Let Them In! Asylum for Refugees! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants! (Internationalist) 28 Oct 2018

The Caravan of the Dispossessed

Caravan heads north after crossing into Mexico on October 20. (Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP)

OCTOBER 28 – As the U.S. midterm elections entered the home stretch, xenophobic president Donald Trump hit on a new tactic for his standard campaign of fear and falsification: whip up hysteria about an imminent invasion by a caravan of immigrants from Honduras. He is reportedly preparing a declaration of national emergency (!), while the Pentagon is readying active duty units of the military (not the National Guard) to patrol the southern border with Mexico. This would keep the fear factor active right up to election day (November 6), plus give him the opportunity to change U.S. policies on refugee status by executive order, in contravention of U.S. laws and international treaties. The imperialist chief ordered the governments of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras to stop the caravan, or else. He also ratcheted up his immigrant-bashing rhetoric, declaring that there were “bad hombres” and a “big percentage” of “criminals” among the marchers, as well as “Middle Easterners” and “terrorists.” But it hasn’t stopped the 7,000 migrants from steadily marching north, and now another caravan is forming.

Let us be clear: the migrants who have decided to risk all to undertake the onerous trek of almost 3,000 miles (4,700 kilometers) from San Pedro Sula to Tijuana are fleeing from deadly violence and extreme poverty made in U.S.A. The economy of Honduras has been devastated by “free trade” agreements while the gangs terrorizing its cities got their start in Los Angeles. The right-wing Honduran government which acts as Republican Trump’s toady is the result of a 2009 coup engineered by the Democratic Obama administration. The League for the Fourth International and its sections in the U.S. and Mexico, the Internationalist Group and Grupo Internacionalista, have called to welcome the caravan, demanding asylum for refugees and full citizenship rights for all immigrants! And, as always, we seek to carry out actions in furtherance of our call. The Grupo Internacionalista sent an activist-correspondent to accompany the caravan on its arrival in Mexico, while the Oaxaca local of the GI held a solidarity demonstration together with Section 22 of the CNTE (National Coordinating Committee of Education Workers).

In addition to being used by the racist in the White House as an election campaign ploy, which the Democrats are assiduously trying to duck, the Central American caravan of the dispossessed is a human drama illustrating the brutal realities of decaying capitalism. It is also a political battle of the first order against the U.S. imperialists, who would use armed force to bar the victims of their depredations, just as their European counterparts let African immigrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea. In this, as in every class battle, there are no neutrals. Either the migrants are allowed to enter, or not. We say: Let them in!

When the caravan arrived at the Mexican border at Ciudad Hidalgo, it was met on the bridge over the Suchiate River by a wall of 200 federal police, dispatched by President Enrique Peña Nieto in compliance with the orders of his imperialist overlord. Under a sign proclaiming “Welcome to Mexico,” the police fired tear gas into the crowd which was led by women and children. The next day, as hundreds waded into the river to cross, youths in the caravan tore down the chain link fence and the entire procession headed on to the next city on its path, Tapachula, Chiapas. Contrary to the claims of Trump and his puppet, Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández Àlvarado, marchers insisted that no one instigated them to leave Honduras. “We just couldn’t take it anymore,” a 24-year-old youth told our comrade who met them in Tapachula. With a daughter, mother and sisters to support, he was the only one in his family with a job, until he was laid off.1

As the migrants left Tapachula on the way to the next town, Huixtla, they chanted “Los migrantes no somos criminals, somos trabajadores internacionales” (we migrants are not criminals, we are international workers), echoing the slogan that was painted on the wall opposite Tijuana that was built by Bill Clinton. But more than a political act or a long-planned migration, the caravan is an exodus. In fact, many marchers carried their bibles, the informal organizers periodically calmed people by having everyone pray, and several compared their odyssey to the biblical tale of Moses leaving Egypt. For some this includes the illusion they may touch Donald Trump’s heart and open the door to a better life. But most know that they have a hard road ahead. One woman had a little stall in Honduras to sell things but couldn’t pay the “war tax” demanded by the gangs. She left with her husband, daughters and sisters as they had no future there. A young man carrying the multicolor gay rights flag joined the caravan the day after being threatened with death by a gang of homophobes. This exodus is driven by desperation.

Migrantes de la caravana centroamericana descansan en
            Huixtla, 21 de octubre de 2018. Foto: El Internacionalista
Migrants rest in Huixtla, Chiapas, after walking 26 miles from Tapachula. For more photos of the caravan go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/internationalist4/. (Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP)

To get an idea of how extreme the situation is in Honduras, the national income is US$2,300 per person, compared to almost $10,000 in Mexico. Only Haiti’s figure is lower in Latin America. According to United Nations figures, 19% of the population in Honduras earns less than US$1.90 a day (the international measure of extreme poverty), a percentage which is six times higher than in Mexico and El Salvador (both 3%). As for inequality, even the CIA World Factbook recognizes that Honduras “suffers from extraordinarily unequal distribution of income.” Thus the poorest 40% of the Honduran population received only 10% of all household income, far less than Mexico and Nicaragua (16%). But it’s not just that Honduras is poor and has a rapacious ruling class, leaving those at the bottom with little or nothing. It is important to understand the political origins of the social and economic crisis devastating Honduras, which lead straight to Washington and Wall Street.

During the 1980s, Ronald Reagan used Honduras as the base for the U.S.’ counterrevolutionary war on Nicaragua, building up a murderous Honduran military. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton began deporting hundreds of members of gangs like the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street Gang to Central America. Then when Mexican president Felipe Calderón launched a “war on drugs” in 2006 on orders from George W. Bush, many traffickers shifted their operations to Honduras. The murder rate more than doubled from 2006 to 2012, becoming the highest in the world, and San Pedro Sula, the industrial center, is the most violent city on the planet. The gangs are notoriously tied to the police and military, which are bankrolled by the U.S. Meanwhile, the world capitalist crisis from 2008 on devasted employment in the textile/garment industry. Following the 2009 coup that ousted Liberal landowner Mel Zelaya as president, public services were privatized, subsidies were slashed and tens of thousands of workers lost their jobs. That coup got the green light from Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

So it is militarism and catastrophic economic/social conditions made in the U.S.A. that have led thousands of poor people and entire families with babies and young children to trudge several thousand miles, braving the elements (walking in 95° heat, punctuated by torrential rain), the thieves who prey on migrants, and the corrupt and violent police, in order to arrive at the U.S. border where they will be met by the guns of the United States army. The answer is not “foreign aid” that bolsters the profits of U.S. corporations, or building some factory sweatshops paying starvation wages that only deepen the poverty, it is to break the stranglehold of U.S. imperialism on Latin America, which both conservative and liberal U.S. politicians (like Obama’s former Secretary of State John Kerry) arrogantly refer to as “our backyard.” And that can only be accomplished through socialist revolution, including in Central America.

Honduras is effectively a Yankee neo-colony (it was the archetypal “banana republic,” run by the United Fruit Company), where everything gets decided by Washington. Semi-colonial Mexico is also under the imperialist boot, whether it is governed by bourgeois populists like Mexico’s president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his MORENA (National Regeneration Movement) party or a hardliner like Peña Nieto of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), which ran the country for seven decades with greater or lesser degrees of subservience to U.S. imperialism (mostly greater). This is particularly true of immigration policy. So while the U.S. deported some 294,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras from 2015 to September 2018, during the same period Mexico deported 436,000 who had come from this “northern triangle” of Central America. For its services as a buffer and border police for the United States, Mexico has received billions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury (El Universal, 21 October). And now federal police have resumed arresting hundreds at the southern border.

Poster for October 24 rally in Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico in defense of Central American immigrants. 
(Photo: El Internacionalista)

The Grupo Internacionalista in Mexico has from its inception denounced anti-immigrant repression, calling for full citizenship rights for all immigrants. So immediately after the brutal October 19 attack on the caravan by federal police, the GI joined with class-conscious educators of the militant Section 22 of the CNTE to organize a solidarity action in Oaxaca, calling for “Workers Actions in Defense of the Central American Migrants.” On October 21, the state assembly of the Oaxaca teachers passed a motion saying, in part: “Section 22 of the Education Workers declares its support for the caravan of Central American migrants, and therefore will mobilize the workers in its ranks to accompany and support this caravan as it passes through states where the CNTE has a presence, while calling on the rest of the workers movement to join in defending the passage of this caravan.” The defense actions include calling on health workers to organize medical brigades to provide aid. The motion ended: “We reject all racism and xenophobia whipped up by the Mexican bourgeoisie, lackey of U.S. imperialism. Let them in! Neither illegals nor criminals, the migrants are international workers!”

Currently Peña Nieto is promising asylum and jobs to the caravan members if they register with Mexican immigration authorities. Caravan organizers have refused. López Obrador (universally known as AMLO) has also offered them jobs helping to build a transportation corridor across the Yucatan peninsula. Not coincidentally, this would keep the Hondurans in southern Mexico, far from the U.S. border. At the October 24 protest, a speaker of the Grupo Internacionalista emphasized that repression against immigrants will not stop under AMLO, whom many leftists and teachers are supporting. “AMLO has said over and over that he won’t clash with Trump over the question of immigrants.” She stressed that the fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants must be part of a revolutionary struggle, noting that this elementary democratic right was implemented by the French Revolution of 1789, the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The GI spokeswoman concluded with a call to “break with all the capitalist parties and build a workers party on a revolutionary and internationalist program.”

As the Central American caravan approaches the U.S. border, Trump is escalating his anti-immigrant offensive while the Democrats keep a sepulchral silence and try to change the subject. All bourgeois parties are enemies of immigrant workers, whom the capitalists brutally superexploit. In defending our immigrant sisters and brothers, the key is to bring to bear the power of the workers movement, not just in words but in deeds. We are one international class. We have the power to stop racists like Trump and the modern-day slave catchers of the immigration police. But to use that power, we must forge a leadership based on the program of international socialist revolution of Lenin and Trotsky. ■


What Do Our Oldest Books Say About Us? – By Josephine Livingstone – 7 Nov 2018

On the ineffable magic of four little manuscripts of Old English poetry

There are four original manuscripts containing poetry in Old English—the now-defunct language of the medieval Anglo-Saxons—that have survived to the present day. No more, no less. They are: the Vercelli Book, which contains six poems, including the hallucinatory “Dream of the Rood”; the Junius Manuscript, which comprises four long religious poems; the Exeter Book, crammed with riddles and elegies; and the Beowulf Manuscript, whose name says it all. There is no way of knowing how many more poetic codices (the special term for these books) might have existed once upon a time, but have since been destroyed.

Until last week, I had seen two of these manuscripts in person and turned the pages of one. But then I visited “Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War,” a new show of artifacts at the British Library in London. It’s a vast exhibition, covering the art, literature, and history of the people whose kingdoms spread across Britain between the sixth and the eleventh centuries. The impetus for the show came from the library’s 2012 acquisition of the St Cuthbert Gospel, the “earliest intact European book,” in the words of the show’s catalog.

The Beowulf ManuscriptBritish Library Board

Seeing the earliest European book alone would be the event of a lifetime, for a certain kind of museum-goer. But for this viewer, the main attraction lay in a quiet little vitrine: all four Old English poetic codices, side by side. They don’t look that impressive to the casual eye. The exhibition room is dark and cold, to keep the books safe from damage. The manuscripts are brown, small, almost self-effacing. There’s no outward sign of how important they are, how unprecedented their meeting.

So why are these four books so special? It has to do, I think, with the concept of the original—a concept we have almost entirely lost touch with. The Beowulf Manuscript is not just composed of words that serve as the basis for every translation of the epic poem. It’s foremost an object, the only one of its kind. It is not merely a representation of a story; it is the story. In this respect, the manuscript resembles the Crown Jewels more than any document written in today’s world, any word that moves through the crazy fractal of the internet. The manuscripts confront us with a former version of our literary selves; identities that we barely recognize, and which estrange us from ourselves.

Each of the poetic codices has a specific history engraved into the text’s physical form. The very space they occupy on earth is meaningful. The Vercelli Book is named for Vercelli, a town in Northern Italy whose cathedral library holds the manuscript. Nobody knows for sure how the book got there, although the prevailing theory is that a pilgrim left it behind or gave it away on his travels. Who? Why? When? Unknown.

The Beowulf Manuscript’s permanent home is the British Library. Unlike Vercelli, we know exactly why it’s there. The manuscript’s pages have been remounted onto new ones, because the book was singed around the edges in a library fire in 1731. The fire consumed much of the collection of Robert Cotton—his unburned books were later all given to the British Museum, forming its foundational collection—but Beowulf only suffered a little. (The original Cotton collection was kept, with a horrible kind of accuracy, in a building called Ashburnham House.)

If we compare the Vercelli Book to the Beowulf Manuscript, we see different kinds of mysteries. The Vercelli Book is in fabulous condition, its English lines neatly written and sitting, inexplicably, in a region of Italy famous for its rice. The Beowulf Manuscript is a half-burned thing whose survival is a miracle. Its provenance is unknown: It was probably written down in the tenth or eleventh centuries, but it’s impossible to tell when it was actually composed.

Where did the fire come from? Where did the poetry come from? We do not know the identity of the authors of any Old English poems, any more than we know where the first spark flew. Why are these the manuscripts that have survived, and what wandering spirit has guarded them down the centuries? The mysteries start to pile up into a mountain, intimidating in its inaccessibility.

Our current relationship to the written word could not be more different. We remain in the age of mechanical reproduction, the name famously given by the theorist Walter Benjamin to the way that works are replicated via photography, the printing press, and film. In his 1936 essay on the subject, Benjamin wrote, “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.”

Our concept of authenticity is derived from the “presence of the original,” he writes, such as “proof that a given manuscript of the Middle Ages stems from an archive of the fifteenth century.” Without such proof, an original becomes a forgery. But when we reproduce a work (via a photocopy or an ebook, say), we create not a forgery but something new. We can “put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself”—the manuscript can leave the cathedral and enter our own homes.

Benjamin argued that this process of reproduction inevitably diminishes the artwork’s presence. He calls that quality an aura: “that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art.” That withering kills our connection to tradition, to the ineffable magic of the original, and—in short—to the entire history of how humans once related to art.

In 2018, we are in a much more elaborate and abstracted phase of Benjamin’s reproduction theory. We are accustomed to reading without reference to any physical object specific to the act of reading. We might have a romantic association with libraries, or prefer to turn real pages rather than electronic ones, but those are tastes borne of nostalgia. They have no real meaning for our experience of literature’s power.

This is why the reunion of the Old English poetic codices is so overwhelming. We have no mental equipment—or, at best, a very rusty apparatus—to process the existence of a physical original. Even our encounters with paintings in a museum are ultimately filtered through mass media and the devices with which we read the written word. It is difficult even to summon in our minds the circumstances of Benjamin’s 1936 essay; the technology has simply moved too quickly.

If we are that disconnected from 1936, but the Old English poetic codices predate Benjamin by an entire millennium, then it is no wonder that being confronted by these manuscripts leads to a feeling of numbed, startled astonishment. I’ve spent years dreaming of these books, but when all five of us finally met I couldn’t do anything but cry. I thought I knew them, through digital replicas. These books should have been a mirror, some kind of catalyst to self-recognition. But when I looked at them I saw nothing. I only saw the yawning void of everything in human history that I cannot understand, everything that has been taken from our culture by the incredible acceleration of technology over the course of my lifetime.

Codex Amiatinus.British Library Board

There are too many miracles to count inside the British Library’s exhibition. You can see the Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving complete Christian Bible in Latin. It’s enormous, weighing over 75 pounds. Here you will see the Domesday Book, the earliest public record in existence. Here is the River Erne horn, an eighth-century trumpet found in the waters of its name in the 1950s. Here is gold from the sixth century.

But as I walked out of this dazzling exhibition, I also realized the miracle that is the survival of Old English itself. If all we share with the Anglo-Saxon literature is language, then that is a remarkable consolation. The words are difficult to understand, but—miracle of miracles—we can translate them all.

Historians might care more about the singeing of the Beowulf Manuscript, the unknown pilgrim who walked through Italy. For the student of literature, however, Beowulf’s existence on the internet is as startling as the single book sitting by its sisters in a London library. If the book burned today, then the poem would still survive. The new permanence that reproduction gives us is the hope contained in Benjamin’s dirge. But it might be worth putting a replica in a bunker, just in case.


German Revolution 1918 – ‘Auf, auf zum Kampf, zum Kampf!’: Bertolt Brecht’s song for Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht


German singer Hannes Wader sings ‘Auf, auf zum Kampf, zum Kampf’ (‘Up, up, let’s fight’). It’s a classic song of the German left, with an early version coming to prominence during the Franco-Prussian War (1870- 71).

Karl and Rosa

(Karl Liebknecht e Rosa Luxemburg)

In 1919, poet Bertolt Brecht wrote a new version in reaction to the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. This is the version sung by Wader, and an English translation of the lyrics is below:

“Up, up let´s fight!
Up, up let´s fight, let´s fight! We are born to fight!

Up, up let´s fight, let´s fight! We are ready to fight!

We have sworn to Karl Liebknecht, that we give Rosa Luxemburg a helping hand.

We have sworn to Karl Liebknecht, that we give Rosa Luxemburg a helping hand.

There stands a man, a man, as strong as an Oak!

He has surely, surely, survived many Storms!

Maybe tomorrow he will be a corpse, like so many other Freedom fighters before.

Maybe tomorrow he will be a corpse, like so many other Freedom fighters before.

We don´t fear, don´t fear, the thunder of the cannons!

We don´t fear, don´t fear, the green uniformed Police!

Karl Liebknecht we have lost, Rosa Luxemburg fell by the hand of a murder!

Karl Liebknecht we have lost, Rosa Luxemburg fell by the hand of a murder!

Up, up let´s fight, let´s fight! We are born to fight!

Up, up let´s fight, let´s fight!We are ready to fight!

We have sworn to Karl Liebknecht, that we give Rosa Luxemburg a helping hand.

We have sworn to Karl Liebknecht, that we give Rosa Luxemburg a helping hand.”


Auf, auf zum Kampf, zum Kampf!
Zum Kampf sind wir geboren!
Auf, auf zum Kampf, zum Kampf!
Zum Kampf sind wir bereit!
Dem Karl Liebknecht, dem haben wir’s geschworen!
Der Rosa Luxemburg reichen wir die Hand!

Wir fürchten nicht, ja nicht!
Den Donner der Kanonen!
Wir fürchten nicht, ja nicht!
Die grüne Polizei!
Den Karl Liebknecht, den haben wir verloren!
Die Rosa Luxemburg fiel durch Mörderhand!

Es steht ein Mann, ein Mann!
So fest wie eine Eiche!
Er hat gewiß, gewiß!
Schon manchen Sturm erlebt!
Vielleicht ist er schon morgen eine Leiche!
Wie es so vielen Freiheitskämpfern geht!

Auf, auf zum Kampf, zum Kampf!
Zum Kampf sind wir geboren!
Auf, auf zum Kampf, zum Kampf!
Zum Kampf sind wir bereit!
Dem Karl Liebknecht, dem haben wir’s geschworen!
Der Rosa Luxemburg reichen wir die Hand!

5000 March – 101 Years After the Red October Russian Revolution – Lenin On Anti-Government Protest Signs on The Streets of Moscow – 7 Nov 2018

Russian Revolution

Moscow: The government only permitted 5,000 people to attend the opposition Communist Party lead street march celebrating the 101 anniversary of the Russian Revolution of 1917.  A heavy armed police presence flanked the march.  One government official said, “we don’t want a ‘color revolution.'”

Nov 7 2


Also on 7 Nov 2018 in Moscow

The government utilized Red Square to re-enact a Soviet parade from WW2 – utilizing Communist symbols but as historic emblems of a particular fight at a particular time.


7 Nov 2018 a


From the 7 Nov 2017 March

Moscow 7 Nov 2018Moscow 7 nov 2

A Youtube video of the march 7 Nov 2017  from Ruptly – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nDL0D6OMHI (skip ahead at the test pattern in the beginning)

7 Nov 57 Nov 47 Nov 1

Mobilize Workers Power to Stop Fascist Terror! (Internationalist) 28 Oct 2018

(June 30 protest against Patriot Prayer/Proud Boys fascists in Portland, Oregon. )

OCTOBER 28 – All summer long, there was a stream of violent provocations by ultra-rightist and outright fascist groups across the United States. Now in the run-up to the November 6 voting, the political polarization has escalated with a series of violent rightist and deadly racist attacks. On October 12, a group of Proud Boys fascists leaving a speech by their founder Gavin McInnes at the Republican Club on Manhattan’s Upper East Side set upon some antifascists (antifas), isolating and severely beating one. On October 23, packages with pipe bombs were discovered that had been sent to a number of prominent liberals. The sender turned out to be a regular at rallies for Republican president Donald Trump and a vociferous white supremacist who yearned for the “Hitler days,” vowing to “eradicate the Jews” if he had the power to. On October 24 a racist gunman executed two black people at a Kroger supermarket in suburban Louisville, Kentucky, but walked away, saying to a white bystander that “whites don’t shoot whites.” And on Saturday, October 27, a gunman approached the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where he murdered eleven mostly elderly Jewish congregants after yelling “all Jews must die.”

Last year, Trump praised the KKK and Nazi scum who descended on Charlottesville, Virginia chanting anti-Semitic slogans (“Jews will not replace us”) and murdering Heather Heyer, as including “some very fine people.” Now the racist president rants against anyone who points to his responsibility for whipping up deadly violence and race hatred. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, want to use the explosion of fascist terror attacks to step up state control, calling for government censorship of hate speech on social media and more stringent gun control – measures that will be used against the left and workers movement. Various reformist pseudo-socialists have sought to organize protests against “gun violence” together with the gun-control liberals. Revolutionary Marxists, in contrast, who stand on the Bolshevik program of Lenin and Trotsky, have called for, and sought to organize, mass mobilizations of workers power to crush the fascists. We warn that the main enemy of working people and vulnerable sections of the population is not just the fringe of “alt-rightists” and assorted white supremacists and fascists who have proliferated in Trump’s America, but the capitalist state which protects the fascists, and which the liberals want to strengthen.

On June 4 of last year, thousands turned out in Portland, Oregon, to protest a “free speech rally” of the “Patriot Prayer” fascists, a few days after two men were killed by a local Nazi as they came to the aid of two young black women he was menacing with Muslim-baiting threats. The murderer had attended earlier Patriot Prayer rallies. Portland Labor Against the Fascists brought out some 300 union members and supporters from at least 14 area unions, backed by coordinated resolutions of seven of those unions calling for “mobilizing against the clear and present danger that the provocations of racist and fascist organizations pose to us all” (see “Portland Labor Mobilizes to Stop Fascist Provocation,” The Internationalist No. 48, May-June 2017). When the same outfit tried a repeat in the San Francisco Bay Area that August, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 voted to mobilize labor to stop the fascists in SF. This played a key role leading Patriot Prayer media hog Joey Gibson to call off his event (see “ILWU Local 10 Moves to Stop the Fascists in San Francisco” and“Fascists Forced to Flee San Francisco – A Significant Victory” in The Internationalist No. 49, September-October 2017).

Both on the East and West Coasts, the fascists tried in a series of provocations to repeat their terror tactics this summer. On June 30, Patriot Prayer was back at it in Portland, which has become ground zero for the putrid milieu of fascist action squads, as it was in the 1980s for the racist skinhead scene. Class Struggle Workers Portland, which works fraternally with the Internationalist Group, again called for union action, but the protest was much smaller. One antifa activist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after being punched out by a Proud Boy thug. The police shot pepper balls toward the labor contingent and then lobbed flash-bang grenades into the anti-fascist crowd, resulting in a general melee as the fascists began marching. When Gibson (who is running for U.S. Senate in Washington state) announced another provocation for August 4, a CSWP leaflet, “Workers Mobilization Can Crush the Fascists,” declared:

“While Patriot Prayer and their Nazi allies prefer small street skirmishes where they can commit their cowardly assaults in the name of ‘free speech,’ or better yet, jumping activists in dark alleys, they would be hard-pressed to face a large and disciplined mobilization of workers aiming to shut them down….

“A mass mobilization led by workers defense guards can and must crush the fascists before it is too late.”

Anti-fascist protester nearly killed by police flash-bang grenade that penetrated motorcycle helmet, Portland, August 4. 

This time over a thousand people showed up to oppose the fascists, but the police went after the anti-fascist protesters with a vengeance. A police flash-bang concussion grenade lodged in the motorcycle helmet of one antifa activist, who would have died if it hadn’t been for the protective headgear.

The police were effectively acting as a defense squad for the few dozen, vastly outnumbered fascists. This was so obvious that even liberal media commented on it. The liberal Guardian (4 August) headlined: “Portland far-right rally: police charge counterprotesters with batons drawn.” Portland police chief Danielle Outlaw said leftists “wail and whine” about getting beaten by the cops, adding that she told Mayor Ted Wheeler that she was going to clear an Occupy I.C.E. camp with or without permission (which the liberal Democrat gave her). The Oregon ACLU complained about “the repeated use of excessive force, and the targeting of demonstrators based on political beliefs.” An earlier statement by the civil liberties group declared: “To our knowledge, no other police force in America uses crowd control weapons with the regularity of the Portland Police Bureau.” The fascists, meanwhile, gave Nazi salutes inside their police-protected pen, while several wore a new t-shirt saying “Pinochet did nothing wrong,” with a drawing on the back of people being thrown from helicopters, a reference to the Chilean military dictator who killed thousands of leftists, many whom were thrown into the ocean.

(Internationalist Group at August 12 anti-fascist protest in Washington, D.C. )

The next week, on August 12, well over 2,000 leftists demonstrated in Lafayette Park opposite the White House in Washington, D.C., as police escorted a couple dozen fascists in for a “rally” that was so brief that it ended by the announced starting time. Importantly, Local 689 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) told the Washington transit authority, WMATA, that its members would not provide “special accommodations” to the fascists (a private train to bring them in from Virginia) that transit officials had promised. This statement electrified union militants around the country, and the members of ATU Local 1277 in Los Angeles voted (over opposition from the local bureaucrats) a motion saluting the D.C. union’s stand, while Local 757 in Portland wrote an eloquent letter explaining how the year before, racist murderer Jeremy Christian had been given such special transportation along with other members of hate groups a month before killing Ricky Best and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and wounding Micah Fletcher on a Portland light-rail train. But in the end, the Local 689 leadership acquiesced instead of standing firm against this special protection for fascist murderers.

The same scene of aggressive police protection for fascists was repeated around the country. In Boston on August 18 cops set up a defense perimeter around a few dozen anti-communists of “Resist Marxism” against a crowd of several hundred protesters. Earlier, on August 4, at the same time as the Patriot Prayer event in Portland, in Providence, Rhode Island, 300 or so protesters from the “Ocean State Against Hate” coalition managed to drive off the anti-communists before riot police arrived. But on October 7, state police prevented leftist protesters from shutting down a Patriot Prayer hatefest flown in from Portland. In the NYC October 12 Proud Boys attack, none of the fascists were arrested at the time while three antifa activists were. Videos on the Internet show police standing around as the fascists viciously kick and pummel the lone antifa protester on the ground. In a podcast, Proud Boys founder-leader McInnes bragged, “I have a lot of support in the NYPD.” (De Blasio denied that NYC cops are sympathetic to the Proud Boys, but only after a public outcry were a half-dozen of the fascist thugs later arrested.)

Overwhelmingly, in one incident after another, in one city after another, the police defend the fascists against leftists. Furthermore, the police are indeed shot through with fascist sympathizers, including but not to limited to the Three Percenters who boast that they represent retired military and active duty “law enforcement” personnel. (In Portland, a police captain, Mark Kruger, erected plaques in a public park honoring Nazi officers, including an SS Obersturmführer and a Wehrmacht general responsible for executing thousands of prisoners of war in Greece during World War II. He was given a “We Are Portland” award by the city’s “human rights” commission!) Fascists and cops are defenders of the interests of capital against those it oppresses and exploits. From the Jim Crow South to the northern cities today, it is often true that “cops and Klan go hand in hand,” as demonstrators chant. In fighting the very real, and deadly, fascist threat to working people, African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, gays and transgender people and other vulnerable sectors, Trotskyists do not seek a counterproductive conflict with the police. But the “thin blue line” is what protects these would-be killers.

It is crucial to understand that the upsurge in ultrarightist, anti-immigrant “populist,” violent racist and outright fascist movements and attacks is an international phenomenon, and that it is a byproduct of the continuing capitalist economic crisis, the depression that began in 2007-08 and whose effects continue to be felt today, including mass unemployment (masked by misleading government statistics), stagnant and falling wages, and the destruction of public services and social welfare programs. Many of the fascist recruits are a product of this crisis.

The capitalists are well aware of the shaky economic foundations of their rule, and as they have hollowed out the fabled middle class, they have militarized the police to be able to crush mass social unrest. That is why police in Ferguson, Missouri, have armored cars and police in Hamburg, Germany, deploy “riot control” equipment designed for civil war conditions. It is not just the Donald Trumps who promote this but also liberal Democrats like Barack Obama in the U.S. and social democrats in Europe. The proliferation of fascist gangs is part of the growing drive toward bonapartist strong-state rule, which the bourgeoisie resorts to when its normal political mechanisms are no longer adequate. As Trotsky warned in Germany in the early 1930s, calling on the state to act against the fascists is a ticket for disaster.

The Internationalist Group defends antifa activists against state repression and the fascist attacks. But the inconclusive skirmishes that have taken place in recent months will not stop the violent white supremacists. We seek to organize workers defense guards to defend all those threatened by the modern-day brown- and black-shirt thugs, whether they wear Fred Perry polo shirts or olive drab fatigues. What is ultimately needed is a mass mobilization of the social power that can defeat both the fascists and their uniformed protectors: a class-conscious working class, led by a workers party that fights for socialist revolution to bring down the bloody rule of capital and sweep away all its defenders. ■