By Sandra Harris
Over the past two weeks, right-wing protests took place across the US demanding that governors lift stay-at-home orders and “reopen” the economy as the imperialist crisis of overproduction continues to deepen.
The protests have consisted mainly of Donald Trump supporters, along with anti-vaccination reactionaries and fascists like the Proud Boys who appeared in Lansing, Michigan and Alex Jones of Infowars in Austin, Texas. Trump has wielded these protests to rally his base, tweeting out calls last Friday to “liberate” several states including Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia, which all have Democratic governors and are considered swing states in the 2020 presidential election.
Many of the protesters emphasized their anger with the business shutdowns as a large proportion of them are small owners themselves. Behind the primarily petty bourgeois attendees’ calls for “liberty,” are fears of being de-classed by a loss of income dependent on the labor of others.
The media has primarily focused on the fact that attendees defied social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, ignoring the class character of the protests. Over the past month there have also been plenty of illegal gatherings of workers and tenants to protest for better working and living conditions, lost wages and hazard pay, and an end to rent collection. These two protest movements are diametrically opposed to each other, with the working-class demanding financial and health protections and business owners wanting to return to ‘business as usual.’
Many of the reactionary protesters peddle conspiracy theories that China created and spread coronavirus specifically to weaken the US economy; at the core these hysterical theories are an attempt to rally reactionaries around US imperialism against its rivals. As the economic crisis worsens, they see their own interests as being bound-up with those of the imperialists, and have acted accordingly.
On Monday, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who was Trump’s state campaign chairman in Texas during the 2016 election, appeared on Fox News to double down on his comments that “there are more important things than living” when it comes to reopening businesses. “I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country up and running.”
Politicians like Patrick know they will be safe while the majority of the world suffers daily under US imperialism. When he says he is willing to take risks, he means risking the lives of workers, not his own, for the ruling class.