Northern Illinois DSA
We Must Continue Our Fight Against Fascism
Updated: Jan 15, 2021
As the nation reels over the chaos and death that occurred during the attempted insurrection of the United States government at the hands of fascist supporters of President Donald Trump, NIDSA would like to take a moment to share a few words on what happened to D.C. as well as share a vision for a world where this never happens again.
When hundreds of right-wing domestic terrorists stormed our nation’s capital over baseless accusations of voter fraud during the 2020 election, we couldn’t help but think about what brought us to this pivotal point in time. While many pundits, politicians, and other talking heads will wax poetic about how “this isn’t the real America” or “this is not what this country was founded on,” it’s hard to feel anything but the opposite. The United States is a nation founded on brutality and white supremacy – from the theft of indigenous lands to the enslavement of Africans stolen from their homelands to Jim Crow segregation in the south to the endless war and destruction rooted in imperialism we’ve wrought around the entire world. This is exactly who we are. This is America. While many will continue to put blinders on to shield them from the utter horror and pain that our ruling class has inflicted upon us, it is up to members of the Left to continue to shine a light on the falsehoods of our origin story as a nation.
One need not look much further than their own backyard to witness the hypocrisy of America on full display. While many Capitol police officers stood idly by as fascists stormed the halls of Congress, even posing for pictures during the chaos, activists protesting over racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis received constant flows of tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets instead of selfies. The double standard of justice in America could not be any more apparent than it is now. While white supremacists, xenophobes, and conspiracy theorists were mostly treated with dignity as they voiced their baseless claims of election fraud, activists of color in Rockford - who have been protesting throughout the city and have recently set their sights on City Hall following the shooting of an unarmed black man by the Rockford Police Department - have been harassed, arrested and criminally charged for simply blocking an entrance to a building. Fascism isn’t just happening in DC, it’s happening all around us and it’s enabled by a political class too afraid to stand up to it.
While we have come to expect very little courage from our elected leaders in the fight against fascism and the police state, our country’s corporatized media must also share the blame. Countless hours of “red-baiting” and capitalist propaganda on our airwaves has numbed citizens to their cores, leaving them without hopes that things could ever possibly be better. Shapeshifting universal policy ideas aimed at improving the lives of those who need them most are cast aside as “socialist.” Our news media, often at the whims of hedge fund companies, powerful social media platforms, or even the world’s billionaires, has time and time again equated so-called “far left” activists fighting against systemic oppression with organized white supremacists who have murdered hundreds of individuals and seek to start a race war. This type of political analysis rooted in “horseshoe theory” is easily employed by both liberal and conservative circles, and does nothing but continue to suppress the voices of heroic individuals actively fighting to right the wrongs of America’s past – that is, unless there’s some profit motive involved for the media class. We saw over the summer how Black Lives Matter rhetoric was watered down and co-opted by disingenuous pundits and media outlets looking to cash-in on a trend. This, of course, happened all while they shook their heads and wagged their fingers at any form of meaningful protest in the fight against racism and it’s direct connection to far-right extremists and the foundation of policing in America.
As a majority of Democrats and Republicans publicly condemn the actions that took place in D.C. this week, there’s of course no guarantee that they will work to bring the fundamental changes that are needed to improve the lives of working class people from all walks of life. What we can likely expect to see is a continuation of half-baked, neoliberal policies that brought us a Trump presidency. Craven policies that favor the wealthy while imposing austerity and hardship on the rest of us. Even with control of the executive branch and both bodies of Congress, we cannot rely on the current Democratic Party to be a meaningful ally in the fight against the political system that favors the powerful. With only a few DSA endorsed members in U.S. Congress, we have a long road ahead when it comes to electoralism both locally and nationally. As members of DSA in Northern Illinois, we must continue to find ways to work outside of the current political framework to fight for meaningful changes to our society – from supporting mutual aid campaigns to deep canvassing efforts aimed at bridging the various divides that have been placed within our communities by the hands of the elite.
We are living in a time of great isolation, brought on both by our governments’ failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic as well as their lack of willingness to combat America’s spiral towards oligarchy and plutocracy. As a working class people, we have been split between the haves (the few) and the have-nots (the many). While income inequality is a systemic divide that impacts all of us, we cannot allow ourselves to be backed into corners by reactionaries looking to split us up based on class, race, religion, or our orientation. Historically speaking, we are currently living in the conditions that have brought on fascism, or the merging of state and corporate power with a heavy emphasis on nationalism, militarism, xenophobia, and racism. We must be on guard.
Fascism is not a freak occurrence but rather the natural outcome of a capitalist system reeling from crisis trying to protect itself. In such times, the facade of capitalism cracks and falls away revealing once again its cruelty, contradictions, and gross inequalities. It is in moments like these where fascism appears as a defense mechanism against those who question not only the appalling outcomes of capitalism, but the very logic of its existence. What we need now more than ever is solidarity and a rededication to the simple fact that we have more in common with each other than we do with those who uphold our capitalist economic system in the halls of Washington.
Our current political system is no longer about presenting competing visions for our country’s future, but rather, it’s a competition to see who can divide and plunder the most from us while getting away with it. With that system in place, the rise of fascism in America was of course inevitable. Trump and those who fervently support him are not an aberration, but rather the natural culmination of an American experiment that has done very little to address collective material needs. With Trump’s rise to the national stage, so too have allied groups and politicians risen to release hatred and intolerance into our city streets. American fascism comes in many forms, some overt and some subtle, yet it permeates and oozes across nearly every facet of American culture. From the perversion of Christianity, to white nationalists marching in the streets of Charlottesville, to Blue Lives Matter rallies - a fascist, authoritarian insurrection in America has been brewing for quite some time.
While the tasks that lay before us seem endlessly daunting, as members of the Democratic Socialists of America, we hold firm to our belief that a better world is not only possible but directly within our reach. From coast to coast, we’ve begun to see the fruits of our organizing labor pay off. Within the past few months, DSA membership has risen to over 85,000 members, with many more waiting in the wings to join our cause. During the 2020 Democratic Primary election, almost 10 million people voted for a self-proclaimed democratic socialist and ally in our fight by the name of Bernie Sanders. DSA endorsed candidates have won positions on local school boards, city councils, state assemblies, and even walk the halls of Congress. When we clearly convey our messages of hope and solidarity, we’ve seen that we are an unstoppable force made up of people from multi-ethnic, multi-racial backgrounds who are willing to fight for someone they do not know. Ultimately, we are in a war and must choose between the ideals of democratic socialism or the violence of fascism. As democratic socialists, we see equality, justice, and freedom not just as slogans, but as the cornerstones of a democratic society and a world that works for everyone. We must continue to fight for them.