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"Six Months After The Election, What Does 'The Resistance' Mean Now?"


In Esquire magazine, Natasha Lennard takes stock of the domestic resistance to President Trump six months after both his election and massive protests against it, including January’s Women’s March in Washington, DC. Lennard writes that organizers from different segments of US society—from immigrant communities to New York–based anarchists—are realizing that massive single-day protests are necessary but not sufficient. These must be supplemented, they say, by more longterm organizing that keeps people engaged for more than one day every few months. Lennard’s piece provides a glimpse of what forms this longterm organizing is taking now. Here’s an excerpt:

The continued outpouring of people joining marches might signal a certain tirelessness, but it doesn’t necessarily represent any forward movement for the constellation known as “the resistance.” As theorist and urbanist Paul Virilio noted, “The time has come, it seems to face the facts: revolution is movement, but movement is not a revolution.” Polite marching and chanting could continue weekly for the next seven-and-a-half years without much disruption to the Trump agenda. But those activists not content to simply fuel energies into supporting mainstream Democrats to win back Congress now face the challenge of what organization should look like beyond major protest events, and to what ends.

“We’ve seen a lot of rhetorical events, and a lot of mediatic events, but not a lot of political events,” said Mirzoeff, reflecting on the rolling protests. He recalled a mythic anecdote from British politics, in which a journalist once asked mid-20th-century Prime Minister Harold MacMillan what he believed could blow his government off course. “Events, dear boy, events,” MacMillan allegedly replied.

It’s the sort of quote—likely never actually uttered—that veils tautology in the air of wisdom. Events determine the course of history because that which determines history gets post hoc deemed an Event (dear boy). The hard truth facing many thousands of organizers and activists seeking the squall to blow Donald Trump’s ship off course is that not every political action that looks like an Event gets to be one—as a busy few weeks of mass protest has evidenced. Happily, organizers from across intersecting resistance movements seem well aware and have no plan to limit their work to event planning.

Image: A protest outside Trump Tower in New York. Via Esquire.


It’s true. Merely marching is not enough. I think this current situation is the consequence of being obsessed with only Trump (or somehow his team). And I think this is somehow related to the spirit of our time, we are used to not considering the revolution and changes as a historical project. (Hardt and Negri discuss in their book, Empire, how by suspending the history the existing state of affairs gets fixed.)
I feel we (the opposition in a broad sense) are lacking an appropriate language for discussing more fundamental contradictions within the system with eager people. I always ask myself, sooner or later, Trump will be gone… So, what should we do then?