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To Halt the Slide Into Authoritarianism, We Need a General Strike

By The Shutdown Collective - Truthout, February 11, 2017

In the weeks immediately after Donald Trump won the presidential election, many people expressed serious concern about the content of his policies and platform. This isn't surprising. Having lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million, Trump had the thinnest support of any incoming president in modern history. However, in the two weeks since he has taken office, these concerns have moved into a whole new realm. Widespread opposition to his administration is mobilizing now not merely around the content of his policies (what he does), but also the manner in which he is governing (how he does it).

President Trump has begun his term by governing by executive order, launching a rapid series of initiatives that threaten the democratic constitutional structure of the United States. These include: repeated attacks on the institutions of a free and independent press; silencing and summary dismissal of government employees, including the Attorney General; failure to divest personal business interests from the office of the presidency, or release his tax statements; the consolidation of power in a small circle of close friends (e.g., dismissing top military officials from the National Security Council to make room for political advisor and Breitbart executive, Stephen Bannon) and family (e.g., the appointment of his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior White House adviser). Perhaps most infamously, the administration has moved forward with a wide-reaching immigration and refugee ban that specifically targets people based on their religion and country of origin. Taken together, these signal a dangerously anti-democratic, even authoritarian impulse at the heart of the Trump administration.

We have seen this before. In other times and other places, authoritarian leaders have come to power through the manipulation of democratic institutions, often by exploiting major divisions within the general electorate. Even though they come to power in this semi-democratic manner, such figures recognize that they will not be able to maintain the broad-based support needed to remain in power, or accomplish anything while there. As a result, they frequently work to undermine the basic institutions of democracy, such as independent electoral commissions, the judiciary, and a free press.

Beyond Resistance: Defeating Trump’s Burgeoning Dictatorship

By - CounterPunch, January 31, 2017

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a dictator is “a ruler or governor whose word is law.” And whether it’s via Trump’s tweeted word, which triggers stocks to rise or drop across the planet, or via his signature on an executive order that just banned over 100 million people, including legal residents, from entering the U.S., Trump seems to be just that. Despite its lack of constitutionality, his word functions as the law. Although his Muslim ban (which discriminates against people based on national origin and religion, and is therefore a breach of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) was temporarily stayed by the courts, Trump released a statement shortly afterward announcing that it remains in complete effect. In this defiance of the law he seems to be following the example of Andrew Jackson. For let us recall that Jackson notoriously defied the Supreme Court’s ruling in Worcester v. Georgia, which held that the Indian Removal Act was unconstitutional, and that the brutal removal of the Cherokee people via the infamous Trail of Tears to Oklahoma be stopped. Jackson (whose portrait was recently hung in Trump’s Oval Office) ignored the Court, permitting the ethnic cleansing of Georgia to continue.

While it isn’t clear whether Trump or the courts will prevail over the issue of the Muslim ban, it seems clear that the constitutional crisis posed by Trump’s presidency will only intensify (just as the economic crisis, and the ecological crisis, and the refugee crisis that stems from these, will only intensify). And though defensive protests against this burgeoning dictatorship are crucial, and the turnout in airports across the country on Saturday were key to blocking part of Trump’s ban (in law if not in fact), defensive protests alone are insufficient. Offensive actions must also be waged, or those who wish to stop Trump will always be a step behind a movement committed to rapidly gutting society, eliminating basic democratic norms, and instituting barbarism across a wide range of fronts. As when Hannibal marched his elephants and army over the Alps toward Rome, and Scipio defeated him by taking the offense, attacking Carthage and forcing Hannibal to retreat, the opposition to Trump must take the offense. The focus of the resistance ought to be the removal of Trump from power, as well as his accomplices, though this must not be the sole goal. The resistance must also not allow power to revert to those whose policies created the misery that gave rise to Trump in the first place.

As many have pointed out, Trump’s victory can be understood as stemming from a rejection of neoliberalism, particularly the neoliberalism of Clinton and Obama (a political-economic order characterized by permanent war, permanent unemployment, privatization, austerity, and free trade agreements that have hollowed out and impoverished much of the country). Deeply unpopular and mistrusted, most Trump supporters did not support him for positive reasons. One of the most unpopular people to ever run for president of the US, he was supported because he loudly and clearly rejected the miserable neoliberal status quo. It is crucial to point out, however, that Trump was not rejecting the status quo in favor of creating anything genuinely new. As his campaign slogan made patently clear, he was not rejecting the status quo in order to go beyond it. He was rejecting it in order to return, to regress, to a time before neoliberalism (and not just before neoliberalism but before environmental regulations, labor laws, occupational safety and health regulations, rights for women, rights for African-Americans, and other social advances introduced over the past century).

While Trump’s Secretary of State, who represents the interests of Exxon foremost, is overjoyed to roll back environmental laws that infringe upon corporate profits, Trump’s white nationalist (aka alt-right) supporters (who have an accomplice in the White House in the person of Steve Bannon), would like to regress even further back in time, to before modernity itself. Though it may be understated, we can characterize this tendency as reaction. And, because much of the reaction is animated by a rejection of neoliberalism, which it shares with the left, the left ought to make an effort to strengthen itself, and weaken Trump, by encouraging this anti-neoliberal faction of the Trump coalition (many of whom were Bernie Sanders supporters) to switch allegiances. To be sure, according to the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu, the supreme strategy of warfare, after attacking strategy itself, is attacking alliances.

100 Days of Resistance: Center for Biological Diversity Releases Action Plan

By Kierán Suckling - Center for Biological Diversity, January 26, 2017

The Center for Biological Diversity today released its 100 Days of Resistance plan to stop Donald Trump’s unprecedented attack on wildlife, people, civil rights and democracy.

The 25-point plan includes mobilizing 1 million people to take the Pledge of Resistance; halting the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; fighting the confirmation of Trump’s corrupt, unqualified cabinet nominees; hiring 10 new attorneys, investigators and activists to aggressively hold the administration accountable; protecting the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act for the benefit of people and wildlife; defeating efforts to give away or turn management of our public lands over to states and corporations; and strengthening alliances with groups fighting for gender and racial equality, American Indian sovereignty, LGBTQ rights, freedom of speech, press and religion, workers’ rights and other civil rights and values.

“Trump has awoken a fierce resistance movement such as this country has never seen,” said Kierán Suckling, the Center’s executive director. “His authoritarian agenda has galvanized people from every walk of life to fight for the protection of wildlife and the environment, civil rights, equality and a democracy that serves everyone, not just the corporate elite. He should know this: We’re in it for the long haul. We’ll fight him every day in the courts, every week in the halls of power, and in every street of this nation.”

The Center’s Earth2Trump Resistance Roadshow just completed a very successful, high energy cross-country tour of 16 cities, rallying thousands of people from Seattle to Salt Lake City, to Houston, Denver and Omaha to organize, resist, and to write personal #Earth2Trump messages which we carried to the inauguration protest in a huge globe. More than 180,000 have signed the Center's Pledge of Resistance in person or online.

A 10-point plan to stop Trump and make gains in justice and equality

By George Lakey, Waging Nonviolence, January 23, 2017 

I was among the 100,000 who marched in San Francisco’s Women’s March the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. While enthusiasm for the struggle seemed high, an important question was looming: What’s the strategic plan, as we head into the Trump era? Although there’s no simple answer, I offer this 10-point plan — fully open for discussion and debate.

1. Recognize that we represent the majority, not Trump. 



Three times more people participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., than were present at the inauguration the day before. He lost the popular vote in the election. Many of his own voters admitted in exit polls that they consider him unqualified to be president. Furthermore, Trump plans to target progressive policies that polls find to be supported by solid majorities of Americans.

Trump does have strengths in addition to his brilliance in manipulating mainstream media. Key parts of the economic elite have decided that they can use him for their own goals. So, they will support him — as long as he can deliver acceleration of school privatization, for example, or the fossil fuel pipelining of America. His core voting base (the minority of a minority) may support him for a period, until his failure to deliver unrealistic promises becomes apparent.

Even before the inauguration, he alienated significant parts of the security state that he needs to depend on. He needs a vast professional bureaucracy to carry out his will, but it has many subtle ways of thwarting him. Harry Truman famously admitted, publicly, his frustration after he was repeatedly stymied by an uncooperative bureaucracy.

Trump’s bullying is both a strength and a weakness. His style alienates many, including among his own voters, and stirs opposition.

Stopping Trump is not a slam dunk, but it is possible when he is given his due as a cagey opponent. It also helps when we decide to be strategic rather than led by fear and moral outrage, jumping from whichever tactic feels good in the moment, but has little impact. Now is the time when we can identify his pillars of support and lay plans to undermine them.

How Labor and Climate United Can Trump Trump

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, January 2017

Donald Trump and his congressional Republican allies have taken control of the U.S. government. The result threatens to be devastating for both labor and the climate — not to mention immigrants, African Americans, Muslims, women, children, the elderly, the disabled, LGBTQ people, and many others.

The Trump regime is potentially vulnerable because it only represents the interests of the top 1% of the top 1%. But it has a potentially winning strategy to rule nonetheless: keep those who might stand up in the interest of the 99.9 percent divided and therefore powerless. While Trump has played black against white, Latino against Anglo, women against men, gay against straight, and exploited many other divisions, his “trump card” may well be his ability to divide labor and climate advocates.

The Trump ascendancy creates a new context for addressing long-standing tensions between organized labor and the environmental movement, between workers’ job concerns and everyone’s need to protect the climate. Trump and his congressional Republican allies intend to exploit these tensions to the max. But their threat to workers, the earth’s climate, and society as a whole make cooperation against them imperative for both organized labor and the climate protection movement. Forging a force that can effectively counter Trumpism requires change that will involve tension within each movement as well as between them, but that may be necessary if either is to have a future. The alternative is most likely decimation of both movements and of everything they are fighting for.

“Refinery Town” points the way forward to protect communities and defend rights

By Garrett Brown - The Pump Handle, January 16, 2017

Let’s just say there was a working class community – of various skin colors – which was dominated for a century by a giant corporation who ran the town with bought-and-paid-for politicians, and whose operations regularly poisoned the community, threatened the health and safety of its workforce, and periodically blew up, sending thousands to the hospital. How could they even begin to protect the health of their families and community, and exercise their democratic right to a local government that put the needs of the vast majority ahead of corporate profits?

The answer to that question can be found in a book that went on sale today: Refinery Town; Big Oil, Big Money, and the remaking of an American City by labor journalist Steve Early. The portrait of Richmond, California, a city of 110,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the decade-long political organizing and campaigns by the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), contains many lessons that will be very useful to keep in mind as a new political regime takes power this week as well.

Richmond was a classic “company town” after Standard Oil of California (now Chevron) set up its oil refinery – then the third largest in the country – across the Bay from San Francisco in 1905. For several decades the oil company had a desk in City Hall to make it easy for the politicians its funding and support helped elect to be aware of Chevron’s opinion on city issues. Chevron’s oil tanker-sized political influence trailed in its wake conservative Black community leaders (Richmond was a majority African-American city and now is roughly one-third Black, one-third white and one-third Asian), as well as the unions representing firefighters and police, and the local building trades unions whose motto frequently has been “jobs at all costs.”

Starting at the dawn of the 21st century this began to change with the rise of RPA, initiated by political and labor movement veterans from back East who went on to make deep connections in Black, white and Asian neighborhoods in the city. Year-around activities, a lot of shoe leather, and patient, face-to-face campaigning resulted in electing and re-electing a Green Party mayor (Gayle McLaughlin), electing numerous City Councilors, defeating well-funded efforts to build a casino on coastal land, and hard-ball negotiations with Chevron for community benefits to accompany a major renovation of the 100-year-old refinery. In the November 2016 elections, the RPA succeeded in electing a majority in the seven-member City Council and passing the first rent-control law in California for more than two decades.

All of this was achieved over the opposition of Chevron – which outspent the RPA by as much as 20-to-1 in several election cycles in direct and indirect support of its favored candidates – and despite all the ups and downs of community organizing and the internal political/personality disputes that occur everywhere.

Setting out a left agenda in the Trump era

By Danny Katch - Socialist Worker, January 23, 2017

THE ENORMOUS anti-Trump protests on January 21 are a major opportunity to build a new political resistance. Yet the expanding but still small radical left in the U.S. also faces a major challenge in creating an alternative to the failed strategy of channeling all opposition through the dead end of the Democratic Party.

With the aim of strengthening this left, Jacobin magazine, Haymarket Books and Verso Books organized "The Anti-Inauguration"--a panel discussion of five prominent writers and activists in Washington D.C.'s Lincoln Theatre on the night Trump took office to talk about how to build an opposition to the threat he represents and the rotten status quo that got us into this mess. You can watch a video stream of the event at Facebook.

"Donald Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States," said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. "The shock and disbelief must now give way to defiance and organizing. Part of that pivot demands that we understand how we got here in the first place, but more importantly how we move forward."

War correspondent Anand Gopal, author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, ran through two decades of anti-Muslim measures enacted by Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama before concluding:

It's only because of all of those policies that came before, it's only because of the dog-whistle politics around the questions of Islam, it's only because of the institutionalizing of Islamophobia by three administrations that we could come to a point in 2016 where a man can stand for president and openly call for banning Muslims.

So we need to resist Trump, but we also need to resist a system that makes a Donald Trump possible. That means allying with everybody who's on our side, but maintaining independence from a liberal establishment that aided and abetted this calamity from the very beginning.

Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions

By Patrick Bond - CounterPunch, January 19, 2017

The forces arrayed against Donald Trump’s presidency and neo-fascist movement range from the Central Intelligence Agency to oppressed minorities, and will soon encompass the whole world once his climate change threats are carried out. From above, conflicts will continue with moderate Republicans, Democratic Party elites, so-called Deep State opponents including neoconservative factions of the military, exporting companies concerned about protectionism, and deficit hawks worried about excess spending on filthy-Keynesian infrastructure.

But it’s likely that elite opposition will fade within weeks. Then what about resistance from below? Learning explicitly from apartheid’s defeat, it makes sense to prepare a global Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) strategy against Trump, his leading cronies and United States corporations more generally.

For human rights victims in the US, mutual aid commitments like the new United Resistance linking dozens of campaigning groups and a sanctuary movement (hated by the far right) offer close-to-home “social self-defence,” as activist Jeremy Brecher remarks in his survey of myriad anti-Trump struggles.

When it comes to raising the costs of Trump’s noxious politics internationally and preventing corporations from full cohesion to his program, the US oppressed still must take the lead. Evidence of this is already emerging, with Trump boycotts seeking to delegitimise his political agenda and companies that support it. Internationally, we can predict that when Rex Tillerson takes trips or Trump attends the Hamburg G20 in July, protesters will be out.

Labor under Trump part 3: death of the labor movement?

By S Nicholas Nappalos - Recomposition, January 18, 2017

For years now commentators have predicted the collapse of the unions. This has not happened. There has been a long slow decline with areas of victories as well. Following the Trump victory speculation has been rampant and has led to various proclamations yet again of the death of labor. It is clear that Republican domination of all branches of government poses a real threat to the Democratic-party aligned unions, particularly public sector unions, and that we are entering a new era both for the working class and the vestiges of their historic organizations. Our third piece exploring the potentials for labor under trump comes from one of our editors S Nicholas Nappalos. He argues that while these dangers are real, they also come with new possibilities for a militant participatory workers movement. Moreover it is not apolitical unions that can address the weaknesses of the labor movement heading into a collision with this government, but an active politicized union movement marking its opposition to both capital and the state. 

Labor’s death under trump? the potential for a renewed workers movement in an era of dangers

It’s no secret that the labor movement of the United States is in serious danger. Every year union membership continues to shrink. This happens despite large scale organizing attempts by the minority of unions willing to do something about it. Having put all their eggs in the basket of the Democrats, AFL-CIO and Change To Win unions were handed a spectacular failure with the election of a Republican sweep of all branches of government. All this comes on the heels of a broad decay of living conditions amongst the working class in general, but disproportionately concentrated upon women, blacks, latinos, and indigenous communities in particular. The Democrats kept their loyalty to business interests at all costs and the unions largely didn’t flinch.

Today the vast majority of union members are public employees, and attacks on their ability to bargain and sustain union membership are all but certain by the incoming Congress. If something significant doesn’t change we can anticipate nation-wide union membership in the single digits, whole regions virtually union free in some areas (many states in the South presently sit at less than 3-5% unionization rates), and a calling of the question on the labor movement’s ability to defend the workers. 2016 is set to close with ominous tones as the second largest union in the US, SEIU, plans to cut their budget by 30% as revealed in a leaked internal memo with clear implications for organizing in the coming days.[1]

#Trump: Notes to self and Lefty friends

By Aaron Tanaka - Medium, January 15, 2017

Trump Repression, Regression and Response (11)

  1. prepare for devastating regulatory and policy losses. resist implementation along the chain. become ungovernable through direct action, divestment, boycotts, strikes, mass CD, creative disruptions etc. raise up, resource and support action by those most targeted by Trump. call-in people with privilege to push beyond their comfort zones. direct action can still get (some) goods.
  2. state persecution at mass scale requires participation and complicity from local and state police and other arms of local law enforcement. intensify local organizing around police accountability #blacklivesmatter — make participation in Trump’s new repressive programs politically infeasible for locally elected mayor’s, DA’s, sheriffs etc. prioritize policies envisioned for sanctuary cities and other forms of local governmental non-cooperation w Federal repression. give cover to local pols and officials that step out.
  3. support our friends and family in rural and agricultural cities who face very different political conditions; national hate-mongering accentuates disparities across geography. a comrade in Jackson, MS reports a social volatility with growing white supremacist elements that advance physical threats (arson and worse) targeting Black movement spaces etc. invest and rally around Black and indigenous led resistance especially in the South and Midwest.
  4. support rapid response networks (deportation resistance, hate crime response, safety walks, abortion facility protection, eviction blockades, copwatch etc.) and other mutual aid supports for targeted peoples. consider efforts growing community “first responders” — who intervene and help diffuse disputes — as an alternative to calling the police. help align these strategies to model and scale longterm community controlled security infrastructure.
  5. invest in readiness training for environmental and political disaster, and view crisis related skill building as a political strategy. advance the localization and decentralization of food and energy production to build community resilience in the face of global economic and political volatility.
  6. as assault on women and queer & trans people intensifies, develop strategies to better integrate womanist analysis and framework in our community and labor organizing. push mainline white feminist organizations to resource especially the leadership of low-income queer and trans women of color. seek to align political resistance against Trump with pro-feminist values, like promoting #ConsentCulture as contrast to Trump’s rhetoric and policies. #DemandConsent #NoTrump
  7. educate our communities and networks around the functions of our surveillance state, the history of cointelpro and other domestic repression. reject the digital security divide, and seek equitable access to communications tools like encrypted texting, trainings in “security culture,” and infrastructure like the blockchain sector to anticipate repression and popularize resistant alternatives in technology. better integrate speech & privacy, and press & internet freedom fights into our movement discourse and strategies.
  8. prepare for specific attacks on Left and nonprofit infrastructure by the federal government. expect efforts to freeze c3 & c4 funds. move assets to more secure legal and financial vehicles.
  9. prepare to resist extreme privatization. find better ways to communicate about the commons, the public good, and the danger of the profit motive in essential public services. link to #flint and other animating impacts of profit creep or austerity within the public sector. attempt to leverage the debate on healthcare to articulate the nuances: attribute ObamaCare’s real challenges to the lack of a #PublicOption, and a dependence on market solutions that enriched private insurance & health companies. foster clear eyed discernment of #infrastructure scams and mass corporate subsidies, couched in universalist language.
  10. support domestic community based organizing and the nonprofit sector to build internationalist analysis and narratives to compete with Trump’s nationalist panic. a popular front against militarization, trade aggression, migrant & refugee persecution, sex-trafficking, and climate change not only depends on resistance by US frontline communities, but also an emergent moral populism animated by a sense of global solidarity and empathy.
  11. invest in and amplify cultural and narrative resistance strategies. our role is not to change his mind. rather, work to delegitimize him by exploiting contradictions within his already fractured coalition, while energizing our base. make #2FaceTrump the least popular president in modern American history.

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