Unite the Right far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, 2017
Part of an ongoing debate: see here for all the contributions
Diamonds are apparently forever, yet the same can’t be said of political systems. Lenin said he’d never see the end of Tsarism mere weeks before the Russian Revolution broke out. Similarly few imagined at the start of 1989 that the USSR would collapse so swiftly, though some supposed leftists still haven’t come to terms with it.
Likewise the political project known as the United States of America won’t be around forever. Though close to being finished off during the Civil War, the USA emerged in the 20th century as the world’s predominant imperialist superpower. Nevertheless, the Civil War continues to cast its long shadow over America today.
There is now a Bill before the Texas State Legislature calling for a referendum on whether or not that state should secede from the Union — Texit! Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West also suggests “law-abiding states (sic!) should bond together and form a Union of States that would abide by the Constitution.” They had something like that in 1861. It was called the Confederacy!
I’m not going to join Mark Osborn (Solidarity 581) in the “What’s the worst crisis in American history?” game, but he makes a major error downplaying the extent of the political and social crisis the USA is still in. His assertion that it’s “obvious” Trump has been seriously defeated needs substantial qualification.
Yes, Trump lost the election. Things would be a lot worse if he had held on to the presidency. But he has been wildly successful in establishing dominance of a major political party — the GOP. He’s got a get out of jail card from the Senate after his second impeachment. And he has got maybe a third of the population believing that the elected government is not elected at all, only installed by a “deep state” coup”.
Old guard Republicans in the Senate are eclipsed by a new intake of rabid Trumpites in the House of Representatives. Marjorie Taylor Greene under “normal circumstances” would be dismissed as the conspiracy-promoting nut she is with all her talk of Jewish lasers in space. This person has supported the assassination of elected representatives. Yet at a closed meeting of the GOP she received a standing ovation!
In the mid 1950s, veteran Trotskyist James Cannon warned against people “who will not recognise incipient American fascism until it obliges them by assuming the ‘classic’ European form.” It’s doubtful Trump has ever read much or understood much of fascist ‘ideology’. Denial of electoral defeat, attacks on ‘the lying press’, support for fascist formations, etc. make him a good candidate for the fascist appellation, though. And, his commensurate opportunism fits firmly into the mould of would-be fascist autocrat.
Opportunism is a significant characteristic of aspiring fascist leaders. Mussolini made it up as he went along — more often seen in bowler hat, suit and tie in the early years of his regime than full fascist regalia. He took three years in government before turning Italy into a one party state. In other fascist regimes such as Franco’s, the actual fascist parties served as auxiliaries to the aspiring autocrat.
Mark’s assertion that “the US ruling class opposes the Trump movement” is also questionable. Just which class did Trump represent when he was President? It’s like the Lexiter nonsense about “the ruling class” as a unit opposing Brexit. Sections of the ruling class supported Trump. Some still do. In the future more will if the USA descends into chaos.
Mark has a touching regard bordering on the sentimental for American “traditions of free speech and individual liberty”. These same “traditions” are also upheld by Trump and co, only for them “free speech” is the right to incite, and “individual liberty” is to be armed to the teeth with assault weapons.
We shouldn’t neglect “local traditions and conditions”. In Republican controlled states, though, these things boil down to widespread voter suppression, and there’ll be more of that in the next four years make no mistake.
Such vote-rigging methods could also lead to Trump or another like him winning the Presidency in 2024 — again against the wishes of the majority of American voters.
To achieve that there will be attempts to make the country ungovernable. Already we are seeing some of the participants in the invasion of the Capitol being treated with leniency by Trump-appointed judges. A rolling campaign of far-right terrorism is in the offing. States where the Republicans hold power — largely those in the former Confederacy — will come into conflict with the Federal government.
We need to support independent working class action and show solidarity with the American left. We also need to recognise the seriousness of the enduring crisis there and the real danger of the American form fascism is taking. We can also do without the characterisation that thinking this way somehow makes you a member of the Joe Biden fan club!