Donald Trump richly deserves the outpouring of condemnation and political opposition that has led up to the series of UK-wide protests that began Thursday.
He represents all that is vile and reactionary in political and social life, not only in the United States but in Britain, Europe and throughout the world.
- A billionaire advocate of cutting social spending and punishing working people to enrich the major corporations and the already fabulously wealthy.
- Someone whose proudest boast is that he will “Build the Wall” and who now pens immigrant children in cages, separated from their mothers and fathers.
- An advocate of an “America First” trade war that pits workers in one country against those in another in a vicious race to the bottom.
- A brutal militarist who has threatened nuclear war against North Korea, Russia and China unless they accept US dictates.
These and innumerable lesser crimes are cited by the organisers of the anti-Trump protests to secure the support of those genuinely horrified that such a man leads the most powerful country in the world. But amid the constant insistence on “Unity against Trump”, a warning must be made of the reactionary politics of the organisations leading these protests.
Concealed behind selective outrage and an almost exclusive focus on Trump as an individual, the two groups who have combined to form Together Against Trump are intent on uniting with sections of the British ruling class to push for a trade and military alliance with Europe against the US and for a takeover of government by the Democratic Party in America they hope will restore the “special relationship.”
The pseudo-left parties have aligned themselves with the pro-Corbyn Momentum group in the Stand Up to Trump coalition. But their propaganda and agitation are all but indistinguishable from that of the Stop Trump coalition, fronted by Owen Jones of the Guardian on a pro-European Union agenda aligned with the Blairite wing of the Labour Party.
To this end, the references to socialism and the working class, criticisms of the US Democrats, and above all opposition to the EU that supposedly animated their call for a “Left Leave” are confined to glancing references in their respective newspapers and web sites. For the most part, the focus is on condemnations of Trump’s racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other staples of the identity politics agenda that is counterposed to class politics in a “Carnival of Resistance.”
The Socialist Party, for example, bizarrely criticises May for calling “herself a feminist” while “endorsing his disgusting sexist behaviour.”
For its part, the Socialist Workers Party insists, “We should all march on the Together Against Trump demonstration. … We must hound Trump and his supporters.” But who does “we” signify?
This is not just an amnesty for a handful of Guardian hacks such as Jones, Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Afua Hirsch.
The agreement not to air disagreements accedes to Corbyn’s demand that nothing must endanger the unity of the Labour Party and cut across convincing the ruling class that he can be trusted with the reins of power.
It also means tacit support for the Democrats in the US, whose campaign against Trump centres on accusations that he is not ready to confront Russia militarily. To this end, Jones insists that the danger facing the UK, as with the Iraq War in 2003, is when “we become the poodle of extreme Republican administrations” and pay a “blood price” for doing so.
What then of the “special relationship” under President Barack Obama, the first president to have waged war for every day of his eight years in office with Britain’s collusion and who also deported 2.7 million immigrants—more than any other president?
And what if Hillary Clinton, whom Jones supported, had won against Trump in 2016? Not only has Clinton advocated for every war waged by the US since Iraq, but the favoured candidate of Wall Street also urged in 2014 that children from Central America entering the US illegally “should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are” and who, in 2015, said, “I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”
The depth of political cynicism involved in the anti-Trump protests is epitomised by the wall of silence erected around the crimes being perpetrated by the EU in imposing savage austerity against its own citizens, its brutality against refugees and its own warmongering.
While supposedly opposing the rise of “Trumpism”—i.e., the Tories in Britain and various far-right movements and governments in Europe—not a word is said by the leaders of Together Against Trump against the EU and all its governments—a quarter of whose citizens are in poverty or at risk of poverty, whose “Fortress Europe” policies have led to the deaths of 35,000 migrants and whose governments are all frantically rearming.
Our comrades in the Socialist Equality Party in the US have insisted that the coming to power of Trump is not an aberration, but was prepared politically by previous administrations, above all the Obama administration.
The extreme nationalist “America First” assertion of the interests of US imperialism is only the most developed expression of the growth of antagonisms between all the major imperialist powers that are driving the world ever more swiftly towards trade war and military conflict.
For this reason, no section of the ruling class in America, the UK or Europe represents a genuine alternative to Trump.
There are three basic forms of opposition to his administration, representing the interests of different social classes.
- The opposition of the ruling class led by the Democrats in the US and American imperialism’s various rivals in Europe.
- The opposition of affluent layers of the upper-middle class, who in Britain generally gravitate towards the EU as a counterweight to the US and a guarantor of the economic order on which their considerable privileges depend.
- The opposition of the American, British and world working class: The hundreds of millions made to suffer through the destruction of their livelihoods by the major corporations, by governments who serve corporate interests and the financial oligarchy just as surely as does Trump, and by the brutal wars that have left such cruel scars on the face of the planet.
To oppose Trump is to oppose the capitalist system he defends. It means mobilising a unified struggle by workers and young people against US, British and European imperialism independently of all the political representatives of big business on a socialist and revolutionary programme and perspective. It means building the Socialist Equality Party, British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, as the new leadership of the working class.