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On the Persistence of Resistance

Do you struggle with despair at what is happening to our world, dear reader? I certainly do. Earlier this week, in response to another in economist Umair Haque’s unending series of warnings about what America risks doing to itself by empowering MAGA fascists, I wrote the following:

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes waiting for the end of everything decent in America. I have been sounding the same warnings in my writing for seven and a half years, ever since Trump rode down that fools’ gold escalator to the paid cheers of hired actors. No one would publish my writing. I stood a one-man vigil outside the Washington, DC studios of Fox News all this past summer, in protest of Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham’s incitement of genocide. Nobody would join me.

As a Jew and an Israeli citizen, I thought I might go back to Israel if things got really bad, but the new far-right government’s most popular star has vowed to expel “disloyal” Jews like me as well as “disloyal” Arabs. So I sit here and cry and wait for the end.

But neither I nor you, dear reader, can really afford to “sit here and cry and wait for the end.” We actually have no choice but to stand and fight, whether in America, in Israel, in India, in Italy, in Hungary, or anywhere else threatened by the new Nationalist-Populist fascism, which is to say, virtually everywhere. What does resistance consist of? This is something we must discover for ourselves, as it depends on a myriad of ever-changing personal and sociopolitical circumstances. Beware anyone offering a one-size-fits-all solution. I think here of one of my mother’s favorite bits of wisdom, that complex problems always have simple, easy-to-understand, wrong solutions.

In America, it seems that, barring some unforeseeable, major, last-minute development, the MAGA-tized Republican NaPos are on track to add the U.S. House of Representatives and possibly the Senate to their control of the U.S. Supreme Court, along with an unknowable amount of gains in state and local government. That may leave only the presidency out of their reach for the time being. This will probably happen because a critical mass of the American public is disengaged and apathetic, and a smaller but critical number of others are still behaving as if both parties are just playing at normal politics, so they can afford to vote Republican to express dissatisfaction about the economy.

It seems to me that one implication for a national antifascist strategy is this: Joe Biden is far from perfect. He has made mistakes, and the antifascist side has a duty to speak up when he does. We are not Trump followers to believe the Leader can do no wrong. But this must not turn into friendly fire, and the frantic search to ditch Biden in favor of someone younger and “more electable.” There is no such figure in sight, so all this talk does nothing but put blood in the water for the fascist feeding frenzy. Unite, and we at least have a chance to prevail. Call it a Popular Front, if you want. The overriding priority must be defeating MAGA fascism.

But never, ever scant the local struggle as the national and global struggle goes on. We have to challenge them everywhere. The most hopeful I have felt since this nightmare began was precisely two years ago, on Election Day 2020, when I joined a multiracial voting rights march in Graham, North Carolina, where I took the picture that accompanies this post. No one involved in the civil rights movement has ever had any illusions that positive change would come about quickly and easily. On the other hand, people with attention spans shaped by Twitter are going to get discouraged with the probable results Tuesday night and by every other setback on this road. Our model must be the spirit that animates the civil rights movements, which is kindred to the spirit of the World War II antifascist partisans, the original antifa.

From the Partisans’ Hymn (translated from the original Yiddish, and may our new age of struggle never know such long odds as they did):

Never say this is the end of the road
Wherever a drop of our blood falls, our courage will grow anew
Our triumph will come and our resounding footsteps will proclaim: We are here!

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