The current wave of resistance to Trump’s immigration ban, and the regime in general, is pretty exciting. More than anything else, it makes me think of the 2003 anti-war movement. But, while that movement had some glorious moments, it notably failed to translate mass opposition into actually stopping the war, so it’s worth thinking about what participants in this movement can do to make sure we go further this time around.
A few specific projects: I designed a (very basic and not that impressive) flyer for the J20 defendants’ legal defence fund, partly because any legal defence for that many people is likely to take up a huge amount of money and so donations are very much needed, but also on the level of how people understand their actions and the movement they’re a part of, I think it’s important to try and prevent any paralysing separation of roles into the rigid identities of “black bloc anarchist” and “liberal peaceful protesters”; the possibilities become a lot more interesting when the majority of participants understand themselves as being in some way meaningfully connected to those who are willing to take more militant actions (or are accused of taking them – we shouldn’t speculate as to whether any of those arrested are actually responsible for anything they’re accused of). In this regard, I think the Richard Spencer punching meme is genuinely quite a positive sign: it seems to indicate that quite a lot of people have, even if only symbolically, got past the deadening moralist opposition to anything that can be described as “violence”.
Other than that, the main practical interventions I’ve seen so far have been 1) people exposing “Stand up to Racism” as an SWP front, and 2) highlighting actual deportations planned by the UK Home Office that can still be opposed.
On the first point, the Free University of Sheffield produced a flyer with background on the situation – one side is very local, but the front is pretty much suitable for printing out and distributing anywhere. For internet arguments, particularly with the sort of useful idiots who dig their heels in and say things along the lines of “well, I’m involved and I’m not an SWP member therefore it can’t be a front because I don’t understand what a front is”, this is quite a useful thing to link to, if it’s not enough to just point out the way that SUTR stuff is splashed all over the SWP’s website and is constantly plugged in their newspaper. (Edit: Here’s the source for the quote where a leading SWP member literally says “the SWP is… central to Stand Up to Racism.“)
On the second, the 31 January charter flight to Nigeria has now left, although at least one person got a reprieve, but the Movement for Justice, Unity Centre Glasgow and End Deportations look to be worth keeping an eye on for news about similar situations in the near future.
Beyond these specific, but limited, points, there’s still the broader question of how the anti-Trump protests could become a movement capable of materially disrupting business as usual. Obviously, those inside the USA will have a whole other set of challenges and possibilities to deal with, but for those of us outside there’s not really an abundance of clear targets associated with the regime, particularly if we don’t live in London. The proposed Trump state visit will definitely provide one clear focal point, but focusing too much on one Big Day Out in central London can be limiting in its own way; I think the most useful thing to argue for, in an ambitious but not totally unrealistic way, would be a widespread adoption of road blockades, like those practiced by Black Lives Matter UK last summer. Taking up this tactic, and helping to encourage an understanding of why it’s powerful – whether in the very simplified form of arguing that this society values profit above all else, and stopping the movement of commodities is one way of blocking profits from being generated, or in the more extensive form of handing around copies of “Power is Logistic, Block Everything” – would be a real step towards a movement that can actually disrupt the system that creates and requires Trumps and Mays, without falling into the wild hyperoptimism of calling for a general strike straight away.