By Colette Gaiter
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won the white vote across all demographics except for college-educated white women. He did especially well among working class white voters: 67 percent of whites without a college degree voted for him.
Some post-election analysis marveled at how the white working class could vote against its own interests by supporting a billionaire businessman who is likely to support policies that cut taxes for the rich and weaken the country’s social safety net. Since the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been seen as the party of working people, while Republicans were considered the party of the elites. Donald Trump was able to flip this narrative to his advantage. Election 2016 balkanized issues and made it seem impossible to work on racism, sexism, poverty and economic issues all at once. A core question moving forward for social justice advocates and the Democratic Party is how they can move beyond identity politics and attract working-class voters of all races, building stronger coalitions among disparate groups.
One place to look for inspiration and instruction might be 1960s social movements that understood the power of alliances across identities and issues. During this period, a radical coalition formed that might seem impossible today: A group of migrant southerners and working-class white activists called the Young Patriots joined forces with the Black Panthers in Chicago to fight systemic class oppression.
So how did this alliance form? And how can its lessons be applied to today’s political moment?
These ideas might be particularly relevant to the United States where the two-party duopoly is particularly difficult to crack.
By David Bollier
It’s an open secret that political parties and “democratic” governments around the world have become entrenched insider clubs, dedicated to protecting powerful elites and neutralizing popular demands for system change. How refreshing to learn about Ahora Madrid and other local political parties in Spain! Could they be a new archetype for the reinvention of politics and government itself?
Instead of trying to use the hierarchical structures of parties and government in the usual ways to “represent” the people, the new local parties in Spain are trying to transform government itself and political norms. Inspired by Occupy-style movements working from the bottom up, local municipal parties want to make all governance more transparent, horizontal, and accessible to newcomers. They want to make politics less closed and proprietary, and more of an enactment of open source principles. It’s all about keeping it real.
With Trump in the White House and GOP majorities in the House and Senate, we must look to cities to protect civil liberties and build progressive alternatives from the bottom up.
“I want New Yorkers to know: we have a lot of tools at our disposal; we’re going to use them. And we’re not going to take anything lying down.” On the morning after Donald Trump was declared the victor in the US presidential election, Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, wasted no time in signaling his intention to use the city government as a bulwark against the policy agenda of the President-Elect. The move made one thing very clear; with the Republican Party holding the House and Senate, and at least one Supreme Court nomination in the pipeline, it will fall to America’s cities and local leaders to act as the institutional frontline of resistance against the Trump administration.
However, cities can be more than just a last line of defense against the worst excesses of an authoritarian central government; they have huge, positive potential as spaces from which to radicalize democracy and build alternatives to the neoliberal economic model. The urgent questions that progressive activists in the States are now asking themselves are, not just how to fight back against Trump, but also how to harness the momentum of Bernie Sanders’ primary run to fight for the change he promised. As we consider potential strategies going forward, a look at the global context suggests that local politics may be the best place to start.
The election of Trump has not occurred in a vacuum. Across the West, we are witnessing a wholesale breakdown of the existing political order; the neoliberal project is broken, the center-left is vanishing, and the old left is at a loss for what to do. In many countries, it is the far right that is most successful in harnessing people’s desire to regain a sense of control over their lives. Where progressives have tried to beat the right at its own game by competing on the battleground of the nation state, they have fared extremely poorly, as recent elections and referenda across Europe have shown. Even where a progressive force has managed to win national office, as happened in Greece in 2015, the limits of this strategy have become abundantly clear, with global markets and transnational institutions quickly bullying the Syriza government into compliance.
By Keith Preston
American political culture has come to be defined by enormous divisions. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes that present day political polarization is wider than at any time since the Civil War. Social science research finds that more Americans would oppose their son or daughter marrying someone of the other political party than would oppose marriage outside of their race, religion, or social class.
The Right and Left are coming to regard one another not merely as competitors, but as threats to the nation or even as personal enemies. Polarization has been sharpened by the election of Donald Trump. Indeed, the reaction of the Left has often been one of panic, hysteria, or terror. One leftist blogger professed to be as terrified on the night of Mr. Trump’s election as he had been when he was once arrested and put in jail. Intense polarization of this kind inevitably leads to talk of secession.
I have a fair amount of personal experience with this question. For nearly 20 years, I have advocated dissolving the US federal system through regional and local secession movements from across the political spectrum. Although I am a left-wing anarchist, I have also tried to build bridges between those opposed to, or under attack by, the US power elite from across the political and cultural spectrum–including racial nationalists.
The Trump victory has been a particular stimulus in California, where progressives have suggested that much of the rest of the nation is so out of touch with the values of their state that California should consider seceding. A group called “Yes California” has formed for the purpose of placing an initiative on the state ballot in 2019 approving California’s exit from the United States. This project has come to be known as “Calexit” as a nod to the “Brexit” referendum.
This is the direction I’ve been saying the Left should be moving is for the past 20 years.
By Alexander Kolokotronis
In the era of Trump, we will need to consolidate counter-power via participatory democracy and economic self-management at the local level.
he mass protests across the United States in response to Donald Trump’s presidential election victory constitute a palpable and growing potential for the formation and constructive utilization of various anti-fascist fronts and coalitions. While these might be limited to protest and survival in typical Trump strongholds, the situation is markedly different in urban settings.
In many cities, anti-Trump demonstrations have included far-left groups, immigration-rights advocates, Black Lives Matter activists, reproductive rights supporters and a number of other political actors. Amidst calls for “people power,” these different movements together chanted “not my president!” and vocalized their support for so many other groups that have been marginalized, ridiculed and discriminated against by the president-elect.
People power need not be confined to a chant. The formation of anti-fascist coalitions provides the opportunity to convert these dreams and aspirations into a concrete and transformative program at the municipal level. What role can anti-fascism play in building this alternative?
By William T. Hathaway
“May you live in interesting times” was a curse the ancient Chinese hurled at their adversaries, wishing them strife, oppression, and struggle. It applies to us now because for all the uncertainties a Trump presidency holds, it will certainly be an interesting time, filled with opportunities for resistance and perhaps revolution.
Big T’s pedal-to-the-metal exploitation of humanity and the planet will accelerate the vicious policies of his two predecessors, poisoning the environment, forcing our financial will around the world, killing thousands of people in imperialist wars, manipulating other nations, modernizing our nuclear weapons, and jailing dissenters at home. Fortress America will continue to expand globally as prison, sweatshop, and fire base.
After all our years trying to change this country, how could we end up with this?
To answer this question and avoid falling into catatonic despondency or self-destructive rage, we need an historical perspective. What we are experiencing now is the long war the ruling elite is fighting to maintain its grip on the world. The current phase began with the collapse of Keynesian capitalism, which flourished from the 1950s into the ’70s, when the primary consumer market was in the capitalist headquarter countries of North America and Western Europe. Corporations were able to stimulate domestic consumption and quell worker discontent there by acceding to labor’s demands for better wages and conditions. That led to a 30-year bubble of improvement for unionized workers, predominantly male and white, that began to collapse in the ’80s as capitalism gradually became globalized.
By William T. Hathaway
Let’s welcome our new Commander in Chief by demonstrating how little he knows about the Constitution of the United States. Each incoming president is required on inauguration day to take the oath of office, affirming to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.” But Trump proved his ignorance of this document when he recently wrote, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail!” The Supreme Court, however, thinks otherwise. It has twice ruled that burning the national flag is not a crime but a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment, a legal way to protest government policies.
If only the libertarian left showed this much zeal for overthrowing the government all the time. Maybe we need to elect “fascist” presidents more often.
By William Gills
Center for a Stateless Society
One of the more annoying things about our norms of discourse is that we tend to collapse our talk of the future into singular predictions rather than arrays of different possibilities each with different probabilities. It’s easier to pretend like we each have one singular future that we’re betting on. We more or less commit to that single possibility and others assume we’re fully committed to that future. Such simplification makes casual discussion more tractable. But it creates distorted incentives. Some try to focus on some kind of median among the possibilities, some vague central cluster. Yet this in turn suppresses the variance and the dangers on the edge. So then you get a second tendency of people who focus on the extreme possibilities, usually highlighting just one concerning outer possibility. The more the centrists cling to their median prediction, the more the extremists double down on emphasizing the things not being considered.
Most of the time the median approach “wins.” But every once in a while their simplified and normalized picture runs aground on a variable unconsidered, an edge-case glossed over, or an assumed context exceeded.
Our political technocrats, with their studious centrism, were just astoundingly wrong about the election of a fascist over the world’s most powerful country. Not just wrong about the final electoral college vote count, but wrong every step of the way. And now the entire world is rapidly reconfiguring itself at an accelerating pace. Many normal folks are clinging on, trying to update our well-worn models of reality with a few studious changes of variables. We don’t have time to trace the ways the changes propagate, so we’re left with quick cartoonish claims. Frantic attempts to fence in unruly anomaly in our reality and dust ourselves off. We want some kind of clear predictive map, with a touch of the familiar, some kind of bounds on the possible, even if it looks dire. Like a “Bush Administration on steroids” or a “Berlusconi with nukes”.
Some thoughts on what it would take for “anarchist success” to be achieved.
A good point of reference is the history of revolutions.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a wave of revolutions (American, French, 1848, etc) that essentially pitted the Enlightenment against the Ancient Regime, resulting in the growth of democratic republics and science-driven industrial capitalist societies.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the major conflict was between industrial capitalists and proletarian labor, resulting in the eventual growth of modern welfare-managerial states, and the incorporation of the labor parties and trade unions into the system, along with the expansion of the middle class.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the basis of conflict became the traditional in-groups vs traditional out-groups (minorities, women, gays, students, youth, etc). Much of that has subsequently been institutionalized as well with the bourgeois bohemians, newly rich, new class, minority middle class, political correctness, gay marriage, etc.
It seems like that what it would take for anarchists, libertarians, anti-statists, ant-authoritiarians, etc to get their moment in the sun would be a political alignment along the lines of liberty vs. power. Regrettably, things instead seem to be going in the direction of nativism vs globalism (hence, Trump, Farage, Le Pen, etc). More often than not nativism represents state-centric nationalism than anything to do with anarchism, though I agree it’s a double-edged sword. Back in the 1990s I started realizing that right-wing populist nationalism was going to be important in the future as a response to globalization, and I started indicating to anarchists that finding common group with the populist right might be a good idea. However, the majority of anarchists have generally seemed resolutely opposed to this approach. The anarchists of the left for example have generally identified social conservatism rather than the state as their primary enemy. And the right has responded to the growing SJW phenomenon with identity politics of its own. The problem is that the identity politics of the left and right is all there seems to be. All of the different types of anarchists and libertarians argue about that stuff as must as Democrats and Republicans do, and often more intensely so.
The Free Thought Project
Last week, a few dozen Native Americans showed up to protest the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile-long pipeline that would cross right through their sacred land. As word spread, however, the few dozen turned into more than 2,500 native Americans. Because of the large turnout, a brief victory ensued for the people after the developers of the four-state oil pipeline agreed to halt construction until after a federal hearing in the coming week.
In spite of both the company building the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the federal government applying pressure, the Native Americans from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have remained resilient.
In honor of the September 9, 1971 Attica prisoner uprising, a nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage has begun today. Reports say that a full work stoppage has occurred at Holman prison in Alabama. Chelsea Manning has also begun a hunger strike. Other strikes and actions have been reported in prisons in South Carolina, North Carolina, Kansas, New York, California, Virginia, Florida and Guantanamo. The Nation has reported that this may turn into the largest prison strike in US history.
Organizers have called this strike to end the slave conditions in US prisons, saying:
They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.
The full call to action is republished below.
Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.
Get it as a zine PDF. En Espanol or mailroom friendly
This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America
By Kirkpatrick Sale
Of all the phenomena the 2016 election year has demonstrated, none is greater than the proof that this nation is deeply and probably irretrievably split into two political camps with very, very little in common. It is more than blue states and red states, it goes deeper: it is truth, jobs, security, and intelligence on one side and lies, coddling rich, porous borders, and stupidity on the other. And vice versa.
Perhaps the greatest evidence of this rift at this moment is to be found in Texas. A Public Policy Polling survey on August 16 found that 61 per cent of the people who support Trump there have vowed that if Hillary Clinton is elected president they will push for Texas to secede from the union. Nothing less: secession.
And the interesting thing is that Texans have been thinking about secession for a number of years recently, and a Reuters poll in 2014 found that 36 per cent of the population would be for secession and another 18 percent were not sure, making the anti-secession crowd a minority of 46 per cent. And if anti-Clinton sentiment is real, her victory in November would likely solidify the secession movement further.
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There is here a mass of original high-quality libertarian, anarchist, and conservative literature published over the decades since our establishment in 1979 which needs to be better organised and more widely available. There is also a need to merge the old website with the new one. In addition to more than a thousand essays in our archives, there are also multimedia files of lectures at Libertarian Alliance conferences, along with our appearances in the media. More…
By Keith Preston
Last month, I wrote about how many of the predictions that I have been making over the past decade or so have come true during the course of recent events. In particular, the current U.S. presidential election represents the fulfillment of some of these predictions. Hillary Clinton is an almost perfect manifestation of the totalitarian humanist convergence I predicted nearly a decade ago, i.e. the combination of militarism, plutocracy, and police statism with ostensibly liberal and progressive values as an ideological cover (with these enforced by means of an ever more intrusive nanny state). Bill Lind describes the implications of this ideological framework very thoroughly. Jack Ross explains the present day political alignments that have emerged because of the rise of totalitarian humanism. And Vanity Fair describes how a new left-wing of the ruling class has emerged that comes from outside the ranks of the traditional WASP elites and is rooted in newer high-tech industries. I’ve been saying all of these things for years.
Six years ago, I wrote about the ten core demographics that a radical or revolutionary movement in North America would likely need to organize in order to achieve the popular base needed for effective political action. Current events represent the stirring of many of these demographics and in a way that signifies that these cleavages are developing at a much more rapid pace than I thought they would when I wrote that original piece.
The Donald Trump phenomena represents a stirring of the populist right and the sinking middle. The antiwar, civil libertarian, and labor-oriented sections of the Left have become increasingly alienated from both the Democratic Party and the liberal establishment even to the point that some on the antiwar left now favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
By Tom Slater
“Brexit is a fake revolt’, writes Paul Mason in the Guardian this week: ‘Working-class culture is being hijacked to help the elite.’ A withering article in Vice agrees. ‘Brexit is the upper classes in revolt’, writes Sam Kriss. ‘They see an undemocratic and unaccountable EU elite ruling by diktat and an unfounded sense of their own superiority, and they think: hey, that’s our job.’ Among nominally metropolitan, left-wing Remainers – or, in Mason’s case, Abstainers – this has become the overriding narrative: that Brexit is the establishment.
It’s also utter balls. Let’s run through the list of those who back Remain: there’s the prime minister; all the major political parties; every major world leader; the IMF; the Bank of England… Oh and, after this morning, we can add to that the entire British capitalist class. In a letter in The Times, 1,700 of the UK’s leading business leaders back Remain, and prominent among them are the CEOs of JP Morgan, HSBC and Goldman Sachs. You know, those fatcat bankers we hear so much about.
It looks like ATS ideas are becoming increasingly closer to the mainstream. I am seeing more and more writing like this all the time.
By Tim Bryant
The Last American Vagabond
Anyone paying even the slightest attention to the 2016 Presidential Election can see that this election cycle has been marred and corrupted up on a variety of fronts. On one hand, you have Hillary Clinton, a notorious insider and lifelong crook that is currently under criminal investigation by the FBI, and on the other hand you have Donald Trump, a reality TV character that says whatever’s on his mind, making it hard to pinpoint any real fundamentals to his policies, as well as creating polarizing political theatre for the public to eat up. These are the choices we’re given; you really can’t make this stuff up.
For those who have been awake for years, the ridiculousness of this year’s election is not all that shocking, as it has been on display for decades for those who cared to look behind the scenes. However, for a large majority of the population, this year’s election seems to be a major catalyst in waking them up to the obvious illusion that the United States of America is still a free and democratic society, the two supposed cornerstones of the “greatest country in the world.”
By Chris Shaw
I’ve made it clear that I don’t see the EU referendum as particularly important. The major economic questions surrounding the modern world, from banking fragility and capital creation, to huge levels of private and sovereign debt and politico-economic centralisation are not remotely addressed within this debate, except maybe on the peripheries. If we leave, economic and political power will simply be moved from unaccountable elites in Brussels to those in Westminster and its parasitical institutions. Democracy is not important in this debate as some have emphasised, as realistically the kind of representative democracy we have has led to many of the ridiculous problems the UK faces today, from failing social systems to a debt-led economy. Representative democracy relies on mass ignorance and the ability to debate non-issues among non-representative parties.
The only important area this debate touches on is the concept of secession. By voting to leave, we are hopefully seceding from the EU. This is more hopeful when the powers that be (Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, etc.) have proposed leaving the Single Market, thus actually decreasing our involvement in the EU instead of simply renegotiating it through EFTA or the EEA. Such proposals are potentially important and even radical, particularly when put in the frame of a “people’s choice” which is currently defining this referendum. This reinterprets what were meant to be the realities of the referendum (that of a debate about how good or bad the EU has supposedly been), and has instead reoriented it toward questions of what constitutes nationality and the character and ownership of a nation.
By doing this, questions of power and where it is held are raised. With this comes the potential for a wider debate over the whole concept of how we shape our polities and economies. Fundamentally, a discussion of this sort allows for a move away from the corporatised economies and centralised governance structures which cast the current paradigm.
By Sean Gabb
Though we have nearly four weeks yet of campaigning, I find it hard to believe that the European Referendum will end in other than a crushing defeat for the Leave Campaign. For many on our side, this will be the end of their hopes. They have spent twenty five years – sometimes forty – connecting everything bad in this country with membership of the European Union, and pressing for a referendum. They now have their referendum. It will be lost. Age alone will give many of them nowhere to go. Some will pass the rest of their lives complaining that the vote was rigged. Most will drift away into confused silence. My own view is that the Referendum was always a mistaken strategy, and that its loss will bring an end to one of the less valuable chapters in the history of our movement.
By Chris Shaw
The concept of a libertarian party should be simple. A collection of multiple strands of libertarian and anarchist ideologues, thinkers and activists coming together to present multiple alternatives to the current statist world. Simple, right? Not so for the modern Libertarian Party of America. It seems, looking at its origins, it had the goal that I’ve just set out. A collection of differing viewpoints but with a core libertarian ideology at the centre of it all. But then came the low tax liberalism, and the lack of radicalism in pushing a message of political and non-political action. That was bad enough. But now it’s gone one step further in diluting more to becoming some Beltway Republican outfit for all those disaffected by Trump and Clinton.
On the surface, this may seem a good strategy. Your spreading the message of libertarianism into more mainstream outlets and individuals like Republican ex-politicians. However, many of these Republicans are only leaving because of Trump. That means that they at least tolerated the Bush era, an era of a massive expansion of state power through the Patriot Act which kickstarted the NSA surveillance program that Snowden revealed in 2013. An era of two imperialistic wars that have led to death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a large increases in homelessness and cases of PTSD among veterans. How can one tolerate this stupidity, yet can’t tolerate the differing stupidity of Trump’s policies.
Let’s look at one of these Republican turned libertarian convert, William Weld, who is now Gary Johnson’s presumptive running mate. This is a man who previously endorsed Mitt Romney and John Kasich, two candidates who have not proposed a libertarian foreign or economic policy but instead want to maintain neoliberal-neoconservative consensus that prevails in America. Again, Weld is a man who could seemingly tolerate the extremely un-libertarian years of the Bush administration, but then can’t tolerate Trump.
The “troll” accusation is fair enough.
By Stuart Sudekum
One of the problems with the so called “alt right” is that it is founded on the “left/right” political paradigm and assumes an argumentative political stance as its starting point. Though conservatism as a worldview is ultimately tied to the subject of political philosophy, I would generally see the pet causes of conservative politicians and political “activists” (to use the term generously) as accidental rather than essential properties of the conservative ethos. The term conservatism—in the broadest sense of the word—can be used to encompass any social, cultural, or moral position that regards the truths which we live by as in some way fixed. If there is any unifying praxis that results from this viewpoint, it is criticism of the notion of progress, and thus modernism.
The Amish, followers of various monastic traditions, and traditional Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass could all be seen as people embodying this ideal in their religious life. People of First Nations ancestry who choose to live by their old customs in spite of the fact that modern options are now readily accessible to them would be a good example of how this ideology can extend to the way people prepare food, wear their clothes, or earn their living. In education, it might mean an adherence to a particular canon or method of teaching, a skepticism toward modern or post-modern critical approaches, and a general tendency to create an intellectual milieu that resists commenting on issues of the day in favor of perennial truths that stand outside of time.