As politics in the U.S. gets increasingly vicious, working people are regularly told that we only have two choices: first, the racist bigots who portray themselves as “outsiders” and “defenders” of working class interests against a growing array of convenient scapegoats – the “liberal elite,” immigrants, Muslims, China, feminists, LGBTQ people, environmentalists, Black Lives Matter, indigenous land defenders, ad nauseum. The second choice in this limited menu? That would be the traditional “liberal-minded” big business and social-democratic parties which have governed much of Europe and North America while income gaps widen and capitalist economic crises hammer the working class. These parties have also been vigorous advocates of imperialist wars and corporate investment pacts.
Are there differences between these ruling class groupings? Of course, and some are quite significant. Those who hope that the Trumps and Le Pens of the world will benefit working people by tearing up trade deals should remember that the majority of today’s working class are women who face severe attacks on equity gains and reproductive rights, or who come from racialized communities which are the targets of racist and fascist terror fanned by ultra-right politicians.
But we do have another choice: the option of building broad coalitions to lead militant resistance struggles, and to campaign for truly fundamental progressive change. Such movements cannot be based on political support for mainstream pro-capitalist parties, but they must reach out to millions of people who vote against ultra-right candidates, and to others who fall temporarily for the false promises of fascist demagogues. This requires unity around policies that put people’s needs ahead of corporate greed, along with environmental justice, labour rights, social equality, civil liberties, and international solidarity rather than imperialist militarism. This alternative will not emerge full-blown, it must be achieved through the hard work of movement-building and outreach. All the more reason to start now!