‘Is Trump a fascist?’ ‘Are workers going to the right?’
BY MAGGIE TROWE
Does the election of Donald Trump signal the development of a fascist movement in the U.S.? Are the millions of workers who voted for him turning to the right, increasingly racist and reactionary?
These are among the questions readers sent in about the Nov. 28 article, “Socialist Workers Party: ‘Our Party Is Your Party!’ Trump Victory Registers Crisis of Bosses’ Parties. 2016: Most Important US Election in 100 Years.”
One reader, who didn’t want her name used, asked, “What does the Militant think about Trump and his right-wing KKK comrades” and is he a “neofascist?”
Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with fascism or a new rise in racism. It had everything to do with how Trump spoke about the economic and social crisis facing the working class. He promised to create jobs and grow the economy, albeit with nationalist demagogy thrown in aimed at shoring up capitalist rule, in sharp contrast to Clinton, who said the economy was fine and wrote workers off as “deplorables” and “irredeemable.”
Trump took advantage of the lack of any fighting leadership in the labor movement to address millions of workers hard hit by grinding depression conditions and to propose measures he claims will boost the economy.
Liberal left contempt for workers
Liberal and petty-bourgeois left currents, oozing contempt for the working class and utter lack of interest in the rich lessons learned by the revolutionary working-class movement in past fights against fascism, call Trump’s victory a triumph of reaction.
The Washington Post has featured articles like, “This Is How Fascism Comes to America.” On Dec. 9 CNN asked, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist?”
“For the most part, those who attend and cheer at Trump rallies are deplorable,” Workers World Party leader Teresa Gutierrez wrote, echoing Clinton’s smear of workers. They “reflect a danger.”
Trump is rebuilding the Republican Party, not as a bastion of white supremacy, but as a party with a working-class base, seeking to stabilize bourgeois rule by convincing workers of all nationalities that “we” — capitalists and workers — have common American interests. He appeals to workers of every nationality.
His appointment of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations reflects this. She is a pro-business Indian-American who ordered the Confederate battle flag down after the murder of African-Americans by a white supremacist in 2015. The rapid fall of that racist emblem across the South and the participation of large numbers of Caucasians in protests against police killings of African-Americans across the country demonstrate that race prejudice in the working class is at an historic low.
Donald Trump isn’t leading a thuggish force of anti-labor henchmen smashing unions, scapegoating Jews and submerging democratic rights in a sea of blood. That’s what happened in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and ’30s.
Workers who voted for Trump as a way to try to change grinding depression conditions aren’t volunteering to serve as fascist storm troopers against Jews, Blacks and others.
Far from facing assaults while campaigning at Trump rallies, SWP members got a hearing by presenting a working-class road to unify the class in struggle and fight for political power.
The Socialist Workers Party draws on its revolutionary continuity to explain to workers what fascism is, its deadly danger and how to fight it.
“In all the countries where fascism became victorious, we had, before the growth of fascism and its victory, a wave of radicalism of the masses — of the workers and poorer peasants and farmers, and of the petty bourgeois class,” Leon Trotsky said in 1939. Trotsky was one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution who collaborated with the SWP until he was murdered by a Stalinist agent in 1940. “Fascism was able to conquer only in those countries where the conservative labor parties prevented the proletariat from utilizing the revolutionary situation and seizing power.”
There is no mass revolutionary upsurge in the U.S. or any imperialist country today. As broad labor and social struggles develop in the future, however, the working class will have a shot at taking power. Its success will depend on revolutionary leadership built well in advance. The Socialist Workers Party’s purpose is to do just that.
SWP fights for jobs on road to power
Reader Philippe Tessier asked what the difference is between Trump’s proposals to create jobs by repairing infrastructure and the Socialist Workers Party’s call for workers to fight for a government-funded public works program “that would make a worker support the SWP demand and not the Republican program?”
“We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure,” Trump pledged in his victory speech. “And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”
Trump’s plan is consistent with a growing ruling-class consensus to shift from monetary to fiscal tools to try to resolve long-term capitalist stagnation, to turn away from zero interest rates and buying up corporate debt. He presses for cutting taxes on the wealthy and launching construction and road repair projects.
The Socialist Workers Party calls for workers to fight for a government-funded public works program to create jobs at union-scale pay to replace crumbling infrastructure and build schools, medical, child care and recreation centers, and other things working people need; for $15 and a union; and for free and comprehensive health care for all.
In this fight the party joins with workers and farmers as actors, not passive recipients, and links it with organizing the unorganized and strengthening the fight for higher wages and workers’ control of safety.
Trump’s proposal aims to strengthen capitalism, rebuild bosses’ profits and “give” some temporary jobs to workers. Trump favors capping the federal minimum wage at $10 an hour.
“Neither Washington nor Wall Street has any course that can contain the explosive international ramifications of capitalism’s banking and financial contradictions,” wrote Socialist Workers Party leader Steve Clark in the introduction to The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record: Why Washington Fears Working People by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes. “None of them is pursuing policies that can reverse the slump of capitalist production, trade, and hiring that is ravaging the lives and livelihoods of workers. … Because there are no such policies.”
Only the working class, uniting, transforming itself and building international bonds of solidarity on the road to ending the dictatorship of capital can provide a solution. That’s what the SWP’s fighting proposals point toward.