Charlottesville and crisis of Trump administration
Trump has helped make the extreme right groups like the nazis and KKK feel emboldened to come out in the open as they did here in Charlottesville. | Steve Helber/AP

The tragic events in Charlottesville and their aftermath may well represent a turning point in the battle against Trump, the GOP and the extreme-right.

Trump fully revealed himself as a Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist. He turned to the so-called “alt-right” to consolidate his core base of support in response to the growing storm around his administration. He is unhinged politically and psychologically and now faces an even deeper political crisis.

The torch-carrying thugs and the deadly car driven through protesters in Charlottesville represents white supremacist terrorism carried out by U.S. homegrown fascism.

Trump repeated the talking points of the so-called “alt-right” to defend the KKK and Nazi violent and lethal actions.

“Alt-right” is a term coined by Nazi Richard Spencer to rebrand the KKK and Nazi white supremacist and anti-Semitic terrorists and fascists.

Trump brought them into the political mainstream and White House and given them the green light to achieve their vision by violence. Many of these fascists applauded his August 15 news conference.

The so-called “alt-right” was nurtured on the backlash to the election of Barack Obama as president, rapidly changing demographics and challenges to white supremacy and institutionalized racism over the last few years and the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and growing struggle against sexism.

By asserting Charlottesville was a struggle between the “alt-right and alt-left” Trump obscures what is really a struggle between extreme right and incipient U.S. style fascism and the broad anti-racist, anti-fascist pro-democratic majority.

Trump’s embrace of white supremacy, stepped up military engagement, acquiescence to military generals and threats to use nuclear weapons, makes this a very dangerous moment.

These dangerous developments add to the growing Trump-Russia scandal, brewing Constitutional crisis and broader assault on democratic norms by the Trump administration and GOP dominated Congress, judiciary and state legislatures.

Fascism – U.S. style

The so-called “alt-right” also sees this as a turning point. They took a stand in Charlottesville to create a national movement to defend “white culture” and “white identity” which they claim is under siege.

Therefore, they argue, white people are an “aggrieved” and oppressed group. They see whites as the real victims of racism and men as the real victims of sexism. This notion is behind “white nationalism,” a term obscuring its ideological essence: white supremacy.

They see a conspiracy of Jewish bankers and elites controlling the global economy in addition to countless other bizarre conspiracy theories ricocheting around the Internet.

They see multi-culturalism, “political correctness,” and secularism as an attack on “white Christian culture.” A global “clash of civilizations” is taking place between Christianity and Islam.

In response to its rise in Germany and Italy, the great Bulgarian communist Georgi Dimitrov described fascism as “the open, terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”

Someone once famously said, “When fascism comes to the United States it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible.”

U.S. style fascism has unique characteristics shaped by the U.S. experience. These include violence and white supremacy rooted in slavery and genocide of Native Americans, racial segregation, militarism and great power chauvinism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, the glorification of violence and guns, Christian nationalism and virulent anti-communism.

The fascist “alt-right” groups have heretofore been scattered. But the Trump campaign and presidency, the “alt-right” social media and websites like Breitbart and Daily Stormer are uniting them. Their effective use of the social media allows them to have an influence beyond their relative small numbers.

Aims behind the Trump and “alt-right” policies

Breitbart News helped bring together Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, who was Session’s speechwriter, Sebastian Gorka and others. It became a key vehicle cementing ties between Trump and the “alt-right.”

In their view, racial demographics are the chief internal threat to the nation. Their goal is to slow down, stop and reverse the demographic shifts. If they can guarantee a reliable voting bloc of 60 percent of whites and 40 percent of non-whites, they think they can govern indefinitely.

The most extreme white supremacists envision a separate white nation and cleansed of all non-white, non-Christian inhabitants.

The fascist “alt-right” is desperate to stop the rise of a secular multi-racial, multi-cultural democracy. They believe this is their last chance.

Trump, “alt-right” and white supremacy

By appealing to racism, religious fundamentalism, hate and fear, Trump is governing as he campaigned. His version of economic populism is married to his version of identity politics.

The “birther” conspiracy, attacks on Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, misogyny and anti-Semitism propelled Trump and differentiated him from other GOP candidates. These were signals to the fascist “alt-right” and taken from their playbook.

The so-called “alt-right” media, hate talk radio, rightwing Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics, NRA, rightwing think tanks and state based networks amplified this appeal to millions of whites.

After Hillary Clinton delivered her August expose about the “alt-right” and its merger with the Trump campaign, she thought it would be a turning point in the campaign, says Joshua Green, author of “Devil’s Bargain”. Clinton stated:

“This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism, as we have known it. These are race-baiting ideas, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas, anti-woman –– all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’

“(It is) a loose but organized movement, mostly online, that “rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity.”

“The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for the “Alt-Right.” A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party,” said Clinton.

The Trump campaign debated how to respond. Bannon told Green, “We polled the stuff and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t move anyone that isn’t already in her camp.”

Multi-racial unity

White workers are oppressed, but not by their black and brown brothers and sisters. The capitalist ruling class exploits and oppresses all workers regardless of color.

White workers are experiencing tremendous economic hardships and insecurity. But their black, brown and immigrant brothers and sisters are not the cause.

Instead it is the multi-racial, multi-gender working-class, its diverse culture and economic security that are under siege by the capitalist class, the extreme right and fascist “alt-right”.

The culture and identity of white workers has nothing in common with white supremacist culture rooted in slavery and institutionalized racism and inequality embedded in the economic and social structure of capitalism.  The interests and moral values of white workers, like all workers regardless of color or nationality, are opposite of the capitalist ruling class.

None of the Trump administration policies will benefit white workers, including the repeal of Obamacare, tax cuts to the wealthy, building the border wall, the dismantling of worker and environmental protections and the stacking of the courts with right wing judges. They are designed to further divide the working class and enrich the one percent.

The appearance and consolidation of a multi-racial working-class is a historic byproduct of U.S. capitalist development and the equally historic struggle to unite itself against exploitation and for equality and democracy.

These achievements should be celebrated. They include the solidarity of whites that have courageously fought slavery, white supremacy, and misogyny and for multi-racial, multi-gender unity and inclusivity throughout American history.

Instead of “white nationalism,” the destiny of white workers and people can only be found in the unity of the multi-racial, multi-national, multi-gender, gay-straight, immigrant and native born, increasingly diverse working class and people. We will either advance united or perish separately.

It underscores the necessity to raise the level of struggle against racism, sexism and every other means by which the ruling class divides and demobilizes the multi-racial working class. For the working class to play its historic role, to become the leader of the entire people, it must attain a higher level of unity and class-consciousness.

Isolation of the Trump administration

The actions in Charlottesville of the so-called “alt-right,” Nazis, KKK and white supremacists have alarmed wide sections of the American people and given new urgency to building a massive anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-democratic majority movement.

For the moment, these forces have been put on the defensive. The potential exists to isolate this administration and ultra-right, authoritarian and fascist currents.

Support for Trump has dropped 12 percent since June among Republican voters, but remains stubbornly high still.

Sections of the ruling class are alarmed and many corporate CEOs are openly critical.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued highly unusual rebukes to Trump on racial and transgender tolerance.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper probably spoke for many when he questioned Trump’s “fitness” to be Commander in Chief.

The administration is beset by an internal struggle over the influence of the “alt-right” including in the Oval Office, Justice Department, National Security and military. Every white supremacist and fascist “alt-right” official should be ousted.

Friction is growing between Trump and GOP congressional leadership. But it is virtually impossible for them to break with Trump’s policies including immigrant deportations, a Muslim Ban, mass incarceration, investigations of “race-based discrimination against whites” and voter suppression.

The GOP shares many of these policy goals and needs the base of supporters that Trump is appealing to. Their entire agenda and congressional majorities are in jeopardy.

Broad and flexible tactics

Broad and flexible strategy and tactics are essential to give expression to the moral outrage and majority sentiment against the extreme right, fascist “alt-right”, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and to defeat it.

Millions are discussing the so-called “alt-right”, the real history behind the Civil War monuments, the legacy of slavery, and how racism and inequality is baked into the capitalist system.

The most effective tactics are those that build the broadest expressions of solidarity against the “alt-right”, deepen multi-racial working-class consciousness, and the intersections between racism and class exploitation.

Allowing this to become a struggle of left vs. right plays directly into the hands of the “alt-right” and Nazis. The “alt-right” thrives on confrontation to narrow opposition, attain publicity and the appearance of power.

Advocating confrontation promotes the idea the main way to combat white supremacy and Nazism is to confront them at their demonstrations. Mobilizing majority public opinion, reaching out and changing attitudes, and preparing the ground for the 2018 elections becomes secondary.

Under the guise of “self-defense,” some advocate being armed, learning martial arts and tactics for physical combat. These kinds of approaches sound like militant responses to fascism, but they are self-isolating and considerably narrow the breadth of mobilization. If people sense the potential for violence they will stay away.

The most effective tactics are those of militant, yet peaceful, non-violent protest and multi-racial unity in the tradition of the Civil Rights movement and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They met the violence of the KKK and segregationists with greater mobilization and more non-violent peaceful protest.

It was and remains a battle to win the hearts and minds of the American people, to assert the moral high ground and build a movement that embodies the basic values of the society we are fighting to achieve.


John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He served as national chair of the Communist Party USA from 2014 to 2019. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Albuquerque and attended Antioch College. He currently lives in Chicago where he is an avid swimmer, cyclist, runner, and dabbler in guitar and occasional singer in a community chorus.