1. The unspeakable murders of 11 Jewish people have bubbled to the surface what has garnered too little attention up to now — the outsized role of anti-semitism in animating Trump’s supporters and Trump himself. And the left bears some responsibility here. We haven’t adequately explicated (or opposed) the toxic and, (as we now know too well) lethal mix of racism, nativism and anti-semitism deployed by Trump and the right wing media.
2. If anyone thought that anti-semitism was a relic of an earlier era, the horrible shooting in Pittsburgh proved otherwise. While its animating power and reach may have shrunk over recent decades, the bloody events in Pittsburgh this week reveal not only that it remains as potent as ever on the right and the stuff around which the right weaves its dark conspiracies, but also — and this is my main point — that it can, when given a green light by the president and the right wing media, reactivate and command a much larger audience — already marinating in a stew of real and invented resentments — than most of us thought possible.
Next Tuesday we can not only take control of Congress out of Republican hands, but also begin to put this pernicious and deadly ideology and practice of hate and division on its heels.
3. I am canvassing door to door this week. I hope you are too. For me, it is the place where the rubber of my politics and values meets the road of practical action. With less than a week to go, it is hard to think of anything we can do that remotely approaches the importance of canvassing or phone banking or similar things that turn out voters on election day.
4. Is there a danger of full blown right wing populist authoritarian rule? Of course! To believe otherwise is not only naive, but also disarming and dangerous.
Moreover, it will grow exponentially if the Republicans retain their control over both chambers of Congress next week. But even in that case — which I think is unlikely — the terrain for popular struggles and broad political engagement, even if narrowed, will still exist and will surely be utilized by a disparate coalition of constituencies, classes, organizations, and peoples who wlll not ready to yield up our country to hands of these executioners of democracy and democratic rule as we have known it.
This is no time for despair. The task now is to get out the vote, while the task on Wednesday of next week is to resume our righteous struggle on what will be new ground no matter what the outcome on election day.
5. This article in my opinion gives a better picture of what the country would look like if Trump and Trumpism isn’t successfully resisted than the frequently cited references to Hitler’s Germany or Mussiline’s Italy or Pinochet’s Chile.
This may seem like an abstract, idle debate with little or no significance attached to it. But that isn’t the case in my opinion. Its resolution, actually, has a major bearing on what we do as well as where and how we do it in the near and longer term.
6. At one time, universal suffrage — voting — was seen by communists as no more than a “gauge of the maturity of the working class,” no matter what the circumstances. That changed decades ago, even as communists still remained suspicious of the electoral terrain of struggle and its place in the transition to socialism.
Other sections of the revolutionary left held the same view. In fact, suspicious doesn’t quite capture their attitude. Disdain is closer to the truth.
But what makes this moment interesting is that significant numbers on the left, in an about face, are fully participating in the efforts to get out the vote for Democratic Party candidates.
That’s progress in my opinion, and if it holds, it bodes well for the future. Voting is much more than a measure of the maturity of the working class and the electoral terrain is more than just one other terrain of struggle. Both are key components of any strategy that hopes to reverse the growing right wing, populist authoritarian danger that we face at the present moment, while at the same time, expanding and deepening working class and people’s democracy and thus facilitating in the longer term the struggle for socialism.
The insurrectionary image of politics and the transition to socialism that has no or little place for electoral politics and the electoral path of struggle never served its proponents in the communist movement and left well.
7. Across the world in general and Europe and the U.S. in particular, we are seeing the rise and spread of right wing authoritarian populist movements. Some have captured control of state/governmental institutions in their respective countries by electoral-political means. Others are not yet wielding the levers of political power, but command a considerable mass following and in some cases are only an election away from such power.
While much could be said about the origins, features, and prospects of this exceedingly dangerous political phenomenon, I would only mention for the moment two things. First, this existential danger can be averted by aroused people, movements, and parties that, when equipped with expansive and flexible tactics, near inexhaustible energy, and a compelling vision, have the wherewithal to defend and expand democracy, democratic rights, and democratic governance as they turn the tide against this ascending retrograde and reactionary phenomenon.
Second, this phenomenon, even if it has some resemblances to past fascisms, isn’t yet fascist, which. by the way, has nearly as many meanings as interlocutors. Is it moving in that direction is quite another question. It may well be, but my own guess — and it is only that given what I consider the contingency of politics at this moment and thus the possibility of alternative paths — is that something like Putin’s Russia is a far more likely resting place for these movements than Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy or Pinochet’s Chile.
In any event, the stakes are exceedingly high — never higher in my lifetime — for anyone who hopes to live in conditions of democracy, equality, peace, and planetary sustainability now and in the future.
8. Efforts from the left to minimize or, worse yet, explain away the fact that a significant section of white workers embrace Trump and Trumpism is very misguided. It likely rests on a cockeyed view of partisanship and an equally cockeyed (and old) understanding of class and class politics.