The 2016 election was interesting because nobody won. Both of the major parties went miles out of their way to field the absolute least appealing candidates they could dredge up, and these candidates campaigned to gain “support” on the platforms of not being one another. At the end of the day, Donald Trump “won” with fewer votes than Mitt Romney previously lost with, and his approval rating continues to drop even as he scrambles to cement his base of power. We are subject to a government that has no mandate, no mandate at all, neither for the majority nor the opposition.
The Democratic Party hard-liners are very quite determined to throw blame around in sundry interesting ways, seeking to lay their failure at the feet of abstaining voters and those who sought a third option. This is detritus, meant to obscure the rather obvious truth: The Democratic Party is fundamentally broken. Overnight, the Democrats lost not only the presidency, but also lost what stake they had in all facets of the federal government, as well as many states and municipalities, and not to a single officer of the dreaded third-option splitters, but entirely to their standard opposition. The 2016 election was not merely a Republican victory; the Democrats’ loss was so sweeping and complete that it may not be wrong to call it a Republican Thermidor. The Democratic Party leadership continues to insist upon ignoring the well-documented fact that Trump’s largest and most energetic base lay in the middle class, touting the myth of a united “white working class”, thereby simultaneously demonizing and further alienating the poor, and failing to acknowledge their flagging support amongst minority voters. Furthermore, the popularization of social democracy by the failed Bernie Sanders campaign, followed by the abysmal failure of Sanders’ own party following his censure, has given grassroots organizing on the further left a rather very hefty shot in the arm. Membership in groups like the Socialist Party USA, Communist Party USA, Industrial Workers of the World, Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative, the People’s Front of Judea, and too many others to list have been seeing a steady swell in membership; as the Democrats continue to alienate and disappoint minorities and the working or out-of-work poor, we continue to pack up and go on over to where we’re needed. It is as if the Democratic Party lost the election not only to the Republicans, but to itself.
What’s more, despite the fact that they’re warming the most and most important chairs, at present the Republican “victors” are attempting to rule with no mandate. At the close of the election, Old Man Trump not only failed to secure a first-past-the-post majority of votes, but in fact received fewer of those votes than the previous cycle’s Republican candidate, who lost in the electoral college; in point of fact, Trump only superseded Clinton due to a mathematical accident. And as he and his cronies continue to show their asses and behave more and more erratically, even that support dwindles.
And though he had many vocal and energetic supporters during the election, even the criminal’s Blackshirts are divesting, if not from him then from one another. The alliance of convenience between libertarians and neofascists which was so instrumental to Trump’s success is already melting away, and what’s more many libertarians who had once been part of the far-right militia movement are fast being hoovered up into groups like RedneckRevolt and the Bastards Motorcycle Club, “nonpartisan” organizations with bosom close ties to socialism, imminently useful for mass work. Within the neofascist movement, the cracks have shown and are widening: National socialist contra national anarchist, masculinist contra incel, atheist contra Christian contra pagan, and many more, divers and sundry. The various leftist feuds between Leninist and anarchist and so on seem as inconsequential as whether to say “pop” or “soda” compared to the far right’s divestment from itself.
In today’s political climate, the far-right activists have a significant advantage in their ability to engender support and collusion from the police. But this is nothing new; the police have always been reactionary, and the relationship between police and the meaningful left has always been adversarial.
So this is the situation we find ourselves in. We are under the thumb of a government which, though frighteningly repressive, has no mandate. The Blackshirts shilling for this government, though perilous, face schisms which they cannot reconcile, and indeed many are ripe for counter-recruitment. The orthodox, mainstream “opposition” to this government is running a hopelessly broken organization, able to limp onwards only through inertia and by dint of not being the other guy, and the overwhelming mass of its support base (which its leadership insists on systematically ignoring) is extremely disappointed and ready to divest. Far-left activism has received a downright unprecedented upswing, and numbers swell. Identity-based activists–Black Lives Matter and the inspiringly resilient transgender liberation movement come immediately to mind–are every day moving closer to a critical mindset including class as a factor in their analyses; indeed, very many have already become (or have always been) some of our most effective organizers.
In short: These are historic days. The great crisis of our time is not on its way here, nor does it date from the 8th of November or the 20th of January; no, it is already here, and has been here, and will be here for a long while yet. However, we are placed in a most interesting position; our repressive and reactionary crisis-government has no mandate, and the orthodox, reform-capitalist “opposition” is broken and comically ineffectual.
Honestly, if our opposition to the current order is sincere and genuine, then there is no good reason why this government should be able to govern at all, no good reason why we cannot “bring forth a new world from the ashes of the old,” as the song says.
This leaves, of course, the question of what course of action is to be taken. On that question, I can give no good answer; I am a materialist, not a prophet. However, I can tell you with utmost confidence where we can go to find the answer, and that is a tired old word that we’re all sick of hearing said unqualified: Organize.
This need not be so complicated as most make it out to be; we need only find people of like mind and make cause with them. As networks are formed, work is done; as work is done, more pairs of hands will show up, and more courses of action will become clear. I promise you, there is at least one group or another active or nascent in your area or nearby (there’ll be links to websites at the bottom of this post). If their ideas seem at odds with your ideas, well, so much the better; our edges are honed through discussion and discourse. Raise your concerns. Educate yourself and those around you (links to educational resources at the bottom). If educational materials seem incomprehensible–and they so often are–find those who can help and ask them for it. Easy enough to say we must organize; I’m telling you that we can.
We have, as they say, a world to win, and history will never forgive us if we let these interesting days go to waste.
Some Organizing Bodies:
Some Educational Resources:
Redneck Revolt’s resource page; a great collection of zines and articles relating to antifascist action, poverty in the United States, and struggles against racism
Lenin’s The State and Revolution; a core text of Leninism https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/
Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread; a core text of leftist anarchism
Quotations From Chairman Mao Zedong, a core text of Maoism
Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, a core text of anarcha-feminism
Abdullah Ocalan, Democratic Confederalism; an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand analysis of the intersecting relationships between capitalism and other forms of oppression; a guiding text of the present-day Kurdish liberation movement
Leslie Feinberg, Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come
Massive online library of socialist writings (can be a bit difficult to navigate):