The big picture under Trump

December 14, 2016

ONE MAJOR problem with the prevailing liberal political perspective articulated thus far in the era of Trump is that it only focuses on one part of the total societal picture.

Every day, the headlines of media outlets such as MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post (to name a few) blare out an uninterrupted string of alarms regarding the odiousness of Trump and the regime he is in the process of constructing. In effect, the vast bulk of the content of their political analyses and commentaries consist almost exclusively in expressing incredulity at the utter backwardness of Trump's machinations at the top of society.

However, the other element of the present reality that they either largely ignore as irrelevant or dismiss as naively dangerous is the growth of a radicalization among American workers and youth at the bottom of society.

This process most recently and visibly expressed itself in the Bernie Sanders campaign, but it began in earnest almost a decade ago, in the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2008. Since then, it has fermented further during the era of Obama, and now continues apace under the era of Trump. These millions of people are increasingly interested in left-wing and socialist politics and organization.

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The reason why it is so important to keep this element of the present political landscape at the forefront of our minds as we contemplate the horror of Trump is that it is not merely a noteworthy phenomenon; rather, it is the antidote and the answer to the question raised by Trump's ascendance.

Imagine, for instance, if the New York Times maintained a regular feature titled, "This Week in Resistance," which it coupled with its currently running feature, "This Week in Hate." Or imagine if CNN gave the same around-the-clock coverage to the Indigenous water protectors, military veterans and solidarity activists at Standing Rock as it has given to the tweets and speeches of Trump.

Or if the Washington Post gave the same kind of kid-gloves treatment and free media coverage to the current growth of the revolutionary socialist left as it has been giving to the tiny movement of white supremacists in this country, which the media ambiguously refer to as the "alt-right" movement).

FOR THOSE adhering to the liberal conception of historical change in America, the best we as individuals can do over the next four years is try to "weather the storm," "keep calm and carry on," "maintain an open mind" and hope that the Democratic Party establishment can figure out how to worm its way back into power in the next election.

Readers’ Views welcomes our readers' contributions to discussion and debate about articles we've published and questions facing the left. Opinions expressed in these contributions don't necessarily reflect those of SW.

This liberalist conception of history is premised upon the machinations of "great men" (and sometimes women) with "great minds" who make change at the top of society, from above, as it were. In this view, the motor of progress is the institutions and organs of the liberal intellectual elite who advance sound logic, measured reason and pragmatic thought regarding the world's pressing issues.

The radicalization and self-activity of millions of people "from below" simply does not figure into their equation as anything but an ancillary and subsidiary phenomenon, if at all.

For socialists, however, the existence and development of the present radicalization means that the next four years need not be defined one-sidedly as merely an unabated Trump-orchestrated horror show.

Rather, it can be a time of promise, hope and mass resistance. It can be a time of massive advance in the long-term struggle to build up the independent organized forces of the left, of workers, and of oppressed people towards the goal of a genuinely democratic and thoroughgoing social and economic transformation of U.S. society.
Keith Rosenthal, Boston

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