In London, on the inauspicious date of Friday the 13th, Donald Trump was met by one of the largest demonstrations seen in the UK since the days of the 2003 Iraq war: hundreds-of-thousands strong. The enormous size of this protest is an indication of the real mood of anger and rebellion that exists within British society at the present time.
Socialist Appeal activists joined hundreds of thousands of protestors on the march through London to oppose Trump’s visit and to denounce the reactionary ideas and policies that he represents.
The massive attendance – and the diversity of those present – are an indication of just how regressive Trump’s actions are, and of the widespread outrage and indignation that they rightly elicit.
Say no to the "special relationship"
In recent weeks, following the 15,000-strong rampage through London by the #FreeTommyRobinson brigade, some on the left have understandably become anxious about the potential rise of the far right. This huge, historic protest against Trump, however, has shown unquestionably where the real balance of forces in society lies.
The demonstration started outside the BBC offices on Portland Place, with the crowd almost reaching back to Regents Park as the protest set off. The march then headed through the streets of central London, before ending with a rally at Trafalgar Square, where even more people joined once they had left work.
Speakers at the rally included Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, David Lammy MP, and Owen Jones – one of the main organisers of the event.
Corbyn’s speech, in particular, was met with enormous applause from the crowd. His message of solidarity to the massive audience gathered was in marked contrast to the craven fawning, red carpet, and ceremonial pomp provided to the obnoxious US President by Theresa May and her establishment cronies.
Indeed, a large anti-Tory mood could be felt from the protest, which came fresh on the back of May’s shambolic handling of Brexit negotiations within her own party in the proceeding days. This, of course, in turn comes on top of years of brutal Tory government, which has seen declining living standards for workers, young people, and the poor.
Many on the demo were rightly angry at the fact that the Prime Minister had even agreed to meet her American counterpart at all, given his cruel policy of separating migrant families and locking children in cages. But such callousness and ruthlessness will be all too familiar for May, who has enacted many similarly harsh immigration policies during her time at the head of the Home Office.
This is what the “special relationship” really means for the British ruling class and its representatives – a desire to emulate the most reactionary elements of its former-colony turned imperialist puppet master.
All the speakers at the rally were united in their hatred towards the current resident of the White House. But this was unfortunately not reflected in any unifying call to action. Rather, the audience at the rally was left simply with a general anti-Trump sentiment.
The lack of alternative being presented was also displayed by the variety of slogans and placards on the demo. Many people had signs supporting liberal establishment Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – and even Oprah Winfrey. Others conflated opposition to Trump with opposition to Brexit. Some used the opportunity to agitate around important issues such as climate change or the crisis in the Middle East.
It is clear that, for some people, the illusion exists that the chaos we see across the world is simply the result of one horrid man. If only we had someone a bit ‘nicer’ like Clinton or Obama; if only we had remained in the EU; if only we didn’t have the nasty Tories: pernicious issues such as racism, sexism, climate change, war, and austerity would not exist.
But the reality is that Trump (and Brexit) are a result of decades of failure by the so-called ‘centre ground’ and their pro-capitalist policies – policies that both Obama and Clinton (in the USA) and the Liberal Democrats and the Blairites (in the UK) have all subscribed to.
None of these leading figures from the liberal establishment have any answer to the ongoing capitalist crisis and the inequality that it generates; nor to the important questions of sexism, racism and oppression. It must be remembered, for example, that the Black Lives Matter movement erupted under Obama’s presidency.
Similarly, the war in the Middle East and the pertinent problem of climate change also stem from the same imperialist, capitalism system that liberal figures like Obama and Clinton vigorously defend and promote. They are not just the result of the morality and self-interest of one man. (Although Trump’s bull-in-china-shop behaviour certainly exacerbates the instability and turbulence that capitalism generates.)
Smash the status quo
This only goes to show why the slogan on the front page of Socialist Appeal – “Fight Trump. Fight capitalism” – is correct. As the placard of revolutionary activists present on the demo stated: Trump is the symptom; capitalism is the disease; socialism is the cure.
The answer, therefore, does not lie in simply putting a ‘nicer’ person in power. Instead, workers and youth need to take power for themselves by overthrowing this rotten system and smashing the broken status quo.
Getting rid of Trump will not prevent more of his ilk coming to power in the future, nor will it significantly change the lives of those (both in the USA and the UK) who are most oppressed by this system.
Only by uniting workers around a revolutionary goal – of abolishing the capitalist system that divides and exploits us – will we see an end to the chaos, racism, sexism and reactionary politics that Trump advocates and represents.