[Marxism] Robin DG Kelley - an excellent anti-Trump agenda

Michael Yates MIKEDJYATES at msn.com
Fri Nov 18 10:34:46 MST 2016

Dennis Brasky posted a reference to Robin D G Kelley's essay on the presidential election in the Boston Review. It i , indeed an excellent essay. Here is something I wrote after reading it and the essay by Janice Fine that followed Kelley's piece. Comments welcome:

In my hometown county, Armstrong, in Pennsylvania, Trump won over Clinton 74% to 22%. In Cambria County, also in Pennsylvania, where I worked for 32 years, Trump won 67% to 30%.Robin Kelley focuses much of his essay on race. I can say from long personal experience in both counties that racism is palpable and common, though there weren't many black people in either place.. tt would be difficult to enumerate the racist comments I heard. On several occasions, I was seriously threatened with violence when I objected to these. You could not go into a bar frequented by white patrons in Johnstown, the largest town in Cambria County without hearing a racist remark. Same in my hometown, Ford City. Racial discrimination in every aspect of life was omnipresent.

Janice Fine who has a comment after Kelley's article focuses on the demise of unions as a reason for white support for Trump. Both Ford City and Johnstown had extremely high union densities and workers enjoyed decent wages and benefits until roughly the 1980s. I have no doubt that the unions moderated racial discrimination at least a little, and as Fine says, served a strong educative function for workers, Unions can and often have provided spaces in which members can challenge racism, and they can and have helped them see that someone like Trump is their class enemy. Unfortunately, both towns are economic basket cases now, with greatly reduced populations, high poverty, rampant opiate and amphetamine use, criminal activity, long-term joblessness, low wages, religious fundamentalism, and no unions.

So without any organization to promote their economic well-being and teach them, and with total social and economic dislocation, what has been somewhat latent racism, has burst into the open. Open racism is back in both places, in public and on social media. Trump skilfully promoted both economic populism and racism, a heady brew no doubt for voters in the two counties.

The conclusion I reach is that class and race can never be isolated. They are joined at the hip, and unless we attack racism head-on in every place and in every institution, and at the same time put forward a class analysis and politics, we have no chance of ever transforming this nation.

These are just rough thoughts, so I haven't thought through all of this in a systematic way.

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