USA/Canada

Labour's martyrs: the story of Sacco and Vanzetti

Workers' Liberty 3/53, published as a pull-out in Solidarity 397. The story of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, told by James P Cannon and Max Shachtman, who were leading activists in the defence campaign. Click to download as pdf

Storming the Capitol: strange comparisons

Ever since Trump’s election in 2016, there have been some on the left who’ve resisted the idea that he is anything particularly out of the ordinary in terms of US bourgeois democracy. In particular, many of these people deride any suggestion that Trump and the movement behind him can be considered fascist or “proto-fascist.” Some of the people downplaying the Trump threat are, in fact, advocates of variants of third-period Stalinism – i.e. people who think Trump is, objectively, preferable to Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. It’s difficult to work out exactly where the Morning Star stands on this...

Today farce, tomorrow tragedy?

This [6 January] was a “coup” as social media spectacle. In their pseudo-Viking gear and Confederate patches, the far-right rebels were a distinctly unappealing lot. And their rebellion utterly lacked a coherent plan beyond smashed windows and selfies. Rather than a coup, it was a pathetic right-wing putsch attempt and was put down remarkably swiftly. It was given the green-light by Trump and his inner circle. But it was overwhelmingly condemned by the spokespeople of the capitalist class: the National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce, the CEOs of most major corporations...

Will Trump pay for his crimes?

According to iconic jazz poet Gil Scott Heron “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. The same can’t be said for 6 January’s counter-revolutionary attempt, when a delusional and demented far-right mob stormed the Capitol building. Cameras rolled to record the invasion of the legislature by a rabble of fascists and crazed believers in conspiracy theories who trashed the building in the hope of overturning the Presidential election result. Some participants in the ransack wore costumes as bizarre as their QAnon beliefs. Others raised the Confederate flag. In all his attempts to capture...

The USA needs to be made a proper democracy

The woman, in her late 20s, has been maced. Recovering slowly, she looks a bit sorry for herself, and complains indignantly. “As soon as I went into the Capitol, they maced me, right in my face.” Interviewer: “Yes, but why did you go in?” “Go in? For the revolution, of course.” Not since fascists wielding cut-throat razors tried to invade the French Chamber of Deputies in February 1934 has there been, in a functioning bourgeois democracy, anything like the occupation of the Senate and Representatives chambers in Washington on 6 January. A large crowd rampaged through the building looking for...

6 January 2021, 6 February 1934

Many historians, in hindsight, regard the 6 February 1934 attempt by mostly far-right army-veteran groups to storm France’s Chamber of Deputies, over a corruption scandal, as a blip. They can make a case. The 6 February riot was smaller than 4 January’s in Washington. The police were solid against it, indeed shot down the protesters, killing 16 and injuring 600-odd. The riot never got near breaching the parliament building. The biggest contingent, the Croix du Feu, went home when trouble started. Politically, the protest was a mix of small groups. The French far right in 1934 was weaker than...

The organised far right on 6 January

On 6 July, at the storming of the US Capitol, a number of far-right groups — as distinguished from the “regular” far-right Trump supporters — were present. Among them were the Proud Boys, donning orange hats to distinguish themselves. While their founder Gavin McInnes denies having been there, a man looking suspiciously like him was recorded giving orders to various members of the group. Others present included militia groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers, members of which were recorded marching up the Capitol steps in body armour, holding onto each other, suggesting...

Kino Eye: American fascism on film

Unsurprisingly, here’s another American film. Tony Kaye’s American History X (1998) features Derek, a committed Nazi, complete with swastika tattoos and membership in the “Disciples of Christ”. He is sentenced to three years for voluntary manslaughter of an African-American. While imprisoned he begins to distrust the “Aryan Brotherhood”, the prisoners’ fascist network. Instead, he befriend’s Lamont, an African-American with whom he works in the prison laundry. On release he finds that his younger brother Danny has become a hard-line Nazi but eventually Derek persuades him to drop his views...

Trump leaves chaos in his wake

On Wednesday 6 January, pro-Trumpers will attempt a mass demonstration in Washington to coincide with the formal vote in Congress to ratify the Electoral College decision from the presidential election. A crowd of conspiracy theorists, fascists, and plain deluded have been encouraged to “Be there, will be wild”. Maybe some think they can storm Congress in the same way as right-wing terrorists invaded the Michigan State House last May. A strong police presence will make such an attempt unlikely to succeed. But Republican members of Congress are still prepared to indulge Trump. They’ll admit in...

Leo Panitch, 1945-2020

Leo Panitch, an assiduous and important Marxist writer on political economy and an active socialist, died on 19 December 2020, from Covid-19 contracted after being admitted to hospital with cancer. His biggest book, The Making of Global Capitalism, written with Sam Gindin, is essential reading, and summarised a vigorous programme of research into post-1945 capitalism. I first met Leo Panitch, I think, at an "International Marx Congress" at Nanterre University, near Paris, in 2004. He was off-hand, and I guessed he had the typical attitude of a famous university professor (at York University...

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