USA: Trump toys with a Police State

22 July 2020

By Dave Stockton

Faced with the prospect of a landslide defeat in the November presidential elections, Donald Trump has moved to rally his base by launching a massive crackdown against Black Lives Matter protesters.

On the basis of a presidential order to ‘protect federal property’, he has deployed Border Patrol Tactical Units (BORTAC) from the Mexican frontier to the streets of Portland and Chicago.

These units, whose day job is hunting down ‘illegal’ immigrants, are loyal to the president’s racist agenda, and more importantly, under his direct control. Now they are acting as the president’s shock troops. Heavily armed snatch-squads in unmarked vehicles are kidnapping and assaulting civilians.

While playing music from a speaker, 26 year old Donavan LaBella’s skull was fractured by an impact munition fired by a federal US Marshal. A 53 year old Navy veteran was filmed being beaten senseless by baton-wielding officers. A self-desribed ‘wall of moms’ was tear-gassed while forming a protective shield between protesters and the federal goon squads.

Widely seen as criminally responsible for the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak, and overseeing an economic slump of historic proportions, Trump made clear this terror campaign against his opponents is a central tactic of his election strategy.

“We’re looking at Chicago, too. We’re looking at New York,” he said. “All run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by the radical left. This is worse than anything anyone’s ever seen,” he continued. “And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell.” (Washington Post)

Some Democrats need no further encouragement. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio sent in baton-wielding cops to clear the City Hall Encampment, which, revealing the inherent weakness of all such ‘occupy’ style tactics, had dwindled to 100 or so down from thousands in June.

The president, who showed his yellow streak when he cowered in a White House bunker as a peaceful BLM rally filed past, hopes to shore up his electoral base by posing as a strong man.

Now Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland – all centres of the ongoing BLM and anti-government protests, have been listed for the same treatment as Portland.

Unless he is stopped, this promises to be the most severe assault on US citizens’ democratic rights since the Palmer raids after the First World War, in which hundreds of mostly Italian and Jewish immigrant labor activists were arrested and deported.

While Democratic mayors and governors file legal challenges and issue press releases, Trump’s is unleashing an open ‘strategy of tension’ in which the supposed violence of protesters is used to justify the use of the presidency’s extensive executive powers to override the constitutional rights supposedly guaranteed to US citizens.

Enmeshed in a crisis of his own making, Trump’s only way out is to conduct the election in the febrile atmosphere of civil war. His new campaign organizer Bill Stephen has already described Joe Biden as “the hapless tool of the extreme left”.

But even if Trump loses in November, a constitutional crisis threatens if he denounces the results as “fake news”. The 45th president of the United States has used his years in office to cultivate an amorphous mass following that reaches beyond traditional conservative Republicans to embrace the extreme right wing of the political spectrum associated with the so-called ‘alt-right’ around Breitbart and Steve Bannon. In In conditions of a new Great Depression these could quickly crystallize into a genuine fascist movement.

Against this turn to quasi-dictatorial form of government depending only on appeals to constitutional niceties is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The answer to Trump, to a viciously racist police force, to mass unemployment such as we have not witnessed since the 1930, is not Joe Biden, or even Bernie Sanders, who now backs him. The programmes either of Clinton-style Democrats or Scandinavian-style Social Democracy cannot drain the swamp of racism and cut-throat capitalism out of which Trump and his movement emerged.

On 20 July, in 200 cities, 60 different trade unions and campaigns, participated in a day of action in support of BLM. Such symbolic actions are a start, but organising for the systemic change we need – against the Democrats and Republicans – means building a party of our own.

What we need is a mass force, capable of facing up to police repression and crushing the freelance racists and fascists, organized into a party based on the working class and all the racially and socially oppressed, which can lead the struggle that has opened up with Black Lives Matter and the new labor struggles of the past few years, from resistance to revolution.

A first step nationwide, but above all in the cities threatened by Trumps’ occupation forces, must be mass mobilizations, protected by armed and disciplined self-defence organisations to surround, isolate and force their withdrawal and humiliate the dime store dictator in the White House.

The immediate slogans of the movement must be:

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