On 13 July the Marxist Student Federation will be joining the protests against Trump’s visit to the UK. See our Facebook event here and get in touch if you’d like to join us!
The images of children in distress thanks to Trump’s immigration policies are rightly mobilising people in their tens of thousands to protest his visit to the UK on 13 July. The sickening images of children separated from their parents is another addition to a long list of attacks on immigrants, women and other minorities in Trump’s America. In the face of Trump’s violent racism, misogyny, and islamophobia many are eager to fight against the threat that he poses. In order to do so, we need an understanding of how the likes of Trump in the White House was made possible.
Since 2008, the global economy has been in ruins, despite the desperate attempts from the ruling class to reach some form of stability. Capitalism has ceased to move society forward, and so political crises are cropping up throughout the world. In the USA inequality is huge, and completely unsustainable. The American Dream is dead, and in these circumstances Trump was able to demagogically appeal to the poor by denouncing the Washington establishment.
He was the first US politician for a long time who dared to even mention the ‘working class’ in his election campaign. This is a term ‘progressives’ in America have shunned for years, opting to refer to the ‘middle class’ only. After decades of betrayal by the union leaders and the political establishment of both parties, it isn’t surprising that Trump was able to capitalise on this anti-establishment mood against Clinton.
It should be noted that, had the election been between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, polls indicate that Sanders, with his left-wing slogan of “political revolution against the billionaire class”, would have won over Trump’s vicious right-wing rhetoric. Clearly the mood exists for a bold socialist programme in US politics, but without it the vacuum will be filled by right-wing demagogues like Trump.
As it is, eighteen months after his shock election victory, none of Trump’s promises have been fulfilled. The few at the top remain astronomically richer than the rest of the society, and his approval ratings are plummeting.
This is because, demagogy aside, Trump represents the same billionaire class as the establishment he denounces, that seeks to accumulate profit through any means. In pursuit of this aim, and to divert away from himself the rising frustration at the lack of improvement to people’s lives, Trump uses the ‘threat’ of immigration. America is experiencing heightened racism and xenophobia because it is a tool to divide the working class.
Trump’s methods are nothing new. By sowing resentment and fear amongst the working class, the ruling class presents migrants as the cause of people’s everyday problems, deflecting anger away from themselves and their capitalist system. These immigration policies are a direct result of capitalism, and they were first implemented, not by Trump, but under the rule of Bush and Obama, those equally faithful representatives of the capitalist class.
We are entering a new period of class struggle in America, and Britain. Bernie Sanders called for a revolution against the billionaire class. This is what’s required. However, we know that for this to be successful the working class needs a clear socialist programme around which to organise. Sentimental pleas for ‘love’ against ‘hate’ will not save children trapped in cages. We need to mobilise to take the economy out of the hands of the super-rich, and to kick profit out of the economy. As long as we’re ruled by the 1% they will use racism and xenophobia to attack and divide us. Only democratic planning of the economy by the vast majority of people in the interests of need, not profit, can put a stop to this.
We must fight Trump with internationalism and class solidarity. In Britain, we can do this by mobilising to overthrow our own ruling class. Theresa May is desperate to form a bond with Trump and preserve their ‘special relationship’. This is mainly in the hopes of a close trade deal after Brexit. The ‘relationship’ shared between America and Britain is merely one of shared attacks by the respective ruling classes against the working class.
May is incredibly weak, and it is the responsibility of the labour movement in Britain to go on the offensive to bring the government down. This would be a major blow, not just to the British ruling class, but to the calculations of the international representatives of the capitalist class, including Trump. The recent UCU strikes are just one example of the readiness of workers in Britain to take militant industrial action to defend their living standards. A programme of co-ordinated industrial action could bring the government down.
The Labour Party is close to taking power, but if and when it does, it is only through a socialist programme that it will be successful. To carry out Corbyn’s policies of free education, funding for the NHS, house-building and so on, it will be necessary to nationalise the banks, the land, and the biggest businesses to plan the economy according to people’s needs.
This will take a mass movement, which it is entirely within the ability of Corbyn to mobilise. Under Corbyn the Labour Party has become the biggest political party in Europe. The energy and enthusiasm behind this movement cannot go to waste. It is only through collective, militant action that we will carry out Corbyn’s programme and show the power the working class has.
From this, we can build a revolutionary movement in Britain that will inspire and appeal to the workers of America, who in turn can fight their own ruling class. Socialism is international or it is nothing, and so our ultimate goal must be nothing short of international socialist revolution.
by Fiona Lali, SOAS Marxists