On Choosing One’s Enemy

electionfatigue

As the entire English-speaking world can’t stop talking about Trump and Clinton, I suppose I’m going to keep talking about Trump and Clinton, despite my best efforts. Anyway, given current conditions “back home”, there is a very good chance I will be stuck here for longer than anticipated, and even if I should return to the UK I will be forced to put up with constant news from “across the pond”. Regardless, I am only too happy to intervene in the politics of the chief imperialist power on the planet in my own small way. So here we go:

All around me, even among the supposed professional “critical thinkers” in academia, US citizens have accepted the premise that the supreme evil in the world is Donald Trump. As anyone who has been reading me knows, I am not a fan of Donald Trump nor do I think there is some benefit in his candidacy for the left. My argument is that his candidacy is beneficial for the Clinton campaign and the forces which that campaign represents.

Clinton could not ask for a better enemy than Trump. He has thrown the Republican party into a panic, for one thing, which is the first reason why the DNC/Clinton campaign helped elevate his position within the Republican race. The Republican party could not do the same with Sanders even if they had wanted to, because, as the representatives of “the left” to the mainstream US audience (as laughable as that concept sounds to the rest of us), the Democratic party has built-in mechanisms to protect its favoured candidate, most overtly and legally the infamous super-delegates which handed Clinton her victory.

Following this victory, the same media which (by Obama’s own admission) gave undue emphasis to this orange clown so that he would seem viable pursued a reverse sensationalist line about how un-viable and embarrassing Trump is. Ranks have been closed, and now hardly a day goes by without the bulk of the media screaming to the high heavens what an embarrassment Trump is. Clinton’s victory is now all but assured, yes, even according to the Republican Party which itself has closed ranks around Clinton.

But as we all know, Clinton is herself the enemy of the left. Clinton represents the dominant order which promises more Trumps, Clinton represents a legacy of trampling on the rights of the Afro-American people. Clinton is Wall Street (one of the few points Trump raised during the debates which was at all reasonable, the others of course being Syria and Russia), which is why both Wall Street parties know she must win. And she will.

What is to be done now? As I have said before, the only apparently viable step is to rally the troops around the Green Party for a protest vote, to strengthen the organisation of the oppressed, and to raise higher the voice of resistance at home and abroad.

But is this what is happening in the media? Far from it! Sanders – who, despite his many flaws, represented a strong step forward for the Yankee proletariat in terms of articulating an attack on Wall Street rule – has tried to pose Clinton as the head of an anti-fascist front (just as the CPI(M) does in India with the Congress Party!). I dare not even mention the CPUSA, who make Sanders look like Lenin by comparison with their more or less uncritical support for the Democrats regardless of the local conditions!

But Sanders’s supporters would doubtless mention that Sanders still has potential: After all, he has to take part in electoral politics, and is continuing to try to work outside of the presidential election through his “Our Revolution” campaign. There is certainly still the very real possibility that Sanders will reemerge onto the Yankee national stage when (not if) Clinton drops all pretense of synthesising the Sanders campaign demands with her own (after her election). What we ought to do then is look to the “radicals” who do not have a political office to look after, and not put undue blame or faith in Sanders, who supposedly have an independent and critical role.

Perhaps you are all familiar with England’s own Laurie Penny. This ex-student ex-radical represents the general trajectory of oppressor nation petty bourgeois “radicals”, whose own class interests make it more likely that they will sell themselves out to the status quo under the guise of “reformism”. Here she is gushing about Clinton as a “good enemy” (one would think the “good enemy” would be the enemy more likely to blunder and make mistakes which could be exploited by our side!):

A general election is about nothing more or less than choosing your enemy. Any government leader must be considered an enemy to those who believe in radical change. Hillary Clinton is not yet that enemy but by damn. I hope she gets to be. Hillary Clinton is the sort of enemy I’ve been dreaming of over ten years of political work. She’s the kind of enemy you can respect. I look forward to fighting her on her commitment to climate protection, on workers’ rights, on welfare, on foreign policy. Bring that shit on. That’s the sort of fight I relish. I want to argue over how the state can best serve the interests of women and minorities, not whether it should.

A fine rebuttal was penned by a dear comrade from Red London:

Ulrike Meinhof warned about Laurie Penny back in 1968 in her piece on the role of columnists: “The columnist’s fenced-in but independent thinking gives the whole paper the aura of independent thinking. The columnist’s outrageousness gives the paper the aura of outrageousness. The columnist’s occasional and courageous expression of unpopular ideas gives the paper the aura of courage to express unpopular ideas […] the columnist is the editor’s best lackey, the one who brings in the money and the prestige, and behaves as though it were possible to have an opinion on any topic in the world, expressed in a text that is always the same length, and all that. Columnists are the blacks of the State Department, the women in the federal government, the fig leaves, the tokens, the alibis, the excuses.”

Laurie Penny shamelessly capitalises on her ‘student radical’ label 5 years on to pretend that she is the voice of left-wing activism rather than liberal capitulation: “[Clinton]’s the kind of enemy you can respect. I look forward to fighting her on her commitment to climate protection, on workers’ rights, on welfare, on foreign policy. Bring that shit on. That’s the sort of fight I relish. I want to argue over how the state can best serve the interests of women and minorities, not whether it should. That’s the sort of fight that makes me better.”

So when Laurie Penny says this about Clinton, remember that she’s not the one who will be doing any fighting – at best she’ll write a few mildly critical columns for a lot of money. Something that Meinhof summed up so well: “It is opportunistic to claim to be struggling against the conditions that one is actually reproducing. It is opportunistic to use the methods that stabilise a system and claim to be seeking change.”

Indeed. This chorus of agreement that we must be “with her” against him reeks of silencing what little dissent was drummed up by the Sanders campaign (and to appease pplswar, let me reiterate that despite my disagreements with Sanders, he did more to radicalise the Yankee proletariat than anyone else since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis). The danger is that “when the dust settles” we will be back where we started under Obama.

Now, I would be no dialectician if I did not emphasise that we cannot literally return to 2008. Rather, it is “first as tragedy, then as farce”, with a US leadership with an even worse track record prior to assuming office, promising us even better conditions for the fascist forces which have rallied under Trump!

We see this with the coup attempt in Turkey. The entire media, even those supposedly critical of Erdoğan, have rallied behind the narrative of “FETÖ” and to a certain extent accepted the “heroism” of the protestors (who were actually backed by the dominant portion of the state forces) who “saved democracy” (as if Turkish “democracy” is even worth saving). When one utters such heresy in Turkey, one is asked if one supports “the coup” or “FETÖ”.

Nobody is more critical of the Gülen movement and anti-Erdoğan elements within the Turkish Armed Forces than I am. These are the forces which criticised Erdoğan because he was too soft (!!!) on the Kurdish people’s heroic liberation movement for years. These are not people who can be entrusted with our future at all.

…But then neither can the Turkish Armed Forces under Erdoğan, who are currently bombing West Kurdistan (Rojava) as they crack down on progressive forces across the country (in the name of mopping up the reactionary coup to which we had no connection)!

Now thankfully, in terms of the organised left in Turkey, only a few small “left” factions openly backed Erdoğan against “the coup” (the UK SWP-backed Trotskyite “party” DSİP, and the arch-revisionist Doğu Perinçek’s pseudo-socialist cult Vatan Partisi). Our general movement was to condemn the coup entirely and to resume our resistance to Erdoğan. So we still have some forces on the ground, and we must continue to march forward in spite of extremely adverse conditions (outside of Kurdistan, the anti-fascist movement is still relatively weak, one must be honest). But without an organised left in the US, can serious resistance to the incoming Clinton regime be expected?

As always, and as every foreign visitor to the United States immediately observes, the most revolutionary force is certainly the oppressed Afro-American people. Other oppressed nations and nationalities also present a relatively strong force which can be directed against the state and monopoly capital which it represents, but it seems there is still something to the old thesis that the Yankee oppressor nation’s “bourgeoisified” proletariat is too “bought off” to be the main focal point of organisation in the United States.

Of course, this is not to say that one should ever cease trying to organise people of diverse backgrounds. It is simply to say that, just as we should focus organisation on the proletariat of all nations (despite progressive elements of the bourgeoisie), we must assume that serious forces of resistance in the US will come from the oppressed nations first, who can relate to the victims of US imperialism around the world as Sanders and many of his supporters cannot, because they too are direct victims of US imperialism. The oppressor nation proletariat must itself be organised on the grounds of solidarity with these oppressed nations. Put another way:

Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!

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4 thoughts on “On Choosing One’s Enemy

  1. “Sanders – who, despite his many flaws, represented a strong step forward for the Yankee proletariat in terms of articulating an attack on Wall Street rule – has tried to pose Clinton as the head of an anti-fascist front (just as the CPI(M) does in India with the Congress Party!). I dare not even mention the CPUSA, who make Sanders look like Lenin by comparison with their more or less uncritical support for the Democrats regardless of the local conditions!”

    In the 1930s during the Comintern’s Popular Front period the CPUSA backed FDR at the presidential level against the Republican Party which they (falsely) characterized as fascist. Sanders hasn’t gone so far as the characterize Trump or his movement as fascist but like the CPUSA of old, he understood the strategic importance for working and oppressed people of defeating the greater evil in a given election. In the 2016 Democratic primary, the CPUSA backed Clinton against Sanders which I don’t think the 1930s-era CPUSA would have done had a Sanders-like figure arisen at that time. Back then, CPUSA ran their own candidates against Democrats at the local level and in some cases won. In Michigan, CPUSA members were elected to the state legislature on the Democratic Party ballot line. Our Revolution creates this opportunity anew but unfortunately I see little or no attempt by socialist/communist forces in this country to capitalize on it.

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    • I agree it was a Browderite error to uncritically back FDR. Trump himself IS a fascist (unlike the Republicans of FDR’s era), and an anti-fascist front against the forces he represents is necessary. Clinton and her followers, however, reject any such front, accepting only a unity around Clinton’s elections and nothing else. One does not “defeat the greater evil” of Trump by voting in more Trump-creating conditions. One does so by actively challenging those conditions and Trumpite fascism (and Clinton’s supporters were only too happy to fund Trump when someone went and attacked Republican party headquarters over him, some anti-fascist front! Some challenge!)

      There are not really socialist/communist forces to speak of in the US at present. They need to rebuild themselves and I agree with you that Sanders’s politics represent an important front to take part in towards this end, although due to their small numbers and lack of organisation, many left groups who supported Sanders were barely noticed for doing so. The US ICOR affiliate ROL took part in the Sanders campaign, for example, but the Venn Diagramme of people who knew that and people who read my blog is very close to being a circle.

      The CPUSA hardly counts for anything anymore (and it was not even that good by the period you reference) except that it has numbers. But, as you correctly point out, these numbers are wasted on a line so opportunistic that it boggles the mind they still bother calling themselves a “communist” party (they practically surrendered to Clinton before the Sanders campaign had even begun!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not a fan of Browder but he was made a convenient scapegoat after WWI for everything bad/wrong the CPUSA during the Popular Front-1945 period. The entire CPUSA leadership and membership were collectively responsible for the party, its line, and its conduct during this period. They were all ‘Browderites.’

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      • Agreed, it is wrong to simply blame Browder as an individual for the trend of opportunism which the CPUSA represented at the time, as the CPUSA after Browder was happy to condemn Browder but continue with a highly opportunistic and wrong theory and practice. A practice as bad as the “official” Turkish party, which at least had the excuse of having its best leadership murdered en masse by the Kemalists (the CPUSA was always legal and its leaders were treated relatively well).

        In a similar way, it’s wrong to ascribe all good and all evil to the personages of Stalin and Khrushchev respectively, as many anti-revisionists do.

        Liked by 2 people

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