27 January 2017
Fight the Right Rallies Serve Democrats
Defend Arrested Anti-Trump Protesters!
On Saturday, January 21, in Washington, D.C., and around the country, more than a million people demonstrated in “women’s marches” against the coronation of Donald Trump. These protests were thoroughly pro-Democratic Party and their watchword was “I’m with her,” the slogan of the failed Hillary Clinton campaign. The previous day, during the inauguration, thousands also protested in Washington. Friday’s protesters were met with a massive mobilization of some 28,000 cops from dozens of agencies to seal off a restricted zone around the inauguration parade route. Parts of D.C. were on virtual lockdown, with bridges, tunnels, streets and Metro stops closed. Protesters had to first pass through airport-style anti-terror security at choke points around a barricaded perimeter if they hoped to get anywhere near the ceremonies.
Some 230 protesters, mostly anarchists, were arrested and at least 217 of them face felony riot charges that carry maximum sentences of ten years in jail and $25,000 fines. Dozens of anti-Trump protesters were also arrested elsewhere, including at least 16 in Chicago and 29 in San Francisco. We demand: Drop the charges now!
Much of the capitalist media justified the cop violence against demonstrators by presenting Friday’s actions as “violent” because the windows of a Starbucks and a McDonald’s were broken and an empty limo was trashed. Sensationalist headlines that blared “Violence Flares in Washington” (Reuters, 21 January) and “Inauguration Protesters Vandalize, Set Fires, Try to Disrupt Trump’s Oath” (Washington Post, 20 January) were typical.
The worst of the state repression was reserved for the few hundred masked anarchists who had mobilized for “direct action” under the slogan #disruptJ20. This “black bloc” was met with tear gas, flash-bang grenades, water cannons and pepper spray deployed by cops in full riot gear. In their glowing reports about the anti-inauguration protests, reformists like the International Socialist Organization (“He Made America Protest Again,” socialistworker.org, 23 January) and the ANSWER Coalition (“Thousands Protest Trump Directly on Inaugural Parade Route,” answercoalition.org, 21 January) didn’t breathe a word about the arrests of the anarchists.
Meanwhile, a new internet meme was born when one masked protester was videoed punching self-proclaimed “alt-right” founder Richard Spencer in the face during an interview that the white-supremacist was giving near a group of anarchists on the inauguration periphery. Writing on the Nation website (22 January), Natasha Lennard expressed the view of many when she characterized the punch as a thing of “pure kinetic beauty.”
The real perpetrators of violence in this society are the forces of the capitalist state—the cops, courts, prisons and military—which exist to defend the rule of the bourgeoisie over the working class. The state daily metes out violence to black people, immigrants and anyone who dares resist the depredations of capital, while it slaughters dark-skinned people overseas.
Broad swaths of the “fight the right” anti-Trump movement, ranging from the “peaceful, legal” wing to the anarchist wing that shows a little more gumption, attempt to paint the racist, chauvinist demagogue Trump as a Nazi. While Trump’s victory emboldened fascists, he is not himself one. He ascended to the presidency through the routine workings of bourgeois democracy. Today, in a period marked by very little class struggle and a rollback of workers rights, the capitalist class has no need to unleash fascist bands, which they hold in reserve to crush the workers movement when it challenges bourgeois rule.
Accusations that Trump is a fascist serve to prettify the “normal” workings of racist American capitalism, especially when it is run by the Democrats. Even though they express more anger, the anarchists effectively operate within the same liberal political framework. The #disruptJ20 “Call to Action” intones that “Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny.” But Obama, Clinton and all other bourgeois politicians represent the same repressive capitalist order, which is based on exploitation and racial and sexual oppression.
Instead of spouting classless appeals to “people of good conscience” to oppose Trump, we seek to mobilize the working class at the head of the oppressed, independent of all capitalist parties and in opposition to the capitalists and their state. As the Trump presidency unfolds in all its viciousness, protests against it will continue, as will state violence and repression. Anger against poverty and racial and sexual oppression must be given an organized political expression aimed at breaking the hold of the Democratic Party over workers, women and minorities. We fight to build a revolutionary workers party that can lead the struggle to get rid of the entire capitalist system.
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1104, 27 January 2017)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.