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

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.

 

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