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Labor's Legitimacy Crisis Under Trump

by Barry Eidlin
July 16, 2017

As nativist right-wing populism surges across the Global North amidst the exhaustion of social democracy and “Third Way” liberalism, the United States finds itself at the forefront. Elsewhere, right populist parties have led in the polls, as with the Front National in France and the PVV in the Netherlands, or played key roles in seismic political events, as with UKIP and Brexit. But so far, only in the US has the right populist wave captured a major political party and ridden it to power. The improbable election of Donald Trump reflects deep crises within the US political system, but also this broader crisis of modern liberalism.

The early months of the Trump administration have been chaotic, but one thing remains clear: despite Trump’s rhetorical appeals to the working class, actual workers and unions have reason to be worried. His public pronouncements about bringing back coal and manufacturing jobs are based on pure sophistry, while his less public moves to gut labor regulations and workers’ rights will hurt workers. Labor’s dire situation predates Trump by decades, but it is likely that his accession to the Oval Office will further embolden labor’s foes, much as Ronald Reagan’s election did in the 1980s.

Early indications have confirmed these suspicions...

One-Half Cheer for Trump on the Climate?

From the Editors of Against the Current
June 22, 2017

On a fateful Thursday, June 1, Donald Trump announced that “The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” setting off alarm bells and outraged protests in U.S. cities and around the world. We would suggest that under present circumstances, he chose the better – well, less bad -- of the existing options.


Photo: Francois Mori/AP

To be absolutely clear, we are not adopting a stance of “the worse the better.” Not at all. What socialists and all environmentalists actually want is a U.S. government committed to implementing the inadequate Paris accord, and rapidly surpassing it. It is inadequate, as briefly outlined below -- at best an international agreement to begin addressing a climate-change crisis that threatens human civilization. But the kind of U.S. commitment that the situation demands wasn’t on Trump’s desk, or anywhere near his brain.

In announcing U.S. withdrawal, Trump overrode the pleas of his main corporate advisors, including many fossil fuel executives and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who argued that “keeping a seat at the table” would enable Washington to obstruct, slow down and sabotage any part of the Paris accord that it deemed damaging to “our economic interests.”

Indeed, as negotiated under president Obama’s leadership the climate accord allowed each country to set its own voluntary carbon-reduction targets, which could be watered down at will. What was to be gained from pulling out, aside from Steve Bannon’s appeal to Trump’s hardcore...

Theresa May’s Katrina: Grenfell Tower and the Election Outcome that Wasn't Supposed to Happen

by Sheila Cohen and Kim Moody
June 21, 2017

Just six days after the election, a 24-story council high-rise went up in flames. Grenfell Tower housed 600 mostly poor tenants, many of whom were people of color. The outside cladding that had recently been installed by a string of private (corner-cutting) contractors was not fireproof and became the conduit that turned the entire building into an inferno within 30 minutes.

Located in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in Britain, the poor neighborhood in its midst instantly became the symbol of class and race inequality. Firefighters and health workers responded rapidly, people from the neighborhood and beyond rushed to the scene with food, clothing and bedding for the survivors, but government at all levels appeared paralyzed. The local Kensington Council made no effort to coordinate food and clothing distribution or to locate shelter for displaced residents. Survivors could not get information about friends and relatives either in hospitals or trapped in the building. Sorrow turned to anger.

Jeremy Corbyn visited the scene talking to residents and demanding answers from the authorities. London’s Labour and Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan came flanked by police, but at least stayed to respond to the angry crowd. Theresa May finally appeared the next day but ignored residents and spoke only to emergency staff...

July 16, 2017
by Barry Eidlin
As nativist right-wing populism surges across the Global North amidst the exhaustion of social democracy and “Third Way” liberalism, the United States finds itself at the forefront. Elsewhere,...
June 22, 2017
From the Editors of Against the Current
On a fateful Thursday, June 1, Donald Trump announced that “The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” setting off alarm bells and outraged protests in U.S. cities and around...
June 21, 2017
by Sheila Cohen and Kim Moody
Just six days after the election, a 24-story council high-rise went up in flames. Grenfell Tower housed 600 mostly poor tenants, many of whom were people of color.
The outside cladding that had...

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