New York City, New York (TFC) – With the election of Donald Trump, cities across the country have seen days of constant protest. Some of these protests have been joined by militant leftists and anarchists, but they’re going to need more than that if this new movement is going to become long term and radical.
Over the weekend several reporters with The Fifth Column Network went to witness the protests outside Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in downtown Manhattan. We assumed that by the time we arrived, hours after the protests started, only the most radical core of the groups would still be left behind the police barricades.
Instead what we found were hardcore Democrats shouting slogans such as “Who Cares? Obamacare” and “Michelle 2020.” These protesters were still under the illusion that the Democratic Party had their best interest at heart and had taken this message right into the belly of the beast – the home of US imperialism, and both Trump and Clinton’s real support base – the financial capital of the world.
There have been anarchists and leftists at some of these protests but so far what has been getting the majority of mainstream media attention is the “Love Trumps Hate” crowd which only goes out to protest that Trump is “not their president”, but wouldn’t be here if Hillary were taking the White House in January. The real victims of this kind of soft messaging are going to be the actual radicals and especially people of color.
Even though Trump has dialed back his plans for his first 100 days in office as far as his more racist promises to attack minority communities this doesn’t mean the openly racist supporters he courted are going to fall in line. Bringing this message from these communities – who would be threatened no matter who won the election – to these primarily privileged liberals is going to be key for leftist and anarchist agitators.
Anarchists and the real left need to be out in these crowds as much as possible, and in as many cities as possible in order to spread the news that submission to any imperialist government or their vitriolic supporters is not the answer. The protesters in New York were so tame they were relegated willingly to a “free speech zone”; these are the type of things real radicals can teach these protesters not to accept.
Another area that needs to be addressed is the white members of the working class who voted for Trump, not because they’re racist but because they’re frustrated and politically uneducated. Trump has already unveiled a tax plan that is going to hurt his white supporters in areas like the rust-belt of the industrial midwest. Michael Moore, for all his faults, pointed out that a lot of these people voted for Trump because it was the only outlet they saw to throw a brick through the establishment window; you know, besides literally doing that.
Systemic traditions of racism will need to be combated in these communities, but the best way to do this is to actually have an open dialogue with these Trump supporters about race and economic issues. If Glenn Beck can have his thoughts on things like Black Lives Matter reversed through discourse, then so can a lot of these voters. We have to drop the Democratic style of “liberal superiority” when engaging with these people. Even if they supported Trump they may not have supported his racist policies which even mainstream media normalized with hours of chatter about how his most racist strings of thought “weren’t logistically or realistically possible.” The left and anarchists will need to be there to offer these people real alternatives to bourgeois democracy once they realize President Trump is just as much of an insider as Hillary, and when he inevitably fails them (possibly even more than Clinton would have.)
So radicals outside of the accepted spectrum of discourse in this country will need to be there to talk to their countrymen about real alternatives to the farce of these sham electoral processes. Democrats may hold some of the monopoly on these protests now but the radicals are out there; and that is where they need to be, out in the streets directing the protests, inserting new ideas into the liberal discourse and showing those fooled by the politicians alternative ways to organize. It is our job as radicals to engage with less radical thoughts and not to live like the establishment politicians and their fans; looking down our noses and sneering at our opponents who could become valuable members of a wider coalition.