Black Lives Matter is Not Marxist
This is an actual statement from the President of the United States in a recent interview with his fellow far-right white nationalist Laura Ingraham of Fatherland (FOX) News: “Black Lives Matter is a Marxist organization…The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, I said, ‘That’s a terrible name.’ It’s so discriminatory. It’s bad for Black people. It’s bad for everybody.”
How viciously absurd. Black Lives Matter is not “an organization” any more than ANTIFA is “an organization.” As Wikipedia reports, “Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a decentralized movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people…. The broader movement and its related organizations typically advocate against police violence towards black people, as well as for various other policy changes considered to be related to black liberation.”
As a longtime left Marxist, I think I would know if the Black Lives Matter movement shared my world view. It doesn’t. Black Lives Matter, whatever exactly it is, does not advocate multi-racial working-class socialist revolution, workers’ control, the collective ownership of the means of production, and the dismantlement of the American capitalist Empire. The sixteen-chapter organization that calls itself the Black Lives Matter Network (formed in 2013) would not have received millions of dollars from the Ford Foundation and various corporate sponsors if it advocated those things.
I have been to numerous “Black Lives Matter” rallies and have never once heard echoes of the original Black Panther Party’s call for multi-racial proletarian revolution. The rallies (whose causes I have supported, including the defunding of the nation’s racist mass incarceration and police state) have been oriented around race, with no or very little reference to class, and no white speakers allowed. The slogan is fairly mild – nothing like “Black Power” or “All Power to the People.”
“BLM’s” significantly identitarian focus is unsurprising and understandable to no small degree, but it is not “Marxist.” I wish “BLM” was Marxists, but it isn’t. (Not that Trump cares about any of that.)
To Buy Pepper is not to Hate Salt
What about the notion that “BLM” is “discriminatory”? That, too, is absurd. There is nothing in the slogan or BLM activists’ demands that causes prejudicial harm to white Americans. To say that “Black lives matter” is no more suggests that “white lives don’t matter” than one declares boys irrelevant by saying that “girls matter.”
“BLM” calls for the nation to stop disproportionately targeting Black people for mass arrest, incarceration, and criminal branding. It demands an end to racist police brutality, often lethal. BLM activists want government to shift resources from the repression and punishment of Black people to the social protection and uplift of Black people, who too commonly live under horrific circumstances because of the long and ongoing history of racial oppression and apartheid in the United States. There’s no discrimination against whites or anyone involved in any of that. One does not hate and displace salt because one adds pepper to their recipe.
“An Interesting Situation”
The president’s ridiculous comments on BLM came after race-related violence broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A Trumpist teenager enlisted in a local fascist militia (the Kenosha Guard) murdered two civil rights protesters with an AR-15 in Kenosha last week. These crimes occurred during demonstrations protesting the attempted murder of the young Black man Jacob Blake, who was unnecessarily paralyzed with seven sadistic shots in the back by a white Kenosha police officer.
The teen killer, Kyle Rittenhouse (Rittenhausen), had been “patrolling” Kenosha with his assault weapon with the approval of city and county police, who let him walk free and return to his Illinois home even as protesters reported that he had just shot three human beings.
In his interview with Frau Ingraham, Herr Drumpf failed to condemn the fascist adolescent’s monstrous actions. To the contrary, the indecent orange beast argued that young Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense.
Trump has since elaborated, saying this to reporters at the White House on Monday: “We’re looking at all of it. And that was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them, I guess; it looks like. And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation.”
How viciously absurd. The families and friends of the two young men slaughtered by the teen Trumpist can be forgiven if they don’t find the terrible events “interesting.” Rittenhouse went to Kenosha armed to kill. He murdered two people who risked their lives trying to disarm an active shooter, who has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and reckless homicide. the relevant authorities for investigating the crimes under US law are located in Kenosha, not the White House.
A Seven Shot Golf Putt
Even more sickening were Trump’s reflections on the attempted murder of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey. During his interview with Frau Ingraham, Trump compared Sheskey to a golfer missing a putt: “Shooting the guy – shooting the guy in the back many times, I mean, couldn’t you have done something different, couldn’t you have wrestled him? You know, I mean, in the meantime he might’ve been going for a weapon and you know, there’s a whole big thing there. But they choke. Just like in a golf tournament. They miss a 3-foot putt.”
Ingraham, sensing that her beloved Fuhrer might be causing himself some public relations trouble, cut the president off to say this: “You’re not comparing it to golf, because that’s what the media [will say].”
Sorry, but that’s exactly what the malicious fascist ogre did: he compared the attempted murder of Jacob Blake to a missed putt “like in a golf tournament.”
The Urban Communist Revolution, Sponsored by the International Jewish Bankers’ Conspiracy
Trump wasn’t done saying outwardly crazy shit that poor scrambling Laura Ingraham was unable to soften and sweeten for “suburban Facebook empathy moms.” If the Democrats get the White House, Trump told Ingraham, the nation will experience “riots like you’ve never seen. The Democrats have lost control of the radical left,” which “will take over. They will have won…They will have taken over your cities. It’s a revolution. You understand that. It’s a revolution” – a revolution “paid for by outside groups.” The fear of supposedly dangerous dark-skinned masses and leftist revolution in big cities is a standard fascist trope.
Where is this radical Marxist and anarchist Left that is on the verge of “taking over our cities” and making supposedly awful “revolution’? Not that I wouldn’t like to see such a thing (we need a socialist revolution so badly it’s not funny), but this is a paranoid-style fascistic neo-McCarthyite fantasy. This summer I’ve been to numerous urban demonstrations in which my (actually) “radical Left” politics have hardly been visible. These protests have been consistently hemmed in and occasionally terrorized by heavily armed gendarmes under the command of the distinctly non-radical corporate Democrat and pro-cop Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The right-wing corporate-neoliberal Democrats have retained firm control of the Democratic Party. They have for the second time crushed the mildly social-democratish Bernie Sanders rebellion, whose leader quickly lined up behind his “good friend,” the doddering racist and imperialist Joe “Never Called Me Boy” Biden.
The “radical Left” movement for Black lives that Trump and his sick puppy of a far-right Attorney General William Barr call “Marxist” (Barr even says “Bolshevik”) wants to shift resources from racist mass arrest and incarceration to schools, housing, health care, social services and other decent human investments in Black communities. These decent but far-from “radical” policy proposals are quite agreeable to program officers and donors at the Ford, Soros, and MacArthur foundations – and to other corporate (neo-) liberals Trump wants us to see in neo-Hitlerian terms, as part of the supposed international Jewish banker and communist conspiracy.
A Plane Loaded with Dark Thugs “Who Control the Streets”
Speaking of conspiratorialism, I have yet to mention the craziest part of the creepy Trump-Ingraham propaganda session on FOX. “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend,” Trump told Ingraham, “and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” He said this chilling incident was “under investigation right now.”
How absurd. No such flight took place. When Ingraham pressed her Dear Leader for information about the flight, the orange menace said, “I’ll tell you sometime” and claimed that the mysterious dark-clad agents of CHAOS had been flying to Washington to disrupt the RNC. “They’re people that are on the streets. They’re people that are controlling the streets.”
This whole fantasy is based on a far-right Facebook post that went up as the George Floyd rebellion rose up across the country. A Bircher lunatic claimed on June 1st that “At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.” The post, by an Emmett, Idaho, man, warned residents to “Be ready for attacks downtown and residential areas,” and claimed one passenger had “a tattoo that said Antifa America on his arm.”
The story is completely false, just like Trump’s recent claim, also based on a far right conspiracist rumor, that the Centers for Disease Control are badly exaggerating the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in the US.
Trump is No Fool
“Never argue with a fool,” Mark Twain is supposed to have said, “onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
Why even take up these insane Trump claims here?
Three reasons. First, there’s little chance of anyone who isn’t themselves a fool failing to see the difference in this venue.
Second, Trump is not some random village idiot mouthing off in the town square. He has his fingers on the nuclear trigger in world history’s most powerful position.
Third, Trump is no fool. He’s a proficient fascist demagogue who knows what he’s doing by throwing all this nonsense out on to the airwaves and Internet. Nearly four years into his fascist presidency, liberals and leftists I know need to drop their constant references to Trump as an “idiot” and “buffoon.” They are still, even now, falling like Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 character Doremus Jessup into the Buzz Windrip trap, getting fooled into thinking that the nation’s arch-authoritarian chief-executive is little more than a clown. Noam Chomsky is right: besides being “the most dangerous criminal in human history,” Trump “is a highly skilled politician, with a good sense of how to gain popular approval, even virtual worship in some circles.”
Trump knows he’s feeding his racist Amerikaner base red meat laced with nonsense. He probably doesn’t seriously think that BLM is Marxist. He doesn’t likely believe that Kyle Rittenhouse was going to be killed by civil rights protesters. He probably doesn’t think that it would be reverse-racism for the criminal justice system to stop disproportionately killing, arresting, maiming, incarcerating and felony-branding Black people. He doesn’t seriously believe that COVID-19 isn’t killing tens of thousands of Americans or that plane loads of “ANTIFA thugs” are being sent out to “destabilize cities” and foment revolution or that a mysterious cabal of behind-the-scenes elites are pulling the strings behind protests. He certainly doesn’t really think that Joe Biden and the rest of the corporate -managed Hollow Resistance (Democratic) Party are captive to “the radical Left.”
Trump wants a second term. He knows that his criminal, pandemic-fanning performance as president makes it difficult for him to win a normal bourgeois presidential election. He has no illusion that he can broaden his base beyond his white-nationalist followers. Conscious that the Electoral College is biased towards Red MAGA states and that the miserably uninspiring right-wing 77-year old Joe Biden evokes little enthusiasm in the Democrats’ base, Trump is doubling down on neo-fascism. He is trying to drive white-nationalist turnout by whipping his demented Trumpenvolk into a frenzy of fear and hatred with outwardly crazy neo-McCarthyite, conspiracist and paranoid-style claims.
Fascist Monkey Wrenching
Meanwhile, while Trump and his party are doing everything in their considerable power to mess up the practical and institutional mechanics of the election. One part of their monkey-wrenching project is old-fashioned: racist and partisan voter suppression in key battleground states. Other strategies are more novel, including the recruitment of tens of thousands of likely armed so-called poll-watchers to intimidate minority and other Biden voters and the possible use of federal paramilitaries and right-wing militia to do the same thing in key battleground cities. Expect the paramilitaries to hang around after the election to suppress protests as Trump tries to steal it if it looks like Biden is going to win. He and Barr recklessly refuse to pledge that they will honor an outcome that doesn’t go their way.
Trump has been making it clear from day one of his presidency that he doesn’t believe he can be fairly voted out of office. This is something he has been saying a lot lately and will continue to say in ways that are profoundly dangerous. “The only way I can lose,” he insists, is “if the election is rigged.”
One great Orwellian irony here is that he and his attorney general are themselves trying to rig the election by claiming without an iota of evidence that mail-in ballots are fraudulent – at least they are in Democratic states (Trump thinks they are okay in good Republican-controlled states like Florida). Deepening the vicious irony, mass voting by mail is likely thanks to the very pandemic that Trump has been deliberately fanning for six months. And, as if this isn’t bad enough, Trump has been trying to have his postmaster general cripple the postal service’s capacity to take in mailed ballots.
His party has control of much of the federal judiciary, which will to deliberate when he contests an election that does not goes his way, as Barr will do if the count goes to Biden.
It is highly unlikely that the US military will intervene to remove Trump as long as the administration is challenging the election in the courts. Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote this to Congress last week: “The Constitution and laws of the US and the states establish procedures for carrying out elections, and for resolving disputes over the outcome of elections … I do not see the US military as part of this process. In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military. I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military.”
Trump has been taking his enemies and opponents big and small to court like a maniac for at least four decades. The generals will not step in for as long as Trump can tie up and perhaps perverse a loss in the judicial system and in the streets, with the extra-legal help of his “tough guys” within and outside the police and military state.
Hawkfish, a Democratic Party-affiliated analytics group, has recently conducted a survey showing that Trump voters are much more likely to vote in-person than Biden voters. It is quite possible, Hawkfish warns, that Americans will see a big Trump sweep on the television screens on election night. If and when the final count with mail in votes says Biden, Trump’s violent and racist-sexist backers will have been primed to intimidate Democrats with weapons, ready to kill and maim, with Trump and Barr expecting (with some reason) the Democrats to cave.
Trump’s claim that he can only lose if the election is rigged might seem mad given Biden’s lead in the polls, Trump’s high disapproval rating, and the remarkable percentage of Americans (67%) who say that the country is headed in the wrong direction under Trump. But there’s nothing crazy about Trump’s assertion. He is setting the nation up for a protracted and very possibly bloody conflict after the mail-in ballots are finally counted and possibly show that he lost days if not weeks or even months after the election night television screens made it seem like he won in a massive landslide. He wants his rugged male Trumpenvolk in the streets, protected by white local and state police and federal gendarmes while his personal attorney general ties the outcome up in the courts. He knows that the military will never remove him as long as the federal judiciary deliberates (very possibly in his favor) and he’s counting on his shock troops to persuade the Inauthentic Opposition to surrender like Al Gore and start dreaming about the center-right 2024 Deval Patrick-Mikey Sherril ticket.
Of course, we should not rule out the possibility Trump suspending or even outright cancelling the election under some “state of emergency” pretext yet to be determined.
This fascist motherfucker has no intention of leaving the White House peacefully.
Know any older white male leftists who think this is just the same old terrible authoritarian U.S. politics as usual? (I sure do, sad to say). They are correct to note that there has been no great or functioning American democracy (electoral or otherwise) for Trump to overthrow. But, no, sorry, we are not experiencing the same old usual corporate-managed fake democracy ala Sheldon Wolin with Trump in the White House. Quantity changes to quality. Trump and Trumpism as very real steps towards the consolidation of a 21st Century fascist regime in the world history’s most power nation – no small matter. And Kenosha and Portland are just microcosms of America’s ugly future if We the People don’t mask up, get off their asses and terminate this fascist freakshow presidency from the bottom up beneath and beyond the holy election and as soon as humanly possible
The urgent task now is to join Dr. Cornel West and many others (myself included) in heeding Refuse Fascism’s call for people to take to the streets en masse beginning tomorrow, September 5th. (see the last link to locate a protest site near you). We must develop the capacity to take on the whole damn imperial class-rule system that brought us to this astonishingly disgusting fascist or (if your prefer) “fascist-equivalent” moment. Before that and as part of that task, we will have to protest in large numbers to make it possible for there to be an electoral process that can actually rid of us of “the dangerous criminal in human history.” Do not listen to the bedwetting moderates, liberals and progressives who tell you to stay off the streets because “protesting only helps Trump.” There will be no decent and fair election – insofar as such a thing is possible under the horrible American party and elections system – capable of removing the malignant beast Trump from the world’s most powerful job without mass protest before, during, and after the election. When it comes to the core existential task of nailing a stake into the heart of this fascist devil, it’s not about either protesting or voting and its certainly not about the false dichotomy of protesting versus voting. This is a “both and” moment.