(Author’s Note: I originally posted these thoughts as a series of tweets. I’m posting them here for people who don’t follow me on Twitter or who want these thoughts in a more readable format.)
If anybody needs an explanation for what happened this week, watch Marcel Ophuls’ ‘The Sorrow & the Pity.’ It’s a documentary from the 1960s that decimates the enduring myth of the united French resistance to fascism during the Occupation.
The French middle class and the upper class were almost non-existent in the ranks of the Resistance. French anti-Semism was just as bad as Germany’s. The majority of the French population might have opposed military occupation by Germany but they were fine with the politics of racial exclusion that defined Germany’s new ‘volksgemeinschaft’ or “people’s community.”
They believed that it could restore the economic and social order that had been destroyed by a combination of World War I and the Great Depression that came so quickly after. The Holocaust wasn’t the result of a sudden spurt of racism in one nation of Europe. It was the result of the utter failure of any part of Europe to deal with the hyper-racist nationalism that had been the excuse for all of the imperialism and colonialism that caused World War I. Germany just happened to be the nation that tapped into this as the sole font of their political legitimacy.
And do you know who opposed German occupation in France? It was the socialists and the communists and the anarchists. The early 20th century left. They had also been the groups fighting Italian fascism and Franco’s military dictatorship in Spain. They were the ones who refused to accept “comfort” in the face of totalitarianism and they knew that this capitalist system of exploitation couldn’t be maintained and that figures like Hitler and Mussolini and Franco and Pol Pot and now Donald Trump (and fuck you if you think that comparison is hyperbole) are the inevitable result of deep, global inequality.
Groups will come along and inflame wide-spread virulent prejudices and hatreds to consolidate power and economic and political elites will actively aid these groups rise to power. Do you know who bankrolled Benito Mussolini’s squadrissti fascisti as they were burning the meeting halls of trade unions and destroying socialist newspapers? It was Italy’s landed aristocracy and northern business interests who were terrified that the workers might finally organize in Italy like they had in the Soviet Union.
The Italian monarchy “peacefully” conceded Italian sovereignty to Mussolini rather than deal with a unified and aware worker’s population. The National Socialist’s took power in Germany because the center parties were similarly terrified of socialists who were gaining power. And so they aligned with politics of racial exclusion to maintain power.
The white working class in America today are as deeply racist and sexist as post-World War 1 era Europeans. There is no question to me about how true that is. And they are doing what the working class of the dominant race in every country does when capitalism begins to fail them. They use their existing prejudices as guideposts on who to blame for the failures of their entire way of life.
We will not be able to combat Trumpism and its horrors if we don’t confront the deep roots of racism, misogyny, and hatred in every single corner of American life, but we also won’t be able to fight Trumpism at any tactical level to we recognize once and for god damn all that because there are so many white working class people in America who can be exploited into looking into these easy scapegoats as “others” that caused their problems that we won’t stop fascist racial exclusionary demagogues from rising until we actually solve the problems of the working class of all races and of all countries.
And do you know how we do that? Global socialism. Any thing else is a band-aid on a gaping wound of constant cycles of global, racially and capitally motivated violence. We have to fight for social and economic justice with fervor. Otherwise the folks who use the former to protect the latter will win. They will always win.
So apologize for me if I refuse to accept this country that I currently live in. I’m a white man. I’ll have a degree of comfort in this new order. But I will never legitimize or normalize the Trump government. Not for a single solitary second. And I’m done normalizing or legitimizing any part of the contemporary social order in America that lets people like him prosper on the hatred and fear of others.
And if you want to be able to look back on this period of American history and say you fought against totalitarianism on your doorstep, you have to fight against inequality of all kinds. We can not accept comfort. We can not accept compromise. Intersectional solidarity. As far as I’m concerned, if you work towards anything less than that, you’re no better than Trump or anyone that voted for him.