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Committee for a Workers International :: Socialist Alternative
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Inauguration protests can serve as a launching pad for a massive grassroots resistance to Donald Trump's new administration, which can push back his agenda. But this will require an active ongoing mobilisation linked to a strategy of independent grassroots struggle.
Trump is on a collision course with millions of people. He's threatened to deport 2-3 million immigrants and to target Muslim immigrants for "extreme vetting." Women's reproductive health, democratic rights, and workers' rights are all under threat. People are understandably afraid. But also, huge numbers are prepared to resist.
Trump's agenda can be defeated by a strong movement centred on the social power of working class people. Let's not forget that previous generations have faced down and defeated war-mongers, hate-mongers, slave-owners, and billionaires - and have won.
Trump's administration already faces a crisis of legitimacy. His election victory was anything but resounding. Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes and barely 25% of eligible voters actually voted for Trump. On top of this, Trump is notoriously thin-skinned and erratic. He can be rattled and forced off course.
Trump is gearing up for a 100-day agenda that is intended to deliver a demoralising blow to his opposition. We can't wait until the 2018 midterm elections, and we can't rely on the out-of-touch corporate Democratic establishment. That's why, on 20 and 21 January, we need to inaugurate a powerful resistance from the grassroots and make visible that Trump has no mandate for his agenda of hate.
Mass protests have been an indispensable part of every progressive struggle in history - from winning the eight-hour day to smashing the racist Jim Crow laws. Mass protests can raise the confidence and fighting spirit of movements by visibly demonstrating the depth, scope, and size of opposition. They can also send a warning to the new administration. We want Trump to worry that if he proceeds with his agenda, then he will provoke even further struggle.
When movements are strong enough, even the Republicans have been known to cave. Under Richard Nixon, movements mushroomed and the Vietnam War was ended, abortion rights were won, environmental regulations were conceded.
At the time, the ruling class feared a deeper radicalisation - or even revolution - could take place if they didn't make concessions.
Of course, protests aren't enough on their own, and there is also a long history of using mass protests as a mere safety valve for discontent.
Past successful social movements didn't rely on the Democrats or elections, but on applying the social power of millions of people through radical tactics that involved large numbers of people like mass direct action, boycotts, occupations, walkouts and strikes.
For example the refusal of soldiers to carry out orders in Vietnam, combined with the resistance of the Vietnamese themselves, widespread student strikes in the US and mass protests, made the war impossible to continue.
If Trump's administration is determined to pass its agenda, then we will need a mass movement prepared to take similar radical measures to build as determined a resistance today.
Socialist Alternative is the organisation that got Kshama Sawant elected to Seattle City Council in 2013 as an open socialist. Kshama and Socialist Alternative went on to build the grassroots campaign that won the first local $15 minimum wage in the US, which helped spark further minimum wage victories across the country.
Within hours of Trump's victory on 8 November, Socialist Alternative branches around the county helped initiate protests that saw 40,000 people come out on the streets.
We seek maximum unity of all forces who want to fight the right, while continuing the debate about how to win victories and change society. To develop unity after 20 January, the anti-Trump resistance needs democratic structures at the local, regional and national levels to work out the most effective approaches for building the resistance through organised discussion, debate and decision-making.
We welcome the support of genuine progressive Democrats who offer real support in building the widest possible unity in action in defence of immigrants, Muslims, women, and workers. But we disagree with directing the energy of movements into building the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party was never a party of working people. It has always been a party representing the interests of big business. We campaign for a new party of the 99% to help build our struggles, and to run our own independent candidates that are accountable to our movement, not the donations of big business.
Defeating Trump's agenda would massively raise the confidence of working people to fight for other demands, including a $15 federal minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, an end to mass incarceration, and tuition-free college. But victories under capitalism, as in the past, can be reversed.
Globally, capitalism faces a historic crisis that the US cannot escape. The world economy faces an epoch of sluggish growth, while wars, social conflict and environmental catastrophe threaten to engulf the planet.
We believe that the fight against the right must be part of building an independent movement of working people to fundamentally transform society along socialist lines.
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Committee for a workers international (18)
Democratic Socialist Movement (47)
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Socialist Alternative (265)
Socialist Left Party (Austria) (1)
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United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka) (5)
Article dated 18 January 2017
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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