By Nikil Saval
Since the election results of November 8, shock has compounded shock. The initial shock was the surprise victory of Donald Trump, and the Republican Party throughout the country. The second has been the immediate turnaround on the part of commentators from shock and surprise to confident analysis and prognostication. It took virtually no time for the intelligentsia—pseudo- and otherwise—to reheat an old dish and serve up the culprit to be feasted on: the white working class. Endlessly discovered and rediscovered, from the hardhats of 1972 through the Reagan Democrats of 1984 and the Angry White Men of 1994, professionals have also wasted little time in projecting fantasy after fantasy onto this impossibly vast and intellectually diverse group of people (around 42 percent of the country). Barbara Ehrenreich dissected the lurid imaginings of the middle classes about the working classes in Fear of Falling (1989) in the wake of the victories of Nixon and Reagan. Now, as then, writers have launched blithely into trivial essays on what the voters wanted, more often through modes of inquiry resembling divination than actual reporting or analysis.
By David Bacon
|Immigrants and others protest in front of Oakland City Hall the evening after Election Day.
The state of Nebraska went red on Election Day, voting for Donald Trump and the Republican ticket, but working-class Omaha, Nebraska's largest city, went blue, voting for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Clinton won urban Omaha-Douglas County by 3,000 votes, but lost the city's electoral vote. In 2010, redistricting had joined Omaha to the wealthier suburbs of Sarpy County, delivering Trump a 12,000-vote advantage this year. Incumbent Democratic House member Brad Ashford lost his seat to Republican Don Bacon on Nov. 8 for the same reason.
Nevertheless, all 18 precincts of Ward 4 voted against Trump by a two-to-one margin, thanks to years of patient organizing by the immigrant Mexican community of South Omaha. African American North Omaha voted solidly against Trump as well. The Omaha results highlight both the achievements of years of organizing in U.S. immigrant communities, as well as the vulnerability of those same communities under a Trump administration.
The following interview was recorded by This Is Hell. It is partially reproduced here.
By Chuck Mertz and Peter Frase
Chuck Mertz: We are facing multiple crises that will change our lives and our planet forever. There’s climate change that will be environmentally devastating; we’ve got the crisis of capitalism, which is in a tailspin; and the potential for our jobs to be replaced by automation. And all of those problems may happen a lot sooner than you think.
So what does our future hold for us? Here to talk about the possibilities is sociologist Peter Frase, author of Four Futures: Life After Capitalism. Peter is a sociologist at the City University of New York, and on the editorial board of Jacobin. Welcome to This is Hell!, Peter.
Peter Frase: Thanks for having me on.
CM: You write, “Two specters are haunting Earth in the 21st century: the specters of ecological catastrophe and automation.” Why do you see automation as a threat that can be put in the same sentence as climate change? How much of a threat is automation to the planet? What would you say to someone who says that climate change is clearly the most important thing that we need to be engaging with right now?
PF: It’s really the interaction between those two things that we ought to be concerned with. Obviously climate change and the ecological crisis more generally is something that has come to our attention now as the new thing we should be worried about—and we should be very worried about it.
By Tom Ladendorf
In the not-too-distant past, support for so-called “free trade” from the mainstream of the Democratic and Republican parties was a foregone conclusion. But this year, the free-trade consensus has come into serious question. Both “outsider” candidates in the U.S. presidential election made a major point of opposing free trade because of its effects on the working class, driving this issue into the national debate in a way no one would have predicted. Following Trump's election, many are presuming the much-discussed Trans-Pacific Partnership dead—although it remains to be seen whether Trump will actually deliver on any of his supposed “economic populism.”
In Europe, too, the consensus on free trade is facing serious challenges. Massive political pressure has been building in opposition to three trade deals, respectively known as TTIP, Ceta, and TISA. Actually, with the help of the organized opposition, that number appears to have fallen to just two. TTIP, which seeks to harmonize regulations between the US and EU, has “de facto failed,” according to German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. In the end, the two parties couldn't unite on what the transatlantic standard of regulation would be, apparently because Europe refused to submit to lower American standards of regulation.
By Paul Buhle
Franklin Rosemont’s Joe Hill, appearing in 2003 from the venerable Charles H. Kerr Company (best known as publisher of revolutionary socialist books and the International Socialist Review magazine, way back in the 1910s), and reprinted in 2015 by PM Press, should be remembered as leading example of an autodidact author’s treatment of a great American martyr. So I mean to write about the writer as well as the subject.
By Woody Woodruff
When they had geared up to talk about how the Left will bring pressure on a Hillary Clinton administration, but history intervened just the day before, how did a panel of left activists convened at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington D.C. shift gears on the Morning After?
Like many progressives, they were stunned by the magnitude of the catastrophe—not only a Trump victory but also a failure to change the Senate to Democratic control, leaving the entire government and future Supreme Court nominations in the hands of an exultant (if also temporarily stunned) Right.
The conversation at IPS Nov. 9 quickly switched to the terrain that could still be contested—state and local actions, both governmental and movement-oriented, and the overarching global scene, all of which a Republican administration would have to deal with.
By Dan LaBotz
On Friday, Nov. 4, Brazilian police violently assaulted one of the most important institutions of the country’s social movements, the Florestan Fernandes National School, the educational center of the Movement of the Landless (MST). While the MST and the police have for years clashed in struggles over land, this most recent attack is something quite different.
Several years ago I went to São Paulo, Brazil for a meeting of several North and South labor education centers—I was there representing Labor Notes—and we met at the educational center of the MST. The MST is a poor people’s movement that since its founding in 1984 has fought through protest demonstrations, civil disobedience, legal cases, and lobbying for legislation to take unused land from wealthy individuals and corporations and make it available to Brazil’s unemployed and homeless.
Statement from DSA’s National Political Committee
November 13, 2016
How Trump Won: Seizing the Anti-Establishment Ground through Racial and Economic Nationalism
On November 8, voters in the United States narrowly elected an openly racist, misogynist and nativist candidate for president. Donald Trump succeeded in defining himself as an anti-establishment candidate who will end dynastic rule in Washington, D.C., by elites who care little for “forgotten Americans.” The grain of truth in this rhetoric masked an ideological appeal to a “white identity” that Republicans have long cultivated — in this instance, focusing on fear of immigrants, Muslims and people of color. The facts go against the liberal media’s narrative that “poor white people” were the primary force behind Trump’s rise. We must understand “Trumpism” as a cross-class white nativist alliance; the median family income of the 62 percent of white voters who supported Trump was higher than that of Hillary Clinton voters and wealthier than Bernie Sanders’ primary base.
Governing elites have long used racism to divide working people. The Left must understand the centrality of racism to capitalism and speak directly to how racism has hurt the interests of the white working class. The far Right in Europe and the United States has succeeded in speaking to the anger of people long abandoned by the bipartisan conservative and center-left consensus in favor of unbridled corporate globalization. Trump’s victory should show once and for all the dire consequences of leaving the Left’s response to economic insecurity in the hands of corporate-aligned centrists like the Clintons.