25 researchers and political organisers from France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Italy and Belgium have put their names to this collective text, following the international conference France and Europe after Brexit. The conference was staged in Paris on 2 and 3 December 2016 by the Europe-wide EReNSEP network. Translated by David Broder.
Europe has entered a critical period. It is evident that the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has irrevocably failed. The economies on the periphery are suffering severe crisis, and the economies of the centre are stagnating. The single currency has become an instrument of German capitalism as it seeks to impose a mercantilist economic policy through wage dumping as well as to dictate "structural reforms" (and it is supported, in this, by the other economies at the centre of the EMU).
"We know that the work for the left now is long and slow and that it requires force and numbers and commitment at a grassroots, community level. We must also recognise that the challenge for the left in 2017 is one of transnational solidarity: figuring out how to join up, link up and learn from global struggles." - Rachel Shabi looks back at a year of many challenges, and what we can do to build solidarity and resistance in 2017.
Of course it wasn’t the worst year, ever. Those bewailing the myriad awfulness of 2016 know history has dealt worse than the year of Brexit and Donald Trump’s election, the year of deadly terror attacks around the world, a desperate refugee crisis and an alarming rise in far-right forces across Europe. Even ignoring swathes of history, recent years have been awful, too: the five since the Arab Uprisings have seen grotesque war in Syria, a deadly assault on Yemen, repression and human rights abuses in Egypt and Bahrain – as well as a harsh crackdown in Turkey, once considered to be a ‘model’ for the region. Egyptian analysts might well say the “worst year ever” was 2013, when a military coup put their authoritarian, Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in charge.
This piece first appeared in Truthout.
The US intellectual class has failed to understand the racism at the core of Trump's political project. The discussion is focused on two questions: Are Trump voters decent, salt-of-the-earth workers protesting their economic insecurity, or hate-filled Archie Bunkers? Are his transition appointments hateful bigots or mainstream conservatives?
What both questions obscure is that white supremacy is a social and political system, not simply a matter of individual attitudes. It is sustained not by barroom bigots but by millions of daily acts of complicity on the part of ordinary people — in New York City and San Francisco as much as in Alabama, and among wealthy elites as much as the rural poor. As Frantz Fanon wrote: "A given society is racist, or it is not." Questioning whether one region or class is more racist than another is the product of people "incapable of straight thinking."
Nissan plant, Smyrna, TN.
The 2016 election was primarily a referendum on US trade and immigration policies. Trump’s case, insofar as one could be found amid all his bloviating, was something like the following: the US sent jobs abroad at the same time as it let workers in from Mexico, and that has been bad for most Americans. It’s worth remembering that Trump began his campaign by attacking financial elites, who, he said, had paid off the politicians to keep this con act going. Since Trump is so rich, he won’t have to take their bribes. He’ll renegotiate.
Well, it doesn’t take a degree in political science to predict that Trump will fail to “make America great again.” In all likelihood, the real winners here will be the traditional constituencies of the Republican Party: big business and social conservatives. Everyone else will lose. Meanwhile, Trump will use the presidency to hound his enemies and expand his personal wealth. And that’s the best case scenario.
This discussion between Nancy Fraser and Andrew Arato, Dorothy Hart Hirshon Professor of Political and Social Theory at the New School, first appeared at Public Seminar.
Andrew Arato: Nancy we have had a conversation about the elections a week ago in Great Evremond, Mass, and one thing you said really struck me. If I can paraphrase you, you said something like ” the worst thing about this election is that because of Trump’s wild claims and assertions, and the attacks that focus on these, we are now completely neglecting the genuine issues that have merged with his candidacy, and with that of Sanders previously. What exactly did you have in mind? Can you outline what these issues are or were?
Nancy Fraser: Yes, you’ve captured my point exactly. I am struck by the sharp contrast between the invigorating debates of the primary season, which challenged the reigning neoliberal commonsense, and the lockstep moralizing of the present, which has shut down all such questioning under the guise of the need to combat the “grave danger” represented by Trump. I find this both demoralizing and infuriating.