Updated April 4, 2023
On Tuesday, April 4, Donald Trump appeared in a New York courtroom to hear 34 felony criminal charges against him brought by the Manhattan District Attorney. Trump entered pleas of not guilty to the charges.
This is the first-ever indictment of a U.S. president, whether in or out of office. As such, this is an extremely sharp example of the fact that those who rule this country are at each other’s throats. They can no longer rule and hold things together in the way they have since the Civil War. The old ways—the old “norms”—are coming apart. We will be covering this trial as it unfolds—but there are a few important things to point to now, and there is an overall question of how to approach such a serious juncture.
First, there is the response from the fascists. Let’s start with Trump himself. Right away after the indictments were announced last week, he sent out, and then withdrew (after it got criticized), a photoshopped picture of him threatening the Black Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg with a baseball bat. This is not only an aggressive defiance of the rule of law but for anyone familiar with the 1980s New York that Trump came out of, this was a clear reference to the murder of Yusef Hawkins, a Black youth murdered by a baseball-bat wielding mob of 30 people in Brooklyn for being in the “wrong”—that is, white—neighborhood. Trump also called for protests in a way that echoed January 6, warning of “death and destruction” if the indictment went forward.
He clearly intends to fight this hard and to use this fight to further firm up his hard-core base and to regroup the larger Republi-fascist party around him personally, including his presidential run.
Tucker Carlson, the top-rated fascist “news personality,” went even further in implying—and rousing people to—civil war:
It almost feels like they’re pushing the population to react…. [P]robably not the best time to give up your AR-15…. You have to raise your hand and say stop. Because this is too great an assault on your system, much greater than anything we saw on January 6, that’s for certain.
Carlson also said, “The rule of law appears to be suspended tonight—not just for Trump, but for anyone who would consider voting for him.”
Most prominent Republican politicians also denounced the indictment in terms that flouted legality. Ron DeSantis—the fascist governor of Florida and Trump’s main rival as of now for the Republi-fascist presidential nomination—first said that the indictment “turned the rule of law on its head” and then immediately threatened that he would not honor an extradition request—which itself would be a violation of the rule of law.
On the internet, fascists got even more threatening, with some making more threats against Bragg, including racist talk of lynching.
This Is All Just Beginning
At least two other cases against Trump are still possible. Trump could be charged with crimes connected to election fraud in Georgia. And he could also be charged with crimes connected with the storming of the capitol—that is, the attempted coup of January 6, 2021.
In general, the Democrats have responded cautiously, even tepidly—with Adam Schiff releasing a statement calling for the rule of law to operate and generally emphasizing the importance of upholding the rule of law. A few have cheered, but some have publicly worried that it’s unwise to indict Trump because it will heighten the polarization and “prevent reconciliation.” Some have made narrow calculations about how this will affect the elections. None of them have confronted anything near the full weight of what this is already meaning, and none are actually preparing people for the real possibility of significant storms ahead.1
The Urgent Task of Facing—and Transforming—the Reality of What Looms
In fact, this indictment makes what was already a highly volatile situation much more potentially explosive. Nobody can predict what will happen. It is in this context that we call on our readers to review Bob Avakian’s talk from late 2021, Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed, and especially the following part; and we want to lend particular emphasis to the concluding paragraph for people to reflect deeply on:
Things are not as they were in the past, and the reality is this: The profound divisions, within the ruling class, and in the society overall, cannot be smoothed over—they are only going to become deeper and sharper, more acute and antagonistic. Here is the fundamental truth that needs to be clearly and deeply understood: These divisions
cannot be resolved within the framework that has existed, and has held things together, for nearly 150 years, since shortly after the end of the Civil War which led to the abolition of slavery—they cannot be resolved on the basis of the capitalist “democracy” that has been the “normal” means of capitalist rule (dictatorship) for so long.
This rare situation, with the deepening and sharpening conflicts among the ruling powers, and in the society overall, provides a stronger basis and greater openings to break the hold of this system over masses of people.
It is extremely important to deeply understand this:
As this situation develops, and the ruling class is more and more unable to rule in the old way, society and daily life for masses of people, from different parts of society, can become increasingly unsettled and chaotic, with frequent “disruptions” of the “normal” way things have been.
And as the “the normal way” society has been ruled is failing to hold things together—and society is increasingly being ripped apart—this can shake people’s belief that “the way things have always been” is the only way things can be. It can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way. And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.
This is a crucial part of how a revolutionary situation could be brought into being—a situation where it becomes possible to actually bring down this system.
On the other hand, “left to itself”—that is, if the current character and dynamics of all this remain on the same course they are now on—this situation, the divisions characterizing it, and the outcome resulting from it are almost certainly going to become even more terribly negative. So, all this must be radically changed, in what is a relatively brief, “compressed” period of time—not just weeks or months, but also not decades. If things have not already fully erupted before then, the scheduled presidential election of 2024 is very likely to be a critical focal point and turning point, through which the fascist Republicans will attempt to gain and lock down power over society, and put an end to any possibility of a future “transfer of power” away from them.
In this situation, the need to put a real revolution—and a real alternative force fighting for that revolution—“on the map” cries out even more sharply.
Be part of this. Get with the revcoms. Seize the Time!
1. Nancy Pelosi tweeted out that Trump has “the right to a trial to prove innocence.” In fact, defendants are supposed to be presumed innocent, and the burden of proof is supposed to be on the prosecution. Here Pelosi reveals both her own “law-and-order” mentality and the fact that the presumption of innocence is routinely ignored and undercut, both in the courtroom and even more so in the broader culture. [back]