Scotland Against Trump
21st June 2016
On Friday Donald Trump is making a visit to Scotland to attend, amongst other things, the grand re-opening of his Turnberry resort on Ayr. He will arrive with a plane load of American media. And he will be greeted by demonstrators opposing everything he stands for.
If the visit of the Republican presidential nominee is not a good reason to get placards and banners out then I don’t know what is. Just take a look at the mass demonstrations at his rallies in the US, opposing racism and his far-right rhetoric. Why shouldn’t we stand with them, and show that opposition to the rise of radical right-wing populism is international? Of course we should.
Some argue that by protesting we will give him more attention. That doesn’t seem to be a serious proposition now – he could scarcely get more attention. He’s got a serious chance of becoming the US president now that Hilary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.
Then you have the liberals who want to “educate” him while he is over here, as Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie has outlined. Trump, born into the US elite, doesn’t lack education. Political calculation, not ignorance, motivates his speeches. He knows very well what forces he is mobilising, and what language he is deploying to provoke what is now an insurgent movement of the radical right that began with the Tea Party protests after Obama’s election in 2009.
Trump is a product of the crisis and decline of American capitalism. Let’s take a step back and put his shocking rise into context.
The last year has brought to a head a polarisation that finds its roots in a failing system. Millions of Americans feel utterly disenfranchised. The American Dream really has come to an end. Everyone knows the economy works for the 1%, and hard work doesn’t pay. The political system is widely seen as a stitch up, and hardwired into the corporate lobby groups and big money. The media, from Fox News to CNN, is seen as a sham, and disconnected from reality. Jobs are less secure than ever. Despite having a black President, the last few years have seen a vicious spike in police brutality and racial tension. As such liberal anti-racism has been rendered impotent, leading to the rise of nothing less than a new civil rights movement in the form of Black Lives Matter.
A lot of this sounds familiar. Similar processes are taking place all over the planet. The crisis of the economy, the political system, the financial institutions and the establishment media is not taking place in a vacuum. Society is relating to it in different ways powered by questions of class, race, gender and ideology. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the United States right now.
It is in this context and via these reference points that a new generation of Americans are working out what kind of country and society they want to build. The progressive movement is located in the Occupy protests, Black Lives Matter, the fast food workers strikes and the Sanders phenomenon. Within these and other similar movements the response to the crisis is to unite against a system designed to entrench the power and wealth of the mega-rich.
Tapping into the very same crisis, Trump articulates another America. This also comes from grassroots anger at a corrupt and self-indulgent elite, but one which seeks to resolve class and racial politics with the dominance of the rich and the brutalisation of the poor. Trump and his supporters rationalise American decline by blaming it on immigrants, Muslims and nostalgia for 1950’s America, before Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. In a very real sense Trump has the rhetoric and the action – including violence – of a neo-fascist movement.
It is worth reiterating what Trump is actually proposing as a solution to the crisis. He wants to build a wall across a continent; he wants to bring back illegal torture; he wants to ban Muslims and murder the families of ‘terrorists’; he wants out of even the most tepid climate change treaties. It’s little wonder that Noam Chomsky said the “human species is in very deep trouble” should he win.
The whole world has an interest in the direction of America. Despite it undergoing a long decline, it is the overwhelming economic, military and cultural hegemon in the world. With Clinton as the Democratic nominee the American people have terrible options: more of the failed establishment or Donald Trump.
That brings me to our protest at Turnberry. We in Scotland have a special duty in a few weeks time. Trump has significant business interests here. He has flaunted his Scots heritage to promote himself in Anglo-American culture. That is why he is coming to Turnberry as part of his campaign for President – to prove he is a world statesman, and to show that he wasn’t beaten here. It’s true that Trump courts controversy. But he wants his Scottish trip to be protest free. He wants to say ‘the Scots’ are big fans.
We used to say during the anti-Iraq war protests in 2003 that world popular opinion was the second super power. We need that super power to start showing its teeth in the face of a world in danger of spiralling towards bigotry when it needs solidarity, and individualism when it needs collective solutions. Trump is the symbol of a future we need to fight against. It would be a dereliction not to challenge him when he lands on our turf. And just as we challenge him, we will be standing with every American who is fighting back against a rigged system and the division and intolerance it breeds.
Protest details: Assemble 9:30am, Friday 24th, Maidens Road Opposite Trump Turnberry.
Coaches: Leave Glasgow 8am, George Square, £5 return. E-Mail: [email protected]