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I’ve attended counter-inaugural protests against Nixon (in Frankfurt, Germany), Reagan, Bush the Elder and Dubya. I found the experience to be cathartic each time, but not very long-lasting in terms of actual social change. Still, I think it was time well spent. I was originally planning to attend the protests against Trump and his right wing minions, but family stuff came up and I did not. In a way, I am glad since I might well have been one of the couple hundred charged with felony riot charges. It’s not that I necessarily support the tactics of the Black Bloc, but I tend to find myself where the action is in such situations, especially when the alternative is listening to speeches and dealing with parade marshals, liberals and paper sellers. The fact that the charges against those arrested–those whose strategy is to make the US ungovernable or at least be a major pain in the ass to the new authoritarian regime–are felony charges seems to bode ill for unpermitted protests the next four years. It’s not that unpermitted protests were treated much better under Obama; it’s just that with the Trumpists in power there are certain to be a lot more protests and law enforcement much more willing to beat the shit out of people protesting. When the State is desperate it always resorts to force.
As Trump holds meetings with corporate America and promises to get rid of health, labor and safety regulations and impose protective tariffs on US products made elsewhere, the drool from the CEO faction floods the meeting room while they count the profits they hope to make. “We like what we hear” is the summation of corporate America’s boardrooms. Of course, why wouldn’t they? Their minimal allegiance to US society is being curtailed even further by presidential fiat. More mansions for the few, more misery for the many. In other words, a perfect capitalist state if you’re one of the few who sit at the top of the economy. But, say some on the Left, Trump just tore up the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement! That’s a good thing, right? And, yes, of course it is. However, this action does not mean things will be better for US workers (even the native-born ones who fit Trumpism’s definition of true American). What it does mean is that profits will be better for those who employ those workers. Nothing new there. Trump actually used the words “fair trade” when describing his reasons for ripping up the TPP. Of course, he doesn’t mean fair trade in the same sense as those who sell coffee and other goods in food co-ops. No, he means “fair” for the corporations who hope to benefit. I am reminded of a three year old child whose idea of fairness includes only what is best for their self.
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America….” For me, this line is the most alarming and most representative line from Trump’s inauguration speech. Not only does it epitomize his idea of citizenship, it also seems to symbolize (along with his distaste for compromise) how he will deal with dissent. Sure, he prettied up this ultimately totalitarian thought with the requisite words about the diversity of the US population, blah blah blah, but the essence is simple. Allegiance to the State is the primary allegiance any resident of the United States should have. Any other allegiance is secondary. Those who share this allegiance with Donald Trump and his cadre are the “true Americans.” All others are to be considered suspicious. I consider myself warned and ready.
In addition to that particular line, Trump’s brief inaugural address revealed the world he and many of his followers live in. It is a world where public education and inner cities are jungles and where the world’s most powerful military is weak. It is a world framed by a willful ignorance about the lives of others informed by fake reality television. It is a world where facts that don’t fit this world are not facts and science is not real. Ignorance is celebrated and blame has replaced responsibility. It is a world that is a fertile ground for the likes of fascists and racists whose seed thrive in the gardens of ignorance and fear. Speaking of fascists, how about that neo-nazi getting sucker-punched? I have been asked my opinion about this action a few times. My first reaction was that of course he deserved it. Was it strategically a smart thing? Probably not, but nazis need to get what they deserve more often. Their politics are politics that need to be exposed, opposed and removed from the general conversation. The fact that such politics are even being discussed in a rational manner these days is symptomatic of the crisis capitalism is in. It is also an indication of the failure not only of liberalism, but of the Left’s failure to organize a lasting opposition to capitalism and its ugliest spawn, fascism.
There is some hope, however. The size of the protests against Trump and Trumpism indicates the breadth of the opposition to Trump and his politics. The shallowness of the politics of that opposition’s leadership indicates the work those to the left of the capitalist parties have left to do. If the bedrock of Trumpism is total allegiance to his version of the American state, the bedrock of our politics should be total opposition to Trumpism.