Last week, the Conservative Political Action Convention, or CPAC, was held in National Harbor, Maryland, and was put on by the American Conservative Union, the NRA, the Heritage Foundation, and several right-wing media groups. Speaking at the conference was Trump, members of his administration, and a variety of far-Right talking heads who firmly put their cross hairs on the media and popular social movements that threaten Trump’s power. Meanwhile, across the US in at least 18 states, Republican lawmakers are pushing a series of repressive laws that seek to further criminalize protesting, wearing masking, blocking freeways, and in some cases, even seek to “seize the assets of protesters who participate in demonstrations that ‘turn violent.'”
In order to normalize this repression, a wide variety of speakers at CPAC dismissed those in the streets across the country as “paid protesters,” and even signaled out anarchists and the black bloc in particular. One speaker, Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, even went as far as to say that protesters don’t know why they are protesting and also make upwards of $1,500 a week. Such conspiracy theories are a dog-whistle to the Alex Jones crowd of far-Right supporters who think that George Soros is paying and directing all forms of popular protest against the status-quo. Such conspiracy theories are based on anti-Semitic myths that were popularized by groups such as the American Nazi Party and the John Birch Society. We have to push back against these lies and show that popular struggles are on the side of the vast majority of everyday people and not the Trump regime or the neoliberal Democratic Party, which the mainstream media by and large supports without question.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s top advisor and the former head of Breitbart news, which Bannon called “a platform for the Alt-Right,” also gave a speech which called for the coming together of the various far-Right forces to rally around Trump and defend him from the media and popular mobilization. Bannon laid out the three pronged approach of Trump, which included closing borders to refugees, deporting immigrants, and banning Muslims, a policy of economic nationalism that attacked neoliberalism while grinding down American workers and environmental regulations for the sake of corporations and finance capital in the US, and finally, an all out attack on social welfare programs that often a meager safety net for the working poor.
Bannon and Trump’s authoritarian capitalist populism is dangerous, and like fascism, labels the “globalist” elites, the media, and liberatory social movements as the enemies of the “real people” that make up the included citizens of the United States. Trump is thus painted as the only authoritarian strong man that can stand up to these threats; a figurehead that the everyday person can see themselves in, and who can fight back against the global forces of Islam, immigration, and social unrest.
Anarchists, anti-authoritarians, and anti-capitalists need to not only spell out our vision of a better and different world, but also expose the “populist” program of Bannon and Trump for what it is, an attempt to re-strengthen white supremacy and reaffirm American nationalism at a time when millions of people are losing faith in the State and its authority.