Racheting up

I’ve never been a fan of Mitch McConnell. But Trump’s political and racist attack on McConnell and Elaine Chao, his wife and former Secretary of Transportation, should be roundly condemned. It puts their lives in jeoporady, while giving a fresh boost to the growning trend to make deadly violence an acceptable method of struggle and racism an acceptable mode of discourse in our political culture.

Republicans, almost to a one, are silent in the face this escalating violence and racist rhetoric. Some, in fact, have no problem with either; they see a place for both in advancing their agenda. Other Republicans who might object cower to Trump, who is the main perpertrator and legitimizer of this dangerous turn in our political discourse. It should be obvious that this ratcheting up of violence and racism by Trump and Trumpists should be vigorously opposed at the ballot box this November as well as in the public square. Much depends on it.

Racism and violence

In thinking about the escalation of violent and racist rhetoric, one should keep in mind that the latter fuels the former. Trump understands and exploits this dynamic at every opportunity. Wasn’t this evident last week when he attacked Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao, calling her, “The China Loving Coco Chow?”


The categories/concepts of class and class struggle can be interpreted in the the most narrow, sectarian way and then deployed accordingly. Of late, I notice this phenomenon here and there. But thankfully most political and social activists aren’t going down that daft rabbit hole!

Rule of law

In some strains of Marxism years ago (maybe now too?) “the rule of law” was considered no more than a constitutive element of the capitalist political superstructure. Its function was solely to legitimize as well as conceal capitalist rule and exploitation. That claim, as I see it, was one sided, undialectical, and unhistorical then and remains so now. In the current struggle against Trump and the larger MAGA movement, the defense and application of the rule of law is an integral part of the struggle of the broad based, diverse coalition battling for the preservation and deepening of democracy and democratic rule.

If anything concrete

The notion of political independence from the two parties of capitalism advocated by much of the left has been – especially during the long rise of right wing extremism – more trouble than it’s worth. The embrace of this political abstraction hindered a timely adjustment of election strategy and tactics to the new conditions of struggle that arose in the 1970s.

With the election of Reagan in 1980, the urgency of modifying the left’s strategic and tactical guidelines to changed circumstances became more pronounced. And yet, little changed, strategically and tactically speaking, across much of the left. It wasn’t until the rise of Trump and Trumpism, beginning in 2016, and the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in that same year that some erosion of this holy grail of left wing politics became evident.

Any explanation for this seemingly inexplicable slowness of the left to adjust its election strategy and tactics to strikingly new conditions of struggle has to begin with this observation: strategy and tactics in the electoral arena and every other arena where people and parties clash are, if anything, concrete, malleable, and suspicious of timeless political abstractions.

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