Multiracial working class must fight the Alt-Right

Top: Unite the Right marchers carrying Nazi, Confederate, and other Alt-Right symbols through streets of Charlottesville. (Photo: Wikimedia.) Bottom: Anti-fascist demonstrators confront Unite the Right thugs in Charlottesville. (Photo via Internet.)

Note: RAN refers to this website, Reality Analysis Notes. Numbered citations are included in the References section at the end of this document.

From its top echelons to the masses of the population, American society has been gripped by something close to a national crisis, precipitated by both the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the events of the aftermath. First, there was the violent and deadly Alt-Right/fascist “Unite the Right” terror mobilization in Charlottesville, Virginia, ostensibly to “defend” a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, targeted for removal by the city. But clearly the actual aim of the mobilization was to flaunt and strut an Alt-Right/fascist show of force.

In a sinister and disgusting display that shocked and outraged most of the American public, long phalanxes of fascistic thugs, almost all of them white and male, many wearing fascist or white supremacist uniforms, streamed through the city’s streets carrying flags with Nazi swastikas, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and White Power emblems, and other fascist symbols, while shouting chants such as “Jews will not replace us”, “Blood and soil”, and “White lives matter”. As anti-racist and anti-fascist counter-protesters began to gather, the Alt-Right demonstrators seized opportunities to intimidate onlookers and attack opponents in what became a series of brutal assaults.


In torchlight parade through Charlottesville, Unite the Right marchers give fascist salute. (Photo via Internet.)


Ultimately, the ranks of anti-racist and anti-fascist counter-protesters expanded by the hundreds, with radical-left militants – particularly activists loosely associated with the Antifa anti-fascism movement – at the leading edge of the counter-protests.

The contrast between the two opposing forces is captured by an August 14th online article on the website of radical left pro-socialist Workers World:

The fascists were almost exclusively white men. The counter-protesters represented a united front in action of a broad spectrum of people, predominantly young, from every demographic in this country. It was an inspiring glimpse of the kind of unity and solidarity that is needed to overcome the bigots and the plutocrats, end the daily violence against the oppressed, and bring about revolutionary social change.


Huge crowd of anti-fascist protesters confronts United the Right marchers in Charlottesville street. (Photo via Coast2CoastSounds.com.)


Steadily escalating confrontations with Unite the Right fanatics eventually resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer, one of the counter-protesters, rammed by a car driven by one of the fascist demonstrators. Her death brought even more national attention to the convulsions in Charlottesville and the newly emerging stridency of the Alt-Right/fascist movement nationally.

A second blow to conventional public sensibilities was delivered within days by Donald Trump, president and “commander-in-chief” of U.S. imperialism. Standing with cabinet members and other administration underlings at a news conference before the golden elevators in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, Trump delivered what has been widely recognized as his defense, absolution, and benefaction of the Alt-Right/fascist forces and their “demonstration”.

The result has been a kind of jaw-dropping national state of shock, prompting even elements of America’s ruling elite (perhaps fearful of remaining in the proximity of what might be a developing social and political explosion) to back away from further collaboration with Trump in his “business” councils.

As Counterpoint magazine publisher and editor Jeffrey St. Clair has noted, “We are now confronted with the most openly racist president since Woodrow Wilson ….” And, adds St. Clair, “he isn’t going anywhere for the next few years.”

But of course, the problem isn’t merely that Trump is a raving racist who now condones one of the most ferocious and alarming national displays of bigotry and racism in many decades. The deeper problem – danger, actually – is that Trump, in his presidential campaign and subsequent federal regime, has willingly mobilized and galvanized an unprecedented nationwide resurgence of overt, aggressively racist, xenophobic, fascist, neo-Nazi activity and organization to a blood-curdling level. “President Trump’s campaign and presidency have energized the white supremacist movement in unprecedented ways” affirms the relatively liberal Southern Poverty Law Center in the preamble to a petition titled «Tell President Trump to Take Responsibility for the Hate He’s Unleashed».


Donald Trump has energized and mobilized national resurgence of Alt-Right racists, neo-Nazis, and other fascistic and fascist forces. (Photo: YouTube.)


The analysis «American capitalism enters a darker new era» published by this website (RAN) on June 21st alluded to this sinister behavior on the part of Trump and his entourage:

The advent of the most rightwing and stridently authoritarian U.S. federal regime in the modern era represents a seismic shift of imperialist American capitalism into a new and ominously more decadent mode.

The change in America’s political and social climate has been breathtaking. In place of the usual camouflaged racism concealed behind codeword dog-whistles, Donald Trump’s signature racist bigotry has been brazenly unshrouded and strutted – as aggressive, blatant, unabashed racism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism, among other variants. Racist attacks and murders – targeting Muslims, blacks, Jews, other ethnic groups – have suddenly multiplied across the country. And especially among much of the nation’s immigrant population, communities are suddenly gripped by fear.

The revolutionary Marxist movement, whose roots stretch back through the experience of the original European fascist and Nazi era (and of course well before it), voices alarm even more forcefully. “The race-terrorists have been emboldened by the campaign and victory of the right-wing demagogue Donald Trump, and are taking their cue from the unabashed racism and anti-immigrant vitriol emanating from the White House …” warns the revolutionary Marxist biweekly Workers Vanguard in an April 21st article titled «Fascists Fueled by Trump Election».

In recent months, in addition to individual or clandestine acts motivated by race or ethnic hatred, anti-immigrant xenophobia, or other impulses rooted in bigotry, the Alt-Right white supremacists and fascists have increasingly become more aggressively ostentatious with group actions such as rallies, convocations, and a rising favorite – confrontations with leftists protesting racism, immigrant repression, and other issues. Lately, serious confrontations have been occurring in more and more communities. These have evidently been contrived as provocations in such ostensibly liberal and left-leaning cities as Berkeley, Sacramento, Portland, and, most recently, Charlottesville. (The August 12th Alt-Right rally was a de facto regroupment in force after a similar earlier July 8th Charlottesville rally militating against removal of the same Robert E. Lee statue.)

The provocative intent of these actions was recognized by Workers Vanguard in a July 28th analysis titled «“Alt-Right” Fascists: Shock Troops for Racist Genocide»:

Emboldened by the “Make America Great Again” racism of the Trump administration, fascist organizations like Identity Evropa and the Traditionalist Worker Party have been staging provocations across the country. The fascists are paramilitary shock troops that are held in reserve by the capitalist rulers and unleashed at times of social crisis against any prospect of revolutionary struggle by the working class. Their purpose is nothing less than the destruction of the workers movement, including unions and the left, and racial genocide. In the U.S., that means they especially have black people in their sights.

As these Trump-inspired white supremacist and fascist actions have multiplied, valiant resistance from the left has also grown. Masses of students, radical leftists, Black Lives Matter activists, Antifa militants, and many others have mobilized and marched to confront and denounce the racists and fascists – courageously and steadfastly performing a class-struggle task that is direly necessary.

But in recent years the most critical element of all has been missing from most of these anti-racist/anti-fascist actions: the mass participation of the organized multiracial working class.

Certainly, there have been individual working people that have participated in these actions. And on a few occasions, this or that more militant union local has sent a contingent.

But organized labor participation in this new Trump-era wave of anti-racist and anti-Alt-Right actions has ranged from absolute zero to nearly imperceptible. On August 19th, a week after Charlottesville, 40,000 gathered in a Boston mobilization to protest an Alt-Right rally for “freedom of speech” (fascist codespeak for “freedom to lynch”). A Workers World article describing the action reported the donation of material support from a major union:

The iconic sound truck of Steelworkers Local 8751, Boston School Bus Drivers — a truck well-known to area activists and protesters — fulfilled its usual role of literally amplifying the voices of the most oppressed among us.

OK, a sound truck helped. But … where was the contingent of bus drivers? Where were any labor unions actually participating, with masses of members on the street, in this major anti-racist/anti-fascist mobilization?


Massive crowd of 40,000 protested Alt-Right fascistic rally in Boston on August 19th. (Photo via Al-Jazeera.)


RAN’s June 21st analytical article «American capitalism enters a darker new era» (cited earlier) explains why the involvement of the working class is absolutely crucial to achieving major social change and, ultimately, a socialist revolution:

Only the working class has the power to shut down production and the routine operation of capitalism’s basic institutions, and bring the whole capitalist system to a grinding halt. It’s the working class that uniquely has both the social power and the collective interest to challenge the capitalist class for control of society – and to spearhead a revolution to replace capitalism by reorganizing society on a socialist basis.

While many anti-racist/anti-fascist militants have earned valorous distinction in bravely confronting rightwing extremists – and facing ferocious repressive violence from police troopers – the social muscle of the multiracial working class needs to be fully mobilized to defeat this growing threat. As the (previously cited) April 21st Workers Vanguard article explains,

Individual acts of courage are not enough to smash the fascist threat. What is needed are massive, integrated, disciplined mobilizations based on the social power of the multiracial working class. The workplace is the only real point of integration in American society, providing the potential basis for unity in struggle to defend working people and the oppressed. Black workers in particular can be the living link that unites the power of the working class with the anger of the ghettos.

There are sporadic examples of organized union intervention in demonstrations for civil rights and protests against racism and fascistic provocations, such as those undertaken by the KKK. Over the past several decades, for example, some trade union locals have joined major mobilizations initiated by the Spartacist League and affiliated groups. [1]

There are also instances of organized labor support in more recent actions, such as this past June’s Portland Labor Against the Fascists in Portland, Oregon, a counter-protest against a small Alt-Right fascist rally. As reported by The Internationalist in its June 2017 edition,

Present at the labor mobilization against the fascists were members of at least 14 area unions, including: IUPAT (painters) Local 10; IATSE (stage hands) Local 28; Carpenters Local 1503 and Carpenters Northwest Regional Council; Laborers Local 483; AFT Oregon (teachers); IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), Seattle; SEIU Local 503; Iron Workers Local 29; AAUP (university professors); CWA (telecommunications workers); SAG-AFTRA (actors); AWPPW (pulp and paper workers); ATU (transit workers) District 757, and others. The first seven unions earlier passed coordinated motions calling for “mobilizing against the clear and present danger that the provocations of racist and fascist organizations pose to us all.”


Members of Painters & Drywallers Union Local 10 carrying banner at Portland Labor Against Fascists counter-protest on June 4th. (Photo: Internationalist.)


The San Francisco-based Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), with an over-70% black membership, and known for taking militant action against racism and racist provocations, was also preparing to join a protest against an Alt-Right rally August 26th in San Francisco organized by the the far-right Patriot Prayer group. (Facing daunting opposition from the leftist counter-protest, the rightwing rally organizers canceled the provocation before it began.) [2]

Unfortunately, these are exceptions to the current norm. In recent times, such essential, principled, militant, class-struggle-engaged actions by organized labor have become far too rare – as RAN’s June 21st article pointed out:

In the past – especially with radical-left leadership – trade-union forces have stood at the forefront of the struggle for civil rights and black liberation. They’ve also championed rights of Latinos and other oppressed ethnic/racial groups in opposition to discrimination, poverty, and state-sponsored terror. But in the more recent era, the reluctance and outright refusal of the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy to fight for black rights is quite likely the single most important factor in crippling class struggle against the USA’s racist ruling elite. On the whole, for example, the bureaucracies of the USA’s major unions have largely sat on their hands and done little to nothing in the face of major issues such as racist police violence and assaults on black and Latino voting rights.

In a June 30th article titled «For Labor/Black Action to Stop the Fascists!» Workers Vanguard emphasized how the power of the working class was key to defeat the scourge of fascism and racism, ultimately through socialist revolution:

Standing at the head of the oppressed, and relying on its collective strength, the working class has the power to beat back the fascist threat through united-front action. Above all, it is vital to forge a revolutionary, multiracial workers party that fights to finish the Civil War through an American workers revolution. Proletarian rule will lay the basis for black equality and the liberation of all the exploited and oppressed, putting the last nail in the coffin of the fascist killers.


San Francisco-based Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) joins May Day 2017 protest against police violence. Photo via Indybay.org.


Revolutionary Marxism has been developed and enriched from – as much as anything – the real-life lessons of actual experience. On the basis of this experience, revolutionary Marxists are convinced that to carry forward an effective – and ultimately successful – struggle against fascism, white supremacy, and the emergent Alt-Right requires waging a vigorous effort to mobilize the multiracial, multi-ethnic working class.

This means, say Marxists, reaching out not only to organized workers in trade unions, but also unorganized workers in non-unionized worksites as well. In this regard, it’s critical for militant socialists, Antifa activists, and other radical leftists, where possible, to seek unionized jobs themselves. This opens opportunities to pursue efforts to win union members’ support for anti-racist, anti-fascist, class-struggle, and pro-revolutionary positions and actions by such unions.

An influx of radical leftists into organized labor could also help build support among multiracial unionized workers for a fighting class-struggle program. Such a program would not only reject the pattern of consistent surrender – retreats, givebacks, sweetheart deals, suicidal compromises – that has led to deteriorating pay and working conditions, but even more importantly, would seek to smash capitalist exploitation and repression, including the racism and growing threat of fascism that buttress it. (This also would involve breaking unions from their close political collaboration with the capitalist ruling class – particularly the cozy relationship between most union bureaucrats and the capitalist Democratic Party – and seeking to build a class-struggle workers party.)

By replacing the current stodgy, pro-capitalist, “business-as-usual” union leadership with new, militant, radical-left leaders determined to fight for such a program, unions could be transformed, from the de facto pro-forma quasi-social clubs so many have become, back into authentic class-struggle organizations that will challenge capitalism itself, seeking to overthrow the class rule of the wealthy elite and create a new state power in the hands of the multiracial working class.

Summing this up: Workingclass solidarity and organization, plus a program for socialist revolution – proven through experience – must be melded with heroic determination and commitment to achieve ultimate victory.

References

[1] See, for example, descriptions of numerous actions reported in Workers Vanguard.
http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/archives/index.html

[2] See, for example: San Francisco Dockers Call Strike to Confront White Nationalist Rally, LibCom, 21 August 2017.
https://itsgoingdown.org/san-francisco-dockers-call-strike-confront-white-nationalist-rally/
Right-wing rallies in limbo in San Francisco and Berkeley, 25 August 2017.
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Organizers-cancel-Saturday-s-far-right-rally-in-11961550.php
‘Please Stop the Violence.’ Organizer Cancels Right-Wing Rally Over Concerns of Clashes, 26 August 2017.
http://time.com/4917135/right-wing-berkeley-rally-canceled/

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  1. Pingback: The orange menace, bigotry, and the murderous empire – The Leftist Critic

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