A further warning to Marxists in regards to Trump’s coup attempt

by Davey Heller, 26th November, 2020

Whilst Trump’s attempt at overturning the election continues in the weeks following the US election, there is a state of paralysis both in the US working class and in the revolutionary left, in particular. The crisis of leadership is reducing the working class to passive bystanders while the two factions of the ruling class attempt to resolve the crisis of bourgeois rule. 

Classconscious.org isn’t a party but a small propaganda-based Trotskyist website. We have, however, attempted to play our role by publishing “March separately, but strike together! For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!” on October 13th and followed up on November 12th with, “A call out to the Marxist movement – the time to act against Trump’s fascist coup is now!” These posts have drawn over 300 members to the Facebook page but have been met with hostility by many Marxists. The article and its author were labelled:  petty bourgeois, opportunist, liberal, demoralised, a conspiracy theorist, a CIA psyops, supporting the Democrats, Biden supporters, and febrile fantasists.

Despite the glibness of our critics the stakes could not be higher in this debate. If we are right and they wrong, they will have played a role in chloroforming the working class as fascism seeks to consolidate itself in the nerve center of world imperialism without a shot being fired. If we are right and the critics wrong, then we will have witnessed a failure of leadership by the revolutionary left of historical proportions. 

Firstly, it must be stressed that we base our definition of fascism on the writings of Leon Trotsky, the great Russian Revolutionist. In 1932, Trotsky, addressing the German working class by calling for the formation of a workers United Front against the Nazi menace. He defined fascism and its class purpose as follows: 

Fascism is not merely a system of reprisals, of brutal force, and of police terror. Fascism is a particular governmental system based on the uprooting of all elements of proletarian democracy within bourgeois society. The task of fascism lies not only in destroying the Communist vanguard but in holding the entire class in a state of forced disunity. To this end the physical annihilation of the most revolutionary section of the workers does not suffice. It is also necessary to smash all independent and voluntary organizations, to demolish all the defensive bulwarks of the proletariat, and to uproot whatever has been achieved during three-quarters of a century by the Social Democracy and the trade unions

Trotsky writes in the same article that the time for fascism arises when: 

At the moment that the “normal” police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium — the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat — all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy…And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. “

I will attempt to refute the major criticisms made of our articles:

1) The US ruling class does not “need” fascism as there is no mass based socialist party on the offensive

It is true that Italian and German fascism arose as movements under conditions of capitalist crisis where large, well organised socialist or communist parties existed. Under conditions of deepening economic crisis and in the shadow of the Russian Revolution the ruling classes viewed these parties as threats to capitalist class rule. It is true that no such parties exist in the US today. The Democratic Party is a bloody handed capitalist party, and in terms of membership, the existing socialist tendencies are minuscule.

However as Marx and Engels wrote, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…….carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight”. The dynamic of the class struggle under capitalism has not changed since the 1920’s and 30’s despite the absence of mass working class parties.  Fascism is a product of crisis!  As Trotsky insisted, it comes into being when the “normal” forms of rule used by the bourgeoisie no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium and they can no longer be relied on to contain the working class. Surely the crisis facing the global and US ruling class today is every bit as deep as the one faced a century ago. 

Globally, the rate of profit remains depressed ever since the great Financial Crisis twelve years ago. This has fuelled mass resistance in uprisings and protest movements in one country after another. None of these has resulted in socialist revolution due to the lack of socialist leadership. But they have shaken bourgeois rule deeply and have intensified inter-imperialist geopolitical rivalry.

This has been particularly acute for the US ruling class which struggles to offset its relative economic decline through floundering military means. We are witnessing the return of the era of “great power conflict” with Russia and China once again in the nuclear cross hairs of US imperialism. Domestically, in the US there is unprecedented levels of inequality with the top 1% of Americans have a combined own 30.4% of all household wealth while the bottom 50% holds just 1.9% of all wealth. The growing ecological crisis fuelled by climate change is contributing to unprecedented fires and other calamities.  All of these processes were at play before covid 19 exploded across the US wreaking economic and public health havoc. 

Thousands of cars line up in Texas before Thanksgiving to get food from the North Texas Food Bank.

Therefore it is shortsighted to argue that fascism can arise only and exclusively to smash mass based socialist parties. Fascism is brought forward due to a structural capitalist crisis. This is indeed the situation in the US today. 

2) Where is the equivalent to the Nazi Party and the brownshirts today in the US?

This crisis is generating enormous class pressure but as yet there is no mass base for this pressure to flow through. However, as with water pressure, if one pathway is blocked, class pressure will find another path.

The class faction seeking to impose fascism in the US has not as yet been able to start a genuine fascist party along Italian or German lines. Because of the living memory of a working class whose grandparents were enlisted to fight fascism in defence of democracy that notorious “brand” of fascism is simply too toxic to revive openly. Instead it has worked to take over one of the two existing bourgeois parties— the Republican Party. In fact, the project to shift the Republican Party to the far right has been in earnest since the Koch brother funded Tea Party Movement. By the 2016 election primaries, billionaires like Robert Mercer and Sheldon Adelson have worked with the alt-right fascist, Stephen Bannon in search of a candidate to advance this project. Mercer’s money went to Ted Cruz until Trump and his MAGA rallies burst onto the scene. At that point they had found their man. Since 2016 the Republican Party, once the party of anti-slavery, has morphed increasingly into a fascist party as Donald Trump asserted his control. 

Whilst it is true that Trump does not command an organized brown shirt movement, he has been able to create his own fanatical and mass of crazed petty bourgeois and armed lumpen fanatics. Trump “campaign rallies” didn’t stop once he was elected. MAGA rallies may have more of the aesthetic of a pro-wresting spectacle than the Aryan grandiosity of Nuremberg, but they have been essential to whipping up a fascist base. Combined with his Twitter megaphone, Trump has crystallized a mass movement out of the existing reactionary shards of decaying US capitalism. Outside the state structures this includes Christian evangelicals, white supremacists, libertarian and far right militias, the gun lobby and the hardcore anti-communist Cuban “gusanos.” Inside the state, Trump has cultivated personal support within the police, Special Forces, ICE, Homeland Security and other armed Federal bodies such as BORTAC. 

Kyle Rittenhouse in the process of shooting and killing 2 people protesting against police violence in Wisconsin on August 25th

The “work” of such forces has already been seen in those injured or killed when run over, or gunned down by fascists while protesting police killings. The most infamous fascist shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, was recently granted bail after the far right raised $2 million to free him. The “work” was seen when Trump sent Federal forces to snatch people off the streets of Portland in unmarked vans. The “work” was seen in the police execution of Michael Reinoehl, which was hailed by Trump. The “work” was seen in the  brutality of caging immigrant children as ICE escalated the repression of the Obama regime.

The left is reluctant to grasp the importance of social media today, compared to the 1930’s, which facilitates decentralised organising.. Social media and the internet has played a key role in facilitating these “leaderless” protests around the world including the Arab Spring which was sparked by the revelations from Wikileaks.  We see this clearly in the US with the thousand fold explosion of Black Lives Matter protests.

However, it is also true of the far right which utilizes everything from the dark corners of the internet like 8 Chan to Trump and his Twitter bullypit. Kyle Rittenhouse responded to a Facebook call the night he murdered two protestors. Trump made his famous “stand back and stand by” call during the Presidential debate which was quickly amplified across social media. This is not to mention the entire far right ecosystem that supports Trump from Alex Jones to the Mercer funded and Bannon run Breitbart News The Mercers were recently revealed to be the funders of the fascism friendly Twitter, Parler. In today’s world, to communicate and organise a fascist movement, a centrally organized and developed formal brownshirt movement isn’t required. The technology has changed.

3) Trump is not a fascist 

The most common criticism of my analysis is that it is utter hyperbole to call Trump a fascist. If Trump were a fascist  wouldn’t all the socialists and trade unionists already be in jail is a common question. Firstly, I have not been arguing that Trump has been running a fascist regime for the last four years. There is a distinction between fascism as an ideology or perspective, and as a form of political rule. Hitler was a fascist when he and the fledging Nazi Party launched the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. He was a fascist when he wrote Mein Kampf in 1925. However, he was not able to rule as a fascist until he was handed the Chancellorship by Hindenburg in 1933. 

Likewise Trump is a fascist politician with a fascist political perspective even if the balance of class forces existing in the US has not allowed him to rule over a fascist government in his first term. 

The 2nd and related criticism is to deny that Trump’s perspective is fascist but is rather that of a conventional right-wing populist. Firstly, I would refer back to my previous arguments that Trump has whipped up a fascist layer as his base. Secondly, Trump does read directly from the fascist playbook. He is reported to have a copy of Hitler’s “My New Order” speeches in his bedroom, and the Trump speeches have been scripted by conscious fascists such as Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. Trump’s perspective surely ticks all the fascist boxes. He is “the outsider” who is the only one who can represent the “little guy” against the corrupt “elite”. This elite is a shadowy group of globalists determined to destroy America and stop it from becoming great again.  He will save the nation from being over run by criminal immigrants. He has launched a racialist war against socialism and the radical left. Trump has endorsed the “racehorse theory” of eugenics, telling a rally in Minnesota they have “good genes”. Trump has not written his own Mein Kampf.  He didn’t have to because he could tweet his own Mein Trumpf  280 characters at a time! If one treated his tweets from the last four years as “collected works” you would find all the filth of fascism in bold caps and poor grammar, but there none the less!

Trump and his backers have created an enormous personality cult. There are now tens of millions of fanatical “Trumpers”, not just in the US but around the world. Fueled by psyops operations like Q Anon which cast Trump as leading a struggle against a global satanic paedophile ring run out of Hollywood (code for Jews) and including leading Democrats, Oprah and Tom Hanks! Trump has gained more irrational and fanatical support for calling out the “coronavirus hoax” with deliberate lies about the nature of the deadly pandemic. We know that ordinary bourgeois politics has “left the building” when healthcare professionals speak of patients refusing to believe in the reality of covid19, even as they take their last dying breaths. This recalls Orwell in 1984 when he wrote, “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” This denial of reality based around the Trump personality cult is how so many his supporters have swallowed that the election has been “stolen” despite the complete lack of any evidence to support this claim. 

So whilst Trump has not been able to implement fascism in his first term, he has used every opportunity to espouse a fascist ideology, to whip up a fascist base inside and outside the state, and to undermine bourgeois democratic norms of rule. His denial of the election result is just his latest effort in this regard. 

4) Biden is the real enemy of the working class – social fascism reborn. 

Perhaps the most common criticism of the General Strike call is that it entails denying the reactionary nature of the Democrats and Biden, or more seriously, offering them political support. 

The call outs were clear in identifying the Democrats as a party of reaction, capitalist  imperialism, and as a faithful servant of the bourgeoisie. However, to draw an equals sign between the Democrats and Biden and Republicans and Trump, borders on recycling the Stalinist policy of social fascism. The policy adopted by the Stalinized Comintern equated social democracy and fascism as “twin brothers,” and that in reality social democracy was just a variant of fascism. Trotsky eviscerated the policy of social fascism instead, arguing for the united front with social democrats against fascism. 

As Trotsky explained whilst fascism and social democracy are both tools of the bourgeoisie that does not mean that they are the same in relation to the working class. Fascism is dedicated to wiping out the organising capacity of the working class, whilst social democracy is a tool to control the working class through reforms or the false promise of reforms under capitalism. Ultimately, both  must be defeated if socialist revolution is to occur. However,  as Trotsky stated:

When one of my enemies sets before me small daily portions of poison and the second, on the other hand, is about to shoot straight at me, then I will first knock the revolver out of the hand of my second enemy, for this gives me an opportunity to get rid of my first enemy. But that does not at all mean that the poison is a “lesser evil” in comparison to the revolver.”

Let me quickly clarify that I acknowledge that Democratic Party is not the same as the SPD in Germany, and is not a social democratic party. The Democratic Party is the oldest capitalist party in the world. However in the US context, where there has never been a mass social democrat or labor party, the Democrats morphed from the party of slavery into the party of “progressive reform”. They have played an analogous role to that of Labour in the UK, serving to trap the working class behind the dead end of parliamentary reformism and away from revolutionary socialism. They have been labelled the “grave yard” of progressive social movements for a reason. Like the social democrat parties in the UK, Australia, France and elsewhere, the Democrats rely on their relationship with the parasitic trade union bureaucracy to maintain these illusions. Even though the economic nationalism of the likes of AFL-CIO President Trumpka may have led them to flirt with support for Trump, when it came round to the 2020 election, the union bureaucracy fell in 100 percent behind Biden and the Democrats. 

I don’t contend that any of this makes the Democrats “progressive”, or anything other than arch reactionaries. Biden has already made it clear by his choices for his cabinet, that if he is able to take office, he will preside over a right-wing, hawkish government of austerity hostile to the working class. The days when the Democrats could even offer up the thin gruel of mild reforms has long since passed. 

Whilst the Democrats are backed by and serve finance capital and large sections of the military-intelligence complex, they rest for popular support on the trade unions and the oppressed minorities, offering them the illusion of reforms. Whilst such illusions have been dashed for many and, in fact, the Democrats are indeed hated by many workers, the recent huge vote for Biden shows they have not completely exhausted this class function. They might be a zombie party— but until a mass socialist movement can kill the zombie, it will lumber on as if still living.

Relying for support on the trade unions and the broad mass of working people means that the Democrats cannot morph into a fascist party in the same way that the Republican Party has. They can be authoritarian war mongers, but they cannot beat the fascist drum in the way Trump can even if they wanted.

It is therefore a mistake to equate the two major parties in the US in relation to the working class. To do so is to repeat the same disorienting “social fascism” mistake of the Stalinists but in modern form. To do so is to “miss the fascist forest for the trees of reformism”.

5) There is no need to organise against Trump’s coup because it will not succeed

Many Marxist commentators take the rationalistic position that since the dominant faction of the ruling class backs Biden, and wants to avoid the social chaos that would follow an electoral coup, there is no need to organize for such an eventuality. This line of thought sees all Trump’s efforts since the election as little more than a tantrum thrown by an unstable, isolated political figure. 

So Marxists need not work to mobilize the workers against Trump because Wall Street, the military brass, the FBI etc will ensure that he leaves office on January 20th, one way or the other. He will walk, be carried, or ushered out of office by the bourgeois state itself. 

This is dangerously naive and complacent. Firstly, the fact that one of the two capitalist parties has openly opted to try tom overturn an election is, in and off itself, a threat to the democratic rights of the working class. The threat is none the lesser simply because the coup attempt may not succeed. The Republican Party, working through the Supreme Court already overturned one US election just 20 years ago. However, to overturn the results of the 2020 election, would mark a qualitative leap in terms of brazenness. The very act of launching this effort has dealt a massive blow to the entire edifice of bourgeois democracy. 

Even should Biden takes office, Trump’s launching of these efforts now has seeded the ground for a classic “stab in the back” trope for the millions in his MAGA movement who sincerely believe that Trump won in a landslide. This will only fuel further violence and instability, and lay the groundwork for a future attempt by the fascists to seize power in 2024.

These reasons alone would have justified a mass mobilisation of the working class to demand the election result be respected. 

Once again, even should Trump be removed due to pressure from the dominant section of Wall Street or the military brass, this will not affect the rightward trajectory of US politics. Whichever faction of the ruling class prevails by January 20th, nothing will be resolved for the working class. Only the political intervention of the working class to demand that Trump leaves would strengthen it as a class, as it prepares to fight the increasingly bitter class war ahead.

It is true that Trump has lost the vote, he has not gained traction through the courts, and has faced resistance from state Republicans to flip the electoral college slates. It’s also true that Trump has powerful ruling class forces aligned up against him. However, to assume he is “down and out for the count” is still, I believe, dangerously complacent. 

And most importantly, Trump and his fascist cabal still have full control over the executive of the United States. This is no small asset! Trump still has the legal authority to launch a war, and war on Iran has been openly canvassed since the election. Trump still has control of all the armed bodies of men under his command. He has elevated loyalists to the top of the Pentagon including making Christropher Miller, the former Special Forces commander his new Secretary of Defence. In terms of the Judiciary, Trump has his majority now cemented by the addition of Christian Pentacostalist fanatic, Amy Coney Barrett. Trump also still controls the Senate via the Republican Party he dominates. Trump can sill can call on his lunatic MAGA base. Although not backed by the dominant capitalist faction, he is backed by a section of finance capital. So whilst not underplaying the forces arrayed against him, it is wishful thinking to cast Trump as an “isolated loner”. 

In summary, it comes as a shock to me that what seemed like a simple call for Marxists to play a role in uniting the different political tendencies in joint struggle to prevent an fascist electoral coup has provoked not just so just so little support, but outright hostility. Since November 3rd, all factions of the ruling class have worked to keep the working class paralysed as they fight for control of the White House.  Small actions such as the passing of a motion by the Vermont Labor Council on November 21st to authorise a general strike if needed, shows that splits will open up in the camp of the social democracy as this crisis continues. These splits can be exploited by Marxists to mobilise the working class.  It is time that Marxists stop acquiescing to these machinations and to do everything in their power to mobilize the working class to intervene in its own interests. How about it? For united front organizing for a General Strike, and for workers defence committees against the fascist thugs.

Join the “For a United Front Against Fascism! General Strike Now! Facebook page.

A call out to the Marxist movement – the time to act against Trump’s fascist coup is now!

Whilst it cant be said with 100 percent certainty that Trump is in the process of attempting a fascist coup, it can be said with certainty that all of his actions are consistent with one!

Trump and the political representatives of the fascist faction of the ruling class, in full control the Republican Party are determined to stay in power one way or the other. Their first option was to win the election outright which they came very close to achieving.

In the week since the election it has become clear that Trump has not won a majority of the electoral votes and Biden is the winner of the election. Trump continues to maintain that the election was rigged by a conspiracy of Democrats and that widespread voter fraud has cheated him of the Presidency. He is planning more rallies to activate his base. The DOJ is now looking into “voter fraud”.

He is launching many legal attempts to challenge the vote to create more doubt in the eyes of the 70 million Americans who voted for him. And he hopes that some of these cases will make it to the stacked Supreme Court where the freshly minted Christian fanatic judge, Amy Coney Barret, will secure him victory.

If that doesnt work then Republican controlled state legislatures can simply overturn the vote and send Trump electors to the electoral college. If they can delay either candidate getting a majority in the electoral college, a vote can be rammed through Congress making Trump the President-elect. 

This is indeed what ex-CIA head and current Secretary of State Pompeo meant when he stated there would be a “smooth transition to a second Trump Administration”. He elaborated, “We’re gonna count all the votes. When the process is complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process – the constitution lays it out pretty clearly.” In other words, using the baseless justification of widespread voter fraud, the Republican Party under Trump intends to use the anti-democratic rules of the US constitution to provide a legal figleaf to nakedly stage a coup.

All of this of course would involve putting down mass resistance with violence. This is why Trump is now solidifying his control over the military by sacking Esper who opposed using the military against BLM protests and replacing him with the Trump loyalist and Special Forces veteran Christopher Miller. Trump has also placed loyalists in the Pentagon including the I retired army officer Anthony Tata, a regular Fox commentator and Islamophobe in the top Pentagon policy role. Tata once tweeted at former CIA head John Brenan “might be a good time to pick your poison: firing squad, public hanging, life sentence as prison b*tch, or just suck on your pistol. Your call. #Treason #Sedition #crossfirehurricane #Obamagate.”

Trump is not acting alone despite being opposed by a large section of the ruling class:

—He is backed by the Republican Party.

—He has 70 million people who voted for him.

—He has the backing of the AR15 militias, the MAGA movement of “enraged petty bourgeois and the lumpen proletariat”.— He has control of the executive and plenty of bodies of armed men. He has the police, Homeland Security, ICE, BORTAC etc.

The opposing faction of the ruling class backing Biden is seeking to downplay the threat of the coup, insisting that the system is working and “he will have to go”. This is chloroforming the masses who fiercely oppose Trump. The Democrats class interests as a capitalist party mean they are more scared of the working class than fascism.

The Trotskyist Left, on the whole, is also chloroforming the working class by either downplaying the threat altogether, or refusing to engage in the organising necessary to prepare for an independent intervention of the working class in this battle between two factions of the ruling class. Preparations not only for mass protest but also for a general strike should be actively conducted on a united front basis. Classconscious.org made this call on October 13th in our call out “March separately, but strike together! For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!

US imperialism is in crisis both domestically and internationally. One faction of the ruling class is working through Trump to stake its last card on fascism. It has decided that the norms of bourgeois democracy are now fetters on its drive to reassert US geopolitical hegemony by any means necessary, up to and including war. To maintain social  control in the face of widespread opposition by the working class majority, and to prevent socialist revolution at home in the context of conditions of extreme social, health and economic crises, this faction has opted for the path of total authoritarian rule.

The faction of finance capital backing Biden seeks to maintain US global hegemony through the post-WW2 system of alliances with a multilateral architecture, rather than through unilateral economic nationalism. While it too wants to repress working class resistance to austerity and war, it must do so in a qualitatively different way due to the class forces it rests upon (eg the Democrats and the trade unions). Its assessment of the balance of class forces at the moment suggests that it is still more efficient to control the working class within the confines of bourgeois democratic forms of rule, no matter how hollow.

The ultimate driver of the moves towards fascism does not lie in the pathology of Donald Trump but in the deepening crisis of world capitalism. Just as in the 1930’s, a deeply stagnating economy is pushing ruling classes around the world to throw the last card on fascism. Neither in the US , nor in the world economy as a whole, has the rate of profit recovered from the Global Financial Crash of 2007/2008. This was the case before the economic and social chaos caused by the covid crisis.

Trotsky wrote in December 1931 of the German situation

Germany is now passing through one of those great historic hours upon which the fate of the German people, the fate of Europe, and in significant measure the fate of all humanity, will depend for decades. If you place a ball on top of a pyramid, the slightest impact can cause it to roll down either to the left or to the right. That is the situation approaching with every hour in Germany today. There are forces which would like the bail to roll down towards the right and break the back of the working class. There are forces which would like the ball to remain at the top. That is a utopia. The ball cannot remain at the top of the pyramid.”

The situation in the United States today could not be described more accurately.

We call on other Marxists to understand the seriousness of this crisis. The world’s largest imperialist empire is on the brink of bringing home the forms of terror and dictatorship that it has long inflicted on other peoples around the world. It does so in preparation both for the class battles ahead, and to wage war, which would likely be nuclear , against its capitalist rivals.

We must do what we can to lead the working class into independent action to defend its democratic rights! As Trostky warned in Germany – fighting for the revolution is much harder if we allow fascism to consolidate. Defensive action is required. Motivate your networks in the US and internationally to prepare for mass mobilisations and a general strike! Defence committees must be formed to fight off the fascist gangs. Workers outside the US must start to think about how they can link up and support the struggle of their US counterparts as the fate of the global working class is tied to theirs. The working class is the only progressive force that can be relied upon to stop the slide into dictatorship happening before our eyes in the US today! 

Join the Facebook Group “For a united front against fascism! General Strike now!

A defence of the United Front Strategy against fascism in the US – a reply to comrade Stephen Kerr

by Davey Heller 6th November

On October 13th I published: March separately, but strike together! For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!. On November 1st Stephen Kerr responded with a critique entited: United, but with Whom? An Open Letter to Comrade Heller. This is my reply to Stephen. Classconscious.org aims to be a forum for debate to help clarify Marxist ideas and it is this spirit that these polemics are published.

The debate over the correctness or otherwise of the call I made for a United Front against the threat of fascism in the US raises fundamental questions for revolutionary socialists.  These include,  most basically, what are the consequences of the absence of mass working class parties of either a reformist or revolutionary character. What position should revolutionaries’ [adopt to] working with, or within, trade unions whose leadership is politically subordinate to the Democrat Party and hostile to socialism? Is joint work permissible, or must revolutionaries strive to establish entirely new bodies of working-class power on their own. What is the correct strategy for fighting the rising fascist threat? Is Trotsky’s strategy United Front tactic still relevant in the current context?  If so, with whom is it permissible to work? This is what imparts to our debate on these matters’ broader significance.

The most fundamental point that I object to in your reply is the equation of a call out for a united front with a popular front, despite my explicit rejection of such a class collaborationist strategy. A united front is a call for joint organising for a specific agreed upon action, in this case joint organising of defence committees against fascist violence and for a general strike against Trump’s planned coup. You continue to insist that this call is for a political block involving electoral support for the Democrats despite my explicit rejection of such a perspective. You get around this obvious fact by stating that even though the call out rejects support for the Democrats, it is in fact “not a united front of working-class organizations but a ‘Popular Front’ which entails the subordination of the working class to hostile class forces,” and one which “is a call to support workers illusions in the very forces which are herding workers behind the Democrats”.

Frankly, such a characterization betrays a fundamental failure on your part to understand the tactic of a united front between a revolutionary Marxist party, and reformist tendencies. Let’s be clear: by that definition, Trotsky’s call out for a united front in 1930’s Germany in the face of the Nazi threat, between the reformist Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the German Communist Party (KPD) by definition, involved joint action with “hostile class forces”! The Social Democrats, despite being a mass working class party, were a reformist trap for the German working class. They had betrayed not just the German working class but the international working class when they voted for War Credits in 1914. The leaders of the SPD were responsible for the murders of Luxemburg and Liebnecht and the strangling of the German revolution in 1919.

To reinforce this let’s examine what Trotsky wrote in “For a workers united front against fascism” in 1931.

“No common platform with the social democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike unitedly! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother and even with Noske and Grzezinsky. On one condition: not to bind one’s own hand”

We all know who the devil is even if we haven’t met his grandmother! However, who were Noske and Grzezinsky? Gustav Noske  was the SPD Defence Minister who bloodily put down the Spartacist Uprising in 1919. Noske oversaw the Freikorps who killed Luxemburg and Liebknecht. Noske justified the massacre with the words,“Somebody has to be the bloodhound.” Albert Grzesinski was the SPD Minister of Interior in Prussia. On May Day 1929 he was involved in the violent suppression of communist rallies that resulted in the killings of over 30 workers.

Barricade in Berlin in aftermath of “Bloody May” massacre of 33 communist workers

Trotsky stated in the same article:

“There is nothing to take back from our criticism of the social democracy. Nothing to forget of all that has been. The entire historical account, including the account for Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg will be presented in time, as we Russian Bolsheviks also presented it finally to the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries as a general accounting for the baiting, slander, imprisonment and murder carried on against workers, soldiers and peasants.”

These quotes undermine your central thesis Stephen that it is impermissible for revolutionaries to work with reformist forces in defence of the interests of the working class against the existential danger of fascist attack. Trotsky had no such qualms so long as such work was limited to specific joint actions, that organisational independence was maintained, and that the right of revolutionaries to criticize the reformists was upheld. We must remember that this was for defensive actions to prevent the political annihilation of the working class at the hands of the fascists. In the light of the history of Trotskyism as a movement, your longwinded treatise outlining why “pseudo-left” groupings and trade unions “are not to be trusted,” is at best irrelevant. You fail to identify where in my call out I call for the political subordination of the working class to these forces. You have constructed a classic strawman argument for the purpose of accusing me of justifying the liquidation of the Trotskyist movement into an alien class milieu.

A second major flaw in your argument arises from your treatment of the trade unions. It is worth once again quoting Trotsky at length, this time from his article “What next: Vital questions for the German proletariat”. Trotsky wrote:

““To wage war for the purpose of overthrowing the international bourgeoisie,” Lenin wrote in Left-Wing Communism, “and to refuse beforehand to tack and veer in one’s course and to make good use of the antagonism (no matter how temporary) in interests between the enemies; to eschew agreements and compromises with possible (no matter how temporary, vacillating, and adventitious) allies – isn’t that too ridiculous for words?” Again we quote verbatim; the words we italicize in parentheses are Lenin’s.

We quote further: “It is possible to vanquish a more powerful enemy only by straining one’s forces to their utmost; and it is imperative that one make use, most painstakingly, carefully, cautiously and expertly, of any ‘rift’ between the enemies, no matter how tiny.” But what are Thälmann and Remmele under Manuilsky’s guidance doing? With might and main they are striving to cement, with the theory of social fascism and with the practice of sabotage against the united front, the rift – and what a rift – between the Social Democracy and fascism.

Lenin enjoined that use be made of “every opportunity to gain a mass ally, no matter how temporary, vacillating, unreliable, and adventitious. Whoever hasn’t been able to get that into his head,” he said, “doesn’t understand an iota of Marxism, and of contemporary scientific socialism in general.” Prick up your ears, prophets of the new Stalinist school: it is written here in black and white that you don’t understand an iota of Marxism. It’s you Lenin spoke of. Please let us hear from you.”

There is no question that elements of the trade union bureaucracy and other middle class reformist groups discussing a general strike do so not simply out of a commitment to the constitution, but because Trump’s planned coup strikes at the heart of their political taskmasters in the Democratic Party,  and by extension, at their own political and material interests.

However, fighting against the overthrow of the US constitution, the legal foundation of democratic norms of rule, is also in the interests of the working class. Therefore, as long as the principles of the United Front as Trotsky defined them are followed, then it is permissible as Lenin wrote, to make a “mass ally, no matter how temporary, vacillating, unreliable and adventitious” they are. Such a description surely applies the AFL-CIO. Once again, considering the united front principle to the matter at hand, makes it patently clear to me that your long laundry list of the betrayals of the trade union bureaucracy in no way constitutes a valid argument against my united front call.

Also, you make no distinction between the Trade Union bureaucracies and the rank and file members of the unions. There are no doubt that a large proportion of the 8 million or so trade unionists in the US will be outraged by any attempts by Trump to steal the election. Even limited calls for a General Strike will risk very quickly getting out of control of the bureaucracies.

You counterpose work with the trade unionists in defensive and episodic united front action against fascism to the ICFI’s perspective that revolutionaries must call on workers to form rank-and-file committees, in defiance of and against the trade unions. The formation of new and independent forms of workers organisations is of course to be supported everywhere it develops. However, if it is going to be posited as a strategy counterposed and entirely in replacement of work within trade unions, it needs to be a strategy that shows real potential to rapidly develop in the coming period  to justify the claim that it is of “immense political significance”. But you can point only to the formation of three putative “Rank and File Health and Safety Committees” in Tennessee, San Diego and Pennsylvania”. Presumably, like the other “rank and file committees” covered in the wsws.org over the years, these are in fact initiatives of the ICFI itself. The ICFI has not given any details as to how many actual workers are involved in these committees or how they are developing. A similar pattern can be discerned in the ICFI coverage other committees that it has formed in recent years. This is not to say that these committees and initiatives have no significance. But if they are to replace revolutionary work in the trade unions, the ICFI must actually “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk” as to whether these are independent organs of actual working-class power. If one is to make the claim “world historical significance” for them, it is only fair for Marxists to assess how they relate to the overall balance of class forces in a clear headed and objective manner.

Of course this raises the deeper issue of the class character of trade unions themselves. You accurately describe the class role of trade unions by stating:

Trade unions are embedded within capitalism and arise out of its process of historical development. Unions set the price of labour and create the political conditions not for class struggle but for class peace – between workers, whom the trade unions manage, and capitalism, for whom the trade unions are really acting in practice. Trade unions are a crucial instrument which maintain the conditions facilitating the extraction of surplus value from the working class. They are not an instrument to overturn that exploitation

I am fairly certain Trotsky was aware of these elementary principles when he wrote the following in the Transitional Program.

The Bolshevik-Leninist stands in the front-line trenches of all kinds of struggles, even when they involve only the most modest material interests or democratic rights of the working class”. He stressed that revolutionaries must not adopt a sectarian position of refusing to fight within Trade Unions because of their reactionary leadership.

I am also fairly certain Lenin understood them when he wrote of the trade union leadership;

These men, the “leaders” of opportunism, will no doubt resort to every device of bourgeois diplomacy and to the aid of bourgeois governments, the clergy, the police and the courts, to keep Communists out of the trade unions, oust them by every means, make their work in the trade unions as unpleasant as possible, and insult, bait and persecute them. We must be able to stand up to all this, agree to make any sacrifice, and even—if need be—to resort to various stratagems, artifices and illegal methods, to evasions and subterfuges, as long as we get into the trade unions, remain in them, and carry on communist work within them at all costs.

Of course, all of these passages must be dismissed by the ICFI as ignoring that the class character of trade unions has changed since Lenin and Trotsky’s time. You obliquely refer to this argument by stating that the trade unions have “changed class character since 1989”. According to the ICFI, and in particular David North, the fall of the Soviet Union led to an end to all national based projects which included trade unions. Whilst not disputing that the bargaining power of nationally  based trade unions has been undercut by the advent of a globalised production in the last forty years, how does referencing the year “1989” explain how the position of trade unions suddenly became fundamentally and necessarily anti-working class? How does it alter the truth of your statement “Trade unions are embedded within capitalism, and arise out of its process of historical development. Unions set the price of labour”. The connection between the fall of the USSR and the transformation of trade unions into organisations revolutionaries must not work within, and even that workers must be told they have to break with as a pre-condition to political action, is simply not clear to me.

In fact, the line of the North-led ICFI, that a revolutionary orientation to the trade unions must be limited to calling for workers to break from the unions to form new bodies opposed to them, places the ICFI alone among nominally Trotskyist groupings today. In itself this does not make the perspective necessarily wrong. However, considering this in conjunction with the clear position on trade union work in “The Transitional Program of the 4th International”, the onus is on the ICFI to back up its novel argument with some air-tight evidence. And this evidence needs to be more than a simple list of betrayals by the trade union bureaucracies, which certainly predated 1989!

Lastly, it is true that the major difference between 1930’s Germany and today’s US is the lack of mass working class parties, of either a revolutionary or reformist character. However, from the logic of your reply it follows that there no place for the united front tactic in the current context. What then is there for the working class to do? Essentially, what follows from your argument is that the only acceptable line for Marxists to take is to call for workers is to join the SEP (which is difficult and it is a small party lacking in a mass based membership or widespread branches) and demand workers form new “committees” untainted by the stain of hostile class forces. It must be hoped that enough workers will read wsws.org and spontanesouly form the nucleus of new independent organs like factory councils, and soviets, and go on the offensive for socialism! Of course the working class must form  “soviets” on the road to workers power. however, they cannot be treated as a precondition to the working-class fighting fascism defensively. To suggest otherwise is to accept in advance the victory of fascism.

Building a General Strike against Trump’s fascist coup – Steps you can take.

Spread the word on social media!

∙ Invite your friends to the “For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!” Facebook group. Post this group in other groups that you belong to. Lets build it to thousands of members!∙ Post the call out for a United Front from classconscious.org on your page and in groups that you belong to.

Mobilize your union or workplace!∙

If you are a member of a Labor Union find out if your Labor Union has joined the call for a General Strike. Pass a motion at your branch such as those passed by the MLK Labor Council in Seattle and the Rochester Labor Council in New York.

∙ If you are not in a Labor Union, organize your fellow employees to join a General Strike. Such organizing may be best done outside of work premises. Many workplaces disallow any organizing onsite.

Mobilise your political party!

∙If you are a member of an organized political party, find out how they plan to react to an unfair, irreconcilable and illegitimate election. If they have no plans for response, organize one.

Mobilise your social justice group!

∙If you are a member of an organization that fights for justice find out how they plan to react to an irreconcilable and illegitimate election. If they do not have a plan, organize one.∙If you are aware of another organization who is currently fighting the austerity and the fallout from the pandemic, such as Tenants Unions, try to organize a General Strike within these organizations.

Organise your neighbourhood.

∙Talk to your friends and neighbourhoods about the looming dangers. Do not allow people to call you an alarmist; arm yourself with data that shows that it is already happening. In the event of a widespread strike, neighbourhood committees and organizing will be important in sustaining strike activity.

Protests versus General Strike

∙A General Strike is more than a protest, it is when workers across all industries refuse to go to work eg withdrawal their labor. By grinding the economy and therefore profits to a halt, the working class can assert its demands! A General strike is the working class intervening directly into this struggle.

∙Protests in contrast are where people assemble to make a demand. They are important and will be needed alongside a strike however protests alone will not be enough to stop a fascist coup in the US.

Educate yourself!∙

Learn the difference between a General Strike and a Protest.∙

Learn about the definition of a United Front. A United Front does not require an ideological agreement on all matters, only an agreement on a specific action, in this case a general strike to stop slow motion fascist coup.∙

Use the opportunity of building the strike to teach people who are amenable to learning about the class struggle and socialism. Whatever occurs in the next few weeks – the class struggle will only intensify under conditions of capitalist crisis around the world.Plan ahead∙If you have sick leave or vacation time sign up to take it now. Take off as many days as possible from the election forward, no one knows how long this will take.

∙Stock up on supplies. Think about how you, your friends and co-workers can support each other if supplies and transport etc are shut down in ongoing general strike.

March separately, but strike together! For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!

Two facts are now clear. Firstly, President Trump will use fascist thugs and his control of the executive and judiciary to try and stay in power regardless of the vote on Nov 3rd. Secondly, the Democrat Party will not offer any resistance to this coup. The consolidation of a presidential dictatorship means the end of democracy and the basic rights of free speech and assembly won by the working class over the past two centuries.

What path forward then for the US working class? The answer lies in organising for a general strike organised by a United Front of all anti-fascist forces in the US to bring down the Trump regime. The United Front against fascism was a strategy proposed by Leon Trotsky the last time a capitalist ruling class called upon the filth of fascism. He argued the German working class must unite in action to stop the Nazis. His call was not heeded. The same mistake must not be made in the US today.

What is a United Front Strategy and why is it needed?

A United Front strategy seeks to unite as much of the working class as possible in common defensive struggle against fascism. Trotsky unsuccessfully encouraged the German Communist Party (KPD) to adopt the strategy in 1930 when he wrote:

The Communist Party must call for the defense of those material and moral positions which the working class has managed to win in the German state. This most directly concerns the fate of the workers’ political organizations, trade unions, newspapers, printing plants, clubs, libraries, etc. Communist workers must say to their Social Democratic counterparts: “The policies of our parties are irreconcilably opposed; but if the fascists come tonight to wreck your organization’s hall, we will come running, arms in hand, to help you. Will you promise us that if our organization is threatened you will rush to our aid?”.

What would this look like in the US today? It would be a call out for united action to defend protests, meetings and gatherings from fascist attack. The number of attacks on Black Lives Matters protestors or anti-fascist protestors by thugs using cars, guns, mace and other weapons in the US is truly frightening. Trump has openly called for the fascist gangs to “Stand back and Stand by” to prepare to unleash organized violence and intimidation to suppress the vote and disrupt the voting before November 3rd, at the polls, and on the day after. This will serve the double purpose of bludgeoning working class resistance to the coup and adding to an atmosphere of chaos to legitimize the Supreme Court’s ratification of his coup.

Kyle Rittenhouse, left, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020, with another armed civilian. (/The Journal Times via AP)

Defensive organising must begin now to defend all forms of political organising by the working class. Défense committees based around the social movements, trade unions, schools and universities, and workplaces must be formed. Workers must come rushing to help each other. However, spontaneous action will only lead to more, not less bloodshed on the streets. Collective action must be organised across the US.

What is a general strike?

A general strike is the withdrawal of the labor of all workers across all industries joined by students and the unemployed. If the US ruling class was rattled by the recent large Black Lives Matters protests, imagine the power of tens of millions of people on the streets if schools, universities and workplaces shut down! Such a strike would alter class relations in the US. It would represent the working class intervening to defend its own interests rather than conceding the political terrain to either faction of the ruling class. Workers can unite in this strike around the central demand – No to fascism! Down with the Trump regime!

 What is the working class?

In Marxist terms, the working class is everyone who has to survive by earning a wage e.g. by selling their labor. This is the vast majority of humanity who all share the same social interests of wanting access to good working conditions, healthcare, education and a clean environment. The working class is not just “blue collar” or industrial workers but teachers, nurses, retail workers, people in the service industry etc but everyone who survives by earning a wage.

Why the Democrat Party will not lead this fight

This is not a call to support any form of electoral alliance with the Democrat Party or a vote for Biden. Since Trump’s election in 2016, the Democrat Party have done everything in their power to deaden any mass mobilisation of the working class against Trump. Instead they have tried to direct all opposition to Trump down reactionary dead ends such as Russiagate. They are not calling for people to head to the streets if Trump steals the election, but are fostering the illusion a fascist coup can be headed off by a large Biden majority. They are terrified that any mass mobilisation of the working class could spiral out of control and lead to demands for radical political change in the US. The last thing they Democrats want is to come to power on the back of a working class uprising. They would much rather live with an election stolen by the far right forces around Trump just as they did in 2000 when Gore and his party refused to challenge the anti-democratic ruling of the Supreme Court.

The Democrats are attempting to chlorophorm the working class to accept that the military will prevent a Trump fascist coup. This is a deadly trap. Whilst General “Mad Dog” Mattis and the military brass may have spoken out in June against Trump’s threats to use the insurrection act, this tactical move should not be taken as evidence of their commitment to democracy. To do so would ignore the blood soaked role that the US military and intelligence agencies have played in destroying and undermining democracies and the popular will around the world. Secondly, a democracy “saved” by the military would be a democracy in name only. One need only look to the experience of Egyptian democracy being “saved” by the military in 2013 which led to the installation of the “Butcher of Cairo,” Al sisi. Allende, the Social Democratic President of Chile also hoped that General Pinochet would help protect Chilean democracy in 1973.

We appeal to all those workers and democratic forces planning to vote for Biden in hopes of blocking fascism to join with us in a joint struggle for real action to stop Trump and the fascist coup. Join us in the struggle to build defence committees and for a general strike!

Trade Unions

Similarly the trade union bureaucracies which tie workers to the Democrats cannot be trusted. They remain silent about the growing threat of a fascist coup. We appeal to the workers in trade unions to do all they can within their unions, but also to reach out to their class brothers and sisters in the non-unionised sector to build for a general strike of the entire working class. 

On October 8th, the Rochester Labor Council, in the State of New York, passed a motion calling for all labor organisations in the US to “prepare and enact a general strike” if the election is stolen by Trump.

March separately, strike together!

We are not making a call out for any political union or merger between Marxist and non-Marxist forces— only for an agreement on a specific joint action. As Trotsky wrote in 1931:

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. [5] On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.

What is the class function of fascism

Fascism is not just some evil ideology that emerges at random times in history. Fascism aims to destroy the ability of the working class to organise in times of intense social crisis when the ruling class fears the specter of mass opposition to its rule leading to its overthrow by socialist revolution. This is why it gained in strength in Europe in the 1920’s and 30’s after the Russian Revolution and during the Great Depression. Now it’s back again as the world plunges into an ever deeper economic crisis beginning with the 2007/8 Global Financial Crisis, and now intersecting with the disaster of covid19. A section of the US ruling class has come to believe that under conditions of such staggering social inequality and mass desperation, even limited forms of democratic rule must be jettisoned and replaced with outright fascist dictatorship. Likewise, the maintenance of the domination of US imperialism in the world market vis a vis the growing power of economic rivals like China may require the launching of ever more horrific wars, including nuclear war. The same ruling class faction does not believe that both a social war on the wages and living conditions of working class, and an imperialist war against a rival competitor, can be carried out under democratic conditions given the overwhelming anti-war sentiment of ordinary people.

As revolutionary Marxists, classconscious.org sees fascism as an outgrowth of capitalism. We insist that the only way to truly defeat fascism is through the struggle to put an end to capitalism once and for all and replace it with socialism. This is a system where the international working class owns and controls the means of production (the important parts of the economy), and the productive capacities of humanity are consciously planned to meet human need rather than private profit.

Spread the call out!

However, the threat posed by fascism in the US is immediate and dire. Revolutionary socialists cannot fight this struggle alone. We need a united front of all trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, Marxist tendencies, and their allies in the middle class and the social movements to defend the democratic right to assemble peacefully in protests, meetings, and pickets and against the fascist militias. We need joint organising for a general strike.

Classconscious.org is a very small group. We hope that by spreading this demand we play a role in helping to support the growth of a mass working class anti-fascist movement to bring down the Trump regime and rout the fascist thugs on the streets. The fate of the international working class is tied to the US working class. Likewise, the crisis of capitalism is driving the growth of fascism internationally. In countries as far afield as Brazil, the Philiphines, India, Hungary and Poland far right governments are in power. This process is emboldened and strengthened by the growth of fascism in the US which views fascist allies as essential as it plans war against its strategic rivals. A victory of fascism in the US would set us all back and spread the virus of fascism and dictatorship around the world. A victory over fascism in the US would strengthen us all in our struggles.

Contact us on ClassConscious@protonmail.com if you would like to discuss with us how to work together to urgently promote the tactics and action for a united front against fascism and for a general strike in the US.

We have also formed a Facebook Group United front against fascism! General Strike Now“.

Trotsky on Fascism

To read more about what fascism is and the tactic of the united front, Trotsky’s writings on Germany maintain a burning relevance. They can be found on marxist.org here.

No more appeals to the fascist Trump! The Assange campaign must turn to the working class!

by Davey Heller 19th September 2020

As the outrageous show trial of Julian Assange continued at London’s Old Bailey several developments highlighted the political crossroads facing the Assange campaign. Will elements of the campaign continue to foster the dangerous and self-defeating illusion that Assange can be saved by appeals to Trump, the fascist political thug responsible for his persecution? This reactionary dead end was personified by Glen Greenwald’s recent interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Or will the campaign turn to the only social force that can free Assange, the international working class?

The harsh truth is that the middle class forces dominating the Assange campaign continue to believe that only appeals to one faction or another of the ruling class can save Julian. In the US context this has been disastrous. Due to the almost universal hostility of the Democrat/liberal faction wing of the US ruling class to Assange, illusions were developed that Trumps MAGA movement could be a counter balance to this and his supporters could be a tool to lobby Trump for a pardon.

 Classconscious.org has been warning against this self-defeating strategy since at least August 2018, when we published an article slamming the inclusion of alt-right speakers among progressives on the #Unity4J platform. At the time #Unity4J was virtually the “official” arm of the solidarity campaign. To see this strategy still being pursued whilst Julian is literally facing off with Trump’s own DOJ in a London courtroom shows the level of desperation and disorientation of the petty-bourgeois “leadership” of this campaign.

Perhaps the most high profile, recent example of this trend comes from Brazil-based US journalist Glen Greenwald, who writes for the Intercept. He appeared on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox news on September 10th on The Tucker Carlson Show. Carlson uses his platform on Fox to support Trump’s fascist agenda. Carlson recently justified the murder of two anti police violence protestors by a fascist gunmen with the statement, “How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” Greenwald appeared on this far right demagogue’s platform to make the following direct appeal to Trump, who watches Fox News religiously:

Obviously this isn’t coming from President Trump! He praised WikiLeaks in 2016 for informing the public. He knows, firsthand, how these spying systems that Edward Snowden exposed can be abused and were abused in 2016. This is coming from people who work in the CIA, who work in the Pentagon, who insist on endless war, and who believe that they’re a government unto themselves, more powerful than the President. I posted this weekend that there’s a speech from Dwight Eisenhower warning that this military industrial complex — what we now call the Deep State — is becoming more powerful than the President. Chuck Schumer warned right before President Obama — President Trump — took office that President Trump challenging the CIA was foolish because they have many ways to get back at anybody who impedes them. That’s what these cases are about Tucker, they’re punishing Julian Assange and trying to punish Edward Snowden for informing the public about things that they have the right to know about the Obama Administration. They’re basically saying to President Trump, “You don’t run the country even though you were elected. We do!” And they’re daring him to use his pardon power to put an end to these very abusive prosecutions.”

Tucker Carlson interviewing Glenn Greenwald about Assange.

Here we see yet another so called “progressive” element of the Assange campaign regurgitating the ludicrous idea that it’s not Trump but “Deep State” actors opposed to him, who are responsible for the prosecution of Assange! For starters this completely contradicts the main tenet of Assange’s legal defence, that the prosecution of Assange is being directed by the highly politicized U.S. Department of Justice, which under Trump, essentially takes it’s orders from the President.

Max Blumenthal has revealed evidence of how the biggest single donor to Trump’s election campaign in 2016, Sheldon Adelson acted as a conduit between the company who spied on Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy and the CIA. Testimony from alt-right fascist Cassandra Fairbanks in the extradition hearing further proves the orders for the arrest of Assange came straight from Trump.

The “Trump versus the Deep State” narrative also somehow posits a billionaire developer from New York, whose cabinet is full of billionaires and the former head of the CIA is somehow an “outsider” fighting and taking on the “establishment’! This is the narrative that underpins the MAGA movement and the Q Anon conspiracy theory.

In reality, the US ruling class is currently locked in vicious internecine warfare between the liberal faction working through the Democrats, and the fascist wing working through the far right Republicans/Trump. Whilst both wings of the ruling class are reactionary servants of Wall St, they rest for their support on different social forces, backed by different elements of the military-industrial-complex, and different networks of billionaires. They represent different strategic approaches of the ruling class as to how to best divide and suppress the working class at home, while pursuing imperialism’s interests abroad under conditions of deepening social crisis. For Greenwald, however, to appeal to the fascist wing to pardon Assange is not only deluded, but dangerous. This appeal occurs in a context where Trump is openly planning to steal the election and crush resistance on the street with military force!

However It is not too late for the Assange campaign, despite Julian’s dire situation. Julian himself has called from his prison cell for workers to organise themselves in his defence. In a letter from Belmarsh in late 2019 he wrote to a supporter

Dear Anne-Marie, You ask what you can do to fight for my freedom? Use your strongest skills, friends, resources and associations. If you are a nurse, gather nurses, create a bloc in the nurses union, etc! http://defend.wikileaks.org JPA

Julian Assange’s letter written on an envelope from Belmarsh Prison

Julian Assang’es letter written on an envelope from Belmarsh Prison

This reflects the fact that despite signs of some disorientation prior to his arrest in appealing to, and attempting to maneuver between different factions of the ruling class, Julian too has now turned politically to the working class.

This approach took a step forward with two recent developments. Firstly,  South Africa’s largest trade union federation (COSATU) issued a joint statement with the influential South African Communist Party (SACP) calling for an end to the US persecution of Assange..

COSATU is a Federation of over 30 unions, representing 1.6 million workers. Along with the Communist Party of South Africa which has over 200,000 members, they form the tripartite political alliance with the ANC that has dominated South African politics since the fall of Apartheid. The joint statement issued on September 15th stated:

“Assange has become a target because he did what journalists are supposed to do—expose the truth. The WikiLeaks publisher exposed the crimes that emerged out of wars launched based on lies, which have led to the deaths of more than one million people.

 We stand firm on the belief that it is the working class, the broad mass of the population, that must be mobilised to defend Julian Assange, and all class war prisoners. The demand for their freedom must be a rallying cry for the global working class. We therefore call on all workers and young people, and all those who uphold democratic rights, to come forward.” (The full joint statement is reproduced below the article.)  

Since the end of apartheid rule both the Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU  have worked tirelessly to suppress the growth of a revolutionary socialist movement in South Africa. The SACP is a Stalinist party that embraces the political perspective of the “two stage theory” of revolution. The “two stage” theory demands that the class interests and struggle of the workers must be subordinated to the so called “progressive” wing of the bourgeoisie, in this case the ANC. Rather than fight independently for the overturn of capitalist property relations, the workers movement is forced into the dead end of giving parliamentary support to the ruling bourgeois nationalist ANC, thus propping up South African capitalism and the domestic ruling class. The Stalinist “two stage” theory has led to repeated disasters in country after country in the 20th century.  From Spain and China to Indonesia and Chile, untold thousands of revolutionary workers and leftist militants have gone to their graves in the name of the Stalinist two-stage theory.

However, this political perspective does not change the significance of this development. Such a call-out is a crucial break in the chain of betrayal by all the reformist, social democratic organisations around the world. It is a statement made in the name of the political forces which help run a country of almost 60 million people. In contrast, the Australian union movement in Julian Assange’s home country has remained virtually silent as his extradition hearing kicks off again. One can hardly imagine such a statement coming from any of the political groupings associated with the Democrat Party in the US! It should be welcomed by the broader Assange campaign, but as yet it has received very little promotion within the campaign, and no news coverage outside it.

The statement also states  “COSATU and the SACP call for an all-out campaign in South Africa, and internationally to defend Assange, oppose his extradition to the US, and secure his freedom, with guarantees against any future prosecution”. Currently there is no evidence beyond publishing this statement that the unions and the Communist Party are working to activate their membership on this campaign in a concrete way. Time will time whether this statement is left cover for the bureaucracy or a genuine statement of intent to organise for Assange. Once again though, the issuing of the statement has objective significance for the Assange campaign and should be utilised in efforts to build on the campaign amongst workers not just in South Africa but globally.

Another development occurred in London when a newly formed London Bus Drivers Rank and File Safety Committee, initiated by the Socialist Equality Party of Britain, passed a motion condemning the state frame up and persecution of Assange

The motion read:

We call on all workers everywhere to come to Assange’s defence. At stake are basic democratic rights, including free speech and freedom of the press. The defence of Assange is the spearhead of the struggle against militarism and war abroad, and the mobilisation of the state against the working class at home

The SEP is a Trotskyist socialist party. Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution fought for decades against the degeneration of the USSR under Stalin.

The safety committee is one of several rank and file safety committees initiated by the Socialist Equality Party, who publish the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). The motion should be welcomed as a reflection of the deep well of support and internationalism that exists within the working class. However it is worth noting that classconscious.org has a principled difference with the SEP in regards to only organising with workers on Assange outside the structure of unions by insisting workers must “break” with the unions altogether and form new worker committees. We believe this severely limits the capacity of united front work with the best layers of workers still trapped under the control of the reactionary trade union leadership. By working only outside the unions, promising developments such as the safety committees motion, risks withering on the vine as other committee initiatives of the SEP have done over recent years.

Classconscious.org has long argued that only a campaign that did not appeal to any faction of the ruling class but sought instead to independently mobilise the international working class. This is the only social force capable of forcing a backdown by US imperialism in its obsessive campaign to crush Assange as part of its efforts to stop ordinary people from learning about its crimes.

The Assange campaign must once and for all step back from the cliff. No faction of the ruling class will save Julian, not the liberal/social democratic, or the fascist wing. The British ruling class and its kangaroo court do the bidding of the war mongers in Washington. The working class is the only international force with the social power to free Julian. It is the working class that has the most to lose, because at its heart the prosecution of Assange by the Trump administration is designed to prevent ordinary people from learning about, and therefore, being able to intervene politically to stop imperialism’s war crimes.

Statement from COSATU website

Statement on the wsws.org

Support the Leon Trotsky House Museum Appeal

8th September 2020

An appeal for funds has been made by Leon Trotsky’s grandson, Estaban Volkov, to support the Leon Trotsky House Museum. The Museum requires urgent funds because it has been closed to the public since March because of measures taken to limit the spread of Cov-19.

A significant part of the museum’s income (from ticket sales, the cafeteria and the giftshop) has dried up, putting a large strain on its ability to remain open.

Esteban in an audio message stated:

Comrades and friends, warm greetings from the Museums general director, Esteban Volkov. We’re going through difficult times with Covid-19, and we need the support of all our comrades and friends, to preserve this valuable historical site where 80 years ago the great Marxist Lev Davidovich Bronstein was struck down in the revolutionary struggle. Luckily, many comrades continue to carry forward his valuable teachings and ideas, which are today more alive than ever.

The Leon Trotsky House Museum is a unique institution dedicated to preserving the legacy of the great Russian revolutionary in the house where he lived and worked, with his wife Natalia and his grandson Esteban until his assassination in 1940.

The appeal is being conducted through the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) who launched the “Support the Trotsky House Museum!” appeal on August 21st on their “In Defence of Marxism” website. A week later they published an update “Great Success for the Trotsky Museum Appeal” stating over seven thousand euro’s had been raised but more funds were needed to ensure the ongoing survival of the museum.

Both Stalinist and capitalist forces have been united in their desire to obliterate Leon Trotsky’s ideas and political legacy from the consciousness of the working class, through a combination of slander and omission for almost a century. This appeal is part of the ongoing efforts of Marxists to ensure that not only is Trotsky’s Museum House preserved but that the living struggle of Trotskyism is maintained. Trotskyism is indeed the Marxism of the 21st Century! Classconscious.org is proud to do what we can to support this important appeal.

Donate to the appeal at the IMT website here.

Support the August 20th meeting for Victorian teachers! Schools must be safe workplaces during the covid pandemic!

In an important development, a group of teachers in Melbourne, Australia, organising out of the MESJ (Melbourne Educators for Social and Environmental Justice) Facebook page, have begun organising online, cross sub-branch meetings. These meetings are to allow Australian Education Union(AEU) sub-branches to organise at a rank and file level to fight for safe working conditions during the covid pandemic. The first meeting was attended by over fifty teachers from nine different sub-branches from government schools. This fight has become necessary in the face of the Andrews Labor Government’s disregard for teachers’ safety by keeping schools open for senior students during Term 3, even as cases skyrocketed; and by the AEU’s complete capitulation to the government’s callous agenda. The next meeting is planned for August 20th at 4PM.

As part of its determination to keep the economy fully open, the Andrews government insisted that in Term 3 schools be open for senior students, children of “essential workers”, and schools for children with disabilities . Yet, when Term 3 started on July 27th, there were already over 200 cases a day being reported. This resulted in over seventy schools being closed temporarily, and a school in Northern Melbourne becoming one of the largest clusters in the state in the period leading up to the announcement of Stage 4 restrictions on August 2nd, which finally saw all schools return to remote learning within the Melbourne metropolitan area. Currently teachers at regional state special schools are still working on site despite growing case numbers in some regional centres and without any provision for pandemic leave when getting tested.

The AEU’s role in this was scandalous. As late as July 31st, at a Victorian State Council meeting, AEU officials argued against a motion demanding a return to remote learning for all students on the basis that many members opposed this measure and wanted instead “flexibility”. The motion moved by MESJ associated councillors was defeated. Even the Australian Principal Association had demanded during the previous week , a return to remote learning in Melbourne.

August 20th MESJ cross-sub- branch meeting

The proposed agenda for the upcoming meeting on August 20th is as follows:

1. Remote teaching conditions – how are things going now and what do we need?

2. Assessment, reporting and VCE – what alternatives would be preferable to business as usual?

3. Return to on-site teaching conditions – when would this be safe and what should it look like?

4. Next steps – how can we stay connected and make sure our needs are met?

Details on the meeting and how to join can be found on the MESJ Facebook group.

This initiative of the MESJ to organise cross sub-branch meetings must be supported by the broadest section of AEU members as possible across as many schools as possible. The initiative of the MESJ for cross sub-branch meetings should be replicated in other Australian states, particularly in NSW where community transition is still significant. Consideration should also be given on how to include non-unionised layers of teachers into this struggle.

This is an international struggle

This must be seen as part of the broader struggles internationally against the drive to force teachers back into the classroom whilst this pandemic rages. Tens of thousands of teachers in the US are currently fighting against the bipartisan Democrat and Republican drive to reopen the schools. Devastating stories of teachers, and even students, being asked to sign legal waivers if they get sick and die, are emerging from the US. Similar struggles are occurring in Germany and elsewhere. The capitalist ruling class is determined to open schools— not as they claim for the “benefit of students”, but because schools are needed to function as child minding centers for workers as part of the drive to reopen economies to protect the profits of the rich. Teachers care about their students and their futures, but education can’t be run in-person if it means both students and teachers are dying. This is why remote learning must be continued until the ruling class takes the actions necessary to get the Corona virus pandemic under control. Teachers, as workers, have the right to organize. They alone must decide when it is safe to return to the classroom.

Other workers internationally, from distribution, mining, and construction, to healthcare settings, manufacturing and others, all face the same pressures to return to work under unsafe conditions. Links must be made between all these struggles, and they are starting to be made. This week on Twitter the #GeneralStrike was trending in recognition of this commonality of struggle.


Support the MESJ’s initiative, join the cross sub-branch meeting on August 20th if you are a teacher and please spread amongst your networks!

Please note: classconscious.org has no affiliation with MESJ

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. Classconscious.org would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.

How did we get here? The threat of fascism in the US

History will not forget the US President striding out of the White House – waving a bible – after ordering the beating and gassing of peaceful protesters to clear his path. If the horror of watching George Floyd die was not enough, now we have seen the iron fist of the US ruling-class shoot, gas and brutalise tens of thousands of protesters across the entire country. The question we must answer is how did the US get here? How did we end up with a fascist in the White House overseeing the declaration of virtual martial law? The answer does not lie in the personality of Donald Trump, but in the crisis of capitalism.

The rotten door of US democracy

 In November 2016, US bourgeois-democracy was already a “rotten door” waiting to be kicked in. The rot was evident with the stolen election of 2000. Then came the 911 events; a US equivalent of the Reichstag fire. It justified the ‘War on Terror’ with the US Patriot Act, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the rendition and torture at Guantanamo, the war against whistleblowers like Julian Assange, NSA surveillance and Barack Obama’s “Terror Tuesdays” which decided who the US government should extra-judicially murder, including US citizens.  Meanwhile, in the name of stopping terrorism and protecting human rights abroad, the US escalated its interventionist rampage in the Middle East, Africa and Central and South America. Invasions, coups and sanctions overturned and subverted governments at the cost of millions of lives. These attacks on democratic norms were carried out with the support of both capitalist parties, Democrat and Republican.

President Obama watches a live stream of the execution of Osama bin Laden in 2011

That the gutting of the US constitution and the drive to authoritarianism in the US has been a bipartisan project points to the essential class forces at work. As US imperialism faces challenges to its global hegemony with its economy weakening, it is driven ever closer to policies of total war and dictatorship. As the Russian revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, warned in 1928, “In the period of crisis the hegemony of the United States will operate more completely, more openly, and more ruthlessly than in the period of boom.

However, the same class processes are driving the working class ever closer towards launching a struggle for revolutionary socialism. The ever-increasing gap between rich and poor, the daily struggle of the majority to survive, the growing threats from climate chaos and ecocide, increasing state/police violence, and the opposition to the growing threat of world war, all push the working class into struggle. The ruling class understands this objective process and is adopting ever more dictatorial forms of rule at home. Therefore, for both domestic and international reasons, the US ruling class is moving to throw off the shackles of democratic forms of rule. 

Fascism – an international project for US imperialism

In 2014, the Obama government supported a right wing coup in Ukraine that installed a government which included neo-Nazis. This demonstrates how US imperialism is not just moving to the far right at home. It is consciously seeking to foster fascism and the far right abroad to advance its global aims.  Far right governments have been fostered notably in Brazil, Poland, Hungary and India. Manoeuvers to shift the Australian ruling class to the far right are evident in the parliamentary coup against Malcolm Turnbull in 2018. The Trump Administration’s support for Brexit can also be seen in this context. 

Trump and Modi at a “Howdy Modi” Rally, Texas 2019

Fostering a network of far right and fascist allies is part of US imperialism’s rearranging of the global cards – to ensure that when it does decide to move militarily against another ‘Great Power’ ie Russia or China, it will have the full support of allied powers ready to suppress their own working classes’ opposition to war. Though the Democrats have supported this process – with advisers like fascist geostrategist Steve Bannon, Trump has far more explicitly aimed to create an international “movement” of the far right in preparation for World War 3.

Fascism comes home to the US

By the time of the 2016 US election, a section of the US ruling class decided it wasn’t enough to foster a network of allied fascist powers – these tactics needed to be ‘brought home’. Billionaires such as Robert Mercer worked with forces like Bannon at Breitbart News to whip up fascist politics online in a movement known as the “alt-right”. Murdoch had Fox News spewing out his filth daily. The Koch brothers had their networks and money flowing into the project of shifting the Republicans ever farther to the right. Sheldon Adelson was looking for candidates to further his far-right, Zionist agenda. Intelligence connected forces like Betsy Devos’s brother, Erik Prince, were actively working in the background.

During the 2016 primaries, Trump blustered onto the scene guided by Nixon-era dirty trickster, Roger Stone. The proto-fascist MAGA movement quickly became their chosen instrument. It should be remembered that Mercer originally backed Ted Cruz in 2016, but switched to Trump. They had found their man.

On election night, November 2016, the rotten door of bourgeois rule hung by a thread as a fascist was installed as President. To those who question this notion, I ask which part of fascist ideology and perspective does Trump not fit? He is rabidly anti-socialist, openly supports fascist violence and paramilitaries, expresses the desire to rule for life, has contempt for the rule of law domestically and internationally, defines dissent as treason, has massively expanded the concentration camp system for immigrants (of course with the support of the Democrats), and uses Islamophobia and anti-semitism to animate his base and divide the working class. He has put fascists in key positions in the White House, such as Steve Miller and Steve Bannon.

However, having a fascist president does not transform the US into a fascist state instantly. The US wasn’t then, and isn’t now, under a fascist form of government. Trotsky wrote extensively on the threat of fascism in the 1930’s, and remains essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the threat of fascism. Fascism is more than just dictatorship, or even police terror. It is an authoritarian political system with a clear class aim.  Under fascism, not just the revolutionary left but all civil society and independent organizations, and all forms of working class organizations such as unions and social democratic parties are crushed. The working class must be forcefully atomised to head off the threat of socialist revolution. 

Trotsky wrote that a defining element of fascism is the development of a mass based movement based on “all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy.” In Italy, Mussolini used his Black Shirts, then in Germany Hitler used his Brown Shirts as a battering ram against the working class on the road to power. Once in power, Mussolini incorporated his Black Shirts into the Italian Army. Once in power, Hitler murdered the leaders of the plebeian Brown Shirts in the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934. These forces were not needed once they had full control of the state apparatus of violence. 

Hitler greeting Brownshirts in Bavaria 1932

Trump has been attempting to follow the old fascist playbook, but rather than repeating itself, history rhymes. Trump has had an advantage over Mussolini and Hitler. He gained control of the executive at the very start of his political career. He has, therefore, been implementing a dual strategy of building a fascist base, both within and outside the executive office — before, during, and after the election itself.

Trump has worked to do this outside the executive through ongoing MAGA rallies, open support for Nazi and fascist militias, and by cultivating support among reactionary evangelicals ie. his recent ‘bible’ walk at the ‘President’s’ Church. The network of fascist far-right media outlets continues to build its ‘Fuhrer cult’. Whilst it is clear that these forces are very much in the minority in the US, they still number in the tens of millions. 

Trump at MAGA rally in 2016

Within the executive Trump openly appeals to fascist sentiments within ICE, the military, police and other armed bodies of men within the state. The police rampage across the US in response to the Black Lives Matter protests demonstrates the success that Trump has made in animating reactionary layers in the security forces. 

Sixteen year old Brad Levia Ayala shot in Austin by police while standing still on a hill

Fascism by a thousand cuts….

Even Germany did not become fascist overnight. The Weimar Republic eroded for years, as the economic crisis in Germany, and internationally developed. Just as the Democrats in the US have facilitated this process, the SPD (Social Democratic Party) in Germany played a thoroughly rotten role. The Enabling Act of 1933 was simply the death blow of Weimar.

Even after being handed the Chancellorship by President Hindenburg in 1933, Hitler had to move incrementally to institute a full fascist dictatorship. Likewise, Trump is not kicking in the “rotten door” in one go. He has continually tested the water to undermine constitutional rule by degrees. He overturned Congress’s ability to control funds with his national security decrees to fund the border wall which the World Socialist Web Site has described as a “Rubicon” moment. The 1st Amendment was shredded with the arrest of Assange on Espionage charges. He has sought to throw off all oversight of the Executive by the Legislature, claiming “executive privilege” to stop his administration giving evidence to both Congressional committees, as well as to the Impeachment process. His lawyers have  argued in court  that whatever actions the President takes are legal by definition. He has tried to assert full Presidential control over immigration by attempting an explicit ban on immigration from Muslim majority countries.

Truump at El Paso rally Feb 2019

However, Trump has now come up against the limits of expanding his current power constitutionally. Trotsky wrote that the bourgeoisie (the ruling class) as a whole has an ambivalent attitude to fascism: “The big bourgeoisie likes fascism as little as a man with aching molars likes to have his teeth pulled” eg an unpleasant but necessary process. Whilst the logic of the class crisis drives the bourgeoisie ever closer to needing the services of fascism, it holds out as long as possible before staking it’s last card on it. And it will not do so until social democracy and bourgeois-democratic forms of liberal rule have completely exhausted their capacity to sow illusions in the working class. Entrusting the “committee of management” of the capitalist state to the hands of an erratic, vulgarian, gangster fascist like Trump is risky. Recall that within a decade of the German ruling class handing power to Hitler, conservative generals were trying to blow him up!

Armed fascists on the steps of the Michigan State House

However, we see an emerging dynamic as Trump moves to deploy his incipient extra-Parliamentary movement, as well as his personal control of the Executive, as he comes up against constitutional limits. During April, Trump asserted an unconstitutional right to override state-based shutdowns to manage the COVID19 pandemic, but he received pushback from Democratic governors in places such as Michigan. Trump, on behalf of Wall Street’s homocidal “back to work” drive, and with the support of the capitalist press, was able to mobilize his lumpen, enraged petit-bourgeois base to bludgeon the Governors into line.

We have seen Trump come up against resistance to his unconstitutional assertion that he can override state governors and put the US military directly on the streets. This came in the form of push back from former Defense Secretary, “Mad Dog” Mattis, and a retired generals revolt. They were clearly articulating that a section of the ruling class do not think the time is right to “drown the working class in blood” and assert full fascist rule. Trump has been able to mobilise his fascist base in the police and other security forces to shoot protestors, but he has come up against definite limits. We shall see if, moving forward, Trump relies further on right wing terrorist violence from extra-parliamentary forces to overcome this resistance in the coming period in the run up to the November election.

Would a Democrat victory in 2016 made things different?

At this point, it’s worth entertaining a counterfactual exercise. Looking at the class forces that Trump and Clinton rest upon, how might Trump and Clinton have behaved if the election result in 2016 had been reversed? 

Then-Sec of State Hillary Clinton, and the -New York City Police Commissioner at New York Stock Exchange Sept 9, 2011, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Clinton was clearly the preferred candidate of a section of Wall St and the intelligence agencies. She would have continued their agenda of increasing social inequality at home and imperialist war abroad. She represented a faction which wanted to move aggressively against Russia before turning to China. Her government, in order to do this, would have had to continue the twenty year degradation of US liberal democracy in the form of militarizing police, surveillance and censorship. However, Clinton as a Democrat, doesn’t just rest upon Wall St and the intelligence agencies. The Democrats also rest upon a layer of the upper middle class, obsessed with their own privilege and identity politics. In addition the Democrats rely on trapping the working class within the parliamentary framework by pushing the ever more threadbare illusion that they are the “party of reform”. Whilst the Democrats are not, and have never been, a true social democratic party, they have functioned for a long time in the US as the “graveyard of social movements,” promoting illusions that they can be a vehicle for progressive change. The pathetic demise of the “Sanders revolution” is but the latest example. They also have the support of key unions, but not all, as some support Trump. Although union membership in the US is relatively low, their support for the Democrats can still be crucial, as seen for example in their effective reigning in of the teacher rebellions of recent years. So, would the drive to authoritarian rule and war have continued under Hillary?  Absolutely. But the Democrats’ working class social base prevents it from morphing into a full fascist movement.

What might Trump have done? It is important to note that Trump never expected to win in 2016. First hand accounts on election night have confirmed his shock at defeating Hillary. Trump’s game plan had been to use the MAGA movement to build a fascist base to continue his drive to power and to further the fascist agenda in the US. We can’t say with any certainty what would have happened, but it was obvious that Trump was not going away. Perhaps he would have had to follow a more traditional fascist path to power by building his extra-parliamentary forces until he was able to take power. A Clinton presidency’s reactionary policies and hostility to the working class would have served to feed the narrative that Trump was the man to “drain the swamp”, oppose regime change wars, restore jobs, and Make America Great Again.

But history is what it is— Trump won.

Chloroforming the working class?

It is vital that the working class be alerted to the existential threat of fascism, not just in the US but internationally, if Trump is able to consolidate his rule as dictator. We face the prospect of a fascist having full control over the largest military the world has ever seen, with bases in 180 countries and enough nuclear weapons to eliminate life on earth.  The US executive has surveillance and repressive capacities in the form of drones, the NSA and CIA at its disposal that the German Fuhrer could only dream of.

Marxists are rightfully keen to apply the fascist label only when it is scientifically sound. As I have stated, the US is not yet in the grip of fascism. But it is a deadly mistake to deny that Trump, the President of the United States, is a full blown fascist.

The World Socialist Web Site, a widely read Marxist publication, for example, has described Trump’s recent attempts to put troops on the ground in the US, as an attempted “coup d’etat”. They have stated that Trump is trying to set himself up as a “criminal”, “Gangster”, “personalist” dictator resting simply on the military and police.  Clearly, there are elements of truth in this, but it risks downplaying the real threat of fascism in the US. Seeing Trump as merely a dictatorial authoritarian overlooks both his fascist politics, and the volatile mix of class forces upon which he rests for his support.

Marxists must avoid the mistakes of the Stalinist Communist Party (KPD) in Germany in the 1930s. Trotsky addressed the problem with equating all reactionary capitalist parties with fascism in his 1931 pamphlet “For a United Front against Fascism” (Note: Bruning was the German Chancellor from 1930-32).:

There are seven keys in the musical scale. The question as to which of these keys is “better” – do, re, or sol – is a nonsensical question. But the musician must know when to strike and what keys to strike. The abstract question of who is the lesser evil – Brüning or Hitler – is just as nonsensical. It is necessary to know which of these keys to strike. Is that clear? For the feeble-minded let us cite another example. When one of my enemies sets before me small daily portions of poison and the second, on the other hand, is about to shoot straight at me, then I will first knock the revolver out of the hand of my second enemy, for this gives me an opportunity to get rid of my first enemy. But that does not at all mean that the poison is a “lesser evil” in comparison with the revolver.

Russian revolutionaries Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870 – 1924), and Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940), , during the Bolshevik Revolution. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Revolution as the order of the day!

There are of course differences between the situation in Germany that Trotsky was writing about and the US today. In particular there are no longer massed based parties of the Left of either a socialist or social democratic character. The internet exists! Whilst the far right is using this tool to great effect, ultimately the internet is a weapon in the hands of the working class of truly historical proportions. I do not think it is an exaggeration to compare the internet to the printing press. The printing press was a key material development that undermined feudal forms of rule leading to their replacement with capitalism. I believe the internet may be playing the same role in the destruction of capitalism. The working class can now communicate, mobilise in real time on a global level. The recent uprising over the George Floyd murder is illustrative. A black man was horrifically murdered and his murder was uploaded to the internet where it was ‘witnessed’ by hundreds of millions. Social media has then been used to organise and amplify the ongoing rebellion which has been supported and even joined internationally as a whole generation of youth take a stand against the poison of racism and police brutality.

Justice for George Floyd and Michael Ramos protest, Austin, Texas, June 7th 2020 (Credit: League of the Fifth International)

However the internet does not resolve the crisis of leadership which is just as stark today as it was in 1938. Trotsky wrote in 1930 in ‘The Turn in the Communist International and the Situation in Germany’: 

the course of events in the very near future may resurrect in Germany, on a new historical plane, the old tragic contradiction between the maturity of a revolutionary situation on the one hand and the weakness and strategical impotence of the revolutionary party on the other. This must be said clearly, openly, and above all, in time.

We must keep arguing and discussing the nature of the fascist threat in the US and internationally and we must continue to find ways to think about what a “United Front” strategy for the working class might look like in today’s context. There is still a window of opportunity to stop fascism – class forces are still in flux and socialist revolution remains the order of the day!


The above article assume knowledge of a few key Marxist terms. If these terms are unfamiliar, I have provided a short glossary:

Working Class
In Marxist terms, the working class is everyone who has to survive by earning a wage eg by selling their labor. This is the vast majority of humanity who all share the same social interests of wanting access to good working conditions, healthcare, education and a clean environment. Marxists also call the working class the proletariat.  

The working class is not just “blue collar” or industrial workers but teachers, nurses, retail workers, people in the service industry etc but everyone who survives by earning a wage.

The working class however  is not uniform in terms of its wealth. What is commonly called the “middle class” is really just a layer of the working class that is more comfortable financially.

The unemployed, who are not currently earning a wage share the same interests as the working class

Ruling Class
The ruling class, or capitalist class, is the small percentage of society that makes their money not through earning a wage but from the profits from what they own eg their investments.. They own the “means of production” eg all the factories, banks, companies etc by which things are produced. Each country has its own ruling class which compete with each other. In Marxist theory the ruling class is also called the Bourgeoisie.

Petty bourgeois:
Small business owners are categorised as “petty bourgeois” as they are not waged workers, but neither are they part of the ruling class as they are not economically powerful and only own a small amount of capital.

The upper middle class is also classified by Marxists as petty-bourgeois. Although they earn a wage or salary, they are so privileged that as whole they see their interests as more aligned with the ruling class than the mass of the working class. This would include managers, union bureaucrats, well paid professionals etc

What is capitalism?
Capitalism is the current global economic system that dominates the globe. It is a system where the “means of production” is owned privately by individuals, the ruling or capitalist class. The aim of the production is to maximize profit or capital for the ruling class. Under capitalism, the world is divided up into competing nation states, each with its own ruling class.

What is socialism?
Socialism is a system where the “means of production” are owned and run for the benefit of all. All of the wealth and the productive capacities of humanity are organised for the common good not private profit. True socialism must be implemented internationally, not just in one country. You cannot have isolated socialist countries existing inside a global capitalist system. Although the task of overthrowing capitalism falls to the working class, the aim of socialism is not to replace domination of one class with another to work towards a society where class is abolished. Just as capitalism did not establish itself over night, nor will socialism. It will be the work of an historic period. However, it is becoming clearly by the day that humanity and the planet cannot survive unless we put an end to the profit system.

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. Classconscious.org would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.

ANZAC DAY – may one day no-one march there at all.

ANZAC Day, April 25th is here again and once again Australians are being asked to stand together and declare “Lest we forget”. Every year though, during the avalanche of militaristic imagery and words that marks this “celebration”, I reflect how it hasn’t always been like this in Australia. During my lifetime I have watched ANZAC day being changed from a fading historical relic to a day elevated to a virtual state religion, central to the mythic narrative of Australian nationalism.

This change is personified by my experiences singing in primary school as a ten year old. Once a week, the highlight of my primary school week was joining the whole class “Let’s sing”  session. The old radio would be turned on at the front of the class, we would take out our colorful song books and belt out an eclectic mix of songs together.  In 1983, the songbook contained a song that leave a deep impression on me, Eric Bogle’s  “And the band played Waltzing Matilda”.

The song is a haunting ballad of the journey of a young Australian man heading off to Gallipoli, cheered off by excited crowds, only to experience the hell of war and return maimed physically and emotionally. Written in 1971 at the height of the anti-Vietnam war movement, it strikes a powerful blow against war and the false “celebrations” of ANZAC day that are meant to sanctify this horror.

The song certainly left a powerful impression on me and I am always struck by the fact it is pretty much my only memory of engaging with ANZAC day from Primary school. The 80’s were a time when the “Vietnam Syndrome” still hung in the air. This “syndrome” is the ruling classes term for the lingering anti-war sentiment that existed in the mass of  the working class after that murderous war. They knew something had to be done and they got to work.

Since the Hawke Labor Government of the 1980’s, literally billions has been spent in Australia on constructing a virtual state religion around ANZAC Day. Hawke was the first Prime Minister to make the “pilgrimage” to Turkey on ANZAC Day in 1990. Since then we have had endless speeches, parades, expanded war memorials, documentaries and books. The education system has been flooded with “educational materials” to teach this curriculum including picture books about animals who “fought” for Australia for pre-schoolers! Even when I was teaching history over ten years ago, I would surreptitiously throw out the glossy pamphlets, DVD’s etc I was sent each year but now I believe teachers are forced to teach this curriculum.

Australian culture is now saturated annually with militiaristic imagery on ANZAC Day. Even this year, under conditions of pandemic, we are being encouraged to mark ANZAC Day by lighting candles in our driveway at dawn. Whilst for ordinary people, the phrase “Lest we forget” may contain some confused anti-war sentiments, the ruling class knows full well the purpose of cultivating this “celebration”. The ruling class has been working for decades to try and ensure that the next generation will be ready when called upon to “make the ultimate sacrifice” in US Imperialism’s next bloodbath could be another World War, this time with China and Russia. For the ruling class the phrase “Lest we forget” is not a phrase to mourn the death of soldiers past but to lay the groundwork for murdering more young people in the meat grinder of imperialist war.

How dated the following lines now seem from Eric Bogle’s classic:

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving their dreams of past glory
I see the old men, all twisted and torn
The forgotten heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask me, “what are they
Marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all”

However, I remain grateful for being exposed to the truths of this song and the anti-imperialist and anti-war seeds it planted in my mind. One day, when the working class has overthrown capitalism and humanity has thrown off the shackles of mindless nationalism, we can again look back at ANZAC as a ritual from another time, a time when young people were forced to fight for “God and Country” and died in the mud. A time when trillions were wasted on war instead on fighting disease and hunger.

So I will mark ANZAC Day this year by once again listening to the Pogues’ haunting version of “And the band plays Waltzing Matilda” and look forward to a future April 25th, when no one will march there at all.

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. Classconscious.org would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.