As we head into 2018 we look back at 2017 and some points of light in the Trump gloom. They remind us that there is still a world to win.

Yeah, so what was so great about 2017? While Donald Trump has cast a sinister shadow over the world, there has been some light in the darkness. Here's a list of some of the good things about 2017, reminding us that, even in times of understandable disillusionment and perhaps even fear, the struggle will always continue. There is still a world to win.

As usual, the list is in no particular order and is entirely arbitrary.

Never a day goes by without Trump and his cronies committing yet another outrage against the planet and its citizens. But, equally, there has been a steady rise in resistance to Trump. The Orange Man is not having it all his own way and i he is a President who now rarely ventures from the White House except to holiday at his Florida mansion or to attend an event that is Trump-friendly. And there are not a lot of them.

This year the newly formed Crowd Counting Consortium has been tracking the number and size of political crowds for the Washington Post. It recently reported that in August, 83 percent of all protests were directed against Trump - while there has been a steady decline in political activity in support for Trump.

A list of anti-Trump websites have also emerged including the Resistance Calendar. Launched by filmmaker Michael Moore, it provides up to date information on all scheduled political protests throughout the United States and beyond.

Propelled both by the resistance to Trump and a widespread disgust with the corporate politics of the Democratic Party, folk have been seeking a legitimate political alternative both to the Republicans and to a party that is so deeply embedded in the political establishment that it continues to conspire against Bernie Sanders and his supporters -  despite the fact that Sanders remains, by far, the most popular politician in the United States.

If Sanders decides he wants to be the Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2020 and is opposed by the same forces that supported the dismal Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party risks tearing itself apart - and handing the presidency, once again, to Trump.

The rejection of establishment politics has seen an upsurge in support for groups and organised parties of the left, with many reporting significant increases in their memberships. The largest left wing party in the United States is the Democratic Socialists of America which now has well over 30,000 members and continues to grow. In November 2016 it had some 7,000 members.

The American left also scored some significant victories in state legislature, council and mayoral elections this year. As Branko Marcetic, who resides in New Zealand, noted in the Jacobin: ...'the success of unapologetically socialist candidates and the prominent role of left-wing platforms in victorious campaigns suggest that a left message is, at worst, no recipe for electoral apocalypse — and at best, a positive vote-winner.... the results challenge time-worn precepts of conventional Beltway thinking."

The last time we looked, in early December, Jeremy Corbyn and U.K. Labour had a significant eight point lead over the Conservatives, with the British public expressing a clear preference for Corbyn as Prime Minister.

Corbyn was propelled into the leadership by a grassroots campaign that overwhelmed the Blairite wing of the party that had previously ruled the roost. Corbyn has since silenced his critics who claimed loudly and monotonously that an explicitly left wing party could never be electorally viable. That includes New Zealand's own Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson.

What Corbyn and his supporters have achieved is to reestablish Labour as a party of the left by rebuilding the party's grassroots in the community. Faced with opposition not only from the Blairites but also from a hostile corporate media, what has been achieved in a relatively short space of time has been remarkable.

Over 50 women, including high profile Hollywood actors like Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, came forward this year to say that they were sexual harassed and/or sexual assaulted by the major Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The #MeToo campaign, originated by Tarana Burke, a black activist working to stop sexual violence, has become the vehicle for millions of women to express their rage at the horrific normalcy of sexual abuse and their solidarity with the victims.

It’s not accidental that the exposure of Weinstein as a sexual predator happened as the backlash opened up under Trump. Everything from women’s rights to healthcare and abortion faces new threats from a far-right Trump administration, and women are ready to forge a new movement to fight the reactionary forces that conspire against them.

While Trump is a loathsome figure, the role of the Democratic Party is deeply hypocritical. While people like Hillary Clinton have spoken out against a culture of sexual harassment and sexual violence and talked about the 'empowerment' of women, the Clinton presidential campaign also took some $14 million from Harvey Weinstein.

The persistent story, which hasn't been denied, is that the Democratic National Committee - in the pocket of Hillary Clinton - knew of the many allegations swirling around Weinstein but still failed to act.

As well leaked emails have revealed that Weinstein gave advice to the Clinton campaign on how they could go about damaging the campaign of Bernie Sanders. Weinstein attacked Sanders for wanting to increase taxes on the wealthy to help fund expanding welfare services.

Barbara Ehrenreich, who wrote abut her experiences as a low wage worker in Nickel and Dimed : On (Not) Getting By In America, tweeted in November that "Our current sex harassment discussion is woefully class-skewed. Too much about actresses and not enough about hotel housekeepers."

In a later interview she observed that sexual harassment is part of a larger pattern in the abuse of working people that has been happening for decades but it has become an issue for the corporate media in 2017 because of the involvement of women like Angelina Jolie : "If you're in the journalism business, you know that celebrities sell. You watch all these celebrity women come forward in the Harvey Weinstein case kind of glamourise the whole’s time to shift and say that there are all these other cases out there, and these are things that happen to your sister, or your daughter, or your wife at work. It’s routine."

While the corporate media have been happy to acknowledge Katrín Jakobsdóttir's credentials as an environmentalist, they have downplayed her socialist beliefs - even though she leads a party that calls itself the Left Green's.

Katrín Jakobsdóttir recognises that there can be no climate justice without economic and political justice and she has said in several interviews that capitalism is incompatible with the ecological interests of both Iceland and the planet.

In New Zealand the corporate media have tried to portray Katrín Jakobsdóttir as Iceland's answer to the centrist Jacinda Ardern, a totally ludicrous comparison. It was also remarkable, but not surprising, that the Green Party's James Shaw managed to acknowledge Jakobsdóttir's success without ever mentioning her socialist politics.

2017 saw the continuing rise of a left wing media neither restrained by the demands  of corporate owners or the demands of mainstream political parties. The cry has often been a 'plague on all you're houses', as it has sought to define a new political path.

In Britain the left wing media has been boosted by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and its reemergence as a left wing party. One such organisation is Novara Media. Named after the Italian town in Elio Petri’s 1971 political film The Working Class Goes to Heaven –  it is the most established of the new left-wing media organisations, having been founded in 2014, a year before Corbyn’s  rise to power. It produces videos, podcasts and articles about left-wing politics for a UK audience fed up with mainstream publications and websites.

Another new website is The Canary, which has deliberately cultivated a tabloid approach to its news content. Editor Kerry Ann Mendoza says that the website employs software to ensure that the content can be understood by people with a reading age of eight.

Not everyone likes the approach of The Canary though, including well known blogger and commentator Richard Seymour. Seymour, who blogs at Lenin's Tomb and is the author of Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, says that The Canary uses the manipulative methods of the right wing media to target a pro-Corbyn audience. See the video below for Seymour's entire view of The Canary.

Meanwhile in the United States many left wing websites are reporting increasing readerships. While some websites go no further than a deep hatred for Trump and all he represents, other sites are also critical of a American 'representative democracy' dominated by two corporate controlled parties, neither of whom ever represents the interests of the folk who put them into power in the first place.

Unfortunately the rise of the left wing media elsewhere has not been duplicated in New Zealand. At best some mild criticism is brought to bear on the Labour Party but that always disappears in an election year. At its worst, left wing politics is assumed to mean an uncritical devotion to Labour. Either way, New Zealand's  so-called 'alternative media' is often indistinguishable from the corporate mainstream media that it regularly criticises. We deserve better.


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