Introduction to Certain Days 2018

Certain Days 2018: Awakening Resistance

This year’s theme has been a bit of a moving target. We wanted to showcase different groups and movements who are Awakening Resistance to the current political climate, the one brought to the fore by Trump’s entry into office, though it clearly goes beyond that one person and has deep roots that precede his election. When we put out our call for submissions in March, many of us were working to understand the changes in tone and substance of the political establishment, and to respond—both personally and as a movement—to the increased blatancy and viciousness of far-right attacks, as well as increased state repression. In the intervening months, much analysis has emerged to explain this political moment, and to help understand the history that brought us here. On both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, though the context differs, organizations and campaigns have formed to fight back. But much remains to be done.

The contributions we received for the 2018 calendar range from confronting the far-right to building resistance inside prisons. Many highlighted campaigns and projects began well before Trump ran for office, underscoring the fact that this “new” political reality is simply an outgrowth of processes that extend far back in time. In the face of increasingly bold racism and xenophobia, people are stepping up to challenge Islamophobia, anti-immigrant measures, and attacks on reproductive justice. Important dialogues have opened up—or been revitalized—on the role of antisemitism in upholding white supremacy, and on the relationship between the far-right and the mainstream capitalist establishment. We invite you to use this edition of Certain Days as a tool to further these efforts. Discuss these articles with fellow organizers. Use the calendar to fundraise for your project, or as a conversation-starter in your community around these issues. Get in touch with our contributors to continue the conversation.

David Gilbert’s essay below describes the landscape we find ourselves in, and the task ahead. We encourage you to read it as a preface for the rest of the articles.

As we work to build the calendar, Certain Days is also growing our collective. This year, we have added the category of “supporting member,” and welcome several people aboard in that capacity—some of whom have already been helping to make this project possible for many years.
– the certain days collective: Sara Falconer, Helen Hudson, Daniel McGowan, Amy Schwartz
– supporting members: Josh Davidson, Aric McBay, Tasha Zamudio

The Decline of Imperialism: Dangers and Opportunities

By David Gilbert

Trump’s election has set off an exciting eruption of protests; at the same time, the challenges we face are daunting. To fully grasp the dangers and opportunities ahead we need to look at the decline of imperialism, which is the context for the rise of this loathsome demagogue. Increased divisions, confusion, and strategy flip-flops within the ruling class are further signs of decline. “Decline” does not mean “collapse,” far from it. The convulsions of world capitalism have been in process for 45 years and still have a ways to go. The predatory beast, now wounded, can lash out in even more vicious ways, but that vehemence stems from its vulnerability.

Imperialism brutally beat back the revolutionary challenges of the 1960s, globally and within the U.S. But the system failed to achieve well-functioning stability. Indeed, since 1971 the economies of the U.S. and other rich nations have been mired in stagnation (chronically slow growth) and have been teetering in and out of crises. The responses typically have entailed even greater concentration of wealth at the top and expanding the balloon of speculative finance—temporary “solutions” that pave the way for more severe problems in the future. We can expect them to race even faster down this dead end road now that Trump’s “populist” billionaires are in the driver’s seat.

In the Global South, international finance imposed a ruthless regime of debt peonage, which they call “structural adjustment programs,” to extract even more wealth from the wretched of the earth—wreaking devastating damage on the peoples and environment there. At the same time, the CIA fostered reactionary sectarian forces to undermine the unity needed for national liberation. A range of military interventions turned whole countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Sudan—into killing fields of chaos and suffering. On top of the disruptions of wars, droughts made terribly worse by global warming threaten the lives of tens of millions of human beings with famine.

At home, imperialism has preferred to rule by keeping the majority loyal, or at least placated, with a rising standard of living. But since 1971, what had been decades of rising wages levelled off and job insecurity got worse. The rulers have deflected (with various ups and downs rhetorically) white working class frustrations toward racially-coded scapegoats: “welfare queens,” “criminals,” immigrants, Muslims. This despicable approach has a strong foundation in a U.S. built on white and male supremacy and on imperial expansion. Repression, both state and extra-legal, is likely to get worse. Our movements need to be prepared—psychologically, with support and legal networks, and by building communities of solidarity across issues and identities.

At the same time, Trump’s more naked exposure of the obscenities of capitalism has created wider interest in anti-racist education, organizing, and mobilizations. The range of people under attack can be a basis for forging unity and promoting an understanding that the problem is the system as a whole.

Imperialism’s great strength from global exploitation is also, potentially, its downfall in that the vast majority of people in the world have a fundamental interest in revolutionary change. For those of us in the Global North, critical tools for hewing a path toward unity entail a sorely-needed anti-war movement and an environmental struggle that has a deeply global perspective. Such developments could also provide a basis for showing at least a sector of white workers the potential, the more viable alternative, of developing a cooperative economy that prioritizes equality and environmental recovery, and that learns from, as well as gives back to, the Global South and to people of colour communities within the U.S. and Canada.

We face the fight of our lives, with the very survival of humanity and countless other species at stake. History calls on us not only to be creative and courageous but also to operate fully with love in our hearts.