July 22, 2020
The entire Left—whether liberal, progressive or radical revolutionary, must not get suckered into battling Trump on the reactionary, proto-fascists’ preferred terrain: violent street confrontations. Not only does the Right almost always have access to greater firepower, but raising the specter (however phony the vision) of chaotic, uncontrolled violence has been the go-to and most effective pretext for the imposition of authoritarian rule. It has also been the primary message that garners any popular support for reaction.
Whatever one thinks of the morality of political violence, right now violence is a stupid strategy against Trump. Mass, popular-front style peaceful street gatherings, intense electoral organizing, politically motivated labor strikes, aggressive court challenges, and selected acts of civil disobedience are the terrains on which the broadly-conceived left can defeat Trumpian reaction. In the struggle for democracy all the tools of democratic engagement must be deployed. Let’s not resist Trumpism with the tactic that historically backfires on left, on the terrain that the Trumpists so clearly want to engage.