The Trump-impeachment spectacle.

The Trump-impeachment spectacle.

 

Introduction.

In the rancorous and contested impeachment of President Donald Trump, leaders in both parties are exhibiting the unprincipled career-politician cowardice and evasions of inconvenient facts which are standard operating procedure in Congress and the Oval Office.  Moreover, the Democrats predictably are wasting their fire on dubious and smaller offenses as they give no thought to prosecuting Trump for his actual and most egregious crimes.  Further, they are actively promoting the imperialistic new cold war against Russia in order to justify this impeachment spectacle.

Certainly, there is an abundance of good reasons for progressives to detest Trump, but it does not follow that every Trump opponent is their savior or that every attack on him is both fair and consistent with social justice.

 

First article.

Content.  The Democrats’ first article of impeachment alleges a corrupt abuse of office, specifically: (1) that Trump attempted to coerce Ukrainian President Zelensky to announce two investigations by Ukraine, (2) that his sole purpose was to use said announcement to help his 2020 reelection; and (3) that Trump’s means, namely withholding of Congressionally-appropriated military aid, harmed US national security.  One of the two investigations was to be into Joe Biden and his son Hunter in reference to possible corruption probes into a Ukrainian gas-production company, Burisma, which had recruited Hunter Biden to serve on its Board.  The other was into the allegation that Ukrainian government officials interfered in the 2016 US Presidential election to hurt Trump’s chances of winning.

The relevant facts.

(1) Contrary to frequent Republican denials, Trump did attempt to coerce Zelensky to make the demanded announcement, by temporarily withholding Congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine.

(2) Hunter Biden had accepted the highly-paid position on the Burisma Board of Directors, knowing that he had no qualifications for it.  Notwithstanding Democrat evasions, he also knew (or should have): that his recruitment was solely because he was the son of the then-VP Joe Biden, and that his selection was intended to shield a notorious bribe-giving company in a country with an extremely corrupted government.

(3) Joe Biden, who should have recognized the conflict of interest and corrupt purpose, evidently made no effort to prevent or discourage his son from serving on said company’s Board.

(4) Although Ukrainian government intervention in the 2016 US Presidential election is a falsehood; Trump, in his paranoia, apparently chose to believe it to be fact.

Analysis.

(1) Did he do it?  While Democrats attempt to make their case by marshalling actual facts; Trump’s Congressional Republican loyalists, taking their cue from the President, evade and misrepresent the facts in an attempt to exonerate Trump with false assertions that he did not do what he clearly did.

(2) Did he act with criminal intent?  The Democrats, with their obsession to find justification for impeachment, have certainly chosen to interpret Trump’s intent as criminally corrupt; but they are willfully blind to alternative and potentially innocent interpretations as to his intent.  In fact, there is nothing in the record to indicate that Trump condoned or abetted any Ukrainian crimes; and the fact that Trump mentioned only the two examples of alleged impropriety which were salient in his mind does prove that he cared nothing about other issues involving corruption in the government of Ukraine.  The Democrats’ contention, that Trump’s demand of Zelensky was solely for partisan gain, remains an unproven assumption based upon what they choose to believe, but cannot prove, was in Trump’s mind.  Thus, his pressure tactic cannot be conclusively determined to constitute a purely corrupt and self-serving criminal act.

(3) Was scrutiny of the Bidens’ behaviors warranted?  Although no evidence has thus far been brought to light that either Biden committed an overt criminal act; Joe Biden, in condoning his son’s employment by the Ukrainian gas company, acquiesced to a corrupt relationship.  Their Burisma actions and inactions were certainly a legitimate target for investigation.  The very announcement thereof would virtually guarantee some very appropriate scrutiny of the matter.  Who, but blindly partisan Democrats would object to such scrutiny?  Nevertheless, the Democrats persist in evading the inconvenient fact of the impropriety of what the Bidens did.

(4) Does partisan benefit make investigation illicit?  Although the requested Ukrainian announcement would bring public attention to Biden’s negligent inaction on his son’s involvement with Burisma and may possibly have been of some partisan benefit to Trump; it can be argued that any such personal benefit was coincidental to Trump’s legitimate effort to expose and combat corruption and malfeasance in the government of a recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in US foreign aid.  Moreover, even if Trump were motivated solely by self-serving partisan concerns; that would not render this, or any other investigation of suspected corruption, illicit.

(5) Was it a crime?  Notwithstanding the dubious and conflicting assertions by Trump loyalists, Trump’s temporary withholding of the military aid in order to obtain Ukrainian action, with respect to events which Trump believed involved corruption in Ukrainian politics or election meddling against the US, does not clearly qualify as a crime.  If Trump’s suspension of military assistance was technically a violation of the Impoundment Control Act (of which Trump was likely ignorant), that would hardly constitute a “high crime” justifying impeachment.  Joe Biden, as VP, had similarly withheld appropriated aid in order to coerce Ukraine to fire the corrupt Ukrainian then-Prosecutor-General; and no Democrat calls that a crime.

(6) Judgment?  Given Trump’s atrocious record, it is clearly difficult for either Democrats or progressives to be dispassionate in judging his actions.  Nevertheless, with a dispassionate evaluation of the factual evidence in this case, one must conclude: that the Democrats have, at best, a very weak case; and that their evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump is guilty of this specific alleged abuse of power.

 

Second article.

The second article of impeachment alleges obstruction of Congress with respect to its investigation of Trump’s actions vis-à-vis the appropriated military aid to Ukraine.

The relevant facts.

(1) Trump ordered potential witnesses to defy Congressional subpoenas for eye-witness testimony and ordered blanket refusals to provide subpoenaed documents.

(2) Republicans argue: that legitimate objections such as executive privilege and attorney-client privilege justify the President’s actions, and that the Democrats’ remedy was to contest the matter in the courts.

Analysis.  The Republicans’ defense is untenable, because Trump’s obstruction was to everything requested by the Congress, while Trump’s principal response was to denounce the impeachment investigation as an illegitimate witch-hunt.  Trump’s defiance is clearly an obstruction of Congress in the exercise of its oversight responsibility.  The evidence proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Trump is guilty on this article.

 

Betrayal of US national security?

The Democrats build their case against Trump based upon claims that his withholding of military assistance to Ukraine was a betrayal of US national security.

Relevant facts.

(1) The US government under Obama, with bipartisan support, incited and abetted the 2014 coup which ousted the democratically-elected President of Ukraine, not because of his corruption, but because of his refusal to abandon neutrality and align Ukraine with the EU and NATO.

(2) Rightwing (including outright fascist) Ukrainian chauvinists, having seized control in Kyiv, abrogated a law providing for language rights for Russian and other minorities.  These and other policies of the Ukrainian coup regime provoked the majority ethnic-Russian populace in Crimea to rebel and seek reunification with Russia of which Crimea had been part until Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine in 1954 without the consent of its populace.  Russia responded to Crimea’s 2014 request by re-incorporating it into Russia.  The chauvinistic anti-Russian stance of the coup regime also provoked the revolt of the mostly ethnic Russian populace in the Donbass region thereby beginning the current civil war.

(3) The US and NATO hypocritically argue that separation of Crimea from Ukraine without the latter’s consent is a violation of international law.  They evade the fact that the US and its allies bombed Serbia in 1999 to compel its acquiescence to the separation, against Serbia’s will, of its predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province.

(4) The West responded to Crimea’s self-determination by commencing a new cold war against Russia with sanctions and military exercises in former Soviet republics on the borders of Russia.  These hostile Western actions, as well as the expansion (from 1999) of NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries (including former Soviet republics), were in violation of promises made by the US and NATO in order to obtain the needed Russian agreement to the reunification of Germany.

(5) Russia apparently provides sufficient material assistance to the Donbass rebels in order to have the leverage to incentivize Ukraine to make a reasonable peace settlement which will respect Russia’s national security interest as well as respect the human rights of the ethnic Russian minority in Ukraine.

Analysis.

(1) Forcing Crimea to return under control of Ukraine (as the US and NATO and their client government in Kyiv demand) would be a violation of its people’s right of self-determination and thereby constitute an injustice.

(2) While the Putin regime in Russia certainly has grievous faults (especially in its domestic policies), the Democrats’ allegation of Trump’s betrayal of US national security rests wholly upon the false assumptions: 1st, that Russian actions vis-à-vis Ukraine are a threat to the West rather than a defense of its own national security; and 2nd, that Trump’s withholding of military assistance to Ukraine facilitated Russian aggression (while it is the US and NATO which are the actual aggressors).

(3) It is against the interest of the people of Ukraine, of Russia, of the US, and of western Europe to continue this new cold war (which was commenced by the Western alliance under Obama).

(4) Those who benefit from this new cold war are only: the war profiteers, the pandering and jingoist politicians, and the foreign-policy experts and operatives (in DoD, DoS, NSC, and the intelligence agencies) whose careers rest upon perpetuating the notion of foreign threats (most of them spurious) to the national security of the US and its allies.  In fact, it is the Democrats who, in this instance, are betraying the real US national interest (which is for peaceful international relations) as well as basic social justice principles.

 

Election meddling.

Congressional Democrats never miss any opportunity to vilify Russia for allegedly attacking “our democracy” by assisting the Trump campaign in the 2016 US Presidential election.  Completely absent from the discourse is any acknowledgement of the long history (beginning with the 1948 Italian election) of US interventions in the national elections of numerous foreign countries (including the stealing of the 1996 Russian election for US favorite Boris Yeltsin).  Russian intervention in the 2016 US election pales in comparison with many of the US interferences in other countries’ elections.  Moreover, the Russian effort to sway the 2016 US Presidential election outcome was the least significant factor in the outcome, far eclipsed by: the flawed Democrat candidate and her mismanaged election campaign, abstentions on account of Democrat failure to deliver for their base constituencies, and the electoral college system as well as other anti-democratic features of US elections.  In fact, US elections are rife with anti-democratic features: political discourse dominated by capitalist funding, gerrymanders, voter suppression, party leaders rigging the nomination process to favor the establishment candidate, convention superdelegates, etc.  Moreover, the system is rigged in most states to maintain the 2-party duopoly which excludes and/or marginalizes all other parties.  In actual effect, voters usually choose between candidates who are selected, not by the people, but by big-money interest groups and allied establishment political insiders.

 

Trump’s real crimes. 

The real reasons that Trump should be prosecuted and removed include: (1) his murderous economic sieges which oppress millions and kill many thousands in Iran, Venezuela, and other countries targeted by Western imperialism; (2) his abetting mass murder in Yemen; (3) his violations of international human rights conventions, including the rights of asylum seekers; (4) his child cruelty crimes (family separations and other abuses perpetrated against immigrant children); (5) his incitements of white supremacist racial hatred resulting in murderous acts of domestic terrorism; (6) his bigoted attacks (via executive orders as well as his judicial and executive branch appointments) on the rights of women and of racial and religious minorities; and (7) his abetting the perpetrators of future climate catastrophe.

Relevant facts.

(1) These crimes are not unique to Trump.  Many of the same and/or related crimes were perpetrated under previous Presidents (including Democrats Obama, Clinton, Carter, Johnson, and Kennedy) going back to Harry Truman.  A few illustrative examples, far from a complete list.  It was “deporter-in-chief” Obama: who first imposed sanctions on Venezuela, who backed extremely destructive rebellions against anti-imperialist governments in Libya and Syria causing massive suffering to the peoples of those countries, who first abetted the Saudi war on the people of Yemen, and who backed actual and attempted coups against popularly-elected governments in Honduras and Ecuador.  “New Democrat” Clinton imposed a murderous sanctions regime on Iraq which caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands, mostly children.  It was Carter who initiated the US-sponsored reigns of death and destruction in Nicaragua and Afghanistan by beginning the US arming and funding of the Nicaraguan Contras, and of the Islamist Mujahidin in Afghanistan.  Kennedy and Johnson: incited and/or abetted numerous coups mostly against popularly-elected social-reformist governments, violated chemical weapons and other human rights conventions as they waged war against the people of Vietnam, and sponsored rightwing Cuban-exile gangs committing murder and sabotage in Cuba and elsewhere.  Many more such crimes of the US government could be cited.

(2) Both Parties in Congress embrace (on the pretense of national security or of support for “democracy” and “human rights”) the bipartisan notion that the US should arrogate to itself the privilege of trying to decide for every vulnerable country throughout the world which political actors are to govern its people.

(3) Nearly every politician in Congress, regardless of Party, votes: for new cold war resolutions; for abetting the gross human rights violations and ethnic cleaning crimes of the Zionist state; for economic sieges which violate international human rights conventions; for grossly excessive military budgets; and so forth.

Analysis.  Career-politician Congressional Democrats will generally not even broach the real crimes of Trump (as listed above).  Why not?  Because, they, along with previous Presidents of both Parties, have been deeply complicit in such crimes.

 

Conclusions.

Neither Party in Congress is making its decision based upon a fair evaluation of the evidence.  The Democrats, under pressure from much of their base, are voting to impeach and remove on relatively trivial issues and based upon a prejudged interpretation of ambiguous factual evidence.  Meanwhile, the Republicans, under pressure from their pro-Trump base, are voting against, regardless of the evidence.

Progressives must break with the Congressional Democrats and actively oppose the continuation of the unjustified new cold wars (against Russia and China), lest the existential threat of climate catastrophe be joined by the existential threat of nuclear Armageddon.  Moreover, as activists for social justice, progressives must oppose the rampant bipartisan militarism and imperial interventionism which is at the root of US foreign policy.  Trump’s impeachment and trial has been achieved thru new-cold-war Russia-bashing and embrace of US imperial interventionism; and, insofar as that is the means to bash Trump, it is absolutely obstructive to the pursuit of progress and social justice.

 

Author: Charles Pierce      Date: 2019 Dec 18, updated 2020 Jan 27.

 

Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed by google search at https://specter-cp.home.blog.

Proposals for the 2020 US elections.

Policy proposals for the 2020 US elections.

 

Social-justice movement organizations must formulate a policy for the 2020 elections.

 

PART 1.  MORE OF THE SAME OLD FAILED ELECTORAL POLICY.

The broad left has been uniting behind the Democratic Party for the past four decades without having achieved much real progress for its base constituencies.  In fact, there has been considerable regress: increased inequality of wealth and income, diminished collective bargaining, increased homeless numbers, rising student debt burdens, reduced abortion access, increasingly unaffordable costs of healthcare, mass incarceration, new cold wars, new arms race, and so forth.  Longstanding abuses against the vulnerable remain, including: impunity for police violence; and abuses in the criminal justice system targeted against the poor and racial minorities, often under elected Democrats (prosecutors, mayors, legislators, and other officials).  Yet, many prominent “leftists” (including avowed “socialists”) are demanding unity behind the Democratic Party and whomever will be its Presidential standard-bearer.  Consequently, it is appropriate and past time to subject that practice to careful examination.

With respect to the 2020 elections, many prominent would-be strategists for the socialist left have been, in effect, saying:

  • that Trump, with his pandering to racism and other bigotries, is dangerously and uniquely different from previous Republican Presidents and nominees;
  • that Trump, with his reactionary populist demagoguery and authoritarian aspirations, is an authoritarian “fascist” threat to “our democracy”;
  • that Trump, with his climate denialism and his other antisocial policies, will be the fundamental cause of climate catastrophe and other horrors; and
  • that consequently, another four years of Trump would be such a “catastrophe” that, with respect to the 2020 elections, nothing is more important than ensuring that the Democrats prevail.

Proponents of the foregoing strategic viewpoint are many.  Recent advocates include:

  • a group of prominent leftist author-intellectuals with “An Open Letter to the Green Party About 2020 Election Strategy” castigating the Green Party for “helping the Republicans win the Presidency” in 2000 and 2016 thru not abandoning its Presidential campaigns in contested states [1]; and
  • Max Elbaum for Organization Upgrade with “Beating Trump: Absolutely Essential, Also Not Enough” asserting that “A second Trump term means racist authoritarianism”, “a drastic narrowing of the democratic space progressives and the left have utilized to resist”, “heightened danger of climate change-driven catastrophe”, “the erosion of democracy”, and accelerated “level of repression”. He goes on “a defeat of Trump by even the most moderate of Democrats … translates … into preservation of democratic space and … the possibility of the new American majority” [2].

It may be appropriate to ask whether they have elevated Trump far above his actual significance and mistaken the centrist Democrats for agents of progress and democracy.

What follows is simply an attempt to apply a rational fact-based strategic analysis, consistent with social-justice principles, to the current situation.

To begin, what are the relevant facts?

 

1st.  Regarding Trump differences from previous GOP Presidents. 

The unite-behind-the-Democrats strategists, in their portraying of Trump as radically different from his GOP predecessors, evade the decades of Republican pandering to bigotry.  In fact, his bigoted pandering and his embrace of antisocial policies is no departure from decades of past Republican Presidential candidates; remember: Goldwater’s embrace of “states’ rights” as he campaigned on his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Nixon’s “southern strategy”, Reagan’s campaigning against “welfare queens”, G H W Bush’s racist fearmongering “Willie Horton” campaign ads, Republican attacks on women’s reproductive rights, their pandering to the religious right, their attacks on welfare programs which notably benefit the poor and minorities, etc.

Trump had posed as a populist; but he has, of course, embraced the longstanding antisocial policies of the Republican Party.  He has basically reneged on his promises to serve the working class; while he has, like most other Republicans, faithfully served the fossil-fuel, armaments, and other highly predatory industries.  Trump, has differed somewhat by campaigning as an isolationist who would end US military interventions in foreign lands; but he has (sometimes against his will) largely surrendered foreign policy to the bipartisan imperial foreign policy establishment.  Moreover, bully that he is, he has found that attacking vulnerable peripheral countries (Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba) bolsters his image as a tough commander-in-chief, a practice utilized by past Presidents of both Parties.

Nevertheless, from a revolutionary anti-capitalist and pro-social-justice perspective, there are some real, although unintended, positives in Trump’s Presidency.  These include: his undermining of the unity of the US-led imperial Western alliance; and his attacks on the intelligence agencies whereby he demoralizes their operatives and somewhat undermines their operations.  Moreover, the blatancy and transparent viciousness in his bigoted and antisocial actions has incited a growing popular movement in opposition to his odious policies, policies which, in some measure, he inherited from his predecessor.  But for Trump, this movement would not have risen to its current size and potency.

 

2nd.  Regarding domestic racism and other bigotries.

Trump differs from his Republican predecessors in that his pandering to bigotry lacks their sneaky subtlety and ambiguity; in fact, it is blatant, obsessive, absolutely transparent, and undeniable.  This transparency makes it much easier to organize against it; and that is a good thing.  Meanwhile, the unite-behind-the-Democrats strategists evade centrist Democrat pandering to racism and other bigotries whenever they found it to be politically expedient.  Examples.

In the 1970s, when under pressure from racist white constituents opposed to school desegregation, Senator Joe Biden switched his position from support to opposition on court-ordered busing to end school segregation.  Then, after having been a critic (in 1981) of Reagan’s push for tougher prison sentences, Biden discovered that being “tough on crime” was popular with much of the white electorate and spent a lot of effort from 1984 to 1994 pushing Congress, over opposition from the NAACP and the ACLU, to enact (with support from most Senate Democrats) a series of “tough on crime” bills.  Those enactments then contributed hugely to the disproportionately racial-minority mass incarceration (including: mandatory minimum sentences, the 100 times harsher penalty for crack as for powder cocaine, stripping inmates of appeal rights, and a big increase in the number of crimes subject to the death penalty).  [3]

Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill was a major contributor to the aforementioned mass incarceration of racial minorities.  Clinton pandered to bigotry again with his draconian so-called welfare reform which compels the most disadvantaged people (especially single-parent families) to work for poverty wages which leave them without the wherewithal to access basic needs (decent housing, affordable healthcare, quality education for their children, and other vital needs).  [4]

While Obama responded to pressure from his base constituents with his DACA order and proposed immigration reform, he also pandered to reactionary Republican xenophobia by deporting more undocumented immigrants in his first five years than G W Bush deported in eight, thereby earning the moniker “deporter-in-chief”.  Moreover, while Obama separated children from their immigrant parents (a total of 152,000 in 2012 alone), most Democrat politicians and the mainstream news media took little interest.  It is only now under Trump that such abuses (now, as then, somewhat limited by court order) have become a cause célèbre[5]

 

3rd.  Regarding climate catastrophe.  

Democrat actions to protect against climate catastrophe consist of: lip service (speeches); unenforceable aspirational goals (the Paris Agreement); regulatory enhancements (fuel efficiency “standards”, the “clean power plan”); market incentives (carbon tax, “cap and trade” schemes, subsidies for renewables); and fantasies (“clean coal”).

Those actions may appear to constitute progress toward cutting climate-destroying carbon pollution, but the meager 4.5% reduction in US CO2 emissions during Obama’s 8-year presidency actually depended largely upon independent market factors (especially cleaner alternative energy sources become cheaper than coal).   Meanwhile, Obama counteracted the effects of his grossly inadequate climate action program by actively promoting: huge increases in production of fossil fuels (with increased drilling permits, expanded offshore drilling, huge increase in fracking and production of natural gas, and a 13% increase in fossil-fuel pipelines from 2011 to 2015).  He also issued large new leases to coal producers.  Under Obama, US exports of coal, oil, and natural gas increased massively (1,000% in the case of oil); and Obama-approved Export-Import Bank loans and guarantees for fossil-fuel projects abroad nearly tripled from the level under G W Bush.  By 2017 (the year Obama left office) the US, with 15.3% of world oil production, had become the world’s top producer, well ahead of number-two Saudi Arabia’s 12.7%.  [6]

Meanwhile, California’s “climate champion” Governor Jerry Brown increased offshore drilling in state waters, eased restrictions on drilling and fracking, and fired regulators who stood firm against unsafe drilling practices.  [6]

Centrist Democrats are all for saving the climate, but only as long as so doing doesn’t include what is actually necessary, namely shutting down the profitable poisoning operations of the politically-powerful fossil-fuel companies.  Their grossly inadequate feel-good climate policies will no more save the planet from climate catastrophe than Trump’s denialism.

 

4th.  Regarding other antisocial policies in service to capital. 

Until the scheme was derailed by the Lewinski scandal, Bill Clinton plotted with Newt Gingrich on a nearly successful bipartisan plan to cut social security benefits and turn management of its trust fund over to Wall Street [7].  Clinton also backed the overwhelmingly bipartisan 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall banking reforms, repeal which unleashed the speculative and exploitative mortgage-lending practices which produced the great recession of 2008.

Obama posed as a progressive in the 2008 Presidential primaries.  Then as President his choices (in 2009) for Treasury Secretary and chief economic advisor were neoliberals US Treasury bureaucrat Timothy Geithner and World Bank vice-president Larry Summers.  The then-ruling Democrats’ response to the 2008 economic crisis was: to bail out, rather than nationalize, the big banks which had created the conditions which were its principal cause; and to provide minimal relief measures which nevertheless permitted some 5.3 million homeowners to lose their homes to the banks in Obama’s first six years, with many forced into bankruptcy while official unemployment doubled to 10%.  Under Obama, no bank CEOs were jailed for their mortgage lending frauds.  This was in contrast to the policy under President G H W Bush which sent many of the Savings & Loan CEOs to prison for bank frauds committed during the S&L Crisis.   [8]

Obama also supported the increasing privatization in K-to-12 schools (which robs already under-resourced public schools and students of desperately needed resources).  [9]

Although the Democrats routinely pose as allies of organized labor, on those occasions (1959..71, 1975..79, & 2009..11) when Democrats controlled both the Oval Office and the Congress with a filibuster-proof 60-vote super-majority in the Senate, they nevertheless did nothing to rescind the anti-union provisions of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

With respect to healthcare, Obama and the Congressional Democrat leadership refused to permit consideration of the single-payer option and limited their healthcare “reform” (as centrist Democrats continue to do) so as to ensure the survival and continued profiteering of affected capitalist interest groups (in the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and service-provider industries), while still leaving tens of millions un- or under-insured and often without the means to access many of their often-vital healthcare needs.

 

5th.  Regarding Trump “fascism”. 

Is he about to achieve despotic power?  It is true that House Democrats, for lack of support in the Senate and/or in their own caucus, have been unable, in their occasional feeble attempts, to prevent some of Trump’s excessive assertions of Executive power.  However, Trump has been able to do thusly primarily because the Congress had ceded many of its Constitutional prerogatives to the Executive branch decades before Trump’s Presidency.  Nevertheless, Trump has been repeatedly stymied on particular issues: by the foreign-policy establishment; by Congress; by the courts; by obstruction within his own administration; by his own narcissism and incompetence; and sometimes even by overwhelming public disgust at some of his most abhorrent pronouncements.

Trump failed in his attempt to coerce the Congress into funding his anti-immigrant border wall, and he only obtained said funding subsequently when Congressional Democrats caved in return for modest funding for a few of their priorities.  He has been utterly unable to muzzle his critics: in the mainstream news media, in the Democratic Party, and on the left.  Despite his obsession to put an end to the Mueller investigation of his Presidential campaign, Trump was unable (or too fearful) to do so.  Finally, he failed to prevent House Democrats from impeaching him.

Certainly, if Trump were really a threat to the rights and capacities of his many critics to agitate and organize against the social evils of capitalism and the oppressive policies of the US government; then it would make sense for the socialist left to unite with the centrist liberals to protect those rights.  But there is currently no such real danger.  In fact, Trump, despite what he wants to believe, does not possess anywhere near the absolutist power of a fascist despot.  Moreover, with the persistence of broad and intense popular opposition to Trump, he is very unlikely to achieve such power.  The Trump Presidency, despite his abhorrent policies and authoritarian aspirations, is not an authoritarian state, nor will he make it into one.  Factually deficient assertions of portending “fascist authoritarianism” under Trump only serve to provide excuse for attempts to keep the broad left ensnared in its counterproductive allegiance to the centrist-dominated capital-serving Democratic Party.

 

6th.  Regarding American “democracy”.

What democracy?

Congressional Democrats and their apologists never miss any opportunity to vilify Russia for allegedly attacking “our democracy” by assisting the Trump campaign in the 2016 US Presidential election.  Completely absent from the discourse is any acknowledgement of the long bipartisan history (beginning with the 1948 Italian election) of US interventions in the national elections of numerous foreign countries (including the stealing of the 1996 Russian election for US favorite Boris Yeltsin).  Russian intervention in the 2016 US election pales in comparison with many of the US interferences in other countries’ elections.  Moreover, the Russian effort to sway the 2016 US Presidential election was the least significant factor in the outcome, far eclipsed by: the flawed Democrat candidate and her mismanaged election campaign, abstentions by many poor and working-class citizens on account of decades of Democrat failure to deliver for their base constituencies, and the electoral college system as well as other anti-democratic features of US elections.

In fact, US elections are rife with anti-democratic features in most of which both duopoly parties are complicit: political discourse dominated by capitalist funding, gerrymanders, voter suppression, party leaders rigging the nomination process to favor the establishment candidate, convention superdelegates, etc.  Moreover, the system is rigged in most states to maintain the 2-party duopoly which excludes and/or marginalizes all other parties (by giving the duopoly parties virtually automatic ballot access while imposing often insurmountable obstacles to such access for third parties); and the Democrats are complicit as they routinely act to block access for the Green Party.  In actual effect, voters usually choose between candidates of the duopoly parties who are selected, not by the people, but by big-money interest groups and allied establishment political insiders.

The US is no real democracy, it is a heavily corrupted plutocracy.  It will become a real democracy: only when there is popular participation and oversight over elected representatives, and only after a revolutionary movement for social justice has taken state power from the capital-subservient politicians of both duopoly parties.  The need is, not to ameliorate popular discontent by putting a Democrat in the White House, but to build the revolutionary movement with a social justice program which will be clearly distinct from the actual antisocial and anti-democratic policies of nearly all career politicians in the Democratic Party.

 

7th.  Regarding imperialism, human rights, and consistent anti-racism. 

The ”socialist” proponents of center-left alliance with the Democrats give lip-service opposition to imperialism and militarism; but then they abandon said opposition as they demand that all progressives back the candidacies of the worst perpetrators of imperial crimes against humanity.  Skipping over the crimes of Democrat Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, which caused the deaths of millions and immense suffering to millions more, let us consider the millions of victims of US imperialism under the more recent Democrat Presidents and members of Congress.

Jimmy Carter: initiated the US funding and arming of the reactionary antisocial Islamist insurgency against the progressive modernist Soviet-aligned government in Afghanistan, joined apartheid South Africa in backing a (failed) coup plot (1979) against the anti-imperialist President of Seychelles, imposed sanctions (1979) on Grenada in an attempt to cripple its economy and thereby oust its progressive revolutionary government, and initiated (1980) the US backing for the Contra War (which Reagan later expanded) against the anti-imperialist government in Nicaragua.  [10]

Bill Clinton, knowing (and/or not caring) that the pretense that Iraq still had WMD [weapons of mass destruction] was false, imposed a murderous economic siege [sanctions] which impoverished the people and killed half a million Iraqis (mostly children), hoping thereby to provoke a coup to topple its President.  Clinton also joined Congress in enacting the 1996 Helms-Burton Act which punished Cuba for defending itself against invasions of its airspace by a rightwing exile gang with a history of terrorist attacks against targets in Cuba and elsewhere.  Further, Clinton laid the foundation for the current new cold war against Russia by beginning the provocative eastward expansion of NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries in violation of the US commitment given to Russia in return for the needed Soviet consent to the 1990 reunification of Germany.  [11]

“New Democrat” Presidential candidate Al Gore (in 2000) pandered to rightwing Cuban exiles by backing their attempt to prevent motherless 6-year-old Elián González from being reunited with his Cuban Communist father in Cuba.  [12]

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton [HRC] was an outspoken advocate for the Bush-Cheney “preemptive war” against Iraq, which killed another some 700,000 Iraqis.  [13]

In 2008 Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama: matched rival McCain in hawkishness on foreign policy as illustrated in the following quotes from Obama’s 2008 campaign web site.  “We must rebalance our capabilities to ensure that our forces have the agility and lethality to succeed in both conventional wars and in stabilization and counter-insurgency operations.”  “increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000 troops.”  “Preserve global reach in the air: We must preserve our unparalleled airpower capabilities to deter and defeat any conventional competitors, swiftly respond to crises across the globe, and support our ground forces.  We need greater investment in advanced [weapons] technology …”.  “Maintain power projection at sea: We must recapitalize our naval forces”.  In the Presidential campaign debates, Obama mimicked McCain in denouncing popularly-elected Venezuelan President Chavez as a “tyrant”.  Further, he boasted (on his web site) of his Senate record: of “insisting that Israel not be pressured into a ceasefire” during its 2006 invasion of Lebanon; and of “cosponsoring a Senate resolution against Iran and Syria.”

John Kerry and HRC (the respective Democrat Presidential candidates in 2004 and 2016), as Secretaries of State under Obama, were proponents of his new cold war against Russia and backed his policy of support for the destructive Islamist-dominated insurgency in Syria.  HRC also advocated for the US-led military invasion which resulted in humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Libya.  Kerry, who had also backed the military intervention in Libya, was a proponent of Obama’s policy of encouraging and assisting the Saudi and UAE war of mass murder (from starvation and disease as well as aerial bombing) against the people of Yemen.  [14]

Obama: joined several allies in the invasion and destruction of Libya, abetted coups and coup attempts against popularly elected progressive and anti-imperialist governments in Honduras (2009) and Ecuador (2010), as well as against the duly elected neutralist government of Ukraine (2014).  Obama also armed and abetted the US-client regime in Colombia which gave rightwing death squads free rein to murder (as reported by Human Rights Watch) over 120 labor organizers and other nonviolent progressive social activists in 2011..15 alone (and more thereafter).  Meanwhile, he imposed the first of the crippling economic sanctions and persisted in other interventions to undermine the popularly elected leftist government in Venezuela.  [15]

Only 49 of 193 House Democrats voted against the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act [HR 5515] which greatly increased already massive military spending.  In the Senate it passed 87 to 10 with a mere 8 of 49 Democrat caucus members voting against.  [16]

The 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [HR 3364], which seeks to intensify Obama’s new cold war against Russia as well as to impose greater hardships on the peoples of Iran and North Korea, was adopted 419 to 3 in the House (each of the 3 no votes being from Republicans) and 98 to 2 in the Senate (the 2 being Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul).  [17]

Most high-level Democrat politicians are subservient to capital and firmly ensconced in the bipartisan imperialist foreign policy consensus.  In fact, Democrats have become staunch defenders: of the intelligence agencies, of Obama’s new cold wars, and of US aspirations for continued imperial world-domination.  They have impeached Trump, not for his many actual crimes against humanity, but on bogus assertions that his temporary suspension of military aid to the client state in Ukraine (which was installed by a US-backed coup and is a US pawn in its unjustified new cold war against Russia) was a betrayal of US national security.  None of the Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has clearly repudiated the falsehoods which are propounded and used to justify hostile US action against alleged “adversary” countries (Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua).  (Note.  Although some of these countries maintain reactionary and/or oppressive domestic policies, not the reason for US hostility; all of them maintain foreign policies which are primarily defensive and in some measure anti-imperialist.  Russia and China are resisting Western imperial policies of hostile new-cold-war encirclement with US bases and military exercises in neighboring countries and/or adjacent seas.)

The “socialist” proponents of alignment with the Democratic Party have objectively embraced an objectively racist left version of America first.  They care that Democrats are marginally less antisocial on domestic issues (generally because they need the votes of women, minorities, and other affected constituencies); but, like said Democrats (even most of those in the Congressional Progressive Caucus), they acquiesce to the murderous oppressions of the millions of victims of US-led Western imperialism in other countries.

 

Ω.  Effects.

In effect, the avowedly leftist and “socialist” unite-behind-the-Democrats “electoral strategists” have jettisoned their anti-imperialism and limited their anti-racism to victims in the US, and then primarily to victims of governing Republicans.  They purport that the Democrats, even those like Joe Biden, will be saviors in the face: of Trump-incited racist abuses of immigrants and asylum-seekers (practices which actually pre-date the Trump Presidency), of Trump-abetted climate catastrophe, and of a Trump-led displacement of “our democracy” by an authoritarian “fascism”.  While it is true that government policies under Trump, as under previous Republican Presidents, are somewhat more antisocial than under Democrats; nevertheless, their portrayals of Trump, as a dire threat to progressive and socialist activism, and of the Democrats as the savior for progress, decency, and “democracy”, are essentially contra-factual.  They elevate Trump far above his actual significance by ignoring the many other factors (including the Democrats’ routine perfidy and subservience to capital) which are responsible for the capitalist and governmental abuses in the US.  Their position is rooted in their addiction to the failed policy of giving allegiance to the centrist-dominated Democratic Party which has been seducing and betraying the progressive movements for decades.  Finally, it is a betrayal of internationalist social-justice solidarity principles.

 

PART 2.  AN ELECTORAL POLICY CONSISTENT WITH SOCIAL JUSTICE

 

A socialist electoral policy needs to take shape based on: (1) evaluations of the key players (Trump, the Republicans, the centrist Democrats, and the progressive Democrats); (2) social justice principles; and (3) appropriate strategy and tactics.

 

1st.  Regarding the Republicans.

Almost all Republican politicians, some happily and others reluctantly, are overwhelmingly backing Trump as he persists in his bigoted rightwing populist demagoguery and his racist, xenophobic, misogynist, and other antisocial policies.

 

2nd.  Regarding the Democrats.

Responding to widespread popular discontent, the few social-liberal reformer politicians in the Democratic Party have rejected neoliberal economic policy and are advocating widely-popular new-deal type reforms (healthcare as a human right, Green New Deal, restoration of collective bargaining rights, and other social-justice reforms) which would increase people power and put much-needed constraints on capital.  Their contenders for the Presidency (Sanders, Warren, and Gabbard) have also expressed some opposition to overt military interventions to achieve regime change, but their records on imperialism and militarism are decidedly mixed.

Bernie Sanders has the best record of seeking cuts in military spending, but he backs the $1.5 trillion Lockheed-Martin F-35 stealth fighter plane.  He branded Libya’s Gaddafi as a “thug and murderer” shortly before US-backed thugs proceeded to oust and murder the Libyan ruler and plunge their country into chaos; and, while disapproving Trump’s economic siege and threatened military intervention, he has sided rhetorically with the US-imperialist-backed rightwing coup-seeking opposition to the Bolivarian government of Venezuela by misrepresenting that said government is “undemocratic”.  [18]

Tulsi Gabbard is the one explicit opponent of regime-change interventions, but she voted for the majority of military spending bills and against repeal of the intervention-promoting 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which effectively authorizes such regime-change operations.  [18]

Elizabeth Warren advocates cutting the “bloated defense budget”, but she voted for 2/3 of the military spending bills since she has been in the Senate.  She expresses a preference for more emphasis on diplomacy in foreign affairs, but she vocally backed Israel’s 2014 so-called “war” (actually mass murder) against Gaza.  While her rhetoric has subsequently moved away from the aggressive stance of her centrist Democrat rivals, she has not clearly repudiated the imperial bipartisan foreign policy consensus.  [18]

The centrists, including the Presidential contender (Biden) and ex-contenders (Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Harris, Booker, Castro, O’Rourke, Steyer, Bloomberg, etc.) have acquiesced to much of the neoliberal policy thru their subservience to capital and are mostly in opposition to more than marginal reforms.  These centrists also: join the bipartisan new-cold-war anti-Russia and anti-China consensus; condemn Trump for undermining the imperialistic alliances; are firmly committed to the bipartisan imperial foreign policy agenda; and mostly insist upon essentially blank-check backing for the Zionist state as it continues to perpetrate its crimes against the Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese Arabs.  [18]

 

3rd.  Relevant distinctions among Democrats.

The parties and candidates.  Obviously, the left must oppose Trump and the Republicans, but that does not necessarily mean supporting the Democrats.  Given the unwillingness of any of the Democrat candidates (and ex-candidates) for President to make a complete break from the deep-rooted bipartisan imperial foreign-policy consensus, and given their unwillingness, with the exception of the social liberal reformers, to make much of a break from neoliberal economic policy, there will undoubtedly be negatives in whichever contender the Democrats choose to run for President.  Nevertheless, the Democrats fall into two categories.

  • Any of the centrist candidates (now reduced to Biden) for commander-in-chief would be less blatantly odious than Trump; but, given their records and despite their promises, they could not be relied upon to be more than marginally better substantively, on social-justice reforms especially with respect to the many issues (environmental policy, healthcare as a right, collective bargaining, regulation of capitalist enterprise, social programs, etc.) where the need conflicts with capitalist domination and profiteering.  They would be less bad than Trump on some aspects of foreign policy, but worse on some others.   Most importantly, they would induce most of the popular anti-Trump movement to continue giving its allegiance to the centrist-dominated Democratic Party, which remains overwhelmingly subservient to capital and firmly committed to the militarist and imperialist foreign policy consensus.  Finally, beholden as they are to their capitalist campaign-funders, they would obstruct, as much as possible, efforts to empower the people or to constrain capital or to deal effectively with global warming.
  • The relative progressives (now reduced to one, namely Sanders) do not oppose private-enterprise capitalism; but they appear to genuinely want: a more dovish and less interventionist foreign policy; and real people-power and capital-constraining reforms, as well as stronger defense of human rights.

 

4th.  Strategic objectives. 

The primary objective for revolutionaries is not ameliorative reforms, but the building of the revolutionary movement.  The objective of that movement as stated by Marx and Engels [in the Manifesto (1848)] must be to “raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.”  It is only after the progressive working class with its allies has conquered the state power, that it can then: effectuate the socialist reconstruction of the civil society; and thereby replace the predatory capitalist social imperative (the selfish pursuits of private profit and private accumulation of wealth) with the socialist imperative (the satisfaction of human and social needs).

In order to build that revolutionary movement, revolutionaries must engage with the people in their struggles for reforms, but revolutionaries must not permit the reform agenda to be confined to palliatives bestowed upon passive beneficiaries by paternalistic agents of the reformist faction of the ruling capitalist class in order to temporarily ameliorate immediate popular discontents.  Rather, insofar as possible, activists must: demand reforms which empower the people.  People empowerment includes: collective bargaining, litigation rights, citizen initiatives, public participation and oversight, FOIA access, voting rights, civil liberties, human rights enforcement, etc.  Revolutionaries must also demand measures which reduce and constrain the powers of the ruling capitalist class: effective public-interest regulation of for-profit businesses, ending and reversing privatizations, expanded public services and social welfare programs, bans on corporate money in election campaigns, restraints upon the powers and reach of the repressive state apparatus, etc.

An assessment, that progressive candidates, if elected, may be unable to deliver on their progressive reforms, should not be taken as excuse to oppose or abstain from advocating for their election.  Elections, like all reform struggles, are a venue in which revolutionaries seek to influence the populace and recruit activists to the revolutionary movement.  Revolutionaries must educate and organize, which they can do only if they connect with people thru engagement in struggles for social justice (which include election campaigns for advocates of transformative progressive change, as advocated by Sanders, but opposed by Biden).  Such education must include: the need for solidarity with all victims of social injustice including foreign victims of US imperialism; and also the need for reforms which increase people power and/or reduce the powers of capital.  In pursuit of these objectives, revolutionaries should organize a Social Justice Solidarity Voters [SJSV] bloc with a comprehensive program of social justice demands (with respect to issues of: economic justice, environmental justice, racist and sexist and all other violations of human rights, civil liberties, militarism and imperialism) and proceed as described (in 5th) below.

(For a fuller explanation of revolutionary strategy, see referenced article [19]!)

 

5th.  Electoral tactics.

♦ In the Democratic caucuses and primaries.  Call upon participants: to demand support for the comprehensive social justice program (as noted in 4th above and including concrete opposition to militarism, imperialism, and neoliberalism); and to reject candidates whose policies will alienate those true progressives who are genuinely committed to that program.  The rationales being: principle (social justice); and pragmatic (the need to bring over leftist voters who justifiably will refuse to vote for another duplicitous imperial and capital-serving Democrat, as well as struggling workers who will not be motivated to vote without reason to believe that the outcome can positively affect the situations of people like themselves).

♦ In the general election for President.  If the Democrats were to select a social liberal (e.g. Sanders) for commander-in-chief; and if that candidate could credibly be expected to seriously push for people-power and capital-constraining reforms, and also for significant curtailment of the current militarism and imperial interventionism [⁑]; it would be appropriate to back said candidate provided that this were done tactically, independently, and with appropriate criticisms.  (For example, an apt slogan would be “Sanders – not perfect, but clearly progressive”.)

So, what if the Democrats nominate an imperial corporate Democrat (Joe Biden)?  From the standpoint of ameliorative reformism, the primary objective will, as always, be to defeat the Republicans and put the center-left (actually centrist-dominated) Democrats in control of the federal government.  Contrarywise, from the standpoint of genuine social revolutionaries, the primary objective remains to build the revolutionary movement.  Thus, a policy seeking to defeat Trump at all costs (even including abandonment of social-justice principles and of solidarity with the multitudes of victims of US imperialism) cannot be justified, although this will undoubtedly be disputed by those who mistake the Democratic Party as a savior of “democracy” and social progress.  (If the “socialist” proponents of supporting Biden were to campaign with an honest slogan, it would have to be something like “Biden – duplicitous flip-flopper, staunch imperialist, candidate for big business, but not as blatant as Trump”.)

Can backing a neoliberal imperialist Democrat for commander-in-chief be formulated in a way which is consistent with the revolutionary socialist objective and not perpetuate the failed policy of reliance upon lesser-evil Democrats?  Given how blatantly vicious Trump is, revolutionary socialists may prove unable to achieve consensus on this question.  However, his viciousness should not be the deciding factor.  If revolutionaries are to back a neoliberal imperial Democrat (such as Biden) for commander-in-chief, they need to be able to make the case that so doing will facilitate building the revolutionary movement and not perpetuate reactive lesser-evil-ism (along with the extreme viciousness in the reality of militarism and imperialism).

Can they validly make that case?  Their assertion, that the Trump Presidency portends the coming of an “authoritarian fascist” state or the suppression of left activism, is clearly contrary to fact.  All that remains of their argument is the fact that centrist Democrats (with their grossly inadequate reforms) are, in the short-term, somewhat less bad for most people in the US than the Republicans.  They evade the facts: that Democrat policies (under Carter, Clinton, and Obama) have done little or nothing to improve the lives of women, minorities, and workers (with the exception of some in the educated middle class [20]); and that some of their policies have made things worse for millions of the most disadvantaged Americans.  Moreover, Democrats have been equally (with Republicans) committed to the militarism and imperial interventionism which: has subjected many millions of people in other countries to extreme privation and often murderous violence, and has produced the new cold wars which threaten nuclear Armageddon.  Finally, backing Biden or any other centrist is de facto support for the centrist program (which is militarist, imperialist, anti-people-power, subservient to capital, and opposed to the progressive reforms sought by Sanders and other social liberals).  In fact, the proponents of backing a centrist Democrat against Trump, as a “socialist” policy or one which saves “democratic space” for progressive activists, have no case.

Because the case for backing a centrist Democrat for President cannot be validly made, revolutionaries should organize a voter boycott of any such Presidential nominee, educate all who will listen as to the justification for so doing, and use the situation to continue building the organized revolutionary movement.  If it comes to this, it will obviously require patiently and respectfully swimming against a heavy adverse tide in the broad left which is deeply addicted to its long allegiance to the Democratic Party (either as savior or as lesser-evil).  Nevertheless, the appropriate policy often requires such.  The alternative, i.e. tailing after the masses when they are misled by agents of capital (i.e. centrist Democrat politicians and the mainstream media), is easy but counterproductive.  In any event this decision should be based on soundly reasoned fact-based analysis rather than emotion.  (Realistically, it will take time, likely years, to build the revolutionary movement to such strength that it can be much of a force in national elections; but putting off this essential task with whatever excuses means never achieving it.)

[⁑ Note.  A completely progressive foreign-policy program (which no current Democrat Presidential candidate can credibly be expected to embrace more than partially) would include the following.

  • Arms control. Return to the arms control treaties which the US quit (under Bush-Cheney and Trump), no development of new nuclear bombs; no militarization of space; restoration of the prohibition on use of land mines; massive cuts to military spending (especially of warships, expensive warplanes, etc.).
  • No new cold war. End containment policies (military alliances, war games, etc.) near the borders of Russia and China; end Western intervention in the civil war in Ukraine; accept the will of the Crimean populace for reunification with Russia; comply with the 1990 US-NATO commitment that NATO would not expand into any former Warsaw Pact countries nor engage in military operations on their territories; dissolve NATO and other imperial military alliances.
  • End economic sieges and regime-change operations against countries targeted because of their refusal to comply with Western imperial dictates. Return to the Iran nuclear agreement; negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea; close the Guantanamo base and prison and return the occupied territory to Cuba; stop the US-abetted Saudi and UAE war in Yemen.
  • Offer constructive assistance to help countries peacefully achieve just resolutions of their civil and international conflicts.
  • End the bogus “terrorist”-designation of anti-imperialist resistance organizations (including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad).
  • End all support (diplomatic, economic, and military) for the Zionist state; and demand that it: end its occupation of Syrian and Lebanese territory, end its military aggressions against its neighbors, end all of its violations of UN resolutions and international human rights conventions, transition to a democratic all-Palestine state which will fully respect the human rights (including fair compensation and right of return) of the Palestinian Arabs including those dispossessed by the nakba.]

♦ In the 2020 general election for Congress.  Tactically support Democrats (including the neoliberal imperialist types) to the extent necessary to obtain Democrat control of Congress, the rationale being as follows.  Although this will not end Congressional support for the imperial foreign policy consensus, it will NOT place commander-in-chief powers in their hands, and it will impose some needed constraints on Trump should he be reelected.  If the Democrats win the Presidency with a progressive (such as Sanders), a Democrat Congress will improve chances for some limited portion of the SJSV demands and people-empowering and capital-constraining reforms to be obtained.  Such backing will need to be accompanied by explanation as to the tactical rationale as well as all appropriate criticism of the endorsed candidates.  Provided that it is presented as tactical, this policy would serve the movement-building objectives stated above.

♦ State elections.  In states where governors and legislators control redistricting, and control of the process is in question; the SJSV bloc should tactically back the Democrat candidates for the offices which will make the redistricting decisions.  This is to prevent Democrats from being shut out of power by GOP gerrymandering; and that is desirable because Democrats are more dependent upon support from progressive voters and thusly more easily pressured by the left.  In other state and local races, the bloc should bring pressure to bear by generally withholding support from those Democrats who refuse to comply with reasonable demands for their adherence to the SJSV program.

♦ If the Democrats take the Presidency and Congress but refuse to make meaningful departures from the current foreign policy agenda and/or from neoliberal economic policy; then vigorously oppose those obstructers who face reelection come 2022.

Ω The objectives of the foregoing tactical policy are: that, in electoral activity, socialists must act independently of both capital-serving political parties; and that they should use the Democrat politicians and not allow the progressive left to be used by said Democrats.

 

Ω.  Principles.

Socialists must be pragmatic and must make appropriate compromises, but never sacrifice social justice principles.  Rank-and-file Democrats, who are uneducated as to the multifarious ways in which most Democrat politicians betray the progressive principles which they avow, can be forgiven for giving allegiance to such Democrats.  However, avowed socialists and progressive activists, who know or should know the facts but nevertheless give allegiance to such antisocial Democrat politicians, betray their avowed anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and progressive pretentions.  The obligation of socialists is to educate the rank-and-file progressives and separate them from their duplicitous politicians.

 

Noted sources.

[1] Noam Chomsky & 8 others: An Open Letter to the Green Party About 2020 Election Strategy” (2020 Jan 24) @ https://portside.org/2020-01-24/open-letter-green-party-about-2020-election-strategy.

[2] Max Elbaum: Beating Trump: Absolutely Essential, Also Not Enough” (2020 Jan 25) @ https://organizingupgrade.com/beating-trump-absolutely-essential-also-not-enough/.

[3] P R Lockhart: Joe Biden’s record on school desegregation busing, explained (2019 Jun 28) @ https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/28/18965923/joe-biden-school-desegregation-busing-democratic-primary.  Branko Marcetic: Joe Biden, Mass Incarceration Zealot (2018 Aug 09) @ https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/08/biden-crime-mass-incarceration-police-prisons.

[4] Wikipedia: Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (2020 Feb 14) ~ § 4 Consequences, § 5 Criticism.

[5] Carol Dansereau: Whose Moral Stain? Hold Democrats Accountable on Immigration Too (2018 Oct 02) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/02/whose-moral-stain-hold-democrats-accountable-on-immigration-too/.  Miles Culpepper: Why Democrats Keep Caving on Immigration (2019 Jul 07) @ https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/07/democrats-immigration-border-ice-cbp.

[6] Carol Dansereau: Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity (2018 Nov 13) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/13/climate-and-the-infernal-blue-wave-straight-talk-about-saving-humanity/.  Statista: Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the U.S. from 1975 and 2017 (in million metric tons of carbon dioxide) (© 2018) @ https://www.statista.com/statistics/183943/us-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-1999/.  Investopedia:  The World’s Top Oil Producers of 2017 (2018 Feb 18) @ https://www.investopedia.com/investing/worlds-top-oil-producers/.

[7] Alan Nasser: The Coming Plague of Poverty Among the Elderly: Clinton’s Plan for Gutting Social Security (2016 Nov 04) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/04/the-coming-plague-of-poverty-among-the-elderly-clintons-plan-for-gutting-social-security/.

[8] CoreLogic: United States Residential Foreclosure Crisis: Ten Years Later (2017 Mar) ~ pp 4..5 @ https://www.corelogic.com/research/foreclosure-report/national-foreclosure-report-10-year.pdf.  Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey (accessed 2019 May) @ https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000.

[9] Diane Ravitch: Flunking Arne Duncan (2012 Mar 07) @ https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2012/03/07/flunking-arne-duncan/.

[10] Stephen Kinzer: Overthrow (© 2006) ~ chapter 12 They Will Have Flies Walking Across Their Eyeballs.   William Blum: Killing Hope (© 2004) ~ Chapter 53 Afghanistan 1979-1992 America’s jihad; Chapter 44 Seychelles 1979-1984 – Yet another area of great strategic importance; Chapter 49 Nicaraguan 1978-1990: Destabilization in slow motion; Chapter 45 Grenada 1979-1984: Lying – one of the few growth industries in Washington.  Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow, chapter 10 Our Days of Weakness Are Over.  Stephen Zunes: The US Invasion of Grenada – Foreign Policy in Focus (2003 Oct) @ www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/155/25966.html.

[11] Wikipedia: Sanctions against Iraq (2015 Nov 14); Lead-up to the Iraq War (2015 Nov 11); Helms-Burton Act (2020 Jan 12); José Basulto (2019 Nov 18).

[12] PBS: a chronology of the Elian Gonzalez saga (accessed 2020 Feb) @ https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/elian/etc/eliancron.html.

[13] On the Issues: Hillary Clinton on War & Peace (2018 Sep 08) @ http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Hillary_Clinton_War_+_Peace.htm#Iraq_War.

[14] Wikipedia: Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War (2019 May 03) ~ § 2.1 Support for the Syrian opposition # United States; US domestic reactions to the 2011 military intervention in Libya (2018 Oct 11).  Nika Knight: Saudi-led Bombing Kills 11 Civilians in Yemen, While Kerry Ignores US ‘Complicity’ (2016 Aug 26) @ https://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/26/saudi-led-bombing-kills-11-civilians-yemen-while-kerry-ignores-us-complicity.

[15] Wikipedia: 2009 Honduran coup d’état (2018 Oct 07); 2010 Ecuador crisis (2018 Oct 01).  Robert Parry: Cheering a “Democratic” Coup in Ukraine (2014 Feb 26) @ https://consortiumnews.com/2016/01/28/cheering-a-democratic-coup-in-ukraine-2/.  Renee Parsons: Chronology of the Ukrainian Coup (2014 Mar 05) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/05/chronology-of-the-ukrainian-coup/.  Medium: US Staged a Coup in Ukraine – Brief History and Facts (2017 Dec 18) @ https://medium.com/@gmochannel/us-staged-a-coup-in-ukraine-brief-history-and-facts-898c6d0007d6.  Dan Kovalik: Death Squads Continue to Reign in Colombia (2014 May 24) @ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/death-squads-colombia_b_5021244.html.  Telesur: Tracking US Intervention in Venezuela Since 2002 (2015 Nov 18) @ https://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Tracking-US-Intervention-in-Venezuela-Since-2002-20151117-0045.html.

[16] govtrack: H.R. 5515: John S McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 ~ House vote (2018 Jul 26) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h379 & Senate vote (2018 Aug 01) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/s181.

[17] govtrack: H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ~ House vote (2017 Jul 25) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h413 & Senate vote (2017 Jul 27) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/s175.

[18] Medea Benjamin & Nicolas J S Davies: War and Peace and the 2020 Presidential Candidates (2019 Mar 27) @ https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/03/27/war-and-peace-and-2020-presidential-candidates.  Bernie Sanders: Sanders Statement on Venezuela (2019 Jan 24) @ https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-statement-on-venezuela.  Doug Enaa Greene: Not on our side: On Bernie Sanders and imperialism (2019 Jun 27) @ http://links.org.au/not-on-our-side-on-bernie-sanders-and-imperialism.  Norman Solomon: Joe Biden: Puffery vs. Reality (2019 Apr 25) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/04/25/joe-biden-puffery-vs-reality/.  Norman Solomon: Corporate Team of Rivals: Biden and Harris (2019 Jul 10) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/10/corporate-team-of-rivals-biden-and-harris/.

[19] Charles Pierce: Why ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism is failed strategy and what is the winning alternative! (2020 Feb 16) @ https://specter-cp.home.blog ~ post 7.

[20] Indigo Olivier: A Feminism for the Working Class (2020 Mar 05) @ https://portside.org/2020-03-11/feminism-working-class.  Sara Rimer & Karen W Arenson: Top Colleges Take More Blacks, but Which Ones? (2004 Jun 24) @ https://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/24/us/top-colleges-take-more-blacks-but-which-ones.html.

 

Author: Charles Pierce.               Date: 2020 Feb 24, updated 2020 Mar 18.

 

Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed by google search at https://specter-cp.home.blog.  Reader comments are welcome.

The essential facts concerning Zionism and Palestine.

The essential facts concerning Zionism and Palestine.

 

  1. Doctrine. Zionism was devised by some middle-class Jewish Europeans (most prominently Leon Pinsker and Theodore Herzl) as one response to horrendous late 19th-century anti-Jewish persecutions in Europe.  Like many of their nationalistic contemporaries among privileged-class European intellectuals and like the Nazis who came later, the Zionists conceived of the world’s Jews as a race.  Moreover, they viewed the Jews: as (in their own words) a “parasitic” and “alien” presence in the gentile countries, and therefore a “Jewish problem”, which could only be resolved by removing all or most Jews from the gentile countries to a country of their own, which they decided would need to be in Palestine.  Consequently, the Zionists opposed assimilation and disparaged those Jews who assimilated.  [1]

 

  1. Colonialism. The Zionists, like other European colonialists, approved of the subjugation of non-white peoples and justified it with the racist rationale that God (or destiny) had chosen the “superior” Europeans to bring “civilization” to the territories populated by the “inferior” peoples of Africa and Asia.  Therefore, no meaningful consideration was given to the rights of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs.  [2]

 

  1. Imperialism. The Zionists coalesced in 1897 with the formation of the Zionist Organization [ZO].  Its leaders then began appealing to various European colonialist powers for sponsorship of their proposal to create a so-called Jewish homeland in Palestine.  Ultimately, it was Britain which became the imperial sponsor by issuing the Balfour Declaration (1917) calling for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.  The British motivations were twofold.  [3]

○ Firstly, Britain envisioned the creation of a British-allied outpost of European civilization in oil-rich southwest Asia as an instrument for projecting British imperial and commercial power over a part of the world in which British capital and empire were already heavily invested (notably in the Anglo-Persian Oil Company [now BP Inc.], Shell Oil, and the Suez Canal).

○ Secondly, there was the anti-Jewish prejudice of some leading Cabinet members, including former Prime Minister Balfour, who hoped to reduce the Jewish presence in European government, commerce, and the professions.

 

  1. Anti-Arab racism. Jews (4% of the population) and their Muslim and Christian neighbors (85% and 11% respectively) had coexisted amicably in Palestine prior to the arrival of the Zionists.  Zionist doctrine and practice destroyed this relationship.

○ During the period of British rule over Palestine (1917..48), sympathetic Jewish capitalists in Europe and the United States provided money for Zionist land acquisitions in Palestine.  The Zionists then evicted the Arab tenant farmers thereby violating the traditional rights of the latter.  Moreover, the Zionist governing body required that Jewish employers hire only Jews and prohibited the sale of any Jewish-owned land to Arabs.  Such racial discrimination was standard practice in the Zionist settlements; and it quite predictably provoked Arab resentment against the Zionist settlers.  [4]

○ Meanwhile, there were recurring suggestions (mostly in private) by top Zionist leaders – Herzl, Weizmann, Ben-Gurion, and others – that the “Arab problem” could be resolved through population “transfer” to other Arab countries.  Thus, from the very beginning, the Zionist leadership intended to eventually expel the indigenous Arab population from Palestine.  [5]

 

  1. Collusion with anti-Jewish persecutors. For several decades, the Zionist organizations refused to fight for equal rights for Jews.  In fact, they acted in concert with the persecutors.

○ While many Jews joined other anti-racists (including Communists) in the fight against the chauvinist, xenophobic, and anti-Jewish nationalisms and related persecutions which arose in Europe in the years between the two world wars of the 20th century; the Zionists, largely because of Communist opposition to the racialism at the heart of Zionist ideology, joined the fascists in denouncing the Communists.  Meanwhile, the Zionist organizations, claiming to represent the interests of the world’s Jews, refused to fight anti-Jewish bigotry and persecutions.  Why?  Because they wanted persecuted Jews, not to fight for equal rights in their native countries, but to emigrate to Palestine.  To that end, the Zionist organizations routinely colluded with anti-Jewish states in sponsoring migration, legal and illegal, of European Jews to Palestine.  [6]

○ In the 1930’s the New Zionist Organization [NZO] (representing the minority “revisionist” faction) allied itself with fascist Italy until Mussolini broke off the alliance in order to enter the Axis Pact with Hitler.  [7]

○ Meanwhile, the German affiliate of the ZO (majority faction) refused to support resistance to Nazi anti-Jewish racial policies in order to maintain cooperation with the Nazi state in promoting and facilitating German Jewish emigration to Palestine.  Moreover, the NZO-affiliated German State Zionist Organization (while receiving special favor from the Nazi regime which imposed its leader, Georg Kareski, as director of the Jewish Culture Leagues): praised Nazi policies, opposed the anti-Nazi boycott, and colluded with the Gestapo.  [6]

○ After the War largely cut off routes for Jewish emigration, Nazi Germany (in 1941) began its extermination project.  In 1944, the ZO’s operative (Rezso Kasztner) in Hungary made a bargain with Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi official in charge of exterminating Europe’s Jews.  If Kasztner would reassure the Hungarian Jews that they were to be resettled, not killed; then Eichmann would permit the ZO to take a number of select Jews to safety and Palestine.   Kasztner provided the false assurance thereby enabling the Nazi SS to avoid significant resistance as it rounded up 450,000 Hungarian Jews for deportation to the extermination camps.  In return, the Nazi SS permitted the ZO to save 1,700 select Jews.  Those, who had assimilated, or were non-Zionist, or were insufficiently young and vigorous were excluded and thereby left to be exterminated by the Nazis.  [8]

Ω For Zionists, the persecution of Jews in their native countries was never something to fight, but a pretext for creating the so-called Jewish State in Palestine, while they dismissed any concern for the human rights of its indigenous population.

 

  1. Obstruction of Jewish emigration. During the 1930s, Zionist obstruction of efforts, as at the 1938 Evian conference, to find safe havens for persecuted Jews outside of Palestine, impeded and limited Jewish emigration from Europe, thereby leaving a huge number of Jews, who would otherwise have gotten out, trapped in Nazi-ruled Europe when the Axis War closed off avenues for further emigration [9].  Many of these Jews then become victims of the Nazi “final solution”.  Moreover, after the War the Zionists opposed any consideration, during the 1946 inquiries of the Anglo-American Committee, to find countries willing to give refuge to the displaced Jews of Europe in Australia, the Americas, etc.  They wanted these desperate people to have only one option, namely to go, legally or illegally, to Palestine [10].

 

  1. Exploitation of the holocaust. Ever since the War, the Zionists and their supporters have manipulated popular sympathy for the Jewish victims of the holocaust in order to obtain sympathy and support for Zionism.  They and their supporters insist that the world must atone for the holocaust of the six million Jews by granting them Palestine for a “Jewish state”; but they evade the fact that justice would require atonement and compensation for the holocaust to be borne by Christian Europe, which perpetrated and/or permitted the genocide, not by the Palestinian Arabs, who had no part in it.  [11]

 

  1. Censorship of critics. Zionists and their supporters routinely attempt to silence opponents of Zionism and critics of Israeli crimes against humanity by smearing them as purveyors of “antisemitism” (the word which Zionists use to mean Judeophobia i.e. hatred of Jews).  When their critics are Jewish, as many are, Zionists have often disparaged and dismissed them as “self-hating Jews”.  As Zionists smear their opponents, they often give far less attention to actual Judeophobes.

 

  1. Majority rule denied. Throughout most of its (1917..48) rule over Palestine, Britain, in violation of its Article 22 obligations under its League of Nations Mandate, deferred to the Zionists: by turning a deaf ear to repeated Palestinian Arab appeals for redress of grievances, and by refusing to establish any democratically-elected representative governing body.  Why?  Because such body would undoubtedly have rendered stillborn the scheme to transform Palestine into a Jewish nation-state by acting to stop: further Zionist immigration, land acquisitions, evictions of Arab tenant farmers, and discriminatory employment practices.  [12]

 

  1. Rebellions. Ultimately, the Arabs lost patience and resorted (in 1936) to armed rebellion.  The British then used armed Zionist paramilitaries as “police” to assist in suppressing the Arab revolt.  However, the persistence and cost of the Arab revolt finally convinced Britain of the folly of continuing to disregard the rights of the Arab majority in Palestine.  Consequently, Britain (in 1939) abandoned its totally one-sided support for Zionist goals, and adopted a quasi-neutral policy, which both: offended the Arabs by continuing the refusal of majority rule, and angered the Zionists by restricting Zionist immigration and land acquisitions.  The Zionists then revolted.  When Britain declared war against Nazi Germany, two of the three Zionist paramilitaries (Haganah and Irgun) suspended the rebellion, while the third (Lehi aka Stern Gang) attempted (in 1940 and again in 1941) to ally itself to Nazi Germany, but was rebuffed.  In 1944 Irgun resumed the revolt; and in 1945 the three Zionist paramilitaries jointly resumed their rebellion with sabotage and murders including terrorist bombings.  Their violent acts included: mass gun attacks; IED [improvised explosive device] attacks on passing trains and motor vehicles; letter bombs; time bombs in hotels, dining clubs, and other venues with civilian victims; and so forth; as well as attacks on police and military targets.  They also illegally trafficking large numbers of unauthorized Jewish immigrants into the country.  [13]

 

  1. Partition. In 1947, Britain concluded: that the objectives of the Zionists and of the Palestinian Arabs were irreconcilable, and that it could not maintain peace and order in Palestine with the resources which it was willing to commit.  Britain then turned the Palestine problem over to the United Nations.  The UN, then consisting of 56 mostly European and other white-ruled states, adopted a partition plan (General Assembly Resolution 181) which was grossly discriminatory against the Arabs.  Of the 15 Asian and African member states (excepting white-ruled South Africa) only two, having been bribed or coerced, voted for it.

○ Distribution of territory.  Although Jews were only 32% of the population, this UN plan allocated 55% of the territory to the Jewish state, 42% to the Arab state, and 3% to a UN administered zone in and around Jerusalem.

○ Distribution of population.  In the Jewish state, which was to have a population of 995,000, a bare majority of Jews was to rule over 497,000 mostly Arab and Bedouin others.  The majority Arab state was to have a population of 735,000, of which a mere 10,000 (1.4%) was to consist of Jews.  As had been the policy throughout the Mandate, majority-rule was deemed unacceptable while Jews were a minority but acceptable when and where they were in the majority.

Ω The ZO, intent upon obtaining international acceptance for the proposed Jewish state, accepted the partition plan.  The Palestinian Arabs and neighboring Arab states denounced the plan as a racist and colonialist injustice and refused to be bound by it.  [14]

 

  1. Conquest and ethnic cleansing. Armed conflict began between the Zionists and the Arabs even before Britain withdrew its forces on 1948 May 15.  Although the Arabs had greater numbers, they were at a tremendous disadvantage with very few men trained for combat.  Moreover, the intervening military contingents from Arab states were mostly: small in numbers, ill-trained, poorly equipped, and lacking in combat experience.  In contrast, the Zionists: had long given priority to immigration by men capable of bearing arms; had tens of thousands of war veterans and other well-trained soldiers; were far better armed; and possessed a much more cohesive civil society with functioning governmental and military organizations.  The Zionists proceeded: to conquer as much as possible of the territory allocated for the Arab state, and to expel most of the Arab population from Zionist-held territory.  [15]

 

  1. Nakba. The outcome of the war was a nakba [catastrophe] for the Palestinian Arabs.

○ Territory.  By war’s end in 1949, the so-called “Jewish state” had conquered 77% of the territory (including half of the territory allocated by the UN for the Palestinian Arab state); and the remaining 23% was occupied and/or annexed by Jordan and Egypt.  [16]

○ Ethnic cleansing.  Zionist armed forces had used massacres, death threats broadcast by radio and mobile loudspeakers, and expulsions at gunpoint to dispossess nearly 60% of the indigenous Arab population thereby making refugees of at least 711,000 Palestinian Arabs.  [17]

○ Land.  Immediately before the war, Jews owned 6.2% of the land in Palestine [15].  During and after the war, the Zionists confiscated the land and homes of the Arabs, who had fled or been expelled [18, 19].  They also confiscated nearly 40% of the landholdings of Arabs, who remained resident within Israeli-held territory [18].  The Zionist state then leased the confiscated land to Zionist Jewish settlers [18, 19].  By 1950, Zionists were in possession of 94% of the land in Israeli-ruled territory (i.e. 73% of the land in the whole of Palestine) [19].

○ Redress.  On 1948 Dec 11, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 calling for: (1) a demilitarized permanent international zone for Jerusalem, and (2) respect for the right of return for all refugees willing to live in peace with their neighbors.  On 1949 May 11 the UN General Assembly admitted Israel to UN membership based upon its purported acceptance of the UN Charter and General Assembly Resolutions 181 and 194.  Compliance with the Charter and with the two Resolutions would have required Israel: (1) to withdraw from occupied territory in the parts of Palestine allocated by the UN for the Palestinian Arab state and for the international zone, (2) to permit repatriation of the Palestinian Arab refugees to their homes in Israeli-controlled territory, and (3) to accord equal citizenship rights to its Arab minority.  Israel refused to comply with its obligations regarding: refugee repatriation, Jerusalem, and occupied Arab territory.  Israel dealt with those Arabs remaining in its territory by expelling some and by eventually conferring an inferior class of citizenship on the remainder.  [20]

○ Cover-up.  Attempting to conceal evidence of its crimes against humanity, the Zionist state conducts a policy of sequestering, and denying access to, documents consisting of contemporary reports of the massacres, expulsions, and other ethnic cleansing operations which its forces perpetrated during the Nakba and subsequently.  [21]

 

  1. Later conquests. The Zionist appetite for Arab territory was not satisfied by their conquests in 1948.

○ Pursuant to a secret duplicitous conspiracy with France and Britain, Israel, in 1956 October, invaded Egypt.  France and Britain, hoping to regain possession of the Suez Canal, then also invaded Egypt on the pretense of intervening in order to safeguard commerce thru the Canal.  During the meeting in which the conspiracy was hatched, Israeli leader David Ben Gurion proposed his “grand design”: that Israel should annex the remainder of Palestine plus southern Lebanon plus much of the Sinai.  Because a ceasefire was imposed before conditions were met for an Israel invasion of Jordan and Lebanon, actual Israeli conquests were limited to Gaza and Sinai.  Strong pressure by the US ultimately compelled the aggressors to give back the conquered territory.  [22]

○ In 1967 the Zionist state launched a blitzkrieg sneak attack on Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.  Therewith it conquered the remaining 23% of Palestine plus the Egyptian Sinai and the Syrian Golan.  Its difficulties during a subsequent war (1973), and the costs of defending its conquests eventually induced the Zionist state to return the Sinai to Egypt (by 1982), but it has refused to give up any of its remaining 1967 conquests.  [23]

○ Israel has repeatedly invaded neighboring Lebanon.  It occupied much of its territory for two decades (1982..2000), and finally withdrew only in response to strong armed resistance by the Hezbollah militia.  Israel continues to occupy the Shebaa Farms district of Lebanon.  Since 2000, Israeli armed forces have repeatedly (almost daily since 2006) breached Lebanese airspace, territorial waters, and/or land borders, as well as bombed targets within the country.  Massive Israeli airstrikes in 2006 killed some 1,100 people (mostly Lebanese civilians) and displaced another million.  These Israeli actions provoke retaliatory action by the Hezbollah militia and by the Lebanese Army thereby perpetuating tensions and violent conflict.  [24]

○ Territories taken from the indigenous Arabs and currently occupied and ruled by the Zionist state consist of seven territories, the last five of which were conquered in the 1967 war.  These include all of Palestine consisting of: (1) the partition territory, the 55% of Palestine allocated to the Zionist state by the UN in 1947; (2) the Nakba annexation, the additional 22% conquered by the Zionists in 1948..49; (3) East Jerusalem, 2%; (4) the West Bank, 19½%; and (5) Gaza, 1.4%.  The other two, which were taken from neighboring Arab countries, are: (6) Golan, taken from Syria; and (7) Shebaa Farms, a small piece of Lebanon.  [23]

 

  1. Occupation. The Zionist state has persistently committed human rights violations in defiance of both international human rights conventions and UN resolutions.

○ Land grabs.  While pretending to want peace with the Syrians and Palestinians, the Zionist state has illegally (officially or de facto) annexed their conquered territories.  In all of its occupied territories, it persists in seizing land from the Arab inhabitants, expelling the Arabs, and settling Jews on those lands (all in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention which pertains, among other matters, to the treatment of the native populations in foreign territories under military occupation).  [23, 25]

○ Citizenship and residency rights.  The Israeli state encourages Jews with no personal ties to Palestine to take up residence in the country and become citizens, but it denies the right of return to the Palestinian Arabs who fled the war or were forcibly expelled in 1948.  [26]

○ Ethnic discrimination.  Israel subjects Arabs, including those to whom it has conceded a third-class citizenship, to both overt and institutionalized discrimination.  Infrastructure, services, and subsidies routinely provided to Zionist communities are denied to their Arab neighbors.  Required building permits are almost never provided to Arabs, and the state routinely demolishes Arab homes and additions when constructed without such permits.  Water resources are confiscated from Arab communities and given to their Zionist neighbors.  In the territories occupied since 1967, Zionist settlers are subject to civil law with liberal civil rights while Arabs are subject to arbitrary military law (with no such rights) and rigged judicial proceedings (with due process denied and near-certain conviction predetermined).  [25]

○ Repression.  The Zionist state subjects the Arab population within Palestine and other occupied territories to murderous repression and collective punishments (in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention and other international human rights laws).  Specifics include: unlawful targeted killings of resistance leaders; detentions and deportations of Palestinian Arab leaders; denial of travel rights to Arab critics of Zionist occupation practices; a profusion of arbitrary detentions and long imprisonments without charge; routine torture of prisoners; home demolitions where a single family member is suspected of an act of violent resistance; use of excessive force in quelling protests; mass bombings of civilian populations (as in Gaza 2014); a blockade depriving the 1.8 million Gazans of life-sustaining essentials (export income and vital imports including food, medical supplies, fuel, and sorely needed building materials); checkpoints and road blockages applicable only to Arabs; obstructions of access to education and employment; and so forth.  Israel’s systematic and pervasive abuses create such despair that it provokes violent resistance, both collective and individual, against the Israelis; and the Zionist state then uses every incident of violent resistance as a “security” pretext for continuing its injustices against the Palestinians Arabs.  [25, 27]

 

  1. Peace negotiations. The Zionist state, devoted to a racist ideology and existing upon the spoils of its robbery and oppression of the Arabs, has never sought a just peace.

○ Israel has often refused to negotiate with the Palestinian interlocutors who actually would speak for the entirety of the Palestinian Arabs.  It has also often refused, on one or another pretext, to even negotiate key issues such as: the rights of the dispossessed Arabs to return to their native land, Palestinian statehood, the status of Jerusalem, the settlements in the West Bank, and the oppressive policies of the occupation regime.  Then, whenever any of these issues have been discussed, Israel has insisted that any concessions on its part be conditional upon their interlocutors bargaining away the fundamental rights of the indigenous Palestinians – rights provided under international law.  [28, 29]

○ Israel has unilaterally and persistently created “facts on the ground” and bludgeoned the Palestinians so that their leaders have been compelled to negotiate from a position of such desperation that they are essentially beggars negotiating with the Zionist gun to their heads.  [29]

○ Finally, the Zionist state, having given a lip-service acceptance of the so-called 2-state solution, pretends to be agreeable in principle to Palestinian statehood so that it can then “justify” continuing to exclude most Palestinian Arabs from citizenship and equal civil rights.  Meanwhile, it has planted so many settlements as to make a viable Palestinian state impossible even in the West Bank.  Any such “state” would be a collection of disconnected and subjugated cantons similar to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa.  [31, 29]

 

Noted sources:

[1] Howard M Sachar (Zionist American historian): A History of Israel (Knopf, © 1979) ~ pp 10..17, 36..47.  Lenni Brenner (American social justice writer/activist): Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (Lawrence Hill Books, © 1983) ~ pp 1, 4, 15, 18..25, 29..32, 50..51.

[2] Benny Morris (Zionist Israeli historian): 1948 – A History of the First Arab-Israeli War (Yale University Press, © 2008) ~ p 4.

[3] Morris ~ p 5.  Sachar ~ pp 47..54, 96..110.  Brenner ~ p 9.

[4] Sachar ~ pp 77..78, 142..143, 163..167, 175..176.

[5] Morris ~ pp 2..3, 18..19.

[6] Brenner ~.chapters 3, 5, 6, 7, 12.

[7] Brenner ~ chapters 4, 10, 14.

[8] Brenner ~ chapter 25.

[9] Robert Silverberg (American writer): If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem (Pyramid Communication, Inc., © 1970) ~ pp 174..175.

[10] Morris ~ p 23, 26, 65.

[11] Morris ~ p 33.

[12] United Nations Information System for Palestine [UNISPAL]: The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem 1917-1988 (1990) ~ Part I (§ III) @ https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/57C45A3DD0D46B09802564740045CC0A.

[13] Morris ~ pp 14..20, 29..31, 35..36.  Wikipedia: 1936-1939 Arab Revolt in Palestine (2018 May 29); Jewish insurgency in Mandatory Palestine (2018 May 26) ~ § 1 Origins, § 2 Timeline; Semiramis Hotel bombing (2018 May 05).

[14] Morris ~ pp 37..38, 55, 61, 63..65.  Wikipedia: United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (2018 May 14).  UNISPAL ~ Part II (§§ III, IV).

[15] Morris ~ pp 77..93.  UNISPAL ~ Part II (§ V).

[16] UNISPAL ~ Part II (§ IX).

[17] Wikipedia: 1948 Palestinian exodus (2018 Jun 01).

[18] Sachar ~ pp 386..89.

[19] Stephen Lendman: Israel’s Discriminatory Land Policies (2009 Jul 31) @ https://www.globalresearch.ca/israel-s-discriminatory-land-policies/14579.  Wikipedia: Israeli land and property laws (2018 May 23) ~ § 2 Overview.

[20] UNISPAL ~ Part II (§ VI).  Sachar ~ pp 382..86.

[21] Hagar Shezaf: Burying the Nakba (Haaretz, 2019 Jul 05) @ https://portside.org/2019-07-06/burying-nakba.

[22] Wikipedia: Protocol of Sèvres (2018 Apr 02); United Nations Emergency Force (2018 May 27).  Sachar ~ pp 506.

[23] Wikipedia: Israeli-occupied territories (2018 May 23).

[24] Wikipedia: South Lebanon conflict (1985-2000) (2018 May 30); Israeli-Lebanese conflict (2018 May 23) ~ § 6 Border clashes, assassinations …, § 7 2006 Lebanon War, § 8 Post-2006 war activity, § 9 Israeli incursions into Lebanon.

[25] Amnesty International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2016/2017 (accessed 2017 Oct) @ https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/.  Human Rights Watch: Israel – 50 years of occupation abuses (2017 Jun 04) @ https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/04/israel-50-years-occupation-abuses.

[26] UNRWA: Palestine refugees (accessed 2017 Oct 01) @ https://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees.  Wikipedia: Israeli nationality law (2018 May 27); Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (2018 Mar 05).

[27] Ilan Pappe (anti-Zionist Israeli historian): Ten Myths About Israel (Verso, © 2017) ~ chapter 9.

[28] BBC News: History of Mid-East Peace Talks (2013 Jul 29) @ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-11103745.

[29] Jakob Reimann: Israel Is an Apartheid State (Even if the UN Report Has Been Withdrawn) (2017 Mar 31) @ https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2017/03/31/israel-is-an-apartheid-state-even-if-the-un-report-has-been-withdrawn/.

[30] Wikipedia: Facts on the ground (2018 May 18).

[31] Pappe ~ chapter 10.  Seraj Assi: Is Israel an Apartheid State? (2017 Apr 07) @ https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2017/04/07/is-israel-an-apartheid-state/.

 

Author: Charles Pierce          Date: 2019 Mar 10.

 

Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed at https://specter-cp.home.blog.

Ethnic cleansing in the United States.

Ethnic cleansing in the United States.

 

1.  Land cessions. Relevant history.

○ Colonial period.  Until 1492 all of North America belonged to its many indigenous peoples.  Between 1565 (when Spain established, in Florida, the first permanent European colony in what was to become the 48 contiguous United States) and 1783 (when the United States gained its independence from Britain), most of the land east of the Appalachian divide was taken from the indigenous nations and settled by Europeans.  Most of the displaced indigenes, who survived, were forced to relocate to territory further west.

○ US claims.  During the War for American Independence, some of the indigenous nations (and/or their internal factions) remained neutral, while others eventually took one side or the other.  Of the latter, many more sided with the British than with the Americans, because the British (wanting to avoid costly armed conflicts) had attempted to protect indigenous territory from incursions by American land speculators and frontier settlers.  With the end of the War in 1783, the United States laid claim to sovereignty over all of the territory between the Appalachian divide and the Mississippi River.  At first the US government claimed the right to take ownership of all of the land in this new territory based on a purported “right of conquest”.  Naturally the indigenous nations refused to accept either the claim of American sovereignty or the purported right of Americans to take their land.

○ Treaty cessions.  As the United States government seized Indigenous American land in response to pressure from wealthy land speculators and racist demagogues, war was the inevitable result.  The American government soon recognized that negotiations for land cessions was an easier and far less costly means for enforcing the claimed sovereignty and obtaining the coveted land.  In such negotiations, all of the advantages were with the American side, which used those advantages to gradually obtain nearly all of the coveted territory thru a series of unequal treaties.  The treaties were, of course, always written: by the American side, in the language of the Americans, and using interpreters chosen by the Americans.  American agents (who often were territorial military governors) used intimidation, coercion, deceit, bribery, and exploitation of conflicts within and between the indigenous nations.  While the indigenous nations were paid for the land, that pay was a small fraction of its actual value and commonly included promised annuities.  These annuities were often subsequently withheld in order to extort cessions of additional territory.  The American side routinely recognized an indigenous interlocutor, who was willing to comply with American demands, as agent (or purported “chief”) of an indigenous nation even though said interlocutor often had no authority to act for that nation.  Naturally, the resulting treaties were invariably fraudulent.  [1]

 

2.  Land speculators. Throughout the colonial period and until the middle of the 19th century, for Euro-Americans with money, the most popular and usual place to invest was in land, especially land on the frontier yet to be settled by Euro-Americans.  Wealthy Europeans also often invested in such American land.  “Valid” title to land in frontier areas could only be obtained from the colonial governments or later the federal government, and such land was routinely sold on especially favorable terms to political allies and influential insiders.  Wealthy land speculators cast covetous eyes upon land owned and occupied by indigenous peoples.  They were leading instigators of American aggressions and wars against the indigenous nations – aggressions thru which such lands were acquired by the government.  These speculators used their influence with provincial and federal office-holders to obtain grants of large tracts of land newly extorted from the indigenous nations; then, after the indigenes had been expelled, these grant holders would contract surveys and sell the land in small lots at a great markup over their privileged purchase price.  A notable example is the case of western New York.  [2]

○ Preemption.  In the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix, the US acknowledged that ownership of western New York belonged to the Iroquois Six Nations.  A 1786 agreement to resolve conflicting claims over this territory gave its governance to New York, but gave to Massachusetts a preemptive right to buy the land from the Iroquois.  In 1788 Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham purchased (from Massachusetts) that preemptive right over nearly all of New York west of Seneca Lake – 6 million acres occupying 14 present-day counties.  The price was $1 million ($26.4 million in 2017 dollars), but it was to be paid in Massachusetts scrip then worth about 20 cents on the dollar.  The scrip rose in value to par, and Phelps and Gorham were then unable to complete payment.  When they defaulted after having made their first of three payments, purchase rights over the western 2/3 (i.e. the part west of the Genesee River) reverted to Massachusetts.  In 1791 Robert Morris purchased the rights over most of that 2/3.

○ Dispossession.  In 1792 and 93 Morris contracted the sale of most (3,750,000 acres) of his subject land to the Holland Land Company – a syndicate of wealthy investors in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  In order to deliver clear title Morris had to buy the land from the Iroquois, its actual owners.  In 1797, their agreement to sell was fraudulently extorted in the Treaty of Big Tree thru a combination of: (1) threat that the US would likely not recognize their ownership rights, and (2) bribery of their leaders and negotiators, plus (3) decision to leave the Iroquois with 200,000 acres (about 5.33%) for reservations.  The Holland Land Company hired a survey and divided the land into lots which it then sold between 1801 and 1840.

○ End result.  Massachusetts, which had never paid anything to the Iroquois, received from 9 to 16 2/3 cents per acre.  The surveyors were paid about 2.2 cents per acre.  The actual owners, the Iroquois, received about 3 cents per acre.  The land in post-survey lots apparently sold generally at or above $3.00/acre.  Thus, the land speculators (Morris, and the Holland Land Company) apparently received, between them, gross profits in excess of $2.75/acre.

 

3.  Purchasers. Land in the fully settled eastern part of the newly independent United States was mostly all privately owned, and it was relatively expensive.  Thus, tenant farmers and farm laborers generally could not afford to purchase farms there.  Meanwhile, land in the western frontier areas possessed certain relative disadvantages; specifically: less of it had been cleared of woods, its roads and other transportation infrastructure were few and crude, and access to markets and established American communities was more distant and difficult.  Consequently, whenever land became available on the western frontier, it was relatively cheap.  With every bloc of territory ceded by the indigenes to the US, the federal government asserted ownership of the ceded land.  In the old Northwest Territory [Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin] the indigenes received pennies per acre for their land, which the US government then surveyed and offered at auction to individual Americans at prices of no less than $1.00 or $2.00/acre.  The purchasers included wealthy land speculators as well as family farmers.  Only the latter actually settled on the land.  The speculators, who acquired a very large portion of the land, purchased it only to re-sell at a sizable mark-up to later settlers.  Incidentally, such speculators were a major influence on American policy to take the land from its indigenous populations, as they (along with racist demagogues and militarists) lobbied and often bribed their friends in government to induce the government to seize and/or extort ever more cessions of territory from the indigenous peoples.  [3]

 

4.  Interracial relations. In order to justify the dispossession of the original owners of America and to obscure the fraud and theft utilized in the process, the land speculators, other advocates of American expansionism, and their apologists routinely resorted to misrepresentation and bigotry.

○ Firstly, (although there was brutality on both sides in the “Indian” wars) they tried to dehumanize the indigenes by portraying them as nothing but murdering heathen savages.

○ Secondly, they portrayed white settlement as bring civilization to an untamed wilderness and falsely portrayed the indigenous peoples as incapable of making productive use of the land.  In fact, the indigenous peoples throughout almost the whole of the territory between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River were farmers, who cleared tracts of the woodland in order to raise the crops which included their staple foods – maize [corn], beans, and squash – plus various other vegetables.  Meat obtained in the hunt was a supplement to the staples.  If the indigenes did not clear as much of the woodland as the Americans, this was: because their lower population density and their land rotation practice made it unnecessary, and (until after European contact) because they lacked the steel saws and axes and the draft animals of the Euro-Americans, which made forest removal much easier.

Ω Despite the disparaging propaganda against the indigenous people, most settlers sought to avoid conflict with the remaining local natives.  Some went further and established neighborly and mutually beneficial trade relations with neighboring indigenes.  [4]

 

Noted sources:

[1] Robert M Owens: Indian Land Cessions (Dictionary of American History, © 2016) @ http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/indian-land-cessions.

[2] Wikipedia: Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784) (2017 Nov 06); Treaty of Hartford (1786) (2017 Oct 10); Phelps and Gorham Purchase (2018 Feb 21); Robert Morris (financier) (2018 May 20); Holland Land Company (2018 Apr 24).  New York Heritage: Holland Land Company Maps (© 2014) @ https://www.nyheritage.org/collections/holland-land-company-maps.

[3] Paul W Gates: Land Speculation (Dictionary of American History, © 2016) @ http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/land-speculation.

[4] Jack Lynch: “A Principal Source of Dishonor” – Indian Policies in Early America (C W Journal, 2009 Spring) @ http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring09/policies.cfm.  R Douglas Hurt: Agriculture, American Indian (Dictionary of American History, © 2016) @ http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/agriculture-american-indian.

 

Author: Charles Pierce.     Date: 2017 Aug 11.

 

Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed at https://specter-cp.home.blog.

America-first racism in the US left.

AMERICA-FIRST RACISM IN THE US LEFT

 

President Trump is a forceful advocate for putting “America first” which means pitting Americans, especially white Americans (whom Trump encourages to regard themselves as more deserving), against peoples in other countries (whom he evidently believes should be regarded as peoples who do not matter).  Unfortunately, large parts of the US “left” have long embraced their own versions of putting “America first”.

 

1.  America-first racism in the center-left party.  With so much of the US left giving so much allegiance to Democrat politicians, it is necessary to begin by recognizing the racism in that party’s policies.  Since the mid-1940’s the US and its Western allies have routinely interfered in the internal affairs of vulnerable countries thereby depriving peoples all around the world of their right to decide for themselves: their economic policies, how and by whom they are to be governed, their foreign policies and relationships, and so forth.  Said interference has included invasions, orchestrating and/or abetting coups d’état, murderous economic sieges to punish the population in hopes that it will demand regime change, funding of antisocial opposition groups (including pro-Western parties in elections), arming counterrevolutionary insurgencies, etc.  Thusly the US-led Western empire acts: to compel targeted countries to comply with imperial dictates, and/or to destroy governments which resist.  With only rare exceptions, high-level politicians, Democrats no less than Republicans, have backed this policy thereby functioning as thoroughgoing imperialists and militarists.  Some relevant and illustrative facts regarding the role of governing Democrats in these cross-border racist assaults.

♦ Truman initiated the Cold War against the Soviet Union when it needed and was seeking cooperative relations and space to reconstruct after the huge losses and massive destruction left by war and Axis occupation.  Among other misdeeds: Truman’s military intervention on the side of anti-democratic forces largely led by former Nazi collaborators imposed a repressive rightwing regime in Greece; his CIA subverted the 1948 Italian election to ensure victory by the rightwing party over the opposing Socialist-Communist alliance; and a CIA-backed coup in 1949 ousted the democratically-elected government in newly-independent Syria. Moreover, it was Truman’s Justice Department which began the 1949..58 Smith Act prosecutions and imprisonments of over 100 leading members of the US Communist Party for expressing their Marxist political views – Cold War repression first approved, but eventually belatedly reversed as unconstitutional, by the Supreme Court (dominated throughout by Democrat-appointed justices).  [1]

♦ Kennedy and/or Johnson: invaded Cuba, hired Cosa Nostra gangsters to try to assassinate its Prime Minister (Castro), and used exile terrorist gangs to conduct clandestine warfare against that country.  They incited and/or abetted coups against left-leaning and anti-imperialist foreign governments (most of them popularly-elected) in: Ecuador (1961 and 1963), Iraq (1963), Dominican Republic (1963), Brazil (1964), Bolivia (1964), Indonesia (1965), Ghana (1966), and Greece (1967).  Kennedy began, and Johnson continued, the murderous US war against Vietnam with massive violations of international conventions including: use of chemical weapons (for example napalm against assumed adversaries and toxic defoliants to destroy crops and thereby depopulate the countryside); and use of torture and murder (in the Phoenix program) against tens of thousands of prisoners.  [2]

♦ Carter: initiated the US funding and arming of the reactionary antisocial Islamist insurgency against the progressive modernist Soviet-aligned government in Afghanistan, joined apartheid South Africa in backing a (failed) coup plot (1979) against the anti-imperialist President of Seychelles, imposed sanctions (1979) on Grenada in an attempt to cripple its economy and thereby oust its progressive revolutionary government, and initiated (1980) the US-backed Contra War (which Reagan later expanded) against the anti-imperialist government in Nicaragua.  [3]

♦ Bill Clinton, knowing (and/or not caring) that the pretense that Iraq still had WMD [weapons of mass destruction] was false, imposed a murderous economic siege [sanctions] which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (mostly children), hoping thereby to provoke a coup to topple its President [4].  Clinton interfered on the side of the unpopular incumbent but US-favored Boris Yeltsin in the already heavily rigged 1996 Russian Presidential election: by funding pro-Western advocacy organizations, by securing a timely IMF loan for Yeltsin to spend on popular projects, by providing expert campaign consultants, and by publicly praising Yeltsin and making veiled threats of adverse consequences should the opposition Communist candidate win.  Clinton also began the provocative eastward expansion of NATO into former Warsaw Pact countries in violation of the US commitment given to Russia in return for the needed Soviet consent to the 1990 reunification of Germany.

♦ Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton [HRC] was an outspoken advocate for the Bush-Cheney “preemptive war” against Iraq, which killed another some 700,000.  [5]

♦ HRC and John Kerry (the respective Democrat presidential candidates in 2016 and 2004), as Secretaries of State under Obama, were proponents of his new cold war against Russia and backed his policy of support for the destructive Islamist-dominated insurgency in Syria.  HRC also advocated for the US-led military invasion which resulted in humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Libya.  Kerry, who had also backed the military intervention in Libya, was a proponent of Obama’s policy of encouraging and assisting the Saudi and UAE war of mass murder (from starvation and disease as well as aerial bombing) against the people of Yemen.  [6]

♦ Obama: joined several allies in the invasion and destruction of Libya, abetted coups and coup attempts against popularly elected progressive and anti-imperialist governments in Honduras (2009) and Ecuador (2010), as well as against the duly elected neutralist government of Ukraine (2014) [⁑].  Obama also armed and abetted the US-client regime in Colombia which gave rightwing death squads free rein to murder (as reported by Human Rights Watch) over 120 labor organizers and other nonviolent progressive social activists in 2011..15 alone (and more thereafter).  Meanwhile, he imposed the first of the crippling economic sanctions and persisted in other interventions to undermine the popularly elected leftist government in Venezuela.  [6, 7]

[⁑ Note.  While popular discontent resulting from deteriorated economic conditions created fertile ground; the Ukrainian coup resulted from US and opposition-party incitement of violent regime-change street-protests, spear-headed by Ukrainian neo-Nazi gangs, against said government.  That government had offended: the US and EU by declining to align with NATO and the West, and Ukrainian chauvinists by attempting to eliminate regional and ethnic grievances thru measures such as authorizing local option for official use of Russian and other minority languages.]

♦ The FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act [HR 5515] increases already massive military spending by 18.7% over FY 2017.  Only 49 of 193 House Democrats voted against, and only 40 (barely over half) of the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus [CPC] did so.  In the Senate it passed 87 to 10 with a mere 8 of 49 Democrat caucus members voting against.  [8]

♦ The 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [HR 3364] seeks to intensify Obama’s new cold war against Russia, as well as to impose greater hardships on the peoples of Iran and North Korea.  It was adopted 419 to 3 in the House (each of the 3 no votes being from Republicans) and 98 to 2 in the Senate (the 2 being Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul).  [9]

♦ Nearly every politician in Congress, Democrat as well as Republican, demands a policy of abetting the often-murderous Israeli persecution of the Palestinian Arabs.  The bipartisan Israel Anti-boycott Act [S 720 & HR 1697] would have criminalized advocacy by individuals for any international organization’s call to boycott Israel (for its violations of the human rights of Palestinians) or even to boycott products from its illegal settlements.  It was opposed by the ACLU as an unconstitutional violation of the 1st Amendment.  Introduced in 2017 March, by the following July: 14 (i.e. 1/3) of its 43 Senate cosponsors were Democrats, and 63 (i.e. 1/4) of its 243 House cosponsors were Democrats (including 11 members of the so-called Progressive Caucus).  [10]

Ω Democrat politicians make a show of opposing overt domestic manifestations of racism, sexism, and other bigoted abuses, because they need the votes of affected base constituencies which would not otherwise vote for them.  (Capitalists mostly go along because current half-measure and often-unenforced anti-discrimination laws have relatively little adverse impact upon capitalist opportunities and profits, while capital needs to appeal to the women, racial minorities, and other abuse victims, who make up a very large part of its customer base.)  However, all centrist and nearly all avowedly “progressive” Democrats currently in the Congress, like all US Presidents since 1945, embrace or acquiesce (along with most Republicans) to the bipartisan racist notion that the US must arrogate to itself the privilege of deciding for other countries (throughout the world) which political actors are to govern their peoples.  The official pretense for such US interventions is almost invariably to defend or advance the cause of “freedom”, “democracy”, “human rights”, and/or “vital national interests”.  The actual motive is, directly or indirectly, to ensure that transnational capital can profitably exploit the labor, natural resources, and/or markets of the targeted countries.  The overall effect on said countries has been: subjugation and perpetuated dependency; impoverishment with widespread preventable disease, illiteracy, dire privation, and related social ills; rampant corruption; often-horrendous human-rights abuses; gross violations of civil liberties with often-brutal repression of (especially leftist) dissent; and massive violence with cumulative death toll in the millions.  Democrat politicians pose as opponents of the racist and other injustices which are perpetrated in the US; but, when it comes to foreign victims, they (equally with Republicans) are perpetrators.

 

2.  Lip-service “anti-imperialism. “Progressive” and “socialist” individuals and organizations routinely avow a commitment to anti-militarism and anti-imperialism, but they divide into: (1) those who consistently act on that commitment, and (2) those whose anti-imperialism is inconsistent and often little more than lip service.  For at least the past three decades, the latter, more concerned over domestic reforms and/or schemes to “move US politics to the left”, have routinely called for unity (with only perfunctory, if any, reproach) behind Democrat politicians who were/are thoroughgoing militarists and imperialists.  These “leftists” disregard the essential fact of deep-rooted Democratic-Party complicity in the crimes of US imperialism against peoples outside of US borders.  For some on the “left”, as for career politicians in the Democratic Party, it seems (though they may deny it) that racist and other bigoted oppressions really matter only when the victims are Americans and/or groups with relatives and friends in the US.

 

3.  Inaction on crimes against humanity. How should socialists respond to terrorist quasi-states which perpetrate mass murder against innocent civilians as they seek to impose an intolerant medievalist perversion of “Islamic” rule upon every community within their reach?  (Each such quasi-state is an outlaw political entity which uses armed force: to conquer and rule communities; and to perpetrate murderous violence against its adversaries and chosen victims, namely non-adherents to its sectarian doctrines and strictures.)  This is a complex issue for reasons as follows.  Nevertheless, controversial though the following analysis will be, this issue should not be evaded or ignored.

 

1st.  Wars waged by capitalist states.  With the US and its allies at war against the Islamist quasi-states, anti-imperialists must answer the question: should they ever support any war waged by a capitalist state?  Many American leftists follow peace movement organizations in embracing an undifferentiated opposition to all wars (including those against Islamist quasi-states), other than in defense of one’s own country against actual foreign invasion.  They demand that the US immediately end all of its offensive foreign military operations.  Some leftists even carry this pacifist dogma to the extreme of insisting that certain past US wars, which the revolutionary left strongly supported, should have been opposed.  Examples.

♦ The US Civil War (1861..65).  Some antiwar leftists have actually insisted that the central government should not have been supported in its use of military force to end the secession of the Confederate States; but, because of the horrors of war, should instead have permitted the slave states to go their own separate way.  They excuse their willingness to accept a prolongation of slavery by propounding: the false notion that the war was not about slavery, and/or the dubious notion that slavery would “soon enough” have been phased out without the need for a bloody war.  Moreover, they are evidently oblivious to the reality that slavery itself was a brutal centuries-long war against the humanity of the enslaved.  John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and all revolutionary abolitionists strongly and properly supported armed action against the slave power.  So too did Karl Marx who strongly supported, as revolutionary and progressive, the war of the industrial-capitalist liberal-democratic North against the slave-owning ruling class of the plantation South [11].

♦ The War against the Axis (1939..45).  Some defense-only antiwar leftists also insist that progressives should have opposed the US joining Britain and the USSR in the War against Nazi Germany and its allies.  To be clear, this was an inter-imperialist war of the Axis empires against the British and US empires to decide which alliance of empires would rule and exploit the world.  However, unlike the Great War (1914..18), it was also an anti-fascist war.  A fascist victory would have resulted in continued genocidal mass murder and the most vicious and unconstrained repression of the left while a victory of the antifascist alliance: saved the Soviet Union (which despite its faults was a progressive and anti-imperialist force in international affairs), expanded the sphere of countries outside the capitalist and imperialist orbit, strengthened the struggle against racial persecutions, and preserved the political freedoms (even though incompletely) for the left in much of the capitalist world.  Revolutionaries appropriately gave this war against the Axis their full support.

♦ Just and unjust wars.  Revolutionary socialists recognize that war is certainly an ugly horror.  Nevertheless, Marxists (Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin, et al) have always made the crucial distinction between wars which are just and progressive and those which are unjust and simply predatory.  For example, in 1870, Marx and Engels and the German Social-democratic Workers’ Party opposed the German state’s war against France when it became a war for territorial annexation; but, when, at its start, Germany acted against the power over Europe of aggressive autocratic reaction (then consisting of tsarist Russia and Second-Empire France), they supported this war.  Moreover, Marx and Engels had advocated (in 1848) for the liberal-dominated Frankfurt parliament to unite the German states and wage war against Russia, which was then the bulwark of reaction and autocracy in Europe, in order to unify and democratize Germany and to liberate and reunite and democratize Poland, necessary steps before socialist revolution would be possible.  [12]

♦ Current US wars.  For many of these defense-only peace activists, a principal argument is that “the wars” (namely those against the Islamist quasi-states) are too costly in American soldiers killed and maimed and in resources which would be better used to satisfy human and social needs here in the US.  Another argument is that the war is largely in service to war-profiteering by the “defense” industry.  While the US, at the behest of the armaments industry, certainly spends exorbitantly on its military and neglects the human and social needs of much of its populace; those excessive expenditures are primarily on super-expensive ships, planes, high-tech weapons, and new-cold-war military exercises, all of which are justifiably opposed by both peace groups and by revolutionaries.  However, the fact of high costs borne by the soldiers and by the national Treasury would apply to US military action in the US Civil War and the anti-Axis War.  The cost argument evades the relevant issue namely whether or not the war is just and progressive.  The same goes for the war-profiteering argument.  Thus, while wasteful practices certainly should be opposed, cost and profiteering are not the appropriate criteria for deciding whether to support or oppose any particular war waged by a capitalist state.  The Kuwait War (1991), the Iraq War (2002..11), the military interventions to oust the governments of Libya (2011) and of Syria (2012..17), the military intervention in the civil war in Yemen (since 2015) were/are unjustifiable imperialist wars which revolutionaries absolutely were/are obligated to oppose.  Conversely, for reasons provided below, the war against Taliban, Al Qaeda, Daesh, et al are entirely justified and should not be opposed.

Ω The first consideration in deciding whether or not a war should be supported or opposed depends upon whether or not it serves progress toward the liberation of humankind: from class oppression; or from systemic racial, sectarian religious, misogynist, and/or other bigoted persecutions; or from other systemic social injustice.  The anti-war defense-only doctrine in the US left is essentially another manifestation of left liberal America-first-ism.

 

2nd.  Western-alliance practice.

♦ Selective indifference.  Western inaction against perpetrators of genocidal crimes against humanity has been routine in circumstances where Western interests (the wants of transnational capital and/or geo-strategic objectives) were little affected.  Notable instances include: the Rwandan genocide and the Rohingya ethnic cleansing.  Meanwhile, most of the organized left in the US and its major allies, joined the club by silently acquiescing as their governments chose policies of inaction with respect to those massive crimes against humanity.

♦ Other motives.  When the Western powers do act against perpetrators of massive crimes against humanity; they do so, not from concern for the victims, but because of: (1) the wants of transnational capital, (2) geo-strategic imperial objectives, (3) having been compelled by popular pressure to act, and/or (4) being under violent attack by said perpetrators.

 

3rd.  Social pacifism.  Much of the avowedly “anti-imperialist” left has fallen into liberal “social pacifism” and is demanding that the US and its allies withdraw from all of their foreign military operations including those which are directed against Islamist quasi-state mass-murdering persecutors: the Afghan Taliban, Al Qaeda, Daesh (aka Islamic State), and their affiliates (including Al Shabab and Boko Haram).  These leftists almost invariably evade the issue of the nature of said Islamist quasi-states.  They often also ignore or distort the contradictory relationship of Western imperialism to said quasi-states.  These are issues of crucial importance.  Relevant facts.

♦ Medievalist imperialism.  Islam, like Christianity and other major world religions, is not inherently an intolerant religion.  However, just as Christendom (in its medieval past) produced its Crusades, inquisitions, religious wars, and repressive theocratic states; a similarly intolerant medievalist current has arisen and currently operates within parts of the Muslim world.  When the Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan, it: deprived women of all rights; imposed draconian sectarian strictures; and massacred by the thousands those civilians whom it regarded as heretics or apostates (especially Shia Muslims).  Al Qaeda carried out mass murder of civilians in the West (whose people it regards as worthless infidels) and against fellow Muslims, those who were Shia and those Sunni who opposed its intolerance and violent extremism.  Daesh, an offshoot of Al Qaeda: enslaved and raped infidel women, perpetrated genocidal mass murder and ethnic cleansings against non-Muslims (Yazidi, Christian, other) and against Alawi and other non-Sunni Muslims, and perpetrated mass executions of those who failed to comply with its extreme sectarian strictures or refused to convert to its perversion of Sunni Islam.  These despotic medievalists and their affiliates seek to impose upon majority Muslim communities their own versions of empire (the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate”, Daesh’s “Caliphate”, etc.).

♦ Fostering monsters.  Although Western imperialism did not create this brutally violent medievalist “jihadism”, it contributed significantly to its growth into a monstrous power.  The Western powers did so thru their practice of using intolerant sectarian Islamist groups as pawns in their regime-change operations to oust secular modernist governments which were refusing to comply with Western imperial dictates.  Examples include: Iran (1953), Indonesia (1965), Afghanistan (1979..92), Iraq (1991..2003), and Syria (2012..17).  With respect to these last three, Western imperialism has indirectly fostered monsters (Al Qaeda, Taliban, Daesh, and their affiliates) which ultimately are as ideologically and violently hostile to the West as to the kind of secular modernizing regimes against which Western imperialism has used them.

♦ Contradictory relationship.  While Western imperialism has contributed hugely to the rise of violent medievalist “jihadism”; it also finds itself attacked by it.  Consequently, it must, to some extent, fight against it.  As long as the US and its allies are willing to fight these medievalist persecutors (even though it will be for their own imperialistic motives); why should social revolutionaries object?  For those who care about social justice and recognize their obligation for solidarity with the victims; there is no valid reason, in principle, to oppose action by the Western alliance to destroy those quasi-state monsters.

♦ Pseudo-anti-imperialist and social pacifist falsifications.  Bogus “anti-imperialist” arguments for quitting the wars against the Afghan Taliban and other Islamist quasi-states include the following.

  • Some avowed “revolutionary Marxist” sects embrace the dogma that any group fighting the US must be ipso facto anti-imperialist; and they have whitewashed the Taliban as “anti-imperialist” or a “liberation movement”, which, of course, is absurd.  In fact, the Taliban is led by reactionary intolerant mullahs who: want to impose a medievalist perversion of Islam upon the people of Afghanistan, and are using murderous violence to do so.
  • Some of the “anti-imperialist” left assert that the Islamist attacks in Western countries are only in response to the unwelcome Western imperial presence and aggressions in the Muslim world.  In reality their hostility to the West is, not to class oppressions and capitalist exploitation or to imperial domination (per se), but to the influence of liberal democratic, secular, anti-patriarchal, and other progressive values which they associate with the West, values which much of the Muslim world, like much of the Western world (over a longer time frame), has willingly embraced.
  • Those same “anti-imperialists” object to the Western military action against the Afghan Taliban with the sophist assertion of Taliban innocence in the 9-11 attacks which killed nearly 3,000 American civilians.  They evade the pertinent fact that the Taliban provided the safe haven from which Al Qaeda launched that and several other attacks against the US.
  • Another argument is the half-truth that history shows that no foreign army can ever defeat an indigenous Afghan resistance; but this evades the fact that there is no reason why foreign assistance to an Afghan regime constituted and operating with a progressive popular program could succeed against an oppressive quasi-state such as the Taliban.  For example, following the withdrawal of supportive Soviet military forces, the progressive Afghan government under the leadership of Mohamed Najibullah, with Soviet supplies but no Soviet or other foreign troops, defied expectations and held its own (1989..92) against the Islamist Mujahidin while the latter continued to receive massive support from Pakistan and other hostile intervening states.  Despite its flaws, said Afghan government collapsed only when Russia (under Yeltsin) cut off its supplies thereby starving it of needed petrol and other essentials.

Whatever the rationales, the effect of such pseudo-anti-imperialism is to seek to abandon millions of victims to their mass-murdering medievalist persecutors.

♦ GWoT.  The US and its allies have been conducting the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” [GWoT] since 2001 and more informally since the first Al Qaeda attacks on the US in the 1990s.  This GWoT has been used by Western states as pretext for increased infringements of civil liberties and for increased persecutions of the Muslim minorities.  It has also been largely a failure with ultimate victory nowhere in sight.  The West has been unable to win its GWoT (in Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere), not because the general populaces side with the Islamists, but because of counterproductive policies.  These include: reliance upon, and service to, unpopular and corrupt regimes and their ruling elites; failure to address the social and economic needs of the populations; over-reliance upon high-explosive firepower (with excessive collateral injuries and deaths); reliance upon ground troops (both Western and local) who are trained for conventional warfare and territorial conquest and consequently lack sufficient capacity to win the trust and allegiance of the local population; and so on.  In order to fully and finally destroy its enemies in the GWoT, the Western alliance will need to change its approach.  The socialist critique should be directed, not against the effort, but against the malignant imperial past actions and the ineffective current practices.

♦ What to do.  Revolutionary socialist support for the Western-alliance war to destroy the violent Islamist quasi-states and end their intolerant persecutions need not, and should not, be provided uncritically.

  • Needed criticisms include: the self-serving motives listed above, the counterproductive methods listed above, and the West’s imperial regime-change policies which contributed so much to the bursting forth of the quasi-state monsters.
  • Rather than demanding abandonment of affected countries and their peoples to rule by medievalist persecutors, revolutionaries must demand that the failed policy of propping up corrupt and ineffective regimes be replaced by support for progressive alternatives which can actually gain the support of the affected populations (alternatives of the kind which Western imperialism has habitually acted to destroy).  Is it even possible for imperialist states to back such progressive alternatives?  Past history says yes; during the war against the Axis, the US and/or Britain actually provided material aid to Communist-led anti-fascist resistance forces in China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and other countries.
  • Many establishment politicians are already demanding that the US abandon the victims of the quasi-state monsters (especially in Afghanistan), not out of any concern for those victims, but for purely America-first cost-saving motives.  When avowed “anti-imperialist” leftists do the same, it is also a manifestation of the America-first attitude that such non-white non-Western victims of crimes against humanity do not really matter.

 

4.  Why is the US left so infected with America-first racism? The explanation is to be found: (1) in the historical setbacks for the revolutionary left, (2) in the deep influence of liberal ameliorative reformism on the US left, and (3) in an often unconscious racist indifference to the plight of the persecuted when they are outside of US borders and usually out of sight (due to neglect in mainstream media reporting).

1st. Historical context.  From the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s the US Communist Party [CPUSA] was often a valiant fighter for social justice as well as the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle for socialism in the US.  In the aftermath of the Anti-Axis War, Communist Parties acquired state power in several new countries, and became politically influential in several others.  With this spread of Communism, a powerful faction in the US capitalist class, gripped in fear, induced the state to impose a semi-fascist policy of Cold War repression, which decimated the vulnerable and unprepared CPUSA and reduced it to a shell that was then seen as little more than a seditious agent of the USSR.  In the mid-1950s, Khrushchev embraced Edward Bernstein’s anti-Marxist doctrine of parliamentary road to socialism in liberal “democracies”, a doctrine based on a delusional conception of the liberal “democratic” state as being potentially independent of the class antagonism [⁑].  Meanwhile, more revolutionary exemplars (in China, Cuba, and Vietnam) inspired the New Communist Movement [NCM], which then rhetorically rejected Khrushchev’s “revisionism”.  However, this NCM, infused with youthful radical idealism and only a superficial grasp of essential Marxist precepts, failed to overcome dogmatism, ultra-leftism, liberalism, and sectarianism.  Consequently, over the course of the 1980’s it collapsed.  Meanwhile, China (under Mao Zedong and continuing under Deng Xiaoping) had entered into a de facto alliance with US imperialism.  Then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw pact allies.  Finally, China, Vietnam, and Cuba opened their doors to foreign private investment and joined their economies to the capitalist world market.  This history produced much confusion and disillusionment among avowedly revolutionary socialists.

[⁑ Fact-based analyses of the nature of the state and of liberal “democratic” government by Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, and Lenin produced the following conclusions.  [13]

  • As Friedrich Engels noted (1891) “the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than the monarchy”.
  • As Karl Marx observed (1871) the actual result of popular election under a liberal “democracy” was and is the electorate “deciding once in [every few] years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in [government]”.
  • As Rosa Luxemburg observed (1900) “in accordance with its form, parliamentarism serves to express, within the organization of the state, the interests of the whole society. But what parliamentarism expresses here is capitalist society, that is to say a society in which capitalist interests predominate.  In this society, the representative institutions, democratic in form, are in content the instruments of the interests of the ruling class.”
  • As Lenin noted (1918) “Bourgeois democracy, which is invaluable in educating the proletariat and training it for the struggle, is always narrow, hypocritical, spurious and false; it always remains democracy for the rich and a swindle for the poor.”

Marxists have always favored liberal “democracy” in preference to medieval autocracy and fascism, but they recognize that it is no genuine democracy.  Marxists seek genuine democracy which means: (1) effective rule by the people (the working class and its allies), (2) popular grass-roots participation in governance rather than passive dependency upon duplicitous politicians who can be held accountable only at election time, and (3) the rule of law with protections for the human rights and civil liberties of all, including minorities and dissenters.]

2nd.  From ideological dependency to reformist liberalism.  The foregoing events have left the revolutionary socialists (which, rather than performing their own fact-based analysis, had nearly always looked to successful foreign Communist Parties in Moscow, Beijing, Havana, or Tirana for guidance) demoralized and without a compass.  Those “Marxist” activists, who did not affiliate to dogmatic sects, have generally affiliated to “socialist” organizations which embrace ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism and justify it with a purported need to “unite the center and left against the right” (that is by giving allegiance to the lesser-evil Democratic Party).  With the advent of the blatantly odious Trump Presidency, they have embraced the Democrats all the more firmly and taken the position that, at all costs (even if that means backing a duplicitous neoliberal militarist imperial Democrat for commander-in-chief), Trump must be defeated in 2020.  Thus, these faux-socialists have abandoned Marx and embraced Bernstein’s reformist liberalism and (objectively) its accompanying murderous imperialism.

3rd.  Objective indifference.  For most of the US left, preoccupied with domestic politics, the obligations to fight gross oppressions against foreign victims (both those crimes perpetrated by their own government and/or those perpetrated by foreign states and quasi-states) are too easily ignored, evaded, and neglected.

 

5.  Policy.

♦ In order to avoid falling into objectively racist America-first-ism, the progressive and revolutionary left must: (1) consistently oppose Western imperial interventions to destroy independent states as said interventionists have done (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and many other countries) and are attempting to do (in Syria, Yemen, and Iran as well as in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba); (2) consistently oppose US interventions to preserve subservient antisocial client regimes in other countries; (3) consistently oppose the arming and abetting of aggressions against neighboring states by the Zionist state, by the Western-allied Arab monarchies, and by other pro-Western allies; and (4) demand appropriate changes in the West’s methods of fighting the medievalist quasi-states.

 Temporary tactical alliances with Democrat politicians in pursuit of particular objectives are appropriate and necessary when it serves to increase people-power and/or reduce and constrain the powers of capital.  However, obsessing on ameliorative reforms and/or relying upon lesser-evil career politicians as saviors, while giving allegiance to the pro-capitalist pro-imperialist center-left Democratic Party, is not the way forward.  It is this myopic preoccupation with domestic reforms and/or the tailing after the social pacifist antiwar movement, which leads inevitably to the leftist versions of putting America first.  [14]

 

6.  Conclusions.

♦ Democrat Presidents and Congresses remain firmly ensconced in the racist bipartisan foreign policy consensus which makes US-led Western imperialism into the leading perpetrator of crimes against humanity throughout the world.

♦ Lip-service “anti-imperialism” is political malpractice.  The revolutionary left will never replace capitalism with socialism unless it educates and organizes the people in support of all struggles against social injustices including those perpetrated by their own governments; and (as more fully explained in a separate article [14]) it cannot do that unless it breaks with ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism.

♦ The revolutionary left did not historically, and should not currently, oppose every foreign war waged by their own capitalist-ruled government.  Social pacifism, which refuses to objectively evaluate the political effects of any given war, is incompatible with social-justice solidarity and with the struggle for social progress.

♦ To free itself from its racist America-first practice, the US left must overcome: the disheartening defeatism resulting from historical setbacks, the influence of liberal delusions concerning the natures of the state and of liberal “democracy”, and the temptations to sacrifice solidarity with overseas victims of crimes against humanity for the sake of reforms or “progress” in the US.

 

Noted sources.

[1] William Blum: Killing Hope – U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (© 2004) ~ chapters 2 and 3.  Douglas Little: 1949-1958, Syria – Early Experiments in Covert Action @ coat.ncf.ca/our_magazine/links/issue51/articles/51_12-13.pdf.  Wikipedia: March 1949 Syrian coup d’etat (2016 Feb 20); Smith Act trials (2016 May 04); Communist Party USA (2016 May 30); McCarthyism (2016 May 21).

[2] William Blum: Killing Hope … ~ chapters 30, 25, 29, 27, 36, 31, 32, 35, 19, 20, 21.  Wikipedia: Ramadan Revolution (2016 Feb 21); Napalm (2018 Jun 04) ~ Military use, Effect on people; Agent Orange (2018 Jun 07) ~ Use in the Vietnam War, Health effects, Ecological impact; Phoenix program (2018 Jun 07).

[3] William Blum: Killing Hope … ~ chapters 53, 44, 45, 49.

[4] Wikipedia: Sanctions against Iraq (2015 Nov 14); Lead-up to the Iraq War (2015 Nov 11).

[5] On the Issues: Hillary Clinton on War & Peace (2018 Sep 08) @ http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Hillary_Clinton_War_+_Peace.htm#Iraq_War.

[6] Wikipedia: 2009 Honduran coup d’état (2018 Oct 07); Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War (2019 May 03) ~ § 2.1 Support for the Syrian opposition # United States; US domestic reactions to the 2011 military intervention in Libya (2018 Oct 11).  Nika Knight: Saudi-led Bombing Kills 11 Civilians in Yemen, While Kerry Ignores US ‘Complicity’ (2016 Aug 26) @ https://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/26/saudi-led-bombing-kills-11-civilians-yemen-while-kerry-ignores-us-complicity.

[7] Wikipedia: 2010 Ecuador crisis (2018 Oct 01).  Robert Parry: Cheering a “Democratic” Coup in Ukraine (2014 Feb 26) @ https://consortiumnews.com/2016/01/28/cheering-a-democratic-coup-in-ukraine-2/.  Renee Parsons: Chronology of the Ukrainian Coup (2014 Mar 05) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/05/chronology-of-the-ukrainian-coup/.  Medium: US Staged a Coup in Ukraine – Brief History and Facts (2017 Dec 18) @ https://medium.com/@gmochannel/us-staged-a-coup-in-ukraine-brief-history-and-facts-898c6d0007d6.  Dan Kovalik: Death Squads Continue to Reign in Colombia (2014 May 24) @ https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/death-squads-colombia_b_5021244.html.  Telesur: Tracking US Intervention in Venezuela Since 2002 (2015 Nov 18) @ https://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Tracking-US-Intervention-in-Venezuela-Since-2002-20151117-0045.html.

[8] govtrack: H.R. 5515: John S McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 ~ House vote (2018 Jul 26) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/h379 & Senate vote (2018 Aug 01) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/s181.

[9] govtrack: H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ~ House vote (2017 Jul 25) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h413 & Senate vote (2017 Jul 27) @ https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/s175.

[10] Glenn Greenwald & Ryan Grimm: US Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel (2017 Jul 19) @ https://theintercept.com/2017/07/19/u-s-lawmakers-seek-to-criminally-outlaw-support-for-boycott-campaign-against-israel/.  ACLU: ACLU Letter Opposing Revised Version of Israel Anti-Boycott Act (2018 Jul 10) @ https://www.aclu.org/letter/aclu-letter-opposing-revised-version-israel-anti-boycott-act.

[11] Karl Marx: The North American Civil War (1861 Oct 20) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/Marx_Engels_Writings_on_the_North_American_Civil_War.pdf.

[12] Lenin: Socialism and War (1915) ~ Chapter I @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1915/s+w/ch01.htm.  Friedrich Engels: The Frankfort Assembly Debates the Polish Question (Neue Rheinische Zeitung, No. 81, 1848 Aug 20) ~ III @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/08/09.htm#81.  Karl Marx: Second address of the General Council of the International Workingmen’s Association on the Franco-Prussian War (1870 Sep 09) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch02.htm.

[13] Friedrich Engels: Introduction to ‘The Civil War in France’ (1891 Mar 18) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/postscript.htm.  Karl Marx: Civil War in France (Third Address, 1871 May 30) ~ § III (re Paris Commune) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/index.htm.  Rosa Luxemburg: Social Reform or Revolution (1900) ~ Part One, Chapter IV @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1900/reform-revolution/ch04.htm.  Lenin: The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky (1918 Oct 11) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/prrk/index.htm.

[14] Charles Pierce: Why ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism is failed strategy and what is the winning alternative! (2019 Feb 16) @ https://specter-cp.home.blog ~ post 7.

 

Author: Charles Pierce.               Date: 2019 Aug 21, latest updated 2020 Feb 15.

 

Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed by google search at https://specter-cp.home.blog.

 

 

Ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism.

Why ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism is failed strategy and what is the winning alternative!

 

The United States has experienced the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society War on Poverty, and decades of promises by reformist politicians.  Yet, many American workers receive so little pay that they struggle to satisfy essential needs.  The homeless population in the US exceeds half a million.  Tens of millions of Americans are still without health insurance.  Barely one in ten of US workers is covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  Inequality is steadily increasing.  Government allows for-profit enterprises to continue poisoning the environment.  A huge percentage of federal government spending goes to the merchants of death in the war industries.  Meanwhile, the US intervenes (with military force, with coups d’état, with economic sieges [sanctions], with funding of opposition groups, etc.) in the internal affairs of other countries all around the world sometimes causing massive humanitarian catastrophes in the process.  Despite statutory protections and Constitutional guarantees, violations of human rights (of women, of LGBTI people, of racial and religious minorities, of immigrants and asylum-seekers, etc.) remain pervasive.  When the Democrats (under Obama, under Clinton, under Carter) controlled both the White House and Congress, their policies largely served to perpetuate rather than eliminate the social evils of capitalism?  Reason would suggest that the commonplace policy on the left of relying upon Democrat politicians is an ineffectual and counterproductive strategy.

What, then, should be the strategy for progressives, socialists, and the social-justice movements?  Why has opposing the rightwing Republicans by backing the center-left Democratic Party, not only failed to eliminate the social evils of the capitalist social order, but failed even to prevent major regress?  In order to correctly answer these questions, it will be necessary to analyze the relevant political conditions including: (1) the class-based power relationships in contemporary American capitalism, (2) the alternative strategic plans for achieving lasting success in the quest for comprehensive social justice, and (3) the tactical considerations in implementation of the appropriate strategic plan.

 

1.  Most important, which class rules? In the capitalist world, it is those with wealth and privilege (the capitalists) who (directly themselves or indirectly thru their agents and apologists) exercise predominant influence over economic affairs, civic policies, and public discourse.  The notion that, under capitalism, working people are equal participants in making the decisions which affect their lives is absurd.  Likewise, the liberal notion, that representative government (chosen periodically by an otherwise mostly passive electorate) in any capitalist country can be other than predominantly the tool of a self-serving ruling capitalist class, is delusional.  Liberal governments, even under social reform parties, continue to function, at least in considerable measure, as facilitators of capitalist profiteering and predation.   Economic power begets political power, and money rules.  Strategy which neglects to take this fact fully into account is bound to fail.

 

2.  Can capitalism be sustainably reformed? Historically and currently, many social justice activists have sought social progress thru a pursuit of incremental ameliorative reforms, a practice which requires operating primarily thru established governmental processes within the confines of the liberal regime wherein the capitalist-class exercises grossly disproportionate political power.  This strategy is fundamentally flawed.

 

1st.  Limits and exceptions.  In actuality, the ameliorative-reformist project has rarely ever produced more than marginal gains except when a powerful faction of the ruling class embraced momentous reform out of concern that popular discontent was trending toward embrace of social revolution, as:

  • during the Progressive Era (especially1900..20) when popular discontent was widespread and many avowed socialists were winning elections;
  • during the 1930s when US workers were defiantly resisting evictions, occupying factories, and listening to the Socialist and Communist parties; and
  • during the Civil Rights and Great Society years when racial minorities and other discontented population groups were staging mass protests, mass civil disobedience, and/or urban rebellions.

In those cases, it was actually the pressure from an increasingly discontented and rebellious populace which impelled the ruling class to make significant concessions.  The governmental process (legislation, executive decisions, etc.) was merely the mechanism.

 

2nd.  Nullifications.  After quiescence was restored, adversely affected capitalists used their political clout to rescind or otherwise nullify most of such previously conceded reform as impinged upon their profits and/or proprietary freedoms.  A few of the many examples of nullification which could be cited.

♦ Reformers responded to the widespread popular outrage over the rise of abusive corporate monopolies during the Gilded Age by enacting legislation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to break up the combines and prohibit their collusion against their independent competitors and their suppliers and consumers.  Beginning in 1902 a burst of anti-trust action under Presidents Roosevelt and Taft broke up such notable combines as the Northern Securities (railroad) monopoly (1904), the (meatpacking) “Beef Trust” (1906), and Standard Oil (1911).  Later, with the widespread complacent popular embrace of “normalcy” during the 1920s, antimonopoly law suits against other powerful combines with overwhelming dominance in their respective markets, such as United States Steel (with 67% of the domestic market at its formation) and International Harvester (created in 1902 thru merger of five companies with over 80% of the business), were unsuccessful (in 1920 and 1927 respectively).  Units of Standard Oil have subsequently merged with major competitors to form such behemoths as Exxon-Mobil (1999) and Chevron-Gulf-Texaco (1985 and 2000).  Since 1920, market domination by one, or a very few tacitly market-sharing firms, has generally gone unchallenged.  In fact, such market domination is steadily increasing.  [1]

♦ The progressive income tax (enacted during the Great Depression).  From 1932 thru 1981 the highest incomes paid a top marginal tax rate varying between 63 and 94%; but since 1986 the nominal top marginal rate has been less than 40%.  Meanwhile exclusions, write-offs, tax shelters, and other special breaks usable only by the rich have proliferated giving them an effective tax rate at a fraction of their nominal bracket-rate.  Thus, income-tax progressivity is long gone.  [2]

♦ The 1935 National Labor Relations Act empowered workers and resulted in huge increases in collective bargaining, but with popular quiescence came Taft-Hartley (1947) and renewed employer resistance which has drastically turned the tables against organized labor, reduced from a peak of 34.8% to 10.5% of US workers (as of 2018).  [3]

♦ The 1960’s anti-poverty programs made a significant start by reducing official poverty from 17.3% in 1965 to 11.1% in 1973; but the subsequent enactment of budget-slashing and tax-cutting austerity policies eviscerated essential social welfare programs and sent poverty rates back up, so that the rate has fluctuated between 11 and 15.2% ever since [4].  Meanwhile, since the 1970s income for most of the working class has stagnated or declined, while the rich have grown ever richer.  In fact, much of the working class is jobless or under-employed, working for subsistence wages with no benefits, and in poverty.  Many hundreds of thousands are actually homeless, often because of lack of affordable housing.  Capitalists profit thru the downward pressure exerted on wage levels by the presence of a large reserve of impoverished and unorganized workers.

♦ The Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] was supposed to mandate safe working conditions, but it has been so severely underfunded that it would take 129 years for the agency to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction.  In fact, while capital has cut costs by neglecting safety, workplace fatalities (as reported for 2011..17) exceed 4,000 annually in the US.  [5]

♦ Regulatory agencies (EPA, FTC, CFPB, etc.) which are supposed to protect the environment and/or consumers: have been made so toothless that violations often remain profitable even when the puny prescribed fines are imposed; and/or are placed under the control of administrators who are opposed to the regulatory mission or unwilling to offend affected businesses; and/or are so underfunded and understaffed that they are unable to perform their prescribed function.  Meanwhile, consumers and environmental activists: have no prescribed enforcement role, and can respond to violations only thru protest and/or resort to costly, time-consuming, and often fruitless litigation.

 

3rd.  The social imperative.  In contradistinction to socialism wherein the social imperative is to satisfy human and social needs, under private-enterprise capitalism economic activity is driven always by the pursuit of private profit and the accumulation of ever greater concentrations of private wealth.  Said pursuit is exploitative, predatory, and causative of persisting social evils.  Thus, in actual effect, ameliorative reformism comes to be a pursuit of an unnatural reformed capitalism; and, to whatever extent capitalism has ever been reformed, it has eventually reverted back toward the previous unreformed and naturally predatory capitalism as the relatively pro-reform center-left and generally anti-reform rightwing parties (both of which accept the essentials of the capitalist social order) have alternated in and out of control of government.  Therefore, the achievement of a sustainable social justice depends upon: the effectuation of a political revolution to replace political domination by the capitalist class with rule by the people, and social revolution to replace private-enterprise capitalism with socialism.

 

3.  Revolution? When a formerly ruled class ousts the former ruling class and replaces it in control of the state power, that constitutes a political revolution.  When a political revolution also transforms the social order thereby liberating and empowering a formerly subjugated and exploited class; that constitutes a social revolution.  A political revolution may or may not produce a social revolution.  Some illustrative examples of revolutions.

♦ The US War for Independence from British rule effectuated a political revolution i.e. transfer of state power from representatives (including appointed colonial governors) of the propertied classes (especially merchants and industrial capitalists) in Britain to elected representatives of the propertied classes in the American colonies.  For the most part, it did not result in a social revolution because it did not produce fundamental changes in the social order; it did not abolish slavery or indentured servitude, nor did it then end the exclusion from the right to vote and to participate in civil politics of the 94% of the population who were not white male property-owners.

♦ The Mexican revolution for independence (1810..21), as led at first by Miguel Hidalgo and Jose Morales, aimed for a social revolution to obtain equal rights and social justice for all Mexicans including the oppressed non-white castes (mestizos, Blacks, and Amerindians).  It was ultimately consummated by Mexican conservatives as primarily a political revolution with transfer of state power from the (Spanish-born) peninsulares to the (Mexican-born) criollo propertied elite, with little more than nominal change in the social order.

♦ The 1860 US election and subsequent Civil War resulted in: a political revolution i.e. the transfer of political domination from the southern planter class to the mostly-northern industrial capitalists; and a social revolution i.e. the abolition of chattel slavery (already having been achieved peacefully over the previous several decades in the northern states where its economic advantages were generally minimal) and its replacement with wage labor.

♦ The termination of radical Reconstruction was a US counterrevolution with: the re-subjugation of the former slaves as servile sharecroppers and convict-forced-laborers, their mass exclusion from the vote, and the violent enforcement of white supremacy (in the interest of the wealthy white ruling elite).

♦ In the Russian October Revolution (1917) the Revolutionary Military Committee of the elected Congress of Councils [Soviets] representing the workers and peasants (and with the Bolsheviks and their allies in the majority), seized state power nearly bloodlessly from the unelected Provisional Government.  The Soviet government then withdrew Russia from the imperialist war and began the revolutionary social transformation of Russia for the benefit of the workers and peasants.  Massive blood-letting came only after armed reactionary counterrevolutionary forces, backed by intervening foreign imperialist armies, commenced the civil war in a failed attempt to reverse the revolution.  Contrary to the assertions by anti-Communist liberal historians (who regard the unelected Provisional Government as legitimate and its ouster as illegitimate), this new Soviet government was a genuine popular democracy [A] with competitively elected officials accountable to a politically involved worker-and-peasant-majority electorate.

[A.  Note.  In order to prevail in the civil war, it was necessary for the worker-peasant state to militarize the government and the economy with accompanying bureaucracy and an erosion of democratic norms.  With victory after three years of the civil war, Lenin called upon the governing Bolshevik Party to reverse the bureaucratization and to remove Stalin from his position as General Secretary, the key administrative post, where he had proven unable to refrain from abusing his power.  Unfortunately, with Lenin struck down by a stroke and soon dead, the Bolshevik leadership ignored Lenin’s recommendations, the result being the development of an authoritarian welfare state ruled by a privileged bureaucratic elite rather than a genuine socialist regime ruled by the working class.]

♦ The Communist-led popular revolutionary conquest of state power in mainland China in 1949 also introduced a social revolution resulting [B]: in the overthrow of the rule of the landlords, the comprador capitalists, and the warlords (groups allied to Western imperialism); and in land reform, worker rights, worker and peasant access to education and health care, and other popular revolutionary social programs.

[B.  Note.  Led by a top-down bureaucratic Communist Party modeled on the Soviet Party, the new regime, as in other Communist-governed states, soon evolved into another authoritarian welfare state.  Meanwhile, hostility from a powerful US-led regime-change-seeking Western Empire naturally induced the authoritarian welfare states to generally respond in self-defense by suppressing (largely Western-incited) political dissent and by becoming more rigidly authoritarian.]

 

4.  Who will make the social revolution? Ruling class reformers and their privileged middle-class allies may act to ameliorate some contemporary social evils, but they will certainly not willingly acquiesce to an abolition of private-enterprise capitalism.  Under capitalism the working class is the one revolutionary class.

  • With its members needing to sell their commodified labor-power in order to obtain the means to provide for themselves and their families, the working class is relegated to an unenviable role under the capitalist social order, namely to be ruled and exploited as a servile mass.
  • It is the one class which, as a class, has nothing to lose and everything to gain from the abolition of capitalist exploitation of labor and the establishment of socialism.
  • Because of its indispensable role in the operation of the economy, it has the predominant capacity to make the social revolution.

Thus, it is only the working class, with its allies, who can be expected to make any such social revolution.  Moreover, experience confirms the observation by Marx [in the General Rules of the International Workingmen’s Association (1871)] that “the emancipation of the working classes” can only be effectuated “by the working classes themselves” [6].  Hence, the working class with its allies must first wrest state power from the capitalist class and then reconstruct the social order.

 

5.  What will induce the working class to become revolutionary? The working class exists in a capitalistic environment where it naturally comes under the influence of the self-seeking mores [C] which permeate the existing social order.  As long as workers interact as individuals and narrow self-seeking groups and/or passively rely upon others to serve their particular interests, they will be largely imbued with those mores.  The working class thus affected will be incapable of cohering as necessary in order to wrest political power from the capitalist class; and even if it did come into possession of state power, it would lack the moral consciousness and capacity to effectuate a socialist reconstruction of the social order.  However, as the working class engages in class struggle and in the pursuit of social justice, it naturally remakes its mores, becomes socially conscious, transforms itself, and makes itself fit to carry thru the revolutionary transformation of the civil society.  Consequently, mass working class participation in the struggles for social justice is one prerequisite for a successful socialist revolution.  (Unfortunately, even where US workers are connected to class struggle thru collective bargaining organizations, union officials, with too few exceptions: (1) relegate the rank-and-file workers to passive reliance upon said officials rather than bringing them into active participation; and (2) fail to educate their members for solidarity with other struggles, domestic and foreign, against the social injustices of capitalism.  For the workers’ organizations to become revolutionary, this must change.  For the workers’ organizations to become revolutionary, this must change.)  A likely second prerequisite is the arrival of one of the periodic crises which capitalism has proven incapable of preventing, the consequences being: (1) the class antagonisms inherent in the capitalist social order becoming generally transparent, and (2) adverse impacts on the lives of the people such that they are induced to react.

[C.  Definition: mores (pronounced “mo-rays”) = the accepted traditional values, customs, and usages of a social group.]

 

6.  The need for genuine democracy. Career politicians compete for votes at election time and then expect their voters to passively trust them to govern in their voter’s real interests.  As Marx observed [Civil War in France (1871)] the actual result of popular election under a liberal “democracy” was and is the electorate “deciding once in [every few] years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in [government]” [7].  What is the alternative?  Grass-roots popular participatory democracy, in contradistinction to passive reliance upon politicians who primarily serve their big-money campaign contributors and/or can be held accountable by the general electorate only at election time, must always be an essential socialist objective.  As Marx also observed [in the Manifesto (1848)] the first task of the socialist revolution is to “raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy” [8].

 

1st.  Phony “democracy”.  Liberals are defenders of the representative “democracy” (aka “bourgeois democracy”) which serves as a façade for what is actually pseudo-democracy and plutocracy [D].  They also demand preservation of the individualistic freedoms of the liberal social order including, in some form, the capitalist freedoms to engage in private commercial enterprise and to accumulate private wealth (disregarding the fact that such activity generally depends upon predatory exploitation of labor, of the environment, of consumers, etc.).  Liberals are divided among ideological factions.  Social liberals (such as investment banker Asher Edelman, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and politician Bernie Sanders) seek a reformed capitalism (usually with mixed economy).  Classical liberals (such as the billionaire Koch brothers) oppose social and regulatory reforms as infringements upon capitalist freedoms.  Centrist politicians (such as Bill and Hillary Clinton [HRC] and Joe Biden), while firmly committed to capitalism, otherwise embrace whatever policies, progressive or regressive, as are most expedient for advancing their political careers.  Neoliberalism is classical liberalism with privatization carried to the extreme.  With their embrace of government by periodically elected officials, liberals, regardless of faction, stand (or will eventually stand) in opposition to the real democracy wherewith the working-class majority actively participates in governance and actually rules.

[D.  Note.  To whatever extent liberal welfare states (as in Scandinavia) have ever actually provided some measure of popular democracy, capitalist influence has ultimately eroded and displaced it with capitalist domination.]

 

2nd.  Requisites for sustainable democracy.  Real democracy depends upon people power at the grass-roots level with the people actively directing their elected representatives.  This then provides the basis for compelling governmental institutions to actually serve the people.  Also necessary is the rule of law with provisions for comprehensive social justice including human rights and civil liberties.  The rule of law is necessary in order to prevent majoritarian abuses and abuses by dominant factions, which, if permitted, will result in division, strife, corruption, and incapacity to govern for the general welfare.

 

7.  What must be done? The ameliorative-reform strategy, because it accepts the liberal political regime which perpetuates political domination by the capitalist class, is necessarily and inevitably a loser.  What then must be done?  The efficacious alternative to ameliorative-reformism has always been to educate and organize all those, who are receptive, into a revolutionary movement for social-justice [RMSJ] which must seek to become a potent political force capable of effectuating the needed revolution?

 

1st.  Action plan.  In order to become a potent political force, this RMSJ must grow its popular support by fighting for reforms in a revolutionary way while simultaneously building popular support for social revolution.  What is the revolutionary way?  The socialist movement must return to Marxist basics, which bespeak the following.

♦ Revolutionary activists must draw people into active participation in struggles for social justice so that their experience will educate them regarding the class antagonisms of capitalism and the need for political and social revolution.

♦ Revolutionaries must also combat gender, racial, sectarian religious, and other bigotries and the attendant injustices which corrupt, disunite, and disempower the people.

♦ Activists must expose the inadequacy of “reforms”, whenever, as usual, they fall far short of fully correcting targeted social evils, but instead offer only the token or marginal improvements so often favored by center-left politicians.

♦ The revolutionary movement must educate people and frame the pursuit of reforms:

  • as forced concessions to be squeezed from the powers-that-be;
  • as reversible achievements which adversely affected capitalists will, when opportunity presents, act to nullify; and
  • as incomplete measures, which should not be regarded as ends in themselves but as building blocks in the quest for a new social order in which the social imperative is the satisfaction of human and social needs.

♦ Revolutionaries must not permit the reform agenda to be confined to palliatives bestowed upon passive beneficiaries by paternalistic agents of the reformist faction of the ruling capitalist class in order to temporarily ameliorate immediate popular discontents.  Rather, insofar as possible, activists must: demand reforms which empower the people.  People empowerment includes: collective bargaining, litigation rights, citizen initiatives, public participation and oversight, FOIA access, voting rights, civil liberties, human rights enforcement, etc.

♦ Revolutionaries must also demand measures which reduce and constrain the powers of the ruling capitalist class: public interest regulation of for-profit businesses, ending and reversing privatizations, expanded public services and social welfare programs, bans on corporate money in election campaigns, restraints upon the powers and reach of the repressive state apparatus, etc.

Ω Note, people empowerment plus constraints on the power of the capitalists will provide the strongest prospects for social revolution to be effectuated with a minimum of violent counterrevolutionary resistance.

 

2nd.  Social justice solidarity.  The quest for social revolution can succeed only if the revolutionary movement becomes a unified quest for comprehensive social justice targeting all manifestations of systemic oppression, abuse, and persecution.

♦ Particular struggles.  Insofar as the particular struggles against the multifarious social injustices of the capitalist order are conducted in isolation, no complete and lasting victory against such injustices can reasonably be expected.  These injustices include: working people subjugated and exploited with thousands of millions of them consigned to poverty and privation, plundering of finite natural resources and poisoning of the natural environment leading to future worldwide catastrophes; neocolonialism, imperialism, militarism, and predatory wars; misogynist persecutions and other sexist abuses, racial oppressions, sectarian religious impositions and persecutions, abuse of children and of people with infirmities or disabilities; and so forth.  Admittedly, in the natural operation of this social order these injustices impact each of the distinct victim populations with its own particular form of oppression.  However, these oppressions have always been, and must necessarily continue to be, an integral feature of the capitalist social order because they result from the predatory capitalist quests for profit and/or for domination.  Hence it will not be possible to eradicate these predatory features of capitalism without eliminating the capitalist social order itself.  Neither can the social order itself be supplanted without the revolutionary social movement being solidly enlisted in the fight against all of its ubiquitous predations and persecutions.  For this reason, among others: the revolutionary movement must act in opposition to all forms of social injustice, and the struggle for social justice must be indivisible.

♦ Regarding imperialism.  Metropolitan country capitalists have obtained the acquiescence of much of the metropolitan-country working class:

  • by pandering to ignorant racial anxieties and national chauvinist prejudices in order to prevent it from making common cause with the working class in the peripheral countries;
  • by providing cheap consumer goods produced in peripheral-country sweatshops; and
  • by sacrificing a part of their super-profits from operations in colonial and neocolonial dependencies to pay for concessions to ameliorate the discontent of much of the metropolitan working class and thereby buy its widespread acceptance of empire.

Thus, the struggle for social revolution in any metropolitan country is inevitably hindered as long as that country continues its participation in the imperial domination and/or neocolonial exploitation of other countries.   As Friedrich Engels recognized [in his Speech on Poland (1847)] “A nation cannot become free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations” [9].    Consequently, the struggle against imperialism must be a prominent and constant component of the revolutionary program and practice.

 

8.  Lesser-evil-ism. Proponents of ameliorative reformism generally seek to defend existing reforms, to regain lost reforms, and/or to achieve further advances thru the policy of left unity behind the lesser-evil centrist politicians who have been seducing and betraying much of the left for decades.  This is a failed policy.

 

1st.  Deceivers.  At least since the 1990s centrist Democrats (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, HRC, Pelosi, Schumer, Biden, et al) have pandered to their popular base with: lip-service to popularly-embraced progressive values, mostly empty promises of improved economic conditions for working people, and minimal reforms on the margins as sops to their left-leaning constituents.  Meanwhile, they: are allied to the Wall Street mega-banks and other capitalists, are imperial foreign-policy hawks serving the war profiteers and transnational capital, and have consistently avoided doing anything which would imperil the survival of any powerful capitalist interest group or seriously jeopardize its profits.  In the final analysis, centrists’ actual allegiance is to capital rather than to their popular constituencies.

 

2nd.  Subservience and expediency.  Centrist politicians have no firm commitment to progressive principles, and they readily jettison such principles whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so.  Their only firm principle, aside from protecting and/or advancing their political careers, is the preservation of private-enterprise capitalism and liberal pseudo-democracy (and their commitment to that preservation rests upon their dependency upon support from the liberal capitalists who provide the bulk of their campaign funding and other crucial support).  Obsessed as they are with their own personal career political success, centrists readily shift their policy stances, and such shifts include abandonment of progressive positions whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so.  Consequently, their subservience to capital and expedient submission to rightwing political winds is entirely to be expected.  Some illustrative examples.

♦ In the 1970s, when under pressure from racist white constituents opposed to school desegregation, Senator Joe Biden switched his position from support to opposition on court-ordered busing to end school segregation.  Then, after having been a critic (in 1981) of Reagan’s push for tougher prison sentences, Biden discovered that being “tough on crime” was popular with much of the electorate and spent a lot of effort from 1984 to 1994 pushing Congress, over opposition from the NAACP and the ACLU, to enact (with support from most Senate Democrats) a series of “tough on crime” crime bills which contributed hugely to the disproportionately racial-minority mass incarceration (including: mandatory minimum sentences, the 100 times harsher penalty for crack as for powder cocaine, stripping inmates of appeal rights, and a big increase in the number of crimes subject to the death penalty).  [10]

♦ Obama posed as a progressive in the 2008 Presidential primaries.  Then as President his choices (in 2009) for Treasury Secretary and chief economic advisor were neoliberals US Treasury bureaucrat Timothy Geithner and World Bank vice-president Larry Summers.  The then-ruling Democrats’ response to the 2008 economic crisis was: to bail out, rather than nationalize, the big banks which had created the conditions which were its principal cause; and to provide minimal relief measures which nevertheless permitted some five million homeowners to lose their homes to the banks in Obama’s first six years, with many forced into bankruptcy while official unemployment doubled to 10%.  [11]

♦ Obama and the Congressional Democrat leadership refused to permit consideration of the single-payer option and limited their healthcare “reform” so as to ensure the survival and continued profiteering of affected capitalist interest groups (in the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and service-provider industries), while still leaving tens of millions un- or under-insured and often without the means to access many of their often-vital healthcare needs.

♦ Democrat actions to protect against climate catastrophe consist of: lip service (speeches); unenforceable aspirational goals (the Paris Agreement); regulatory enhancements (fuel efficiency “standards”, the “clean power plan”); market incentives (carbon tax, “cap and trade” schemes, subsidies for renewables); and fantasies (“clean coal”).  Those actions may appear to constitute progress toward cutting climate-destroying carbon pollution, but the meager 4.5% reduction in US CO2 emissions during Obama’s 8-year presidency actually depended largely upon independent market factors (especially cleaner alternative energy sources become cheaper than coal).   Meanwhile, Obama counteracted the effects of his inadequate reform program by actively promoting: huge increases in production of fossil fuels (with increased drilling permits, expanded offshore drilling, huge increase in fracking and production of natural gas, and a 13% increase in fossil-fuel pipelines from 2011 to 2015).  He also issued large new leases to coal producers.  Under Obama, US exports of coal, oil, and natural gas increased massively (1,000% in the case of oil); while Obama-approved Export-Import Bank loans and guarantees for fossil-fuel projects abroad nearly tripled from the level under G W Bush.  In 2017 (the year Obama left office) the US, with 15.3% of world oil production, was the world’s top producer, well ahead of number-two Saudi Arabia’s 12.7%.  Meanwhile, “climate champion” Governor Jerry Brown increased offshore drilling in state waters, eased restrictions on drilling and fracking, and fired regulators who stood firm against unsafe drilling practices.  Democrats are all for saving the climate, but only as long as so doing doesn’t include what is actually necessary, namely shutting down the profitable poisoning operations of the politically-powerful fossil-fuel companies.  [12]

♦ While Democrats’ have acted for the benefit of some women and minorities in the middle class; for most women and minorities of the working class, Democrat policies overall have done more harm than good.  Consider: the mass incarceration (disproportionately targeted against African-Americans and other racial minorities) resulting from Clinton’s 1994 crime bill; Clinton’s punitive 1996 welfare overhaul (which leaves the poor, especially poor women and their children, to endure privation on starvation wages); the bipartisan 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall banking reforms (repeal which unleashed the speculative and exploitative mortgage-lending practices which produced the aforementioned great recession and avalanche of home foreclosures); Obama’s support for increasing privatization in K-to-12 schools [13] (which robs already under-resourced public schools and students of desperately needed resources); and so on.

 

3rd.  The end result.  Social-liberal reformists, including many avowed “socialists”, present the policy of pragmatic unity behind the lesser-evil center-left Democrats as the necessary means to resist the bigoted and other antisocial policies of the Republicans.  The actual effect of this policy is:

  • to objectively support many of the same antisocial policies;
  • to largely sacrifice the opportunity to present the needed anti-capitalist response to the current mass popular discontent, much of which results from conditions for which Democrats (with their embrace of: neoliberal privatization panaceas, grossly excessive military expenditures, destructive US imperial interventionism against independent foreign states, corporate giveaways, and other antisocial policies) deserve much of the blame;
  • to foster widespread popular cynicism and political passivity; and
  • to become ineffective in efforts to prevent regressive measures on some basic human rights of minorities and women.

The ideal of Democrat control of Congress and the Presidency (and of the Supreme Court by their appointees) may seem comforting to many progressives; but past achievement of that arrangement, while not entirely inconsequential, has neither eliminated the social evils of capitalism, nor precluded the eventual reversal of past progress.

 

4th.  The alternative to lesser-evil-ism.  It is only the popular revolutionary movement for social justice which will be able: to force truly significant concessions (including actual curtailments of the abuses of state power) from the governmental institutions; and to eventually wrest state power from the agents of the capitalist class preparatory to the socialist reconstruction of the social order.  Building this movement must therefore be the current focus for all those seeking to eliminate the social evils of capitalism.

 

9.  Strategy. The key issue in revolutionary political strategy is who owns the state power.  If the revolutionary movement for social justice is to succeed, its activists must unite behind the situation-appropriate strategic objective with respect to the state power and embrace the corresponding strategic plan.  Then they must forge a broad strategic alliance of all those political forces which can be persuaded to embrace that strategic objective and will make meaningful contributions to effectuating it, notwithstanding their differences on secondary issues.  

 

1st.  Inapplicable antifascism.  If that strategic objective were antifascist, that is seeking to restore a lost, or preserve a seriously threatened, liberal “democracy”; then the alliance would include as many as possible of the liberal politicians and of those capitalist factions which fund and favor them.  However, despite many leftists branding the Trump Presidency as “fascist”, Trump has nowhere near the despotic power of a fascist despot nor any prospects for achieving the power to suppress his many active and vocal critics.  In fact, the pluralist liberal regime with its civil liberties remains essentially intact (notwithstanding the ever-constant need to fight against the ever-present persecutions of vulnerable and stigmatized individuals and groups).  Therefore, an antifascist strategic objective and corresponding strategic alliance are currently not appropriate.  (For explanation of the conditions which lead to fascism, see referenced article [14].)

 

2nd.  The appropriate course.  Despite the ever-present pro-reform/anti-reform differences over many aspects of public policy, and despite the current rancorous partisanship, politics and government remain dominated by a ruling capitalist class which (on a bipartisan basis) is: united in defense of private-enterprise capitalism, overwhelmingly insistent upon the US-led Western imperial domination of the world, and generally supportive of preserving the liberal political regime (often somewhat rigged to the advantage of one or other or both of the duopoly parties) in the US.  In these circumstances the strategic objective must be to prepare the conditions for social revolution which means building the popular activist revolutionary movement for social justice [RMSJ] which will eventually wrest state power from the entire capitalist class so that it can then effectuate the socialist reconstruction [E] of the social order.  The STRATEGIC alliance will, insofar as possible, include all those political forces which will share and contribute constructively to the pursuit of this anti-capitalist revolutionary objective.  (This does not preclude TACTICAL alliances, as explained below, with pro-capitalist factions on issues involving civil liberties, human rights, environmental defense, etc.)

[E.  Note.  Socialist reconstruction will operate to institute a socialist order with the following features.

  • The means of production will be socially owned and be administered by the civil authority for the benefit of all of the people.
  • Production enterprises will be operated in accordance with a central plan: with concern to protect the natural environment; and with the objective of satisfying the needs of workers, consumers, and residential communities.
  • The civil authority will allocate resources and set priorities to ensure universal provision for human and social needs: employment, disability and retirement income, childcare, education, health care, housing, public transit, emergency services, public security, et cetera.
  • The surplus will be used for the benefit of the workers and of the community rather than to concentrate wealth in the possession of a class of proprietary capitalist exploiters and/or to fund special privileges for a class of ruling bureaucrats.
  • There will be jobs for everyone who is able and willing to work; and every employee will be paid in accordance with the principle of equal pay for equal work. Thus labor-power will cease to be simply a commodity.
  • A truly independent judiciary will act consistently in accordance with the rule of law so that human rights, civil liberties, and due process rights will be protected. Civil liberties will naturally include the right to criticize officials, public policies, even the social order; however, there will, of course, be no right to commit, or conspire to commit, acts of corruption, sabotage, or counterrevolution.
  • Major informational media will actually serve the public by: publishing information relevant to public concerns, by providing equal space for opposing views on controversial public issues, by publishing rebuttals and corrections to misinformation, and so forth.
  • Government will be organized so as to ensure control by and accountability to the working class and its allies thru: fair electoral processes, popular input and oversight over the actions of governing officials, constraints on bureaucratic accretions of power, and respect for the independence of workplace collective bargaining organizations and other civic associations. ]

 

3rd.  Focus.  As long as social justice activists limit their focus to struggles over ameliorative reforms and which politicians are more or less favorable or hostile to that reform agenda, agents of capital will continue to control the state power.  Reform struggles are necessary; but until socialists take control of the state power and end the rule of capital, they will not sustainably eliminate the social evils of capitalism.

 

10.  Tactical policy decisions. Compromises, pragmatic alliances, tactics, etc. need to be consistent with social justice principles and with the strategic objective which currently must be to educate, organize, unite, and empower the revolutionary class and its allies so as to create the requisite conditions for anti-capitalist social revolution.

 

1st.  Engagement.  Certainly, the revolutionary organization should not isolate itself into political irrelevance by adopting a sectarian purist policy of refusal to ever enter into alliances [F] with antisocial factions and/or their duplicitous politicians.  However, there is a principled and astute way, as well as an unprincipled and/or misguided way, to conduct an alliance policy.

[F.  Note, alliances may range from formal mutually agreed-upon pacts to incidental de facto concordances.]

 

2nd.  Limits.  Tactical alliances with antisocial partners (e.g. Democrat politicians, and sometimes even with some Republicans) are often appropriate and necessary whenever there is something of real value to be gained.  In fact, in order to obtain success in extracting any concession from the ruling power, it is generally necessary to forge alliances which include all those who are able and willing to contribute in the struggle for the pertinent concession.  Any such alliance must, of course, be a temporary arrangement limited to the particular shared objective.

 

3rd.  Principles and compromises.  In order to forge and sustain needed alliances, revolutionary organizations must make pragmatic compromises; but, in order to achieve ultimate success, they must also remain faithful to their social-justice principles.

♦ Such compromises generally involve joint or congruent actions with alliance partners in pursuit of immediate objectives, such as: in candidate commitments when seeking the election to public office of one whose candidacy or election is reasonably expected to be useful to the revolutionary movement, or in narrowing the scope of the demands to the extent necessary in order to obtain a useful concession for people-empowerment or constraint of ruling-class power.  Compromises, which enable joint or congruent work toward the achievement of specific current shared objectives, are appropriate as long as, and only insofar as, they: do not sabotage other essential revolutionary objectives, do not include any abandonment (by the revolutionaries) of social-justice or other fundamental principles, and do not concede more than necessary.  Unprincipled compromises: corrupt the revolutionary movement, discredit it in the appraisals by many needed supporters, and set it on a path to eventual abandonment of the revolutionary cause (as occurred with the parties of the Socialist International [SI] in the years preceding the Great War (1914..18) [G].

[G.  Note.  SI politicians (some out of national chauvinist prejudice and others out of political expediency) had gone silent on the colonialism, imperialism, and militarism of their own governments.  Then when the imperial rivals went to war over the spoils of empire, these “socialist” leaders supported their ruling capitalists in sending their workers to slaughter, and be slaughtered by, fellow workers of the opposing states.]

♦ Recent examples of abandoned principles.  Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign on behalf of the 99% against the abuse of power by the 1%, in his pursuit of the Democrat presidential nomination, deserved critical support (i.e. tactical alliance).  However, when politician Sanders echoed HRC’s new-cold-war Russia-blaming campaign rhetoric and later went on to campaign for her election as President in 2016, and when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez heaped unqualified praise upon arch-imperialist and militarist John McCain in order to gain respectability in the eyes of liberals and to enhance her prospects for a successful political career; they betrayed the struggle against US militarism and imperialism to the detriment of all of the peoples of the world (including oppressed and disempowered Americans).  Why?  Because disempowered peoples will not be able to liberate themselves as long as they are induced to acquiesce: in the oppression of other peoples; and/or in unprovoked aggressions (wars, military threats, economic sieges, etc.) against foreign countries for purely-capital-serving (resource appropriation, market-opening, policy-subjugation, and/or military-procurement profiteering) goals.  (The evasion and abandonment of principle by left groups, with respect to imperial interventionism and oppressions of the peoples of other countries, is the subject of a separate article titled America-first racism in the US left, which can be accessed by google search at https://specter-cp.home.blog ~ post 8.)

 

4th.  Independence.  The revolutionary organization must maintain its organizational independence.  Hence, it must neither merge with, nor give allegiance to, any antisocial alliance partner.

♦ The revolutionary organization must preserve and exercise its freedom to criticize any behavior on the part of its alliance partner, whenever said behavior undermines other objectives or is violative of fundamental social justice principles (in the spheres of economic justice, environmental justice, human rights, civil liberties, anti-militarism and anti-imperialism).  One need not be a Maoist to recognize the wisdom in the statement by Mao Zedong [in On Policy (1940)] that “United Front policy is neither all alliance and no struggle nor all struggle and no alliance, but combines alliance and struggle” [15].   Revolutionary organizations must never neglect either the alliance side or the struggle side in their working alliances.

♦ Negative example.  In the 1972 presidential election, much of the left appropriately supported the anti-war candidacy of George McGovern because his election would have served as means to end the imperialist US war against Vietnam.  However, much of this left-activist support was conducted inappropriately within the Democratic Party and the official McGovern campaign, where there was no space to educate the people: as to the flaws in his ameliorative reformism, or as to his inability to oppose many of the other social evils of capitalism and imperialism, or with respect to the reasoning as to why he should be elected despite his evident faults.  Consequently, most of the millions of anti-war protestors were left to regard the War, not as the normal response of capitalist super-power empire, but as a “tragic mistake”; and they were soon coopted into the Democratic Party (as it continued its allegiance to the ruling US capitalist class with all of its oppressive practices including its ambition for world domination).

 

11.  Electoral activity.  Although revolutionary organizations should not limit their efforts to electoral and lobbying activities, they should, if they have the requisite resources, nearly always avail themselves of opportunities to participate in electoral politics.

 

1st.  Use.  Such participation is an indispensable means for communication with the people, for educating and organizing.  Also, if and when sufficient electoral success has been achieved, it can be deployed, along with organized movement pressure, in pursuit of useful reforms (as noted in 7 above).

 

2nd.  False choice.  With respect to elections, most of the US left has apparently defined its strategic choices as limited to two.  This is a false choice.

♦ Purists.  Some avowed revolutionaries refuse to support the election of any candidate running as a Democrat (either by rejecting electoral politics or by voting only for third-party or independent leftist candidates).  They argue: that backing election of a candidate, even an avowed socialist running as a Democrat, fosters illusions (in electoral politics, and/or in the capitalist-serving Democratic Party); and that such illusions then become an insurmountable obstacle to socialist revolution.  This argument evades the essential facts: that the US is mostly a two-party duopoly; and that the overwhelming majority of those voters, who favor progressive policies, seek progress by voting for Democrats.  Consequently, those who refuse to ever work within the Democratic Party isolate themselves from most progressives and reduce themselves to irrelevant sects.  Moreover, remaining aloof from the Democratic Party does nothing to eliminate any of its voters’ popular illusions about the political system.  It is only by working with people that it becomes possible to help them to overcome their illusions.

♦ Tailists.  Other left groups routinely back Democrat politicians, purporting this practice to be the only viable means to oppose the rightwing policies of the Republicans.  In effect they give allegiance to the Democratic Party and rely upon it to produce social justice and social progress; but that Party is so subservient to capital that its politicians are incapable of eliminating the many social evils which are inherent in private-enterprise capitalism.  Such allegiance actually does foster illusions in a political practice which is ineffective and counterproductive.  It also leads much of the electorate to eventual cynicism and political apathy.

♦ The way to avoid both erroneous choices is to establish an independent socialist organization which then: uses the Democratic Party ballot line without offering any allegiance to that Party, and freely criticizes and/or opposes other Democrat candidates as appropriate.  Since the two parties have imposed the 2-party duopoly with exclusive privileges (state-sponsored primary elections, automatic ballot access, etc.) for the two privileged establishment parties, they have no moral claim on the allegiance of activists who are deprived of any viable opportunity to compete otherwise than thru them.

 

3rd.  Current application.  When, as currently, social revolutionaries have far too little electoral support to wrest legislative or executive control of government at the federal and state levels from politicians who are subservient to capital; they can and should use both their election campaigns and their elected legislative office (if achieved) primarily to educate and organize in opposition to the injustices perpetrated (by for-profit businesses, by government, and by other establishment institutions) on behalf of capital against peoples, not only in the US, but all around the world.

♦ The rationale for this practice is that it is an indispensable tool for the mass education and organization-building, thru which to create the popular revolutionary movement for social justice [RMSJ], which is the only force which will ever be able to eventually wrest state power from the capitalist class and begin a real socialist reconstruction.  Unless and until a preponderance of the politically-active people embrace the revolutionary struggle for social justice, they will remain incapable of liberating themselves from the shackles of capitalism.

♦ Example of inappropriate alliance.  Nearly all national politicians in both major US political parties embrace the racist bipartisan foreign policy consensus which holds that the US should arrogate to itself the privilege of deciding for nearly every other country which political actors should govern its people.  This policy then “justifies” rampant militarism and vicious imperial interventions (with coups d’état, invasions, economic sieges, funding of antisocial opposition groups, etc.) often inflicting horrific violence, economic collapse with widespread privation and death from loss of access to food and medicine, civil chaos, and/or other catastrophe upon the peoples of the targeted countries.  Because firm and consistent public opposition to these cross-border racist crimes against humanity must be an essential component of an anti-capitalist strategy as well as an inviolable component of the social justice program; the strategic objective was effectively obstructed insofar as leftist organizations directly or indirectly backed the neoliberal-racist-imperialist-militarist candidate (Hillary Rodham Clinton [HRC]) for commander-in-chief in preference to the opposing demagogue-panderer-to-xenophobic-racist-and-other-bigotries candidate (Trump).  In fact, from the moment that these two became the major party 2016 US Presidential candidates, the only election policy consistent with principle and with anti-capitalist strategy was: to campaign against both; to educate people as to the racist and other faults of each; and to tactically back an alternative (such as Jill Stein) who was actually speaking against cross-border racism, imperialism, and militarism, and was basically progressive on other important social-justice issues.

♦ Leftwing America-first-ism.  It must be noted that, unfortunately, many of the avowedly “progressive” and “socialist” organizations, obsessed with defending and/or advancing the domestic reform agenda in the US, have for decades embraced an objectively racist left-liberal America-first policy of tailing behind, and giving allegiance to, the Democratic Party in every general election, while evading the fact of the Democrat politicians being committed proponents of the racist bipartisan foreign policy agenda.  Career politicians almost universally have few, if any, firm principles.  Democrat politicians generally oppose obviously racist policies which adversely impact the domestic racial minorities because of their pragmatic need for the votes of said minorities; but said Democrats can be, and usually are, indifferent to foreign victims of racist US policies because those victims do not vote in US elections while transnational capital demands that the US superpower keep foreign markets and resources accessible for its profitable exploitation.  Lip-service “anti-racist” and “anti-imperialist” movement organizations, which practice this left-liberal America-first-ism: make themselves complicit, and incapacitate the movement by helping perpetuate ignorant misconceptions and chauvinistic impulses among the electorate rather than educating it.  (For a more detailed analysis of America-first-ism in the left, including imperialist crimes perpetrated under Democrat governance and/or with their complicity, see referenced article [16].)

 

4th.  Concerted action.  The RMSJ must not neglect: to make appropriate demands of allied politicians, and to use whatever clout it possesses to obtain compliance.

♦ Lesser-evil Democrat politicians presume that most progressives will have to vote for them because they will be perceived as the least bad of the two electable alternatives.  These Democrats will never end their plutocrat-serving antisocial actions unless and until so doing becomes their only way to win their elections.  Progressives need to stop routinely rewarding such presumption and instead apply corrective pressure (thru: exposé and denunciation, backing primary-election challengers, backing progressive third-party candidates, abstention, and/or any other appropriate means); even if that will result in election of the supposedly greater-evil candidate.  Failure to practice this hardline policy has resulted (certainly over the past four decades): in both major Parties shifting ever further to the right; and in the Democrats’ ever firmer embrace of the national chauvinist, imperialist, and militarist foreign policy, while increasingly acting against the economic and other needs and concerns of their base working-class constituencies.

♦ Bloc voting.  Social-justice activists, as individuals, are faced with a difficult dilemma.  Faced with a choice between the greater-evil Republicans and the lesser-evil Democrats in nearly every federal election: refusal to vote for the lesser-evil appears to indirectly help the greater-evil, while voting for the lesser-evil constitutes support for many policies which are adverse to social justice.  Moreover, as an individual voter with only one vote, one cannot bring real pressure to bear on the lesser-evil politician whichever way one goes.  Therefore, in order to bring real pressure to bear, progressive voters must act in concert.  Social-justice movement organizations (which currently are highly fragmented with nearly every group acting with little or no coordination with others) need to establish a social-justice solidarity voters’ bloc [SJSV] which will organize voters to pledge to collectively follow its advice as to when to deliver or withhold their votes in a particular election involving a lesser-evil politician.  While this bloc would need to consider tactical consequences, it generally would need to make its decisions based upon the politician’s record and commitments with respect, not to single issues, but with respect to a comprehensive social justice program agreed upon by the participating organizations.  Moreover, said organizations would need to commit to mutual solidarity and refusal to allow any politician to break bloc-solidarity thru use of divide-and-conquer tactics.

♦ Positive example.  It was a powerful and demanding anti-war movement, which largely refused to back Hubert Humphrey and other pro-war Democrats in and after 1968.  It then: (1) compelled the Democrats to nominate a peace candidate for President in 1972, and (2) eventually compelled a bipartisan majority in the Congress to cut off funding for the US War against the peoples of Indochina.  Unless and until the left makes a concerted effort to compel the contemporary Democrats to act against militarism and imperialism and to take really forceful, rather than minimal, action against other capitalist wrongs; most of said Democrats will certainly not do so.

 

5th.  Member politicians.  The revolutionary organization must never permit its member politicians (candidates and office-holders) to operate as free agents doing whatever they deem expedient for personal success in their political careers.  It must require its member politicians: to be subject to its organizational discipline; and to consistently act in accordance with its (hopefully real) social justice principles, its program, and its directives.

♦ Negative examples.  Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and others of their ilk entered politics as leading opponents of an imperialist war; but, as ambitious free-agent career politicians unconstrained by any such organizational discipline, they easily transitioned to become agents of capital and thoroughgoing imperialist perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

 

12.  Conclusions.

 

1st.  Ameliorative reformism.  The ameliorative reform policy of seeking sustainable progress on social justice from Congress and/or the President and/or the courts, rather than by building the power potential in a growing activist popular social-justice movement, has ultimately been a failure.  Attempting to achieve socialism or even a reformed capitalism in incremental fashion thru reliance upon politicians and normal governmental processes has actually eventuated in a basic or total nullification of many hard-won reforms conceded (under strong popular pressure) in the past.

 

2nd.  Lesser-evil-ism.  The long-standing “left” policy of attempting to move US politics to the left by giving blank-check backing to Democrat politicians has resulted in both Parties moving ever further to the right.  Electing Democrat career-politicians to Congress and the Presidency certainly has not removed the militarism and imperial interventionism from US foreign policy.  Those leftists (many of whom call themselves “socialists”) who continue to advocate reliance upon Democrat politicians should be required to explain how continuing to do the same thing will produce a different result.

 

3rd.  Popular action.  Reliance upon center-left and/or social-liberal reformist politicians has not, and will not, produce any lasting advance toward socialism.  Obsessing over which capitalist-controlled Party controls government is not the solution.  Ultimately, it is only the people (i.e. the working class with its allies) who can take power from the capitalist class and reconstruct the social order to produce a lasting social justice, and then only if they embrace a program for comprehensive social justice.  Until there is sustained independent progressive political action based on this fact, lasting advances toward socialism cannot be achieved.  The task of socialists is to educate and organize and to build the popular revolutionary movement for social justice.

 

Noted sources.

[1] Wikipedia: History of United States antitrust law (2017 May 18); Northern Securities Co. v. United States (2017 Apr 27); Swift & Co. v. United States (2017 Mar 07); Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States (2017 Mar 27).  US Supreme Court: United States v. United States Steel Corp., 251 U.S. 417 (1920) @ https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/251/417/; United States v. International Harvester Co., 274 U.S. 693 (1927) @ https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/274/693/.  Open Markets Institute: Monopoly by the Numbers (accessed 2019 May) @ https://openmarketsinstitute.org/explainer/monopoly-by-the-numbers/.

[2] Tax Policy Center: Historical Highest Marginal Income Tax Rates (© 2016) @ https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/historical-highest-marginal-income-tax-rates.

[3] Pew Research Center: American unions membership declines as public support fluctuates (2014 Feb 20) @ https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/for-american-unions-membership-trails-far-behind-public-support/.   Bureau of Labor Statistics: Union Members Summary (2019 Jan 18) @ https://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm.

[4] Wikipedia: War on Poverty (2018 Sep 21).

[5] AFL-CIO: Death on the Job, The Toll of Neglect (2011 Apr) ~ Executive Summary @ https://aflcio.org/sites/default/files/2017-03/dotj_2011.pdf; Workplace Health and Safety (2018) @ https://aflcio.org/issues/workplace-health-and-safety.

[6] Karl Marx: General Rules of the International Workingmen’s Association (1871 Oct) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1864/10/27b.htm.

[7] Karl Marx: Civil War in France (Third Address, 1871 May 30) ~ § III (re Paris Commune) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/index.htm.

[8] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) ~ II @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm.

[9] Friedrich Engels: Speech on Poland (1847 Dec 09) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/subject/quotes/index.htm.

[10] P R Lockhart: Joe Biden’s record on school desegregation busing, explained (2019 Jun 28) @ https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/28/18965923/joe-biden-school-desegregation-busing-democratic-primary.  Branko Marcetic: Joe Biden, Mass Incarceration Zealot (2018 Aug 09) @ https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/08/biden-crime-mass-incarceration-police-prisons.

[11] CoreLogic: United States Residential Foreclosure Crisis: Ten Years Later (2017 Mar) ~ pp 4..5 @ https://www.corelogic.com/research/foreclosure-report/national-foreclosure-report-10-year.pdf.  Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey (accessed 2019 May) @ https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000.

[12] Carol Dansereau: Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity (2018 Nov 13) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/13/climate-and-the-infernal-blue-wave-straight-talk-about-saving-humanity/.  Statista: Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the U.S. from 1975 and 2017 (in million metric tons of carbon dioxide) (© 2018) @ https://www.statista.com/statistics/183943/us-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-1999/.  Investopedia:  The World’s Top Oil Producers of 2017 (2018 Feb 18) @ https://www.investopedia.com/investing/worlds-top-oil-producers/.

[13] Diane Ravitch: Flunking Arne Duncan (2012 Mar 07) @ https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2012/03/07/flunking-arne-duncan/.  Mathilde Lind Gustavussen: Bernie Should Oppose Nonprofit Charter Schools, Too (2019 Jul 08) @ https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/07/bernie-sanders-charter-schools.

[14] Charles Pierce: Whether or not the Trump Presidency constitutes or portends a fascist state and why it matters! (2020 Feb 16) @ https://specter-cp.home.blog ~ post 6.

[15] Mao Zedong: On policy (1940 Dec 25) @ https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_37.htm.

[16] Charles Pierce: America-first racism in the US left (2020 Feb 15) @ https://specter-cp.home.blog ~ post 8.

 

Author: Charles Pierce.        Date: 2019 Jul 14, latest updated 2020 Feb 16.

 

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Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed by google search at https://specter-cp.home.blog.

 

Whether Trump Presidency portends fascist state.

Whether or not the Trump Presidency constitutes or portends a fascist state and why it matters!

 

Many writers on the “left” portray the Trump Presidency as the rule of actual or impending “fascism”.  Most seem to presume that Trump’s authoritarian aspirations, bigoted demagoguery, and cruel xenophobic and other persecutions equate to fascism; but such behavior has never been unique to actual fascist states.  Because actual fascism would be catastrophic for the left and progressive movements, it is of utmost importance that leftist organizations be able to recognize: what it is, what circumstances give rise to it, and when and how to act to prevent it.  It is also essential to avoid raising a false alarm every time an odious demagogue appears.  In order to ascertain whether or not the Trump Presidency can reasonably be categorized as actual or impending “fascism”, it is necessary: to properly define the phenomenon, and to analyze the relevant current political conditions as well as the motives of those who are crying “fascist”.  In order to ascertain why it matters, this must be an inquiry into the nature of the state power and of the constraints which its alternative forms, liberal and authoritarian, impose upon the left.

 

1.  Most basic, which class holds state power? In the capitalist world, it is the capitalist class which has that power.  This is so both: under authoritarian regimes, and under liberal “democracy” (aka bourgeois “democracy”).  The liberal notion that, in any capitalist country, representative government (chosen periodically by an otherwise mostly passive electorate) can be neutral and above class is delusional.  Economic power begets political power, and money rules.  As Cecil Rhodes (diamond mining magnate, politician, and architect of the British empire in southern Africa) knowingly remarked “Money is power”. 

 

2.  Which kind of political regime – liberal or authoritarian – is normally preferred by the capitalist class? The liberal regime is one in which the government is administered, until the next periodic election, by the political party (or coalition of parties) which dominated in the previous election by popular vote.  For capitalists such a regime is ideal for several reasons.

  • Both capitalism and liberal “democracy” find their doctrinal “justification” in the political doctrine, liberalism, which holds that individual liberties are sacrosanct (at least for those citizens deemed to be deserving).  Those individual liberties are deemed to include private property rights and the freedom to engage in profit-seeking commercial enterprise.
  • Most successful politicians are, either capitalists, or are beholden to capitalist interest groups which provide most of the requisite funding for their election campaigns.
  • Every capitalist and capitalist interest group is free to participate.
  • The people (the working class and its allies) are relegated to a passive reliance upon politicians who largely only pretend to serve their interests, while actual governmental policy is heavily influenced by lobbyists in the hire of capitalist interest groups.
  • Normally much of the populace is deceived by the pretense that the governmental administration is one of their choosing. As Marx observed [Civil War in France (1871)] the actual result of popular election under a liberal “democracy” was and is the electorate “deciding once in [every few] years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in [government]” [1].

Consequently, from a capitalist perspective, the ideal political regime is normally the liberal “democracy”.

 

3.  So then why would the capitalist class ever support an authoritarian state?

The liberal “democratic” regime does not always inspire the capitalist class with confidence that it can and will preserve the capitalist social order.  This loss of confidence in liberal “democracy” usually occurs where: the class antagonism between the capitalist class and the people (the working class and its allies which include other oppressed population groups) becomes increasingly transparent, and growing mass popular discontent poses the threat of social revolution.  In such circumstances, the capitalist class will often acquiesce as an opportunely-positioned power-holding group within it jettisons the liberal regime and places governmental administration in the safekeeping of an authoritarian state which will: abolish the pluralist electoral regime, abrogate civil liberties, and repress anti-capitalist groups in a much more sweeping and thoroughgoing way than does the liberal regime.  (The authoritarian regime will also suppress liberal challenges to its hold on state power.)  While such a regime serves the entire capitalist class by preserving the capitalist social order; it foremost represents, and answers to, the most authoritarian faction and/or ruling clique within the capitalist class.

 

4.  What is the function of the state under capitalism? The state, in its naked essentials, is the organized institutional coercive apparatus which the ruling class uses as it deems necessary:

  • to make and enforce its laws,
  • to defend and/or expand its previous conquests,
  • to uphold the established “rights” and privileges of the dominant and favored interest groups, and above all
  • to defend and preserve the existing social order.

 

5.  How does political repression of dissent differ between liberal and authoritarian states?  To whatever degree dissident political activity (including peaceful advocacy and protest) is deemed to pose a threat to the capitalist social order or to the valued concerns of any politically powerful interest group; the state is routinely used: to restrict, disrupt, and suppress said political activity, and to harass and otherwise persecute the troublesome dissidents.  However, in this regard, there is a significant difference between liberal and authoritarian states.

 

1st.  Authoritarian.  In order to “justify” their being, authoritarian regimes typically: reject liberal ideals, such as civil liberties and rule of law, as unacceptably permissive; and portray themselves as champions of the nation, or of God and traditional values, or both.  Consequently, under authoritarian regimes there are few constraints upon the use of repression against unwelcome dissidents; and victims often number in the tens or hundreds of thousands (imprisoned, and/or tortured, and/or murdered).

 

2nd.  Liberal.  Liberal “democracies” differ in that they must pretend: to be tolerant of peaceful dissent, and to respect civil liberties and the rule of law.  However, such tolerance is readily accorded only to those dissidents whose activities can be easily ignored as posing no real threat: to the social order, or to the prized concerns of any powerful interest group.  While the US and other Western “democracies” hypocritically condemn adversary countries for alleged persecutions of their “democratic” oppositions, these Western states perpetrate their own persecutions of dissidents who engage in universally legitimated but unwelcome dissent – dissent legitimated by the United Nations under its 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  In actual fact, these “democracies” concoct “national security” and other pretexts to “justify” all manner of civil liberties violations, both overt and covert, against targeted dissidents.  Examples [2].

♦ Criminalization.  Membership in specified revolutionary parties has been criminalized even though the targeted party had committed itself to legal peaceful means, for example: the Communist Party in the US during the Smith Act prosecutions (1948..57), and the Communist Party in Germany (in and since 1956).

♦ Covert repression.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] and other state agencies in the US used illegal covert operations (as in COINTELPRO) to disrupt a number of dissident organizations including those seeking racial justice and/or protesting the Vietnam War.

♦ Surveillance.  Massive unwarranted surveillance has been and remains pervasive.  A few illustrative examples, not a complete list.

  • Between 1960 and 1974, the FBI created files on 500,000 Americans.
  • Main Core, originally created in 1982, is a federal government database which (without court-approved search warrant) collects and stores personal and financial data on millions of Americans whom the intelligence agencies (FBI, NSA, CIA, and others) deem (often for trivial reasons) to be “threats to national security”. These individuals may be tracked, questioned, and/or detained whenever there is deemed to be a national security “threat”.  At one point during the Cold War more than 26,000 Americans were listed to be interned in case of national security “emergency”.
  • PRISM is a National Security Agency [NSA] data collection program which covertly intercepts internet communications (email, VoiP, photos, videos, file transfers, etc.) throughout the US and much of the rest of the world. Its existence remained secret until exposed in 2013 by NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
  • MAINWAY is a program thru which the NSA has secretly collected and stored telephone metadata (phone numbers of caller and recipient plus time, locations, and durations of calls) on the landline and cell calls routed thru the systems of the four largest telephone companies in the US. MARINA does the equivalent with internet traffic.  The telecom companies and internet service providers evidently also provide access to their lines so that, with secret Presidential approval, NSA can eavesdrop on calls without a judicial warrant and has used the results to order investigations of tens of thousands of Americans.
  • The Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program [MICT] photographs the outside of every piece of mail processed in the US and provides the information to state agents upon request without a warrant. MICT was created in 2001, but not publicly revealed until 2013.

Since 2001 the US and allied states, operating similar surveillance programs, have used terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda as pretext for an intensification of such massive surveillance of their citizens.

♦ Assassination.  Victims of assassinations (by state agents or thru collusion or incitement by same) have included:

  • Cameroonian revolutionary independence-movement leader Félix-Roland Moumié (Geneva 1960) by the French secret service (Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage[SDECE]);
  • Malcolm X (New York 1965) by assassins incited by undercover operatives of local police and the FBI;
  • Black Panther Party [BPP] leader Fred Hampton (Chicago 1968) by local police in a conspiracy directed by the local prosecutor and the FBI;
  • BPP leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins (Los Angeles 1969) by members of a rival group incited thru false-flag poison-pen letters actually sent by the FBI;
  • leading female American Indian Movement [AIM] activist Anna Mae Aquash (South Dakota 1975) by rivals after FBI infiltrators planted false insinuations that she was a snitch;
  • anti-colonialist revolutionaries Arnaldo Darío Rosado Torres and Carlos Soto Arriví (Puerto Rico 1978) by local police;
  • civil liberties lawyer Patrick Finucane (Northern Ireland 1989) by a loyalist paramilitary acting in collusion with Britain’s Security Service [MI5];
  • civil liberties lawyer Rosemary Nelson (Northern Ireland 1999) by a loyalist paramilitary acting on information provided by British state security forces.

♦ Rigged prosecutions.  Imprisonment by means of rigged trials on false allegations (using: false bribed/coerced testimony, withholding of exculpatory evidence, biased juries, and/or biased judicial rulings which prejudice the proceedings against the accused).  Victims: Marshall Edward Conway, David Rice and Edward Poindexter, Elmer Pratt, Veronza Bowers Jr, Assata Shakur, Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Cuban Five, Rafil Dhafir, Ricardo Palmera, Holy Land Five, and others.

♦ Pretense.  Because of their need to pretend to respect civil liberties and the rule of law, in liberal “democracies”:

  • repression is usually targeted selectively against groups and individuals who can be effectively vilified and stigmatized,
  • persons directly victimized generally number in the ones and tens, and
  • suppression of dissident leftist organizations is generally less than absolute.

Thus, such regimes are normally far less repressive than authoritarian states.

 

6.  Is repression the only method which the state can use to save capitalism? The capitalists, their politicians, the educators and mainstream media, and other influential establishment institutions maintain a pervasive ongoing propaganda to whitewash capitalism, discredit socialism, and vilify any organization which threatens the power and privileges of capital (especially when said organization is a proponent of social revolution).  This propaganda is often largely effective.  However, sometimes crises or other conditions arise whereby much of the populace no longer readily accepts that propaganda message.  When anti-capitalist critiques or socialist ideas and their revolutionary proponents gain substantial popular sympathy, capitalists and their agents naturally become alarmed and turn to the state for action to remove this threat to their cherished social order.  Within the confines of liberal “democracy”, the state has three options which it can use for this purpose.

 

1st.  Selective repression thru legalistic contrivance and/or covert action.  US examples: the Palmer Raids and the criminalization of anti-capitalist social-revolutionary organizations following the Great War; and the anti-Communist witch-hunts and re-criminalization of the Communist Party from late 1940s to late 1950s.  Note: while this selective repression typical of liberal states has sometimes achieved semi-fascist reach (as in the two foregoing examples), its scope and severity differ hugely in comparison with the sweeping and unconstrained repression which is usual in authoritarian states.

 

2nd.  Ameliorative reforms (not to replace capitalism, but to save it).  US example: New Deal labor rights legislation and welfare programs during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

 

3rd.  Combination of ameliorative reform and selective repression.  US example: mass surveillance plus COINTELPRO and other mostly covert repressions along with Great Society welfare programs and human rights legislation (1960s and 1970s).

 

7.  How do authoritarian states take form?

 

1st.  Arbitrary state.  One commonplace type of authoritarian regime is the arbitrary state which is installed by a cabal within the state administration using armed force to seize and retain state power as, for example, with a military junta.  Such regimes usually occur in developing countries which lack a politically potent middle class.

 

2nd.  Fascist state.  Another type is the fascist state which differs in that it claims legitimacy based on its support from a large reactionary populist political constituency.  However, the controlling power in a fascist state remains with the capitalist class, specifically with its most intolerant and authoritarian factions.  Thus, the Comintern [as reported by Georgi Dimitrov (1935 Aug 02)] noted the class character of fascism and defined it “as the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital[3].

 

8.  What is the basis of the reactionary constituency?  Reactionary political constituencies develop as response to the unwillingness or incapacity of the liberal regime to prevent social and/or political developments which provoke feelings of economic insecurity and/or cultural alienation in that backward-looking part of the population which then becomes nostalgic for the past or a fantasized conception thereof.  These constituencies, consisting of much of the middle class (aka petit bourgeoisie) and the most bigoted and antisocial of the workers, are generally fostered by demagogues who exploit that discontent by pandering to often-latent group prejudices (usually racial, xenophobic, national chauvinist, sectarian religious, homophobic, and/or patriarchal/misogynist).

 

9.  How do fascist regimes come to power? Fascist regimes can come to power either: by means of a violent ouster of the existing government, or thru constitutional means.  While Franco in Spain waged a genocidal civil war (1936..39) in order to conquer state power, and Pinochet in Chile staged a bloody coup d’etat (1973); Mussolini (1922..23) and Hitler (1933) obtained power when elected liberal-democratic governments voluntarily ceded control to the fascist parties.

 

10.  What makes a fascist takeover possible in a liberal “democracy”? The mere existence of a significant reactionary populist political constituency does not, of itself, portend the coming to power of a fascist regime.  Three conditions are required for the placement of state power in the control of a fascist organization. 

 

1st.  Potent constituency.  The reactionary populist constituency: must be of sufficient magnitude to be politically potent, and must be susceptible to being mobilized as a coherent political force.

 

2nd.  Potent organization.  There must be an authoritarian fascist organization which is: (1) capable of obtaining and commanding the allegiance of that reactionary constituency; and (2) capable of taking control of the coercive state apparatus and directing it to abrogate the pluralist liberal “democracy” and to impose the overall suppression of civil liberties, especially as exercised by the left.  Past examples: the Fascist Party in Italy; the Nazi party in Germany; the Falange in Spain; Patria y Libertad together with the Gremialistas and the pro-coup reactionary wing of the (previously-governing) Christian Democrat Party in Chile [4].

 

3rd.  Ruling class role.  There must be substantial ruling class support for the abolition of liberal “democracy” and the placement of state power under the control of a potent fascist organization.  In every case where a fascist regime displaced an established liberal “democracy”, it was with support, usually in fear of potential or threatening social revolution, from a large and influential part of the ruling capitalist class.  For example, ruling class embrace of fascist organizations increased greatly, during the revolutionary working-class upheavals in the years immediately following the Great War and again in the Great Depression of the 1930s, when the threat of social revolution was very real throughout much of the capitalist world.

 

Ω.  Restoration.  When the conditions, which have impelled the capitalist class to yield state power to an authoritarian regime have dissipated; factions of that class, which have been excluded from political power and/or no longer see the need for authoritarian rule, join other discontented liberal factions in pressing for, and eventually achieving, a restoration of the liberal regime.  Examples: Greece (1974..75), Portugal (1975..76), Spain (1975..78), Chile (1990..94).

 

11.  Does the Trump Presidency constitute or portend a fascist takeover of state power in the United States? There are five points to be considered.

 

1st.  The reactionary bigoted constituency?  There has always been a sizable part of the US electorate which is imbued with patriarchal/misogynist, racist, sectarian religious, and/or other bigoted prejudices.  GOP pandering to that constituency (with: Goldwater’s condemnation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a violation of “states’ rights”, Nixon’s “southern strategy”, Reagan’s speeches about “welfare queens”, G H W Bush’s “Willie Horton” campaign ads, the Republican embrace of anti-abortion policies, rightwing attacks on affirmative action policies, rightwing attacks on government neutrality toward religion, etc.) has made GOP electoral success dependent upon the votes of this constituency.  While bigotry is invariably an element in fascism, bigotry can and does exist widely without being an embrace of the authoritarian state; and it has in the US for most of its history.  Although said constituency had been mobilized as a political force, and there were some on the left who deemed Nixon’s sweeping electoral victory in 1972 and/or Reagan’s in 1980 as a fascist takeover of the state; that was not a reasonable assessment.  Nevertheless, the reactionary bigoted constituency has now been mobilized by Trump as an active and significant political force.  Therefore, the first of the aforementioned three conditions is satisfied.

 

2nd.  The authoritarian organization?  Donald Trump, with his demagoguery and his scapegoating of the “other” and his all-around pandering to racist, sectarian religious, and misogynist bigotry, has molded that reactionary populist constituency into a cohering political movement devoted to himself.  However, while a part of Trump’s base would perhaps accept a move toward authoritarian governance, only a neo-fascist fringe on its margins consciously aspires to an authoritarian state.  In fact, most of that reactionary movement is an anti-establishment protest seduced by nostalgic appeals for retrogressive policies and dismissive in varying degrees with respect to the rights of the “other”, also neither novel nor unique to fascism.  It is not seeking an unconstrained authoritarian form of governance.  In fact, much of this constituency is so blindly partisan and/or misinformed by its reliance upon deceptive sources, such as Fox News, that it is actually largely (and often somewhat willfully) ignorant and/or simply dismissive of Trump’s prevarications and abuses of power.  It is true that Trump has been able, to a limited extent, to use repressive state agencies to persecute vulnerable population groups, most notably stigmatized immigrants and asylum seekers; but, crucially, Trump’s political organization lacks the capacity to convert the coercive state apparatus into an instrument for the suppression of the civil liberties of his numerous critics and broad-based political opposition.  Consequently, the second condition, namely a politically potent fascist organization with the capacity, as well as the desire, to replace liberal “democracy” with an authoritarian state, is not currently fulfilled.

 

3rd.  Ruling class embrace?  With the very limited exception of sectors (such as health insurance) where there is already partial government ownership, those “socialist” organizations, which have some significant popular support in the US, are not currently demanding public ownership of the means of production (not even of the big banks).  What they (Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialists of America included) seek is a new “new deal” ameliorated capitalism.  Their program, while worthy of critical support, is reformist, not truly anti-capitalist.  Meanwhile, groups advocating for actual social revolution currently do not have anywhere near the level of popular support to inspire the ruling capitalist class with fear for the continuation of its cherished social order.  While those demanding new-deal type reforms are unlikely to obtain more than partial progress in the near term (and that only if and after Democrats sweep the 2020 elections), they are far from displacing capital from domination of government in the US and unlikely to do so anytime in the foreseeable future.  Moreover, and crucially, there is very little support within the ruling class for replacing the pluralist liberal “democracy”, which they can and do rig to some degree thru gerrymanders, voter suppression, and other anti-democratic manipulations.  Consequently, the requisite ruling-class support for displacement of the existing liberal “democratic” regime in the US [⁑] by an unconstrained authoritarian state does not currently exist.  Finally, although Congress is beset with considerable partisan strife; at the federal level nearly every politician, Democrat as well as Republican, is subservient to capitalist interest groups and committed to the preservation of private-enterprise capitalism.  Thus, the third condition, significant ruling class support for a move to fascist rule, is not even remotely within sight of being fulfilled.

[⁑ Note.  The ruling class in the US and in allied Western imperial countries happily back subservient authoritarian states in the peripheral countries in order to perpetuate their systematic subjugation and exploitation by transnational capital.]

 

4th.  The persecutions.  Most of the persecutions which Trump has imposed on racial minorities, immigrants, and other vulnerable groups are presaged by policies dating back to previous Presidencies including those of Clinton, Bush-Cheney, and Obama.  Examples.

♦ Racially disproportionate mass incarcerations are deeply rooted in Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill.

♦ The persistent privation and increased abuse which the working poor (especially in female-headed households) must endure is largely a result of the punitive features in Bill Clinton’s draconian so-called “welfare reform”.

♦ Excesses in Bush’s “war on terror” included: extraordinary renditions, torturing of captives (torture having been common practice under Democrat as well as Republican Presidents in the Korean and Vietnam Wars), and fixed-outcome prosecutions targeted against dissident Muslim charities (e.g. Help the Needy Foundation, and Holy Land Foundation) and Arab human rights activists (e.g. Sami Al-Arian) in the US.

♦ Obama earned the moniker “deporter-in-chief” as he deported more undocumented immigrants in his first five years than did Bush-Cheney in all eight years, and finally more than all of his predecessors combined.  The majority of Obama’s deportees had not been convicted of any crime.  Under Obama, family separation included 152,000 children deprived of their undocumented parents in 2012 alone.  In 2011 DHS took some 5,100 children from their parents and placed them in foster care.  Local law enforcement, which often engaged in racial profiling, was recruited to engage in immigration enforcement.  ICE conducted middle-of-the-night house searches.  Deportation procedures were expedited in order to deny, to recent arrivals, their right of access to lawyers and due process for asylum claims.  Scores of desperate deportees including many children were subsequently murdered in their home countries.  Detention facilities (in large part privately owned and operated for profit) subjected detainees to abuse and neglect: confinement in extremely cold cells (aka “ice boxes”) or cages (aka “dog kennels”), overcrowding, unhygienic conditions, lack of access to needed medical care, victimization with physical (including sexual) violence, detention officers allowed to abuse with impunity, and other abuses.  While Obama was President, most Democrat politicians and the mainstream news media took little interest.  Now under Trump, such abuses (now, as then, somewhat limited by court order) have become a cause célèbre[5]

♦ Obama refused to free federal political prisoners (Bowers, Peltier, Dhafir, Palmera, Holy Land Five) who were unjustly convicted and imprisoned thru rigged trials under previous Presidents.

♦ Add to this the bipartisan imperial regime-change interventions (coups, invasions, bombings, economic-siege sanctions regimes, etc.) which have been perpetrated all around the world by every President and Congress since 1945 (often resulting in horrendous persecutions and mass-murder with cumulative death toll in the millions), as well as the longstanding bipartisan US backing for often-extremely-repressive foreign states as long as they are pro-West (i.e. client states).

Ω Trump’s not-at-all-unprecedented persecutions and crimes against humanity do not differ substantively or qualitatively from those under his predecessors.  What distinguishes Trump’s posture is his blatant pandering to bigotry and his naked indifference to the resulting cruelty and human suffering, in contrast with the sneaky concealments and artful pretenses involving persecutions under previous Presidents.  In fact, Trump’s bigotry and persecutions are blatant, obsessive, absolutely transparent, and undeniable.  This transparency makes it much easier to organize against; and that is a good thing.

 

5th.  Despotic power?  Trump has been repeatedly stymied on particular issues: by the foreign-policy establishment; by Congress; by the courts; by obstruction within his own administration; by his own narcissism and incompetence; and sometimes even by overwhelming public disgust at some of his most abhorrent pronouncements.  Trump failed in his first attempt to coerce the Congress into funding his anti-immigrant border wall, and he only succeeded in his second attempt when Congressional Democrats caved in return for modest funding for a few of their priorities.  He has been utterly unable to muzzle his critics: in the mainstream news media, in the Democratic Party, and on the left.  Moreover, despite his obsession to put an end to the Mueller investigation of his Presidential campaign, Trump was unable (or too fearful) to do so.  Finally, he failed to prevent House Democrats from impeaching him.  He certainly does not possess anywhere near the absolutist power of a fascist despot.  Moreover, with the persistence of broad and intense popular opposition to Trump, he is very unlikely to achieve such power.

 

Ω.  Conclusion.  The Trump Presidency, despite Trump’s abhorrent policies and authoritarian aspirations, is not a fascist state.  (Note.  This analysis applies to the US.  The politics of any other country with an extreme reactionary populist party in power, or about to take power, needs its own separate fact-based analysis.)

 

12.  Why does it matter whether the Trump Presidency is, or is not, branded as fascism? Whether it is, or is not, determines what must be the appropriate current strategic objective for the social justice movements.  For long-term success, the appropriate strategic orientation is essential.

 

1st.  If fascism.  If a political regime of unconstrained state repression of progressive dissent were in effect (or if forces seeking such regime were on a trajectory to achieve it); then the appropriate current strategic objective would be: to remove (or prevent the establishment of) such regime, and to restore (or maintain) the liberal freedoms of political action for the progressive movements.  To achieve that strategic objective, the left, as in the antifascist popular fronts of the 1930s and 1940s, would need to forge a broad anti-fascist alliance [⁑] including all who are committed to the pluralist liberal regime notwithstanding its inconsistent respect for dissident political freedoms and the rule of law as well as its many anti-democratic abuses and anti-people policies.  This alliance would naturally include the anti-fascist factions of the capitalist class, along with their politicians; and it would necessarily need to suspend its active opposition to private-enterprise capitalism until after the anti-fascist strategic objective had been achieved.

[⁑ Note, in some countries, including the US, the Communist parties made gross errors in their implementation of the anti-fascist alliance.  In fact, the US Communist Party [CPUSA] went beyond alliance on the shared anti-fascist objective and lapsed into de facto allegiance (1941..45) to the ruling liberals.  It largely failed to recognize that: alliance does not preclude appropriate criticism, nor does it preclude demands for remedial action on immediate social justice issues as well as for progressive reforms.  By giving up its policy independence, the CPUSA then objectively acquiesced to the anti-people policies (for example: suppression of labor struggles, and inaction on demands for racial justice) of the ruling factions thereby largely abandoning its social justice principles and losing much of the trust of its natural constituencies.]

 

2nd.  If not fascism.  If unconstrained state repression of the progressive movements is neither in effect nor about to be; then the current strategic objective must be to create the requisite conditions for the socialist acquisition of state power without which there is no possibility for fully or permanently eradicating the many social evils of capitalism.  To achieve this strategic objective, socialists must include the following in their program.

♦ Organize and mobilize the progressive working class and its allies into a popular revolutionary movement for comprehensive social justice with a firm commitment to a program of specific demands with respect to: economic justice, environmental justice, racist and sexist and all other violations of human rights, civil liberties, militarism and imperialism.

♦ Engage in political struggles to empower the people (i.e. the working class and its allies) and to reduce and constrain the power of the capitalist class, and thereby to create the requisite conditions for that socialist acquisition of state power and for the socialist reconstruction of the social order which is to follow.  People empowerment includes: collective bargaining, litigation rights, citizen initiatives, public participation and oversight, FOIA access, voting rights, civil liberties, human rights enforcement, etc.  Measures to reduce and constrain the power of the capitalist class include: public interest regulation of for-profit businesses, ending and reversing privatizations, expanded public services and social welfare programs, bans on corporate money in election campaigns, statutory restraints upon the powers and reach of the repressive state apparatus, etc.

♦ Counter the influence of the agents of capitalist indoctrination in academia and in the mass media; and educate the public as to the fact that contemporary social evils are inherent in the normal operation of private-enterprise capitalism.

♦ Expose both the Republican Party and the centrist-dominated Democratic Party as antisocial agents of capital against the real interests of the people; and establish electoral independence: by making reasonable demands of Democrat politicians (who need the votes of social-justice-minded voters), and by challenging those who refuse to cooperate by backing progressive challengers in primary and/or general elections.

♦ All alliances with antisocial factions and/or their agents (including the Democratic Party as currently constituted) must necessarily be temporary and limited to specific immediate objectives, namely those particulars in the social justice program and in the people-empowerment and capital-constraining struggles to which they provide actual support.

 

3rd.  Mis-branding & misdirection.  Under an actual fascist state, no political activity in pursuit of progressive reforms would be permitted.  In fact, while there is much to hate in the policies of the Trump Presidency, it has provoked an increase in such political activity; and that is a very good thing.  Therefore, assertions of fascist rule being in current effect (or about to be) are proven false.  Branding as “fascist”, whatever rightwing political actors as are widely deemed to be particularly odious, renders the word largely meaningless.  More importantly, those on the “left” bemoaning the purported fascism of the Trump Presidency delude themselves and their listeners with a false analysis, which inevitably tends to influence and misdirect progressive political action by inducing persistence in the counterproductive policy of giving electoral allegiance to the Democratic Party (which, in effect, they mis-portray as the savior of progress and democracy).

 

4th.  Consequences.  The cries of Trump “fascist” simply serve as excuse for demands, by Democrat politicians and their “socialist” apologists, that the left unite with the centrists behind the Democratic Party.  In fact, the proponents of this “anti-fascist” policy are currently insisting that the essential task for the left in 2020 is: to replace Trump with whatever politician the Democrats select as their candidate for imperial commander-in-chief, and to put the Democrats in control of the federal government.  This is a repudiation of the real task, which must be to build the revolutionary movement.  Why?  Because supporting a neoliberal militarist imperial centrist for commander-in-chief is fundamentally incompatible with promoting consciousness of the need for social revolution.

♦ Saviors of progress and democracy or enemies of the people?  Centrist Democrat politicians have no firm principles other than: (1) to preserve the existing capitalist social order; and (2) to embrace whatever policies (progressive or regressive) as are expedient and useful to advance their political careers.  They readily abandon social justice principles whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so [6].  Because both they and their Republican challengers depend upon capitalist funding for their election campaigns, these Democrats will persist in their neoliberal, militarist, imperialist, anti-environment, and other antisocial policies until compelled to do otherwise.  These fake-progressive politicians presume that progressives must vote for them: (1) because of their lip-service progressive sympathies along with their hyped support for some few minimal reforms of some benefit to some fractions of their popular constituencies; and (2) because the voters’ only credible alternative appears to be their unpalatable Republican challengers.  These centrist Democrats are self-serving career politicians, bought-and-paid agents of capital, and actual enemies of the people.

♦ America-first racism in the left.  “Socialist” and other “progressive” proponents of center-left unity in support of the centrist-dominated Democratic Party have embraced an objectively racist left version of America first.  They care that Democrat politicians are marginally less antisocial on domestic issues (generally because they need the votes of women, minorities, and other affected constituencies); but, like said Democrats (including even most avowedly “progressive” Democrats), said proponents of center-left unity acquiesce to the murderous oppressions of the millions of victims of US-led Western imperialism in other countries by giving their de facto allegiance to the Democrat perpetrators.  (More detailed analysis can be accessed in noted source [7].)

♦ Ameliorative reformism and lesser-evil-ism.  Avowedly “progressive” proponents of center-left unity behind the Democratic Party, obsessed as always with the pursuit of ameliorative reforms and the electoral defeat of rightwing politicians, evade Democratic Party hypocrisy and inconsistency on human rights, civil liberties, labor rights, environmental justice, militarism, imperialism, and other social justice issues.  These proponents of tailing after that centrist-dominated pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist Party rely upon it as their vehicle for treating the social evils of capitalism – evils for which Democrat politicians bear a huge share of culpability.  Thus, they act to keep the progressive movements and the broad left ensnared in its counterproductive allegiance to agents of capital who are their ultimate enemies.  [8]

♦ Need for independence.  In order to free itself from its servitude to the capital-serving Democratic Party, the left must: (1) create its own independent political organization to struggle for social justice in all relevant arenas, not limited to the electoral and parliamentary arenas; and (2) forge its own independent electoral operation, namely a social-justice solidarity voters’ bloc which will withhold its votes from these career politicians until they seriously commit to act in support of some reasonable minimum part (necessarily varying in time and location) of a comprehensive social justice program [9].  Only then will the revolutionary movement for social justice begin to build its own independent political power, without which it will never achieve sustainable progress toward the elimination of the social evils of capitalism.

Ω Without a politically independent revolutionary movement for comprehensive social justice, there cannot be: any socialist acquisition and retention of state power, any socialist reconstruction of the civil society, or any elimination of the ubiquitous social evils of capitalism.

 

Noted sources:

[1] Karl Marx: Civil War in France (Third Address, 1871 May 30) ~ § III (re Paris Commune) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/index.htm.

[2] Charles Pierce: Political repression in liberal “democracies” (2019 May 08) @ https://specter-cp.home.blog ~ post 3.

[3] Georgi Dimitrov: The fascist offensive and the tasks of the Communist International in the struggle of the working class against fascism – Report delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International (1935 Aug 02) ~ § The Class Character of Fascism @ https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/dimitrov/works/1935/08_02.htm#s2.

[4] Wikipedia: Falange Española de las JONS (2018 Sep 30); Fatherland and Liberty (2018 Mar 30); 1973 Chilean coup d’etat (2018 Sep 26).

[5] Carol Dansereau: Whose Moral Stain? Hold Democrats Accountable on Immigration Too (2018 Oct 02) @ https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/02/whose-moral-stain-hold-democrats-accountable-on-immigration-too/.  Miles Culpepper: Why Democrats Keep Caving on Immigration (2019 Jul 07) @ https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/07/democrats-immigration-border-ice-cbp.

 

Author: Charles Pierce.     Date: 2019 Jul 14, last updated 2020 Feb 16.

 

Charles Pierce is: a working-class retiree, a past union steward and local union officer, and currently a researcher and writer on history and politics.  Other articles by Charles Pierce can be accessed by google search at https://specter-cp.home.blog.