We’ve Got Fascists to Fight

Speech from anti-Trump demo, 30 January 2017. Also published on Common Space and in The National.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been filled with despair these past few weeks. It’s been horrifying to watch the hard-won victories of the past hundred years be swept aside by the whims of politicians without a democratic mandate, without a conscience, without a plan.

I’ve been angry too, and scared, and confused. But mostly I just want to crawl under the duvet and hide. Wake me up when the revolution comes.

But that’s exactly what they want. They want to grind us down until we’re too tired to resist. It’s siege warfare.

And it’s not going to work.

Because their strategy is divide and rule, and we will not be divided. We may not agree on everything, we may not wave the same colour flags, but we can agree that hate-mongers are a common enemy.

And ultimately, all our struggles are connected.

And that’s why we’re here today, standing up for our Muslim neighbours and friends. We are all human beings and we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

But right now, we are facing a threat to human rights, to democracy, to the stability of life on our planet. That threat comes not just from Donald Trump – he didn’t rise to power from nowhere. He is the logical next step in a world where our governments are controlled more and more by the interests of big business and the super-rich.

As Naomi Klein wrote recently, America’s super-rich have got tired trying to influence legislation – so they’ve gone straight to taking over the government. That might sound extreme, but a look at the past ten days shows the systematic removal of anyone who doesn’t support Trump, at the highest levels of government. From the State Department to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which advise the military, a coup is taking place before our eyes.

And what is the UK government doing about it? Theresa May seems to be Trump’s biggest fan. There is a fascist in the white house and the UK prime minister is kissing his tiny hand.

So let’s talk about the UK. It’s a bit more subtle here, but not by much. EU citizens and other ‘foreigners’ are being scapegoated. Hate crimes are up. Public services are slashed, but there’s plenty of money for useless nuclear weapons – which we need America’s approval to even use.

Austerity forced onto ordinary people the length and breadth of the UK, while corporations and elites hoard their money and call it growth. Privatisation hands public services to corporations, and tax loopholes invite the shirking of responsibility by the rich.

These issues are all connected – but we don’t have to accept the reshaping of the world in the interests of big business. And people are waking up to their own power. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that people are desperate for change. But if it’s Farage and Trump promising change, that’s where they’ll go.

So what do we do?

None of us can do everything, but we can all do something. Tonight is a first step.

You can get involved with groups like the anti-fascist alliance or RIC. You can speak to people in your neighbourhoods and your workplaces. You may find that other people feel the same way you do – and if they don’t, if you encounter racism or hatred, you can let them know that their views are not acceptable. Maybe you won’t change their mind but you can stop them from spouting their ideas in public.

Things are changing incredibly fast. Now is not the time to be quiet. The elites are counting on us to crumble into despair. Let’s irritate the hell out of them by standing up, speaking out, and not going away.

It’s going to get harder before it gets easier, but the most important resource we’ve got is each other. We will disagree on some things. But remember that we agree on the fundamentally important things, and we can argue about the rest later. For now, we’ve got fascists to fight.

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