November 16, 2016
We find ourselves today in a worldwide struggle such as we have never seen before. We are not only confronting the destructive nature of neoliberalism and imperialist wars, we are in a race towards the end of the world as we know it with respect to ecological degradation.
With Donald Trump we will have a United States president who speaks eagerly about the possible use of nuclear weapons, who does not believe in climate change and who wants to significantly advance extractivism and the oil and coal industries.
We will have a president openly motivated by racism. This racism will not only define a repressive political character within the US, but will be a guiding principle in international relations. Racism has always been an underlying aspect of the US experience. But with Trump, we are already seeing an aggressive legitimization of violent racism in our streets and this will certainly be reflected in the government’s comportment towards other countries of the world.
Nevertheless, equal to the possibilities for destruction, we also have the possibility for a new era of people’s internationalism. While many of us are in a state of shock with the election of Trump, we cannot stand idly by. We need to soberly assess where we are. The tools we need to advance our cause already exist in the real world. We must know what they are and how to use them.
We of the Alliance for Global Justice are focused on struggles against Empire and for popular democracy, especially with respect to the Empire’s policies toward Latin America, which we understand as US military and political power in service to transnational capitalism.
Since the election of Trump, we have received requests from friends and partners in other countries concerning what to expect from a Trump administration. This declaration is our answer to these solicitations.
We must start by talking about what the election signifies for the US people. There exists a great polarization here. We are divided politically between a strong extreme right wing and a popular movement of resistance that is also strong, but less organized, less united. That popular movement has produced important uprisings. For instance, the Occupy movement popularized the language of class struggle with its identification of the 1%, or the wealthy and the capitalists, as the primary source of repression in the country and the world. We have been able to mount large movements against wars, for immigrant rights, for the Earth, against Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), against mass incarceration, and more. But we have lacked the political consciousness to sufficiently sustain them.
Additionally, the press, the government and the capitalist powers work every day to diminish our voices and to isolate and marginalize us, but they can’t do it. We keep coming back and won’t be eliminated.
With the Black Lives Matter movement against racist police brutality we have seen something that may have staying power. We also see this possibility with struggles against oil and gas pipelines such as the Keystone pipeline. Today that movement is focused on stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline that would pass through traditional territory of the Standing Rock Sioux, violating sacred sites and threatening the nation’s only water supply as well as the Missouri River, one of North America’s most important water sources.
What we in AfGJ have known and said many times is that the US is going to change and the one option we don’t have is that we can maintain the status quo. The US is going to turn to the Left toward popular democracy or to the Right toward fascism, more war, more exploitation. With the victory of Trump we see the latter, unless we can mount a durable opposition in the streets.
The election of Trump is a terrible victory for bigotry and hate. Trump frequently expressed extreme racist and sexist remarks and encouraged violence on the part of his supporters. Those who voted for him heard these, which means they either agreed or were not sufficiently motivated to confront them. But his election also reveals something profound for the Left and the Right. Neoliberal capitalism isn’t working for the middle and working class. More than anything else, those who voted for Donald Trump were voting against the political establishment and business as usual which has crushed the aspirations of working class people.
We know that Trump does not represent all the US people, or even a majority. Of those with the right to vote, 45% did not vote at all. Participation in the presidential election was the lowest in 20 years. There are many obstacles that block electoral participation of many citizens. There are many people who have lost all faith in the US electoral system. This is easy to understand considering we have a system that does everything in its power to prevent the emergence of a campaign that confronts transnational corporate greed and that truly addresses itself to the most fundamental concerns of poor and working families. In fact, in our so-called democracy, a person can become president even when they lose the popular vote. That happened with George W. Bush in 2000 and, again, with Donald Trump in 2016.
This election was not so much a victory for Trump as a defeat for Hillary Clinton and her allies in the Democratic Party. Although people fear Trump, we know Clinton. We remember that during her husband’s administration, she supported or was silent when he dismantled our welfare system, went to war in Yugoslavia, bombed and maintained sanctions against Iraq, passed laws that raised our incarceration rate to the highest in the world, passed the North American Free Trade Agreement and began construction of the border wall. We remember how Hillary Clinton supported wars against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and how she wants to escalate a war in Syria that would be directed toward regime change. We remember that she supported the coup against the elected government in Honduras as well as ongoing coup attempts in Venezuela, and that she pushed forward the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In all the political world of the Democrats, they chose as their candidate the one person who could not mobilize and inspire a successful campaign against Donald Trump.
What can we expect from a Trump administration? There is a mountain of reasons for us to be worried. But we should also recognize that with Trump we have a window of opportunity regarding two matters. Although Trump is a dedicated imperialist, he wants to normalize relations with Russia and cooperate with them with respect to Syria. Nevertheless, Trump has also promised to escalate military activities of the US in Syria and we must oppose these. We simply cannot trust in the designs of the US oligarchy or the Pentagon and we must oppose any further US military intervention in the region.
Another opportunity has to do with the struggle against corporation-friendly FTAs. For many years, the leadership of both the Republicans and Democrats has pursued passage of FTAs despite the fact that both Party bases opposed them. On the Left, we do not want what Trump wants, which is protectionism. We want fair trade and community based economies and sustainable agriculture. But we have a good opportunity to advocate for the repeal of existing FTAs and to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
With respect to relations with Latin America, there are clear dangers. Trump promised to end normalization with Cuba. He spoke in racist terms about immigrants from Mexico and his desire to massively detain and deport those without documents, and to militarize the border even more than it already is. His policies will result in a witch hunt not only against immigrants, but against all Latinos since, by virtue of skin color, culture and language, they will be targets for racial profiling.
There is no struggle more important in the world than the struggle for climate and ecological justice. Trump does not believe in climate change and is committed to developing more mines, more oil wells, more pipelines, more out of control and unsustainable consumerism for obscene profits for the very few. He wants to end whatever international accords or policies we have to confront climate change.
We simply must unite in common cause for the defense and integrity of our ecosystems and communities. The opportunity that presents itself now is the possibility to raise up international resistance that can truly challenge the power of Empire and its drive toward environmental collapse.
Many times AfGJ has offered our solidarity to popular struggles in Latin America and the world. We now ask for solidarity. With Trump we are going to see increased attacks against our people of African heritage, undocumented immigrants, Latinos, the indigenous, Muslims, women, the working class, the poor, LGBITQ people, and the environment. The solidarity we need can take many forms. For example, we hope that a President Trump can never travel anywhere in the world without being met by massive demonstrations against his presence. With Trump as president, we expect that many people of the world will plan NOT to travel to Disney World, the Grand Canyon, New York City, and other popular tourist attractions. This informal boycott can have a positive effect by showing economically that racism and nativism has consequences. By the same token, a cultural boycott, such as exists against Israel, could be another helpful consequence. If global citizens show their solidarity through how they spend their money, that would be an act aimed precisely where capitalism and Empire are most vulnerable.
But more than anything, we need two forms of solidarity. First of all, we need to learn and take inspiration from our international comrades, especially from the movements in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and every place where the people have achieved defeats of their enemies and have won popular power. Above all we ask our friends and partners that you continue your struggles against the Empire and that you defend your anti-imperialist and popular governments and movements.
We the people of the United States also suffer the effects of imperialism. The Empire robs us of our resources, submits us to injustice and represses our workers, our students, our communities, our oppressed peoples in order to advance its militaristic and exploitative adventures around the world. We understand that international liberation struggles are part of our own liberation struggle. We believe that together, we can make a better world a reality, a world the size of our dreams.