Writing Letters is not enough in days like these*
*this is the complete text of my letter in The Guardian (10/11) reacting to Trump’s election victory.
Brevity can be best in such situations and my general point- which I almost added- is ‘protest and survive’.
The Stand Up to Racism protest at the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square on Wednesday evening was an excellent start.
The ‘protest and survive’ slogan was probably associated more with the late historian and peace campaigner E.P Thompson than anyone else.
Thompson died in 1993 but he made clear in Writing by Candlelight that in the 1975 EEC Referendum he was not in favour of staying ‘in’. Thompson was a passionate European but didn’t see unity coming through the structures of what was then the EEC.
He might well have voted for Brexit this year. Would he have voted for Trump? Of course not.
There a few commentators around arguing that much of the left supported Trump because of dislike of Clinton. There are a handful of people- Zizek for example- who have. For the most part though this is ideological rubbish peddled by those who are rehearsing the old argument that the left and right are the same.
Thompson would have been no fan of Clinton, thanks to his peace campaigning. His socialist background would hardly have made him sympathetic to Trump, but to Bernie Saunders most likely.
Socialist Worker on-line has a good analysis of the Trump victory by Alex Callinicos.
He argues that while globalisation has left many poor whites (and blacks) behind it has left them the vote and some have used it to register disgust at the ‘establishment’. Trump of course is formally anti-globalisation- but he has made his money from it. We shall see what he does.
Callinicos suggests that there is a temporary mismatch between Capital- who wanted Clinton and the political State- the Republican Party’s official candidate was Trump after all- and that this creates opportunities for a popular movement.
So far it is the right who have seized the moment but the left could do as well. Bernie Sanders campaign had some excellent insights on that.
Thompson would probably have seen things differently to Callinicos but he would certainly have been keen to develop a socialist politics that went beyond Trump and Clinton.
How to do this? Perhaps his 1960 essay Homage to Tom Maguire has a clue. Maguire was one of those who successfully built the early Independent Labour Party out of a political situation where workers voted for one or other ruling class candidate.
It can be done again.