We need to defeat Trump and the conditions that produced him

BY:Norman Markowitz| April 10, 2019

This piece is in response to Austerity fuels the rise of the extreme right.

I understand Andrew’s points and respect them, but as an historian I would take issue with a number of them.

First, the division between the SPD and KPD was the creation of the SPD’s refusal to support the revolution of 1918-1920, when the defeated German capitalist class used it first to defeat the revolution and then–when the revolutionary wave subsided–turned to and bankrolled the Right, eventually, supporting the Nazis.

The depression and the rightwing government in power in Germany brought about the severe austerity policies, which both the KPD (Communists) and the SPD (Social Democrats) opposed.  However, their opposition mattered little since they were fighting each other, even though their combined electoral strength was always greater than that of the Nazis.

We Communists were very right at the time about both the depression and the fascist danger, but we were very wrong about the ‘united front” from below, the policy of fighting the social democrats for influence and leadership in the working class movement.  Objectively, that was one important factor–although by no means the only one as anti-communists continue to contend–in Hitler’s victory.

But we learned from that disaster and began to implement the United Front and broader people’s front strategy, which both adapted the anti-fascist struggle to various national conditions and also advanced concrete programs to stop new Hitlers from winning out in France, the U.S. and other countries. That policy also had its contradictions but it did succeed and ultimately was important in the victory over fascism in WWII.

Today, Trump is President pursuing neo-fascist policies without anything even close to open dictatorship. Like Hitler and Mussolini for that matter he never really won an election. We have to consider voter suppression, plus the fact that 43% of eligible voters did not vote.

Mussolini and Hitler had power handed over to them by a centrist government in Italy and a Right conservative government in Germany.  In a strong sense, Trump was handed the presidency by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party machines who took the position better Trump than Bernie Sanders, and the deeply undemocratic nature of the electoral college.

The masses of people in urban areas who formerly voted for Communist and social-democratic parties in Europe, vote for the Democrats in the United States. The long term weakening of Communist parties in many European countries along with Social Democratic parties abandoning not only socialism but the welfare state itself, allowed the advance of neo-fascist parties there. Here, the Carter-Clinton Democrats played that part. Obama attempted to reverse those developments, for which he deserves credit that he does not usually get from the left.  That attempt failed. It does not mean that voters are turning from progressive to reactionary politics en masse. But enough of them either do or simply drop out of the political process to give conservatives, reactionaries and neo-fascists a path to power.

What does this mean for us? Changes are taking place in Britain and Europe. We have no Jeremy Corbyn leading the Democratic Party against Trump, at least not yet. Instead of following the political circus though mass media and the Internet, we need to be organizing and educating working people in the areas where we have a presence and working to build an effective left united front to put forward a Corbyn-like candidate with an anti-austerity, anti-fascist, and anti-imperialist program.  That offers us the best hope to both defeat Trump and then eliminate the conditions that produced him.

These are my views. At this point I am not foolish to say who that candidate would or should be, but that program can come from the existing movements and it can win mass support.


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