The front lines are everywhere.
A year after Donald Trump’s election and, despite everything that’s happened, some on the left want the “resistance” to stay home.
No one expected all of the thousands upon thousands who came out for the Women’s March and other inaugural protests to stay engaged, but many have remained, protesting outside lawmakers offices against brutal cuts to health care or inhumane tax plans. Others have organized around radical, anarchist, socialist, and antifascist movements and issues of all kinds.
Overall though, the picture is grim despite some recent electoral victories (for those who put stock in voting). Each day brings some new atrocity or takes us a step closer to a pointless, brutal new war with whomever President Skidmark offends on Twitter.
As usual, the political establishment wants to control and contain the revolutionary spirit and anger so many have felt since last November. This is not a new observation by myself or others, but my frustration at the futility of top-down “resistance” rekindled after I read a recent a call-to-action distributed by MoveOn.
The massive liberal NGO is calling for people around the country to protest in the streets, but only if Donald Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller as a way to escape whatever wrongdoing the investigation uncovers.
Anyone attending is asked to promise not to break the law, and to even to stop others’ from breaking the law too! This actually puts all those in attendance at increased risk of police violence and ensures that most militant antifascists will stay home and won’t be available to defend the marchers from the violent far right.
It’s also another sign that the Democrats refuse to embrace diversity of tactics. For further evidence, look at the lukewarm coverage of the J20 defendants‘ plight in the liberal media. ThinkProgress, basically a platform for Democratic Party news, declared that most of those facing decades in prison were not “organized Antifa disrupters but rather onlookers caught in a dragnet” — as if antifascists would deserve the outlandish punishment the government seeks because of a couple windows broken on Inauguration Day.
The infamous ‘firing squad’ is alive and well, and the mainstream Left would rather set factions to fighting against each other than build real intersectional working class power. The Democrats would rather see potential allies rot in prison than admit that the whole system is rotten to the core.
For a moment, a year ago, we seemed to all collectively agree that Trump represented a clear danger to our healthy, happy existence. Now, according to MoveOn, everything isn’t that bad and we should sit tight and let the FBI (the traditional enemy of social justice organizers) handle everything.
Then again, for many of the people who took the streets on January 21, things aren’t that bad — that is for the white, mostly middle-class, mostly employed people brought out in those first days — things are scary but not so scary we can’t ignore them when there’s a really good Black Friday deal.
For the families being torn apart by ICE, for the Haitian refugees sneaking across the border to Canada, for anyone who might someday need an abortion, for the LGBTQIA people watching the winnowing of their rights, to anyone who cares about human life in the face of rapidly worsening climate change — just to name a few — life under Trump is indeed too scary to sit quietly.
True resistance of course will always come from the people, not from anyone who represents a party or any other part of our current political infrastructure. MoveOn and other organizations like it know that human passion for justice must be carefully contained and controlled, because those inspired by revolutionary passion will never settle for simply forcing out one corrupt political leader.
Instead, we want a fundamental change to the systems that allowed the Orange Oil Slick to take power in the first place. That much change would put everyone at MoveOn out of work and out of power, too.
I love and yearn for those moments of massive political rupture, when thousands take the streets and anything seems possible. Remember that those moments are made possible by the work we do now, building connections and building grassroots power.
These are dark times but, as Joe Hill wrote, “Don’t waste any time mourning, organize.”
The time to fight back isn’t when the system fails us. It’s already failed us all. The time to fight back is always now.
Anywhere that there’s resource extraction happening, anywhere that there’s police or prisons or borders, any of these aspects of capitalism and the state that enable fracking to happen, or that require fracking to continue on, that’s a frontline.
So we need barricades everywhere, we need actions everywhere.
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Don’t wait to take the streets, don’t wait to organize by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://bit.ly/GonzoNotes16.