As I looked at the photos of women’s marches in Washington DC, San Francisco and all over the world on January 21, I was struck by one thing. Whiteness. The marchers were predominantly white – even in places like Nairobi. Not only were they white, they looked like they were upper middle class – able to afford the finest warm clothes and designer outfits, down jackets, sporting iPhones to record themselves. When interviewed they appeared to be educated and articulate. All of this raised alarm bells in me. Even before the march I had reservations. Why, I wondered, did the organizers change the date from the day of the inauguration to the day after the inauguration? Why did they quickly back off from their acknowledged protest against Trump to a vague “support for rights”? Why was there suddenly no mention of Trump anywhere in their materials and postings – only a vague reference to “the new government? In fact, I read an interview with one of the organizers who specifically said, “This is not an anti-Trump march”. In reality, it seemed to be exactly that. So why did they not want to admit that?
What is their goal?
What is their demand? Do they sincerely think Donald Trump and his followers are going to watch them and say – “wow – this is serious – I guess we had better change our ways”? That’s a little like a meme I saw recently on Facebook that said “Your political FB status updates totally changed my opinions. Said no one. Ever.” Their march was indecisive – all over the place. All of the issues they were raising are part of what is called “identity politics”.
Is it a feel-good day so they can go home and congratulate themselves on having “made history”? Then they can go back to their comfortable lives and do nothing more to organize or fight in any systematic way except to call their congresspersons – whose phone lines are down and can’t take more calls and who have systematically proven they pay no attention to these calls. Knitting pink caps, making signs and going out in the streets with others just like them gave them a feeling of catharsis.
Since the march I’ve watched many of the same people rush to the airports to defend immigrants being banned from the U.S. by Trump’s anti-Muslim edict. Does this mean that if immigrants are allowed in everything ok?
Whose march was this?
This was not a “women’s march”. This was an “upper middle-class women’s march”. This was a Democratic Party directed march. These were women – and men – who were upset that their candidate didn’t win. They wanted Hillary in the White House no matter what – partly because she is a woman. They paid no attention to her war mongering, Wall Street loving, elitist past, capitalist actions. And, rather than blaming her or the Democratic Party, they raged – and are still raging – at anyone who didn’t vote for her. They are all over Facebook pointing the finger at anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary and claiming they are the ones to blame for Trumps’ election. They are particularly raging against the 42% of the population who didn’t vote over – 90 million people – because they saw no point in it. Voter turnout was at the lowest point in two decades. Because they understand that, not matter who they vote for, their lives are not going to change for the better. The upper middle class has no investment or interest in actually talking to these folks to find out why they didn’t vote – and then working towards helping them.
And where was the middle and upper middle class while all of this was happening? Nowhere to be found. The middle class was not even aware that it was shrinking to the lower middle and working classes, and all the while the upper middle class was growing. Now the upper middle class is a whopping 9% of the population. So it’s not accurate to talk about the 1%, because it’s really the top 10%. And none of the concerns that the working class and the poor have been fighting for are concerns of the 10%.
I have to ask – where were these women throughout the 8 years of war during the Obama administration. What exactly did Obama do for women? Where were they on all the marches so many of us were on against police violence against blacks, illegal wars for control of oil, outrageous student debt, low wages, poor working conditions, lack of benefits, Wall Street, Goldman Sachs? They were nowhere to be found. Or they might be found at Starbucks, the gym, having brunch. It doesn’t matter. Obama was charming, articulate, smooth and tall and now is being deified.
Not everyone participating in the march was a Clinton zombie. The Democratic Party has more or lesser control based on the city in which the march was held. But without making a clear distinction of their issues on the signs they were carrying, these marchers are being used by them.
Who supported the march?
Let’s look at a list of the people who spoke at or participated in the Women’s March:
- Gloria Steinem
- Michael Moore
- John Kerry – and his dog
- Van Jones – a total sell-out
- Kamala Harris – Debbie Wasserman Schultz grinning next to her
- Billy Joel
- Lady Gaga
- Jennifer Lopez
All of these people are strong, vocal supporters of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Hillary, herself, tweeted her support. Michael Moore fought hard against the Greens to ensure we had no hope of having a third party in this country. He did the same thing to Ralph Nader when he ran as a Green 8 years ago. Gloria Steinem told women they must vote for Hillary because it’s time for a woman to be in the White House. Most are celebrities – whose single claim to fame is that they are famous. And they are rich – very, very rich. Where have they been on the ground fighting for the rights of the working class and poor? They may be very good at what they do – acting, singing – but what bestows on them the wisdom to lead us in our voting decisions? These people should not be our role models. They are the upper 9% supporting the ruling 1%.
Who funded the march?
These are some of the primary funders:
- George Soros – a billionaire and long-standing supporter of the Democratic Party who was one of the initial donors to Moveon.org
- org – formed in 1998 to oppose the impeachment of Bill Clinton and has spent millions supporting the Democratic Party
- org – the Rockefellers gave billions to their campaign
- Planned Parenthood – supported by the Democratic Party
- Sierra Club – supported by the Democratic Party and members of the 1%
- Amnesty International – supported by the Democratic party and partially funded by George Soros
It’s important to understand that, while we may support the above organizations, we need to know where their funding comes from. Where there is funding, there is influence. This was clearly a march to support the Democratic Party and see them reinstalled.
The cops are NOT our friends
Seeing the photos posted of women shaking hands with the police, giving them pink pussy hats to wear – and seeing them plop them on their heads for photo-ops – made me sick. Yes, the cops are nice to them – they pose no threat. They are “good people”. Non-violent, not really rocking the boat. They also are from the upper middle class – the folks whose property is protected by the police – the very class the police are paid to protect. They are not paid to protect the middle, lower middle and working classes. The police state came about in the 19th century to protect the capitalists from the workers who were striking and demanding fair pay and treatment. And they are still protecting the capitalists. It was disgusting to see these upper middle class whites talking about how wonderful the police were, and posting thanks to them on FB. Other protestors who were not part of this group were attacked and arrested. Most of the protest marches I’ve been on we’ve watched the cops in their riot gear and helmets watching us.
A friend of mine who was going to the Women’s March told me she was worried there would be “some of those anarchists who want to cause trouble”. OK – I get it – it’s only a good march if everybody is orderly, peaceful and exactly like you. Sometimes the only way to get attention is to stop business as usual by breaking things. The police presence, in itself, IS violence. It’s a threat – but not to the upper middle class.
Before I get accused of being a Trump supporter, I want to make clear that I think he is a megalomaniac, idiot of a bully but a very dangerous bully. And he is not alone. The real brains behind the throne is Steve Bannon, who is a much more dangerous threat because he actually reads books (mostly about war) and is capable of crafting a long-term plan to push through the strategies of the far right and neo-nationalism.
Why not name the system?
All of these issues raised during the march and airport protests are important but, they didn’t start with Trump. They all existed during previous administrations – Democratic or Republican. The difference now seems to be that there is no hiding those attacks – they are out in the open. The difference also is that the front man for them is a bellicose, obnoxious misogynist with a complete lack of charm or intellect. These very same issues did not bring people out on the streets while they continued to go unaddressed by the Obama regime.
Where were all the identity politics people during the Obama administration’s failure to secure a minimum wage above poverty level, build low cost housing or deal with the worst police force in the entire industrial capitalist world? Under Obama’s reign the U.S. continued the illegal wars begun under Bush, pushed for the Dakota Access Pipeline, did close to nothing to punish the banks and Wall Street or demand a cap on emissions to slow global warming.
Whether its the neo-nationalist new-money faction of Trump-Bannon or it’s the old-money Clinton, Bush, Koch Brothers, Kissinger faction, we know that the capitalists give all of them their marching orders. The primary goal of both parties is to protect capitalism and undermine any attempts to regulate, let alone change, the economic system that is driving the majority of us into the ground.
Making demands is for those who accept their subservience
It would not be fair for me to only comment on the women’s part of the march because their were other groups there as well. The problem with all these “demands” is that they are demands. There is no promise to take power. The implication of demands is that there is someone in power that is in a position of granting or refusing the demands. It accepts the capitalist rulers and complains they are not fair and just rulers. Demands are the plea to make ones in power be better leaders.
I’ll march for a socialist transition program
Bernie Sanders influenced 12 million people and used the word “socialism” in his speeches. Most of his followers did not cringe under the bed and say “McCarthy will come after us.” Neither did they seem to worry that “the masses are not ready for socialism”. The Green party had a golden opportunity to throw down the gauntlet to Sanders and say to his followers “hey folks, he’s not a socialist, we’re the real thing.” Instead they offer him their nomination if he would join them. Socialist Alternative seems to have stopped using the word socialism in its rallying cries and has dissolved their identity into an “Anti-Trump” movement. Many of the organizers of all these current marches are not liberals but socialists. They don’t have the nerve to tell ethnic and religious minorities that “we are socialists and we will help you as part of our socialist transition program”. Neither do they have the nerve to reach out to the working class people who voted for Trump because he offered them jobs. Most of all, this cringing left does not use its collective imagination and provide a clear down-to-earth vision of socialism for all poor, working class and middle class people to see and craft a transition program. Whether you like Trotsky or not, he was on the right track. We need a socialist transition program publicly presented at any future public encounters.
So, no, I won’t be marching with a pink, wooly cap. I’ve been through with New Left single-issue identity politics for many years. Why would I want to march with them? I will be marching with a broom, a shovel and a hammer when a socialist organization steps up with a socialist transition program.
Barbara MacLean has worked as an academic and career counselor at California State University, East Bay, and as a career counselor and manager of the downtown Oakland One Stop Career Center, a public career and jobs center in partnership with EDD. She is a socialist feminist. She is a founder and organizer for Planning Beyond Capitalism. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter Email her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org