History Has Opened The Door, Now We Must Walk Through It

| Strategize!

Above Photo: mathiaswasik/flickr

Note: We need a broad coalition from radicals to the mainstream of the United States that is multi-racial and multi-ethnic and includes the unemployed, poverty workers and the working and middle classes in order to build the power to stop Trumpism and the corporatism of the bi-partisans in Congress. We are seeing the beginnings of a mass movement that can achieve the transformation the people of the United States have wanted for multiple election cycles.

There are risks that broad coalitions go to the lowest common denominator and will be stopped from taking some of the aggressive, persistent and strategic actions we need in order to win. Many of you who read Popular Resistance come from more radical movements in the United States. Our role in a broad mass movement is political education and pulling people toward our view that reform is not sufficient and transformation is the goal. People in the movement need to understand the need for ICU: Independent of the two parties in what we stand for, Clear in our demands and Uncompromising to insist the power structure meet the needs of the people. We know the system is dominated by money and serves the wealthy so we cannot let the system define us. We know what we need and we must demand it.

This is a complicated task. The system wins by separating the radicals from the coalition. They know the radicals are dangerous because we demand that the root causes of problems be faced and that we do not merely tinker with reforms but seek transformation. We need to show the coalition they have the power to demand and get what they want and need. We need to examine root cause issues like capitalism, racism and militarism and show how we can build new systems to benefit all of us.

When we announced the Popular Resistance website in 2013 we wrote about how in June 2011 with our colleagues we announced plans to occupy Washington, DC in October 2011, writing:

“. . . we announced October2011.org with an article called “History is Knocking.” We asked if the time might be right for a larger mass of people to rise up and occupy public space to challenge the corporate control of our government, a corrupt economy and US militarism. We were not certain what the answer would be, but six months later hundreds of thousands of you did rise up in Occupy encampments across the nation. Many more were inspired by the massive mobilizations to join the work on a broad variety of injustices in their communities.

“Today we know that history is no longer knocking. History has opened the door and is standing in front of us. The broad movement for peace and social, economic and environmental justice is here and you should be part of it”

Now that movement has taken a great leap forward with the mobilizations against Donald Trump before, during and after his inauguration, especially the last few days with the immigration justice protests at airports and federal courthouses. This movement has shown it is big enough to create incredible transformational change, now we need to understand our power and use it. We see the ingredients of a mass movement that can be stronger than Trump and the bi-partisans in Washington, DC. The article below on how we must work together in coalition, is one aspect of moving forward together.   – KZ and MF

Dear beloved resistance: We are stronger together

Dear beloved resistance,

We now have a President and Cabinet who almost certainly have no interest in the safety or well-being of their people. Many of us marched in the streets last weekend in an awesome show of solidarity against Trump and all that he promises and stands for. It was, by several accounts, the largest global protest in history.

But in the hours and days following the march, we began to size each other up, tear each other down, and occasionally thoughtfully critique each other’s politics and intentions. Donald Trump poses an unprecedented threat to all of us. It is true that some of us are more used to being targeted by the government than others of us. Some of us come from a history several generations long of being targeted by the government. But as far as I can tell, whoever we are and whatever our level of privilege, things are about to get a whole lot worse for every last one of us. Here are some uncomfortable truths, and some thoughts on what we need to do about them to succeed in the fight against Trump.

We all have limited resources. We can’t use them battling each other. However hurt your feelings are, however offended you might feel that your fellow resisters are not ideologically in line with you or woke enough or culturally sensitive enough, that’s nothing compared to what is on the horizon from your own government. That goes for everybody. Brown bodies, Black bodies, white bodies, female bodies, trans bodies, differently-abled bodies. A wise activist told me once to practice not being offended. Let’s practice not being offended so we can preserve our resources for the big battles.

On the other hand, we all need to practice being offended by things that do not directly affect us or our families. We can all find a few moments to think about what it is to walk in someone else’s shoes. When you read the news, look for the attacks that won’t affect you directly, and try to imagine what they might mean for your neighbour or for the folks you marched with last weekend.

The more narrowly we define ourselves, the worse off we are. If we can act collectively as a broad coalition of people who do not want to live in an authoritarian state, that’s a LOT of people. A lot of people are harder to control than a few people. Let’s open up the tent. Hell, let’s ditch the tent and build the coalition we need right now.

Coalitions, by definition, contain people who are not alike. We are not going to build intimacy and radical love and acceptance among us overnight. We might not even learn to accept each other’s versions of history and reality. But we marched because we could agree on one thing: we see Donald Trump as an imminent threat to our bodies, to our country, to our families and our futures. Coalitions are strong because they aggregate the broadest divergent groups aimed at a narrow political goal. Coalitions have been used to effectively demand civil rights, suffrage, and justice throughout our history. Sometimes, the most vulnerable groups are overshadowed within a coalition. We should be conscious of this and correct for it. Sometimes, the most vulnerable groups have the most to gain from working in coalition. We are, indeed, stronger together.

Working in coalition means that we do not demand that the coalition represent our every interest, or act upon our every critique. When we choose to work together, there is a great potential benefit. There is also sometimes a cost. Whenever we work in coalition, our individual interests have to be negotiated with the group. We may not always feel heard or seen or understood. Individual members of the coalition may have good will, and may make space to learn more about others, but not everyone will. Sometimes we will have to accept not being fully met in order to reap the benefits of coalition, and to free the coalition up to achieve its objective.

“Consciousness raising” and “intersectional dialogue” in big public forums are easily manipulated by people who want to divide us. Right now, most of us feel targeted by the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. We feel targeted for any number of reasons: because we are women, we are Muslim, we are Black, we are Mexican, we are disabled, we are in need of reliable health care, we are immigrants, we are LGBTQ or gender nonconforming, we are human and would like clean drinking water, or any number of other situations. We do not come from the same places or experiences. We have a lot to learn about each other. Some of that needs to be worked out right this minute in order to have any coalition at all. And some of it can and should wait because those conversations are big and important, but also use up limited time and energy resources that we need to stop Trump. All of it needs to be done respectfully, and with integrity. The more successful we are, the more powerful the efforts to divide us will be. The more willing to trash each other we are, the less likely we are to succeed.

We can only stop the rapid decline of our democracy, as imperfect as it may be, if we act strategically, as a coalition. Identity politics get in the way of our mission. There are many important things that will not be accomplished by this mission. But none of those things will be accomplished without it.

Trump’s presidency promises a level of destruction and uncertainty that may make progress for any of us a distant dream. Stopping Trump may only be one step, but it is the most critical step and it is before us, all of us together, today.

 

  • rgaura

    Good article, except for targeting one individual who could be an ally (on some issues) rather than targeting empire, or corruption, or the system. DT has no more responsibility for the system than any other american. He has never held office before. Why not try to work with him? My issues are Peace and Justice, broadly speaking. This polarisation, these demonstrations will be used by the right to clamp down further on civil liberties. This is not a skilful analysis.

  • mwildfire

    Come on, r. Work with him on what? He has assembled a team that is openly fascist. Should the people in 1930’s Germany have tried to work with Hitler? I suppose many of them did. Trump is clearly a narcissist. And the team he is assembling is already assaulting us on a dozen fronts. We cannot work with these people, even if on one or two issues (opposing TPP, not immediately engaging in war with Russia) we coincide. While we’re “working with him” his brownshirts will be rounding people up, throwing them into camps, torturing them…they SAY so.

  • DHFabian

    “We now have a President and Cabinet who almost certainly have no interest in the safety or well-being of their people.” You would need to look back to understand that this is just the next phase of what began with the “Reagan Revolution.” What we’re seeing is the imposition of fascism — by definition — from the bottom up. It’s now biting hard enough at the heels of the middle class to get their attention.

    The notion of any concern about “the safety or well-being of their people” is absurd to anyone who is aware of the treatment of our poor over the last 20 years. We have actually stripped them of the most basic human rights (UN’s UDHR) of food and shelter, and the overall life expectancy of the US poor has plunged below that of every developed nation. Countless families have been torn apart, lives destroyed — and it somehow just seems so normal today that we don’t even talk about it.

  • DHFabian

    This is like wondering, “Why not just work with Hitler?” We’re in the post-American era now. The old rules no longer apply. The “checks and balances” built into our government have been dismantled. The notion of “working with” those who now have power is as illogical as the notion of “working with” a lit stick of dynamite.

  • DHFabian

    (I should have read your comment before writing mine…) Actually, there were groups — Jews and other targeted groups — who did say this about Hitler early on. “Surely, he can be reasoned with.” A fanatic with an agenda, and the power to carry it out, cannot be reasoned with.

    The US has, for some years, already been rounding up the very poor and immigrants, imprisoning many, deporting many immigrants, all without due process.

  • kevinzeese

    I would like to see a reduction of conflict with Russia. The escalation has been based on false propaganda. It would be to see missiles removed from their border, resolution in Ukraine, drop in nuclear missiles, and resolution in Syria. I will support all of that with or without Trump. If Trump agrees on those that would be good news. Of course I will protest him where we disagree. It is about the issues not Trump. I also protestevObama and the DNC.

  • rgaura

    I also am dismayed by his choices for cabinet. Very. Yet why should he want to work with people who vilify him, and attack his family? Do you sit down with a counsellor or at a trade union negotiation and insult the other person, degrade and humiliate him, and then say, here´s what we want…? The media/DNC is pushing very hard to keep themselves from being investigated. Many people high up in Washington are vulnerable to any real investigation. There is a rift in the power structure. They are pushing this polarity agenda to get back in power and avoid going to prison. Trump has few allies, so he´s going with folks who will act respectfully and back him up. Some of them seem a bit looney, but my concern is are they compromised? Are they corrupt? Or do they just have a different vision, but are altruistic and honest? If so, we can talk.
    The media would have you believe that bush, clinton and obama were not moving us to fascism. That is not supported by the facts. Obama has done much more to destroy countries, our civil rights, consumer rights, and on down the line than Trump has had time to do, or even thought of. The shriek o meter news would have you believe that Trump is the problem. I´m just saying he´s an iconoclast, he´s unpredictable, he´s not ideological, and he has expressed some good intentions.
    I´m just talking about skilful means. How do we get what we want? Persuasion. Facts. Programs. Making allies.
    No Tantrum Yoga. No fear.

  • Jon

    Is anything more important than initiating a dialogue with working class people who happen to be in the military service or police departments? Think hard about that. Sure, there are some incorrigible racist, fascist types, but they are not the majority. It is imperative to reach those who are not, to preclude their use against our side in times ahead. In the sixties, activists reached out to and supported military people who understood that the war against Vietnam was a fool’s mission. Tens of thousands went AWOL or deserted completely, partly based on having information provided by activists. Please pay attention to this direction. Do not wait until there is confrontation, for then it is too late. Visualize delegations just going to police stations to initiate dialogue or to just talk with random police encountered in ordinary circumstances on the street.

  • Jn1BG00D

    rgaura says: ” DT has no more responsibility for the system than any other american. He has never held office before. Why not try to work with him? My issues are Peace and Justice, broadly speaking.”

    You need to understand one very basic and fundamental thing about Donald Trump. He is a fascist! He also suffers from the sociopathic disorder classified as Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder [look it up] and he as a psychopathic overlay that makes it impossible for him to experience or express genuine empathy or compassion for other human beings.

    First, you cannot “work with” a fascist. Fascists understand only one thing. Domination and control. You either comply with that domination and control or you die. The common expression is “comply or die”.

    You need to research and study fascism. I recommend you read George Orwell’s seminal book 1984!

    It will give you everything you need to know to understand Donald Trump.

    We are rapidly moving to a Global Corporate [fascist] Capitalist Empire. Trump intends to be the titular head of that fascist empire.

    He will not stop until a full fledged, unfettered, fully functional fascist state is implemented.

    Make no mistake! Your only hope is resistance. Peaceful, non-violent resistance to fascism.

    No matter what you do, Trump will implement his fascist agenda. You can only seek to oppose it and hopefully prevent.

    We learned in the 1960’s from the Civil Rights Movement how important and effective non-violent, peaceful protest can be in achieving democratic goals.

    However, do not be naïve. There will be pain. You will arrested, beaten, imprisoned and perhaps even murdered but at least you know that your had principled meaning and your suffering and maybe even your death, was based upon principled opposition to fascism.

  • Jn1BG00D

    I think that will be the next big expression of Trumpian fascism. He will issue an executive order to round up the “illegals” within our borders and then the horror will really begin he has to confiscate all over their material possessions: homes, bank accounts, etc. and then place them in camps pending their transport out of the country or into permanent concentration camps.

    He will, like FDR did in WWII to the Japanese Americans, justify the confiscation and imprisonment of 11 million human beings based upon the need to pay for their arrest and imprisonment.

    The logistical horrors of such an effort will be nightmarish and then we will see if the American people will protest and prevent this fascist act.

  • Jn1BG00D

    I urge you to use the word FASCIST instead of fanatic. He is a fascist.

  • Jn1BG00D

    Donald Trump admires the fascist dictator PUTIN. He wants to emulate him. There is no reason to believe that Russia will ever be anything but an enemy because at some point, Trump will turn on PUTIN, the same way Hitler turned on Lenin.

  • rgaura

    I was almost beaten to death in my teens when I challenged a man who was beating a woman viciously. He fit the personality disorder you describe quite well. I know this type well. I learned to be manipulative and diplomatic, as well as when to run.
    I think you may be projecting a bit here. If indeed it is fascism we face, non violence will not alone be a successful tactic.
    I suggest you watch Mr Trump with his son and family. He is not Attila the Hun, he is a human being. He does´t know much about how government works, he needs a gentle education that massages his ego. Confrontation and abuse are losing tactics.
    I honestly think the Clintons and Obamas are the more effective evil, because they lull you and deceive you, and implement the policies Mr Hedges calls inverted totalitarianism. At least Mr Trump isn´t involved in human trafficking, illegal wars and assassination, gun running, drug running, and the destruction of civil societies around the world.(Yet!) Lets hope he doesn´t.
    I have been set up, knocked down and imprisoned. And I´m still resisting!

  • mwildfire

    I don’t disagree about Clinton and Obama and the DNC. But whatTrump has done before and since the election, with statements, with incitation to attack protesters, with terrible appointments, with refusal to pay any heed to conflict of interest concepts, or release his taxes, or talk to the media—his kicking out everyone beyond the lowest level in the State Department, his absurdities re Mexico and the wall, and his unfair attacks on refugees from Obama’s –and Bush’s–wars–it all goes far beyond Obama. I suppose you could say he hasn’t done as much harm in a week as Obama did in 8 years, but he promises to catch up as fast as he can. And I don’t think we have to decide that either the Dems or the Repugs are acceptable. They are both enemies of the people, often working in hidden collusion.

  • rgaura

    I´d just like to share a poem I ran across tonight;
    The Conclusion
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element
    It is my personal approach that creates the climate
    It is my daily mood that makes the weather
    I posses tremendous power to make a life miserable or joyous
    I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration
    I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal
    In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanised or de-humanised
    If we treat people as they are, we make them worse
    If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.

    Talk is talk, mass murder is another category altogether. Peace to us all.