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  • Published in Opinion
Princess Leia placard from the Women’s March against Trump, January 2017. Photo: Pixabay/bones64

Princess Leia placard from the Women’s March against Trump, January 2017. Photo: Pixabay/bones64

The weekend’s magnificent demonstrations are a cue to reinvigorate left politics as a whole, suggests Ellen Graubart  

In a day of blazing sunshine and bitter cold 100,000 women and their supporters gathered in front of the heavily gated US embassy in defiance and disgust at the inauguration to the presidency of the most powerful country in the world a man whose campaign was run on the basis of hatred and division.

We witnessed an extraordinary display of solidarity, shared by millions of women (and men) across the globe - the like of which has not been seen since the massive demonstration in Hyde Park in 2003 against Tony Blair’s decision to take Britain into a disastrous war on Iraq.

In 2003 the atmosphere was of anger and a feeling of foreboding.  The widely diverse crowds on Sunday’s march also expressed tremendous anger, but coupled with huge energy and good humour, and above all, an optimism to change society and ensure women’s rights as human rights.

Imaginative

I overheard a teenager with a feminist sign drawn on his cheek excitedly announcing that this was his first demonstration ever. He was obviously one of many hundreds marching on the streets for the first time. There were a lot of pink hats and imaginative placards with jokes about outlandish hair and pussy grabbing (payback time for Donald Trump for his outrageous insults against women).  

For once the general media have reported more or less fairly on a demonstration devoid of violence. The wide press coverage has angered the White House press organisation, prompting it to remonstrate publicly against the mainstream media for ‘skewed’ reporting. (So we can expect more censorship and ‘fake news’ generally about dissent.)

The threat from right wing nationalism which uses the tactics of hatred (racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia) to divide and rule is now patently on the agenda with the election of Donald Trump and the rise of the right in Europe.

Big demonstrations bring people together briefly, but they are not a way of changing society on their own. Nevertheless they do encourage confidence to engage in the fight for the things that a just society needs.

Feisty

Women have for centuries been held back from being able to play their full place in society as one half of the human race, but Saturday’s march attended by tens of thousands of feisty women may prove an accurate barometer for the future.

The sheer numbers demanding change is a good indication of the strong desire for change. We must now, without delay, unite and organize to fight against a bleak and frightening future, the result of decades of neo-liberal policies, devastation of the environment, bailouts of failed banks and cuts to the NHS, education, and social care.

Now let us get to work and build on the structures that we the people so wisely prepared earlier; we have The People’s Assembly: a perfect umbrella for coalition of the many groups that are fighting for a fairer society without war that respects human rights and the health of the planet.

Ellen Graubart

Ellen Graubart

Ellen Graubart was born in India of American parents and came to London from Virginia as a teenager to study art. She lives and works as an artist in Hackney. She is a member of Counterfire, Stop the War and Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

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