Congress, and a vital Supreme Court nomination in their pocket, they can do immense damage.
This is no time to fall back on clichés or “business as usual.” Those who say “give Trump a chance” court both fascist enslavement and world war. There is no excuse for this when movements as profound as Black Lives Matter and the Arab Spring revolutions have brought so many important new developments in both practice and theory.
The mass demonstrations against Trump and his retrogressive clique represent more than a national struggle. Their inherent logic of human solidarity strikes at all the fascist movements and regimes around the world, and should also be understood as the most serious peace movement. Grasping that logic will help the movement to continue, and to grow—and all our futures now depend on that.
As Raya Dunayevskaya wrote when this neo-fascist Right began its ascent in the 1960s Goldwater movement, “Self-activity of the masses can overcome this reaction, after as before the election…But it is also true that unless there is unity of the movement to freedom with the philosophy of freedom, the forces for world war will swallow up everything.” By grasping for total control of the state and unleashing all the fascist elements lurking in society, Trump has opened the path to civil war. We didn’t declare it, but all who resist, all who fight for freedom, are under attack, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
–Gerry Emmett for the Resident Editorial Board of News and Letters Committees
January 30, 2017