Special interview with Brian Becker, co-director of ANSWER Coalition and co-founder of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL)
ICP, 5 September 2017
ICP has interviewed Brian Becker from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) on the rising racism and Alt-Right ideology in the USA. Becker highlighted the bourgeois characteristics of fascism and white-supremacy in the country.
ICP: Can you comment on the recent developments starting with the white supremacist gathering and the subsequent murder of an anti-fascist protestor in Charlottesville? What is the class character of the protests held around the country in response? What role did PSL play in these protests?
Brian Becker: The white supremacist mobilization in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11 and 12 must be understood in the context of a broader awakening or reawakening and mobilization of fascist movements inside the United States. The corner stone of fascism in the United States is the manifestation of extreme white supremacy. The preeminent white supremacist organization in the United States for the past 150 years has been the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). There are also Nazi organizations, skinheads and other fascist entities.
Because of the absolute condemnation of the KKK as a terrorist entity during the broad civil rights movement that swept the United States in the 1950s and 60s, the fascist movement in the United States needed to rebrand itself. The label “alt-right” is nothing other than an attempt to present the fascist, white supremacist movement in a new light. The term “alt-right” was coined by Richard Spencer. Spencer is a fascist, using Nazi iconography and rhetoric to mobilize. The reason that the fascist movement in the United States is reenergized and growing in the current period is because of the ascension of Donald Trump to the White House following the 2016 election campaign where Trump signaled his embrace of white supremacist, racist and xenophobic causes. The fascists, when they mobilized in Charlottesville and prepared for scores of other activities in the United States felt that their “time had come” for a resurgence.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation has been mobilizing and organizing mass protests throughout the United States in all regions, including in the South, in opposition to the fascists.
ICP: What an you say about the role white supremacy plays in the US establishment since its foundation?
BB: American capitalism has certain unique characteristic features, most notably that the formation of the American capitalist bourgeoisie was based on slave labor. Thus, the emerging bourgeoisie divided labor based on race/skin color. Working class white labor was either indentured or free, while the Black population had no freedoms and constituted a chattel slave labor force. Because the nascent bourgeoisie constituted such a numerically tiny part of the population, its very survival depended on its ability to divide the laboring class against itself. This was particularly true because the state apparatus in the colonial outposts was virtually non-existent. Thus, the ruling class of North America had no foundational security.
The bourgeoisie developed a highly-refined strategy of dividing the laboring population. White working class people were guaranteed their “freedom” but only so long as they participated in a militia or quasi-legal military force to police the enslaved Black population. Also, the white working class part of the population was provided other particular privileges so as to prevent the emergence of Black-white unity against the tiny oppressing class. This became a hallmark of American capitalism in its development.
Even after the secession of what became the Confederate States in 1861 in order to maintain the system of slavery, an armed rebellion which was eventually suppressed, the Northern capitalist class turned its back and betrayed the demand for Black freedom following the civil war and allowed a system of racially-based apartheid to become the law of the land in the southern states of the United States. Thus, white supremacy is not simply an ideology nor a prejudice, but an expression of a particular form of capitalist control over the working class during the course of several centuries.
ICP: Can you comment on the Alt-right versus Alt-left debate in the mainstream media?
BB: This debate is fundamentally a fiction. The “alt-right” is a rebranding of the fascist movement. It provides a new, less discredited name. There is no “alt-left”. No part of the left wing movement in the United States calls itself “alt-left”. The use of this language is rather a concocted plan by the capitalist media to create an equivalency between fascists and anti-fascists.
ICP: How is the Democratic Party responding to these events? What are the tasks facing the revolutionary left such as PSL to break the masses away from the Democratic Party and organize them on a class basis?
BB: The Democratic Party makes all efforts to co-opt the progressive, anti-racist and working class movement in the United States with a simple argument: if the people do not support the Democrats, then they are left with the rule of the even more right wing, more racist, more anti-working class Republican Party. This is a demagogic argument, a negative argument and every day demonstrates its complete and utter bankruptcy. The Democratic Party is the preferred party of Wall Street and the military industrial complex because these institutions of capitalist power believe that the Democratic Party will be able to implement the capitalist program of austerity, militarism and imperialism with less protest from the broad, popular masses.
ICP: What is the position of the ruling establishment regarding Trump? Has there been any change since his election?
BB: For the most part, the U.S. ruling class did not favor Donald Trump. He is considered an unrefined, mid-level capitalist hustler and entrepreneur pursuing mainly his own interests. As Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels rightly noted in the Communist Manifesto, the executive of the modern capitalist state is nothing more than a committee representing the common interests of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie in America does not consider Donald Trump to be a reliable political force managing their common interests, but rather devoted to his own narrow interests. And thus they reject him.
ICP: Can you talk about the People's Congress of Resistance in September? What are the objectives of this initiative?
BB: The People’s Congress of Resistance is creating a mass movement in the United States of frontline, grassroots resistors among various sectors of the working class who are building an opposition to the reactionary Trump agenda but at the same time declaring their complete and absolute independence from the Democratic Party elites who are attempting to co-opt the progressive movement. The People’s Congress of Resistance is raising the banner of a political revolution in the United States that also calls for the collectivizing vital sectors of the U.S. economy and breaking up the stranglehold over political power by the capitalist elites from both the Republican and Democratic Party.