There is no overstating the fear and danger currently felt by activists. It is not melodramatic for people active in today’s social movements to prepare for massive government surveillance, along with court injunctions and fines aimed at bankrupting people and organizations. Protesters fear jail and repression for using their First Amendment rights. But what organizers and activists face as political actors will pale in comparison to the danger confronted by millions of people facing mass deportation, racist and religious attacks—with activists in these targeted groups facing the greatest risk.
As Trump and his billionaire allies jostle one another in their bids to extract riches from our failed economic system, they will succeed only in making the system more unsustainable. While this situation has sent a shock of anxiety through the body politic, growing instability will allow us to take aim not just at unjust social policies but at faltering economic ones as well.
We need to act morally, courageously, and strategically in pursuit of a clear progressive vision. It is not enough to define ourselves as the resistance. We have an opportunity, under incredibly difficult circumstances, to build a movement led by people of color, immigrants, and others targeted by the radical right, while at the same time organizing people of all races, to challenge the billionaires who increasingly control the economy and politics of this country and the world. Below, we lay out five principles in which to ground that crucial organizing:
1) The rise of a racist nationalist right wing is a global phenomenon.
Across the globe, the far right is growing. Viewing the rise of Trump as a distinctly American phenomenon leads to narrow analyses and technocratic solutions, i.e., “if just more people had voted.” Viewing the situation globally requires us to develop a deeper analysis of why the current economic/political system is failing around the globe and why the right has been more successful than the left at seizing on the growing discontent as evidenced by Brexit, the rise of the Marine Le Pen in France and the radical right throughout Europe. In Brazil, the right wing and their billionaire allies have used a “soft coup” to seize political and economic power. In Puerto Rico and in US cities like Detroit and Flint, “fiscal control boards” and emergency managers are being used to disenfranchise communities of color and put the very banks and financiers who bankrupted these communities in charge. Neoliberalism is failing for increasing numbers of people around the world, and its failure has created the conditions that has allowed the right wing to increase its power by targeting immigrants and people of color. Two seemingly contradictory things are happening at once: The right wing has captured the anger over its failures and the corporations, and the super-rich who benefited from neoliberalism are now offering themselves as the solution to the crisis they created.
2) Trumpism is a symptom, not the disease.