The Peace Table, Megiddo Peace Project
an open letter by Odile Hugonot Haber and Alan Haber
Dear Friends in the Peace movements
This introduction letter is an invitation into a hopeful peace initiative long percolating… The action begins circulating a one page,”change the world,” leaflet (draft.3 at the end.)
The intent is a 2 year strategic plan to identify “the war system” as a “system,” and to introduce into politics a high-drama of the “people of the world” calling the “powers that be,” the war powers, to the table to negotiate peace, “a new social-political-economic contract” ending the war system.
Naming the System is a beginning
In 1965, at the first US national demonstration against the Vietnam war, organized by the Students for a Democratic Society, our keynote talk challenged that we “name the system.”
In the 1980’s, peace activists working the United States suffered “solidarity whip-lash” shifting from calls for help from El Salvador, South Africa, Nicaragua, while it was clear the same system and dynamics underlay all these wars.
Naming the system… remains a challenge, capitalism? patriarchy? corporatism? neo-liberalism? imperialism? empire? military-industrial-complex? what?
This initiative urges that we roll these all into one and call it what, in effect, it is: a “war system.” and to demand it be ended.
The war system […another telling of the sorry story. skip ahead if need be] The people of the world have suffered under the war system for at least the last 5000 years. The boundaries of our countries are drawn in blood and the agonies of soldiers contending in violence, and of the innocents swept in its tides.
History, (his story,) is often taught pre-war, post-war, between the wars, cold war…the war of roses and a hundred years. Entertainments tell its glories and horrors, Wall Street records its profits.
States are defined by Constitutions and Laws often imposed by violence and sustained by pacifications of uprisings and the umbrellas of “protection” like old feudal barons lording it over vassals and serfs.
A culture of war has permeated all aspects of our common life.
The War System is a system of power based on domination, hierarchy, command, imposition, impunity, and ultimately violence to keep in power those who often got into power by those means, including aggression, corruption, deceit, bullying, and manipulations of democracy and fear..
The war system exists in a concurrent consensus among the powerful on the divisions of resources, terms of trade and alliances to keep things relatively stable,… until there is a rift in the fabric and arms are called to re-establish order.
The war system is a siphon that sucks money and wealth and the fruit of labor from the poor and the working many to the coffers of the gun makers, financiers and politicians who profit from the mayhem.
The war system is hot now in 40 plus places on this planet., and simmering in many more. creating sufferings beyond measure. Nations have bonded into huge coalitions and are making war in some of the poorest nations like Yemen.
So it has been, beyond memory. People endure, persevere People resist, organize, protest all over the world, on a thousand and ten thousand local fronts…advances are made, humanity keeps hope alive.
However, even in our victories the war system has maintained itself and two looming realities send alarms that make perseverance and steadfastness not enough.
First: Alarm The destructive capacity of the weapons of war and the instability of power, and people in power, pressed by distress everywhere, make urgent a reversal of increasing militarization… and a ban against the bomb and weapons of mass destruction.
And Second Alarm, The planetary climate change consequences of human activity, threatening the life system as a whole, require economic and political shifts in policies and cooperation hardly conceivable in the world of war, with the war system itself contributing mightily to the fossil fuel dependence and pollution.
The peace movements are rising, reasons for hope. Often our movements have been separated and siloed in different specialties, localities and vocabularies…(and ideologies, identities and egos, too.) No longer need it be so,
The basis of unity in the Call of Life for Peace is far deeper than the particulars of difference, and cooperation is a way differences are resolved.
First, the movements for peace and justice and freedom and liberation have never been more diverse, extensive, stronger, active. Every identity has become more conscious of itself and its history and dignity. Increasingly, every facet of repression and oppression is resisted and challenged. People inspire one another across boundaries. Incredible work has already been done.
Second, the capacity for communication with the world wide web, internet and social media allows a degree of cooperation, information sharing and thinking and planning together, never possible before.
Third, this is a new time in the whole human story. Now, for the first time since humans first came out of Africa and populated the world, or however it happened, for the first time since the old book said, “the sins and iniquities of the fathers are on to the 3rd and 4th generation,” that there are actually 3 and 4 generations active and conscious and trying to figure out our human predicament and to extricate ourselves from the consequences of the actions of the past generations which we have inherited. The opportunity for four intergeneration thinking might point a strategic path that does not reproduce the problems that got humanity to this mess in the first place.
Fourth, there is a new generation of courage and honesty, individuals who have it together and speak authentic truth… and challenge power right in its face, and have compassion and understanding too. Women and those schooled in the worlds of oppression and carriers of the ancient wisdoms are in new prominence.
Fifth, there are the continuing movements of consciousness and spirit and human potential, general systems thinking, trauma recovery and healing, and permaculture that allow a wider global life system perspective in political work.
Six, almost everyone, in every country feels an apprehension…people are alert. not yet enough, but more than ever, restless, like animals before a storm, possibly receptive.
And Seventh: a viable alternative exists. A set of policies and best practices that could set in motion a transition out of the economy and culture of war, into a culture of peace and non-violence, reproachement and a wider justice and freer life for all.
And Eight, war is not anywhere necessary. It is not good for children and other living things. Everyone could be better off if the whole enterprise were closed down, money reallocated, swords beaten into plowshares, and people set to doing better things for human needs. Past belligerents can agree on mutual recognition.
So, given the necessity imposed by the First and Second Alarm, , and the strengths and potentialities suggested by 1 through 8, what can be done….
Challenge the war system as a system.
every way we have, and are doing
and adding one new way: provide the warriors an exit option, and the people a way of participating.
Stage, choreograph and act out a mythic meta-drama of the “people of the world” challenging the “old powers that have been,” to give up their wars, put down their guns, to let their hearts be touched, and turned, and come to the table to talk…to face the people of the world
Every person, every human in the world, to the extent we can, is invited to the peace table, to become a living character in this drama, a passion play for our time, to put their voice in the “one human voice”…(or taking on the voice of the masters of war and makers of the big guns,) …or to be spectators, … or perhaps members of a chorus of lamentation, or silent.
On the everyday level of organization actions and missions, everyone keeps doing what we do, …forward on all fronts. Resisting and proposing. Advancing coordinated direct action demonstrations and non-violent civil disobedience. Struggling for the commons and democratic space.
On the meta level of system change: First, create an open public process to invite the self expression of the “one human voice,” and, then, compose out of the particulars of response, a draft of a “new social-political-economic contract,” for after the wars, and for the transition time to after the wars, that the “people of the world” call the “powers that have been” to the table negotiate…. and to agree..
Make it “News” and loud by the 2020 political campaigns, in America, and all over the world, wherever there are elections..
Challenge in the United States the wars powers long announced plan of “full spectrum dominance” with the people power plan of “full spectrum cooperation,” beginning now with cooperation among peace organizations in sharing in “crowdsourcing” the peoples’ voice, and in composing a document —and video and song and whatever in its expression.
Create a bank of win-win solutions that have occured. Problems versus solutions so all could access possibilities that have worked and won the day lessening dispute or wars, that help also to create long term decisions.
“Time Line” 2 year plan
- Now through Peace Day, 2018:
>send out draft “leaflet” and introductory letter for responses. and rework for better expression, WILPF, WBW, others 2 questions:
What would help make peace in the world where you live, from what you know? Who are the people and powers you are up against?
>invite a “reception committee” to design a way of receiving, organizing and sharing responses
>invite a “software committee” to help
- September 2018 through February, Presidents Day, 2019
>open Megiddo web site portal as initial reception point of responses
>seek co-initiators, and proliferators and pollinators
>begin general distribution, promotion of the initiative,
Meeting in the Fall: Nuclear Accountability Boulder meeting
World Beyond War Toronto meetings
Women’s March Washington
Armistice Day veterans rallies Washington November 9-11
1400 organizations in Housemans World Peace Directory
- Presidents Day 2019 through Summer 2019
> reception committee continues to receive and organize responses
> invite a “presentation committee” to undertake reading, synthesis, writing and other expressions to present the Demand
207 country codes, and “world citizens”
40 war zones and displaced persons, and people without documents
recurrent questions: land, water, security, privilege, power,
care of life system, traditional enemities and historic memories
whole system elements: justice, governance, infrastructure, economics environment, science, education, media, health, relations, spirituality, arts
“revolution of values:” racism, materialism, militarism nationalism
questions of morals, bigotry, greed, brutality, arrogance…
what peace looks like …actual on the ground projects and pieces of the peace,
next system economic transition policies
gender and transgender perspectives
4 generational perspectives, young and youth, and old and elder, and two generations between.
- Peace Week 2019 Sundays September 15 to 22. International Day of Peace Saturday September 21. Peoples of the World Convocation.
To receive and discuss the work of the “presentation committee.” emulating the aspirations of the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace, plus 20, and the First Hague conference, 1899 plus 120…
Invent a beautiful way of doing it, with music art and ideas, broadcast everywhere
An inclusive peace circle with its center everywhere and circumference surrounding, embracing the whole world
>invite a “convocation planning consortium,” all organizations that want to cooperate
>choose a central meeting site, or multiple inter-connected sites
>create a computer world wide web interconnect design so any one or group at any peace table in the world can have a presence in the world convocation
>present “the Presentation,” seek consensus and identify continuing questions
>issue the Demand.
> Address the Powers that have been, the Masters of War: those identified as the ones we are up against.
End of the War System, your part a the whole system.
put down the guns, come to the people’s peace table to talk. consider to accept a “new social-political contract,” articulated in minute particular at this convocation, a better system, where everyone wins: “full spectrum cooperation.” partnership, generosity, caring, sharing, healing, helping, truth and reconciliation, demanding all governments become “governments for peace.”
In the United States, for instance, formulate a 4 year economic, political diplomatic transition program to demobilize the military industrial complex and convert to the peace system and an alternative global security system.
- Peace Week 2019 to Election Days 2020, November 3, 2020 in the United States
> introduce the peace demand in political debates,
> challenge all political candidates to read and endorse the Demand and the “new social-political-economic contract.” …Press National House and Senate candidates, State and Local candidates, and especially those contending for the Presidency
> challenge the Democratic and Republican Conventions Seek to introduce and end the war system platform Summer 2020
> consider options for independent political action
- after the elections 2020:
>press the 4 year plan on congress
>prepare for 2022 and 2024.
To the End Game
A conscious social political evolution can happen.
Awakening is possible, especially when alarms are sounded
People can choose to change old habits, especially when help is at hand
Learned behaviors and beliefs can be unlearned, especially when teachers are at hand
It is also true, not to be denied, as one woman said:
“nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom
by appealing to the moral sense, of the people, who were oppressing them”
Yet ending the war system, creating a world beyond war is changing history, and changing the world as it has been since before memory.
One human voice speaking truth to power Circulating this leaflet, asking people to respond and to pass it on, listening, working to synthesize one human voice of the many, …the actions here…undertakes to create an articulated public voice of the ”people of the world”, speaking directly to the powers of war and politics, demanding they come to the table to talk, demand they consider “transformational surrender,” going through the eye of the needle, accepting a new social-political-economic contract, ending the whole war system and beginning the next age of humanity, after the wars, becoming heros for the future..
Asking them to change…each of them, . identified by the people who respond to the question, “who are the people and powers you are up against?” Personalize the system, by names and deeds, named by the people on whose neck is their war system foot.
It is an appeal to the heart, and reason, and care for the children, their own, and grandchildren, and the next generations, and for the polar bears too.
Look for splinterings in the ruling class concurrent consensus that keeps the war system in place.
The Demand, distilled out of all the”Reception Committee” was able to receive, is intended to be policy specific, —local, state, national, regional, global — with links to sources, for peace in the world and in all and each of the wars now hot and simmering. “What is needed for peace where you are?” our first basic question.
“The Presentation” will likely be in many media forms…more than words. The words though are important, hoped to be beautifully said, clear and in big print, explicite about the minute particulars, in multiple languages. Other forms of presentation may be videos, songs, dances, tweets, who knows how the people of the world, if asked, would express it themself.
20/20 clear vision : full spectrum cooperation. End the war system.
In the political campaigns of 2020, the universal inclusive demand can be put to every politician in the political process, country by country, reinforcing itself across borders—changing the terms of debate globally, and helping all of us better work together.
And ideally, too, it will help stir an increasing awakening, and a way for people, wherever they are, to participate in a conscious social evolution.., to be characters in the drama.
This initiative projects a two year process, also ideally, that we become more the “we” that we can be, a big us…world wide…collaborating in both intentional action, and in a big hug, of mutual recognition around the world, across boundaries of class and race and gender and age and organization and religion… to a common purpose, broad enough to embrace all our purposes.
In this effort toward full spectrum cooperation, no organization loses its autonomy or independence in what it does.
Each “co-initiator organization” keeps connection with the responses that come through its portal to the “reception committee” All organizations can spread the initiative invitation leaflet in their own outreach and program efforts
This work is also hoped to increase our knowledge of one another and opportunities to cooperate.
>a “collaboration consortium” of participating organizations will figure out how to proceed as we go along to the Peace Table
The Megiddo Peace Project, the organizing “lets do it,” of this initiative, has, since its inception in 1986, focused on “the peace table.” Peace requires a meeting, (or many, but one to seal it,) and a meeting requires a table, and peace requires putting down the gun and coming to the table to talk, and people have to agree on the shape of the table at which to sit and see eye to eye. The project began with a physical table, family size, designed to be receptive to all outstanding questions, –artistically representing the coming together of the 4 corners of the square of our earthly dilemmas, rising through the eye of the needle transformed to support the circle of community— and it was given to the movement to do with what we can. Tel Megiddo is an archeological site in the Holy Lands, the foretold place of “Armageddon” the bloody war at the “end of days”… which it is our purpose to preempt and prevent and transform. and make peace instead.
We are long time activists, Odile Hugonot Haber, a nurse, and Alan Haber a woodworker, We call this effort an “initiative” because without our initiative it would not have been talked out, presented at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) international congress in Ghana, and now in our world of friends and colleagues in the movements… and to you.
We hope what we do produces a positive response and generates the momentum and spread necessary for success.
Scale of this ,endeavor:
There are 7 billion people in the world and almost all of them would include their voice for peace in the one human voice, if they heard they were asked. In the short run this would overload any capacity to receive the responses.
So practically speaking, how many people responding are enough?
As many as we get is the best we can do. Looked at another way, a psychologist of visual perception told me, there were 1.2 million neural fibers in the optic nerve, carrying information about what is out there to what is seen in the mind, giving the clarity of the human eye.
If we could among us receive 1.2 million inputs, and integrate them, we could perhaps see together. adequately enough to approach true human vision. …of the one human family.
>We invite information engineers to join the “software committee” to help design a receiver, adequate to receive a wider world web of inputs.
Run the whole project on voluntary donations of work, love and knowledge.
Money needed for postage and printing
Money needed for the Peace Week meeting 2019
Each committee and consortium would develop its own budget and fundraising plan
REPLY: Megiddo Peace Project firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 7213, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48107, usa
( ) I am interested
real name, email address, country code, age, gender and other self identification.
my answer to the questions, now ( ) or ( ) later
- what would help make peace in the world, and my life where I live, from what I know?
- who are the people and powers you are up against?
I am willing to help
( ) Software Committee: help design reception portals, ways to share information
( ) Co-Initiating Organization: establishing a partner portal
( ) Reception Committee: to receive responses
( ) Presentation Committee:to integrate and to present what is received
( ) Convocation planning consortium , peace week 2019 conference
( ) Collaboration consortium…figuring it out as we go along.
copy of draft .3 leaflet
adapted from “Greetings” circulated at the 2018 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom International Congress, Accra, Ghana
Women, and men, of every country, and the world, are enmeshed in the war system.
System change is what we need.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, after the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
“It is for the people of the world to make the peace”
The states can’t do it. They define the war system.
>power concedes nothing without demand<
The Inclusive Demand is Ending the whole System of War.
This Demand needs to be put at the center of the political agendas in 2020.
Wars kill, mutilate, rape, pollute, starve, do not increase human security,
and cause horrendous moral injury.
The war powers have many nuclear bombs –and weapons and violences proliferate.
The people of the world need to transform this war worn system into a system of peace making and healing
moving forward in economics and culture to support life on our planet.
…the inclusive we …need to bring together our knowledges from our organizations and struggles and to craft a presentation of comprehensive demands that express in one voice the peace call of the human family
offering solutions, and putting system change demands to the politicians and powers that be.
We are inviting a cooperative endeavor to harvest from the knowledge of the movements
a clear program statement of what it means, in specific policies required, to end the war system…
and to transition, retrain and repurpose to build what will be the new, next system that serves,
life and humanity, all species, full spectrum cooperation …the peace system.
We invite you to join this 2020 20/20 clear vision initiative.
What would help make peace in the world where you live, from what you know?
Who are the people and powers you are up against?
The Megiddo Peace Project is undertaking to provide an initial “portal” to help gather these particulars of demand and solution, calling the war powers to the peace table Much help is needed.
Please write and send your responses as part of your part in the composite one voice for Peace. send: your “statements of demand,” what is needed, and ideas and questions .
We will share what we receive. We hope many organizations will become co-initiators, and a cooperative process will be invented to sort out what we learn and write what needs to be said.
An aim of this initiative is to stimulate the broad peace and justice and freedom movements in every country to become more coordinated and to press common policy programs for each government…expressing an ideal,…to become a “government for peace.”
We are both WILPF members of Ann Arbor, Michigan US Section. Odile Hugonot Haber is a nurse, long active in the US section, and Alan Haber, a carpenter, made a peace table receptive to all questions. As the first president of Students for a Democratic Society (sds), Alan participated in the collective drafting of the 1962 sds Port Huron Statement, a manifesto of the New Left..
Contact Megiddo Peace project PO Box 7213 Ann Arbor Michigan 48107.
e-mails: Megiddo@umich.edu, email@example.com www.personal.umich.edu/~megiddo
Aug. 19, 2017, Boston. Photo: Liberation News/ Kaileigh O’Keefe
By Dan Siegel
“We are the Trump vanguard.” – Richard Spencer, white supremacist, anti-Semite and leader of the “identitarian” movement.
There were “very fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville. – Donald Trump.
Many progressives are still reluctant to take the fascist “alt-right” seriously. Others hope that if we just ignore them they will go away. Their perspective seems to be that until the Nazi flag is flying from the White House we can afford to ignore the threat posed by American fascists.
Fascism is a growing threat in America, in part because it is expanding in numbers and violence, in part because it is linked to Donald Trump. A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center counts 43 murders linked to the alt-right since 2014, 17 in 2017 alone.
Attendees of an alt-right conference in Washington, D.C., perform the Nazi salute to celebrate Trump’s election. Photo: Socialist Worker.
A definition and some historical perspective are in order. When the Soviet Union was trying to build a worldwide coalition against fascism in the mid-1930s, it and its allies described fascism as “the open, terroristic rule of the most reactionary, most chauvinist wing of the ruling elite.” That definition works well to describe a fascist state, like Germany in 1935.
Fascism today is a social and political movement: (1) Pre-occupied with complaints of exclusion, impoverishment, and marginalization (They chanted “we will not be replaced by Jews” in Charlottesville.); (2) Obsessed with hatred for the people they blame for their decline – Blacks, feminists, Jews, Latinx immigrants, queers, Muslims; (3) Violent; and (4) Supported financially and politically by factions among the “respectable” right-wing elites. Individuals like Richard Spencer try to bridge the social gap between the thuggish gangs and their better dressed funders.
Fascism came to power suddenly and legally in a Europe facing many of the conditions America experiences today. Just as in Europe in the 1920s, economic decline has degraded the living standards of millions of working class families, and the country’s political institutions and elected leaders are hopelessly polarized and ineffective. The fascists of the 1920s seemed marginal and even somewhat absurd.
The Fascist Party that Mussolini led had just a few hundred members prior to 1921 when it was invited to join the government. In 1922, as conditions in the country became more and more chaotic as a result of economic decline and political fragmentation, the fascists numbered in the tens of thousands, and King Victor Emmanuel invited Mussolini to form a government. By 1925 he had turned Italy into a one party, totalitarian state. And all this by a man whose “attitudes were highly theatrical, his opinions were contradictory, his facts were often wrong, and his attacks were frequently malicious and misdirected.” That statement could easily have been written about Trump.
Hitler and the National Socialists were dismissed and ridiculed early in their rise to power. Before 1930, they received less than three percent of the vote in successive national elections. A few years later they grew exponentially as the Great Depression drove millions of Germans into unemployment, poverty, and fear. Hitler was a powerful orator, who promised to restore Germany’s pride and prosperity. Trump again?
In 1933 German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor. His legacy was the murder of six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of “social deviants,” 100 million dead in World War 2.
Even before the rise of fascism in Europe, the United States experienced the rise of its homegrown, fascist movement, the Ku Klux Klan. Founded as a social club in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866, the KKK quickly grew as a terrorist vehicle for whites fighting against their perceived displacement and frustration. The Klan’s growth in the South followed the end of the civil war during the Reconstruction period and the short-lived empowerment of newly freed African Americans.
No-one seems to know precisely the extent of the carnage inflicted by the Klan, but few would dispute that its toll of murdered African Americans numbered in the tens of thousands. After a period of decline the KKK expanded exponentially to at least four million members during the 1920s, including business people, preachers, and politicians in every state in America. The Governor of Indiana was an open member. The Klan’s decline came at its own hand in a series of financial and other scandals.
But the KKK never disappeared. During the 1960s Klan members committed the most notorious acts of violence against the civil rights movement. KKK and White Citizens Council member Byron De La Beckwith assassinated NAACP leader Medgar Evans on June 12, 1963, in Jackson, Mississippi. On September 15, 1963, four Klansmen planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young Black girls and injuring 22 others. On June 21, 1964, civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were arrested by police near Philadelphia, Mississippi, and then turned over to Klansmen who beat and murdered them.
Photo: People’s World
On November 3, 1979, Klansmen and Nazis, with the help of local and federal law enforcement officers, carried out an armed attack on an anti-Klan rally at a Greensboro, North Carolina, public housing project. A caravan of 10 or more cars and pick-ups pulled up to the project. White men got out of the vehicles, opened their trunks, pulled out rifles, shotguns, and pistols, and began shooting. When the smoke cleared five people were dead and many more wounded, some seriously. The victims had been carefully selected from the crowd – union leaders and community activists, most associated with the newly announced Communist Workers Party.
Some of the murderers were indicted, tried, and freed, demonstrating the Klan’s ongoing influence in a state then lauded as symbolizing the “New South.” Despite overwhelming evidence, including videotape of the attack, the Klansmen were acquitted in a federal criminal trial in which they successfully turned the tables on the “communist provocateurs.” Only after years of community organizing around the theme of reconciliation did public sentiment change to support of the victims and condemnation of the violent rightists and their law enforcement allies.
Donald Trump and the fascist right have supported each other since the early days of his campaign. Trump is easily the most racist president in U.S. history, quite an accomplishment among a group including Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson. Trump has never shied from racist rhetoric and action.
Along with his father Fred, who was arrested during a 1927 KKK demonstration that turned into a riot in Queens, New York, Trump and his building management company were sued by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for housing discrimination in 1973. Two years later they entered into a consent decree with the government.
Trump bought full-page ads in four New York City newspapers calling for the harsh punishment and “suffering” of five young African American and Latino men who were wrongly convicted of assaulting and raping a white woman in New York’s Central Park in 1989. Long after the Central Park Five were freed, Trump continued to maintain that they were guilty.
During his campaign for President Trump refused to disavow the support of the KKK leader David Duke and falsely claimed that he did not know who Duke was. But years earlier Trump had refused to join Duke in the Reform Party.
Trump’s campaign for president escalated his practice of racist attacks. He may have been the last prominent American to promote the lie that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. He has viciously and persistently attacked Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and continues to make building a border wall his priority, a demand that plays well to his right-wing support. He panders to prejudice against Muslim people and seeks to bar immigration from countries with Muslim majorities. In one of his most overtly racist statements he recently slandered Haiti and African nations as “shit hole” countries.
Richard Spencer and his fascist allies welcome Trump’s support and act accordingly. The KKK, Nazis, and their partners openly proclaim their intent to kill Jews, Blacks, Muslims, and people from Latin America. Dylann Roof acknowledged his racist inspiration for the massacre of nine African Americans in a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015. Fascists stabbed at least seven people, most African Americans, at a rally in Sacramento in June 2016.
Graphic: Electronic Village
On January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a fan of Trump and of French rightist Marie Le Pen, killed six people and wounded 19 at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. Oregon white supremacist Jeremy Christian stabbed to death two men who stood up against his anti-Muslim hate speech towards two young women on a Portland light rail train on May 29, 2017.
In Charlottesville on August 12, 2017, Nazi admirer and Vanguard America supporter James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of peaceful anti-fascist demonstrators, murdering Heather Heyer and injuring 20 others. White supremacists applauded Fields’ action and threatened to disrupt the memorial for Ms. Heyer a few days later.
As Trump continues to unravel, his racist rants escalate. As his support diminishes, the far right remains his most loyal base. The history of the last several years makes it reasonable to predict that fascist violence will continue to grow.
The struggle to eliminate fascism as a political force in the United States will require a variety of strategies and tactics. The rise of fascism has an ideological or social basis in the tradition of “American Exceptionalism” and white supremacy. Its growth today also has a material basis in the declining incomes and opportunities for class mobility experienced by many sections of the white working class.
But complaints of exclusion, marginalization, and impoverishment made by whites attracted to fascist movements are not dissimilar from the complaints by people of color about their own conditions. Strategies for improving the living standards of all low income and working class people will impact the lives of many who are now attracted to Trump and his fascist allies, as demonstrated by the appeal of both Bernie Sanders and Trump in some working class communities during the 2016 election.
Successful struggles to increase the minimum wage and for full employment; for affordable housing; and for quality education and health care, including mental health and addiction treatment, will both advance the goals of the progressive movement and erode the attraction of the far right. We should not naively think we can transform the hard core fascists or their elite supporters, but a political movement that advances the interests of middle class, working class, and poor Americans can divide the fascist leadership from many potential supporters.
Mass protests on a variety of issues including women’s rights and gun control remain critical. Antifa (anti-fascist) activists have taken the lead in refusing to allow fascists to occupy public spaces in Boston, Berkeley and elsewhere. While everyone may not be willing or able to confront fascists in the streets, we should all respect antifa’s leadership.
The American left cannot treat the anti-fascist struggle as just one of a number of competing single-issue concerns. Fascism represents the most extreme element of the reactionary forces seeking to block people’s struggles for social, racial, political, and economic justice. None of these struggles can succeed unless people unite to eliminate the threat of fascism in the United States.
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
Dan Siegel is a civil rights attorney and activist based in Oakland, California. You may reach him at DanMSiegel@gmail.com.