THE BLOG

The Case For Progressive Resistance

20/01/2017 17:15 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 17:15 GMT
Mike Segar / Reuters

Friday marks Donald Trump's inauguration, a day many of us had never envisaged. For many of us, it is not just political - it is personal.

As a Muslim, an African, a refugee, a woman and a socialist, I fear many of Trump's policies. Of higher borders and a no Muslim entrance policy, of lower corporation tax and casual misogyny. I fear their impact and I fear our future with the way our world leaders are shaping up.

On the day of Trump's election, Marine Le Pen - leader of the French Front National - declared to the assembled international media, which was already making the connection between the US election and her own bid for the highest office in France: 'their world is dying, and ours is being born'. Her vision of the future, encapsulated in those few words, sent shivers down my spine.

Beyond Le Pen's slogan lies a truth which all of us are being forced to deal with. On both sides of the Atlantic, we are faced with the rise of new right-wing governments. Deeper austerity and increasing inequality goes hand in hand with a state-led war on migrants, the marginalised, the poor and trade unions.

Theresa May, too, talks of building walls in Calais, and of deporting thousands of migrants. We have witnessed in the student movement the sharp edge of her Home Office policies: international students torn away from their families; many targeted by the surveillance of the Prevent Duty.

The problems, they all tell us, are caused by our neighbour claiming benefits, seeking asylum or on strike for fair pay. We, somehow, are the culprits to be blamed for these failings.

The cocktail of austerity and hatred offered by these governments is as powerful as it is dangerous.

As they build their political alliances, so too must we.

As well as the rise to power of aggressively right wing governments, we have seen the development of powerful alternatives, both electorally and in civil society. From Corbyn and Sanders, Black Lives Matter and the migrant solidarity movement, millions of people are coming together and feeling their way towards new politics, new ideas, and new forms of action.

I see the direction my own union, the National Union of Students, is taking as part of the progressive resistance required in the period ahead through our national Liber8 Education campaign.

Liber8 Education is an organising tool for our movement which seeks to support, motivate and empower resistance while putting forward credible and vital alternatives for our education and wider society. Up and down the country students are organising over a wide range of issues, from college closures, the Teaching Excellence Framework and housing, to women's rights, migrant solidarity and the Black attainment gap. This initiative is here to support those efforts, to provide a means for learning from one another, to encourage unity across these fights and solidarity between students, workers and the wider communities in which we live and work.

Our campaign is built on my deep conviction of the crucial importance of students in achieving social change, and challenging the deep inequalities and injustices in society. We are developing extensive tools for our movement to organise against rising hate crime and oppression on campuses and in communities. We are establishing a network in every area from xenophobia and racism to misogyny, homophobia and more, as a show of strength and to unite our efforts. Not to mention hosting a national summit to train and equip activists coming up in March.

Our response, I believe, needs to be a principled opposition as well as an active response with solidarity, empathy and collective action that states loudly: we are the alternative, and we - rather than them - will build the world anew.

We are also not alone in this fight. Hundreds of thousands are expected to stand together in the USA as a show of unity and resistance against what Trump's presidency represents. Thousands more are expected at the 370 marches taking place around the world.

Across the globe, as we are faced with a full assault on the ideas we hold dearest, our response will be to organise, to re-think, and to fight for an alternative. The case of, and the will for, progressive resistance has never been more clear.