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On September 15, 2017 at the University of Houston the Platypus Affiliated Society organized a panel discussion, Anti-fascism in the Age of Trump. Participating on the panel were Gloria Rubac of the Workers World Party; Gus Breslauer of Redneck Revolt; Mark Kazanski of Socialist Alternative, Houston; and Bernard Sampson of the Communist Party, U.S.A., and the Democratic Socialists of America. Danny Jacobs of Platypus moderated. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion.
The academic establishment can betray its trust in many ways; one of them is the teaching of irrelevant modes of thought not geared to understanding that which is really going on. The goal of teaching and learning has been set by the Western tradition: It is no longer (if it ever was) free choice; we have to work with the historical heritage which has shaped our thought and action, theory and practice.
The Millennial Left has been subject to the triple knock-out of Obama, Sanders, and Trump. Whatever expectations it once fostered were dashed over the course of a decade of stunning reversals. In the aftermath of George W. Bush and the War on Terror; of the financial crisis and economic downturn; of Obama’s election; of the Citizens United decision and the Republican sweep of Congress; of Occupy Wall Street and Obama’s reelection; and of Black Lives Matter emerging from disappointment with a black President, the 2016 election was set to deliver the coup de grâce to the Millennials’ “Leftism.”
Following the clashes in Charlottesville on August 12th, and massive anti-fascist demonstrations afterwards in Durham, Boston, the Bay Area, and elsewhere, the struggle against fascism has arrived in the consciousness of the general public. Tens of thousands of people are realizing that the fight against fascism did not end in 1945. Today, as increasingly authoritarian governments collude with ascendant fascist movements all around the world, this battle is more pressing than ever.
Revolutionaries study revolutions. Many lessons might be learned from looking at the 1917 Russian Revolution and its aftermath. It began with such promise, bringing hope of a world without war, oppression, capitalism, imperialism, and states. How did it result in Stalinist mass murder and state capitalism, and finally to collapse back into traditional capitalism?