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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #305 - International, Black Rose Anarchist Federation (USA): "Conscience and action are on the rise" (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 30 May 2020 05:56:20 +0300

The American presidential election scheduled for next November will see Donald Trump face Joe Biden, the only candidate still in the running for the nomination for the Democratic Party after the abandonment of Bernie Sanders, while the country is suffering the brunt of the Covid pandemic- 19. We discussed the political and social situation in the United States with Camreon, a comrade who militates in California within the libertarian organization Black Rose / Rosa Negra. ---- Alternative Libertaire: What is your analysis of the victory of Trump and the rise of the movement "alt-right"? Are the conditions that led to their victory in 2016 still met? ---- Cameron : There is a lot that can be said about the growth of what is just the most recent embodiment of the far right in the United States ; that is why what follows will probably be the longest of the answers to the questions asked.

It must be kept in mind that most of the political and social sphere in the United States is latently reactionary. You could of course say that of any bourgeois democracy but the history of the United States is a fairly linear trajectory, from the time of the genocide of the natives and slavery to the present day. Even if that does not explain everything, these episodes continue to infuse and help to shape society. The potential for an organized far right is, and has always been, embedded in the fabric of the United States: the ground is fertile for the reactionaries. What may be noted for observers, especially from Europe, is that the so-called "alternative right(Alt-right) emerged using the symbols, rhetoric and tactics of European far-right formations.

It is much easier for me to talk in detail about these far-right formations than to give you a succinct and relevant summary of the reasons why Donald Trump and his right-wing populism have had so much momentum. Across the United States, there is a lively debate about how and why he was able to win in 2016. Even within Black Rose, one could find a wide variety of opinions on this subject. In my opinion, there is the addition of multiple factors. First, the consequences of more than three decades of neoliberal economic and social policies ended up turning against these same policies.

Examples include de-industrialization, free trade agreements and budget cuts in social programs. Many of us on the anti-capitalist left knew this, but until Trump appeared on the political scene, very few mainstream politicians spoke directly or explicitly about the situation. One of Trump's first campaign promises, for example, was to withdraw the United States from the NAFTA agreements. Clearly, Hillary Clinton could never have talked about throwing free trade agreements into the fire. The Alena even turns out to be one of the legacies of the mandate of her husband, Bill Clinton. In addition, in the run-up to the 2016 election, the U.S. economy was still recovering from the global financial crisis.

Austerity has been imposed more widely than before and, in parallel, many have seen that "elites" (a term often used in the United States to describe those who hold power culturally, economically or politically but often without dimension of class) who were responsible for them, escaped, in their great majority, from any prosecution. Add to that the component of racism that Trump has used whenever possible, this has enabled a very powerful populist right-wing campaign.

Compare that to the campaign led by Hillary Clinton, who for the most part promised to remain in the continuity of the Obama administration. Many people have become enraged at this almost claimed refusal to recognize and take account of their pain. Trump who wanted to "Make America Great Again", Clinton actually replied "America is already great". I believe that the political landscape has changed significantly in the past three years. While it has very little institutional power, there is a growing pole around the social democratic left in this country, which is to shape the way social and political problems are tackled.

Furthermore, scandals involving the Trump administration, even if most of them are insignificant in terms of corruption, have a corrosive impact on the stability of the administration. Despite all these scandals, I still see a high probability that Trump will be re-elected, especially in the face of a democratic candidate champion of triumphant neoliberalism.

Can we speak of a push to the left within the Democratic Party, under the influence in particular of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Camreon : Yes, a pole is starting to crystallize within the Democratic Party around social democratic reforms. These reforms and the general push to the left were accelerated by the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organization, which has no formal affiliation with the Democratic Party.

Until the 2016 elections, DSA was an extremely marginal group. However, after Bernie Sanders entered the fray, and particularly after Donald Trump's victory, DSA saw its membership grow exponentially. Likewise, other political organizations from the left or from the world of work have experienced real growth. This was notably the case of the Industrial Workers of The World (IWW), the anarcho-syndicalist union.

Black Rose / Rosa Negra is an anarchist-communist federation founded in 2013. It has allowed the fusion of several anarchist class struggle organizations scattered over the territory and currently has establishments in 17 cities and agglomerations. It follows the strategy of specifism (especifismo), developed by anarchists in South America in the last century, and strives to build popular power through active participation in social movements of the working class and the organizations which are theirs. linked.
But DSA was the only left-wing organization to be proactive and able to take advantage of increased radicalism among those who were shocked to capitalize on this search for more political radicalism expressed by a significant part of those and those who were shocked by Trump's victory. Before that, DSA had fewer than 7,000 members. Today, its membership is around 57,000, making it the largest socialist organization in the United States since the 1930s.

Despite our enormous and numerous ideological divergences with the DSA program, their growth is a good indicator of the renewed appetite for a leftist alternative to institutional parties. However, our enthusiasm for the growth of the left does not ignore the dangers of an organization like DSA, insofar as it could clearly re-channel popular anger towards the Democratic Party. In fact, not being a party, many candidates pushed by DSA end up campaigning as Democratic candidates. Justified criticisms are made to DSA on the fact that it only seeks to occupy the space of a possible "left wing" From the Democratic Party. DSA put all its strength into Bernie Sanders' campaign for the primaries. This has generated fractures in their organization, because there are elements which are very critical vis-à-vis electoralism. Time will tell if these fractures will widen. Consciousness and action are on the rise, including on the side of workers' organizations, even if this dimension is less obvious numerically. For example, several major cities in the United States are facing housing crises. Los Angeles in particular suffers from a deficit of affordable housing, which has led to very many people on the street. In these cities, unions of militant and horizontal tenants are being built and developed. The Los Angeles Tenants Union has established local groups in all major areas of the city and successfully launched strikes on rents, occupations and actions, which were successful against the owners. Black Rose members are active in this organization, and in other tenant unions across the country 1.

Can we speak of a resurgence of the class struggle in historic sectors such as the automobile or more unprecedented in fast food? What is the implication of the revolutionary comrades, and in particular the anarchists, in these movements?

Cameron : You're right to say that. Indeed, there have been a historic number of strikes in the United States in the past three years. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of workers involved in strike strikes at the national level increased from 25,000... to 500,000. These strikes affected many sectors and industries. Perhaps the most impressive was the wave of strikes by public teachers across the country, which started in states that had violently anti-union legislation introduced shortly before.

The teachers' self-organized activity, despite their hostile political environment, produced partial victories that seemed unthinkable. The active role played by revolutionary union activists from the IWW, Black Rose and other organizations to launch the strike movement is of particular interest to us. In some cases, union bureaucracy had to be bypassed to allow the mass participation of basic union members in the decision-making process.

When it worked, the result was convincing: longer and more effective actions. We should also highlight the proactive work of the IWWs in the United States to start organizing workers in fast food chains. No union in the history of the United States had managed to organize this sector until last year. In 2016, workers at Burgerville (a small chain of burger restaurants located in Portland, Oregon) started setting up a committee in one of the restaurants. In 2017, this committee came out into the open and joined the IWW. Many of his workers were and still are Black Rose activists. In 2018, a victorious vote was held to have the union recognized by the government. From that moment,

As anarchists, these events should remind us that the place of production remains a crucial place to organize collectively to exercise our power. After a long period of vegetating, it seems that certain fringes of the American anarchist milieu are beginning to understand it and to direct their energy in this direction.

Interview by Gio (UCL Le Mans)

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