by The Editors
Last weekend one out of every hundred Americans demonstrated against the new administration and for women’s rights. We were at the Washington DC march, which was truly overwhelming in its size, dwarfing the inauguration crowd. One could only wonder how powerful these marchers would have been had they been united around a program of fundamental change.
In reality, the strongest force behind the demonstrations was the Democratic Party, and the baseline ideology was that we would be better off if Clinton had won. The goal for many was to work for the election of Democratic politicians at every level. However, we must remember that the Democrats are not reliable friends of women, or anti-racists, or peacemakers. Hillary Clinton supported the massive cuts in welfare under her husband’s administration, which primarily affected women and children. She supported sanctions on Iraq in the 90s, estimated to have killed 500,000. She called young black men caught up in the criminal justice system “super-predators” and favored aggressive war in Libya and Syria as Secretary of State. Obama deported 2.4 million immigrants, oversaw increases in the prison population and police murders, killed over 1,100 with drone strikes, and massively supported Israel as the oppression of Palestinians continued. These are not goals for us to try and replicate.
Such policies are inevitable under our capitalist system, however. Our economy depends on racism and sexism, to save money on wages and services, and to keep people divided, as many articles on this blog discuss. Our economy depends on fighting foreign wars to control resources, especially fossil fuels and rare elements. If our protests are to be meaningful and lead to a better life for all, they must demand an egalitarian, anti-capitalist society where racism, sexism and exploitation are illegal. This cannot be achieved by voting as both parties have the preservation of capitalism as their underlying philosophy.
We do not mean to deny that there are tactical differences between the Democrats and Republicans, between Obama and Trump. Under the new president racism and sexism will be much more overt and repression more severe. When 230 demonstrators were arrested during the march, there were few, if any, who had perpetrated any violence. A whole block of people was simply rounded up. This has happened before, but this time the innocent were not simply released or given minor charges, but all were charged with felony riot, worth 10 years in prison. Moreover, the police kept all their phones, cameras and gloves. Not only will they be able to collect a large reservoir of activists’ names, but they may be trying to make cases for conspiracy charges. We will have to see how profound and prolonged the intimidation is.
So let us not just be euphoric about our numbers, but be building struggles which are multiracial and multi-gender, that rely on rank and file action, and which question the basic assumptions of our society. We must be militant, but this does not mean partaking in individual acts of violence such as carried out by a few anarchists at the march. Individual terrorism does not threaten the power structure, but only serves to provide an excuse for mass repression. We need to build movements that are large enough to achieve bigger goals, and this takes patient work within unions, the military, schools and communities. We must learn to think about ourselves differently, not measuring ourselves by our wages and wealth nor our country by its power and conquests. We must become a society based on love, respect and action among workers and students, here and around the world, of all colors and nationalities.