Originally published on It’s Going Down
By Scott Campbell
Following a calamitous event such as the election of Donald Trump, the first reactions are often visceral. Those who view it positively gloat and interpret it as greater permission to act according to their more base impulses, seen in the increase in anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and racist attacks since November 8. Those who view it negatively experience a kind of shock and anger. In an attempt to process the unexpected, those emotions frequently are vented in the form of projection, utilizing shame and blame in an attempt to shore up a challenged worldview. Social media exacerbates this by permitting us all to become unfiltered pundits, clicking the “post” button to bestow legitimacy upon any thought that may pop into our heads or trying to acquire social capital by presenting oneself as the holder of the correct analysis.
I’m of course of the opinion that Trump’s election is a negative occurrence. The thousands who have been militantly taking the streets all around the United States are an encouraging sign, especially heartening are the youth, disenfranchised by this system yet perhaps the most at risk from it, organizing walkouts of their schools. The immediate and spontaneous rejection shown in the streets establishes an important oppositional framework for the long road that lies ahead and serves as a way to communicate to one another, to those most at-risk under a Trump regime, and to the rest of the world that the fight back is already underway. But as we are all aware, street actions are never enough. From an anarchist perspective, this moment calls for reflection along with action. In my view, I see three main tasks: a) problematizing electoral politics; b) understanding Trump’s victory; and, c) planning for the long haul.
A bus serves as a barricade in the historic city center of Oaxaca.
On Sunday, June 7, midterm elections were held in Mexico. Well, the state attempted to hold elections. As it turns out, the people of Mexico weren’t having it. A vast majority – 71 percent in a poll I saw – did not believe that the elections would be fair. With rampant vote-buying, candidates with documented links to cartels, party-affiliated candidates running as independents, political assassinations, and an ongoing climate of impunity, massacres, terror and voracious capitalism, not many are enthusiastic about the direction Mexico is going in.
As well, the family members of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa Teaching School in Guerrero called for the elections to be boycotted unless the students were returned alive. Their argument being that a government which murders and disappears students, then criminalizes those demanding their return, and has known links to drug cartels is not to be trusted nor is capable of holding free and fair elections. The CNTE, the more militant wing of the national teachers union, joined onto the call, furious – among other things – with government moves to privatize education and introduce standardization and quotas.
The call to boycott elections turned into efforts to impede the elections from happening. Over the past week, especially in the southern rural, indigenous and poor states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas, teachers and their supporters seized National Electoral Institute (INE) offices, burning voter rolls and hundreds of thousands of ballots. In Oaxaca, teachers also blockaded the airport and seized an oil refinery and gas stations around the state, dispensing gas for free.