Jonathon Shafi: This is the tipping point you never thought you'd face - are you ready?

In the first of a new column examining the emergence a new wave of the extreme right globally, Jonathon Shafi says the left has a battle on its hands that the world can't afford to lose

"Congratulations to Thomas Perez, who has just been named Chairman of the DNC. I could not be happier for him, or the Republican Party"

"The race for DNC Chairman was of course, totally 'rigged.' Bernies guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!"

SO tweeted Donald Trump on the announcement that the Democratic establishment candidate Thomas Perez won the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last week. 

He has every reason to be cheerful at this news. It came a few days after a viral video of Hillary Clinton, posing as the figure head for the anti-Trump movement, which has been developing internationally since his inauguration. Again, this is good news for Trump, and his chief strategist Steve Bannon. They know that it is much easier to beat the liberal centre than it is the radical left, which has a mass movement in the streets and leaders like Bernie Sanders.

It feeds all of their propaganda about being anti-establishment, and it revitalises their widely held claim that the Democratic establishment is "the left", thus being gifted a useful stick with which to beat the entire movement. This is especially useful at a time when grassroots protest and civil disobedience aimed at disrupting the Trump White House is beginning to take form. 

Trump and Bannon know that it is much easier to beat the liberal centre than it is the radical left, which has a mass movement in the streets and leaders like Bernie Sanders.

It is this movement that contains the forces needed to successfully oppose Trump. It includes the most radical sections of the American working class, immigrants organisations, the women's marches and social movements like Black Lives Matter. 

Organised from below, it is only starting to build its identity, and its vision. This radical movement of opposition is embryonic of a wider discontent rooted in opposition to economic injustice and in agitating for a new distribution of both wealth and power.

Trumpism relies on the fallout from the 2008 financial crash, and the growing anger at the political system with which it is intertwined, being channelled through the lens of rightwing chauvinism. Of course, Trump is the epitome of American capitalism, but he is able to offset this by providing easy targets to blame for the decline in living standards. 

But as soon as class politics enters the arena - bang - his propositions unravel at pace. The leadership offered from Bernie Sanders in recent months has been exemplary. He has attacked Trump in class terms, and has sought to stoke and sustain a militant grassroots movement in the streets. In addition, he wants to integrate this into a fight for taking power in the Democrats. 

This appalls the liberal instincts of the Clintonites. Their opposition to Trump is contingent on burying wider concerns about the nature of the political and economic system. To these they pay only lip service. People already know they are committed to the welfare of the elite over the rest. 

It is this movement that contains the forces needed to successfully oppose Trump. It includes the most radical sections of the American working class, immigrants organisations, the women's marches and social movements like Black Lives Matter. 

They seek to co-opt the anti-Trump movement, and to subordinate and annex the radical sections. They do this because they are defenders of the neoliberal order. They do not want a broader revolt to become sustainable. For them, Trump and the radical left are both symptoms of an amorphous populism that has to be defeated. Order must be restored. 

They are reeling from the defeat to Trump on the one hand, and look over their own shoulder to see a resurgent movement of the left with unease. They are in the jaws of both, and are fighting for survival.

Some will cry, "unity at all costs against Trump". The sentiment is understandable. But it is Clinton and her like that represent the forces of division within the movement. 

This is especially the case after it became clear that Sanders' platform would have punished Trump in places like Flint, where Clinton didn’t even visit. Their plan includes nothing in relation to mass mobilisations, organising labour, civil disobedience or anything approaching an alternative vision for the alienated and exploited. 

The plan is simple and a recipe for failure. Vote for the Democratic establishment internally, then vote Democratic at the next elections standing on a discredited platform led by discredited people. And that's before we even consider how something like another financial crash would overlap onto the situation. 

Trumpism relies on the fallout from the 2008 financial crash, and the growing anger at the political system with which it is intertwined, being channelled through the lens of rightwing chauvinism.

The centre does not hold the solutions to a system in crisis and decay and as a result, the centre cannot hold. That is why they are building alliances with even the most unpopular figures of the old order - because in the end they are defenders of the status quo. 

Just look at the Guardian welcoming the return of George Bush and Tony Blair. More of the same will not cut with the millions of people sold out and left behind by capitalism. 

And again, what could be more divisive? These forces cannot rescue the system – and represent a deadweight on progress. As a result, their attempts to lead 'the resistance' threaten to let the far-right dominate the alternative. The same is true across Europe. The centre is over - but that doesn't mean powerful forces are about to give up. 

That is why the radical left has to be organised. But it also has to work out how it can build its own institutions to challenge directly for power. At every turn, leftwing advancement - like Sanders and the Democrats, Syriza and the Troika, Corbyn and the Labour Party machine - is shut down by pre-existing institutional levers. As radical voices are drowned out and undermined, the new far-right is making strides. 

We know where there have been weaknesses. The Occupy movement showed promise, but its failure to deliver at the level of a strategy for power left it disarmed. Steve Bannon, on the other hand, has managed to intellectualise the Tea Party movement, and used it to destroy the Republican establishment and take the White House. 

The leadership offered from Bernie Sanders in recent months has been exemplary. He has attacked Trump in class terms, and has sought to stoke and sustain a militant grassroots movement in the streets.

These coming years will shape the coming decades. They are years in which all of us must be prepared to put ourselves on the line and break out of our comfort zones and political bubbles. 

The mission is two fold: it is to subvert and replace the centre ground with a vision for social transformation, and from this platform to defeat the populist right and fascism. 

Clinton, Blair and the rest want to defeat the far-right, and bring the radical left down with them to re-establish 'order'. The task ahead is to flip that on its head: to bring down the far-right, and to replace the present rigged system. 

We must do this starting from a position of institutional weakness. A big task, sure, but either we strike out with a bold vision, rooted in class politics and radical democracy, or we end up in a society where oppression and tyranny rule.

We need to grow confidence in the idea we can fight back, and we have reason to believe that we can be successful in the long-run. 

These coming years will shape the coming decades. They are years in which all of us must be prepared to put ourselves on the line and break out of our comfort zones and political bubbles. 

As I write, news is coming in that the Trump visit to he UK has been postponed. Officials say they want the 'heat' to die down, that they monitor protests in the UK. Theresa May has accepted the postponement. 

This is a result of the street movement and the left and not the Guardian welcoming Bush back, or the 'leadership' of Tony Blair. Sides must be taken. 

We are, in world historic terms, approaching a tipping point.

Picture courtesy of Jonathon Shafi

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