While many of us are still reeling from Donald Trump’s unlikely presidential victory in November, best-selling author Naomi Klein argues that it is precisely during times of shock — the disorientation that follows a disastrous event for which we have no preexisting narrative — that we are most vulnerable to interests that would exploit our need for answers. Our first step, Klein contends, is to find our footing, find our narrative, and find the common threads that connect our movements.
On January 20th, Klein, Anand Gopal, Jeremy Scahill, Owen Jones, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor joined over a thousand people at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington D.C. for The Anti-Inauguration, co-hosted by Verso, Jacobin, and Haymarket Books; a discussion about strategies for resisting Trump and visions for radical political change.
Klein began by calling on liberals and leftists to see the Trump administration for what it is: “a takeover of the federal government by corporate America, the ultimate privatization, neoliberalism’s final frontier.” In both domestic and foreign policy, as Anand Gopal later argues in his remarks, Trump represents to an unprecedented degree the corruption of the American government.
And make no mistake, founding editor of The Intercept, Jeremy Scahill tells the crowd, what we are up against are fascists: fascists who have inherited Bush and Obama era policies that legitimize assassination, militarize the police, and sanction islamophobia.
“It’s only because of the institutionalization of islamophobia in three administrations," Anand Gopal added, "that in 2016 a man could stand for president and openly call for the banning of Muslims.”
The message is clear: the movement against Trump must thoroughly abandon the social and political order that gave rise to him.
As Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor put it, “embedded inside of every right-wing backlash is the failure of the liberal establishment to deliver a better way. The lesser evil always paves the way for the greater evil.”
Speaking on the way ahead, Guardian writer Owen Jones forcefully asserted the need for a new progressive populism that directs people’s anger upwards, at those who are truly responsible for the crises we face. The struggle against injustice, Jones noted, does not end at the border, and “a left that does not champion the interests of every oppressed group — of every exploited and subjugated group, that does not challenge racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia in all its forms is no left at all.”
Yamahtta Taylor, Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton, closed the event by calling on Americans to build organizations that are democratic, multiracial, and militant with a foundation in solidarity: “Solidarity meaning that even if you do not experience a particular oppression it doesn’t matter because as ordinary people our fates are tied together, and one group’s liberation is tied to the liberation of all the groups that are exploited. Another world is possible. Another United States is possible but only if we organize and fight for it.”
A full video of the event is above.