From the May-June 2017 issue of News & Letters
I. Trumpism as an excrescence of world capitalism’s crises
II. The capital relation
III. U.S. forces of revolt as reason; philosophy as force of revolution
IV. International crises
V. Lies, facts and ground
VI. The Russian Revolution, 100 years ago and its meaning today
The total degeneracy of today’s capitalism is shown by the rising threat of fascism internationally, especially with the corrupt and lawless Donald Trump in coalition with the theocratic Right, with racist extremists such as the alt-right and anti-immigrant groups, with megacorporations like ExxonMobil, with finance capital like Goldman Sachs, and with fellow plutocrats like Robert Mercer, Carl Icahn and the Koch brothers.
It is shown just as starkly by the genocide in Syria, in which global and regional powers have at best paid lip service to the people in revolution, while some have actively thrown in with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s counter-revolution. Trump has ramped up direct combat presence in Syria and Iraq.
TRUMP’S BOMBS KILL CIVILIANS
The U.S. bombing of a mosque near Aleppo, Syria, killing 49 civilians, and the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing of a house in Mosul, Iraq, killing over 100, are the tip of the iceberg: in March alone, such air strikes killed as many as 1,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria, while thousands more were killed by ISIS, by the Syrian regime and its allies including Russia, by Iraqi forces and by Turkey.
To Yemen, a country on the brink of famine, Trump sent not aid for disaster relief—which he is busy cutting to the bone—but a vast escalation of air strikes and a military incursion that murdered about 30 civilians, mostly women and children, and left one Navy SEAL dead. It added up to what Trump called “a winning mission.” The U.S. treats all three countries as nothing more than bases for terrorism—in some cases, with oil he covets—showing complete, callous disregard for the well-being of the people.
The domestic forces of reaction did not wait for direct orders. Even before Trump took office, hate crimes soared. Legislators in at least 18 states began writing laws to turn protesters into felons, “racketeers” and targets for assault by “negligent” drivers.
The armed branches of the state have made it clear that they are ready to back up fascism with violence. From local forces to the border patrol, police have felt reassured of their impunity to violate rights and laws, even when they murder people like 25-year-old Chad Robertson, an unarmed Black man traveling through Chicago on Feb. 8.
Police repeatedly and viciously assaulted Native American water protectors and their supporters at camps opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, including on Inauguration Day while the news was focused on Washington. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have discarded the boundaries set by the previous administration, pouncing on people applying for green cards or leaving schools, churches and courtrooms. The specter of a reign of terror has sent many immigrants to live in the shadows.
WOMEN SIGNAL THE RESISTANCE
This underscores the importance of the resistance that arose immediately, from the massive Jan. 21 women’s marches to the emergency demonstrations at airports beginning the very day that enforcement of the Muslim ban began. No less crucial are the questioning and rethinking that are part of the resistance.
The status quo is unstable—but which way will it break? The counter-revolutionary path represented by Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and their ilk, is driving toward fascism, war, and total destruction; the opposition from within the ruling class points to something like a return to 2016 or at best to the New Deal, a kinder, gentler path to destruction by climate chaos and economic collapse.
The true alternative, the absolute opposite, is the path to a new society based on revolution from below. Can that absolute opposite happen without a unity of practice with theory? Can they be unified without the organization of thought, embodied in an actual organization? This is the heart of what we must address.
Why we print the Draft Perspectives in News & Letters
In 1975 News and Letters Committees printed its Draft Perspectives Thesis in News & Letters for the first time. The organization has continued the practice ever since. What follows is the 1975 explanation of why we decided to take such action and why we continue to do so:
With this special issue News and Letters Committees are breaking totally new ground for the Marxist movement. Publishing the Draft Perspectives Thesis for our coming national gathering directly in the pages of our paper is unprecedented, not only for all other organizations, but even for our own. We do it because our age is in such total crisis, facing a choice between absolute terror or absolute freedom, that a revolutionary organization can no longer allow any separation between theory and practice, philosophy and revolution, workers and intellectuals, “inside” and “outside.” We ask you to join in the discussion of these Perspectives with us. We are not presenting any “pat answers” to the question, “Where Do We Go From Here?” We are raising the questions that demand answers—and we ask you to help us in working them out.