In my June 20 post on the escalation of ideological warfare in the United States, I argued that the propaganda offensive by the Trump alliance in defense of their policy of separation of children from parents crossing into the US without documents was aimed at achieving a “we win, you lose” outcome: a decisive victory. I observed that the only resistance to this was from the left of the Democratic Party. The most recent developments need to be explained with some further elaboration of these propositions.
Trump has now signed an Executive Order instructing that children should henceforth be detained with their parents. US news reports seem to indicate also that this new EO allows for indefinite detention. Moreover, the 2,000 children already separated and detained, remain so.
This is no doubt a blow to the hope of an easy “we win, you lose” victory. Trump and co had to retreat. This was because the opposition to the family separation policy became very broad and insistent. This opposition came mostly from the left of the Democratic party, but including the liberal centre. This included churches and church leaders, liberal entertainment industry figures, liberal media commentators and even businesses, such as the airlines that refused to transport children separated from their parents. Individual members of the Democratic Party, and even a few Republicans, and Republican celebrities such as Laura Bush, also opposed this policy.
The content of this opposition was rejection of the inhuman immorality of forcibly separating children, including babies, from parents, keeping the children in cages, telling parents they would never see the children again and so on. A democratic congressmen, like Joe Kennedy Jr, made an emotional appeal on the floor of congress, making an even more emotional reference to the taking of babies from parents.
This kind of opposition, on the whole, only aimed for a very narrow kind of ideological victory. By narrowing the focus, the breadth of the opposition was able to expand. However, it left Trump and co still free to rail against infesting migrants, against “people from the Middle East”, as well as Mexico, that, he and others claimed, were faking their parenthood and even engaging in child trafficking. There has been no relaxation at all of the campaign to deepen the legitimacy of racist, xenophobic and white supremacist agitation and ideology.
The Democratic Party, having pursued the same policy in the past but without making it a propaganda centre-piece, is neither able or willing to confront the Trump and co offensive head on. The ideological offensive from the Right continues unabated aiming for the eventual “we win. you lose” decisive victory, still without opposition from the Democrats, the main resourced “alternative” from within the current electoral spectrum. So far anyway. Perhaps the November elections will reveal advances by the Sanders milieu in the Democrats?
This right-wing, white supremacist offensive by a significant section of the US capitalist – a very sizable section if we include those who maybe embarrassed by Trump but actually like what he is doing – is very much a part of the imperialist mentality of this class, formed by decades of social being as a global exploiter and oppressor. Trump’s statements reveal this in the most unashamed way. Migrants come from shit-hole countries; they are animals; they are an infestation; they come from the Middle East, and Africa and Latin America. His, and the US’s policies, speak louder even that words. Mexico, whose population lives in poverty, is ripping of the US and this is going to stop, proclaims Trump. The US must have dominance in space – and we must remember, of course, hat the planet Earth is part of space.
The only way to legitimize US dominance and intensified imperialist exploitation of the Third World within the US and among the US population is to build a consensus that the 3rd World is made up not just of failed states, but failed peoples, failed races. White supremacist ideology is not only useful because it helps creates scapegoats to blame for the worsening economic conditions of a big section of the American people, but the propaganda around that scapegoating also creates a divide between the American people (its working class) and those of the exploited world, the 3rd – and also even those of the less successful former East European socialist countries.
Right-wing white supremacist ideology is not simply nationalist authoritarianism, but is fundamentally imperialist.
This is why solidarity with national liberation movements and governments, such as in Cuba and Venezuela, and in other parts of Latin America, is a crucial priority for progressives and anti-racists in imperialist countries, most especially America. It is also why opposition to US (and EU) military interventions and wars around the world is crucial, even when that may appear to be assisting other capitalist states. It is also why mutual support among movements for democracy and social justice within individual countries is going to become a more pressing need. And as I argued in the earlier post, it also means finding more ways of relating in solidarity with the US left which are most consistently opposing the US capitalist offensive within the US as well as US imperialist intervention outside the US will also be increasingly important.
A “we win, you lose” victory for the white supremacist, imperialist Right in the US will be a disaster for all of us. The secular, democratic and humanist traditions of past American popular resistance need to have new victories – and that come only through the growth of a dynamic democratic socialist left.