20: Stop the far right; Danny Katch on American (un)democracy

This week we turn the tables on one of our co-hosts and interview Danny about his latest book, Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People, published by Haymarket Books. 

Danny talks about how Trump’s election shows the way U.S. democracy tilts rightward, blocking the moderate social democratic platform of Bernie Sanders while allowing an erratic racist who flirts with fascists to assume the most world’s most powerful position. From there we get into the larger contradictions of democracy and capitalism, and how in many ways democracy under capitalism is less about empowering the people than winning our consent to the way things are going to be.  

We then move on to the exciting success of socialist candidates since Bernie’s campaign, most notably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory in New York City. Danny talks about the way some of these campaigns have helped to popularize demands of Medicare for all and Abolish ICE, but also about the historic dangers socialists face when they start building their project inside a Democratic Party that is ultimately hostile to our interests.   

In our opener, we talk with Bay Area socialist Ragina Johnson about the horrific murder of Nia Wilson in Oakland and why so many people in the Bay are connecting her death with the growth of white supremacy in Trump’s America. She describes protest that took place on one day’s notice in response to the murder—which linked up with another protest against a plan by the far-right Proud Boys to meet up in a downtown Oakland bar. 

Ragina put Nia’s death and the rise of the far right in the context of continued police murders, relentless gentrification and the overall state of rising inequality and scapegoating—and stressed the importance of building the largest possible protest against the far right’s “No to Marxism” rally on August 5 in Berkeley. 

We encourage Better Off Red listeners to come out against the fascists that day—and those on the East Coast to join the mobilization against the disgusting “White Civil Rights” rally being held in Washington D.C. on August 12—the anniversary of last year’s horror in Charlottesville. See the links below for more information.

Links for this episode: 

•    Get a copy of Danny’s book Why Bad Governments Happen to Good People (http://bit.ly/WhyBadGovernments)

•    Danny’s Socialist Worker article on the potentials and pitfalls of electoral strategies for socialists (http://bit.ly/ElectoralIdeology)

Links for our intro on Nia Wilson and fighting the right:

•    Nicole Colson’s article on Nia’s murder and the subsequent protests (http://bit.ly/NiaWilsonMuder)

•    Alpana Mehta on why we need to fight the right (http://bit.ly/WhyFighttheRight)

•    Information on how to join with socialists in Berkeley protesting the far right on August 5 (http://bit.ly/AntiFascistBerkeley)

•    Information on how to join with socialists in Washington D.C. protesting the far right on August 12 (http://bit.ly/AntiNaziDC)

Music and Audio for this episode

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Alicia Wilson, mother of Nia Wilson
Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
Josh White, “Freedom Road” (https://folkways.si.edu/anti-fascism-and-racial-struggle-in-song/music/playlist/smithsonian)
Rapsody, “Power” ft. Kendrick Lamar
Street Dogs, "Working Class Heroes