“A calamitous defeat”: Is “Kurdistan” a nation at all?

A map reprinted from an alternative website, which links to an article in Global Research saying that Washington sponsored the idea of a “Great Kurdistan.”

Note:  This article was written in late October, so it is a bit dated. This article is the fourth of a four-part series, which never got published on Dissident Voice.

The previous article [link here] focused how Western imperialists have granted support to “Kurdistan” over the years. This article poses the question: is “Kurdistan” is a nation at all? This differs from previous analyses of the “Kurdish national question,” but I pursued my own course of analysis in writing this article and others in this series.

As was argued on /r/communism by one user, “from a Marxist-Leninist perspective they are not a nation, they are an ethnicity. To speak of “self determination” for them can only mean “ethnic self determination”, which is a Nazi belief, not a Marxist one.” This in line with users on the same forum agreeing that Kurds are co-operating with U$ imperialism while, at other times, there seemed to be disagreement on the subject.

It is not worth considering whether the referendum was “constitutional” or not, with the former argued by the KRG. Instead, let us consider the views of PRI’s interviewees on the referendum. Most, as is typical of bourgeois media, voiced support, speaking of the “will” for independence, saying that the Kurds “deserve” independence, that people should fight for “our rights,” and hoped for a stronger government. However, one interviewee said that “they [the KRG] pretend democracy, but they are more like dictators.” This in line with the idea that Kurdistan as Qatar’s Al Jazeera declared, that “Kurdistan” is basically a “kind of dream…buoyed by memories of a glorious past” with one person evening saying that “if countries in the region became more democratic and more welcoming of their Kurdish populations, the cries for an independent Kurdistan would quiet down” and the realization that “the country many dream of may not end up as the hoped-for Kurdish utopia.” This is a concern since the Kurds are described as “the largest ethnic group [in that region] without self-determination” and Westerners are coaxed into helping built “stable, democratic institutions,” for the Kurds. [1]

Let us consider that the Barzani family “governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist” and is “historically connected to Israel.” Additionally, let us consider the words of the Qatari-backed and pro-terrorist outlet Middle East Eye, only because they even admit that “Kurdistan” in Northern Iraq is a complete and utter mess:

“…following several years of financial crisis and economic mismanagement, Erbil has racked up $30bn of debt, and the meagre salaries of public sector workers are routinely paid late. But the crunch has not been felt by all – cronyism is rife in the fiefdom, and the Barzani family have used their monopoly on power to amass a fortune while ruling over the ..KRG…Following several years of financial crisis and economic mismanagement, Erbil has racked up $30bn of debt, and the meagre salaries of public sector workers are routinely paid late…cronyism is rife in the fiefdom, and the Barzani family have used their monopoly on power to amass a fortune while ruling over the..KRG…That the upcoming referendum is more about President Barzani and the KRG’s elites ensuring their hold on power undermines the aspirations of some of the world’s most discriminated against people”

The same is the case for the neo-con magazine, Commentary, which says that “…the region was never democratic—the freest and fairest election it had was in 1992—and then the leaders simply massaged the process in order to maintain their hold.” They added that Barzani is “officially limited to two terms by the constitution, but got around the problem by extending his second term extra-legally” meaning that the region is “a dictatorship…[since] two ruling families dominate politics and society…Masud Barzani is a dictator.” Beyond this, there are also reports that “Barzani family members alone took 600 billion dollars from the Kurdish people’s oil income and…[the] Talabani side shared 50 % of that oil money, too, which means they made 600 billion dollars to be divided among Talabani sides.” Then there is the words of the alternative site, Moon of Alabama, which sometimes goes off the rails (but not this time), arguing that the recent referendum was more “to do with the beleaguered situation of the illegitimate regional president Barzani than with a genuine opportunity to achieve independence.” They added that “Arabs, Turks, and Persians see the Kurds as a recalcitrant nomadic mountain tribe and stooge of Israeli interests” and that basically “Kurdish independence…would be the start of another decade of war – either between the Kurdish entities and the nations around them, or within the ever disunited Kurdish tribes themselves.” Finally there are the words of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian Parliament’s General Director for International Affairs, who said that “Barzani’s call for independence means further strengthening of ISIL and Tel Aviv, a new anarchy in the region and instability.” This is fundamentally the case.

Still, these realities or the data collected by the Rand Corp, an appendage of the imperial war machine, do not answer the question on whether “Kurdistan” is a nation or not. Sarah Abed, in a series of articles in Mint Press News seems to raise doubts as to whether the Kurds are a nation. In her first article on the subject, she writes that

“Kurdistan—Land of the Kurds—exists only in two spheres. One is on maps sold in bazaars wherever the Kurdish language is spoken. The other is on yellow-red-and-green flags Kurds sometimes wave in the countries where they actually reside (according to maps sold everywhere else in the world).Yet in one of those countries, the Kurds have built themselves a state in all but name”

In the second, she argues that Kurds are even more devious, not even having their own culture, stealing it from others, with the same being the case with their land, with “much if not all of the land in Eastern Turkey that the Kurds claim as their own once belonged to the Armenians.” She goes on to say that Kurds assisted in the 1915 genocide of Armenians and of Assyrians, along with dwelling in cities which were only recently established as theirs “as a means of drawing their eyes away from the oil-rich lands in and around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.” As a result, large migrations of Kurds into the area often displaced “Assyrians who had far greater legal and historical claims to these lands.” Add to this, she argues, that Kurdistan will be defined by where “Kurds happen to dwell at any given point” and were easily used as a “pawn of U.S. interests” while Kurds began, in July 2014, “systematic disarmament of Assyrians and several other ethnic groups so that it could use their weapons in its own struggle” which left these groups at the mercy of Daesh. She argues that this is a “deliberate ploy by the Kurdish leadership to allow foreign forces to violently cleanse these areas of all non-Kurdish residents and then…retake and “liberate their lands.” She later argues that

“…the Kurds would have a vested interest in claiming Arab, Assyrian or Armenian history as their own…they often resort to destroying any relevant history altogether…Kurds claim that their “Kurdistan” is “multicultural and multireligious,” which is disingenuous when you consider that those additional cultures consist of people now dwelling amongst a Kurdish majority in lands the Kurds took by force. These people will be faced with the prospect of casting meaningless votes on Kurdish independence since, even if they all voted “no,” they would nonetheless be outvoted by the Kurdish “yes” majority…Kurdish history in the 20th century is marked by a rising sense of Kurdish nationhood focused on the goal of establishing an independent Kurdistan in accordance with the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920…The state of Kurdistan has simply never existed…The Kurds have a centuries-long history of persecuting minority groups, having committed genocide against them with alarming frequency…It is important to reiterate that there are many Kurds to whom some of the characterizations presented in this analysis cannot and should not be applied. There are Kurds who have assimilated into their current cultural societies and reject the ideals of the separatist Kurds. Their concerns are mostly political in nature and specific to the nations in which they reside. They are not interested in establishing a united Kurdish country…In fact, these Kurds have faced discrimination from the Kurdish community as a result of their unwillingness to support the establishment of a Kurdish state…The Kurds have gained popularity through effectively marketing themselves to Western audiences as revolutionary, feminist, Marxist “freedom fighters”…Up until recently, Kurds with separatist ambitions were seen in a positive light. But their hidden agenda has now been exposed and their true intentions revealed…To support the Kurds’ demands for autonomy, and the establishment of a federation at the expense of others in the region, is illegal, profoundly illogical, and a violation of human rights”

If what Sarah Abed says has any validity then the Kurds cannot claim they are a nation and hence their claim for independence as a “nation” and a “nation-state” is fundamentally flawed. The Syrians recognize the danger of this, even discussing with the Russians and a PKK leader a number of issues: “the future of the YPG, the future of US bases…in the YPG-occupied areas, and a political solution to the Kurdish question in Syria.” Whether the Syrian state does the same as Iraq in creating an autonomous area within their country for the Kurds is possible. However, considering the fact that they have been under imperialist assault since the 1960s, especially more intense since 2013, it is likely that Kurds will be granted additional rights but not an autonomous area, a concept which could be exploited by power-hungry Western imperialists.

This discussion is nothing new. In 1973, the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in Iraq wrote a political report titled “Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973.” They noted, in one chapter about the Iraqi revolution, as they called it, talking about the Kurds:

“The Kurdish national movement in Iraq, despite some historical circumstantial errors and reactionary isolationist trends some of which were on openly good terms with imperialism and reactionary circles, is essentially a legitimate national movement so long as it works within the framework of national rights for the Kurdish people within the Republic of Iraq. Autonomous Kurdish rule is realistic and justified…the problem has become very complicated because of foreign interventions, the chauvinistic and dictatorial attitudes of the former reactionary regimes towards the Kurd’s legitimate rights….The Party had to find a solution, theoretical and practical, that would satisfy the national aspirations of our Kurdish masses while protecting the territorial unity of the land and the unity of the national progressive movement without conflicting with the aims of the Arab struggle…the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party often did not behave in the spirit of national unity and sincere alliance with the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party…in spite of all the errors and negative aspects, the peaceful democratic method of the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in tackling the Kurdish Question has proved to be correct and has yielded significant positive results…After four years of persistent struggle to solve the Kurdish Question peacefully and democratically, the general political, psychological and economic trends of the Kurdish masses are no longer as they used to be before the March announcement. Large sections of our Kurdish people are now finding their lives more secure and peaceful than ever before…The peaceful solution of the Kurdish Question is also another sign of democracy, In addition to its significant aspect in consolidating national unity, political independence and social progress in the country, it has provided the opportunity for the first time to create a democratic climate for our Kurdish people to practice their national rights, political, social and cultural activities on a very large scale.”

This statement does draw into question the story told by the Kurds who want their own nation and fundamentally a new nation-state, showing that the Iraqi government understood, at least at one point, that the Kurds were justified in their push for self-determination. Even Kim Il Sung, in 1971, congratulated the Iraqi people and government on the “successful solution of the Kurd national problem in Iraq,” further saying that “the peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem is a telling blow to the imperialists and an important measure which makes it possible to strengthen the anti-imperialist people’s front and further intensify the anti-U.S., anti-Israeli struggle in Iraq.”

However, if the Kurds were not a nation, fundamentally and just an ethnicity, then the Iraqi approach at the time would be even more justified. One Marxist writer even pointed out, in 1979, that two important ayatollahs in Iran called Kurdish leaders “agents of Savak, Zionists and corrupt sources,” while Saddam Hussein reportedly was “arming some Kurds to start a revolt within Iran.” Kurds seem to be pawns, now and throughout their history, of Western imperialists. Still, we cannot paint all of them with the same brush. There are Kurds, as I’ve written in the past, who support federalism in Syria, and also support federalism in Iraq. Not all are separatist, wanting to form an “independent” nation.

Whether the Kurds are an “oppressed nationality” is up to the reader. But this writer thinks that is drawn into question considering that certain Kurds have been used for pawns. They gotta serve somebody, and those somebodies are in the West, not in the Mideast. Clearly US imperialism has re-positioned itself to support certain Kurds in Syria, but there is another reality. A new state in the region would be the paradise of capitalists, getting to the level of Cuba before the revolution’s success in 1959. Additionally, they want a nation-state conceived in a bourgeois way, following what Rosa Luxembourg pointed out in 1909, that ““Nation-states” are today the very same tools and forms of class rule of the bourgeoisie as the earlier, non-national states, and like them they are bent on conquest. The nation-states have the same tendencies toward conquest, war, and oppression – in other words, the tendencies to become “not-national.”” Fundamentally, this is a bourgeois concept.

As the Marxist Internet Archive defines it, a nation-state is when a nation combines with a state, with “the state being an instrument of force which is able to dominate the people of a nation, representing the social interests of the dominant class with that nation.” This is not something that should be cheered or supported. Instead, those with sense should support those Kurds who push for the maintenance of federalist systems in their respective countries, Syria or Iraq, oppose the creation of “Kurdistan,” strongly oppose outside interference by the West, and ally with the proletariat in those countries, along with Communist parties in those countries (i.e. Iraqi Communist Party and Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash)) at minimum. [2] This would all be within the right of any ethnicity, but especially those in countries under imperialist attack. While some may argue, rightly, that Syria and Iraq are not socialist states, it is not the job of those in the West to determine how peoples in those countries engage in revolution but it should be up to the people n those respective countries, with those outside offering international solidarity and support if they deem it necessary. In the case of “Kurdistan,” this should not be supported by any thinking comrade, as it will assist Zionist expansionism, Saudi expansionism, and Western imperialism in dividing up the region. This is not beneficial for the well-being of those who live in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, or those living in any other area. In the end, what happens next, whether they see the Kurds as a nation or they don’t, is up to any comrade who reads the articles in this series.

Notes

[1] Aliza Marcus and Andrew Apostolou, “Why It’s Time for a Free Kurdistan,” The Daily Beast, Nov. 25, 2015.

[2] The same would also be the case in Iran except that the country does not have a strong and established Left, so that would need to be built from the ground up. The existing communist party, Tudeh, is in exile and seems to, unfortunately, mesh with the criticisms of the country’s government by Western imperialists. If this turns out to be incorrect, then perhaps Tudeh can be useful as a force that can challenge the existing political system in Iran.

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Armed resistance, “gun control,” and inherent capitalist violence

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org and written by yours truly. Since I’ve written  this article, on February 28, the orange menace has engaged in his own political gymnastics acting like he endorses gun control, then backing of and siding with the NRA. Additionally, he has, as noted by varied news outlets, openly called for the killing of drug dealers. I’ve also read a number of other articles, one talking about how the Second Amendment ties back to settler colonialism, White supremacy and  slavery, with others noting how guns have been helpful for self-defense of Blacks over the years, and another asking that if police can’t protect the public, then what are they good for, anyway? These are all good food for thought.

The bourgeois media in the U$, “a garrison of armed citizens,” has been talking incessantly about the Valentine’s Day Massacre by Nikolas Cruz in Florida which some have called “state-sponsored domestic terrorism” or a “major abuse of human rights.” There have been articles sent off every day on this subject, so many that I can’t even summarize them all in this article. Conservative media have directly attacked the armed deputy who was “assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Scot Peterson, as a “coward” for not entering the building to stop the shooting (which he reportedly thought was outside) while possibly four other deputies also did nothing to stop the violence. [1] Peterson has resigned since then, with others declaring saying that the sheriff of Broward County, Scott Israel, is “a hack politician whose primary concern is protecting his own political reputation and little fief” and saying this why “we don’t trust our public institutions.” This criticism also focused on the fact that Broward County received many calls “concerning Cruz” while the FBI failed to act on a tips it “received about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.” As such, 73 Republicans in Florida called for Sheriff Steve Israel to be suspended (which was happily reprinted by the progressive media outlet, Mother Jones with little comment) by the state’s governor, Rick Scott, who has already launched an official investigation of the response of law enforcement to the shooting itself. This echoes the calls from conservation publications like the National Review and some survivors of the shooting calling for Israel’s resignation. These views are understandable considering that sheriff’s deputies “responded to at least 45 calls about the shooter before the shooting” but still took no action.

Responses to the Valentine’s Day Massacre and analysis

With this, there have been two responses. For one, conservatives, U$ House Republican leaders, the NRA (with a “large, ideologically committed membership” as one conservative publication put it) and their lackeys, like the orange menace (Trump) who is exploiting the tragedy for his own gain, have called for more guns in schools, specifically that teachers be armed, which has been widely panned by progressives, and the general population, for good reason. [2] They also rail against gun-free zones in schools and inherently support further militarization of schools, declaring the liberals are “gun grabbers, saying the media has a “liberal bias” and “loves” mass shootings, and declaring they have the “facts” about gun use, even citing Bob Dylan to support their distorted arguments while laughing at liberals. The reality is that the bourgeois media will profit regardless in such a capitalist society and don’t “love” the shootings as not even bourgeois journalists are subhuman enough to have such beliefs. Still, it is worth pointing out that CNN held a town hall about gun violence, which at minimum raised their stature while the surviving family who was part of it sent doctored emails about the CNN town hall to varied outlets. The liberal response, trumpeted by progressive media, is not much better. They, apart from criticizing hypocritical conservatives, like one that reportedly owned a rifle factory but blamed video games on the shooting, have pushed for further gun control. Over 150 Democrats in the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill which would ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons,” with some conservatives call it a “non-ban” because “assault weapons” is a broadly defined term, which comprises “205 specific firearms that are prohibited, including the AK-47 and AR-15,” leading to further pressure on Congress. At the same time, many firms are dropping their endorsement of the NRA as liberals cheer at their “victory” which will be further enhanced with the upcoming march on March 24th in Washington, D.C., called “March for Our Lives,” organized by a student-led organization named Never Again MSD, while it is co-sponsored by the gun control organization, Everytown for Gun Safety (formerly Mayors Against Illegal Guns), led by former cop-defending NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The march, according to their website, has a mission statement arguing for school safety and reducing gun violence, is followed by other actions across the country. This new push is mainly led by young people, even though they are not more “liberal” on gun control than those of other ages, especially those who are students, some of whom were survivors of the shooting. Of course, these individuals seem to not grasp, by pushing for gun control, that there is seldom “ever any one single cause for such an outrageous act of violence as a mass murder, especially when aimed at school children” with environmental and emotional causes.

This shooting should be no surprise: violence is inherent to the society of the murderous empire, just as it is to capitalist society in general. For the murderous empire, it is expressed through the white supremacist who is running for the U$ Senate in Washington State, the orange menace declaring that he wants to execute drug dealers just like fascist (and anti-communist) Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte or domestic violence in homes across the country, among many other forms of violence. [3] As one writer, Jay Janson, put it, “violence and heroic gun play is in the air children breath in the USA” since members of the military are “hailed in US media as heroic for ‘serving their country’ in other peoples countries” with the NRA having “a financial interest in the sale and proliferation of guns,” adding that “most Americans, or at least those addicted to their TV screens, might not see what the Third World and even America’s European allied peoples see clearly… the Third and Second World see that the seventeen mercilessly slain in Florida last week were the result of American fire power backfiring on its own kids and teachers.” He ended by saying that everyone “should try to end the era of colonial genocide earlier than it will end in any case,” closing by saying that “the human species…will soon end this period of profitable genocide for a relatively small group of insane speculative investment bankers of Western de-civilization.” It is my hope that happens, although I’m not always as optimistic and do not share his view of revisionist China leading the world out of an era of Western “colonial imperialism,” as he calls it, for one, and secondly feel that his analysis is not completely in keeping with radical principles.

As it always happens in the discourse about guns, it goes back to the Second Amendment of the U$ Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Some have declared that this amendment has “no practical value in thinking about gun control,” saying that the debate over firearms is not between those in favor of gun rights or gun control, but about “what kind of controls and restrictions of firearms are right and proper” with the U$ government having the “right” to hold certain arms for military use since the Western Pennsylvania rebellion of 1794, falsely called the “Whiskey Rebellion” after the moniker adopted by aristocrat Alexander Hamilton, with self-proclaimed militias having, in his view, no “basis in the Constitution.” This same author bloviated that “hiding behind the Second Amendment to advocate few or no restrictions on firearms is a nasty scam and misunderstanding of American history. Others said that the magical, mystical “founding fathers” (a conception which is racist and patronizing) didn’t give people the “right” to bear arms. Such views, as one would expect, do not take in the full picture, the reality of the situation.

Recently, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA spoke to CPAC, where he complained about Karl Marx taught on college campuses and declared that “students are even earning academic credit for promoting socialist causes” (which I doubt), while implying that such students favor gun confiscation, while ignoring the U$ Constitution and U$ history, in his distorted view. The reality is very different. Despite what LaPierre said, the reality is that communists are not, by in large, supporters of gun control. Just take a post on a Marxist-Leninist tumblr, as an example. This individual, Steff Yorek, opposed the NRA as a “vile, racist, reactionary organization,” was proud of students taking “reins of leadership,” opposing arming of teachers, turning schools into “prisons or military installations,” and putting more school resource officers in schools because it will disproportionately effect Black, indigenous, and Chican@ kids. At the same time, he wrote that he believed in the “right to bear arms and the right to community self-defense are democratic rights and I want to expand democratic rights not shrink them,” adding that the growing anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist group (founded in June 2016 as a “community defense formation” and working to reclaim the word “redneck”), Redneck Revolt assisted in evacuating a church in Charlottesville during White supremacist violence. This is forgotten by those who say that the U$ should follow the path of the Chinese and institute gun control.

A short history of armed resistance in the U$ and analysis of the current “gun culture”

Echoing this, I return to my articles on gun control and armed resistance, as it worth summarizing the history I put forward there. In the first article, I wrote that gun laws have been “interlinked with racism and racial politics,” noting that the first targets were enslaved Blacks but also included “farmers and dispossessed revolutionary war veterans” to prevent them from revolting, in the 1790s and 1820s, with such laws as a form of social control. I also noted that for Blacks who were enslaved, guns were “an important and vital tool (one of many tools) of resistance against their chains of human bondage,” adding that they were used to “protect against violent White supremacists, police, and terrorist vigilantes” with these use of guns feared by brutal slaveowner Thomas Jefferson, among others, while armed White men in slave patrols went around to maintain order and keep enslaved Blacks in their “place,” with their prohibition ruled as still legal in the South, and cited in the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) case as a reason to not give Blacks their full rights. I further added that many of those pushing for abolitionism said that guns were necessary to help Blacks become free, with Harriet Tubman carrying a firearm, while southern Blacks used weapons to defend themselves against racist Whites and White terrorist groups during the Reconstruction. The Supreme Court during the Reconstruction effectively dismantled the 14th Amendment (it was only restored in the 1960s), allowing the “forcible disarmament of free Blacks” and basically “imposing White supremacy…throughout the American South” which did not occur without resistance. In the years to follow, W.E.B. Du Bois of the NAACP defended himself with a gun and championed armed self-defense as a duty of individuals, a position held by other NAACP members and declared often in the organization’s publication, The Crisis. This right to self-defense was later manifested by a Black sharecropper, Pink Franklin, in 1910, Sgt. Edgar Caldwell in 1918 Ossian Sweet in 1925, all of whom were supported by the NAACP, with Black capitalist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, despite his faults (like his claim that communism would only benefit White people, calling it a “dangerous theory of economic and political reformation” which puts power in the hands of ignorant White masses), strongly believing in armed self-defense of Blacks. Jumping forward many years, after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 which legalized racial segregation in the U$ South, handgun permit and gun registration laws were enacted by varied Southern states, with gun control laws expanding to encompass social control of Whites, Blacks, and other marginalized groups, such as Mexican and Chinese immigrants. The latter was manifested by the Sullivan Act which passed in New York State in 1911. As for the NRA, it promoted gun laws, “embedded with racism,” in the Northern U$, passed in response to “urban gun violence and crime often pegged on immigrants, especially those from Italy and Eastern Europe.” The Harvard-educated lawyer heading the NRA, Karl Frederick, drafted model legislation to “restrict concealed carry of firearms in public” which later led to the 1934 National Firearms Act. Adding further to the history, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), before it was corrupted by revisionists, mobilized mass support for the Scottsboro Boys and other dispossessed individuals, having an organization of armed self-defense as they prepared workers for battles in the 1930s, with sharecroppers in the South engaging in pitched armed battles across Alabama in 1931, 1932, and 1935.

Fast forward to the 1950s. By this time, no new gun control legislation had been passed, dedicated Black comrade, Paul L. Robeson, threatened that Blacks would “exercise their right of armed self-defense” if Truman didn’t sign anti-lynching legislation, a threat not based in thin air, with Robeson hounded by the FBI for his strong communist and Marxist views for years, with the Civil Rights Congress, which he was involved with, charging the U$ with genocide in 1951. Robeson traveled abroad after 1958 (when his passport was renewed) and didn’t return to the U$ until 1963, dying 13 years later in 1976. Apart from Robeson, Martin Luther King, Jr., “took measures to protect himself,” with his home as an arsenal of guns and protected by armed guards, as he even applied for a “concealed carry permit, under a law that the NRA had promoted thirty years earlier” in 1956 but his “application was rejected.” Around the same time, Robert F. Williams was beginning his activism for Black freedom. After many years of activism, heading a NAACP branch in Monroe, North Carolina, in May 1959, after a Monroe court acquitted a “white man for the attempted rape of a black woman,” he declared that justice in the courts cannot be expected from Blacks, saying that they must “convict his attackers on the spot. He must meet violence with violence, lynching with lynching.” Of course, this caused a lot of controversy, but he clarified it by saying that if the U$ Constitution could not be enforced, Blacks need to “defend themselves even if it is necessary to resort to violence,” adding that there is no law in the South, and no need to “take the white attackers to the courts because they will go free” while the federal government is “not coming to the aid of people who are oppressed,” adding that Black men should “stand up and be men and if it is necessary for us to die we must be willing to die. If it is necessary for us to kill we must be willing to kill.” That was a strong statement then, and would be a strong statement now. Apart from heading the NAACP branch, he organized, with his wife Mable, and other community members, a rifle club, called the Black Armed Guard, to defend the community from “attacks by the KKK, with the base of the club coming from the NAACP branch that Robert led” and while Black men “dominated the new club, some Black women were members, and the club’s actions were broadly a success” and even using guns to defend Freedom Riders. Robert would later, with his family, live in Cuba to escape a “kidnapping” charge imposed on him by the FBI, later arguing for racial internationalism even as he shied away from Marxism and the then-revisionist CPUSA disliked him, drawing Robert closer to the Trotskyists. Later, he moved with his family to the People’s Republic of China in 1965, where he stayed in exile until 1969 and was pardoned of his “crimes” in 1975.

As the years passed, armed self-defense was advocated by even more people in the Black community, with field organizers in the South standing against racial segregation were often protected by armed farmers and workers, with Robert Moses in SNCC saying in 1964 that “it’s not contradictory for a farmer to say he’s nonviolent and also pledge to shoot a marauder’s head off, “with James Foreman admitting the same year that “I dare say that 85 per cent of all Negroes do not adhere to non-violence. They are allowing the non-violent movement to go ahead because it is working.” Other groups saw such protection as necessary as they refused to “publicly criticize the use of armed self-defense,” even including Martin Luther King. Others noted that gunfire and the threat of gunfighter helped nonviolence, with the latter not a “way of life for many in the southern Black community” as many households had guns, with “armed supporters protecting field organizers.” By this time, radical Black activists who believed in varied “forms of Black liberation and Black nationalism,” splitting from the bourgeois civil rights movement, including those such as Malcolm X, among others. This was expressed even by the pro-China Progressive Labor Movement, saying that “Black people…must develop political power outside of the present power apparatus through armed self-defense, political councils, the creation of an economic base, seizing land and factories and…uniting with all workers struggling for revolution” and Malcolm X calling for Black rifle clubs while he threatened Lew Rockwell with “maximum physical retaliation” if MLK and his fellow demonstrators were harmed. Sadly, on February 21, 1965, the Nation of Islam, likely with the “help of the NYPD, CIA, and FBI,” gunned down Malcolm X.

Other than Malcolm X, there was a group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice. This group “defended civil rights workers against attacks from the KKK and other White supremacists,” using masculinist appeals, expanding across the Deep South, with Black women participating informally and individually, defending their homes with armed force, but not directly in the group itself. This group, “roughly active from 1964 to 1968” helped the civil rights movement move forward, by allowing this movement “to have victories in the Deep South,” and without the Deacons protecting civil rights workers, “it would have been harder to push for such laws,” like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, “regardless of how much they accomplished in retrospect.” While the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), earlier called the Progressive Labor Movement, saw the Watts rebellion (in 1966) as unorganized and facing tremendous odds, saying that people “liberated their own community and kept out the police,” while advocating for “self-defense organizations to help them organize to defend themselves,”Martin Luther King did not agree, even as he saw “riots” as the “language of the unheard.” The same year, in October, a group founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP), came onto the scene in Oakland. It centered around the idea of armed self-defense and a whole program of self-defense with demands for basic needs and a program to unfold into socialist revolution, inspired by the efforts of Robert and Malcolm X, using guns as self-protection, carrying them “in public and displaying them for everyone, especially for the local police to see.” At the same time, they pushed the belief that “the gun would be a way to gain liberation,” with recruits “taught about socialism and Black nationalism,” as they famously “electrified the nation and brought gun control back into the picture” in 1967 with a “number of Panthers, with loaded weapons, went to the state legislature in Sacramento” to oppose a gun control law, the Mulford Act, which was supported by the NRA! Bobby Seale read a statement by Huey Newton saying that the Black Panthers opposed such legislation “aimed at keeping the Black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder and repression of Black people,” adding that “repression, genocide, terror and the big stick” is the policy of the empire, arguing that “the time has come for Black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.” The following year, in 1968, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act and the Gun Control Act were passed, laying the foundation for “existing carceral state” with the latter law clearly about controlling Blacks, and was again supported by the NRA!

In the years to follow, armed self-defense continued to be important for marginalized groups. The Republic of New Afrika (RNA) formed in 1968, and lasting until 1971, aimed to create a Black nation in the South, along the “Black Belt” of the country, having a group of young Black men with rifles for self-defense and had “armed women serving as security for the RNA’s Land Celebration Day in 1971.” In the Black Panther newspaper, the publication of the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas drew varied illustrations showing “poor black women resisting authority in everyday life” especially women with guns and being “equals with men,” with such ideas later leading to a split in the Party, with the creation of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). As for the White establishment, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Ramsey Clark, and the National Violence Commission all supported gun control, while hardliners led by Harlon Carer took control of the NRA in May 1977 in a coup ousting Maxwell Rich. The latter action changed the NRA into a “pro-gun powerhouse and juggernaut where mistrust of law enforcement was one of the main beliefs” which was echoed by Republicans while Blacks embraced gun control due to increased violence in urban areas. Still, there were some groups which continued to support armed self-defense, and armed resistance such as a “Revolutionary Union” group in Detroit, the Brown Berets, a Chican@ nationalist organization, advocating for armed self-defense and armed struggle, as part of their anti-capitalist viewpoint, as necessary tools for liberation,” other Black radicals, and those fighting against White supremacist violence with strength. Specifically, in the later 1970s, the phrase “Death to the Klan” was spread across the U$, with some left-wing groups supporting “militant, anti-racist opposition to the Klan” by organizing within unions and against racism in varied communities. The result was the Greensboro Massacre in 1979 where Nazis, as the police and federal authorities looked the other way, opened fire on these left-wing activists, resulting in many deaths. Other groups supporting such methods included the United League in North Mississippi which “organized the masses, engaging in armed self-defense” and took “precautions against Klan threats,” with other groups coming out of the efforts by left-wing groups to oppose the Klan, especially among the Puerto Rican and Black communities. Since the 1980s, there has not been any organized efforts of armed self-defense until very recently, as I noted in my next article.

In the next part of the series, I specifically focused on gun control in the murderous empire. I wrote that indigenous peoples heroically resisted White European settlers but they were suppressed due to a superiority of weapons among the former, adding that armed resistance “has been an effective form of self-defense,” especially since the “long history of racial domination” in the Americas for Black people (1510-2018), beginning on January 22, 1510, noting the ahistorical arguments by gun rights supporters and by those for gun control, with the latter disregarding “the fact that enslaved Blacks gained guns during the Civil War and due to evasion of gun control laws, allowing them to engage in armed resistance.” I also pointed out that apart from the Deacons, Black Panthers, and Brown Berets (a new version formed in 1993), there are other groups, historically such as the Young Lords among the Puerto Rican Community, the Young Patriots, and the American Indian Movement (still existing). At the present, I pointed out that the Nation of Islam has armed wings for men and women, while also highlighting the Red Guards in Texas, Brothas Against Racist Cops, Redneck Revolt (including the John Brown Gun Club), the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, with other groups I listed not seeming to be that active. [4] After talking about recent developments on gun rights, such as the District of Columbia v. Heller, and McDonald v. Chicago cases, I noted that Antonin Scalia in the majority decision in the latter decision arguing that “the Fourteenth Amendment contemplated guns rights because it was based on the Civil Rights Act of 1866.” This is interestingly enough, correct, as a Black Code enacted by Mississippi in November 1865 worked to restrict gun and weapon use, while the Second Freedman’s Bill passed the same year said that states should honor the “constitutional right of bearing arms” saying that it cannot be “refused or denied to negroes, mulattoes, freedmen, refugees, or any other persons, on account of race, [or] color” and likely influencing the 1868 Mississippi Constitution which declared that “all persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defense.”

After highlighting gun clubs and debate over guns, I noted that some asked if it as “time to start resisting police with violence.” With this, I highlighted that “firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense” and said that “guns can frighten and intimidate” which is part of self-defense, even quoting a liberal who argued against gun laws saying that they contribute, like other criminal laws, to Black incarceration. As such, I focused on a group for Black gun owners called the National African American Gun Association, protests with guns by the problematic “New Black Panther Party” (which do not legitimately hold claim to the name), a group called the Liberal Gun Club, comprises of “gun-owning liberals and moderates,” and still-existing group called the Pink Pistols, which argues against gun control, argues that there is a connection between “gay rights and gun rights.” The latter group is a self-defense group for non-binary folks (often called LGBTQ+) which was founded in 2000 with the idea that “armed queers don’t get bashed,”filing court cases on their behalf. Additionally I noted that some had floated the idea of Communist Gun Clubs and argued that “we should not reject those in the heartland of the United States who may oppose fracking but also strongly believe in their right to have firearms” as an example. I also added that gun laws, as they stand now, “contribute to the white supremacist order” with such laws connected a “correctional control” in the country as a whole, saying that as a practical measure, funding for mental health programs should be increased, while adding that gun laws don’t “help protect marginalized communities, arguably disarming them at most, or weakening their protection at minimum.” I also quoted a person on the “Left” as saying that the right of “necessary self-defense against oppressive force” should be recognized with a gun culture on the Left, arguing that “guns are a small business in the US at large,” and saying that “gun control won’t bring us to a humane society.” This same writers noted that Eugene Debs called for guns after the Ludlow Massacre to “protect from Rockefeller’s assassins,” the story of armed miners “in Harlan Country in the 1930s,” and urban labor unions providing “armed protection,” even as he rejected the “right-wing’s fetishization of brute force” without a doubt.

From there, I noted that due to the fact that society of the empire is “racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted,” it would be “criminal and irresponsible to fight for gun control” because anyone considered “a “minority” in current society, should have the right to defend themselves with arms as necessary” since this is claimed by White, straight men, so it is only logical that others in society should have this right, in order to “fight off bigots.” I further added that a revolution cannot be fought with “flowers and sayings, but political power” and said that “gun control, if decided as necessary, should happen after a socialist revolution, not before it.” Adding to this, I said that armed self-defense “cannot occur as effectively with gun control measures in place,” adding that “the focus on gun control should be removed from the equation, with other approaches instead, which are more effective.” After that, I cited the writings of Karl Marx, who argued in 1850 for organizing and arming the proletariat “with rifles, guns, and ammunition” with the proletariat under no pretext giving “up their arms and equipment” with any “attempt at disarmament must be forcibly resisted,” and those of Vladimir Lenin who argued for “special bodies of armed men,” even saying at one point that “only an armed people can be a real stronghold of national freedom…the sooner the proletariat succeeds in arming itself, and the longer it maintain its position of striker and revolutionary, the sooner the soldiers will at last begun to understand what they are doing, they will go over to the side of the people.” With this I concluded that guns can be a tool to “allow socialist revolution to succeed,” noting that guns can “be used for malevolent ends” but can also “be used to allow socialist revolution to succeed.” From there, I analyzed the Second Amendment, arguing that the amendment says that “militia units in states should be well-regulated for the purposes of securing the State…but also declares that “the people” which means the whole population of the US…have the right to “keep and bear Arms” interpreting the word “arm” to apply to “ALL weapons, not just guns” meaning that people have the “right to defend themselves with “fists, feet, stones, bricks, blades, and gasoline firebombs”” apart from just guns. I ended the article by saying that rather than “waiting” for revolution there must be action at the present “against the threats that face this planet and its people, even when one should do so without illusion, whatever form that takes offline or online.”

A radical way forward

There is no doubt, as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz argues, the murderous empire has a gun culture because of the tradition of “killing, looting, burning, raping, and terrorizing Indians” as inherent to the murderous empire itself, even before the Constitutional Convention. Dunbar-Ortiz, who notes that Richard Hofstadter coined the term “gun culture,” adds that the Second Amen dent specifically gave “individuals and families the right to form volunteer militias to attack Indians and take their land” with later, slave patrols drawn from these very militias! She added that the main problem with the current gun debate is that neither side, those for gun control or those for gun rights, don’t wish to admit what the “Second Amendment was originally about and why its sanctity has persisted” as she argues, in a new book (Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment) that the Second Amendment is “key to understanding the gun culture of the United States,” and key to a new consciousness about the “linger effects of settler-colonialism and white nationalism,” with a necessary reflection needed on “how the violence it [the Amendment] has spawned has deeply influenced the character of the United States.” There is no doubt she is right. There’s more to what’s happening now than what is declared in think pieces by liberals or conservatives. While is is valid that the Second Amendment was part of an effort by the South “determined to ensure that slave owners could pursue runaways.

There is more as is states the column by self-declared socialist, but really liberal-at-heart, Chris Hedges. In his piece, he says that proliferation of guns in the murderous empire benefits gun manufacturers but  “fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency,” saying that gun ownership is “largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression,” saying it is “an instrument of tyranny,” saying that “mass culture and most historians do not acknowledge the patterns of violence that have played out over and over since the founding of the nation.” He adds that a gun, as it stands in the U$, “reminds Americans that they are divine agents of purification, anointed by God and Western civilization to remake the world in their own image” with American “vigilantes are the shock troops of capitalism” and gun ownership being the “fear by white people of the black and brown underclass, an underclass many whites are convinced will threaten them as society breaks down” with guns rarely deployed against the state, as the gun, in his summary, “seems to be the last tangible relic of a free and mythic America.” He ends by saying that attacks on gun violence and gun culture is seen “by many gun owners as an attack on their national identity” with the almost always White Male lone killer “celebrated by Hollywood and in our national myth.”

Hedges makes a good point, as does Dunbar-Ortiz. However, Hedges seems to whitewash any history of armed resistance by the oppressed over U$ history, likely because of his beliefs in “peaceful” revolution, a laughable concept if I ever heard one. In terms of gun violence, there is a better way forward, which is not posed by Hedges. One can, as a start, push for the banning of “ROTC from public schools,” against expanded military recruitment, and further militarization. This obviously will not address gun violence at its root. That would require, all armaments should be taken away from the capitalist state and its armed forces. This includes the military, police forces, and any other forces of terror in society as a whole. Some may say this is impossible in a capitalist society as the bourgeoisie would never allow this, which is the reality. As such, there would need to be a revolution in the empire, as it splinters and explodes into different pieces, benefiting the world as a whole, giving an opportunity for the proletariat, allowing these weapons to be taken away. Of course, this cannot be imposed from above, and has to be a process of working with the proletariat itself, as anything but this approach would be fundamentally elitist and betray efforts to build a revolution. Taking this into account, calls for taking or limiting guns used by the populace, the latter favored more by liberals than seizure of guns, which is an inherent aspect of gun control, is a death nail to revolution and brings with it more social control without question, increasing the already strong system of mass incarceration in the U$ which liberals only flit about with “reforms” of prisons, rather than favoring efforts at abolition. It is only after a socialist revolution was completed that gun control could be implemented, as it was in Cuba or in Juche Korea, to give two examples of countries under imperialist attack.

This may seem all too fantastical for some, however those people don’t see the full picture. There is no doubt that many gun owners are well-off White Males who live in rural areas (and smaller urban areas), with 3% of the population owning nearly half of the country’s guns, having them mainly for “protection,” and do not have any revolutionary feelings or much developed class consciousness. These are the same people who broadly favorrepressive agencies such as the FBI, and CIA, among varied other government agencies, even as they feel the government helps the wealthy more than any other group in society. With that, there is slight dissatisfaction with current gun laws. As such, in the current situation of the empire, those with guns will not magically join up a revolution against capitalism and wave a red flag like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, before he was beat up by the police. Instead, the development of a revolution in the murderous empire would take time and organization, perhaps with soviets like the one put together by the Party of Socialism and Liberation last year, or those endorsed by the Venezuelan Communist Party, as I read recently in their publication, Popular Tribune.

While my opinions are still developing as I learn more about varied topics, writing about issues relating directly to the murderous empire and efforts at resisting imperialism in other corners of the world whether it be Palestine or Juche Korea, I continue to stand strongly against capitalism in all its forms and in solidarity with all those resisting it, not any flunkeys like the so-called “revolutionary” Kurds of Rojava who are utter posers. Violence is inherent to the murderous empire and it has been that way since its legal creation in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris, and from 1607 until that point, as the White English settled their part of the North American continent, creating another colony of the British empire, while the Spanish, French, and Dutch also staked out their claims, expanding their imperialist systems. While a revolution to bring down the murderous empire is developed, all efforts of armed resistance should be supported while typical “nonviolent methods” still has some value in social movements, but not as much as it used to have. After all, there should be a diversity of tactics that are used. The same goes for supporting all those being oppressed by the capitalist poles of power in the world and all of those who appease these poles of power.


Notes

[1] “Scot Peterson: ‘Patently untrue’ that he failed to meet standards during Parkland school shooting,” Associated Press (reprinted in conservative Washington Times), Feb 26, 2018; Rich Lowry, “The Broward County Sheriff Is Everything That’s Wrong with American Authority,” National Review, Feb 27, 2018; Laurel Wamsley, “Broward Sheriff Under Scrutiny For Handling Of Parkland Shooting,” NPR, Feb 26, 2018; “Florida Sheriff Denies Claims That 4 Deputies Were on Scene During School Shooting,” Associated Press (reprinted by Atlanta Black Star), Feb 25, 2018; Editors of the National Review, “Broward’s Cowards,” National Review, Feb 25, 2018; Christian Datoc, “Parkland Survivor Slams Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: ‘Absolutely Needs To Resign’,” The Daily Caller, Feb 25, 2018; Derek Hunter, “Sheriff Israel To Local Reporter On His Deputy’s Failure: ‘That’s Not My Responsibility’,” The Daily Caller, Feb 25, 2018; Victor Morton, “Florida to launch official investigation of law enforcement response to school shooting,” Washington Times, Feb 25, 2018; “Broward County Sheriff DIDN’T Respond to 39 Calls Regarding School Shooter — There Were MORE,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Madison Pauly, “74 Florida Republican Lawmakers Are Calling for the Sheriff in the Parkland Shooting to Be Suspended,” Mother Jones, Feb 25, 2018; John Sexton, “School Resource Officer who stood outside during shooting thought he did a good job (Update: ‘You’re despicable’),” Hot Air, Feb 24, 2018; Alex Swoyer, “Grassley: FBI didn’t contact Google during probe on Florida shooter,” Washington Times, Feb 23, 2018; Sarah Rumpf, “Three Other Broward Cops Were Outside School During Shooting But Didn’t Enter,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018; Max Greenwood, “Additional deputies did not enter Florida high school during shooting: report,” The Hill (relying on a CNN report), Feb 23, 2018; Michelle Mark, “Local authorities and the FBI got multiple warnings that the suspected Florida shooter was dangerous — but no one followed up,” Business Insider, Feb 23, 2018; Rod Dreher, “Disgraceful Broward County Deputies,” The American Conservative, Feb 23, 2018.

[2] Jennifer Van Laar, “Get Rid of Do-Nothing ‘Gun-Free’ Zones and Give Schools Real Security,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Carl Arbogast, “Stop Lying to Those Kids and Telling Them They’re Going To Win the Gun Debate,” Red State, Feb 26, 2018; Jay Cost, “The NRA Is Not Your Typical Interest Group,” National Review, Feb 26, 2018; Chris Enloe, “Dozens of companies boycott NRA over Florida shooting — but it’s backfiring big time,” The Blaze, Feb 25, 2018; Madison Pauly, “The Trump Campaign Is Trying to Raise Money Off the Parkland Shooting. Here’s What It Sent Supporters,” Mother Jones, Feb 25, 2018; Chris Enloe, “Father of girl killed in Florida shooting eviscerates the media for pushing gun control narrative,” The Blaze, Feb 25, 2018; “The Gun-Grabbers Don’t Care About the AR-15 — They Are After All Guns,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Martin Cizmar, “Oklahoma congressman who owns rifle factory blames video games and lack of Jesus in schools for Florida massacre,” Raw Story, Feb 25, 2018; Julia Conley, “Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings,” Common Dreams, Feb 23, 2018; Susan Wright, “This Looks Bad: Trump Campaign Raising Money off the Image of Parkland Survivors,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Laura King, “NRA rejects Trump’s call for raising the age limit to buy rifles,” LA Times, Feb 25, 2018; Rivera Sun, “Stopping Mass Shootings: Less Finger Pointing, More Action,” Common Dreams, Feb 25, 2018; John Sexton, “House Democrats back new ban on semi-automatic weapons,” Hot Air, Feb 26, 2018; Melissa Quinn, “House Democrats introduce bill prohibiting sale of semi-automatic weapons,” Washington Examiner, Feb 26, 2018; David Weigel, “Most House Democrats get behind effort for new assault-weapons ban,” Washington Post, Feb 26, 2018; Jena Greene, “FedEx Backs Away From NRA: Restrict ‘Assault Weapons’ To Military,” The Daily Caller, Feb 26, 2018; Kate Harloe, “A Guide to the Upcoming Gun Control Marches,” Mother Jones, Feb 26, 2018; “Md. Rep. Cummings Joins Democrats Introducing Bill To Ban Assault Weapons,” WJZ(CBS affiliate), Feb 26, 2018; “US gun control: Congress returns under pressure to act,” DW, Feb 26, 2018; Sarah Quinlan, “Hold up! Here Are Some Facts Too Many Get Wrong When Talking About Guns,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Anna Wu and David Desroches, “Educators Fear And Embrace Calls For Concealed Carry In The Classroom,” NPR, Feb 24, 2018; Jesse Byrnes, “NRA strikes back at Florida sheriff: ‘Your office failed this community’,” The Hill, Feb 23, 2018; Daniel J. Flynn, “Bob Dylan on Guns,” The American Spectator, Feb 23, 2018; Eliza Redman, “Parkland shooting survivor’s family shops doctored emails with CNN to media outlets,” Business Insider, Feb 23, 2018; Kira Davis, “Vice is SHOCKED That the NRA Thinks Women Should Be Allowed to Own Weapons,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018;Brandon Morse, “Dana Loesch Reveals What Went Down Behind the Scenes at that CNN Town Hall, and It Doesn’t Help CNN,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018; Patrick J. Buchanan, “Don’t Confiscate Guns: Protect Schools,” The American Conservative, Feb 23, 2018; Mark Ossolinski and Katie Pickrell, “‘Protect Kids, Not Guns’: Maryland High Schoolers’ Walkout to Demand Action,” AlterNet (reprinting from The American Prospect), Feb 23, 2018; Hansi Lo Wang, “Millennials Are No More Liberal On Gun Control Than Elders, Polls Show,” NPR, Feb 24, 2018; Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan, “U.S. congressional Republicans reject new limits on guns,” Reuters, Feb 27, 2018; David French, “It’s Time for Real Talk about the Assault-Weapons ‘Ban’,” National Review, Feb 27, 2018; Bob Eller, “The father of a Parkland school shooting survivor admits to altering an email exchange with CNN and shopping it to other media outlets,” Business Insider (reprinted from AP), Feb 27, 2018.

[3] Martin Cizmar, “Notorious Washington extremist whose rallies attract violent white supremacists to run for US senate,” Raw Story, Feb 25, 2018; Mark Abadi, “Trump reportedly told friends he wanted to execute every drug dealer in America,” Business Insider, Feb 25, 2018.

[4] At the time, I listed Black Guns Matter, the John Brown Militia, and the Indigenous People’s Liberation Front but they do not seem to have active websites/webpages.

The myth of the “Kim dynasty”: the reality of democracy in Juche Korea

Long live the 70th founding anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea! (poster released this year)

With the detente between the ROK (“South Korea”) and Juche Korea, officially called the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) or “North Korea” in the West, around the Winter Olympics in the ROK, tensions have been lessened on the Korean Peninsula. Such a reduction is a move toward peace in the region while the Orientalist bourgeois media and murderous empire continue to try to ratchet up tensions. With all of this, there are claims in this same media that Juche Korea has a “monarchy” with a “dynasty” headed by the Kim family or that it is a “dictatorship.” [1] While I addressed some of this in my previous post focusing on elections to the unicameral assembly of the country, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) or even my post about Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, I did not broach this issue entirely. In this post I aim to disprove these claims once and for all, showing that Juche Korea is a democratic state on the road to socialism, guided by the Juche ideology, a state which is neither a monarchy, a dictatorship, or has a dynasty.

Table of contents

  1. There is democracy not “autocracy”
  2. There is no “cult of personality”

There is democracy not “autocracy”

Make leaps and bounds in the flames of collectivist competition by which everyone helps and leads one another forward!

With bourgeois academics ringing their hands about “totalitarianism”the bourgeois media (ex: The EconomistCNN, HuffPostNew York Times, DW, UPI, Business Insider, ABC News, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, Reuters, Time, AP, Newsweek, CNBC, Time, and Fox “News”), white propaganda/anti-communist U$-run outlets (like VOA/Voice of America and RFA/Radio Free Asia) declaring there is a “Kim dynasty” led by a “royal family” which has ruled absolutely with an “iron fist” for “three generations” (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un), it is worth looking at this subject more in-depth. After all, they call the country “one of the world’s most unpredictable and dangerous states,” claim it has a “personality cult” (discussed in the second section of this article), and treat the country like it is soap opera or “family psychodrama.” While they think the country could collapse any moment, some bourgeois media admit that “the world’s spy agencies” know little about “the inner workings of the Kim family” and one U$ intelligence official said candidly back in 2011 that “we simply do not know what goes on in North Korea, and anyone who claims otherwise is relying on that fact to make false claims.” [2] This was coupled with the reality that “the 1994 death of…Kim Il Sung” caught Western “intelligence agencies napping,” and an editorial in a trash English paper declaring that “there’s not much the United States can do to affect events inside North Korea.”

In order to show that the country has no dynasty, monarchy, dictatorship, or hereditary rule, it is important to define these words. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, mind you, is worth using here. This dictionary defines a dynasty as “a succession of rulers who are members of the same family,” something as hereditary when it is passed down from generation to generation or is ancestral. For the word monarchy, this dictionary says it is “rule by only one person” or “a government or state headed by a monarch; called absolute when there is no limit on the monarch’s power, constitutional when there is such a limitation.” It then defines the word monarch as “the single or sole ruler of the state” or the “hereditary ruler of the state.” As for the word dictatorship, it says that it is “absolute power or authority” or a state ruled by a dictator. The same dictionary defines a dictator as “a ruler with absolute power and authority, esp. one who exercises it tyrannically” and says the word “dictatorial” is the “unreasoned, unpredictable use of one’s authority in accord with one’s own will or desire.” The latter discussion of dictatorship will be noted more later in this section.

Some may say that the titles of Supreme Leader, leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), head of the military, and “eternal leader” of the country are “dominated” by the Kim family, “proving” that there is a monarchy or dynasty, with bourgeois Wikipedia even having a page on the latter, in Juche Korea. However, this is false. For one, if you look at other pages, even on Wikipedia, one will see that the “Heads of State,” “Heads of Government,” “Heads of Parliament,” and “Premiers of North Korea” are not part of this family. Additionally, the State Affairs Commission, Cabinet, Central Committee of the WPK, Politburo, and SPA all have multiple members apart from the family. I’ll also talk about this later as well. Furthermore, the surname of Kim is one of the most common on the Korean Peninsula (with the other two being Lee and Park), with not everyone of this surname “necessarily related genetically,” with 20% of Koreans having Kim as their surname. For example, there are “Kim families from the Kim-hae province, Kim families from the An-dong province and Kim families from the Kyongju province,” leading some to draw up and create stereotypes for Koreans. The naming system in Korea is different than elsewhere. Kim Jong-Un’s surname (or family name) is “Kim” but his given name is “Jong-Un” unlike naming conventions in the West where the last name of a person is their surname, like Barack Obama, with his surname is Obama and given name is Barack.

Some may dismiss this discussion of naming as nonsense. After all, the “hate-reader,” to take from the horrid commentary of Charlie “Chuckles” Davis of Telesur, may say, then why did the “leadership” of the country pass from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il, then to Kim Jong-Un? Well, Jason LaBouyer, writing in a former publication, Lodester, put out by the Korean Friendship Association (favorable to the current government of Juche Korea but not funded or supported by it), says that when it more accurately understood by those who recognize the Korean society [3], they see

…the people’s overwhelming support not only for their nation’s leadership, but for the philosophy of Juche socialism that has guided their economic and social development for over half a century. In other words, the Korean people’s dedication is not limited to Chairman Kim Jong Il, or to the late President Kim Il Sung, but to an entire ideology

LaBouyer seems to say that the WPK has earned the respect of the populace, because,” unlike its many fraternal parties around the world, it has chosen not to embrace market socialism.” So, basically, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il represent the Juche ideology as they embodied the ideology in their minds and actions which guided the nation, which does not make them “absolute rulers” as those crusty imperial propagandists want you to think. Instead, he writes, the WPK promotes an “economic program that retains full public ownership of the economy, putting people before profits.” This challenges certain “communists” who seem to ally with capitalist poles of power, he adds:

Challenging the many misperceptions and lies surrounding North Korea is seen as being too “risky” by these “communists,” who seek not to change the political establishment in their capitalist homelands, but to join it…To communists such as these, socialism still means social equality and collective prosperity, values held dear by Chairman Kim Jong Il and the late Kim Il Sung and revered by the Korean people for it. Together, our global KFA family will work to ensure that Korea’s people-centered socialist system remains alive and well for epochs to come

So, in sum, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are revered for their socialist ideals and maintaining the “people-centered socialist system” in Juche Korea.

An article by Bjornar Simonsen, adds one further aspect: that leaders like Kim Jong Il, for instances, are “captains” of the ship and the rest of the population part of the crew [4]:

Just like a ship needs a crew, so the DPRK needs the WPK. The crew is responsible for carrying out various duties given by the captain, and in such a way millions of members of the WPK work in all areas high and low, to make sure that the ship is clean, repaired and that everyone on board has everything he or she needs…Indeed, without the captain, the ship could go nowhere. And just like poetry, the guidance of Kim Jong Il is inspiring, beautiful, and eternal

However, this may exaggerate the role of individuals such as Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Il Sung. The socialist constitution of Juche Korea (the one in 2016), of which there is another version with a corrected Article 156 which accidentally had one line printed twice, makes this clear. In the preamble (dissected more in the second section of this article) it says that the country is “the socialist motherland of Juche” and thanks “great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il” for their ideas and leadership, saying that they are applied, adding that: Kim Il Sung was the founder of the country, “authored the immortal Juche idea, led the “Japanese revolutionary struggle,” laying the ” solid foundations for the building of an independent and sovereign State.” However, it seems to distance him from the “various stages of social revolution and construction work,” only saying he led these efforts, “elucidated the fundamental principles governing the building and activities of the State…and laid solid foundations for the prosperity” of the country. As for Kim Jong Il, it describes him as “a peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea who…strengthened and developed” the country, playing “the dignity and power of the nation on the highest ever plane,” further developing “the immortal Juche idea and Songun idea,” noting that he led the country through the period after the “collapse of the world socialist system,”developing the country into “a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power.” While saying that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are important in fighting or national reunification of Korea, clarifying the “basic ideals” of the country’s foreign policy, serving as “veteran world statesmen” (developing the “socialist movement and the non-aligned movement”), were “great revolutionaries,” and theoreticians who achieved much, they could not have done this without the people:

Regarding “The people are my God” as their maxim, Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il always mixed with the people, devoted their whole lives to them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through their noble benevolent politics.

That doesn’t sound like a dynasty at all. After all, while the preamble says that the country will “uphold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the eternal leaders” it also says it will “carry the revolutionary cause of Juche through to completion by defending and carrying forward their ideas and achievements” which is an ideology, not a person, as part of their “socialist constitution” which codifies “the Juche-oriented ideas of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on State building and their exploits in it,” with the constitution named after both of them. As such, the praise of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il is meant to praise the Juche ideology and also serve as a sort of obituary of these individuals, reminding the populace of achievements while they guided the country, even through tough times. The newest constitution has new sections, due to the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011, but has some of the same ideas.

Let us usher in a golden age in building a thriving nation in this year when the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea is to be held! (2). Again, this shows how both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are a guiding force, but it does not make them “gods” or “deities” but rather those who have pushed forward socialist construction in the country.

Chapter 1 of the Constitution shows the democratic nature of the state. Article 1 describes the country as an “independent socialist State representing the interests of all the Korean people” while Article 2 says that the country “is a revolutionary State which has inherited the brilliant traditions” which were formed during the “glorious revolutionary struggle against the imperialist aggressors” and as part of the ongoing struggle to liberate the homeland while pushing forward “the freedom and well-being” of the Korean people. Article 3 adds to this, saying that the Juche (self-reliance) and Songun (military-first) ideas are part of the state’s outlook to the world and helping the masses:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea and the Songun idea, a world outlook centred on people, a revolutionary ideology for achieving the independence of the masses of the people.

Juche Korea goes further than the corrupted doctrine of “popular sovereignty” in the murderous empire, which, as Tracy Campbell in Deliver the Vote noted, which said that “rightful inhabitants of a territory” should decide “democratically” if they were to be “free” or “slave,” an idea which not only set no guidelines for an election on such an issue, but did not determine who could be residents, whether they would vote on the issue directly or indirectly or if new residents could come into the area and disrupt the vote, with more possibility of electoral fraud (a phenomenon throughout U$ history)! [5] Article 4 of the constitution says that the sovereignty of the country “resides in the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people.” It further adds that working people, as a result, “exercise State power through their representative organs–the Supreme People’s Assembly and local People’s Assemblies at all levels.”

CommieDad adds more about such democratic participation, writing, in his post, about the full force of democracy in Juche Korea:

The DPRK has county, city, and provincial elections to the local people’s assemblies, as well as national elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly, their legislature. These are carried out every five years [actually every 4 years, but its 5 years for the SPA]. Candidates are chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK. Citizens run under these parties or they can run as independents…The fact that there is only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings…the masses advocate for themselves directly…The DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election…The elections are effectively a fail-safe against any corruption of the democratic process that occurs during the mass meetings

He further adds that “societies can only be considered democratic if the masses of people manage the economy as well as the political sphere.” Some aspects of the economy are explained in this post, but it will be fully explicated in an upcoming post on economy in Juche Korea. What Commie Dad says should be recognized: the state “constitutionally, represents the interests of the working people and thus has legally excluded exploiters and oppressors from formal representation” since the “political organs of class power have taken become explicitly proletarian organs of class power.” This is because

All Koreans over the age of 17 irrespective of race, religion, sex, creed etc. are able and encouraged to participate in the organs of state power…This is in sharp contrast to the relationship between capitalist politicians and citizens. In the capitalist countries, politicians are far removed from the people and have no idea what their struggles are like. In the DPRK, the opposite is true. Because the working class is the vast majority of the population of the DPRK…the management of the state by the working class means that the state is managed by the majority of the people.

He even talks about the Korean prison system, saying that many of the criminals have committed “minor crimes” with the aim to “rehabilitate and reeducate,” making it “far more humane, on principle, than the system in the United States” as it is “based on a people-centered philosophy which holds that criminality is not innate to humanity. This is strong evidence that the DPRK is a state of the majority, and thus democratic.” He also says that the grief over the death of Kim Il Sung, stems from the immense popular support he enjoyed as a leader, during and after the revolution,” not that he was a god, adding that Kim Il Sung was seen as “a highly able and dangerous guerilla leader” (even accepted by bourgeois scholars Bruce Cumings, Adrian Buzo, Michael E. Robinson, Son Oberdorfer, and Robert Carlin) by the Japanese, with the Korean guerillas receiving “little material help from the Soviets” and the Soviets  taking a “fairly hands-off approach to their occupation zone, allowing a coalition of nationalist and communist resistance fighters to run their own show.” After this, a “central government was formed, based on an interim People’s Committee led by Kim Il-sung” and he was not “handpicked by the Soviets” but rather “enjoyed considerable prestige and support as a result of his years as a guerilla leader and his commitment to national liberation” with the Soviets not trusting him, with the Soviets not sure about a violent reunification of the Korean Peninsula led by Juche Korea, as even bourgeois historian David Halberstam acknowledges in The Coldest  Winter (which is broadly anti-communist), with tensions between the Chinese and the Koreans, as the crossing of the 38th parallel by those from the North (in response to obvious aggression from the South) was seen as “just one more act in a long-term struggle on the part of the Korean people, part of an unfinished civil war.” It is worth pointing out in early June, Kim Il-sung called for an election across the Korean Peninsula in early August, and a “consultative conference” later that month, but the three diplomats from Juche Korea were rejected by U$ puppet Syngman Rhee “outright,” with Rhee expressing repeatedly his “desire to conquer the North” even to U$ diplomat John Foster Dulles! As was noted on pages 19, 38, and 40 of Kim Pyong Sik’s Modern Korea: The Socialist North, Revolutionary Perspectives in the South, and Unification, in 1950 “U.S. imperialism launched its armed aggression” against Juche Korea, leading to the (Great) Fatherland Liberation War. As one site, SparkNotes, says, Rhee had “so often talked about invading North Korea that US leaders feared giving him too much in the way of weapons” with Kim Il Sung saying, reportedly, that the ROK “dared to commit armed aggression…north of the 38th parallel” saying that “ROK forces on the Ongjin Peninsula attacked North Korea in the Haeju area” which bourgeois analysts claimed was “bogus” leading to claims, for years to come, that Juche Korea “invaded” the South. As one U$ Army publication admitted, “armed clashes between North and South Korea were common along the 38th Parallel” before June 25, 1950, the date of the supposed “invasion.” It seems evident that the first actions of the war were fighting around Ongjin, leading some scholars (like Bruce Cumings) to say the ROK fired first. This means the actions of Juche Korea would have been a response, a defensive measure. As a history of the war by Jim H. Kim notes, Kim Il Sung “sought permission to attack the South in case the North was attacked” with the war really starting “in 1945 when the U.S. suppressed the KPR government and imposed its military rule in the southern part of Korea” with killings of tens of thousands of Koreans on Cheji Island from 1948 to 1949, and major battles breaking out “between the North Korean (DPRK) and South Korean (ROK) armies along the 38th parallel line in 1949.” This meant that when “the armed clash broke out in June 1950, it was more or less a continuation of the past conflicts. It was certainly not a surprise attack” as Syngman Rhee was openly “preaching a military unification of Korea by attacking the North.”

After writing about how, in the aftermath of World War II, there was a “program of land reform” eight months into the occupation, that major industries, “most owned by the Japanese, were nationalized” by the victorious Korean revolutionaries in the north, he added that at the present

Citizens of the DPRK support Kim Il-sung because of his courageous defiance of U.S. domination, his commitment to the reunification and the real accomplishments of socialism…there were no mechanisms by which to force the Korean people to support Kim Il-Sung during his rule…Kim Il-sung’s DPRK was not a police state, but rather a democratic and socialist country waging a valiant war against imperialism. The Korean people were-and continue to be-unified in struggle and support their leaders on this basis…Bourgeois media continues to portray the DPRK as a totalitarian nightmare, populated exclusively by a pacified and frightened citizenry…The north Korean people have a far greater say in how their lives are structured than do citizens of even the most “democratic” capitalist countries. They are not forced to adhere to a Party Line handed down from on high, but rather are encouraged to participate in the running of society. The DPRK is an excellent example of socialism, which is focused on developing the working class-and humanity-to its full potential. It is only through socialism that we can realize our collective dream of a free and prosperous society. The DPRK is marching towards this dream, even in the face of unparalleled imperialist aggression. It is partly on this basis that we should pledge solidarity with the country. To reiterate the point I made in my last post, however, the DPRK should be supported regardless of whether it is itself socialist. It is standing against imperialism, which is the greatest enemy of socialism. Indirectly or directly, the DPRK works in the interests of socialism.

His words are proven for one, by Article 6, of the constitution, saying that organs of” State power at all levels, from the county People’s Assembly to the Supreme People’s Assembly,” are  elected on the “principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.” It is also buttressed by Article 7, saying that deputies of state power at all levels have “close ties with their constituents and are accountable to them for their work.” This accountability means that “electors may recall at any time the deputies they have elected if the latter lose the trust of the former.” This means that voters are able to recall a deputy, a power which isn’t even held in many (only some) municipal settings across the U$!

Let Us All Cast Yes Votes!

There are additional aspects. Article 5 says that all state organs in the country “are formed and function on the principle of democratic centralism.” This is an originally Marxist principle, showing the still-standing influence of Marxism-Leninism in the country incorporated in the ideology of Juche, which was first applied by the Bolsheviks. This principle balances democracy and centralism, as even acknowledged by Trotsky who detested the idea, with members taking part in “policy discussions and elections at all levels,” with those at all levels responsible to the populace and subject to their supervision, with a focus on unity. It was an idea explained by Lenin, who wrote to St. Petersburg Workers, in 1906, about this very principle:

There remains an important, serious and extremely responsible task: really to apply the principles of democratic centralism in Party organisation, to work tirelessly to make the local organisations the principal organisational units of the Party in fact, and not merely in name, and to see to it that all the higher-standing bodies are elected, accountable, and subject to recall. We must work hard to build up an organisation that will include all the class-conscious Social-Democratic workers, and will live its own independent political life. The autonomy of every Party organisation, which hitherto has been largely a dead letter, must become a reality. The fight for posts, fear of the other “faction”, must be eliminated. Let us have really united Party organisations, in which there will only be a purely ideological struggle between different trends of Social-Democratic thought. It will not be easy to achieve this; nor shall we achieve it at one stroke. But the road has been mapped out, the principles have been proclaimed, and we must now work for the complete and consistent putting into effect of this organisational ideal…If we have really and seriously decided to introduce democratic centralism in our Party, and if we have resolved to draw the masses of the workers into intelligent decision of Party questions, we must have these questions discussed in the press, at meetings, in circles and at group meetings. But in the united Party this ideological struggle must not split the organisations, must not hinder the unity of action of the proletariat. This is a new principle as yet in our Party life, and considerable effort will be needed to implement it properly.

This was echoed in 1921, when he wrote to the 10th Party Congress of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia that unity and cohesion of those in the ranks of the party, coupled with full trust among member of the party and work that “embodies the unity of will of the proletarian vanguard” are necessary because there are intensified waverings “of the petty bourgeois population in the country.” He added that it is important that “all class-conscious workers” realize the harmful nature of factionalism, the “appearance of groups with platforms of their own and with a will to close ranks to a certain extent and create their own group discipline,” since it leads to “less friendly work and to repeated and intensified attempts by enemies of the ruling party…to deepen the divisions and use them for purposes of counter-revolution.” He also said that this is important because the “enemies of the proletariat take advantage of all deviations from a strictly consistent communist line,” adding that “achieving unity of will of the proletarian vanguard as a basic condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat,” noting that verification of party decisions and efforts to correct “mistakes” should not be “submitted for discussion by groups formed on the basis of some ‘platform’ or other,” but rather ” be submitted for discussion by all party members.” It is with this that Lenin adds:

Every person who voices criticism must be mindful of the party’s situation, in the midst of enemy encirclement, and must also, through direct participation in Soviet and party work, strive in practice to correct the party’s mistakes…the party will continue tirelessly – constantly testing new methods – to use every means to combat bureaucratism, to expand democratism and initiative, and to seek out, expose, and expel those who have adhered to the party under false pretenses…in order to ensure strict discipline within the party and in all Soviet work, and to achieve maximum unity while eliminating all factionalism, the Congress gives the Central Committee full powers to apply all measures of party punishment up to and including expulsion.

This connects with the support for further party discipline as outlined by Kim Jong-Un in his New Years’ speech earlier this year.

Let us carry out the lifetime instructions of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il whatever the conditions without an inch of deflection and without a step of compromise!

Coming back to the constitution of Juche Korea, there are a number of articles proving that Commie Dad was right when he said there is “management of the state by the working class.” Article 8 declares that the country’s social system will be “people-centered” to such an extent that “working people are the masters of everything and everything in society serves them” while the state shall “defend the interests of the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people who have been freed from exploitation and oppression.” This would, allow, as the article delineates, workers to “become the masters of the State and society, and respect and protect human rights.” Article 9 expands on this. It says that that Juche Korea will “strive to achieve the complete victory of socialism in the northern half of Korea by strengthening the people’s power” while the country works to perform “ideological, technological and cultural” revolutions, pushing for reunification of the Korean Peninsula “on the principle of independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity.” This is reinforced by Article 10, saying that the country is underpinned by the unity of the population “based on the worker-peasant alliance led by the working class,” adding that the state will work to “revolutionize all the members of society, and assimilate them to the working class by intensifying the ideological revolution,” and as such, turn the whole of society into a collective which is “united in a comradely way.” This would not be possible without the “leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea” as stated in Article 11, saying that the country shall conduct its activities under such leadership.

In order to have a state that serves the workers, Article 12 says that the state will adhere to “the class line” while strengthening the “dictatorship of the people’s democracy,” working to defend “the people’s power and socialist system against all subversive acts of hostile elements at home and abroad.” This “dictatorship of the people’s democracy” is just another way of asserting the long-held Marxist principle, again showing how Marxism has been embedded into Juche, advocating for a dictatorship of the proletariat (DoTP as some abbreviate it) or proletarian democracy. This principle, as I’ve noted on this blog previously, asserts that working class would decide “amongst themselves, by consensus what and how it should be done” with all positions of authority elected “solely by workers and subject to recall at any time” with Lenin adding that DoTP is not only “a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists” but is a change “in the democratic forms and institutions” and an “unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism…[a] decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state” which brings “the working people close to the machinery of government.” He also says that DoTP requires that “mass organizations of the working people” be in “constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state.”

This brings me to article 13. It says that the state itself shall implement the “mass line and apply the Chongsanri spirit and Chongsanri method to all its activities” meaning that, in their summary, “superiors assist their subordinates, mix with the masses to find solutions to problems and rouse them to conscious enthusiasm by giving precedence to political work, work with people.” The spirit and method of Chongsanri is undoubtedly embodied in the Chongsan-ri Cooperative Farm, as it is known as “the ideal model of DPRK farming technique,” being equipped with facilities like a “school and housing for all farmers.” Of course, this farm is shown to many visitors, with some, even with Orientalist views (also see here), saying that it does represent a typical farm in the country, with a surface-to-air unit nearby (why not? The country is still officially at war with the U$). [6] This then leads to the idea of the “mass line.” This derives from Mao Tse Tung, sometimes called Mao Zedong in the West, showing that Juche has Maoist elements in it, just as much as it has  straight Marxist, or even Leninist, ones. He talks about this term directly, when he spoke to the Shansi-Suiyuan Daily editorial staff on April 2, 1948:

For over twenty years our Party has carried on mass work every day, and for the past dozen years it has talked about the mass line every day. We have always maintained that the revolution must rely on the masses of the people, on everybody’s taking a hand, and have opposed relying merely on a few persons issuing orders. The mass line, however, is still not being thoroughly carried out in the work of some comrades; they still rely solely on a handful of people working in solitude. One reason is that, whatever they do, they are always reluctant to explain it to the people they lead and that they do not understand why or how to give play to the initiative and creative energy of those they lead. Subjectively, they too want everyone to take a hand in the work, but they do not let other people know what is to be done or how to do it. That being the case, how can everyone be expected to get moving and how can anything be done well? To solve this problem the basic thing is, of course, to carry out ideological education on the mass line, but at the same time we must teach these comrades many concrete methods of work.

From this, he seems to be saying that the “mass line” means that a revolution must rely on the masses of people, with the idea of ideological education of those in the masses, teaching them “concrete methods of work” tied into this conception. This links with his other quotes about the power of the people, in a page from the book, “Quotations from Mao Tse Tung,” commonly called the “Little Red Book” in the West. He argued that the masses should be listened to, that their problems should be “placed on our agenda” (January 1934), that the “masses are the real heroes” (Spring 1941), and advocating for taking the ideas of the “the masses and concentrate them,” then go back to the masses, persevering  in these ideas, working to “carry them through, so as to form correct ideas of leadership” (June 1943). He added that leading cadres should be constantly aware of “production by the masses, the interests of the masses, [and] the experiences and feelings of the masses” (November 1943), adding that there must be the “right task, policy and style of work” in order to conform with demands of the masses, strengthening “our ties with the masses,” but that the “wrong task, policy and style of work…[will] invariably alienate us from the masses” (April 1945). This leads to his further observation that no comrade should be “divorced from the masses” but should rather, “love the people and listen attentively to the voice of the masses” (April 1945), further observing that there would be adventurism if “we tried to go on the offensive when the masses are not yet awakened” (April 1948) and adds that in all mass movements there should be “a basic investigation and analysis of the number of active supporters, opponents and neutrals”  (March 1949). Beyond this, he added that the masses have boundless creative power” (1955) and have “a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism” (1955) which can be brought together by leaders, whom can unite the “small number of active elements” within the masses, consisting of three parts: “the relatively active, the intermediate and the relatively backward.” (June 1943) Most profound was his statement that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history” (April 1945), which the Koreans believe without a doubt, expressing that the people are “god” meaning that they are to be followed moving forward in the country’s socialist construction.

Hold fast to the standpoint of By Our Nation Itself, and respect and implement the declarations with sincerity!

Coming back to the constitution of Juche Korea, it is worth focusing on Articles 14 and 18. The first of these articles says that the state will “conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement” along with other “mass movements so as to accelerate the building of socialism to the maximum. The Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement was originally proposed in 1973 as the Three Revolutions Team Movement, launched in late 1974, and further intensified in December 1975, with “large numbers of young people were sent to the countryside and to factories to boost production and introduce new methods and technologies” while bourgeois analysts claimed it was not successful and claim it has “lost any real importance” in recent years. [7] In November 1986, Kim Jong-Il talked about this very movement in a speech (mirrored by the Internet Archive and elsewhere online),speaking to loyal comrades at a national meeting of the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement’s Vanguard, talking about the movement’s accomplishments:

In 1975 our Party called on the people working in all the fields of the revolution and construction to launch this movement in order to ensure the success of the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions which had been proposed by the great leader Comrade Kim II Sung…the movement has spread rapidly across the country, drawing in all sectors and all units — factories and other enterprises, cooperative farms and scientific, cultural, educational and public health organizations…many units have won the Three-Revolution Red Flag, the ranks of flag-winners have increased, a system for guiding this movement has been established and a wealth of experience has been gained…people’s mode of thinking and manner of working have changed, the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses has become greater and the revolution and construction have made steady headway…the ideological revolution has been stepped up. As a result, the Party’s monolithic ideological system has become more firmly established in society, the loyalty of Party members and the working people to the Party and the leader has become more intense…the revolutionary transformation of Party members and the working people and their assimilation into the working class have been promoted. In consequence, the remnants of outdated ideas have been eliminated in the main and the revolutionary tone of life has been intensified…The technical revolution has been accelerated…so that the levels of mechanization and automation in production processes at factories and enterprises have been raised…The movement has given strong impetus to the cultural revolution, with the result that the cultural and technical levels of the working people have risen, progress has been made in making all the members of society intellectual and success has been achieved in making living and working conditions hygienic…On behalf of the Party Central Committee, I extend warm thanks to those attending this meeting, as well as to the standard-bearers of the three revolutions and the three revolution team members throughout the country who have displayed unfailing loyalty to the Party and the leader, worked hard to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement and contributed greatly to promoting the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions and to accelerating  the process of modelling the whole society on the Juche idea…The Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is a mass movement to accelerate the building of socialism and communism by conducting the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions vigorously in keeping with the requirements for modelling the whole society on the Juche idea. In other words, the movement is a mass movement for the ideological transformation of all members of society into ardent communist revolutionaries, a mass technical innovation movement to equip the national economy with modem technology and a mass cultural re-education movement to raise the cultural and technical levels of all Party members and working people and provide them with comfortable living conditions…[it] is a high-level mass movement which has set a higher fighting goal for itself than any other mass movement and aims to reach it by organizing and mobilizing the entire Party and all the people…[is part of] the Juche idea that the popular masses are the masters of the revolution and construction and that they are the motive force of the revolution and construction, as well as on the revolutionary mass line of our Party…Intensifying the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is the requirement of our developing revolution for hastening the complete victory of socialism. Our revolution, through its advance under the leadership of the Party, has reached a high level in its efforts to achieve the complete victory of socialism…Stepping up this movement is also an essential requirement for achieving the ten long-term objectives of socialist economic construction in the 1980s…The most effective method of strengthening the revolutionary forces in the northern half of the country is to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement with vigour…In order to model the whole society on the Juche idea we must train all the members of society into true communists and transform all the areas of social life to meet the requirements of the Juche idea…The ideological revolution must be promoted vigorously in order to transform all the members of society into genuine communists…We must press ahead with the cultural revolution in order to eliminate every manner of cultural backwardness remaining from the old society and create a socialist and communist culture…since the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is a mass movement to attain high goals and carry out ambitious tasks, society should work more actively in this movement than in any other mass drive…In order to achieve the targets of the movement, a strong ideological campaign should be conducted. Only when we conduct an uncompromising ideological campaign by the methods of lightning operations, a concentrated offensive and finish-one -by-one tactics can we eliminate defeatism, self-protectionism, empiricism, self-centredness and all other outmoded ideas from the minds of people..It is of great significance in developing the movement in depth to review and assess properly the results of the efforts to attain targets…In order to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement with vigour, we must conduct it in close combination with other mass movements [including]…the campaign to follow the example of the unassuming heroes, the socialist emulation movement and the model machine movement…Therefore it is only when the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is conducted in close combination with all the other mass campaigns that it is possible to carry out the three revolutions more efficiently and display the validity of the movement to the full…the Three- Revolution Red Flag Movement can be successful only when Party organizations, working people’s organizations, three-revolution team members and the officials of administrative and economic organs are roused to action…the role of the working people’s organizations in the movement should be enhanced…[as should] the role of the three-revolution team members. They are the vanguard of the three revolutions and the hardcore of our Party…Administrative and economic officials in particular must be induced to perform their duties of supplying materials, giving technical guidance, organizing production and labour and providing the working people with supplies for their daily lives in a responsible manner, in keeping with the requirements of the Taean work system…[we must] make the movement the concern of the Party committee…[which] must plan and organize the work which is related to the movement and vigorously conduct the movement by mobilizing every department…I hold the firm belief that you will conduct the movement more vigorously in step with the developing revolution and thus make a fresh advance’ in carrying out the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions.

Then we get to Article 18. This says that the law of the country “reflects the wishes and interests of the working people and is a basic instrument for State administration.” It further says that respect, adherence, and execution of the law  “is the duty of all institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens.” In order to remove any errors or defects, one could say, the state dedicates itself, to perfecting “the system of socialist law and promote the socialist law-abiding life.”

Articles 15, 16, and 17 are also relevant. Article 15 says the country will “champion the democratic national rights of Koreans overseas and their rights recognized by international law as well as their interests” showing the solidarity with those outside the country. This is similar to Article 16, which says that the country will “guarantee the legal rights and interests of foreigners in its territory.” This is important if there is to be future investment in the country, one could say, but also to show that the country is not just about Koreans. Most importantly is Article 17, declaring that “independence, peace and friendship” are basic ideals of the country, noting that “political, economic and cultural relations” will be established “with all friendly countries, on the principles of complete equality, independence, mutual respect, non-interference” in the affairs of others and “mutual benefit.” Furthermore, the State will engage in proletarian internationalism, as one could put it, by promoting

unity with people all over the world who defend their independence, and resolutely support and encourage the struggles of all people who oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight for their countries’ independence and national and class emancipation.

Such support for national liberation struggles will be discussed at length in an upcoming post which is still in the works. A manifestation of unity with people around the world are “friendship societies,” which stand in solidarity with Juche Korea, and those studying the  Juche idea who have also organized themselves into societies.

It is worth pointing out the differences, in Chapter 1 alone, between the 1998 Kim Il Sung Constitution and 2016 “Nuclear” Constitution (which I call the “Constitution of DPRK post-2011″ in the PDF to not be confused with the 2012 constitution), which is officially called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution.” Most of the changes are minor, like changing “DPRK” to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or “SPA” to Supreme People’s Assembly, but others are worth noting:

  • The “Songun idea” (a military-first ideology) has been added as part of the guiding ideology of the state (Article 3)
  • The word “soldiers” has been added to those with which the sovereignty of the state resides showing the importance of the defense of the state from outside sources, to say the least (Article 4)
  • Soldiers are now included as among the working people, and the phrasing that such people are “freed from exploitation and oppression and become the masters of the State and society, and respect and protect human rights” has been added, the latter part to counter those horrid “human rights reports” by the U$ (Article 8)
  • Within the worker-peasant alliance in the country, such an alliance is led “by the working class.” rather than the working class only having a “leading role” (Article 10)
  • The “interests” of Koreans overseas is recognized as something the government will champion and advocate for (Article 15)
  • The state is still promoting unity with people across the world, but those who “defend their independence will get resolute support from the country, and the struggles of those who “oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight[ing] for their countries’ independence and national and class emancipation” will be encouraged (Article 17)

This proves that Juche Korea is not somewhere that is static, with the 2012 Constitution removing the few references to “communism” that were in the 1998 Constitution (in Articles 29, 40), which was reaffirmed in the 2016 Constitution. However, all references to socialism and Marxist-inspired (or even Mao-inspired) concepts which are part of Juche, were retained. As such, it is worth discussing the rest of the constitution in this manner.

Let us consolidate our revolutionary government rock-solid!

In Chapter II of the Constitution, titled “The Economy,” there have been few changes in the overall organization of the economy, which relies on “socialist production relations,” a foundation of an “independent national economy” (Article 20) and has the means of production “owned by the State and social, cooperative organizations” (Article 21). Furthermore, as Article 21 outlines, the State’s property belongs to the populace, and there is, hence, “no limit to the property which the State can own” with the state protecting and developing State property, which “plays the leading role in the economic development of the country,” meaning that the state controls the commanding heights of the economy, which is a positive. Additionally, the property of social cooperative organizations is protected by the stat, with such organizations allowed to own land, farm machinery, ships, and “small and medium-sized factories and enterprises” (Article 22). This is connected with working to enhance the “ideological consciousness” of the peasantry, allow people’s property to be part of cooperative organizations, on an organic basis rather than a systematic one (as it was in the previous version of the constitution), and efforts to improving the management and guidance of “socialist cooperative economic system.” (Article 23). This is connected with the ultimate goal of transforming the property of such organizations “into the property of the people as a whole” on a basis of “voluntary will of all their members” which means it would be done on a democratic basis. Additionally, Juche Korea regards, in Article 25, improvement of “material and cultural standards” of the populace of supreme importance, with the increasing material wealth of the society, in which “taxes have been abolished,” is used entirely to promote the people’s well-being with the state providing all working people with “every condition for obtaining food, clothing and housing,” a progressive statement without question.

Then we get to Article 27. This says that a technological revolution is important to develop the socialist economy, with the state conducting all economic activities by giving primary preference to “technical development” while pushing ahead with “scientific and technological development” and technical renovation of the economy, promoting mass technical innovation so the working people can be freed from “difficult, tiresome labour” and to narrow the “distinctions between physical and mental labour,” which is also important. Such a support of the power of the proletariat is reinforced by Article 28 saying the state will industrialize and modernize agriculture through a “rural technical revolution” which improves the role of the country, with assistance and guidance to rural areas so that the “difference between town and countryside” and the class distinction “between workers and peasants” can be eliminated. It is this sentiment that Marx and Engels talked about in the Communist Manifesto, as they specifically advocates for the gradual abolishment of “distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace.” This article also says that the state will build production facilities for cooperative farms “and modern farms in the countryside.” At the same time, the state renders labor of the working people “more joyful and worthwhile” so that people work with enthusiasm and express their creativity (Article 29). There are many other aspects of the State which favor the working class: an eight-hour working day, with the length of this day reduced for arduous or special types off work (Article 30), with working hours fully utilized through “proper organization of labor and enforcement of labor discipline”; prohibiting child labor with the minimum working age being 16 years (Article 31); having the State using its guidance wisely to help manage the “socialist economy” (Article 32); and having the Taean work system. The latter is described as a “socialist form of economic management” where the economy is operated on a scientific and rational basis on the basis of the efforts of those of the masses who are producers, connected with agricultural management conducted by “industrial methods” as a way for the state to direct and manage the economy, along with enforcing a self-accounting system in such economic management to meet the requirements of such a work system while making “proper use of such economic levers  as cost, price and profit” (Article 33).

There are other aspects which benefit the proletariat, and form the democratic basis of the country. For one, the country has a planned economy (Article 34) while the state will work to increase its “material accumulation and expand and develop socialist property” by having increased production and exercising “strict financial control in all spheres” (Article 35), and the state pursuing a “tariff policy” in order to protect the country’s “independent national economy” (Article 38) which is understandable. There have been some important changes, some for the better, others which are worrisome as they lead to further contradictions, you can say:

  • Private property was the “property meeting the simple and individual aims of the citizen” but is now “property owned and consumed by individual citizens.” (Article 24). This property is still derived from socialist distribution and from benefits from the state. While the income from “individual sideline activities” and from “legal economic activities” will be “private property,” kitchen gardens are not just limited to cooperative farmers anymore. The State still will protect such property, and the right to inherit it as well despite the fact that Marx and Engels specifically advocated against the right of inheritance in the Communist Manifesto and elsewhere.
  • Saying that the state is building a “socialist, independent national economy” instead of one that is just one that is “independent nationalist” (Article 26).
  • A new section was added in Article 34: “The State shall ensure a high rate of growth in production and a balanced development of the national economy by implementing unified and detailed planning.”
  • Enterprises, run by those from Juche Korea, are now allowed to be part of the country’s foreign trade (Article 36)
  • Minor changes, like “DPRK” to “country” but important changes from “contractual joint venture” to “contractual joint ventures,” “corporations” to “foreign corporations” and “special economic zone” to “special economic zones” which seem to be open to domestic enterprises, with the previous version seeming to make it seem like this would not be the case (Article 37). This means that there can be more than just one zone, heightening the country’s contradictions, even more than Article 36, without a doubt.

There are five other chapters of the Constitution: Chapter III (titled “Culture), Chapter IV (titled “National Defence”), Chapter V (titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”), Chapter VI (titled “State Organs” and has 7 sub-sections) and Chapter VII (titled “Emblem, Flag, Anthem, and Capital”). They will be discussed, in detail and with vigor, in the rest of this section of the article.

Let us prepare ourselves as genuine Kimilsungists-Kimjongilists!

Let’s start with Chapter III. Apart from promoting socialist culture as something that “contributes to improving the creative ability of working people” (Article 39), this chapter says that the country will carry out a “cultural revolution” (originally a Maoist idea) with an effort to train everyone in the populace to be “builders of socialism,” equipping them with a “profound knowledge of nature and society and a high level of culture and technology,” which would make the whole society “intellectual” (Article 40). It also says that such a socialist culture will be “people-oriented” and revolutionary, serving the working classes with the state opposing “the cultural infiltration of imperialism and any tendency to return to the past” with a protection of national cultural heritage, and developing such a culture “in keeping with the existing socialist situation” (Article 41). Again, this shows the fact that the society can be fluid and changing, not something that is static and dull as the Orientalist bourgeois media likes to paint it. Promotion of culture is connected with the State working toward establishing a “new socialist way of life in every sphere” while eliminating the way of “life inherited from the outmoded society” (Article 42) referring to the society under brutal Japanese occupation (1910-1945) undoubtedly. This chapter also says that the State shall embody the principles of “socialist pedagogy” (teaching) in order to raise the new generation to be not only “steadfast revolutionaries who will fight for society and the people,”  but to be those of the “Juche type” (in the 1998 Constitution it was “communist type”) who are “knowledgeable, morally sound and physically healthy” (Article 43). This is interconnected with the State’s efforts to:

  • give “precedence to public education and the training of cadres” for the nation as a whole, closely combining “general education with technological education, and education with productive labor” (Article 44)
  • develop a “universal compulsory twelve-year education” program in accordance with modern science, technology, and “practical requirements of socialist construction” (Article 45)
  • train “competent technicians and experts,” through the enhancement of the regular educational system, different forms of “studying while working” and improvement of the scientific and theoretical “levels of technological education” and education in basic and social sciences (Article 46).

There are further aspects showing the democratic nature of the state.  Not only is education to “all pupils and students” provided by the State “free of charge, and “grant allowances to students at universities and colleges” (Article 47), but the State works to strengthen social education with the provision of “all conditions for study” to the working people (Article 48). One major example of this in action is the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang, which opened in April 1982, after it was constructed over a period of 21 months, available to all the citizens. This is connected to Article 49 which says that the State will pay for all children in creches (hospitals) and kindergartens while Article 50 says that Juche shall be established in scientific research. This will be accomplished, says the article, with the introduction of “advanced science and technology in every possible way” with the opening up of “new areas of science and technology” while raising the country’s “science and technology to the world level.” The latter article is connected with Article 51, which says that the state shall put forward a plan to “develop science and technology,” implemented through “strict discipline” while strengthening “creative cooperation among scientists, technicians and producers.” This is important for any society, but especially one on the road to socialism. This cooperation is manifested in Article 52 saying that “Juche-oriented, revolutionary art and literature,” which is socialist in content and national in form, will be developed by the State through the encouragement of “creative workers and artists to produce workers of high ideological and artistic value” (like Mansudae Art Studio). This is coupled with enlisting “broad sections of the masses in literary and artistic activities” and the provision, by the State as outlined in Article 53, of “sufficient modern cultural facilities” which meet the demands of people who want to improve themselves physically and mentally, so the working class can “enjoy a full socialist cultured, aesthetic life.” There are other efforts of the State to defend and develop the country’s culture: safeguarding the Korean language and developing it to meet “present-day needs” (Article 54) and preparing people for work and national defense through the popularization of sport and physical culture, making it part of their “daily regime” (or their daily lives) with the augmenting of sporting skills to meet the reality of the country and trend in “modern sporting skills” (Article 55). The State is also obligated to improve the health of working people through developing and consolidating the “system of universal free medical service” and improving the system of preventive medicine and “district doctor system” (Article 56). Finally, the State is also obligated to protect and promote the environment, preferring it over production, preventing environmental pollution, and working to provide the populace “with a hygienic living environment and working conditions,” meaning it has a pro-ecology stand (Article 57).

Looking at the 1998 Constitution and the one after 2016 makes it clear that there weren’t many changes, meaning that country is still moving forward in developing its socialist culture, building upon what they have and making it better.

From here is Chapter IV which focuses on National Defense. Article 58 says that the country is “shored up by the all-people, nationwide defence system,” while Article 60 says that the state will implement the line of “self-reliance defence” with the training of the army to be an army of cadres, modernizing the armed forces, arming of all the country’s people, fortifying the country, and equipping the “army and the people politically and ideologically,” which are basically the same in 1998 and 2016.

However, the other articles have changed:

  • For Article 59, DPRK is now Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Before the mission was to “safeguard the interests of the working people, to defend the socialist system and the gains of the revolution from aggression” but now the mission is to “defend the leadership of the revolution, to safeguard the interests of the working people, to defend the socialist system and the gains of the revolution” while implementing the “Songun-based revolutionary line.”
  • For Article 61, the 1998 version said that military and mass discipline in the armed forces will be strengthened, with the promotion of unity between offices and men, and the army and the people. The 2016 version talks about a “revolutionary command system and military climate” but the text remains the same otherwise.

These changes show that Juche Korea is adapting to its environment, with a focus more on defense of the country from imperialist attack than ever before, which is justified without a doubt, after the assault by the capitalist poles of the world since the demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

Merciless retaliation!

The next section worth focusing on is Chapter V, titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”). Between the 1998 version and the 2016 version (the most recent), there have been few changes in this chapter. As such, in both versions, citizens, whose claim to citizenship is defined by a “law of nationality” and is under protection “regardless of domicile” (Article 62), have their rights and duties based on the collectivist principle of “one for all and all for one” (Article 63) with the state guaranteeing “genuine democratic rights and freedoms,” the citizens’ material and cultural well-being. Furthermore, their he “rights and freedoms of citizens” are amplified with the development and consolidation “of the socialist system” (Article 64). With this, citizens are able to:

  • “enjoy equal rights in all spheres of State and public activity” (Article 65)
  • “elect and be elected” once they have reached the “age of 17,” with this right available regardless of “sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views or religious belief” (Article 66). This also applies to citizens who serve in the armed forces. Someone can only be disenfranchised by a “Court decision” or if they are “legally certified insane,” meaning that they do not have the right to “elect or be elected.” This broad description of universal suffrage is an undeniable expression of democracy, with those who are disabled helped to a great deal in Juche Korea, as I’ve seen in various news reports.
  • exercise their freedom of speech, press, assembly, demonstration and association, with the State guaranteeing conditions for the “free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations” (Article 67). As will be explained later, this is not conceived the same as bourgeois “free expression.”
  • exercise their “freedom of religious belief,” a right which includes the ability to construct religious buildings and hold religious ceremonies, but cannot be used as a reason to draw in “foreign forces,” harm the social order or the State (Article 68). Roland Boer, on Stalin’s Moustache, writes about this, reprinting a section from his new book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, noting that Kim Il Sung’s personal background was “the Reformed tradition [of Christianity] embodied in Presbyterianism” with Kim highlighting “progressive Christians” who advocated for Korean independence in his memoirs while he had a “continuing interest in religion and religious history” and that in 1981, a Reverend, Kim Song Rak, who visited Juche Korea, with Kim saying he should “pray before his meal” which surprised the reverend, as he had “not expected a communist leader to be concerned about prayer.” Boer adds that specifically for Juche Korea, “the state constructs churches for believers and provides them with accommodation” with a religious department within Kim Il Sung University, “affinity between some Christians in the south and communism,” and a decline of belief due to the destruction of all structures in the North during the Fatherland Liberation War, with a focus on “rebuilding the country” after the war, rather than rebuilding religious structures which had been destroyed.In another post on the subject, also coming from his book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, he writes that “local Chondoism (Ch’ŏndogyo) – or ‘Religion of the Heavenly Way’ – is recognised and favoured by the government” because it is “a very Korean form of revolutionary religion,” melds many different religious influences (“Daoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Roman Catholic influences) with those of a local variety, and more specifically was part of the anti-Japanese colonial struggle, with its connection with revolutionary struggle (then the Tonghak Revolution), a “precursor to the communist movement.” With all of this, Chondoism stayed a “northern Korean movement” primarily, with “almost 3 million adherents in the north and about 800 places of worship” with Chondoism “bequeathed to Korean culture a number of principles, with an explicit drive to social and religious equality,” which connects to ” Kim’s articulation of communism in terms of their common source,”  with his argument that “the people are God-heaven.” Kim also says that “Marx’s most well-known statement that religion is the opium of the people” is meant to warn against temptation of religious mirage, not opposing believers in general, saying that communists should welcome, join hands with patriotic religionists, saying that Marx’s idea is not “a universal formula that should be applied everywhere, but rather a guide for action that should be sensitive to the specific conditions and traditions of a situation.”
  • exercise their right to submit petitions and complaints, which the state is obligated to “investigate and deal with” in an impartial manner “as stipulated by law (Article 69). This is a change from the 1998 version, with the words “Complaints and petitions shall be…dealt with…within the period fixed by law” which has changed to “The State shall investigate and deal with complaints and petitions impartially as stipulated by law” which is even more democratic.
  • exercise their “right to work,” which is totally different than the anti-union “right to work” proposed in the U$, which means that all citizens who are able-bodied can choose occupations which are in “accordance with their wishes and skills,” and are, as a result, “provided with stable jobs and working conditions” (Article 70). Furthermore, citizens work according to their abilities and are paid “in accordance with the quantity and quality of their work.” The latter echoes what Marx wrote in Part 1 of his Critique of the Gotha Programme: “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
  • exercise the “right of relaxation” which is ensured by established working hours, provision of holidays, “paid leave, accommodation at health resorts and holiday homes” which are available “at State expense” and the “growing network of cultural facilities” (Article 71)
  • exercise the right to “free medical care” with all persons who cannot work anymore because of “old age, illness or physical disability along with “seniors and minors” who have no means to support themselves are “entitled to material assistance” (Article 72). This right of free medical care is ensured through an “expanding network of hospitals, sanatoria…medical institutions, State social insurance and other social security systems.”
  • exercise the “right to education” which is enshrined by an “advanced educational system” and by “educational measures enacted by the State for the benefit of the people” (Article 73)
  • engage in “scientific, literary and artistic pursuits” with the State granting benefits to “inventors and innovators” with the law of the country protecting “copyrights, inventions and patents” (Article 74). The newer Constitution added the word “inventions” as something the country would protect.
  • exercise their “freedom of residence and travel” (Article 75), an important right for a democratic society, further proving that no one is “keeping” those in Juche Korea there against their will. People can leave and return as they please.

There’s more. The State also guarantees the “inviolability of the person…the home, and privacy of correspondence” with citizens not placed under “control or arrest” or a person’s home not searched “without a legal warrant” (Article 79). Furthermore, revolutionary fighters, families of patriotic or revolutionary martyrs, families of soldiers who are “disabled on duty” and those who are in the People’s Army, enjoy “special protection of State and Society” (Article 76). Additionally, the right of asylum is provided to foreign nationals who are “persecuted for struggling for peace and democracy, national independence and socialism or for the freedom of scientific and cultural pursuits” (Article 80), showing the country stands for international solidarity.

Let us transform the equipment and production lines of light-industry factories into labour- and electricity-saving ones!

Juche Korea also grants rights to women, showing that it believes the liberation of women is part of the Korean revolution, which some could call “feminist” or at least “female empowerment.” This is through the declaration that women and men have equal rights and equal social status, with the state affording “special protection to mothers and children” with maternity leave, reduced working hours for those with several children, a “wide network of maternity hospitals…kindergartens” and other measures (Article 77). Anything that isn’t included there is encapsulated in the State being obligated to provide “all conditions for women to play their full roles in society,” like Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, who is a “serious politician in her own right.” This, is undeniably important. It is connected to Article 78 saying that “marriage and the family shall be protected by the State. The State pays great attention to consolidating the family, the basic unit of social life.” Whatever one might think, this doesn’t run afoul of Marx’s criticism of the bourgeois family, as such marriages and families are important for keeping the society together, especially when it is under imperialist assault.

As has been noted earlier, universal suffrage and the ability to be elected (noted in Article 66),  is provided to all above the age of 17, including those “in the armed forces,” except for those disenfranchised by a court, or those “legally certified insane.”This means that citizens of Juche Korea can be elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly, the “highest organ of State power in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and the “People’s Assembly of a province (or municipality directly under central authority), city (or district) or county,” which is “the local organ of State power,” central to the governmental system and democracy within the country as a whole.

In exchange for these broad fundamental rights, citizens have a number of duties, showing that the “free expression” cannot support capitalist aims to destroy the socialist system. For one, citizens are bound to safeguard “political and ideological unity and solidarity of the people” while cherishing their “organization and collective” by working in devoted manner “for the good of society and the people” (Article 81). Citizens are further required, as they would in any society, to strictly follow the state’s laws and socialist standards in life, while defending their “honour and dignity” as citizens of the country (Article 82).  Most importantly, citizens, whom have the noble duty and honor of work, shall “willingly and conscientiously participate in work and strictly observe labour discipline and working hours” (Article 83). The latter allows for effective socialist construction, and will work to take care of the property (which is “inviolable”) of social, cooperative organizations and the State with the combating of all “forms of misappropriation and waste” as they work to “manage the nation’s economy diligently as the masters” (Article 84). This again shows the democratic nature of the state, and that people manage the economy, a planned economy, with Juche Korea on the road to socialism. Finally, Article 85 says that citizens should “constantly increase their revolutionary vigilance” with fighting for the “security of the State” while Article 86 says that citizens shall “defend the country,” as national defense is the honor and “supreme duty” of citizens,” serving in the armed forces as “required by law.”

Self-reliance is Korea’s way of creation!

We then get to Chapter VI which is titled “State Organs” which has 8 sub-sections, which will show, once and for all, how the state is not a dynasty, monarchy, dictatorship, or has hereditary rule but is rather one that is democratic without question. The first sub-section  (section 1) focuses on the Supreme People’s Assembly, which is called SPA for the rest if this article. For one, the legislature is the “highest organ of state power” in the country (Article 87), not the “Kim family” as Orientalist bourgeois media and their allies would make you believe. Additionally, the SPA, which exercises “legislative power” (Article 88), has a Presidium who may “exercise legislative power” when the SPA is not in session and whom convenes the regular sessions once or twice a year, with extraordinary sessions held at their request or if one-third of the deputies request such a session (Article 92). In another element of democracy, the SPA requires a “quorum of at least two thirds” of the deputies in order to meet (Article 93) with the deputies elected “on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot” (Article 89). This connects to Article 66, as noted earlier, that all citizens over the age of 17, regardless of “sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views…religious belief,” or if they are in the armed forces, can elect individuals or be elected, with disenfranchisement only occurring due to a Court decision or if someone is “legally certified insane.” Deputies, unlike those in the U$ House of Representatives who serve for two years and in the U$ Senate for six years, are elected for a “term of five years” with a new session the SPA elected according to the SPA Presidium’s decision, with the possible prolonging of the term of office of a SPA session if “unavoidable circumstances render an election impossible” (Article 90) like the gap between the SPA election in September 1948 and August 1957 because “the DPRK was in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack” (referring to the Fatherland Liberation War), or between the 1990 election and July 1998, due to the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, with the next elections in the country scheduled for 2019. In my article on elections in the country, specifically focused on the SPA, I added that

the SPA in the DPRK…[is] the “highest organ of State power” and is a representative organ which is formed “through an election conducted of the free will of the entire Korean people” and composed of deputies who are selected by “secret ballot on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage,” with the same principle applied to election of deputies “to local power organs such as provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies”….With only one registration and one ballot cast per voter, in elections that are announced 60 days before for the SPA and 30 days before for the ” provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies,” voters cast a ballot directly for a candidate for the deputy position…The SPA’s most important and exclusive power is “legislative power” which includes adopting, amending, and supplementing the Constitution…the SPA has adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK…the SPA follows steps of “deliberation, adoption and proclamation,” with laws submitted by numerous entities…and approved by a “show of hands”…The SPA also has the authority to form central institutions of the state, electing the President of the DPRK…who then picks a number of other individuals….members on SPA committees and the head of the Administration Council (the Premier) are elected and accountable to the SPA….the SPA holds regular sessions to “discuss and solve problems” once or twice a year and extraordinary sessions when needed, with quorum of “more than a half the total number of deputies to meet” and laws adopted having immediate legal effect…SPA Committees, whose members  are elected among deputies according to the size of leadership, debate about draft laws and budget plans before deliberation by the whole body. However, they cannot “initiate legislative activities nor adopt decisions of any legal validity independently.” [Such committees include the]…Credentials Committee (credentials members in the SPA)…the Bills Committee [which] “deliberates on the bills, amendments to constitution and laws submitted to the SPA”…Budget Committees [which] “deliberates upon whether or not the settlement account and compilation of the State budget submitted for deliberation to the SPA conforms with the needs of People”…the Foreign Affairs Committee [which] “discusses the issues arising in foreign affairs, draws up and makes public the documents specifying the stands of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Committee”…the Reunification Policies Committee [which] “recommends the measures to be taken by the Supreme People’s Assembly in connection with the national reunification question to the Supreme People’s Assembly or the Standing Committee of the SPA”…[the] Standing Committee [which,] “when the SPA is not in session” [undertakes the work of the SPA committees when the SPA is not in session, with this committee working as]…a permanent body of the SPA…[a] permanent organ between sessions…[It is] composed of Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, a secretary general and 15 members including the representatives of political parties and social organizations

In the same article, I noted that the SPA is “the highest national representative organ of the entire people” and that the ” election of a new SPA is held by a decision of the Standing Committee of the SPA prior to expiry of the term of office of the current SPA” with the Standing Committee helping “organize the next (or current) election of the SPA.”

As the highest organ of state power in Juche Korea, the SPA elects its Speaker and Deputy Speaker, with the speaker presiding over the legislative sessions each year (Article 94), with the SPA, in its first session, electing a Credentials Committee, and after hearing its report, adopts “a decision confirming the credentials of deputies” (Article 96), with various committees (as noted earlier) appointed by the legislature, including the vice-chair and chair of these committees, with these committees assisting the SPA in its work, while planning or deliberating “the State policy and bills,” taking measures for “their implementation,” with the committees working under the guidance of the SPA Presidim during “intervals between sessions” of the SPA (Article 98). In order to promote decorum, deputies to the SPA are “guaranteed inviolability,” meaning that no deputy may be “arrested or punished” without the legislature’s consent, or, when it is not in session with the “consent of the Presidium” unless “he or she is caught in the act” (Article 99) which is in broader terms in the 2016 Constitution than the one in 1998. With all this, it is worth saying that the SPA has a number of specific responsibilities as outlined in Article 97:

The Supreme People’s Assembly issues laws, ordinances and decisions. Laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly are adopted when more than half of the deputies attending signify approval by a show of hands. The Constitution is amended or supplemented with the approval of more than two-thirds of the total number of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly.

This is expanded from 1998, which only said the SPA could issue “laws and decisions.” Similarly, in the newest Constitution, deputies are allowed to present items to be considered, which wasn’t said explicitly in 1998, with the “Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the State Affairs Commission,” Presidium of the SPA, Cabinet, and Committees of the SPA also allowed to present “items to be considered” (Article 95). Last but not least are the authorities of the SPA, outlined in Article 91, to:

  • “amend or supplement the Constitution”
  • “adopt, amend or supplement laws”
  • “approve the major laws adopted by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session”
  • “establish the basic principles of the State’s domestic and foreign policies”
  • “elect or recall the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly…the Vice-Chairmen and members of the State Affairs Commission on the recommendation of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…the Vice-Presidents, Honorary Vice-Presidents, Secretary and members of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly…the Premier of the Cabinet…the President of the Central Court…the Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and members of the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly”
  • “appoint the Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers [like those from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] and other members of the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Premier of the Cabinet”
  • “appoint or remove the Prosecutor General of the Central Public Prosecutors Office;
  • “deliberate and approve the State plan for the development of the national economy and the report on its implementation”
  • “deliberate and approve the State budget and the report on its implementation”
  • “hear a report on the work of the Cabinet and the central bodies when necessary, and adopt relevant measures”
  • “decide on ratification and nullification of treaties suggested to the Supreme People’s Assembly”
Celebration of the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea

Some of the legislative powers, like the ability to revise the constitution, adopt and revise laws, work on a state budget, appoint members of the cabinet (with the recommendation of the Cabinet premier) hear the report of the Cabinet’s work, ratify or nullify treaties, are common for parliaments and legislatures across the world. However, the above shows the SPA, which is the people’s legislature (hence the name “Supreme People’s Assembly”) is the highest element of power in Juche Korea as it can establish domestic and foreign policy, deliberate the State plan on the economy, appoint or remove the Prosecutor General, and most importantly, elect or recall the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, President of the SPA Presidium, members of the State Affairs Commission on the recommendation of the Chairman, members of the SPA Presidium, the Cabinet Premier, President of the Central Court, and members “of the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” This makes all of these individuals accountable to the SPA, and more fundamentally accountable to the population at large, who have the right to elect and recall these members through their representatives. As RedBitsaccount noted rightly on the communist101 subreddit,

Every five years they have a general election for the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), they also have city, provincial and county elections. The candidates are chosen prior to the election not by the Worker’s Party of Korea, but by mass meetings that are organized by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland (DFRF). The DFRF is composed by the WPK, the Chondoist and the Korean Social-Democratic Party. In these meetings, debates are held and attempts at consensus are made. Once the candidates have been chosen, their names are in the ballot box. For the SPA, they elect their deputies. After the election, the SPA goes to a meeting were they hold another internal election to elect the following: the President, the Prime-Minister and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and these all must be a elected Deputy to hold such a position. The President is responsible for signing treaties involving the DPRK and other countries, among other foreign matters; currently, this positions is held by Kim Yong Nam, and despite having the name ‘Kim’, he’s not related to Kim Jong Un. The Prime-Minister manages the ministries, that in turn manage internal affairs such as the economy. This position is held by Pak Jong Ju. Finally, the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission is the commander of the DPRK’s armed forces. This is the position that Kim Jong Un currently holds. The last election for the SPA’s deputies was in 2014. Contrary to popular belief, both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un (Kim Il Sung is the exception) rarely occupied positions such as the Prime-Minister or the President. Most of the times, they were the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and…received the title of ‘Supreme Commander’, which is more a ceremonial [title] than political one [by any stretch]

He further added that the Chairman is “responsible for things like declaring state of war or state of emergency, and all other things related to managing the armed forces in case of conflict” but that “legislation is not made by the Chairman, or any of the above. Its made by the SPA in joint sessions and voted by their 687 deputies.”

This chart shows the centrality of the SPA to the governmental system of Juche Korea, focusing on Articles 87-168 (the other articles are noted elsewhere). The ability of the SPA to “hear a report on the work of the central bodies when necessary, and adopt relevant measures” is not included here, as “central bodies” is a broad term covering different institutions. The Chairman, the position which Kim Jong Un current holds, does not have the power of other institutions at all.

With that discussion, it brings us to Section 2 of Chapter 6, titled “the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The State Affairs Commission superseded the National Defence Commission, with Kim Il Sung (from 1972 to 1993) and Kim Jong Il (from 1993 to 2011) as chairmen of this commission, while Kim Jong Un was the First Chairman of the commission from 2012 to 2016, and has been chairman of the State Affairs Commission since 2016, with the new Constitution. As such, looking at this section is important to disprove the “autocratic” nature of Juche Korea claimed by some. Unlike Section 1, which had 13 articles dedicated to explaining the SPA, its duties, responsibilities, and role as the highest organ of state power, this section has only has six articles! The 1998 and 2016 versions have a number of similarities. In the 106 version, the chairman of the State Affairs Commission described as the “supreme leader” of the country (Article 100). Some may say this “proves” that the chairman runs the state, however, their term of office is the same as that of the SPA, meaning this person would have to be elected by the SPA every five years, meaning that if the SPA didn’t like the chairman, this person could be recalled, similar to what the 1998 version said (Article 101). In this position, not surprisingly, the the Chairman is Supreme Commander of the country’s armed forces, commanding and directing all of the State’s armed forces, which is basically what was the case in 1998 (Article 102). Furthermore, this chairman can issue orders (Article 104) but is, as noted earlier, “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 105), meaning that he (so far, but women could, under the constitution, hold this position) is accountable to the populace. There is only one article which outlines the seven “duties and authority,” allowing the Chairman to

  1. direct the overall affairs of the State;
  2. personally guide the work of the State Affairs Commission;
  3. appoint or remove key cadres of the State;
  4. ratify or rescind major treaties concluded with other countries;
  5. exercise the right of granting special pardon;
  6. proclaim a state of emergency, a state of war and mobilization order within the country;
  7. organize and direct the National Defence Committee in wartime.

While the 1998 version said that the Chairman had the duty to guide armed forces, create institutions in the “defence sector,” appoint or remove “major military cadres,” create new military titles, and proclaim a state of war, with orders for mobilization, the powers which are shown above. However, the Chairman now has the authority to “direct the overall affairs of the state,” personally guide the work of the Commission, ratify or rescind major treaties, exercise the right of special pardon, proclaim a state of emergency, and organize and direct a National Defence Committee during wartime. Some may, falsely, interpret this as a dictatorship. However, points 2, and 6, 7, on the list above, are focused on the military. Point 5, also on the above list, is almost a ceremonial duty. Some may be reminded that the SPA has the power to “decide on ratification and nullification of treaties suggested to the Supreme People’s Assembly” and may say that the Chairman’s power (in point 4) to “ratify or rescind major treaties concluded with other countries” invalidates such a power of the SPA. This is false. The Chairman’s power of ratifying and rescinding treaties is, if one interprets these two provisions, in response to the action of the SPA. He would not have the power to ratify or rescind such treaties if the SPA had not conducted action on these same documents, as he is accountable to the SPA, don’t forget.

Single-hearted unity is the great foundation and ever victorious weapon for the Juche revolution!

Then there’s point 3, which says that the Chairman can “appoint or remove key cadres of the State.” This mirrors the 1998 constitution, which says that the Chairman can “appoint or remove major military cadres.” Using the Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, it means a member of a small unified political group or operational unit, “as of staff officers and key personnel.” This means that the Chairman cannot just remove any party member, but rather this would apply to key government officials, with his appointment of such officials undoubtedly needing some input from the SPA. Finally, there is point 1, saying that the Chairman has the power to “direct the overall affairs of the State.” Some may decry: this makes it a “dictatorship”! Again, this is wrong. The word “direct” is a late Middle English word which derives from the Latin word directus, which was the past participle of dirigere, meaning “arrange in direct lines” or “to guide.” [8] This word, once English started to mean “straighten”, or “guide” which synonyms like “manage, orchestrate, guide, control…oversee, supervise, guide…steer, orient, focus” with “obey” and “follow” as antonyms. From this, you can say that the authority to “direct the overall affairs of the State” means that the Chairman guides and orients the state and its actions in order to more forward the efforts of socialist reconstruction. Even so, this does not mean he is a dictator. In Latin, the term dictator meant a magistrate who was “appointed in times of crisis and given absolute authority” for a maximum six-month or one-year term, like Julius Caesar. [9] Under the Constitution, the Chairman does not have such “absolute authority” and, as noted so far, the State is not ruled by a “single or sole ruler” as it would be in a monarchy or by a person who wields “absolute power and authority,” engaging in the “unreasoned, unpredictable use of one’s authority in accord with one’s own will or desire.” The power and authority of the government lies with the SPA, not with the Chairman. In fact, you could call the Chairman a “ruler” using the same bourgeois dictionary, since he guides the country, but he does not have “supreme authority” with the title of “supreme leader” basically a ceremonial one, as he does not have absolute power in Juche Korea, not at all.

That brings us to Section 3 of Chapter 6, titled the “State Affairs Commission.” This cannot be compared to the 1998 Constitution because, at the time, this section did not exist. This body, which is headed by the Chairman, is considered “the supreme policy-oriented leadership body of State power” (Article 106) with its members being “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and members” (Article 107). The term of office for those on the commission is the same as that of the SPA: five years (Article 109), and while it can “issue decisions and directives” like the Chairman can issue orders (Article 110), it is, like all elected or appointed positions, within the government, “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 111). The commission itself has only three duties and authorities, laid out in Article 109, even less than the Chairman:

  1. discuss and decide important policies of the State, including those for defence building;
  2. exercise supervision over the fulfilment of the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, and take measures for their fulfilment;
  3. abrogate [repeal or annul] decisions and directives of State organs which run counter to the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission.

The above shows that the commission would “discuss and decide” important State policies, meaning that the commission would reach a judgment or determination on important State policies, but it does not say that this commission would implement them, as such policies would still need to be approved by the SPA. Additionally, these policies would likely be mostly relating to the military. The supervision of the Chairman’s orders and the decisions and directives of the commission, with efforts to execute such efforts, means that this body is an executive body in that it executes executive authorities. However, it is not implementing the laws of the SPA, but just those directives and decisions made by the commission and the Chairman’s orders. It is my thinking that the “National Defence Commission” was changed to the State Affairs Commission so that this commission wasn’t just focused on defense of the country, but was more broad, covering all state policy, allowing for more discussion and deliberation.

Another executive who is often ignored in the bourgeois media as they want to focus on the “supreme leader,” who has little power as discussed earlier and could be said to be a bit of a figurehead, is the SPA Presidium, which was mentioned briefly in an earlier point of this article. The current President of the Presidium is Kim Jong-nam.  The SPA Presidium is discussed in detail in section 4 of chapter 6, which has changed slightly from 1998. For one, the SPA Presidium is a body which is the “highest organ of State power” (Article 112) when the SPA is not in session, consisting of the “President, Vice-President, Secretary” and other members (Article 113). Additionally, this body, as stated in Article 114, may have a few “Honorary Vice-Presidents” who can be deputies in the SPA who have “participated in the work of State building” for some time and have “distinguished service” meaning that the term “honorary” is one that is ceremonial in nature. Those within this body have terms of office which are five years long, the same as the SPA, with the Presidium continuing its work “until a new Presidium is elected, even after the term of the Supreme People’s Assembly expires” (Article 115). While this government body, part of the SPA, can issue “decrees, decisions and directives” (Article 120) and even have “Committees to assist it in its work” (Article 121) it is still “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly”  (Article 122). In order to carry out these decisions, directives, and decrees, it convenes “Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee” with the plenary meetings consisting of members of the Presidium, and the meeting of the Permanent Committee consisting of only “the President, Vice-Presidents and Secretary” (Article 118). Furthermore, the Plenary Meeting “deliberates and decides on important matters arising in fulfilling the duties of the Presidium and exercising its authority” while the Meeting of the Permanent Committee “deliberates and decides on matters entrusted to it by the Plenary Meeting” (Article 119), meaning that the Permanent Committee and Plenary Meeting are inter-dependent on each other.

Specific members of the Presidium have certain duties. The President organizes and guides the work of the governmental body, representing the State, receiving “credentials and letters of recall” from diplomatic representatives of foreign countries (Article 117). More broadly, the Presidium itself has 19 duties, outlined in Article 116, the last of which was new in the 2016 Constitution (not in the 1998 version).

Let officials make selfless-devoted efforts for the benefit of the people!

Point 1, of the Presidium’s list of duties, says that this governmental body has the important duty of convening “sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” This is connected with Point 2,  the adoption and deliberation of new draft regulations, bills, amendments and supplements to current regulations and laws between each session of the SPA, working to obtain “approval of the next session of the Supreme People’s Assembly for major laws which are adopted and enforced.” The same is the case with point 3, the approval and deliberation of “the State plan for the development of the national economy, the State budget and plans for their adjustment which are raised “for unavoidable reasons in the intervals between sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” Almost like the Supreme Court in the U$, this body interprets the “Constitution as well as current laws and regulations” (point 4) but also works to make sure laws are observed “by the State organs and take relevant measures” as a result (point 5). This is further buttressed by the efforts the Presidium goes to work with the deputies and committees of the SPA (points 8 and 9). Apart from the formalities of issuing “decorations, medals, titles of honour and diplomatic ranks and confer decorations, medals and titles of honour” (point 16) and granting “general amnesties” (point 17), this governmental body can: set up or abolish cabinet ministries or commissions (point 10), and establish or alter administrative districts or units (point 18), appoint or remove members of committees of the Presidium itself (point 12). Related powers include the ability to elect or recall People’s Assessors and Judges of the Central Court (point 13), appoint or recall “diplomatic representatives to other countries” (point 15), and the removal or appointment of “Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers and other members of the Cabinet” the Premier of the Cabinet’s recommendation “when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (point 11). Like the SPA and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the Presidium has powers when it comes to treaties. Specifically, it can “approve or nullify treaties concluded with other countries” (point 14). While the Chairman’s power of ratifying and rescinding treaties is in response to the action of the SPA, the Presidium’s power is the next step after the SPA’s action, which decides if treaties should be ratified or nullified.

The Presidium is more than just a legislative/executive body, but is also looks to make sure the laws of the country are aligned. This is through its power, in point 6, to “rescind the decisions and directives of State bodies which run counter to the Constitution, laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, and the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and suspend the implementation of unwarranted decisions of local People’s Assemblies” which is almost like the U$ Supreme Court declaring laws unconstitutional, but more wide-reaching, as this is important to maintain the democratic nature of society and move forward on the road to socialism. Even so, this comparison is not meant to say that this governmental body has judicial powers, because it does not (the court system has those powers). Connected to this is the fact that the Presidium also serves as an election management body, by conducting “the election of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly” and organizing “the elections of deputies to the local People’s Assemblies” (point 7) which is, again, an important part of democracy in Juche Korea. Finally, the Presidium, which has electoral, legislative, and executive powers, also has a diplomatic role: it conducts “external activities including contacts with foreign parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations” (point 19).

We then get to section 5, of Chapter 6, titled “The Cabinet” which has been slightly changed over the years, with more clarification in the 2016 constitution. The Cabinet is fundamentally an executive and administrative body (Article 123) and consists of the “Premier, Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers  and other members” with their term of office being five years, the same as the SPA (Article 124). This means that Chairman Kim Jong-Un is part of the cabinet, but not its head as will be explained in the next paragraph.

Certain members have specific duties. The Premier, who “organizes and guides the work of the cabinet” represents the government itself (Article 126). While Kim Il Sung was the premier of the cabinet from 1948 to 1972, no member of the Kim family has held the position since, with Pak Pong-ju as the current Premier, who “began his career as a manager of the Ryongchon Food Factory in Ryongchon County, North Pyongan.” He was premier from 2003 to 2007, after which he reportedly “fell out of favor,” replaced by Kim Yong Il (who became the new Premier) and became “instrumental in formulating and executing new economic laws promulgated in the summer of 2010 involving labor rights and the protection of SOEs and JVs in the DPRK” before starting his second term as Premier, which has lasted from 2013 to the present. Each Premier, who has been newly-elected, “takes an oath of allegiance on behalf of the members of the Cabinet at the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 132).

There are other powers of the Cabinet, which are important to the conducting of governmental duties. For one, the Cabinet can convene “Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee” with the former meetings consisting of all Cabinet members, and the latter only consisting of the “Premier, Vice-Premiers and other members of the Cabinet appointed by the Premier” (Article 127). More specifically, as Article 128 outlines,  the Plenary Meeting “deliberates and decides on new and important administrative and economic matters” while the Permanent Committee “deliberates and decides on matters referred to it by the Plenary Meeting of the Cabinet” meaning that the Plenary Meeting and Permanent Committee are interdependent on each other (Article 128). In order to assist with its other work, the Cabinet may “have non-permanent committees” (Article 130), along with commissions and ministries (like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), serving as executive and administrative bodies, supervising and guiding work of “the sectors concerned” in a uniform way and under the Cabinet’s guidance (Articles 133 and 134). Apart from this, these ministries and commissions have their own powers: they can run “committee meetings and cadre meetings” with both of these meetings deliberating and deciding on measures to implement the “decisions and directives of the Cabinet and other important matters” (Article 135) and they can “issue directives” (Article 136)

The Cabinet, as a whole, can issue “decisions and directives” (in 1998 it only “adopted” decisions and directives) as stated in Article 129. This encompasses many areas, as outlined in Article 125. For one, the Cabinet can adopt measures to implement State policies and can also amend, adopt, or supplement “regulations on State administration” on the basis of the country’s laws and the constitution itself. Additionally, it can draft the State plan for the “development of the national economy” and adopt measures “measures to put it into effect” after this plan has been approved by the SPA, of course. The Cabinet also has the power to compile the State budget, and adopt measures to implement this budget after the SPA has approved the budget. On its own authority, the Cabinet can adopt measures to “strengthen the monetary and banking system,” inspect and control the “establishment of order in State administration” in order to ensure government efficiency. Also, this governmental body can abolish or establish organs, which includes “major administrative and economic bodies and enterprises” while can also “adopt measures for improving State administration bodies.” Complementing this, the Cabinet can adopt measures to maintain “public order, protect the property and interests of the State and social, cooperative organizations, and safeguard the rights of citizens.” More importantly, the Cabinet has the power to “organize and execute” the work of “industry, agriculture, construction, transport, post and  telecommunications, commerce, foreign trade, land administration, municipal administration,  education, science, culture, health service, physical culture and sport, labour administration,  protection of environment, [and] tourism” to name a few. It also serves as a check on any other governmental body by being able to “rescind the decisions and directives of administrative and economic bodies which run counter to the decisions and directives of the Cabinet.” The Cabinet also has the power to “conclude treaties with foreign countries and conduct external affairs” which, of course, still has to be deliberated by the SPA, approved by the Presidium, and ratified or rescinded by the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, following the actions of previous governmental bodies. This connects all these elements. Most importantly of all, the Cabinet has the power to “direct the work of the Commissions and Ministries of the Cabinet, organs directly under its authority and local People’s Committees.” This is an important part of the functioning of the governmental system and keeping other parts of democracy in Juche Korea aligned with each other.

Other powers of the cabinet are noted on the chart for the whole governmental system of Juche Korea.

With these powers, the Cabinet, like other parts of the government, is still “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly and to the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (Article 131) meaning that it is accountable to the masses of Juche Korea.

The local People’s Assembly (Chapter 6, Section 6), which is talked about in Articles 137 to 144 of the Constitution, is another part of the democratic system in Juche Korea, with few changes between the 1998 and 2016 Constitutions. Not only are local People’s Assemblies on the level of a province or municipality, city or district, and county, making them the “local organ of State power” but they consist of “deputies elected on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot” (Articles 137 & 138). Their terms of office are four years, are elected “according to the decision of the local People’s Committee at the corresponding level,” and when there are “unavoidable circumstances” which “render an election impossible,” the term of office of deputy of a local People’s Assembly is prolonged “until an election can be held” (Article 139). Like the SPA, a local People’s Assembly has “regular and extraordinary sessions” with regular sessions once or twice a year as convened by the “People’s Committee at the corresponding level” and extraordinary sessions “convened when the People’s Committee at the corresponding level deems them necessary” or at the request of a “minimum of one-third of the total number of deputies” (Article 141). Additionally, like the SPA, a local People’s Assembly “requires a quorum of at least two-thirds of the total number of deputies in order to meet” and elects a speaker (but not a Vice-Speaker) who presides over the assembly’s sessions (Articles 142 and 143). A local People’s Assembly can issue decisions (Article 144) on a number of issues. As outlined in Article 140, a local People’s Assembly can:

  • “deliberate and approve the local plan for the development of the national economy and the report on its implementation”
  • “deliberate and approve the local budget and the report on its implementation”
  • “adopt measures to observe State laws in the area concerned”
  • “elect or recall the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, Secretary and members of the People’s Committee at the corresponding level”
  • “elect or recall the Judges and People’s Assessors of the Court at the corresponding level”
  • “rescind unwarranted decisions and directives of the People’s Committee at the corresponding level and the People’s Assemblies and People’s Committees at lower levels”

As such, it is basically a SPA at the local level, showing that the masses have control of the State as a whole. This is because they can elect deputies to their local People’s Assembly and SPA, and be elected, allowing them to express themselves through the country’s political system, using it to improve their own means. As article 4 of the Constitution states, “the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resides in the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people. The working people exercise State power through their representative organs–the Supreme People’s Assembly and local People’s Assemblies at all levels.”

Let us all vote for the candidates!

Over the years, there have been a number of local elections in Juche Korea. They started in November 1946 [10], always with full participation, with bourgeois sources claiming there was 100% approval rate for members, which is likely a distortion. If we take the latter into account, this would reflect what Commie Dad said (as quoted earlier in this article): that candidates on the ballot are “chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK” with citizens running under these parties or as independents, with the fact that there is “only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings.” Hence, as he wrote, “the masses advocate for themselves directly…[and] the DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election.” Since the elections in November 1946, there have been elections on the local level, for local committees and assemblies, expressing the wills of the masses, in February and March 1947, March 1949, November 1956, November 1959, 1963, November 1967, February 1975, March 1977, March 1981, 1983, 1985, November 1989, November 1993, March 1999, August 2003, July 2007, July 2011, and July 2015, with 774,598 individuals elected on the local level over those years! [11] The upcoming elections on the local level are to be next held in 2019. We can’t forget when the Washington Post published a map by the Electoral Integrity Project describing Juche Korea and Cuba as having “moderate quality elections,” the same category that the U$ was in!

Section 7, of Chapter 6, of the Constitution of Juche Korea, outlines the organization which oversees the local People’s Assembly: the local People’s Committee, with such committees overseeing local People’s Assemblies across the country. The same structures that were in place in 1998 are still in place in the 2016 Constitution. Such a committee, which is is located in a  province, municipality, city (or district) or county, “exercises the function of the local organ of State power when the People’s Assembly at the corresponding level is not in session and the administrative and executive organ of State power at the corresponding level” and consists of “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, Secretary and members” with the term of office the “same as that of the corresponding People’s Assembly”: four years (Articles 145 & 146). It convenes Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee, the former of which consist of all of the committee’s members, and the latter which consists of “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Secretary,” the Plenary Meetings deliberate and decide on “important matters arising in implementing its duties and exercising its authority” while the Meetings of the Permanent Committee deliberate and decide “on the matters referred to it by the Plenary Meeting,” meaning that the two are interdependent (Articles 148 & 149). Such a committee may also “have non-permanent committees to assist it in its work” (Article 151).

As an institution which “issues decisions and directives” (Article 150), and is accountable to the “corresponding People’s Assembly” while being “subordinate to the People’s Committees at higher levels, the Cabinet and the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 152) it is important to outline its duties and authorities. The latter are pointedly listed in Article 147:

  1. it can “convene sessions of the People’s Assembly” and organize “the election of deputies to the People’s Assembly” while working with “the deputies to the People’s Assembly”
  2. it organizes and carries out “all administrative affairs in the given area”
  3. drafts the “local plan for the development of the national economy and adopt measures to implement it” (local plan is approved by corresponding People’s Assembly)
  4. compiles “the local budget and adopt[s] measures for its implementation,” a budget which is approved by the corresponding People’s Assembly
  5. adopts “measures to maintain public order, protect the property and interests of the State and social, cooperative organizations and safeguard the rights of citizens in the given area”
  6. inspects and controls “the establishment of order in State administration in the given area”
  7. directs “the work of the People’s Committees at lower levels”
  8. rescinds “unwarranted decisions and directives of the People’s Committees at lower levels, and suspend the implementation of unwarranted decisions of the People’s Assemblies at lower levels”
  9. implements “the decisions and directives of the corresponding local People’s Assembly and the People’s Committees at higher levels, the laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’ Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the decisions and directives of the Cabinet and the Commissions and Ministries of the Cabinet”

So, the local People’s Committee is basically a Presidium on the local level, providing another check and balance in this system, unlike the U$ system which supposedly has such “checks and balances,” but this is just a way to cover up the reality: it is a plutocratic system which is and inherently unequal bourgeois democracy.

Let us defend our Party Central Committee unto death!

The final section of Chapter 6 is Section 8, titled “The Public Prosecutor and the Court.” It changed only slightly between the 1998 and 2016 versions. Prosecution and investigation carried out by the Central Prosecutors Office, Public Prosecutors of a province, municipality, city, district, or county, and the Special Public Prosecutors Office (Article 153), with the term of office of the Prosecutor General of the Central Prosecutors Office being five years long, the same as “that of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 154). As a check on the power of public prosecutors, they can be “appointed or removed by the Central Public Prosecutors Office” (Article 155), and all “investigation and prosecution” is “conducted under the unified direction of the Central Public Prosecutors Office” with all Public Prosecutors Offices “subordinate to their higher offices and the Central Public Prosecutors Office,” another check (Article 157). Like other elements of government, the Central Public Prosecutors Office is accountable to the SPA and the Presidium of the SPA when the SPA is not in session, showing that the people have a check on the office itself (Article 158). Within Section 8, the functions of the Public Prosecutors Office is listed, in Article 156. Not only does this office work to “ensure the strict observance of State laws by institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens” but it also identifies and institutes “legal proceedings against criminals and offenders in order to protect the State power of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the socialist system, the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations, personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the people’s lives and property.” More than the latter power, its power to

ensure that the decisions and directives of State bodies conform with the Constitution, the laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and the decisions and directives of the Cabinet

That brings us to the second half of section 8: Article 159-168 which focus on the country’s Central Court. This court is independent, but also works to administer justice, with “judicial proceedings are carried out in strict accordance with the law” (Article 166) and the Central Court serving as the “highest judicial organ of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (like the U$ Supreme Court) and supervising “the judicial activities of all the Courts” (Article 167). Furthermore, the Central Court is accountable to the SPA and the SPA Presidium “when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (Article 168). The term of office for the President of the Central Court being five years, “the same as that of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 158). On the other hand, the term “of office of Judges and People’s Assessors of the Central Court, the Court (People’s Court) “of a province, municipality, City, District, or County, “is the same as that of the People’s Assembly at the corresponding level” or four years. Furthermore, justice is

administered by the Central Court, the Court of a province (or municipality directly under central authority), the City (or District) or County People’s Courts, and the Special Court. Verdicts are delivered in the name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In a check on the power of the courts, the judges and president “of the Special Court are appointed or removed by the Supreme Court” and the People’s Assessors “of the Special Court are elected by the soldiers of the unit concerned or by employees at their meetings” (Article 161). This is just another example of democracy in the system of Juche Korea, not a dictatorship by any stretch, except in the minds of those who hate the country with fury. We then get to Article 162. It says the the Central Court has the governmental function to protect, through its judicial procedures, “the State power and the socialist system established in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations, personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, and the lives and property of citizens,” ensure that all “institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens abide strictly by State laws and staunchly combat class enemies and all law-breakers” (maintain the  rule of law) and “give judgements and findings with regard to property and conduct notarial work” or work to certify or attest documents, take depositions or affidavits, as noted in the defintions of “notorial” and “notary public” within Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition).

Let us glorify the 65th founding anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a grand festival of victors! (2)

Finally, there is Chapter VII, titled “Emblem, Flag, Anthem, and Capital.” Between the 1998 and 2016 constitutions, there have been no changes other than “DPRK” changed to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: the national emblem of the country is still the same (Article 169), the national flag is the same (Article 170), the national flag is the same (Article 171), and the capital of Pyongyang is the same (Article 172). In the 1998 Constitution, the provisions for this section were Articles 163-166.

So far, we have talked about the 1998 Constitution (the “Kim Il Sung Constitution”) which was adopted by the SPA on Sept 5, 1998 and the 2016 Constitution (the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution” or the “nuclear” constitution). However, there have also been constitutions, which are not “political manifestos” as one bourgeois scholar claimed, in:

  • September 1948, the country’s first constitution. It was adopted after a “70-day debate nationwide on the draft constitution starting in February of the same year,” with the first session of the unicameral SPA meeting that year, with 572 deputies,”representing “workers, peasants, deskworkers, intellectuals, businessmen, merchants and religious people,” elected, with the Constitution adopted in early September, with “the founding of the DPRK proclaimed on September 9, resulting in the Korean people celebrating it annually as “their national day.”” This constitution was adopted when “a 31-person committee organized by the SPA to deliberate over the draft, with people’s opinions taken into account.” It is also worth noting, as acknowledged by a bourgeous scholar who thinks Juche Korea is autocratic (they all think that), “the authority to adopt and amend the Constitution in DPRK has belonged the the Supreme People’s Assembly since the first North Korean Constitution,” with the 1948 Constitution modeled after the 1936 constitution of the Soviet Union, sometimes called the “Stalin Constitution,” with this 1948 constitution being “ten chapters and 104 articles,” with the SPA modeled after the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, with some bourgeois scholars still saying it didn’t have “real power” as they always say about such states. [12] This Constitution says that “the state power of the D.P.R.K. belongs to the people” (Article 2), that “the land owned by the Japanese government and the Japanese nationals as well as  the Korean landlords is confiscated” (Article 6), that the “state encourages the development of the cooperative organizations of the people” (Article 9), establishes the Supreme People’s Assembly (Article 32) with deputies “elected at the ratio of one deputy for every 50,000 of the population” (Article 35) and the establishes “local organs of state power in provinces, cities, counties or city districts and ri, towns or workers’ settlements are the respective people’s assemblies” (Article 68), among other provisions. It s worth noting that for the U$, each representative, in the House, “represents” an average of “nearly 700,000” people, leading some to call for increase the number of representatives to 6,000 people in all, with the number of “representatives with full voting rights…435” a number set by law in 1913, with “the number of representatives per state is proportionate to population.” It is even worse for the Senate, as there are only 100 members. Combined together, that means 535 people are “representing” over 327.2 million people, which shows the inequity of this system.
  • December 1972, the “Juche Constitution.” Some say they were unable to find text of this constitution and others summarize it as having no preamble, and incorporating a number of “purely North Korean concepts” and is considered to be a “communist dictoatrship” with all power in the hands of the WPK and Kim Jong Il, while brushing aside the reality that the “Supreme People’s Assembly is the highest organ of State Power” with legislative power vested in this unicameral assembly and claiming that the head of the WPK approves all amendments, with the legislature’s role as a “formality” in common anti-communist thinking. [13] This constitution was important for introducing the concept of “chuch’e“/Juche and showed that  the country had gone beyond its socialist transformation of economic management and establishment of a socialist system since this draft was “put to debate two times in plenary meetings of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party and at the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, and then it was submitted to the SPA, adopted finally (and unanimously) by the deputies on December 27, 1972. As a result, Korean people celebrate this day as Socialist Constitution Day every passing year.” This constitution also established “the positions of president and vice presidents and a super-cabinet called the Central People’s Committee (CPC).” Others said that it “combines socialism and nationalism to produce a document of fundamental law that is unusual, even compared to the Constitutions of other Marxian socialist states,” “private property was totally eliminated,” socialist construction was continued, and therewere other elements that were part of the “made-for-Korea socialist system.” [14]
  • 1992. It was adopted one year after the Koreans, “had a chance to vote for those on the local level…[with] 26,074 people were elected to local and provincial assemblies” and the “final demise of the Soviet Union on December 26.” This Constitution “has 171 articles and seven chapters (twenty-two more and four less, respectively, than the 1972 constitution)” with major changes  including “the elevation of chuch’e [Juche] at the expense of Marxism-Leninism, the removal of references to the expulsion of foreign troops, and the addition of articles encouraging joint ventures, guaranteeing the “legitimate rights and interests of foreigners” along with “establishing a framework for expanded ties with capitalist countries.” Additionally, “the eighteen articles of Chapter 1 deal with politics…In Chapter 2, economic affairs are codified…Culture, education, and public health are covered in Chapter 3…Chapter 5 extensively details the fundamental rights and duties of citizens….Chapter 6, entitled “State Institutions,” has eighty articles and eight sections–more sections than any other chapter….Chapter 7, which covers the national emblem, the flag, and capital, describes the first two items, designates P’yongyang as the capital, and names the national anthem. In a change from the previous constitution, the 1992 revision mandates that “the sacred mountain of the revolution”–Paektu-san–be added to the national emblem.” [15] This constitution also eliminated the “expression of Marxism-Leninism in conjuction with juche” and replaced it with the principle of juche itself, and there were efforts to encourage foreign investment in Juche Korea after the collapse of the “world socialist system” in 1991. This Constitution was also, “aimed at legalizing the achievements and experiences obtained in the past 20 years of revolution, and meeting the new demand for a completion of the Juche revolutionary cause.”
  • April 2009, the “Shogun Constitution,” as some call it, was adopted. This constitution dropped the use of the word “communism.” That year, “Koreans voted for candidates for the 12th SPA, with posters reminding the populace of the importance of voting, how it is a civic duty…324, of the 687 deputies in the legislature, were replaced. In the election…deputies were elected for five-year terms, including Kim Jong-Il, but not his son Kim Jong-Un,  [with]…the country rightly rejecting any push for “economic liberalisation” in the country, rolling back “moderate economic reforms instituted in 2002.”…numerous “technocrats and financial experts” were elected, 107 women were elected, Mr. Choe Thae Bok was elected as a speaker of the assembly, and Kim Jong-il as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission…107 deputies were women, 116 deputies were soldiers, 75 deputies were workers, and 69 deputies were farmers…apart from Kim Jong-Un given high state-level positions…there were revisions to the DPRK’s constitution, by removing the the word “communism” from the constitution, replacing it with the term “Songun” or socialism, while giving National Defense Commission (NDC) more governmental power…The new constitution, the Shogun Constitution, also asserts protections of human rights.”
  • May 2012 revision. That year, Kim Jong-Il “was named as “eternal chairman” of the National Defense Commission,” while Kim Jong-Un was “elected as the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, there were a number of “approved amendments to the country’s constitution”…When he was elected, at the fourth conference of the party in its history, as First Secretary of the WPK, fellow party members vowed to follow the ideas of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un’s leadership to develop their country, while they demonstrated “the revolutionary will of the people to accomplish the songun (military-first) revolutionary cause under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.” Broadly, “section 2 of Chapter 6 and Articles 91, 95 and 100-105, 107, 109, 116, 147 and 156 of the Constitution in line with the institution of the new post of first chairman of the NDC” (National Defense Commission) were revised…while some speculated on economic reforms related to this…In the most recent iteration of the Constitution (revised again in 2013 and 2016), still called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution,” it mentions that Kim Il Sung helped make the country a “nuclear state” and “unchallengable military power” in the preamble, with no other mention of it in the rest of the constitution whatsoever…On April 12, 2012,Kim Jong Un gave a rousing speech in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, which some thought was a call for the beginning of “China-style economic reform” in the DPRK…[saying that] “today we are standing at the watershed of history, when a new chuch’e century begins…The farsighted strategy of our revolution and ultimate victory lie here in directly proceeding along the path of independence, the path of military-first, and the path of socialism unfolded by the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il…It is our party’s resolute determination to let our people who are the best in the world — our people who have overcome all obstacles and ordeals to uphold the party faithfully — not tighten their belts again and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of socialism as much as they like…We will have to embark on the comprehensive construction of an economically powerful state by kindling more fiercely, the flames of the industrial revolution of the new century and the flames of South Hamgyong Province.” This constitution was later revised again in April 2013 by the SPA, as noted by Juche Korea.

By the way, if we take the estimate of the population of Juche Korea in July 2017 by the CIA World Factbook, of 25,248,140, that means that each of the 687 deputies represents an average of about 36,751 people, much lower than the 700,000 that U$ Representatives “represent” on average.

Such changes to the Constitution again shows that there is a democratic nature to Juche Korea without a doubt. Some may say that there has been a “hereditary” change of power from Kim Il Sung (1948-1994) to Kim Jong Il (1994-2011) and Kim Jong Un (2011-present). This does not realize that with Kim Il Sung as the person who led the Korean people in their struggle against Japanese colonialism, heading the Korean liberation struggle, it was no surprise he became and stayed as the leader of the country, a guiding force. The same can be said for Kim Jong Il, who was, like Kim Il Sung, a savvy politician, and was chosen to continue in Kim Il Sung’s footsteps, improving the Juche ideology, which he would be trusted to so since he was Kim Il Sung’s son. The same can be said for Kim Jong Un (Kim Jong Il’s son), who was age 29 in 2011, since I trust the records of Juche Korea more than that of the ROK or U$. This was much younger than when Kim Jong Il became chairman (at age 52 in 1994) or when Kim Il Sung became Premier (age 36 in 1948). This promises to bring new ideas and thoughts to Juche Korea, which the country needs in the ways ahead, with the Constitution already revised three times since then: in 2012, 2013, and 2016. After all, lets not forget that the SPA was the real center of power in Juche Korea, not the positions held by Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un. They are basically figureheads and a guiding force, with more on this subject explained in the next section, disproving the idea of a “cult of personality.” To conclude this, neither Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un had to be chosen or “destined” to be chosen. The SPA elected them, and did not recall them because their policies were seen as agreeable, since all of them advocated socialist construction in the country.  The same goes for their position as party leader of the WPK. There are other political parties in Juche Korea, and neither one of these Kims ended up leading them. So, all talk about it being the “Kim family” running the show is poppycock to say the least.

There is no “cult of personality”

Supreme leader Kim Jong Un, we will remain faithful to you to the last!

Anti-revisionist leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha declared in his political diary, in June 1977, that “genuine Marxist-Leninists” will agree that the “ideology is guiding the Korean Workers’ Party and the Communist Party of China…is revisionist” and added, later that month that “in Pyongyang, I believe that even Tito will be astonished at the proportions of the cult of his host [Kim Il Sung], which has reached a level unheard of anywhere else, either in past or present times, let alone in a country which calls itself socialist.” [16] Later on, that summer, he would further declare that “the leadership of the Communist Party of China has betrayed” the working people, and that “in Korea, too, we can say that the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party is wallowing in the same waters,” claiming that  Kim Il Sung was begging for aid from other countries, from states in the Eastern Bloc and “non-aligned” countries like Yugoslavia. As such, relations between People’s Korea and Albania were cold until Hoxha’s death in 1985.

The question thet comes out of of this is obvious: was Hoxha right? We know that Karl Marx had an adversionto the personality cult,” especially for himself. We also know while a “cult of personality” developed, by the 1930s, around Josef Stalin, General Secretary of the USSR, Stalin was strongly opposed to this, even saying in February 1938 that “I am absolutely against the publication of  “Stories of the childhood of Stalin”…the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental…The people make the heroes, thus reply the Bolsheviks to the Social-Revolutionaries. The book carries water to the windmill of the Social-Revolutionaries. No matter which book it is that brings the water to the windmill of the Social-Revolutionaries, this book is going to drown in our common, Bolshevik cause. I suggest we burn this book.” This belayed the claims of Nikita Khrushchev in his traitorious “secret speech,” in 1956, with the initiator of the “cult of personality” around Stalin being “Karl Radek, who pleaded guilty to treason at his public trial in 1937” and was pushed by Khrushchev in the 1930s, showing that Stalin was right that this “cult” was built up by his opponents. [17] Lest us forget that Khrushchev “tried to introduce elements of market economy and liberalisation” in the Soviet Union and coined horrid phrases such as “cult of personality” and “peaceful co-existence” the former would be used by anti-communists for years to come. After all, Khrushchev also coined the term “Stalinism” and called Stalin a “genius.” Later on, some said that Khrushchev’s charge of a  “cult of personality” ignored the “structures of Soviet society, the role of the Party, and all the other instances that Marxists should use to analyze a specific social formation and a specific situation.”

The talk about the “cult of personality” goes beyond Stalin and Marx, since Lenin disliked the idea as well.. Some claim that Mao Zedong has such a “cult” when this was not true since he “had led the way in dismantling what had become known as the cult of personality in 1970.” Others argued against the idea of the “cult of personality.” Some said that it could be avoided “only by the broadest active participation of the whole people in the transformed movement, e.g. after a revolution, in self-government and in national planning, while others said that “the cult of the individual is alien to the Marxist-Leninist concept of collective leadership” saying that the “presence of a powerful personality in the party…fosters the growth and the development of the cult of the individual centring round that personality, while the absence of any such personality leads to the formation of groups inside the party.” The latter writer said that “the loss of lives of innocent persons…does not by itself constitute the cult of the individual” and that a “man who suffers from a sense of inflated ego becomes vain and conceited and falls victim to the cult of the individual.” Then there was Amiri Baraka. He said that the charge of “cult of personality” was thrown against them from “the right” with fake revolutionaries using it, claiming that “Lenin and the Chinese are backing them up” while they forgot that “the Chinese were criticizing the anti-Stalinist revisionist Krushchevites who attacked Stalin with the cries of “cult of the individual” and “the cult of personality”.”

We emerged victorious under the leadership of President Kim Il Sung!

From here, it is worth defining the term “cult of personality” or “cult of the individual.” Bourgeois dictionaries claim it is when a public figure is “deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved” (merriam-webster.com), when there is “a cult promoting adulation of a living national leader or public figure” (dictionary.com), or a “deliberately cultivated adulation of a person, esp a political leader” (collinsdictionary.com). Others in bourgeois and related media claim it involves, a charismatic leader with a coherent media strategy and strong public image who embodies “the people but also stand[s] above them,” “images of top leaders…cultivated” by the Party, “general faith in the leader,” or the use of propaganda “and media tools excessively to create a strongly positive image of himself,” saying this applies to “leaders” ranging from Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, Bashar Al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama to the orange menace. [18] Of course, Kim Jong-Il is claimed to be part of such a “cult,” as is declared blatantly by bourgeois media like a BBC article in December 2011 titled “Delving into North Korea’s mystical cult of personality.”

With this, there is clearly no consensus, among the bourgeois critics, what the term, “cult of personality” means as many just spout it blindly and explain little. As user put it on /r/communism, “I feel like every leader has a cult of personality.” Others noted that Fidel Castro worked actively to counter it in Cuba by having no statues made of himself there. Some said that “while condemning chauvinistic nationalism, Lenin acknowledged working class patriotism…people are not abstractions, nor are their revolutionary movements. They come from somewhere, they have real accomplishments that involve particular parties and leaders. That movements so constituted acquire a face, and other icons isn’t something to be casually slighted – it’s part of being human…most especially when no one is pretending the classless society had been established.” Then there were those who said that “the Cult of Personality is incompatible with communism, in my opinion.” This connects to what Mao said in 1956, while criticizing Stalin (and revisionism): “the cult of the individual is a rotten carry-over from the long history of mankind. The cult of the individual is rooted not only in the exploiting classes but also in the small producers.” What J. Moufawad Paul wrote about the “cult of personality” or cult of the individual is helpful here:

…due to the fact that the theories that push revolutionary science further often require someone to write them down, to engage in polemics, and concretize an ideology, we often do tend to get caught up in erroneous and bourgeois ideas about individual brilliance. But the Lenins and Maos of the world are just living end-results of a longer process, the last links in an unrecognized revolutionary chain, able to finally provide a concrete analysis of concrete circumstances because they happen to be in the right social position at the right time. To imagine otherwise is to pretend that individual humans are outside of history, that there are such things as “philosopher-kings” or ubermenschen that stand above the herd…whenever we are faced with those individuals who possess the privilege to unify theoretical concepts and rise to positions of leadership…because we are conditioned to think that individuals and not collective people, make history, we often capitulate to greater or lesser degrees of individual worship…Even if we could argue that the adoption of these cults of personalities made sense…that does not mean they possessed any lasting benefit for the revolution…The cult of the individual often takes a more pernicious and sublimated form, pushed under appeals to collectivity and consensus; even in those groups that self-righteously lambast others for capitulation to a daddy figure there might still be a single individual whose word is doctrine, whose opinion matters more than others, and who treats collective organizing as nothing more than a reflection of his own ego

This connects to what was written by a critic in the 1960s: that party workers “maintain[ing] some formalities” along with “thunderous slogans eulogizing him” (Mao) which may appear to be “the cult of personality” but to inspire and involve the masses, then “these would remain as the general form of paying respect” and are necessary, with a revolution not able to be brought “about anywhere avoiding these formalities.” The writer then adds that “no individual, not even the leader, is considered infallible…any phenomenon, any entity, even thoughts and ideas, are not taken as absolute, rather they are considered changeable” which are the bases on “which the minimum level of consciousness of people should rest.”

Kim Il Sung Prize Winner Grand Mass Gymnastics And Artistic Performance (3)

Now, Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, defines a cult as a “devoted attachment to, or extravegent admiration for, a person, principle, or lifestyle,” or a “system of religious worship or ritual.” It also defines “worship” as a “reverence or devotion” for someone, an “extreme devotion or intense love or admiration of any kind.” Some may say, immediately, that what is happening in Juche Korea qualifies, citing that horrid Wikipedia page titled “Kim Dynasty” or another about the “cult of personality,” claiming that there are hundreds of statues of Kim Il Sung in Juche Korea. The best place to start are the Constitutions of Juche Korea over the years, specifically focusing on the preamble, which mentions the country’s previous leaders.

1998 Constitution is the first I can find which has a preamble (some say the 1972 Constitution has a preamble but this is clearly a lie). It calls Kim Il Sung a

  • “great leader”
  • comrade for applying the idea of Juche (and authoring it), leading the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle” under the banner of Juche, founding “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” leading “various stages of social revolution and construction work” to improve the country, putting forward “the fundamental principles of  the building and activities of the State, established the best State and social system, the best mode of politics and system and methods of administering society, and laid solid foundations” for the prosperity of the state.

It then says that Kim Il Sung

always mixed with the people, devoted his whole life for them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through his noble benevolent politics.

On top of that, this constitution calls Kim Il Sung

  • the “sun of nation and the lodestar of national reunification,” the latter which he pushed forward, and says he “clarified the basic ideals of the foreign policy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”
  • a “veteran statesman in the world” who worked to strengthen “the world peace and for friendship among the peoples and made an imperishable contribution to the cause of human independence.”
  • a “genius in ideology and theory, a master of leadership, an ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commander, a great revolutionary and politician and a great man” and says that the ideas (and achievements) under his leadership “are the lasting treasures of the Korean revolution and the basic guarantee for the prosperity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

It ends by saying that under the WPK’s leadership, Juche Korea and the Korean people “will uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung as the eternal President of the Republic and carry the revolutionary cause of Juche through to completion” by defending and carrying forward his ideas, with the constitution called the “Kim Il Sung’s Constitution” as it codifies his “Juche-oriented ideas on and exploits in State building.” The 2009 Constitution says something similar, calling him a “great human being” rather than “great man” as the 1998 Constitution asserts.

Now, the word “great,” defined by the aforesaid mentioned bourgeois dictionary, means someone who is above ordinary or average, distinguished, showing “nobility of mind” and purpose. As for the word “genius,” this same dictionary defines it as a person with “great natural ability,” inventive ability, or particular character. Even if you accept all these words to apply to Kim Il Sung, saying he created the idea of Juche, founded Juche Korea, is a dedicated revolutionary, politician, and theoretician, it does not mean there is “devoted attachment” to him, overblown admiration, or even a “system of religious worship or ritual.” Kim Il Sung was the person there guiding the country through hard times, as the Korean people, with help from socialist nations, rebuilt Juche Korea in the aftermath of the Great Fatherland Liberation War. Additionally, it does not say he is flawless or that he does not engage in mistakes.

Then there’s the Constitution in 2013 and the one in 2016 (the most recent). The 2013 Constitution says that the country is place where the “ideas and leadership of the great leaders Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il are applied.” Like the 1998 and 2009 Constitutions, it describes Kim Il Sung as the

  • founder of Juche Korea
  • author of the Juche idea
  • organizer/leader of the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle,” along with other ideas stated in the 1998 and 2009 preambles,
  • calls “the father of socialist Korea.”

It then calls Kim Jong Il a

  • “peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea” who strengthened and developed Juche Korea into “Kim Il Sung’s State” and developed the “immortal Juche idea and Songun id ea authored by Comrade Kim Il Sung.”

It also says that Kim Jong Il, “in the face of the collapse of the world socialist system and the vicious offensive of the imperialist allied forces to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…administered Songun politics,” safeguarded previous socialist achievements, “developed the DPRK into an invincible politico-ideological power, a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power” and built up the nation. It goes onto say that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il both

mixed with the people, devoted their whole lives to them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through their noble benevolent politics

It goes on to call both of these individuals “great leaders…sun[s] of the nation and the lodestar of national reunification” who clarified the country’s foreign policy ideals, ensured that the “international prestige of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was exalted” and served as “veteran world statesmen,” while being “geniuses of ideology and theory, masters of the leadership art, ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commanders, great revolutionaries and statesmen, and great men.” It then says that the great ideas of “Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il and the great achievements made under their leadership” are lasting treatures of the Korean Revolution and will guarantees the country’s prosperity, with both buried in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun “in their lifetime appearance” which is a “grand monument to their immortality and a symbol of the dignity and eternal sanctuary of the entire Korean nation. It ends by saying that under the WPK’s leadership, Juche Korea and the Korean people will “uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung as the eternal President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Comrade Kim Jong Il as the eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” carrying through the “revolutionary cause of Juch” by defending and carrying forward the achievements and ideas of their individuals, with the Constitution codifying “the Juche-oriented ideas” of both individuals “on State building and their exploits in it,” with the Constitution called “the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution” in their honor. The 2016 Constitution does not seem to be changed.

Honour to great years

The preambles of th 1998, 2009, 2013, and 2016 engage in wording that bourgeois critics would likely say are signs of a “cult of personality.” However, the achievements of Kim Il Sung, whom is called a “great leader” or even an “eternal president” (a ceremonial title) seem widespread, but are actually limited:

  1. he is said to have authored the idea of Juche and applied it
  2. says he led the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle” under the banner of Juche
  3. says he founded Juche Korea, leading efforts to improve the country in the years to come, establishing “the best State and social system, the best mode of politics and system and methods of administering society, and laid solid foundations” for the prosperity of the state.
  4. says he “devoted his whole life for them [the people] and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through his noble benevolent politics” (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  5. says he is “sun of nation and the lodestar of national reunification” for his efforts on national reunification of the Korean Peninsula (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  6. Says he clarified the basic ideals of the country’s foreign policy
  7. says that he was a “veteran statesman” who worked to strengthen the world peace, friendship, and supported causes of independence (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  8. calls him a “genius in ideology and theory, a master of leadership, an ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commander, a great revolutionary and politician and a great man” (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)

The above does not exclude the work of other individuals or the populace in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle or afterwards. In fact, it implies that he wouldn’t be there without the masses, and does not say he set policy, only that he is a guiding force for future progress. That’s basically it. The same is the case for Kim Jong Il, whom it calls an “eternal chairman,” arguing that he is a “peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea” who strengthened and developed Kim Il Sung’sideas, developed the “immortal Juche idea and Songun idea authored by Comrade Kim Il Sung.” It also says that Kim Jong Il led the country through the years after “the collapse of the world socialist system” when he administered Songun politics,” safeguarded previous socialist achievements, developing “the DPRK into an invincible politico-ideological power, a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power” and built up the nation. Saying that both Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are “immortal” or “eternal” means that they live on, but more in their ideas than themselves as human beings. From this, one can recognize that Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un are symbols, more than than anything else, of the ideology of Juche, which was informed by Marxism-Leninism if you go back in earlier constitutions of the country. Furthermore, if you look at the horrid Wikipedia page titled “List of leaders of North Korea” it is clear that Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un were military commandaers (all three were Supreme Commanders of the KPA) but even more than that, all of them were party leaders, leading party organs like the Central Military Commission of the WPK as a Chairman or the Central Committee of the WPK as a Chairman (1949-1966, 2016-Present), General Secretary (1996-2011), or First Secretary (2012-2016). From 1972 to 1994, Kim Il Sung was the President of Juche Korea, but when he died in 1994, Kim Jong Il did not replace him as Kim Il Sung stayed as “eternal president.” After that point, Yang Hyong-sop was President of the SPA’s Presidium (1994-1998) and Kim Yong-nam, who has been the President since 1998. Even saying this, not only was Kim Tu-bong chairman of the WPK from 1946 to 1949, not a member of this “Kim family” but the Premiers of the Administration Council from 1972 to 1998 and Premiers of the Cabinet from 1998 to Present have not been either Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un, but rather other dedicated Korean comrades. If that isn’t enough, consider that the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, from 1948 to 1998, and the Chairman of the SPA, has never been held by any of the “three Kims” (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un).

To say again, the “three Kims,” as I’ll call them here, are symbols more than anything. Sure, they can eliminate economic brureaucrats as Kim Jong Il did in 1998, but they do not have any power when it comes to Constitutional revisions, including the one in 1998 when removed the position of President, called Kim Il Sung “Eternal President,” reduced the amount of ownership while those of “private ownership…[and] those of social and cooperative organizations” were expanded, citizens freedom of travel is established, stengthens “individual economic entities,” and created the ground for creating a special economic zone.” [19] The same goes for Kim Jong Un and his New Year’s address, with mass rallies, arguing that “the DPRK will continue down the line of “Byungjin,” the parallel  “development of nuclear weapons and national economy as long as the nuclear threat posed by imperialists continues,” and declared that the county is a nuclear weapons state,” in January 2016 for example.

Some may still be throwing up their hands, saying the analysis so far is flawed.  They may point out that Kim Il Sung, born near Pyongyang in Mangyondae, joined the “Korean guerrilla resistance against the Japanese occupation in the 1930s,” after he was expelled from middle school for such activities, claim he was part of the Soviet army during WWII and was “installed” by the Soviets, talk about his children and wives and saythat he fashioned the national ideology of “juche”or “patriotic self-reliance.” [20] They may further declare that the Juche calendar “inaugurated in 1997, recalculated time from the year Kim Il-sung was said to have come to earth from heaven in 1912” (it didn’t “recalculate time” because publications of Juche Korea use the Georgian calendar and the Juche calendar together!). Furthermore, these individuals may say the same about Kim Jong Il, the son of Kim Il Sung, scowling at the idea that he was “born on Mount Paektu in a guerrilla base camp,” “raised by his mother and other women guerrillas,” says he supposedly had multiple wives, and was an “obsessive film buff” who had a “collection of more than 20,000 video tapes,” authoring a staggering number of books while he was at Kim Il Song University. [21] Finally, they may say that Kim Jong-Un, whose father was Kim Jong Il, with a brother named Kim Jong Chul, works “in the WKP propaganda department,” married Ri Sol-Ju in 2009 or 2010 and had a daughter named Ju-ae in 2012, that he “studied in Switzerland” with schoolmates describing him as a “good friend and very quiet, nice guy” with “childhood hagiography” and support of his government formalized by China after Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011. [22]

The greatest honour to our motherly Party!

Even if you say all of the above is true, it doesn’t many any of the “three Kims” gods or dieties. It makes them leaders, sure, but in terms of their actual governmental power, they are basically figureheads and symbols representing Juche (and more recently Songun). But, you could say that their responsibilities have increased over the years. This is obviously a way to make sure the State and socialist system doesn’t collapse due to imperialist attack. After all, as bourgeois media has stated [23]

  • the CIA attempted failed coups in 1991 and 1995, in both cases working with a “faction in the military…behind the uprising” as asserted by former CIA operative who had been stationed in the Korean Peninsula
  • there have been plans to set up a “government-in-exile” with defectors, especially with members of Kim family to “delegitimize” the government, with “connected” claims the government is “collapsing”!
  • there have been supposed efforts “closely monitor monuments and paintings” of the country from vandalism and what they claim are “purges” (whether this is true or not, it could indicate elements trying to bring down the socialist system)

As a last ditch attempt, they may claim there is a “Mount Baekdu bloodline” of the Kim family in Juche Korea, based on a claim in a ROK newspaper. If you look at the horrid Wikipedia page titled “Kim dyansty (North Korea)” who find sources that mainly rely in Orientalist bourgeois media. One of those sources reprints the 1974 “Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System,” announced by Kim Il Sung that year but proposed by Kim Young Joo in 1967:

1. We must give our all in the struggle to unify the entire society with the revolutionary ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.

2. We must honor the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung with all our loyalty.

3. We must make absolute the authority of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

4. We must make the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung[‘s] revolutionary ideology our faith and make his instructions our creed.

5. We must adhere strictly to the principle of unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung’s instructions.

6. We must strengthen the entire partys ideology and willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

7. We must learn from the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and adopt the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style.

8. We must value the political life we were given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung, and loyally repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness with heightened political awareness and skill.

9. We must establish strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move as one under the one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

10.We must pass down the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end.

Honoring and supporting his revolutionary ideology is not worship. Making the authority of Kim Il Sung “absolute” (meaning perfect, complete, whole or definite) does not mean it is all-encompassing. Making his ideology “our faith and make his instructions our creed” may sound like worship, but is actually just means they will follow his guidance. The same goes for the “unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung’s instructions” as he is a symbol and guiding force, as I noted earlier. The strengthening of party ideology, “willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung” is understandable because Kim Il Sung was the party leader! Getting to point 7, learning from Kim Il Sung, and adopting “the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style” is a move toward helping the masses. With the valuing of political life “given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and working to “repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness” with their “heightened political awareness and skill” means they are honoring his accomplishments. The establishment of “strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move” as one under the “one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung” basically says that there should be political unity and society, with everyone working together for a common goal. Finally, passing down “the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end” means that the socialist achievements and gains so far under Kim Il Sung as a leader/guiding force, is an important goal for socialist construction going forward, without question. If what the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said, in November 2005, is right, that “Thank you, Father Kim Il Sung” is the “first phrase North Korean parents are instructed to teach to their children” it means that those in the population are remembering and honoring their past, with Kim Il Sung as an embodiment of that past.

World Congress On The Juche Idea

The expanded version, “Ten Great Principles of the Establishment of the Unitary Ideology System” is similar, honoring Kim Il Sung (ex: saying he is a “legendary hero” for which he is for leading the struggle to free the Korean people from brutal Japanese colonialism), while saying there should be unified ideology, a stronger party, and protect Kim Il Sung from attacks from revisionists. Some may say that the following words are are a manifestation of the “cult of personality” or “cult of the individual”:

Respectfully worship our beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party…Respectfully manage and thoroughly protect the records and sites of revolutionary struggle and the revolutionary history of our Beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and the Party’s Unitary Ideology stronghold Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung and the Research Institute of Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s Revolutionary Thought…Our Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s revolutionary thought and Juche ideology must be realized through our united belief and must be experienced in the flesh and bones of every person…Unconditionally accept, treat as a non-negotiable condition, and decide everything based upon our Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions and in every act think only about the greatness of our Leader…Systematically and fully master the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s laborious works, guidelines and his splendid revolutionary history…Participate without absence in more than 2 hours of study groups, lectures and collective studies devoted to revolutionary ideas of Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung…The system of delivering the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s guidelines must be thoroughly studied, and the Leader’s instructions and Party goals have to be communicated exactly…There must be a strict distinction between the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s guidelines and individual party executives instructions and it must be investigated if individual official’s instructions are matching the Leader’s ones…Fight with all one’s will against anti-Party and anti-revolutionary thinking trends that have its origin in capitalistic ideas, feudal Confucian ideas, revisionism, dogmatism, toadyism and are contrary to the revolutionary thought of the Great Leader KIM Il Sung…Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions must be viewed as a legal and supreme order and unconditionally realized without excuses or trivial reasons…Regard as a holy duty and supreme glory reducing the concerns of our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and fight for it with complete dedication…Fight against those who accept our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions only in letter and sabotage the implementation…At all localities and all guard posts, strengthen the solidarity of the ideological intellect of the columns through revolutionary struggle based on loyalty to the Great Leader…Resolutely struggle in opposition to anti-Party elements such as factionalism, regionalism, and nepotism that could destroy the uniform solidarity of the Party and never waver at the slightest hint of such menace to completely overcome it…Oppose senility and stagnation, indolence and slackening and remain awash with a flourishing fighting spirit and passion to always work militantly, and reject passivity and conservative tendencies and embark in all undertakings boldly and grandly…Consider political life as the first life, never bend one’s political beliefs and revolutionary integrity. Learn to throw away like bits of straw, one’s physical life for political life…Consciously participate in organizational life to standardize and normalize the undertakings and said life…Establish a strong revolutionary order and rules that organize and advance all  undertakings according to the Leader’s sole leadership system and handle policy questions solely through the teachings of the Great Leader and the conclusion of the Party…Accurately execute the decisions and orders of the Party and State to carry through the teachings of the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung…Oppose and actively struggle against all kinds of behaviors by individual cadre which go against the principles such as the individual abuse of power or authority…Oppose and sharply struggle against the situation of leaking Party, State and military secrets…Do not connive towards the slightest phenomenon or element that depart from the Party’s sole leadership system, to the contrary, struggle against it.

Some of the above can easily be interpreted as saying that the ideology of Juche should affect all Koreans positively. It also says that these party cadres should be following Kim Il Sung’s advice for moving forward, which would make sense as he was the party leader of the WPK at the time and these principles were circulated around the party itself! The same can be said for the study of his work or efforts to make sure there is ideological unity and ideological loyality (especially to the socialist system) rather than ideological discord, as it is part of engaging “in the execution of the revolutionary task” and displaying “high political fervor” and elevating “the level of political theory and technical administration,” carrying through Kim Il Sung’s teachings. You could say that Kim Il Sung, or later Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were inspirational forces to such party cadres, as much as Huey Newton inspired Black Panthers. The last tenet says that

All Party members and workers may become like the Great Leader KIM Il Sung by firmly establishing the Party’s unitary ideology system and must complete the revolutionary accomplishment to the end, following the path pointed by the Great Leader.

This means that the “three Kims” are an inspiration and guide to follow, something to aspire to, meaning that they don’t “stand above” the masses, and you could even say, are part of the masses.

Heroic Korean People’s Army–80 Years

Some may use their eagle eyes focusing on the phrase that party cadres should “respectfully worship our beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party.” This should be approached carefully. Let us remember, as noted earlier, worship can mean a “reverence or devotion” for someone. Importantly, reverence, a word that is similar to devotion, a synonym of honor. As noted by the 2nd Edition of Roget’s Super Thesaurus by Marc McCutcheon, the word honor also has a number of other synonyms:

  • respect
  • esteem
  • admiration
  • veneration
  • dignity
  • glory
  • deferences
  • homage
  • exaltation
  • recognition
  • approval

Taking what is above into account, it means that when they say “respectfully worship” they are talking about recognition, deference, respect, and honor, more than “worshipping” any of the “three Kims” as gods.

Furthermore, when one translates the English word “worship” to Korean, they get 경배하되 on one online translator, but if you translate it back, it is “the worship.” Other sites say it is 숭배. Most informative of all is Google Translate. It says the word worship is 예배 in Korean, but also says that it can be a verb, meaning, “adore, worship, praise” or which is 숭배하다 in Korean. From this, you could say that they are saying that the “sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party” should be praised, as someof these can’t be “worshipped” or “adored” since they aren’t trying to make Juche a religion but rather solidify it as an ideology. This is part of the reason that “access to independent news sources is extremely limited…[that] some schools and state institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet called Kwangmyong” if what the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) can be believed, because such access would lead to ideological poisoning. You could also say that the English translation of the document by an anti-Juche Korea group, a “human rights” group, could be off, so they may have translated the Korean word for “worship” as it served their purposes doing so.

With all of this, we can say that, respectfully, Enver Hoxha was wrong. Considering that Juche Korea did not ultimately side with China or the Soviets, instead willing to trade with both and non-aligned countries, this likely angered those like Hoxha who were trying to take more of a hardline. In the end, Hoxha failed in his attempt of anti-revisionism with the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, which had existed from 1946, continued after his death in 1985 but the following ruler, Ramiz Alia began to adopt revisionist policies with the Communists voted out in elections in 1992 and a new Constitution ratified in 1998 which abolished the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, creating a bourgeois “representative” system. While you could cry “revisionist” back in the Cold War, it is less and less possible to do now, because, at most, there are five existing socialist states: China (some debate this), Vietnam (some also debate this), Cuba, Juche Korea, and Laos (some debate this). Others may add Venezuela onto the list as a possible runner-up, even Bolivia or Syria (which we already explained on here is not a socialist state).

Finally, this brings us to what Andrei Lankov wrote last year. He writes that those in Juche Korea (he is specifically talking about the “three Kims”) are not “irrational” but are rather “the ultimate political survivors, hard-edged rationalists” who laughed at by those in the Eastern Bloc who were reportedly “mocked for clinging to their outdated personality cult and failed economics.” [24] Yet the country stayed together (unlike the Eastern Bloc countries who had fully accepted revisionism by then), taking lessons from the bloody overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011 to have a defensive nuclear program, seeing nuclear weapons as a “major guarantee of their security” especially since they remember, perhaps vividely that “back in 1956 China, together with Russia, supported a failed conspiracy aimed at removing Kim Il-sung, the current supreme leader’s grandfather, from power.” While Lankov calls for expandng “the sources of information available to the North Korean public” so as to expose them to capitalist thinking (which is what he truly wants), he concluded by writing “the Kim family might be rational, but so are the North Koreans themselves.” This is often not understood when people talk about Juche Korea.

In the end, there is no autocracy and no personality cult in Juche Korea. There is only a country on the road to socialism led by the ideology of Juche (along with the related ideology of Songun) and the might of the Korean masses. The country is undoubtedly  something we should celebrate for its accomplishments, while remaining critical of the contradictions the State has introduced since 1991, like special enterprise zones, which could bring in reactionary thoughts and conceptions.

Let us faithfully support our great Party by turning sorrow into strength and courage!

Notes

[1] Virginie Grzelczyk, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Grandson: Succession Patterns and the Kim Dynasty,” The Journal of Northeast Asian History Vol 9 No. 2 (Winter 2012), 33-68; “End of Kim dynasty,” Korea Times, Mar 2, 2016; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Il Sung,” March 7, 2012; Robert Park, “Kim dynasty: “Nazi-like” fascism that imperialism begot,” Korea Herald, May 31, 2017, with Park the founder of the anti-DPRK group, “Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea”; Dan Blumenthal, “Kim Jong-un Must Go. It’s Time For A Korean Democratic Unification,” The Weekly Standard, Sept 13, 2017; Alex Lockie, “North Korea cracks down on dissidents with ‘little respect’ for Kim Jong Un — and it could be his undoing,” Business Insider, Oct 26, 2017; “A who’s who of family members in the North Korean Kim family dynasty,” ABC News, accessed Feb 12, 2018; Doug Bandow, “The Complex Calculus of a North Korean Collapse,” The National Interest, Jan 9, 2014; Robert Park, “Kim dynasty: “Nazi-like” fascism that imperialism begot,” Korea Herald, May 31, 2017, with Park the founder of the anti-DPRK group, “Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea”; Julian Ryall, “Kim Jong-un: 10 ways North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ is different,” The Telegraph, Dec 17, 2013; Deutsche Welle, “The truth and myths of the Kim dynasty,” Sept 3, 2017; Maria Perez, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Worried About Uprising, Orders Protection for Depictions of Himself,” Newsweek, Oct 27, 2017; Andrei Lankov, “North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history,” Financial Review, Apr 27, 2017; Luisetta Mudie, “Backing The Kim Dynasty For ‘Stability’,” Radio Free Asia, Dec 20, 2011; Ian Buruma, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty a hodgepodge of influences,” Asia Times, Oct 21, 2017; David Reid, “The Kim Dynasty: North Korea’s Secretive Rulers,” CNBC, Feb 16, 2017; David Tormsen, “10 Lesser-Known Members Of The Kim Family Dynasty,” Listverse, Jul“Kim Dynasty,” Wall Street Journal, Dec 18, 2011; Jenny Lee, “Death of North Korea’s Onetime Heir Sheds Light on Secretive Kim Dynasty,” VOA, Feb 17, 2017; David Bandow, “Systematic Tyranny: How the Kim Dynasty Holds the North Korean People in Bondage,” CATO Institute (reprinted from Forbes), Aug 27, 2012, which extensively cites a report by Ken E. Gause, director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a wholly anti-DPRK group; Colin Alexander, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty is following the example of Joseph Stalin and the British Raj in India,” Quartz, Sept 25, 2017;  Colin Alexander, “A visit to Pyongyang: the Kim dynasty’s homage to Stalinism,” UPI, Sept 21, 2017; THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, “Kim Han Sol, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged nephew, tired of life on the run: Reports,” The Straits Times, Oct 10, 2017; David Hulme, “North Korea’s Kim Dynasty,” Vision, Summer 2007; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; “How the Kim dynasty has shaped North Korea,” CNN, Apr 27, 2017; “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: A timeline of nuclear weapons,” Fox News, Jul 31, 2017; North Korean leader’s half brother killed in Malaysia: source,” Reuters, Feb 14, 2017; Danielle Demetriou, “Kim Jong-nam received ‘direct warning’ from North Korea after criticising regime of  half-brother Kim Jong-un,” The Telegraph, Feb 17, 2017; Yoo Gwan Hee, “he Life and Execution of Kim Hyun,” Daily NK, Aug 10, 2009; Chae Sang-Hun, “Following Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un Gets Title From University: Dr. Leader,” New York Times, Oct 25, 2013; Choes Sang-Hun and Martin Fackler, “North Korea’s Heir Apparent Remains a Mystery,” New York Times, Jun 14, 2009; Philip Shenon, “Inside North Korea’s First Family: Rivals to Kim Jong-un’s Power,” The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2011; Avidan Milevsky, “Dynamics in the Kim Jong Family and North Korea’s Erratic Behavior,” HuffPost, Apr 12, 2013; Jethro Mullen, “Dennis Rodman tells of Korea basketball event, may have leaked Kim child’s name,” CNN, Sept 9, 2013; “Kim tells N Korean army to ready for combat,” Al Jazeera, Dec 25, 2013; “A dangerous succession gets under way in North Korea. Probably,” The Economist, Sept 23, 2010; “The Twisted Logic of the N.Korean Regime,” Chosun, Aug 13, 2013; Virginie Grzelczyk, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Grandson: Succession Patterns and the Kim Dynasty,” The Journal of Northeast Asian History Vol 9 No. 2 (Winter 2012), 33-68;  Annabelle Quince, “How myth and propaganda sustain the Kim dynasty,” Medium, accessed Feb 12, 2018; Amrutha Gayathri, “North Korea Ranks People Based On Loyalty To Kim Dynasty: Study,” International Business Times, Jun 6, 2017; Pepe Escobar, “The Kim dynasty’s satellite of love,” Al Jazeera, Apr 13, 2012; “End of Kim dynasty,” Korea Times, Mar 2, 2016; Bryce Wakefield, “Is Status Quo Destiny? China’s Interests in Post-Kim Dynasty Korea” (event, his writing is commentary accompanying it), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mar 24, 2011; Michael Moran, “China condones Kim dynasty,” PRI (reprinted from Global Post), Dec 23, 2011; Rebecca Perring, “North Korea’s bloodline MAPPED OUT: Kim’s warmongering dynasty revealed,” Express, Nov 11, 2017.  Bluemental declares that “unconventional/covert warfare could be ramped up to undermine Kim’s legitimacy, and food can be dropped in to North Korea –all measures should be taken to show that Kim is not all-powerful.”

[2] Express-News editorial, “Don’t enable the Kim dynasty,” Dec 19, 2011; Michael Moran, “China condones Kim dynasty,” PRI(reprinted from Global Post), Dec 23, 2011; Philip Shenon, “Inside North Korea’s First Family: Rivals to Kim Jong-un’s Power,” The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2011. Most hilarious of all are that the bourgeois analysts were dumbfounded when Juche Korea didn’t follow the path of China after Mao Zedong, which they had “expected” from Kim Jong-Un, who received a doctorate from a university in Kuala Lumpur, making him “Dr. Kim,” calling him a “strongman.” This raises the obvious question: why should we trust anything that these intelligence agencies say about Juche Korea at all! The reality is we shouldn’t one bit.

[3] Jason LaBouyer, “When friends become enemies: Understanding leftwing hostility to the DPRK,” Lodester (publication of Korean Friendship Association), May/June 2005 (Juche 94), pp 7-9.

[4] Bjornar Simonsen, “Kim Jong Il is to Korea as a captain to a ship,” Lodester (publication of Korean Friendship Association), May/June 2005 (Juche 94), p 10.

[5] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Tradition–1742-2004 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005), pp 32-33, 38, 41, 43.

[6] Also see these other photos of Juche Korea.

[7] James E. Hoare, “Three Revolutions Team Movement” (summary), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, reprinted from an edition of Hoare’s Historical Dictionary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published in July 2012, accessed Feb. 13, 2018. This movement is similar to the Chinese idea of “Three Red Banners” which was an effort calling on the Chinese people to help build a socialist state, with a line for socialist construction, the “Great Leap Forward” and communes of the populace, aiming for the Chinese to “go all out, aim high, and build socialism with greater, faster, better, and more economical results” with nearly all Chinese peasants organizing into communes, with all private property “taken for or contributed to the communes” with people eating “in communal dining halls” rather than by themselves.

[8] John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins: The History of More than 8,000 English Language Words (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990), p 173; The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories (ed. Glynnis Chantrell, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp 151-152; Marc McCutcheon, Roget’s Super Theasurus (2nd Edition, Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 1998), p 173.

[9] Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome (New York: The New Press, 2003), p 163.

[10] Yonhap News Agency, North Korea Handbook (Seoul: East Gate Book, 2003), p 930.

[11] Yonhap News Agency, North Korea Handbook (Seoul: East Gate Book, 2003), p 126, 185,  930, 949; American University, Area handbook for Korea, Page 278; Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee, Communism in Korea: The movement (Ilchokak, Jan 1, 1972), 572;  Barry Gills (bourgeois academic), Korea versus Korea: A Case of Contested Legitimacy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 214; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1987-88, ed. J. Paxton, xxxviii; old KCNA articles (linked and cited here); “Report on Results of Local Elections in DPRK Released”. Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang, in English. 21 July 2015.

[12] Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1290, 1291, 1292, 1293, 1294, 1295. The basic principles of the Constitution have stayed the same, even with the revisions in 1972 and 1998 after the 1948 revision,

[13] Robert L. Maddex, “North Korea,” Constitutions of the World (3rd Edition, CQ Press: Washington, D.C., 2008), pp 328, 329; Amarnath Amarasingam, “The Prophet Is Dead: Juche and the Future of North Korea,” HuffPost, Feb 18, 2012; Andrea Matles Savada, ed., “The Constitution,” North Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993, accessed Feb 15, 2018.

[14] “The 1972 Socialist Constitution of North Korea,”  11 Tex. Int’l L. J. 113 (1976), accessed Feb 15, 2018; Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1295, 1297. Some (Dae-Kyu Yoon) claim that the 1972 Constitution has a preamble talking about Kim Il Sung’s contributions, except a book reprinting constitutions does not have  a preamble and the introduction of the Constitution does not mention it either, making this assertion questionable. Nothing about a preamble is noted here or here.

[15] Andrea Matles Savada, ed., “The Constitution,” North Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993, accessed Feb 15, 2018; Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1298, 1299, 1300.

[16] Enver Hoxha, Reflections on China II: Extracts from the Political Diary, Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania,” Tirana, 1979, pp 516, 517, 521, 547, 548, 549. This paragraph comes from one of my so-far successful edits of the Kim Il-sung page on Wikipedia to make it less bourgeois. Many of my other editrs I gave up on trying to implement because one administrator, named “Ivar the Boneful,” declared he was reverting “pro-North Korean propagandist edits” and a “series of blatantly pro-North Korean content removals and edits.” He further thought that I was a “one-user mission to remove negative information about North Korea from Wikipedia.” Yeah, why not! For now, the situation has calmed down, which is good as I’ll try to keep a low profile as write more posts on here than try to edit on there.

[17] James von Geldern, “Cult of Personality,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, accessed Feb 15, 2018; “Stalin’s Cult of Personality: Its Origins and Progression,” The York Historian, Sept 18, 2015; Bill Bland, “Stalin: The Myth and the Reality,” Oct 1999; Louis Althusser, “To My English Readers,” October 1967; Jeal-Paul Sartre, “Institutions:  Bureaucracy and the Cult of Personality,” from Critique of Dialectical Reason,  1960; Bill Bland, “Introduction from Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union,” Wembly, 1980; Louis Althusser, “Part Seven. Marxism and Humanism,” Cahiers de l’I.S.E.A., June 1964; Raya Dunayevskaya, “Where Is Russia Going?,” News & Letters, March 30, 1956; Shibdas Ghosh, “Soviet Military Intervention in Czechoslovakia and Revisionism,” Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Oct 1, 1968; Ubaldo Buttafava, “Stalin Today,” November 1994; Yenan Bookstore Collective, “A Polemic Against the Guardian’s Revisionism,” June 1976; Shibdas Ghosh, “An Appeal to the Leaders of the International Communist Movement,” Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Sept 1, 1963.

[18] Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality,” HuffPost, Jan 15, 2016; Pankaj Mishra, “This Poisonous Cult of Personality,” The New York Review of Books, Dec 1, 2017; Philip Wen and Christian Shepherd, “China cranks propaganda, Xi Jinping’s cult of personality into overdrive ahead of party congress,” Reuters, Oct 12, 2017; Robert Tracinski, “Donald Trump’s Paradoxical Cult of Personality,” The Federalist, Aug 11, 2015; Hannah Beech, “China’s Chairman Builds a Cult of Personality,” Time, Mar 31, 2016; Emily Cadei, “Cult of Personality: How Trump Uses the Playbook of Europe’s Far Right,” Newsweek, May 10, 2016; “PUTIN’S CULT OF PERSONALITY,” Free Russia, Aug 14, 2015; Conservapedia, “Cult of personality,” May 21, 2017; “Trump and His Cult of Personality,” Zero Hedge, Jan 27, 2017;  Jiayang Fan, Taisu Zhang, and Ying Zhu, “Behind the Personality Cult of Xi Jinping,” Foreign Policy, Mar 8, 2016; “Cult of Personality 101: The Arab Leader Name Game,” The News in Arabic, Jul 20, 2009; Reuters Staff, “No cult of personality around Xi, says top China party academic,” Reuters, Nov 6, 2017; Julian Ryall, “Analysis: North Korea’s bizarre personality cult and why it has worked – so far,” The Telegraph, Jan 31, 2011; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Stan Grant, “North Korea’s cult of personality surrounds Kim,” CNN, Aug 22, 2012; John Feffer, “Cult of Personality: On Dictators and Reformers,” Common Dreams, Jan 18, 2012; Andy Crush, “The DNC Flag Burner Is an American Hero and a Member of a Maoist Personality Cult,” Gawker, Jul 30, 2016.

[19] Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1300, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304.

[20] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Il Sung,” March 7, 2012; “North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013; “Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009.; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Ian Buruma, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty a hodgepodge of influences,” Asia Times, Oct 21, 2017; Anthea Batsakis, “North Korea family tree: Who are the major players in the Kim Dynasty?,” Herald Sun, Sept 5, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “The truth and myths of the Kim dynasty,” Sept 3, 2017; Bertil Lintner, “North Korea: Myth Making, Dynastic Lies And Secrets,” Asia Pacific Media Services Limited (reprinted from Far Eastern Economic Review, July 10, 2003), accessed Feb 12, 2018; “Kim-Possible: The Final Days of the Kim Dynasty in Pyongyang,” Oct 13, 2014.

[21] “Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Jong Il,” 2013; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; “15 strange “facts” about the Kim dynasty,” MSN, Apr 22, 2015;”North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013.

[22] Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009; “North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; Kim Jong-Un  “15 strange “facts” about the Kim dynasty,” MSN, Apr 22, 2015; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Luisetta Mudie, “Backing The Kim Dynasty For ‘Stability’,” Radio Free Asia, Dec 20, 2011; Julian Ryall, “Kim Jong-un: 10 ways North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ is different,” The Telegraph, Dec 17, 2013.

[23] Foster Klug, “NKorea explodes myth of unchallenged Kim dynasty,” Associated Press, Dec 16, 2013; Maria Perez, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Worried About Uprising, Orders Protection for Depictions of Himself,” Newsweek, Oct 27, 2017; Julian Ryall, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty survived ‘series of coups’, says CIA agent,” The Telegraph, May 8, 2015; “N Korea defector: Kim Jong-un’s days are numbered,” Al Jazeera, Jan 25, 2017; Alex Lockie, “North Korea cracks down on dissidents with ‘little respect’ for Kim Jong Un — and it could be his undoing,” Business Insider, Oct 26, 2017; Charlie Campbell, “Kim Jong Nam’s Murder Likely Means Dangerous Times Ahead for Members of North Korea’s Ruling Family,” Time, Mar 7, 2017.

[24] Andrei Lankov, “North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history,” Financial Review, Apr 27, 2017.

The reality of the Democratic Party in the murderous empire

From a Season 3 episode of the Simpsons titled “Black Widower.”

I’ve written on this blog before about the Democratic Party in the murderous empire (the U$) again and again. [1] While, as I’ve noted before, “the bourgeois Democratic and Republican Parties…can be classified correctly as one capitalist party with “right” and “left” wings,” I aim in this post to focus just on the Democrats, while noting their instances of bipartisanship (agreeing with the GOP) of course. This goes beyond the book by avowed Trotskyist, Lance Selfa, titled The Democrats: A Critical History, which I recently gave away since I get enough of their views from reading WSWS and don’t need their books on their bookshelves. This is almost a masterpost of criticism of the Democratic Party over the years, from its creation to the present, covering a wide array of questions and topics. If there are any topics that you think I missed in this article, please let me know in the comments below, or otherwise.

Table of contents for this article

  1. Democrats as the party of feminists?
  2. Are Democrats “fighter[s] for the working class”?
    (varying sub-sections are within this chapter)
  3. Democrats: “the one party [in the U$] that cares for black Americans”?
    (varying sub-sections are within this chapter)
  4. Are the Democrats antiwar?
  5. Corruption in the Democratic Party?
  6. Radicals and concluding words

 

Democrats as the party of feminists?

Quote from writer Arundhati Roy, relates to feminism.

Peter Beinart, a seemingly conflicted Zionist and early supporter (and later opposer after 2006) of the second phase of the Iraq War begun in 2003, declared in The Atlantic that “Democrats aren’t becoming the party of women. They’re becoming the party of feminists” when writing about the recent move of women coming forward accusing powerful men of sexual assault, harassment, and the like (which will be written about m0re in-depth another post) leading to such powerful men losing their jobs (except the orange menace of course). [2] This raises a question if the Democrats even embody this ideal at all.

While Republicans like George H.W. Bush groped women and Roy Moore assaulted women, Democrats engaged in these horrid acts as well. In fact, Al Franken groped women without their consent, “progressive” John Conyers sexually harassed people, “feminist” comedian Louis C.K. who masterbated in front of women, editorial director of Vice Media (a stalwart liberal site) Lockhart Steele who engaged in  sexual misconduct of an unknown nature, “progressive” filmmaker Morgan Spurlock who was “accused of rape in college, settled a sexual harassment lawsuit and has cheated on all of his romantic partners, including both of his wives,” Jesse Jackson who inappropriately touched a woman after a keynote speech, “Middle America” radio host Garrison Keilor who engaged in “improper behavior,” New Yorker commenter Ryan Lizza for “improper sexual conduct,” chairman of the Florida Democratic Party Stephen Bittel for “sexually inappropriate comments,” and  “progressive” commentator Tavis Smiley for engaging in improper sexual relationships, and being an abusive boss, among other aspects. [3] As such, “progressives” and liberals were likely even more abusive to women than those in the GOP! That isn’t excusing the behavior of those associated with the GOP but rather saying that those on the “left” can be abusive as much as those on the “right.” Sexual harassment, assault, and the like is something which transcends party lines and is, as such, a phenomenon of the patriarchy inherent in capitalist society.

Taking this into account, one might raise an eyebrow that Democrats are becoming the “party of feminists.” This seems like an utter joke. Apart from this movement in which women are being believed, more than in the past, for their accusations of sexual abuse, to put it lightly, of powerful men, let us take a simple definition of feminism. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it in broad terms: “the principle that women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men.” You could say this is a bourgeois definition of the word but we will use it here.

The Democratic Party Platform, issued last year, declares, in a section titled “Guaranteeing Women’s Rights,” the following:

We are committed to ensuring full equality for women. Democrats will fight to end gender discrimination in the areas of education, employment, health care, or any other sphere. We will combat biases across economic, political, and social life that hold women back and limit their opportunities and also tackle specific challenges facing women of color. After 240 years, we will finally enshrine the rights of women in the Constitution by passing the Equal Rights Amendment. And we will urge U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

While some (if you were a liberal feminist as is defined later in this section) may be cheering at this, consider that this document is only one made up by the partisans of the party and the members of the party are under no obligation to follow it. You could say that it is a loose guideline which is meant to ameliorate the masses, along with those in the “feminist movement,” if such a movement even exists anymore. Additionally, these words are broad and vapid. How does this statement against discrimination fulfill the principle that women have “political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men”? The reality is that it does not.

What about the support for the ERA? If one uses the website pushing for the amendment itself, it shows that the joint resolution proposing the amendment once again only attracted 14 co-sponsors (of the Democratic Party) in the Senate (and elsewhere 34) while over 100 (also see here) sponsored it in the House. The question is: is this political posturing or do the Democrats really support the amendment? If they wished do so, why didn’t they pass the amendment when they had control of the Congress and more state legislatures? It seems they have not done so, so their dedication to this amendment seems paper thin to put it lightly.

Let us also consider that while “pay equality” is the law of the land, with Democrats voting in favor back in 2009 (and almost all of them in the House), the law itself only deals with “discrimination in compensation” (or pay) but nothing regarding political, economic, or social rights. If Democrats were liberal feminists, a few questions would arise: why wouldn’t they expand on this effort to push for those engaged in so-called “domestic” work to be paid at the behest of a government agency dedicated to them (perhaps) or have a gender quota for women in the national legislature, if not the state legislatures and/or in all government departments? [4] These are just some ideas that would make them more “feminist,” you could say if you were a liberal feminist. Yet, if you were more radical, as one should be, then you would laugh this off as a joke.

Let us also consider that if Democrats really believed that women should have “political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men” then they would be working to make abortion a legal right for all women of all shapes, sizes, and characteristics. After all, every single state in the murderous empire has restrictions on abortion, with the amount of those restrictions varying state by state. The lack of action on this is because Democrats (but not all) voted to ban partial birth abortions (later termination of pregnancy)  in most cases, fining (or imprisoning for 2 years) physicians who perform such abortion, along with the father and maternal grandparents suing the doctor. This horrid law was, of course, upheld by the Supreme Court. Additionally, Democrats voted partially, again, for a law declaring that anyone who “causes the death of, or bodily injury…to, a child, who is in utero…is guilty,” basically making this fetus a legal person with rights, even though it really isn’t a person!

Then there is the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for an abortion except in certain cases (incest, rape, save life of mother). Reportedly the 2016 Democratic Party Platform said the amendment should be repealed. However, let us consider that in 2010 to get Congress to pass his healthcare bill (“Obamacare”), Obama issued an executive order stating “that no public funds will be used to pay for abortions in health insurance exchanges to be set up by the government” after Stupak introduced an amendment to prohibit Federal funds “to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion” except for the other provisions put forward before. [5] Additionally, taking into account that only 15 states “fund abortions out of their own revenues,” the plank in the Democratic Party Platform basically is one that is fundamentally ideological pandering. Why not push for the funding of more abortion providers, limited in more and more states? (you could even ask this question from a “liberal feminist” viewpoint) The reduction in providers just seems like the new normal to these Democrats, instead of something to be reversed.

Taking all of this into account, do Democrats really believe that “women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men”? The answer is evidently no. They seem to engage in rhetorical niceties but the murderous empire, including under Democratic administrations:

  1. has not ratified the American Convention on Human Rights which states that “every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
  2. has not pushed for an instrument of international law to declare abortion as an inherent human right
  3. has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which says that parties to the agreement “condemn discrimination against women in all its forms…embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions…adopt appropriate…measures…prohibiting all discrimination against women…establish legal protection of the rights of women on an equal basis with men…refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women…take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women…[and] repeal all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women,” among other aspects such as taking “all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” Let us consider that US “enemies” such as Cuba, Iraq (at the time), the DPRK, and Zimbabwe ratified it, but the murderous empire has NOT. Basically the empire is bowing to the pathetic criticism of this agreement and of course hasn’t ratified the optional protocol.
  4. limited the effect, within the empire, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children as noted here.
  5. has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which says, in one part, that children should live in a “free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin.” The non-ratification of this agreement by the empire, even under Obama’s administration. Even as certain GOP members opposed the convention, “President Clinton never pushed the Senate for ratification. Nor did George W. Bush…[and] Obama administration [did not]…want to waste political capital on it” which shows them as utterly spineless. [6] As a recent academic article pointed out, “Secretary of State Madeleine Albright signed the CRC in 1995; however, no sitting President [including two Republicans, George W. Bush and Trump, and two Democrats, Clinton and Obama] has submitted the treaty for Senate approval since that time.” This is an utter outrage, going beyond tainting the image of the empire (that’s a good thing), showing what the U$ really stands for
  6. has not ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which states that “the States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.”
  7. has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which staes, in one provision, that states party to the agreement “recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms” and that such states shall “take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development, advancement and empowerment of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of the human rights and fundamental freedoms set out in the present Convention.”
  8. has not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which says that states party to the agreement may establish, “without prejudice to other criminal procedures, aggravating circumstances, in particular in the event of the death of the disappeared person or the commission of an enforced disappearance in respect of pregnant women, minors, persons with disabilities or other particularly vulnerable persons.”
  9. has not ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families which declares that states party to the agreement work to ” respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status.”
  10. has not ratified the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 stating that “workers belonging to these peoples [indigenous and tribal] enjoy equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment for men and women, and protection from sexual harassment.”
  11. has not ratified the Employment Promotion and Protection against Unemployment Convention, 1988 which states that “Each Member shall endeavour to establish, subject to national law and practice, special programmes to promote additional job opportunities and employment assistance and to encourage freely chosen and productive employment for identified categories of disadvantaged persons having or liable to have difficulties in finding lasting employment such as women, young workers, disabled persons, older workers, the long-term unemployed, migrant workers lawfully resident in the country and workers affected by structural change.”
  12. has not ratified the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988 which states that ” Men and women workers should be provided with separate sanitary and washing facilities.”
  13. has not ratified the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention which states that “special measures of protection or assistance [“affirmative action”]…shall not be deemed to be discrimination. Any Member may…determine that other special measures designed to meet the particular requirements of persons who, for reasons such as sex, age, disablement, family responsibilities or social or cultural status, are generally recognised to require special protection or assistance, shall not be deemed to be discrimination.”
  14. has ratified the 1951 agreement on the status of refugees but not the protocol in 1967 which helped enter it into force! It is worth noting that the 1951 agreement said that members of the agreement shall give “refugees lawfully staying in their territory the same treatment as is accorded to nationals” including measures such as family allowances which form part of “…restrictions on home work, minimum age of employment…women’s work and the work of young persons”
  15. has not ratified the labour inspection convention, 1947 which states that “Both men and women shall be eligible for appointment to the inspection staff; where necessary, special duties may be assigned to men and women inspectors.”
  16. has not ratified the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 which states, in one part, that “the contingencies [for medical care] covered shall include any morbid condition, whatever its cause, and pregnancy and confinement and their consequences” along with also saying that “…medical care…shall be afforded with a view to maintaining, restoring or improving the health of the woman protected and her ability to work and to attend to her personal needs.”
  17. has not ratified the Employment Policy Convention, 1964 which states that “each Member shall declare and pursue, as a major goal, an active policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment…The said policy shall aim at ensuring that…there is freedom of choice of employment and the fullest possible opportunity for each worker to qualify for, and to use his skills and endowments in, a job for which he is well suited, irrespective of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.”
  18. has not ratified the Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention, 1969 which states that “the functions of the system of labour inspection in agriculture shall be…to secure the enforcement of the legal provisions relating to conditions of work and the protection of workers while engaged in their work, such as provisions relating to hours, wages, weekly rest and holidays, safety, health and welfare, the employment of women, children and young persons, and other connected matters, in so far as such provisions are enforceable by labour inspectors”
  19. has not ratified the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 which states that “with a view to creating effective equality of opportunity and treatment for men and women workers, all measures compatible with national conditions and possibilities shall be taken…to enable workers with family responsibilities to exercise their right to free choice of employment; and…to take account of their needs in terms and conditions of employment and in social security.”
  20. has not ratified the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 which states that “on production of a medical certificate or other appropriate certification, as determined by national law and practice, stating the presumed date of childbirth, a woman to whom this Convention applies shall be entitled to a period of maternity leave of not less than 14 weeks.”
  21. has not ratified the Social Policy (Basic Aims and Standards) Convention, 1962 which states that “all policies shall be primarily directed to the well-being and development of the population and to the promotion of its desire for social progress…All policies of more general application shall be formulated with due regard to their effect upon the well-being of the population…The improvement of standards of living shall be regarded as the principal objective in the planning of economic development…It shall be an aim of policy to abolish all discrimination among workers on grounds of race, colour, sex, belief, tribal association or trade union affiliation…Adequate provision shall be made to the maximum extent possible under local conditions, for the progressive development of broad systems of education, vocational training and apprenticeship, with a view to the effective preparation of children and young persons of both sexes for a useful occupation.”

Considering that Democrats, while in power, have not ratified ANY of the above labor and human welfare treaties, all of which would allow women to have “political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men” (or at least get to that point), shows that Democrats will never be feminist. Even if all of the people who are sexually abusive are rightly kicked out of the party, which won’t happen, and they claim to stand for “women’s rights,” the party will never fulfill the ideal of feminism as enshrined in the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, which is a bit bourgeois in nature. If one took an even more expansive definition, this would be even more ridiculous. The Marxist Internet Archive defines the word, as developing a number of different currents including

  1. Socialist Feminism, in which women’s emancipation is seen as intimately connected to the emancipation of the working class and consequently of humanity as a whole. Within Socialist Feminism, “Marxist Feminism” is the current which employs the theoretical legacy of Marxism in order to theorise the special oppression of women within the relations of production, both domestic and social. Shulamith Firestone is an example of a feminist who turned Marxist categories to use in feminist theory;
  2. Liberal (or “Bourgeois”) Feminism, in which the claim of women for equal rights is seen in the context of a general opposition to various forms of oppression and discrimination, independently of other political convictions. Liberal feminism tends to emphasise social policy to open up professional, better-paid and prestigious jobs to women and the elimination of laws discriminating against the political, property and social rights of women;
  3. Radical Feminism, which lays emphasis on the “celebration” of femininity, rather than seeing femininity as a social construct which simply constitutes a form of oppression and discrimination within patriarchal, i.e., male-dominated, society. Kate Millett was one of the founders of Radical Feminism.

The definition goes on to add that

Although characterised by ideas concerning the nature of women’s oppression, historically feminism has drawn on a wide variety of analytical instruments in order to theorise women’s oppression and liberation…there is no doubt that femininism has had a profound and historic impact on all aspects of social theory, philosophy and ideology, particularly since the 1960s. Marxism is far from alone in having been transformed by the impact of feminist critique.

To sum up what is above, if the democrats were to become “feminist” they would enter the “liberal feminist category.” But, considering what has been written in this section even falling into this category is not possible without some major improvements. What the world needs is a socialist, Marxist feminism, not a liberal one, and possibly some ideas taken from radical feminism.

The history of the Democrats with feminism is a checkered one. Susan Fuludi writes in Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women argues that the Democrats “boldly advertised to women the differences between the two parties” by nominating Geradline Ferraro” to the vice-presidential spot (Walter Mondale was the presidential candidate) in the ticket during the 1984 presidential elections, with the Democrats gaining “new support from millions of female voters.” [7] With the bourgeois media criticizing Ferraro, Faludi argues that she had an edge over George W. Bush as vice-President even as “analysts” at the time said the Democrats were “surrendering” to feminists, with the result in later years of women stepping away from the public sphere, with numbers declining into the later 1980s. By 1988, women who supported a “feminist agenda of pay equity, social equality, and reproductive rights” supported Michael Dukakis as a Democrat even as he turned his back on women, with Democrats nearly wiping “women’s rights off the party slate” as those women loyal to the Democratic Party were “suffering in silence.” [8]  This was different from 1980 when feminist leaders said that they would “endorse independent candidate John Anderson” if the Democrats didn’t put “the ERA, abortion rights, and child care on its agenda.” But, by the end of the 1980s, women, who could have “constituted an immensely powerful voting bloc,” were discouraged with a “steady strafing of ostracism, hostility, and ridicule,” as they ran “for cover.” [9]

However, this analysis, while well-intentioned, it doesn’t seem to take a broader picture. For one, Geradline Ferraro, a well-educated woman who had gone to law school, was a law-and-order Democrat who once called herself a “conservative” instituted the “reform” which created “superdelegates,” billed as a way to unite the Democratic Party. Recently, she defended this in a 2008 op-ed in the New York Times (titled “Got a Problem? Ask the Super”) declaring that “superdelegates were created to lead, not to follow…to determine what is best for our party and best for the country,” basically saying that they should not follow the lead of the people. If having superdelegates isn’t elitist and undemocratic, I don’t know what it.

Apart from her creation of such an elitist institution, Ferraro admitted in her memoirs that she visited the Contras, saying that U$ intervention in Nicaragua and El Salvador was counterproductive, supporting regional negotiations instead. While this does not seem bad, there was no support for solidarity against such intervention, just a call for negotiations. Additionally, as Time magazine put it, while she called for a freeze on certain military programs, she spoke of “the need for a strong defense and backed funding of the Trident Nuclear Submarine, the Pershing II Nuclear Missile and Draft Registration.” This is horrifying, to say the least, showing that she was imperialist, considering herself a moderate even as she supported “women’s economic equity legislation” but also wanted to “reform” pensions. Additionally, some sources say she favored an “anti-busing amendment to the Constitution” which would have made it unconstitutional to transport “students to schools within or outside their local school districts as a means of rectifying racial segregation” or busing, as it is called. All of this should make it no surprise that she became a Clinton supporter in 2008, declaring that Obama was only successful because he was black (he is actually biracial), saying in dog-whistle fashion that “racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white.” The fact that anyone in their right mind would say that, makes one question their sanity, for a person who yelled at her daughter for voting for Obama, calling her a “lunatic.” Obama ended up being the black face of the murderous empire, but Ferarro was unhinged, wanting to support a corporatist like Clinton, which isn’t a surprise as she was a Fox News contributor throughout the campaign, eventually supporting Obama.

Beyond Ferraro, and the 1984 election, it is worth considering how “liberal feminists,” as they call themselves, acted under the Clinton administration. As President Clinton engaged in “innovative defenses against investigations” by even investigating the staff of special counsel Kenneth Starr,  not a single Democrat or interest group that was prominent spoke out against Clinton, and nether did any “major women’s group” since they were prepared to ignore allegations against Clinton as much as they had done for Ted Kennedy. [10]  As a result, silence of women’s groups led to HillaryKillary’s defense of Bill on national television, leaving her as the “only avowed feminist to speak on the Lewinsky affair” as Clinton was able to “secure the blessing of the feminist movement.” In today’s environment, it is unlikely that would happen. After all, just last month, a female running as a liberal Democrat, even endorsed by the group Emily’s List, Andrea Ramsey withdrew because the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) has “implemented a zero tolerance standard,” allowing a terminated male employee to falsely accuse her on  a change which has already been revolved in courts years ago. Ramsey lashed out at the DCCC and Democratic Party in their “rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment” which is definitely justified, without a doubt.

There have been efforts, of the “resistance” to Trump moving to feminists running within the Democratic Party. But this fails to recognize that Democrats are no friends to feminists or the feminist movement, as has been laid out in this section.

Are Democrats “fighter[s] for the working class”? [11]

“The Democratic party once represented the working class. But over the last three decades the party has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused instead on raising campaign money from corporate and Wall Street executives and getting votes from upper middle-class households in “swing” suburbs.”- Robert Reich, lover of capitalist reformism who has declared that “Socialism isn’t the answer to the basic problem haunting all rich nations. The answer is to reform capitalism…We don’t need socialism. We need a capitalism that works for the vast majority”

“…low voter turnout remains a huge problem for Democrats’ efforts not only to win over but also collect votes from the American working class.”- Time Magazine

“The Democratic Party was once the party of the New Deal and the ally of organized labor. But by the time of Bill Clinton’s presidency, it had become the enemy of New Deal programs like welfare and Social Security and the champion of free trade deals.”- Tobita Chow writing within a union-funded publication titled ‘In These Times’

Time and time again people say that the Democrats represent the working class. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about Democrats “re-gaining” their support (implying that the Democrats supported the working class to begin with), specifically of the white sect of the working class in the murderous empire. [12] Even the fake Marxist, Louis Proyect, who hates duly elected Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad with a passion, calling Gowans (who I respect but disagree with from time to time) part of the “openly pro-Assad left” and is seething about “the dictatorship in Damascus,” while praising the “Arab Spring,” thinks there is a false perception. [13] As I’ve noted elsewhere, I do not agree with Gowans that Syria is socialist, but think that, from my research on the subject, that Syria is socially democratic (also see here and here) and with a vibrant democracy. Back to Proyect, he basically declared that “…the Democratic Party’s history” shows that it didn’t represent the working class, highlighting the presidencies of Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, and Woodrow Wilson. He apparently had a second part, but I can’t find it as of yet. Add to this David Sole in Workers World which noted how the illusion that the Democratic Party  “represents the poor and working people of the United States” is slipping, even as it acts as  “a great safety valve against social uprisings” and has “no intention of fighting to win the support of the whole working class.”

Before going into the history, consider how tenuous the Democratic claim to representing the working class is. There are 30 treaties, favorable to labor, that Democrats have not ratified while in office, since the 1940s. [14] They are as follows:

  1. has not ratified the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949, a fundamental convention of the ILO, which states that “Workers shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment.”
  2. has not ratified the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, a fundamental convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which states that “workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, to join organisations of their own choosing without previous authorisation.”
  3. has not ratified the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 which states, in one part, that “each Member for which this Convention is in force undertakes to pursue a national policy designed to ensure the effective abolition of child labour and to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons.”
  4. has not ratified the Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention, 1921 which states that the “whole of the staff employed in any industrial undertaking, public or private, or in any branch thereof shall, except as otherwise provided for by the following Articles, enjoy in every period of seven days a period of rest comprising at least twenty-four consecutive hours.”
  5. has not ratified the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1946 (or the corresponding one for non-industrial occupations) which states that “Children and young persons under eighteen years of age shall not be admitted to employment by an industrial undertaking unless they have been found fit for the work on which they are to be employed by a thorough medical examination.”
  6. has not ratified the Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Convention, 1949 which states that “where appropriate provisions relating to the health, safety and welfare of workers engaged in the execution of contracts are not already applicable in virtue of national laws or regulations, collective agreement or arbitration award, the competent authority shall take adequate measures to ensure fair and reasonable conditions of health, safety and welfare for the workers concerned.”
  7. has not ratified the Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 which states that “Wages payable in money shall be paid only in legal tender, and payment in the form of promissory notes, vouchers or coupons, or in any other form alleged to represent legal tender [like bail bonds], shall be prohibited…Employers shall be prohibited from limiting in any manner the freedom of the worker to dispose of his wages”
  8. has not ratified the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 which states that “Each Member for which this Convention is in force undertakes that it will, so far as national laws and regulations permit, take all appropriate steps against misleading propaganda relating to emigration and immigration”
  9. has not ratified the Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1957 (No. 106) stating that “all persons to whom this Convention applies shall…be entitled to an uninterrupted weekly rest period comprising not less than 24 hours in the course of each period of seven days.”
  10. has not ratified the Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 which states that “every effort shall be made to restrict the exposure of workers to ionising radiations to the lowest practicable level, and any unnecessary exposure shall be avoided by all parties concerned.”
  11. has not ratified the Equality of Treatment (Social Security) Convention, 1962 (No. 118) which states that “Equality of treatment [under social security] as regards the grant of benefits shall be accorded without any condition of residence: Provided that equality of treatment in respect of the benefits of a specified branch of social security may be made conditional on residence in the case of nationals of any Member the legislation of which makes the grant of benefits under that branch conditional on residence on its territory.”
  12. has not ratified the Employment Injury Benefits Convention, 1964 which states that “national legislation concerning employment injury benefits shall protect all employees, including apprentices, in the public and private sectors, including co-operatives, and, in respect of the death of the breadwinner, prescribed categories of beneficiaries.”
  13. has not ratified the Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 which states that “the employer shall keep, and make available to inspectors, records containing, in respect of persons under 21 years of age who are employed or work underground.”
  14. has not ratified the Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 which states that “the elements to be taken into consideration in determining the level of minimum wages shall…include…the needs of workers and their families, taking into account the general level of wages in the country, the cost of living, social security benefits, and the relative living standards of other social groups…economic factors, including the requirements of economic development, levels of productivity and the desirability of attaining and maintaining a high level of employment.”
  15. has not ratified the Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 which states that “each Member which ratifies this Convention shall make every effort to have carcinogenic substances and agents to which workers may be exposed in the course of their work replaced by non-carcinogenic substances or agents or by less harmful substances or agents; in the choice of substitute substances or agents account shall be taken of their carcinogenic, toxic and other properties.”
  16. has not ratified the Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974 which states that “each Member shall formulate and apply a policy designed to promote, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice and by stages as necessary, the granting of paid educational leave for the purpose of…training at any level….general, social and civic education…[and] trade union education.”
  17. has not ratified the Rural Workers’ Organisations Convention, 1975 which states that “it shall be an objective of national policy concerning rural development to facilitate the establishment and growth, on a voluntary basis, of strong and independent organisations of rural workers as an effective means of ensuring the participation of rural workers, without discrimination…in economic and social development and in the benefits resulting therefrom.”
  18. has not ratified the Human Resources Development Convention, 1975 which states that “…each Member shall establish and develop open, flexible and complementary systems of general, technical and vocational education, educational and vocational guidance and vocational training, whether these activities take place within the system of formal education or outside it.”
  19. has not ratified the Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 which states that “each Member for which this Convention is in force shall systematically seek to determine whether there are illegally employed migrant workers on its territory and whether there depart from, pass through or arrive in its territory any movements of migrants for employment in which the migrants are subjected during their journey, on arrival or during their period of residence and employment to conditions contravening relevant international multilateral or bilateral instruments or agreements, or national laws or regulations…Each Member for which the Convention is in force undertakes to declare and pursue a national policy designed to promote and to guarantee, by methods appropriate to national conditions and practice, equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, of social security, of trade union and cultural rights and of individual and collective freedoms for persons who as migrant workers or as members of their families are lawfully within its territory.”
  20. has not ratified the Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention, 1977 which states that “national laws or regulations shall prescribe that measures be taken for the prevention and control of, and protection against, occupational hazards in the working environment due to air pollution, noise and vibration.”
  21. has not ratified the Nursing Personnel Convention, 1977 which states that “nursing personnel shall enjoy conditions at least equivalent to those of other workers in the country…[such as] hours of work…weekly rest…sick leave…[and] social security”
  22. has not ratified the Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 which states that “public employees shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment.
  23. has not ratified the Collective Bargaining Convention, 1981 which states that “measures adapted to national conditions shall be taken to promote collective bargaining.”
  24. has not ratified the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 which states that “each Member shall, in the light of national conditions and practice, and in consultation with the most representative organisations of employers and workers, formulate, implement and periodically review a coherent national policy on occupational safety, occupational health and the working environment.”
  25. has not ratified the Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 which states that  “the employment of a worker shall not be terminated unless there is a valid reason for such termination connected with the capacity or conduct of the worker or based on the operational requirements of the undertaking, establishment or service.”
  26. has not ratified the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983 which states that “each Member shall, in accordance with national conditions, practice and possibilities, formulate, implement and periodically review a national policy on vocational rehabilitation and employment of disabled persons.”
  27. has not ratified the Working Conditions (Hotels and Restaurants) Convention, 1991 which stated that “each Member shall, with due respect to the autonomy of the employers’ and workers’ organisations concerned, adopt and apply, in a manner appropriate to national law, conditions and practice, a policy designed to improve the working conditions of the workers concerned [within hotels, restaurants and similar establishments]”
  28. has not ratified the Convention on Domestic Workers which states that “each Member shall take measures to ensure the effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all domestic workers, as set out in this Convention…every domestic worker has the right to a safe and healthy working environment.”
  29. has not ratified the Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery (Agriculture) Convention, 1951 which states that “each Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention undertakes to create or maintain adequate machinery whereby minimum rates of wages can be fixed for workers employed in agricultural undertakings and related occupations.
  30. has not ratified the Holidays with Pay Convention (Revised), 1970 which states that “a person whose length of service in any year is less than that required for the full entitlement prescribed in the preceding Article shall be entitled in respect of that year to a holiday with pay proportionate to his length of service during that year.”

Now onto the history, divided into the following sections:

  1. The 1820s to the 1840s
  2. The road to Civil War (1850s-1861) and the conflict breaks out
  3. Civil War (1861-1865)
  4. After the war and Reconstruction (1865-1876)
  5. Up the 20th century (1876-1900)
  6. From McKinley to Wilson: 1900-1921
  7. After Wilson and to Hoover: 1921-1933
  8. The Years of FDR: 1933-1945
  9. Truman to Eisenhower: 1945-1960
  10. The reign of Camelot: The Kennedy years (1961-1963)
  11. The turbulent 1960s and the years of LBJ
  12. Comparing LBJ and FDR
  13. After Johnson, 1968-1977
  14. Jimmy Carter the fake “populist” (1977-1981)
  15. The retreat of liberals and the age of Reagan
  16. The Clintonites in the White House (1993-2001)
  17. The Bush era and “War on terror” (2001-2009)
  18. A continuation of Bush: Obama and the illusion of “hope” (2009-2017)
  19. The milquetoast “resistance” of the Democrats and the orange menace (2017-present)

The 1820s to the 1840s

Jackson’s racism shown in his 1829 State of the Union which is quoted above.

The First Democratic Party President was Andrew Jackson (1829-1837). A son of Ulster immigrants, he was a land speculator, slave trader, and “the most aggressive enemy of the Indians in early American history” who gained his fame as a “War hero” in the Battle of New Orleans of Mr. Madison’s War, often and falsely called the “War of 1812.” [15] The latter conflict was “about territorial acquisition and genocide of indigenous people…[a war] about empire,” leading to the “acceleration of capitalism’s development within the US as agricultural tendencies remained in the South and West.” The U$ was an “empire of liberty” which had a very small proletariat within urban cities along with “members of the more propertied middle class and established bourgeoisie,” as the country was then very agricultural in nature.

Jackson, the so-called “people’s president,” who never “much liked the folks,” gained the moniker because the Democratic Party supported him. [16] Before he took office, he and his friends ” began buying up seized creek Lands” while he played a key role in treaties with indigenous nations by which “whites took over three-fourths of Alabama and Florida, one-third of Tennessee, one-fifth of Georgia and Mississippi, and parts of Kentucky and North Carolina.” He also began the Seminole War of 1818, leading to the bloody seizure of Florida, which he claimed was a “sanctuary for escaped slaves and marauding Indians” showing that he was not “the frontiersman, soldier, democrat, man of the people” but was rather “the slaveholder, land speculator, executioner of dissident soldiers, [and] exterminator of Indians.” [17] When Jackson triumphed over Federalist John Quincy Adams in the 1828 Presidential elections, he showed that he had  “superb ability to unite his supporters and create enemies.” This was because the Democratic Party was “created by Andrew Jackson in his own image” claiming he represented the common man, even though “his plantation, slaves, and vast wealth were decidedly uncommon,” and believing that his victory “was the victory of the people over entrenched interests and corrupt politicians, including Henry Clay, who ruled Washington.” [18] Sounds a little like what Trump claimed with his victory last year. Jackson’s election not only “marked the death of certain deferential politics that ruled during the era of Washington, Jefferson, and John Adams” but his “inferior education and shocking inability to spell led the East Coast elite to snicker” with “the people” (white males who could vote) turning out in elections in 1824, 1828, and 1832. [19] As a result, it should be no surprise that Jackson’s image “would cast a long shadow over the Democratic Party,” which some say “expressed and embraced the ideal of popular democracy,” as countless Democrats tried to emulate Jackson.

If that wasn’t enough, showing that his claim of representing the working class (then called the “common man”) to be phony, consider his ruthlessness toward indigenous peoples. After he took office in 1829, gold was ” discovered in Cherokee territory in Georgia” and thousands of White settlers came in, destroying Cherokee property, staking out claims. While Jackson originally “ordered federal troops to remove them,” ordering Cherokees and Whites to stop mining, he removed the troops, White settlers returned, “and Jackson said he could not interfere with Georgia’s authority.” [20] Basically, his use of federal troops was a ploy to support imperial expansionism and also undermined his later “state’s rights” claim although this would likely have been denied. Furthermore, when the Supreme Court of the U$ declared that Georgia law violated the treaty with the Cherokees, and that a missionary named Samuel Worchester be freed, Georgia ignored this, as did Jackson, who “refused to enforce the court order.” [21] His views on the indigenous seemed to partially supported by popular sentiment of white-voting-males, who gave him an easy re-election in 1832, after which he sped up removal of indigenous people. In summary, during his time in office he broke “93 treaties with Indian tribes” since White men wanted that Indian land even though the Cherokee nation was well-established, not “savage” as they claimed. [22] He also enacted the the Indian Removal Act, with indigenous peoples driven “West across the Mississippi River” with thousands dying on the Trail of Tears of Natchez Trace.

In the end, even with the Democrats saying the represented the common person, disagreeing with the Whigs on banks and tariffs, they agreed with the Whigs “on issues crucial for the white poor, the blacks, the Indians.” [23] Despite this “some white working people saw Jackson as their hero, because he opposed the rich man’s bank” even though Jackson only opposed it because Nicholas Biddle, the head of the Second Bank of the United States was of the opposing party, the Whigs, that favored the bank. The Federal Reserve, in their official history of the bank, claims that Jackson had a strong “distrust of banks in general, stemming, at least in part, from a land deal that had gone sour more than two decades before” and he also believed that “a federal institution such as the Bank trampled on states’ rights.”

By the 1830s, few felt that  “territorial expansion should proceed at the cost of war with a neighboring Republic.” Even Andrew Jackson wasn’t “willing to propose the annexation of Texas.” [24] At the same time, workers took inspiration from Jacksonian Democrats, whom some turned two, as artisans “waged a war on monopolies” while propagandists for temperance “played upon a powerful blend of patriotism and middle-class dismay at Jacksonian politics” since they would defend debtors and were “disdainful of moral crusades such as temperance” even though some of them were wealthy speculators. Basically, the political style of Jacksonian Democrats who “rallied against the repressive goals of evangelicals and warned darkly about an alliance of church and state,” while they played upon “traditional American political values and appealing to the fears of Catholic voter,”inspired groups of the working class, as they mounted “their own campaigns against economic privileges enjoyed by their employers and men of wealth.” [25] Even so, saying that they inspired the working class does not mean the Democrats stood for the working class but rather than what they did was symbolic, which is telling.

By 1837, the political landscape was changing. The “Panic of 1837” that year, with preceding speculation in cotton and land, followed by monetary expansion from wildcat banks and retention of silver, according to Charles P. Kindleberger’s Manias, Panics, and Crashes, hit the Democratic Party hard as “Whigs argued that Democratic legislation had destroyed the economy and that it was time for new ideas” with Democrats in no position to argue otherwise “after eight years of Jackson in the White House.” [26] Hence, the Jacksonian trait of being the “first President to master the liberal rhetoric–to speak for the common man” did not save them in the 1838 elections.

In March 1837, Martin Van Buren, Jackson’s “protege and successor,” took power as President. While he faced “a well-organized opposition” called the Whig Party,” he stayed in office until March 1841. [27] Under his administration, the genocide of indigenous people continued, with 70,000 indigenous people “forced westward” of the Mississippi. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson opposed this, writing a letter to Van Buren in the spring of 1838, “referring with indignation to the removal treaty with the Cherokees” by saying that the removal is a crime, and that he dishonors the presidency, making it “stink to the world.” [28] Unfortunately, 13 days before Emerson sent the letter, “Martin Van Buren had ordered Major General Winfield Scott into Cherokee territory to use whatever military force was required to move the Cherokees West.” By December 1838, Van Buren spoke to Congress declaring that the removal of the Cherokee had ended,with their removal to their “new homes west of the Mississippi” and saying that the removal, allowed by Congress, “had the happiest effects”! [29] Such racism most probably didn’t even bat an eye about.

Chapter 4 of J. Sakai’s “Settlers,” adds to this. He writes that Van Buren’s supporters, in 1821, “swept away the high property qualifications that had previously barred white workingmen from voting” in New York, allowing him to “became the hero of the white workers.” However, this effort also raised property qualifications for Black men so high the entire community was disenfranchised! Van Buren, once president, built of Jackson’s effort to “enrich not only his own class” (the planters) and the “entire settler nation of oppressors.”As such, Jackson was a bourgeois politician” who was “an apostle of annexation and genocide,” showing “how profitable genocide could be for settlers,” which they kept in mind for years to come as they “knowingly embraced the architects of genocide as their heroes and leaders.”

By the 1840s, the Democratic Party had transformed. It had turned from one, at its founding in 1828, united part of the planters “and a substantial part of the farmers”to that of the planters, along with a sect of the “banking and merchant bourgeoisie.” [30] As the party used demagoguery and other means to stay in a position of strength, there were clashes between the slaveowners and bourgeoisie. They usually ended in compromise over slavery like the fated Missouri Compromise of 1820 or the Great Compromise of 1850. [31] In the years that passed the Democrats became expansionist in nature, as they advocated the seizure of Oregon, for example.

By May 1844, matters for the Democratic Party looked bleak since the party ” had been adrift since the economic panic of 1837 and…[the] victory of William Henry Harrison in 1840″ and a question remained: “without Van Buren, what chance did the party have against Henry Clay?” [32] As “Old Hickory” believed that the “time for annexation” of Texas was necessary, while as president he “kept Texas at arm’s length despite believing in his heart that territorial expansion was America’s destiny” and despite his “close relationship with Texas president Sam Houston,” he endorsed a “dark horse” candidate: James Polk.

While he had been a “dedicated Democrat” for 22 years, Polk was “still an obscure figure even within his own party, a nobody outside Tennessee” and was “smart enough to see the great opportunity before him” as a President. [33] He even lacked charisma and was “an uninspired public speaker,” but he “perfected a public persona of direct honesty that stood in stark contrast to his private reticence.” Adding to this, he married a woman named Sarah Childress, who came from a family of wealthy “slave-owning Presbyterians” in Tennessee society, and had “unusual intelligence,” helping Polk with her “political maneuvering” in Washington, which was dominated, by the 1830s, “almost exclusively” by White men. [34] Sarah, who was “as much a Democratic stalwart as her husband,” and throwing herself “into her husband’s work” since she was childless, helped out Polk through his political career up to that point: seven “straight terms in the House of Representatives” (14 years) and serving as Speaker of the House for two of these terms (4 years). He was an established politician by the time he took office.

As for Polk himself, he was nominated at a time that the Democrats were divided, with John Tyler even having a competing convention across the street from the Democrats in Odd Fellow Hall in Baltimore to “blackmail the Democratic Party into embracing Texas,” wanting a candidate who “had no enemies and was a true believer in annexation,” making him the first “dark-horse presidential candidate” in U$ history. [35] The opposing party, the Whigs was so over-confident in their victory they commissioned “an enormous suite of solid rosewood bedroom furniture” for use in the White House. This was a time that the Senate rejected Tyler’s treaty to annex Texas with Democrats divided with the vote (35 opposed to 16 in favor). [36] However, Polk united the divided party, running what some say was a “very good campaign,” with his opponent Henry Clay only running on domestic issues, offering his “countrymen the same compelling program of industrialization, modernization, and market growth” which they had advocated for years, even inspiring Abraham Lincoln, who became a Whig at the time. In contrast, the Democrats focused on lower taxes, a reduced federal government, even as supporters in key manufacturing states were promised a “a protective tariff to support industry,” so-called”state’s rights,” and territorial expansion since ” Manifest Destiny was everything in 1844.” [37] Racism was evident during the campaign with Polk broadcasting his “determination to remake the American map” with his campaign the ” most uncompromisingly expansionistic in American history,” making Henry Clay and his message seem “faded,” while his good friend Sam Houston saw Mexicans as “no better than Indians,” incompetent “at governing and administering.” Even with this, the results were very close with a “difference of just 38,000 votes out of more than 2.7 million cast” even though “Polk carried the South, with the exception of North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee” and did well in the Northwest and West, with Clay feeling the “death knell of his political hopes and lifelong ambition” when he read that Polk won the election in the newspaper. [38]

In his inauguration in March 1845, Polk spoke mainly about Manifest Destiny, saying that  he promised “to bring the annexation of Texas to a speedy close,” and was being handed the “opportunity to dismember Mexic0.” This meshed with his wariness of the “growing power of the North and the agitations of abolitionists,” with men such as him scorning the inference of the central government, hence their desperation for “new slave states to buttress the strength of their “peculiar” institution,” as he and other Southern Democrats not believing in a “nation of liberty in which all men were literally free” which he would reinforce as he stood as “the instrument of Manifest Destiny.” [39] These ideals were reinforced by his political appointments for which he looked for subservience and loyalty in his cabinet (sounds like the orange menace). He picked “dapper bachelor James Buchanan” as secretary of state, “brilliant Massachusetts historian” George Bancroft as as secretary of the navy, and “aggressive and proslavery ideologue” Robert J. Walker as secretary of the treasury, showing that he “strove for consensus in his cohesive  cabinet which he made the most of” while he solicited advice from others “appear to asset to it, and then, as often as not, do the exact opposite.” [40] As such, he snubbed “important members of his party with seeming reckless abandon” with Democrats feeling that he was “a liar” but they would not say it publicly. This sounds more like a person who serves the Southern planters and their interests than one who cares at all about the working class. Once again, the “support” the Democratic Party gave to the working class is seen to be an utter joke without a doubt.

Polk was clearly a person who wanted to go to war with Mexico. This was evidenced by the fact that he sent a “party hack” named John Slidell to “negotiate” with the Mexicans, with a “known spy” named William Parrott as his assistant. As a result, this incensed the Mexicans, as they had cut off diplomatic relations, and with the failure of their mission (seems that it was meant to fail), Herrera was overthrown by a hardliner named General Mariano Paredes who wanted to take Texas back from the US. [41] As such, war seemed the only inevitable way of “settling out affairs with Mexico” was Polk wrote in a letter. Even as Zachary Taylor, later a Democrat but then a Whig, did not want to follow Polk’s orders to antagonize the Mexicans and march to the Rio Grande, even though the border between Texas and Mexico was traditionally the Nueces River,  150 miles north, he allowed himself to become “an instrument of Mr. Polk” as one soldier remembered. [42]

With such provocation and incitement of war, it is no surprise that the Mexicans fired the first shot. By doing so they did what the U$ government wanted, and Polk was able to claim to Congress, falsely, that “Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded out territory and shed American blood upon American soil.” [43] Even though the Whigs were presumably against the war, this was another joke. Since they were for expansion of the empire and wanted California but preferably without war, they “joined Democrats in voting overwhelmingly for the war resolution” which passed the House 174 to 14 and 40 to 2 in the Senate while those opposing it were “a small group of antislavery Whigs.” [44] In a way that foreshadowed the way that war funds are dived out now, Democrats bundled “the authorization of war funds  with a declaration of war with Mexico,” ensuring that those who opposed the measure “could be accused of betraying the troops” (think of the bumper sticker today saying “support the troops!” or even “War Is Not the Answer“). With Democrats stifling dissent in the House by “limiting date to two hours, an hour and half of which was devoted to reading the documents that accompanied the message” only one Whig representative from Kentucky spoke in opposition, saying that Polk began the war, not Mexico. [45]

As the war went on to 1848, it is no surprise that it defined Polk. This war, which was his “great project,” and he micromanaged, was also advanced by his wife (and “political partner”) as well, with both working to “advance what they believed to be America’s destiny.”  [46] Even as the Polk is said to be “a complex character, a deeply conservative man in a surprising modern marriage” with his success in large part “due to his dependence on his wife, Sarah,” he was a blatant expansionist. He gained Oregon after drawing the boundary between the US and Canada, and defeated Mexico, with the US gaining California and the “Southwest” as its called, with the nation now spanning the continent as a whole. [47] Even as the war came to a close after becoming widely unpopular and the Democratic coalition shattering “over the the Wilmot Proviso” with the Democrats losing “control of the House of Representatives” to the Whigs whom they had accused of being abolitionist even though they were just as willing to support slavery, the Polk had got what he wanted. The Mexicans had been defeated and slavery had triumphed, with the admission of Texas as a U$ state in December 1845 with a “republican” form of government, with a constituton which guaranteed the right of citizens of the state to “life, liberty, property [enslaved Blacks], or privileges,” and only allowing the right to vote for white men over age 21. The treaty that ended the war with Mexico promised some civil rights to Mexican inhabitants of occupied lands (later the Southwest U$) but this was ignored. In years to come, the Democrats who adopt a position that each state should decide if it should be “free” or “slave” by a vote.

The road to Civil War (1850s-1861) and the conflict breaks out

The above quote shows that Pierce was OK with slavery in the South

By the 1850s, the Democrats were in disarray. The Compromise of 1850, passed after the sudden death of Whig president Zachary Taylor, admitted California as a free state , denied the outlaw of slavery in the U$ southwest (as in Utah), enacted a stringent Fugitive Slave Law (see here and here), the US government taking on Texas’s debt (also see here), with the compromise divided into varying bills.  While some say it delayed the Civil War for decade, there is no doubt that these measures maintained the brutal institution of slavery in the South, making Democrats and Whigs both responsible for its maintenance. Even so, the issue of slavery ultimately “broke up the Whigs, divided the Democrats, and produced the Republicans.” [48] It is worth adding to this that since Lincoln was originally part of the Whigs, which organized opposition to “the Jacksonian Democrats” he later abandoned the Whigs after his party lost its “life,” joining the Republican Party but not as one of its founders. The Democrats were willing to accommodate the white slaveowners, with Stephen A. Douglas (who Lincoln famously debated) proposing in the 1850s a legislative measure “to organize territory west of Iowa and Missouri” but decided, in an effort to “secure Southern support” that settlers should decide “for themselves whether the newly formed territories would be slave or free.” [49]

The Democratic representation of White slaveowners and not the working class was represented by Franklin Pierce, a Democrat who was president from 1853 to 1857. In his inaugural address, in 1853 (also published on pages 243- 245 of the Congressional Globe), he blatantly endorsed imperial conquest, declaring that

“…the policy of my Administration will not be controlled by any timid forebodings of evil from expansion. Indeed, it is not to be disguised that our attitude as a nation and our position on the globe render the acquisition of certain possessions not within our jurisdiction eminently important for our protection, if not in the future essential for the preservation of the rights of commerce and the peace of the world. Should they be obtained, it will be through no grasping spirit, but with a view to obvious national interest and security, and in a manner entirely consistent with the strictest observance of national faith.”

While he wanted to do this, within “constitutional” means, he also sai that the U$ had a ‘god-given’ right to the continent, even claiming that slavery “is recognized by the Constitution” and can only be addressed through “constitutional provisions.” Hence, he showed his pro-slavery and expansionist views in this speech, as he outlined his “position on territorial expansion” or “extraterritorial claims,” as some interpreted it as a “veiled announcement of a resolve to make a fresh bid for Cuba and…the Hawaiian Islands.” [50] Yet he rejected the treaty to annex Hawaii because it made Hawaii a state, not a territory controlled directly by the U.S. government. It should be no surprise that The United States Magazine and Democratic Review (for short, the Democratic Review), published by John L. O’Sullivan, who had coined the words ‘manifest destiny’ in 1845, endorsed Pierce’s speech.  [51] The article titled ‘The Inaugural,’ (pp. 368-381) the DemocraticReview, likely by the editor (O’Sullivan), was such an endorsement:

 “The fourth of 1853 [March 4, 1853, Pierce’s inaugural speech]…was the commencement…of a new era in the history in the United States. The democracy resumed their empire, and destinies of the country have…passed under their hands…The Southern States having been “compromised” out of their share of the territory, partly purchased in blood…and had every reason to apprehend, that they will in like manner be compromised out of all share in future acquisition…[the] faculty of expansion…is…the destiny of the United States, because it has an unoccupied world for its sphere of action [and] would continue to be…the great instrument not only of our power but our happiness and freedom…we deeply regret that abolition has thrown almost inseparable obstacles in the way of the great faculty of expansion…we have…a clear explicit pledge that the President will studiously refrain from all intervention in…Europe…[and] resist any such intervention on the part of those powers [in Europe]…at renewing the old system of colonization…we cordially wish him a long life of happiness and honor.”

Pierce’s expansionist views make sense when taking into context that during his administration, for one, he bought “a strip of land along Mexico,” for $10 million dollars (later called the Gadsden Purchase) in order to create a “transcontinental railroad through Southern states and territories,” which was part of a broader plan to “expand the Southern empire.” [52] Add to this the fact that Pierce was engaging in yet another attempt to purchase or take Cuba from the Spanish. In 1854, after the so-called Black Warrior incident where Cuban officials seized the cargo, the crew and the ship itself, a few American diplomats went to France to meet with the US’s Minister to France and James Buchanan. The report of their proceedings, became what was known as the Ostend Manifesto. It was eventually leaked to the press, and damaged the foreign relations of the Pierce Administration, with the manifesto by James Buchanan, J.Y. Mason and Pierre Soule written in October 1854:

“We have arrived at the conclusion, and are thoroughly convinced, that an immediate and earnest effort ought to be made by the government of the United States to purchase Cuba from Spain at any price for which it can be obtained…We firmly believe that, in the progress of human events, the time has arrived when the vital interests of Spain are as seriously involved in the sale, as those of the United States in the purchase of the island, and that the transaction will prove equally honorable to both nations…The United States ought, if practicable, to purchase Cuba with as little delay as possible…Cuba is as necessary to the North American republic as any of its present members, and that it belongs naturally to that great family of states of which the Union is the providential nursery.From its locality it commands the mouth of the Mississippi and the immense and annually increasing trade which must seek this avenue to the ocean…Indeed the Union can never enjoy repose, nor possess reliable security, as long as Cuba is not embraced within its boundaries. Its immediate acquisition by our government is of paramount importance, and we cannot doubt but that it is a consummation devoutly wished for by its inhabitants…The system of immigration and labor, lately organized within its limits, and the tyranny and oppression which characterize its immediate rulers, threaten an insurrection at every moment which may result in direful consequences to the American people…Extreme oppression, it s now admitted, justifies any people in endeavoring to relieve themselves from the yoke of their oppressors…should the Cubans themselves rise in revolt against the oppression which they suffer, no human power could prevent the citizens of the United States and liberal-minded men of other countries from rushing to their assistance…It is certain that, should the Cubans themselves organize an insurrection against the Spanish government, and should other independent nations come to the aid of Spain in the contest, no human power could, in our opinion, prevent the people and the government of the United States from taking part in such a civil war, in support of their neighbors and friends…does Cuba, in the possession of Spain, seriously endanger our internal peace and the existence of our cherished Union? Should this question be answered in the affirmative, then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain, if we possess the power…We should, however, be recreant to our duty, be unworthy of our gallant forefathers, and commit base treason against our posterity, should we permit Cuba to be Africanized and become a second St. Domingo, with all its attendant horrors to the white race, and suffer the flames to extend to our own neighboring shores, seriously to endanger our actually to consume the fair fabric of our Union…But this course cannot, with due regard to their own dignity as an independent nation, continue; and our recommendations, now submitted, are dictated by the firm belief that the cession of Cuba to the United States, with stipulations as beneficial to Spain as those suggested, is the only effective mode of settling all past differences, and of the securing the two countries against future collisions.”

With this manifesto saying that the US had a right to Cuba, it had fundamental racial/White supremacist undertones (i.e. “permit Cuba to be Africanized” and fearing the establishment of another Black republic like Haiti) showing that racism was inherent within the Democratic Party, including that of future President James Buchanan. If the Confederacy had included Cuba it is likely that the Civil War may have not ended in Union victory, to the detriment of the population at large.

By 1854, in his second annual message in 1854 Pierce talked about a “naval expedition…[with] the purpose of establishing relations with the Empire of Japan” that he said had been “aptly and skillfully conducted.” [53] The expedition he was talking about was also called the ‘Perry Expedition’ and people’s historian Howard Zinn in A People’s History of the United States described it as “the use of warships to force Japan to open its ports to the United States.” In the CRS document, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014, it describes further three visits by US warships in 1854 as making a “a naval demonstration, landing marines twice, and secur[ing]…a coaling concession from the ruler of Naha on Okinawa” in order to “secure facilities for commerce.”

Again, it is clear that the Democrats, while they were inherently racist and white supremacist, were more concerned about the interests of slaveowners than that of the working class. Yet, the Whigs were no better, supporting the interests of the northern bourgeoisie. But this should surprise no one.

The white supremacist foreign policy continued under the next Democrat, James Buchanan, who was in office from 1857 to 1861. As noted earlier, he had served in Polk’s administration as secretary of state, and as a minister to the UK under Pierce from 1853 to 1856. At the time it was believed that “while territorial expansion did not violate America’s democratic republican principles, imperial conquest did. For this reason, purchase was the preferred method of obtaining foreign territory.” [54] Buchanan, although he was a bachelor, directly led to the Civil War. While he believed that secession was illegal he did “not believe the federal government had any right to prevent states from seceding,” showing the weakness of the limited government philosophy of the Democrats at the time, failing in times of crisis. Basically Buchanan is seen as one of the worst presidents in U$ history because of his “apparent indifference to the onset of the Civil War,” saw the issue of slavery in U$ territories to be an issue that isn’t that important, was obsessed with Cuba, and had a war with Mormon settlers in Utah. One historian, Michael Todd Landis seems to disagree with the mainstream interpretation of Buchanan. [55] He writes that

Polk was indeed successful in achieving the majority of his goals as chief executive, but so was Buchanan. The fact that secession occurred during his administration should not cloud our assessment of his political skills and ability to accomplish his aims. If we judge him a failure because his actions led directly to the Civil War, then we must judge Polk likewise, as his invasion of Mexico was arguably the match that set the house aflame…we need to appreciate the fact that Buchanan and his operatives wrested the 1856 Democratic nomination from the hands of Stephen Douglas, the architect of the Appeasement of 1850…Buchanan worked to maintain the allegiance of the slave states, alienate Douglas from partisan leaders…As president-elect, Buchanan moved quickly to assemble a cabinet that suited his needs and leadership style….Buchanan’s cabinet was lackluster, full of pro-slavery cronies and mediocre minds. But that is exactly what the confident Buchanan wanted…He sought to use his appointive power to heal the internal party divisions wrought by his predecessor Pierce…While he selected his cabinet, President-Elect Buchanan also worked behind the scenes to achieve a long-held personal and partisan goal: a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against black Americans and against Congressional authority over slavery. Buchanan, ever the skilled wire-puller, achieved exactly that with the infamous Dred Scott decision…It was a major victory for the Slave Power, and an epic accomplishment for a man not yet even inaugurated..As president, Buchanan continued to achieve his goals: he reduced U.S. participation in the trans-Atlantic anti-slavery naval squadron; forced Nicaragua to grant transit rights across the isthmus; bullied Mexico into accepting U.S. occupation during times of civil disturbance; sent nineteen warships with 200 guns to Paraguay to force acceptance of U.S. economic interests; purged his Democratic Party of any lingering anti-slavery elements…forced the defiant Mormon community at the Great Salt Lake to recognize and accept U.S. authority. More famously, Buchanan, in an unprecedented exertion of executive influence, was able to push the fraudulent, pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution of Kansas through an uncooperative Congress full of anti-slavery Republicans and anti-Buchanan supporters…Buchanan did not expect or plan on the “secession winter” of 1860 to 1861, and his failure to act in defense of the Union is rightly condemned by most historians…Like Polk, he achieved most of his goals, served only one term, presided over a dramatic party split, and watched Democrats fail in the next presidential contest.

If we consider this, it makes Buchanan not only devious but a skilled politician who was white supremacist and imperialist. That should make him one who is condemned even more than what people usually despise him for: not using federal authority to defend the Union from succession. Lest us forget that he was a Democratic president who wrote in a letter that “I have taken care that I shall yet be truly presented to my countrymen. I entertain no fears in regard to their verdict” (basically that history will “redeem” him) but remained strongly against abolitionism.

During the presidential elections in 1860, planters, allied with the Democrats, tried “to surmount a crisis of the plantation economy” was they took over new lands and by forced diffusion of slavery across the U$. However, Abraham Lincoln won, and the planters seceded as part of the Confederate States of America  (which wasn’t legally a state or country) as they wanted to protect their “property” which constituted enslaved Black individuals, showing their inherent inhumanity. [56]

Civil War (1861-1865)

This map shows the outbreak of the empire when the Civil War broke out.

With the Civil War, the Democrats mainly were among the secessionist Confederacy as southern representatives and senators from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee (fully by 1862), Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina were no longer part of the U$ Congress. As such, Republicans held the legislative bodies (House and Senate) with a majority, with unionists filling vacant seats in the House. With Democrats mostly out of the picture, the following legislation was passed:

  1. First income tax measure in U$ history (the Revenue Act of 1861)
  2. The Confiscation Acts which were “designed to allow the federal government to seize property, including slave property, being used to support the Confederate rebellion” which was only loosely enforced by Lincoln
  3. Homestead Act of 1862 which those “owning and residing on land may, under the provisions of this act, enter other land lying contiguous to his or her said land, which shall not, with the land so already owned and occupied, exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres.”
  4. Passing the first “federal legislation…designed to punish and prevent the practice of polygamy in the U.S.”
  5. Creating the office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, levying excise taxes, adjusting the income tax (Revenue Act of 1862)
  6. Laws to support the creation of the transcontinental railroad
  7. Laws to create land-grant colleges (Morrill Land-Grant Acts)
  8. Allowing “enrollment of the militia shall in all cases include all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and shall be apportioned among the States according to representative population” (Militia Act of 1862)
  9. Laws to establish a system of national banks but not a central bank with a “common currency” and having bonds
  10. Passing a law called the False Claims Act or “Lincoln Law” which has become the “primary weapon in combating fraud against the federal government. “
  11. Passing a law for the draft of able-bodied “male citizens of the United States, and persons of foreign birth who shall have declared on oath their intention to become citizens under and in pursuance of the laws thereof, between the ages of twenty and forty-five years” while allowing “draftees to pay $300 to a substitute who served for them.”
  12. Passed a law which “suspend[ed] the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in any case throughout the United States”
  13. Passed a coinage act authorizing the minting of a two-cent coin
  14. Passing the Freedman’s Bureau Bills which established the Freedman’s Bureau, an organization to help enslaved Blacks in the South (see here and here)

The essence of these laws was to maintain capitalism in the North by supporting the bourgeoisie with new markets (like the bill about a transcontinental railroad and ones about the income tax), instill certain “republican”values (i.e. bill about land-grand colleges), support the war effort, and somewhat help enslaved Blacks (Freedman’s Bureau bills). For the idea of homesteading, embodied in the Homestead Act of 1862, as it turned over “vast amounts of the public domain to private citizens” and would populate the territories, gained “more popularity among farmers than among workers,” with Northern Republicans and Democrats endorsing it in 1860 and it becoming law in 1862. [57] Martin Luther King, Jr. himself addressed these laws in a strident Black nationalist way, which he turned to in the last years of his life, at the National Cathedral in D.C. in April 1968, saying it was endemic of institutional (and historical) racism in the U$:

…In 1863 the Negro was told that he was free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by Abraham Lincoln. But he was not given any land to make that freedom meaningful…the nation failed to do anything for the black man, though an act of Congress was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest [Homestead Act]. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did it give the land, it built land-grant colleges to teach them how to farm [Morrill Land-Grand Acts]. Not only that, it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming; not only that, as the years unfolded it provided low interest rates so that they could mechanize their farms. And to this day thousands of these very persons are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies every years not to farm. And these are so often the very people who tell Negroes that they must lift themselves by their own bootstraps. It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. We must come to see that the roots of racism are very deep in our country, and there must be something positive and massive in order to get rid of all the effects of racism and the tragedies of racial injustice.

Hence, the Republicans and Democrats are both part of the deepening of the “roots of racism” within the murderous empire. In the 1864 presidential election, the Radical Democracy Party led by John C. Freeman, challenged Lincoln, called for

the continuation of the war without compromise…a constitutional amendment banning slavery and authorizing federal protection of equal rights…protection of the rights of free speech, free press, and the writ of habeas corpus…confiscation of rebel property…enforcement of the Monroe Doctrine…a one-term presidency; and, integrity and economy in government.

But the party collapsed as they did not want to see the Democrats win. There is a reason for this. The Democrats, who had a candidate named George B. McCellan (whose Vice-President was George H. Pendleton) called for the end the war with a federal union with “the rights of the States unimpaired,” while paying lip service to “the soldiery of our army and sailors of our navy,” meaning that they were OK with slavery being preserved in the Union! Lincoln won 55% of the popular vote, winning a total of 212 electoral votes to McCellan’s 21. So the “Peace Democrats” lost and the U$ is better for it.

After the war and Reconstruction (1865-1876)

An illustration criticizing the power of plutocrats in U$ society

As the war ended, a new economic order was in place. As Cornel West puts it, “triumphant industrialization ran amok,” as the country birthed a new “breed of plutocrats” called robber-barons “who ran unregulated monopolies and accumulated obscene financial fortunes.” [58] As such rights of corporations of those said plutocrats were enhanced “in the name of the Fourteenth Amendment” to help Black peoples, and that “transcontinental expansion and plutocratic wealth should not go unnoticed.” This should be no surprise because although the Civil War, which was “won by the widespread people’s masses” and led to a series of bourgeois-democratic reforms,” it created conditions favorable for capitalism’s “development in the country,” leading to the upper bourgeoisie profiting from the “fruits” of the war. [59] This makes it no surprise that the living standard of laboring farmers and workers sharply declined as class struggle intensified. The Democrats were nowhere to be seen except for supporting the old order of the antebellum South to which they wanted to get back to by whatever means possible.

By the 1870s, “corporate leaders first thought about providing private corporate pensions,” rather than  government pensions. This as because old-age pensions were most often “seen as a way to replace superannuated workers with more productive younger workers,” which was put in place by a railroad company named American Express in 1875 and others after the 1877 railroad strike. With the advent of the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes, the Northern bourgeoisie betrayed Black and working masses, entered “into an agreement with Southern planters,” whom were associated with the Democratic Party, an agreement “aimed at suppressing the movements of the working class, the farmers, and the Negro people.” [60] This agreement was a success and showed that the Democrats again didn’t care at all about working people.

Up the 20th century (1876-1900)

Grover Cleveland sometimes tried to act progressive, like the above quote indicates, but he actually slavishly favored the corporate community.

By 1885, Grover Cleveland took the helm, which he would hold until 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897. When beatings by the two thousand deputies hired by the railroad companies and court injunctions against those railroad workers boycotting (or striking) against Pullman, Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to Chicago, even though Eugene Debs had been a lifelong Democrat who even campaigned for Cleveland. [61] This went against the general impression “in the country” that Cleveland “opposed the power of monopolies and corporations, and that the Republican Party…stood for the wealthy.” After all, “one of Cleveland’s chief advisers was William Whitney, a millionaire and corporation lawyer” who became Secretary of the Navy, immediately going about creating a “steel navy” by buying “steel at artificially high prices from Carnegie’s plants” and Cleveland assuring industrialists that his election should not frighten them; this was no surprise since the election “avoided real issues.” [62] That wasn’t all. In 1887, Cleveland vetoed a bill appropriating “$100,000 to give relief to Texas farmers to help them buy seed grain during a drought,” even with a huge surplus in the treasury, and he “used his gold surplus to pay off wealthy bondholders.” [63] The Interstate Commerce Act passed the same year was supposed to “regulate the railroads on behalf of the consumers” but instead the Interstate Commerce Commission was utilized to benefit the railroad companies. Additionally, even though support for “Cuba Libre” grew among the population, with Democrats and Republicans in favor, President Cleveland “refused to aid the rebels.” [64] Finally, when Cleveland was elected again as President in 1892, the manager of Andrew Carnegie’s steel plants, Henry Clay Frick, said that their interests would not be effected, which was proven by the fact that Cleveland used troops to break up a “demonstration of unemployed men who had come to Washington,” called “Coxey’s Army,” in 1893,  and a national strike on the railroads in 1894. As the Great Soviet Encyclopedia put it, a rapprochement, by the 1890s, had taken place “between the Republican and Democratic parties, which had turned into the parties of the upper bourgeoisie” with the Democrats only winning twice after the civil war with Grover Cleveland winning twice. [65] This was also evident in 1893 when Democrats opposed the tariff because it was “class legislation.”

Even with all of this, Stephen Kinzer says that Cleveland was “anti-imperialist” because of his rejection of Hawaii’s annexation, after the “revolution” in 1893, while President, even as his administration, including his Treasury secretary (John Carlisle), supported the grabbing of new foreign markets to benefit the empire. Such annexation was only completed under the McKinley administration that followed him. [66] He seemingly supports this by adding his opposition to the Spanish-American War in 1898. However, there is a problem with this. While annexation of Hawaii did not occur on his watch, other interventions did, as one government report makes clear:

  • 1893:Hawaii. January 16 to April 1. Marines were landed ostensibly to protect American lives and property, but many believed actually to promote a provisional government under Sanford B. Dole. This action was disavowed by the United States [government led by Cleveland]
  • 1894:Brazil. January. A display of naval force sought to protect American commerce and shipping at Rio de Janeiro during a Brazilian civil war.
  • 1894: Nicaragua. July 6 to August 7. U.S. forces sought to protect American interests at Bluefields following a revolution.
  • 1894-1895: China. In March 1894, Marines from the gunboat USS Monocacy provided an honor guard for the Chinese viceroy’s official visit to the U.S. consulate at Tientsin
    (now Tianjin).
  • 1894-1895: China. A naval vessel was beached and used as a fort at Newchwang (now Yingkou) for protection of American nationals.
  • 1894-1896: Korea. July 24, 1894, to April 3, 1896. A guard of marines was sent to protect the American legation and American lives and interests at Seoul during and following the Sino-Japanese War.
  • 1895: Colombia. March 8 to 9. Lieutenant Ben Hebard Fuller led a landing party at Boca del Toro to protect American lives and property threatened by a political revolt.
  • 1896: Nicaragua. May 2 to 4. U.S. forces protected American interests in Corinto during political unrest.

From this, I think calling Cleveland’s views “anti-imperialist” is an utter joke. Errors like this are common when progressives, without a radical understanding, write books.

Then we come to the election of 1896. William Jennings Bryan, who had been previously nominated by the Democrats for president, advocated for gold as a basis for currency, apparently terrifying industrialists, but but big business ultimately won with McKinley’s victory as a Republican. [67] As such, the Democratic Party had taken over “the most popular Populist slogans in order to undermine their chance of success” meaning that the Populist Movement, which benefited the working class (whether black or white), was no more, with both parties not caring about them in the slightest.

From McKinley to Wilson: 1900-1921

Wilson was a hard-card segregationist as the above quote makes clear

In the dawn of the new century was another initiative to appease the working class: unemployment insurance. Originally it was “based on what were considered to be sound business principles that would appeal to moderate conservatives” and came from a “small group of experts,” who were mostly university professors, called the American Association for Labor Association (AALL) founded in 1906. As they aimed to promote “uniform progressive state and local labor laws and, where possible, national labor legislation” and many of their founders were part of a group formed by corporate moderates called the National Civic Federation (NCF),experts in the group felt some “corporate moderates might be sympathetic to unemployment insurance, as well as some of the other labor law reforms that reformers and progressives” had been working for since the 1880s. Additionally, while the AALL had leadership and financing overlap with the NCF , it also included “reformers…a few socialists…[and] progressive women reformers” even though it was “financed by a small number of wealthy individuals…who came from well-to-do family backgrounds.” Again, this means that efforts like unemployment insurance did not come from the working class itself but from the planning community, as G. William Domhoff calls it. For the next 40 years, AALL worked on varying labor legislation including “old-age pensions…unemployment insurance…accident insurance…[and] health insurance,” having a strong impact on worker health through legislation “it helped write to combat industrial diseases,” even though it was not widely successful generally because of “resistance from the corporate community.” Even so, it attracted some support on “workmen’s compensation” and this became the seed, “by a circuitous and indirect route, for the Social Security Act.”

While some have lauded Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909, for having the “nerve to condemn dangerous concentrations of economic power, battle the meatpacking industry, and win passage of the nation’s first food safety law,” the reality was that he was a harsh and dedicated imperialist. [68] Not only had he been a major advocate of the Spanish-American War in 1898 but U$ troops intervened in the following locations, as noted in a CRS report:

  • 1901:Colombia (State of Panama). November 20 to December 4. U.S. forces protected American property on the Isthmus and kept transit lines open during serious revolutionary disturbances.
  • 1902:Colombia. April 16 to 23. U.S. forces protected American lives and property at Bocas del Toro during a civil war.
  • 1902: Colombia (State of Panama). September 17 to November 18. The United States placed armed guards on all trains crossing the Isthmus to keep the railroad line open, and stationed ships on both sides of Panama to prevent the landing of Colombian troops.
  • 1903: Honduras. March 23 to 30 or 31. U.S. forces protected the American consulate and the steamship wharf at Puerto Cortez during a period of revolutionary activity.
  •  1903: Dominican Republic. March 30 to April 21. A detachment of marines was landed to protect American interests in the city of Santo Domingo during a revolutionary outbreak.
  • 1903: Syria. September 7 to 12. U.S. forces protected the American consulate in Beirut when a local Moslem uprising was feared.
  • 1903: Abyssinia. Twenty-five marines were sent to Abyssinia to protect the U.S. Consul General while he negotiated a treaty.
  • 1903-1914: Panama. U.S. forces sought to protect American interests and lives during and following the revolution for independence from Colombia over construction of the Isthmian Canal. With brief intermissions, United States Marines were stationed on the Isthmus from November 4, 1903, to January 21, 1914, to guard American interests.
  • 1904: Dominican Republic. January 2 to February 11. American and British naval forces established an area in which no fighting would be allowed and protected American interests in Puerto Plata and Sosua and Santo Domingo City during revolutionary fighting.
  • 1904: Tangier, Morocco. A squadron demonstrated to force the release of a kidnapped Americans Ion Hanford Perdicaris and Cromwell Varley. Marines were landed to protect the consul general.
  • 1904: Panama. November 17 to 24. U.S. forces protected American lives and property at Ancon at the time of a threatened insurrection.
  • 1904-1905: Korea. January 5, 1904, to November 11, 1905. A guard of Marines was sent to protect the American legation in Seoul during the Russo-Japanese War.
  • 1906-1909: Cuba. September 1906 to January 23, 1909. U.S. forces sought to restore order, protect foreigners, and establish a stable government after serious revolutionary activity.
  • 1907: Honduras. March 18 to June 8. To protect American interests during a war between Honduras and Nicaragua, troops were stationed in Trujillo, Ceiba, Puerto Cortez, San Pedro, Laguna, and Choloma.

After William Howard Taft continued these imperialistic interventions, then came Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, who was “conservative from the start.” He won thanks to a split in the Republican Party as some joined Teddy Roosevelt’s “Progressive Party” as he received a “small plurality of votes.” [69] Like those before him, a “financial oligarchy” determined foreign policy. This was demonstrated by the fact that he supported the “righteous conquest of foreign markets” with one of his first military actions being the ordering of U$ warships to “attack Veracruz, Mexico” so they could defend Standard Oil’s investments. [70] He became the “chief enforcer for the great financial districts” with the invasion of Haiti and Mexico during his presidency. Furthermore, during his time in office, Wilson organized inventions in [71]:

  • Mexico (1914, 1916-1917)
  • Haiti (occupying it 1915-1934)
  • Nicaragua (occupying continuing to 1933)
  • Dominican Republic (occupying it 1916-1924)
  • Cuba (1917-1922)

This imperialistic positioning was reinforced by his anger at women agitating for the right to vote and his compliance with restoring order after the Ludlow rebellion by mine workers. [72] There were some “reforms” such as the creation of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to control monopoly growth and the Federal Reserve Act to regulate the U$ “money and banking system,” but these again benefited “large-scale monopolies.” This was evident by the fact that the FTC carried out its work to benefit big business, not consumers and the Federal Reserve System was established under direct instructions of capitalist monopolies as strikes of workers were suppressed. [73] Around this time, Democrats seemed content “to confine themselves to equitable cotton grading and ignore the broader speculative problem in grain and securities,” others as governors posed as progressives.

Then there was World War I, said to be the “war to end all wars.” While Wilson won re-election as a “peace” candidate in 1916, the same year that there was a “peace scare” selling in 1916, led the bankers into a panic,  the “neutrality” of the murderous empire was an utter joke. Not only had Wilson and Robert Lansing,  his secretary of state, planned to  allow private bank loans to the allies, with much U$-manufactured war material going to Europe, but U$ monopolies provided loans, ammunition, and foodstuffs to Western European countries, making huge profits. [74] Even on the RMS Lusitania there were many boxes and cases of ammunition and other armaments, proving that the U$ was “shipping great amounts of war materials to Germany’s enemies.” In April 1917, the murderous empire entered the war in Europe. Not only was a Committee on Public Information set up by longtime newspaper man George Creel, to be the “government’s official propagandist for the war,” put in place with the sponsoring of “75,000 speakers, who came 750,000 four-minute speeches in five thousand American cities and towns” to convince the public of the value of war, while the national press created a culture of fear as it cooperated with the national government. [75] Additionally, during the war itself there was transition to “a military economy,” and government authority was further submitted to monopolies while the living standard of workers declined. Also, Hoover, at the time, a food administrator, was criticized by Democrats who “suspected him of a lack of sympathy with farmers.”

While an imperialist “program of peace” called the Fourteen Points, was was put forward in Jan 1918, the U$ tried to broaden the intervention in the newly-formed Soviet state. [76] This was evidenced by the fact that the U$ government was successful in removing Reed “as the Soviet’s representative” but also was closely watching the Bolshevik Revolution, with the diplomats more concerned with “the implications of Soviet Russia making a separate peace with Germany and ending the war on the Eastern front than with the Petrograd Revolution spreading to the American masses” as noted by the bourgeois National Security Archive. Perhaps because they knew that they could contain revolution in the U$ but could not control the conditions on the ground for the war itself.

After Wilson and to Hoover: 1921-1933

Lenin speaking to a crowd of Russian (soon to be Soviet) comrades

As the years passed, Republicans tried to link Bolsheviks and drug traffickers together. This included the celebrated mayor of New York City, James John “Jimmy” Walker, accused by the New York Times of using “used a portion of his drug profits to finance communist-sponsored strikes in the city’s garment district,” marking the first time in US history that “politicians and policemen were linked with Bolsheviks and drug traffickers.” [77] Such a store gave Republican US Attorney Charles H. Tuttle an upper hand, as he demanded the “immediate dismissal of all officials associated with [the Democratic headquarters in NY] Tammany Hall…including a number of judges,” followed up by anti-narcotics crusaders such as Republican representative Stephen G. Porter and Col. Levi G. Nutt of the Treasury Department’s narcotics division.

In other news, in the 1920s, a “so-called Progressive bloc was formed.” It represented the “interests of farmers and petty urban bourgeoisie” while being supported by trade unions, with its origin “provoked by the dissatisfaction of the workers with the policy both of the Republican and Democratic parties.” [78]

Also, during this time period, certain Democrats, in 1928, advocated or a lower stock transfer tax from 2 cents per $100 to $1 cent. However, this failed and the tax at the 2 cent rate was retained by a 48-30 vote, meaning that the anti-speculators won. [79] Additionally, in the 1930s, Democrats  publicized the Federal Reserve Act as a “major achievement of the Wilson administration” in contrast to those who criticized the Federal Reserve.

The Years of FDR: 1933-1945

Taking the quote above, the New Deal was not “by accident” but was planned in ways to avoid a revolution that would have overthrown the capitalist system.

Fast forward to 1933. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) overwhelmingly defeated Republican Herbert Hoover in the 1932 Presidential Elections, ending the  reign of Republicans which had lasted from 1921 to 1933 (Warren G. Harding to 1923, then Calvin Coolidge to 1929, and finally Herbert Hoover to 1933). His big claim to fame were his “New Deal” reforms, which reorganized capitalism to “overcome the crisis and stabilize the system” while heading off “alarming growth of spontaneous rebellion.” [80] This was first addressed through the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) which took control of the economy by creating a set of codes which would be “agreed on by management, labor, and the government, fixing prices and wages, limiting competition,” resulting in the National Recovery Administration (NRA) was dominated by big business, not serving organized labor. While the Supreme Court said that NIRA  was unconstitutional by arguing that it was not voluntary but rather coercive and reaffirming that “private property shall not be thus taken even for a wholly public use without just compensation,” other programs continued.

The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) favored large farmers while hurting poor farmers by encouraging them to plant less, or if they were tenants and sharecroppers, to leave their land. However, the newly created Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) “gave jobs to the unemployed, helped the consumer with lower electric rates.” This ultimately proved that the New Deal’s “organization of the economy was aimed mainly at stabilizing the economy” and helping the lower classes enough to prevent the rebellion from becoming a “real revolution.” [81] Other laws, like the Wagner-Connery Bill, introduced in Congress in early 1934, regulated labor disputes, provided for “elections for union representatives, and created a “board to settle problems and handle grievances” (National Labor Relations Board), big business opposed because it was too helpful for labor, and it passed in 1935 with Roosevelt’s approval. This was because while it aided labor organizing, others saw it as stabilizing stabilized commerce or maintaining the capitalist system. [82] The same was the case with the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA) which some say was a “major turning point in American labor history” since it committed the U$ government to standing behind the rights of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employers about wages, hours, and working conditions” but it has been undermined in years since.

The commitment to the government to labor seemed to be represented by FDR himself as he, in 1934, set up a board of mediation between striking textile workers and management with the textile workers union calling off the strike. [83] This conception is why those, such as Cornel West, believe that FDR was unique in his “determination to oppose this [corporate] power and might” making it “no accident that FDR is so vehemently hated by the evangelical nihilistic elites of the present-day empire” as he put it. However, FDR’s “New Deal” and seemingly “worker-friendly” policies which regulated “private-capital activity,” strengthened what some called  “government capitalism”with varying programs, like the National Labor Relations Board, guarding the interests of employers rather than those of the proletariat. [84] This was manifested in the creation of Social Security in the U$. With the Great Depression “starting to take its toll on even the best of the company plans” and more workers reaching retirement and living longer “when corporate profits had been flat or declining for three straight years” there was concern. The Roosevelt-appointed Secretary of Commerce, Daniel Roper,a former corporate lobbyist, created a new “governmental advisory agency in the early spring of 1933” called the Industrial Relations Committee (IRC) with its first task to endorse the plan of the anti-union Industrial Relations Counselors, Inc., funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Rockefeller Foundation. After a back-and-forth between the IRC, others in the policy planning network, and Roosevelt, the corporate moderates were convinced that a “narrowly circumscribed government program” of social insurance would benefit them. This means that “industrial relations experts,” not the labor movement or any other social movement (like those pushing for the “Townsend Plan” which was a narrow interest group rather than a “movement” and had “little or no impact” on the passage of the Socal Security Act), formed Social Security. No sooner did the law pass that “corporate moderates and their experts” made efforts for changes with most of the recommendations accepted at the time while Southern Democrats made sure the white supremacist order was maintained in the South.

To summarize, while the “New Deal” provided work for those who were unemployed with many great public buildings built at that time, along with establishing the forty-hour work week and outlawing child labor within minimum wage legislation in 1938, which excluded “many people out of its provisions and set very low minimum wages,” these provisions were “enough to dull the edge of resentment.” [85] It could be said to be, like the so-called “Great Society,” a “skillful mastery of the system.” More accurately however is the fact that once the New Deal had ended the capitalist system was still in place with capitalists controlling the wealth of the nation, the laws, colleges, police, courts, churches and newspapers, but FDR had given enough help to enough people to make him “a hero to millions.” [86]

What about foreign policy? Well, it was harsh and cruel to be clear. Not only was his “Good Neighbor Policy” was a disguise for intervention in Latin America (with some reactionary capitalists supporting the rebellion of General Saturninio Cedillo against the established Mexican government) but the U$ declared that the Republican Spanish government was belligerent, meaning it could not buy armaments from the U$ but it did not consider Italy and Germany to be belligerents, allowing them to buy armaments. [87] Additionally, in the 1930s the appeasement of Nazi Germany was official policy, U$ businesses were allowed to sell “huge quantities of oil to Italy” when it invaded Ethiopia, and did little to resist the invasion of Japanese fascists of the mainland of Asia until they entered Southeast Asia. At the same time, communists and progressives were being persecuted by measures such as the Smith Act (or Alien Registration Act) of 1940 which fines and imprisons (for up to 20 years) those who “knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of…any political subdivision therein, by force or violence,” making those who are said to commit such crimes “ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency…for the five years next following his conviction.” Some of those persecuted included Black female communist Claudia Jones, unionist Harry Bridges, and against varying other Communist Party leaders.

In September 1939, World War II began in Europe. At the time, leaders of the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) began “to offer their services on postwar planning” with proposals to benefit U$ interests, with the Economic and Financial Group of the CFR developing ties with a “new policy discussion group” called the Committee for Economic Development (CED) which had been created by moderate corporate conservatives with “close relationships with the Department of Commerce.” At the time time, the Department of State “created its own internal structure for postwar planning.” The planners began to suggest the idea of creating a “single trading organization to market all surplus agriculture production in the Western Hemisphere” while studying economic warfare and conclding that Japan was vulnerable to trade sanctions against Japan while “a Japanese takeover of Southeast Asia would impair the British war effort against Hitler” with many viewing it as “the beginning of the disintegration of the British Empire.” Soon enough, FDR succumbed to his lust for foreign adventure, waging his own “presidential war against Germany, providing England with ships and arms” with the “unprovoked” attack by the Japanese in December 1941, leading to Congress declaring war. [88]

With a “powerful anti-Hitler coalition” forming between the U$, UK, and USSR, U$ capitalists were worried about Germany having a stronger hand in Latin America. With the U$ and UK capitalist, this showed itself through the fact that they did not want a rapid end to the war, even as the Soviets fought the full might of the Nazis on the Eastern Front, that that U$ took advantage of the difficulties faced by the UK during the war to gain more control, and planning the outlines of a new economic order which was “based on partnership between government and big business,” culminating in a war, for the U$ and UK at least, “waged by a government whose chief beneficiary…was a wealthy elite.” [89] As such, it should be no surprise that U$ troops were used to seize mines within the empire  during a strike by order of FDR, and that the latter interned, by executive order, 110,000 people of Japanese descent, 3/4 of whom were U.S. citizens (Nisei) and 1/4 of whom were born in Japan (Isei), in literal concentration camps for which the U$ government by the 1980s apologized for by distributing “$1.6 billion to internees and their relatives.” Additionally, the “plight of Jews” in the German-occupied parts of Europe was not treated as a main concern, with the same being said about the promise of self-determination with the U$ privately saying that France should have their colonies restored to them. [90]

As the war went on, the planners in the U$ government, especially those connected with the CFR, made their aims clear. The world capitalist economy was a major emphasis with a rejection of “free trade” as they saw the U$ as a “nation that should use its political and military power” so it can create “the international economic and political institutions” for an expanded economy worldwide  which would be “essential for the proper functioning of the American, British, and Japanese economies.” Hence, they were putting forward imperialist aims. Furthermore, these planners had shown that the U$ was concerned about Japanese domination of Southeast Asia because the U$ was “dependent upon supplies of vital materials” from that part of the world, including “supplies of tin and rubber and tungsten,” saying outright that U$ “imports from those regions are of vital importance to us…all interruption of our trade with that area would be catastrophic.” Other reports said that the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, and British Malaya are “prime sources of raw materials very important to the United States in peace and war,” with “special obiligations” to the Philippines (imperial domination of it). With the U$ entering the war, the definition of the national interest was “consonant with the aims of the CFR.” As the war even on, CFR planners were called “consultants” and were paid by the government, showing that the CFR “played a major role in defining the postwar national interest.” Later on, the CFR and government planners built off the “concerns, analyses, and goals of the CFR’s war peace study groups between the years 1940 and 1942.” While none of the planners like the USSR or communism, they even “suggested the creation of an Eastern European customs union” with little emphasis on Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union nor Eastern Europe seen as part of the “Grand Area.”

There’s more. While the British felt as they were being edged out, with the U$ seeming out to “weaken the British empire” with efforts to control much of the world’s gold supply,and not specifying the “general principles of the Grand Area strategy.” In 1941 what came to be the IMF (International Monetary Fund) was discussed in planning circles in the U$ (including Henry Morganthau) and UK with John Maynard Keynes proposing a “plan for international currency stabilization” which established “a very large international currency exchange and credit granting institution that could be drawn upon relatively easily by any country.” By the time Bretton Woods Conferende, with the “participation by the Soviet Union,” it was clear that countries lobbied for “larger contributions than their rivals and neighbors,” and that business and agricultural broadly supported the IMF and World Bank. Most opposition came from “big banks in New York” because they hoped to “maintain the large influence on monetary policy” but this would not be the case. It is clear that corporate and financial leaders in the U$ influenced foreign policy of the empire from 1939 to 1941 while working to shape the world “to their economic and political liking after World War II” while they later “financed and eventually openly fought an war to maintain British and French dominance in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975 as part of their larger vision.” Even with the Yalta Convention seeming civil between the U$, UK, and USSR, with the Soviets allowed to have “some Japanese islands” and Romania while the U$ got Japan and West Germany, FDR met King Saud of Saudi Arabia on a U$ cruiser after the conference, not only ensuring that the U.S. had a “secure supply of oil” with American businesses allowed to “penetrate areas that had been dominated by England” but that the crass imperialism of the wartime planners was a staple of the foreign policy of the empire for years to come. [91]

Truman to Eisenhower: 1945-1960

Truman advocates mass annihilation of Japan’s industry and its people, a horrendous statement to say the least.

On April 12, 1945, FDR died in Warm Springs, Georgia. In his place was his vice President, Harry S. Truman  who would stay in office until January 20, 1953 after being re-elected in 1948. Before the war was over, Truman declared that Hiroshima was a “military base,” claiming that the empire wanted to avoid the killing of civilians even though almost all of those killed were civilians. [92] As a result, not only was it evident that the Japanese were willing to surrender, but conditionally, the atomic bob was dropped on Hiroshima, killing 100,000 at least, with another dropped on Nagasaki, with both done for purely political means as an anti-Soviet measure. Compounding this was the fact that capitalists of the empire profited from the war with a concentration of industry and collective agreements between workers and employers routinely violated. [93] This push was compounded by the painting of the Soviets and communism as a menace, with Truman, a “capable, sharp, machine politician” pulled in by the need to maintain a war economy, which benefited the arms manufacturers. As a result, such phobia about communism led revolutionary movements in Europe and Asia to be “described to the American public as examples of Soviet expansionism” even though they were nothing of the sort. Some anti-communists likely believed the same as hard-card anti-communist Kyle Palmer: that Communists were not “anywhere and everywhere” but saying they did kept “Democrats on the defensive, and prevented them from using economic issues against his own people [the rich].” [94] Also in the postwar environment there was another effect : the “reformist spirit of the New Deal” was ended, and conservatives had new opportunities, with the “conservative intellectual movement” developing bit by bit, even as there was a “revitalization of a newly reformist liberalism” in the later 1950s and early 1960s.

There was another dynamic going on as well. The British lost out in the location of the IMF and World Bank, leading both to be  “clearly dominated by the American government and American bankers” as corporate moderates and planners thought that they could extend a loan to he British and reconstruct their economy, but their underestimated the devastation of the British economy. To sum up, basically the U$ imperialists edged out the British imperialists, as the murderous empire gained more influence in the postwar era. Also on the foreign front, the empire continue to intervene across Latin America and supported the Dutch war against the Indonesian people  from 1945 to 1948. [95] This was around the time that the so-called National Security state (or apparatus) was created, starting with the National Security Act of 1947 and National Security Council (NSC) Directive 68, creating a permanent Cold War. In Western Europe, the empire also concentrated its control with the “Marshall Plan” or European Recovery Plan (E.R.P), while profiting from the Korean War, or as it can be called the Great Fatherland Liberation War.

Before moving onto that war, it is worth talking about the Marshall Plan. Not only was it, as  Truman declared, about checking “the danger of communist subversion in Europe” but part of the plan was used to fund the Socialist Party, rivals of the French Communist Party, and the AFL which used its efforts to subvert the dominance of the Communists, break up Communist strikes with help from gangs from Corsica, and burn offices of the Communist Party to the Ground. [96] Additionally, this plan funded corruption of elections in 1948 in Italy where the Communists were expected to win, along with France and Italy, in weeks after the plan was announced, forcing Communists out of the governing apparatus. George himself saw  the Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine, and the CIA’s operations as part of a “grand strategy against Stalin” with underground groups in Soviet-affiliated Eastern European countries created. [97] It also aimed to strengthen those countries outside the realm of the Soviet Union, making it no surprise that it was inherently anti-communist,used to create a capitalist system in West Germany, and in elsewhere in Europe, to not only counteract the “European trend to socialism” but to make Europe “open to American business in the same way that we have known it in the past.” [98] Even those who were in the peace movement supported the plan even though they had some reservations, and so-called isolationists opposed it.  Albert Einstein, to his credit, argued that the Marshall Plan was a “political scheme directed against the Russian bloc” which could aggravate “existing tensions” between the Soviets and the empire, which was echoed by Henry Wallace who saw the plan as “an instrument of the cold war against Russia” which was undeniably correct.  While the Soviets began setting up what those in the West called “their own satellite” states as they saw themselves as vulnerable, while Western capitalists used covert and other means to push forward their aims, using the Marshall Plan to help U$ companies, undoubtedly to even keep the “Third World dependent on the First” which is part of what Walter Rodney talks about in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. [99]

The Great Fatherland Liberation War, as it should be called, was coupled with an intense arms race, and was a setback for the empire you could say because of the armistice in 1953 preserving People’s Korea. As Che Guevara put it, the war was brutal, especially in terms of the weapons that were used by the empire:

Under the discredited flag of the United Nations, dozens of countries under the military leadership of the United States participated in this war with the massive intervention of U.S. soldiers and the use, as cannon fodder, of the South Korean population that was enrolled. On the other side, the army and the people of Korea and the volunteers from the Peoples’ Republic of China were furnished with supplies and advise by the Soviet military apparatus. The U.S. tested all sort of weapons of destruction, excluding the thermo-nuclear type, but including, on a limited scale bacteriological and chemical warfare.

This was coupled by the fact, as I’ve written on this blog before, socialism advanced after 1945 in People’s Korea (northern part of the Korean Peninsula) with the creation of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in 1946 and unicameral Supreme People’s Assembly in 1948, while there was a brutal fascist puppet government in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. As was evidently the case, “US imperialists knelt before the people of Korea, signing the Armistice Agreement, with arguably a victory for the Korean people, with many losses for the United States” while in the post-war period, People’s Korea rebuilt itself in an effort led by President Kim Il Sung, with the second session of the SPA held in 1957 since the country was, during the war, “in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack.”

On the domestic front, people were suffering in the murderous empire. A protest movement against racial violence had sprung up after Emmitt Till’s killing, the workers’ movement was being suppressed with the Taft-Hartley Act and loyalty oaths, HUAC was running wild, and there were legal proceedings against supposed “subversives.” [100] Even though Truman himself criticized HUAC, his attorney general had “expressed…the same idea that motivated its investigations” showing that anti-communism ran deep. In opposition to such measures, like the anti-worker laws, progressive forces came together in groups such as the Progressive Party, created in 1948, uniting “representatives of progressive intelligentsia and several strata of of the bourgeoisie and farmers,” advancing a program fighting for peace and “democratic rights of the American people.” [101] While there were ” expansionary changes…made in old-age insurance” made to social security in 1947, the anti-communist fervor continued. McCarthy was being censured but all sorts of anti-communist bills went through Congress with liberals “acting to exclude, persecute, fire, and even imprison Communists.” [102] One example of such a bill was the McCarran Internal Security Act in 1950) with liberal senators proposing the “setting up of…detention centers…for suspected subversives, who…would be held without trial” (removed later in 1971 by the Non-Detention Act)  if the President declared an internal security emergency which was included in the final bill. This was enacted over Truman’s veto which was overidden 57-10, with many Dems voting in favor , with parts of the act later declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court cases of Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board (1965) and United States v.  Robel (1967) while the court had said parts of it were constitutional during the same time in 1956 and 1961!  Truman vetoed it saying that he was advised that the bill “would seriously damage the security and intelligence operations” of the empire  as it would help communists, allowing them to “create dissension and confusion within our borders,” and added that he partially agreed with the bill (and its underlying logic), but not completely, saying it would help communist, not hurt them. This showed that he was anti-communist like the others but in a different way.

Then we get to Eisenhower, the Republican, who was in office from 1953 to 1960. With large monopolies supporting Eisenhower and Adelai Stevenson, as the Democrat, it seemed that capitalism was moving smoothly along. [103] With Republicans winning control of the White House and Congress in 1952, the first time since 1928, ultraconservatives in Congress and the corporate community tried to “limit old-age benefits to a single flat sum for anyone over age 65,” but organized labor was ready to put up a major battle, and Eisenhower sided with “corporate moderates, who favored the strengthening of Social Security through raising the cap on the amount of a person’s income subject to the Social Security tax and slight increases in benefit levels.” By August 1954, amendments to the Social Security Act passed, with “self-employed professionals…removed due to AMA lobbying” and the next year, the so-called “liberal-labor alliance won its first victory on a Social Security initiative with an amendment to include disability benefits.”

In the realm of foreign policy, the empire marched on. By the mid-1940s, the post-war planners ruled out independence for Vietnam even as they soured on complete French country, arguing that the “area had to be returned to French control through British-American power,” basically saying that Vietnam would return into French colonial hands but “subject to international review” as they detested an “independent Vietnam led by communist-nationalists” even though there were close ties between these individuals like Ho Chi Minh and the “intelligence gathering activities of the Office of Strategic Services.” As such the policy was to deny the “area to communism for as long as possible” which was successful until 1975, with concern over the “importance of Southeast Asia as a source of food and raw materials” with escalation of support in the years to come.

Some argued that the 1960 presidential elections were a “watershed and offered a clear choice.” Richard Nixon was a Republican who had supported civil rights and John F. Kennedy (JFK) was a Democrat who was privileged, with both of them being diehard anti-communists without a doubt. Many young people turned out to cheer for JFK “if he were the new Elvis.” [104] The result was a slim victory for JFK as he won 49.72% of the popular vote and Nixon won 49.55% of the popular vote, even as JFK took 56.4% of the Electoral College vote. The process of getting there, for JFK, was filled with “legalized bribery” in the West Virginia primary to beat Herbert Humphrey and electoral fraud in the Chicago of Democrat “boss” Richard Daley’s “mighty political machine” (and Texas), including counting spoiled ballots as those for Democrats, with Nixon rejecting the idea of recounts. [105] As such the electoral victory seemed to be a result of theft, with Nixon saying privately that “we won, but they stole from us” with electoral fraud going in Chicago until the 1970s as uncovered by the Chicago Tribune in 1972 through investigative reporting. As for the 1960 presidential election, in Mississippi the white supremacist Citizens Council edged out the “slate of Kennedy electors” showing the poignant power of white supremacy in the South. [106]

The reign of Camelot: The Kennedy years (1961-1963)

JFK and his wife Jacqueline “Jackie” Bouvier, with this being an example of their wealth, which led them to the short-lived “Camelot” while in the White House, without a doubt.

Kennedy (called JFK for the rest this section) was a diehard anti-communist without question. His father, Joseph had already befriended Joseph McCarthy, seeing him as “a likable fellow Irish-Catholic who had all the right ideas on the domestic communist menace” while JFK liked that McCarthy went after elites he disliked, feeling that McCarthy might be onto something. Along with McCarthy also having strong ties with Bobby Kennedy, he considered JFK a supporter of his and was the “only Democratic Senator not to publicly declare support for McCarthy’s censure,” releasing a public statement in 1956 to support it but only “because his political future dictated it.” It is for this that liberals within the party, like Eleanor Roosevelt,”openly berated JFK…for not having taken a stand against McCarthy.” This was buttressed by the fact that  JFK  believed that the communist threat was real, wanting to win the Cold War “with a hot war somewhere or another,” wanting to be a war president,and he felt that Communism had won in China “because of softness on Communism in the American government.” [107] As an “active Cold Warrior” he “supported all of America’s overseas activities in waging the Cold War,” hammered on Eisenhower for being weak on the Soviets (when the opposite was the case), and had a hawkish inaugural address in which be bellowed that

let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty…To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends…To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny…we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves for whatever period is required…To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge to convert our good words into good deeds in a new alliance for progress…Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas and let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house…In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it…And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

This should make it no surprise he was actually conservative, with his rift with liberal Adlai Stevenson and closeness to Richard Nixon from 1946 to 1960, even defending Nixon from “from the standard liberal assaults” while the pressure of the presidential campaign ended their friendship, with Nixon, by the end, feeling betrayed and bitter toward the Kennedys as a whole. As for his brother Bobby, he was an “an arrogant and intolerant political operative” who was close to “the infamous anticommunist Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s” and carried out the “particularly vicious persecution of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, gaining a reputation for ruthlessness in pursuit of his political enemies and rivals.”

JFK was a hawk in every meaning of the word, as was his brother. Starting with his brother, Bobby led a “special White House committee” (Executive Committee of the National Security Council or ExCOMM) overseeing the “Operation Mongoose” program, a “wide-ranging covert program of sabotage, assassination, blackmail and other activities directed against Fidel Castro and the Cuban government” and he never “advocated unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Southeast Asia.” To sum up, he remained the “chief watchdog over US intelligence” for JFK, with the “Kennedys…determined as ever to oust Fidel Castro from power” and Bobby believed “it could work and that he fully desired such an outcome.” JFK wanted an overthrow of the Cuban government as well, as he supported a revolt of “the Cuban people” against such a government, and endorsed Operation Northwoods which included the staging of assassinations of Cubans inside the empire, creating a  fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign” within the US, a real or simulated sinking of a “boatload of Cuban refugee,” the faking of “a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner” and blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters, then blaming it on the Cubans so that there was a “Remember the Maine” incident to lead to war. In later years, in the 1968 Presidential campaign, his “chief political goal, like Eugene McCarthy’s, was to capture the support of the antiwar movement and to deliver it into the safe confines of the Democratic Party.” Lest us forget he was “a shrieking anti-Communist” who reportedly “bullied Lyndon Johnson into continuing the Vietnam war”!

As for JFK, he (like his brother) became fascinated with “counter-insurgency, assassination and covert action” with Vietnam a laboratory for this, with a proxy war fought by the empire there by the time of his death, with “15,000 military advisors …leading combat operations and bombing missions in a faltering effort to prevent the victory of the National Liberation Front (NLF).” In sum, JFK had no intention of ending the war in Vietnam, despite what revisionists like Oliver Stone say, but rather wanted to expand “his hot war in Vietnam” which was a war about “imperial and presidential vanity,” for one, and resources on the other. [108] The latter was noted by U. Alexis Johnson who told the Economic Club of Detroit in 1963 that “the countries of Southeast Asia produce rich exportable surpluses such as rice, rubber, teak, corn, tin, spices, oil, and many others.” It is worth remembering that JFK himself greenlighted the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. This was connected to his embrace of “strategic doctrine, which theoretically incorporated a capability to engage simultaneously or serially in irregular, conventional, or nuclear warfare” which was supported by his secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, with the idea of waging “wars of suppression against revolutionary guerrilla upheavals in the Third World” leading to the “doctrine of counterinsurgency.”

This was only the beginning of his hawkishness. As a person who not only began the anti-communist “space race,”  criticized by Gil Scott-Heron who said it was a deep cost to put “whitey on the moon,” but he declared in Seattle, in 1960, that “in a world of danger and trial, peace is our deepest aspiration…it is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war” and made a Republican, named John McCone, head of the CIA who recommended military force to remove the missiles from Cuba in 1962. This anti-communism was deeply rooted in his so-called “New Frontier” speech in which he accepted the nomination, scowling that “Communist influence has penetrated further into Asia, stood astride in the Middle East and now festers some ninety miles off the coast of Florida…We must prove all over again whether this nation, or any nation so conceived, can long endure; whether our society, with its freedom of choice, its breadth of opportunity, its range of alternatives, can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system.” Such beliefs were enshrined in the transformation of international broadcasting with the build up of the anti-communist gray propaganda outlet, Voice of America, to broadcast in socialist countries ,ordering “squadron of fighters to Saudi Arabia to protect the kingdom from Egyptian air assaults” and telling the murderous Shah in 1962 that the empire “greatly appreciates the highly important strategic location of Iran and your steadfastness in remaining vigilant against the pressures of international communism.” This disgusting nature was only amplified by the fact that training of Tibetan guerrillas at Camp Hale by the CIA continued during his term (from 1959 to 1965 at least), while the CIA under his watch had “quite extensive Agency involvement with the plotters” who overthrew Rafael Trujillo. This was followed by a show of force: warships of the murderous empire appeared with “4000 Marines…just outside the three-mile limit” while a “jet fighter flew overhead,” with the remaining “members of the Trujillo family” fleeingthe country, living, “thereafter on savings from Swiss banks.”

Most directly was the economic assistance of the CIA of the coup by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party in 1963 since they thought that “the Ba’ath Party would be the best for U.S. policy in Iraq going forward in 1962.”Additionally, top diplomatic advisers believed that “if the coup is successful, relations between the U.S. and Iraq will be considerably improved and the internal situation in Iraq should gradually improve” with the empire looking for the “assurance that the new regime will safeguard American citizens and interests in Iraq” and adding that “US statements cannot be disseminated without distortion within Iraq, and shortwave broadcasts would not have impact on wide group…Should harassment of mission operations accompany rise in Qasim’s critical propaganda, Department would wish consider counter moves.” This was because Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim (or Qassem) enacted a land reform program, constructed a massive urban development for Revolution City “to provide low-cost housing” and partially nationalized the oil industry, with the idea of driving Iraq into “the American orbit” and away from the Soviet one. As a result of the coup, Qasim was assassinated and “Saddam’s Ba’ath Party came to power for the first time” with the CIA providing “the new pliant Iraqi regime with the names of thousands of communists, and other leftist activists and organizers…[who] were soon dead in a rampage of mass murder” with Andrew and Patrick Cockburn saying that this was “in retrospect, it was the CIA’s favorite coup.” Beyond this, JFK’s administration also pushed UN efforts that would “prevent outside assistance from entering the Congo” which meant Soviet assistance to the Lumumba government, the overthrow of which he was not opposed to.

With JFK born into “a rich, politically connected Boston family of Irish-Catholics” with his family enjoying “a privileged childhood of elite private schools, sailboats, servants, and summer homes” it is not a shock that he favored the capitalist class. In his first year he office, he declared on national televison that “we need a tax cut to keep this present drive from running out of gas” and that the “tax system must be adequate to meet our public needs…I therefore recommend that capital gains treatment be withdrawn from gains on the disposition of depreciable property…In the absence of such legislation, the corporate tax rate would be decreased 5 percentage points, from 52 percent to 47 percent.” The following year, upon signing the Trade Expansion Act, he declared it the “most important international piece of legislation…affecting economics since the passage of the Marshall plan” and that in put in place “mutual lowering of tariff barriers among friendly nations…[causing] our industry, our agriculture, our mining industry [to]…benefit,” adding that since “a vital expanding economy in the free world is a strong counter to the threat of the world Communist movement [the law]…is…an important new weapon to advance the cause of freedom.” This law granted the Kennedy administration ” the widest-ever negotiating authority” on trade, with the sixth round of GATT named after him as a result, and liberal Democrat Morris ‘Mo’ Udall in May 1962 saying that the law sought authority to cut taxes by having the ability “reduce tariffs by 50 per cent…in exchange for concessions from other nations” and have the “special authority to reduce or eliminate all tariffs on those products where the United States and the Common Market nations dominate world trade.” Latter that year, Kennedy told the New York Economic Club that

This administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963…The federal government’s most useful role is not to rush into a program of excessive increases in public expenditures, but to expand the incentives and opportunities of private expenditures…The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus

He followed this up by proposing a “permanent reduction in tax rates” with reduction of individual, and corporate tax rates.  This was, as a horrid liberal, who hates Gore Vidal, declared, was a tax reduction which lowed the “top tax bracket significantly” with many liberals disliking it, even as he “never gave up his spending idea.” It was these tax cuts which were called the Kennedy Tax Cuts. They specifically lowered the top rate from 90% to 70%, called for corporations of the empire to be “taxed on all their profits,” cutting preferences for oil & gas industries, and limiting “itemized deductions for the rich.” Even with these restrictions, conservatives in the present (and undoubtedly then), have endorsed the Kennedy Tax Cuts, which passed under LBJ but were JFK’s idea. Some have said that they make JFK “the first Reagan” since he was against high tax rates on the capialist class, which favored the corporate community as well. Others said that the tax cuts benefited those at the top the most, claiming they “ushered in the great bull market and non-inflationary boom of the mid-Sixties” (highly unlikely), that Reagan’s first months in office”were eerily similar to Kennedy’s” with his own tax reform, and claiming they led to “economic growth.” Even conservative economist Thomas Sowell endorsed the tax cuts while others said that JFK is to blame for the current budget deficit, which isn’t a surprise to say since the “Kennedy tax cut reduced the top marginal rate from 91% to 70%.” In sum, the Revenue Act of 1964, which embodied the second phase of the tax cuts (first phase passed in 1962), was even “less unevenly distributed” than the Bush tax cut as some claim, which may be hard to believe, even if one considers that JFK argued that “tax-rate cuts…would eventually pay for themselves by increasing government revenue” and that Reagn modeled his tax cuts on “JFK’s across-the-board rate reduction.”

All of this was partially summed up by Howard Zinn. He noted that when presented his first budget, it was clear there “would be no major change in the distribution of income or wealth or tax advantages” and then quoted New York Times columnist James Reston, who argued that JFK

agreed to a tax break for business investment in plant expansion and modernization. He is not spoiling for a fight with the Southern conservatives over civil rights. He has been urging the unions to keep wage demands down…he has been trying to reassure the business community that he does not want any cold war with them…During these twelve months the President has moved over into the decisive middle ground of American politics.

Such favoritism of the capitalist class would help the Democratic Party at a time that many  Mississippians and Southern whites had excommunicated themselves from the Democratic Party as a whole, even though many still used the label, with the state party more conservative than that nationally, as they saw themselves as”true democrats.” [109]

In later years, the Keynesian or New Deal policies “of fiscal and monetary management of the capitalist economy, in so far as they were ever applied” would collapse in the 1970s, with the “neoliberal policies of financial deregulation, globalisation and the reduction of the welfare state” coming in. As Michael Roberts put this, this is because (and that was limited indeed), collapsed in the 1970s “not because politicians decided to ‘change the rules’ and ‘rational’ Keynesian policies” but was the “result of forced circumstances for capitalism from the late 1960s onwards” since the “capitalist mode of production got into deep trouble as the profitability of capital plunged everywhere” and as a result, a “drastic reversal of economic policy was necessary.” As such, while this “this worked for capitalism for a whole generation and profitability recovered…at the expense of labour” the now-“Long Depression” and the Great Recession showed that “neoliberal policies were no longer working.” This means that it was “not the ‘excesses’ of neoliberalism and globalisation that caused the rise of nationalism and Trump, but the failure of the capitalist mode of production to deliver.” That is important to remember going forward.

The turbulent 1960s and the years of LBJ

After JFK was shot and died, on November 22, LBJ was sworn in on Air Force One as the Acting President

In 1963, LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson) took the helm of the presidency. Apparently, he wanted to complete FDR’s New Deal, and was able to “get through an astonishing amount of domestic legislation” after Kennedy’s assassination. [110] By 1964, he won over 60% of the vote, in an overwhelming victory, by implying he was for “peace in Vietnam, unlike his openly hawkish Republican challenger,” Barry Goldwater. However, nothing was further from the truth.

Some, like Gore Vidal said that LBJ was brought down by the hawkish advisers he kept on including Robert McNamara. However, this is letting him off too easy. When the Gulf of Tolkin Resolution passed unanimously in the House (which will be discussed more in a later section specifically about purported “antiwar” sentiment of Democrats), there were only two dissenters in the Senate, with the resolution “giving Johnson the power to take military action as he saw fit in Southeast Asia.” [111] By that point he was broadly committed to the war. Che Guevara directly challenged this and LBJ’s so-called Great Society in a speech in which he called for “two, three or many Vietnams”:

In Vietnam, the patriotic forces of that country have carried on an almost uninterrupted war against three imperialist powers: Japan, whose might suffered an almost vertical collapse after the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; France, who recovered from that defeated country its Indo-China colonies and ignored the promises it had made in harder times; and the United States, in this last phase of the struggle…Almost two years ago the United States started bombing systematically the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in yet another attempt to overcome the resistance of the South and impose, from a position of strength, a meeting at the conference table…There is a sad reality: Vietnam — a nation representing the aspirations, the hopes of a whole world of forgotten peoples — is tragically alone. This nation must endure the furious attacks of U.S. technology, with practically no possibility of reprisals in the South and only some of defense in the North — but always alone. The solidarity of all progressive forces of the world towards the people of Vietnam today is similar to the bitter irony of the plebeians coaxing on the gladiators in the Roman arena. It is not a matter of wishing success to the victim of aggression, but of sharing his fate; one must accompany him to his death or to victory…U.S. imperialism is guilty of aggression — its crimes are enormous and cover the whole world. We already know all that, gentlemen! But this guilt also applies to those who, when the time came for a definition, hesitated to make Vietnam an inviolable part of the socialist world…Not for a long time shall we be able to know if President Johnson ever seriously thought of bringing about some of the reforms needed by his people – to iron out the barbed class contradictions that grow each day with explosive power. The truth is that the improvements announced under the pompous title of the “Great Society” have dropped into the cesspool of Vietnam. The largest of all imperialist powers feels in its own guts the bleeding inflicted by a poor and underdeveloped country; its fabulous economy feels the strain of the war effort. Murder is ceasing to be the most convenient business for its monopolies…The United States had no colonies in this region but is now struggling to penetrate its partners’ fiefs. It can be said that following the strategic plans of U.S. imperialism, Africa constitutes its long range reservoir…America, a forgotten continent in the last liberation struggles, is now beginning to make itself heard through the Tricontinental and, in the voice of the vanguard of its peoples, the Cuban Revolution, will today have a task of much greater relevance: creating a Second or a Third Vietnam, or the Second and Third Vietnam of the world…How close we could look into a bright future should two, three or many Vietnams flourish throughout the world with their share of deaths and their immense tragedies, their everyday heroism and their repeated blows against imperialism, impelled to disperse its forces under the sudden attack and the increasing hatred of all peoples of the world!

By the later 1960s, “non-Southern Democrats, most newspapers editorial pages, and public opinion opposed greater involvement in the war” while, in 1965, Indonesian leaders had “decimated the Indonesia Communist Party, by then the third largest Communist Party in the world, which eliminated communism as a threat in that large and resource-rich island empire.” Adding to this, by 1967, leaders of the CFR called “for a gradual withdrawal from the war [in Vietnam] or continuing dominance of Southeast Asia that they and their predecessors had supported since the mid-1940s.” As a result, by 1968, the war was very unpopular meaning that LBJ could rarely appear in public places apart from military installations and chose not to run again. [112]

Other than Vietnam, LBJ’s administration directly supported and knew that the “the Indonesian Army was conducting a campaign of mass murder against the country’s Communist Party (PKI) starting in 1965,” keeping a record of which “PKI leaders were being executed,” while officials of the empire “actively supported Indonesian Army efforts to destroy the country’s left-leaning labor movement.” Not only is this utterly disgusting but it is the m.o. of the empire itself, which aims to crush any challenge to the murderous empire, even if that involves killing people.

Comparing LBJ and FDR

Quote from Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p 35.

This section aims to reply to Cornel West’s comparison of LBJ and FDR as represented in the picture above.

It is known that the new agencies “created to administer New Deal programs” were originally seen as temporary, and outside the structure of the government, but that “in the mid-1930s Roosevelt moved to make them permanent features of the American governmental system.” [113] As a result of this, such reforms, from 1935 to 1938 inclding the Social Security Act and National Labor Relations Act, helped “institutionalize the power of the Democrats by establishing direct links between the administration and a mass constituency” through the National Labor Relations Act and Social Security Act. After this point, Democrats tended to rely more and more on “administrative rather than party channels to establish links with their constituencies” with strengthening of bureaucratic institutions, tied to the cause of the New Deal creating a “national apparatus” through which FDR “could mobilize political support and govern.” This centralization and control of the national government was directly “supported by middle class liberals who had a particular interest in substituting bureaucratic for partisan modes of organization.” [114]

By the 1960s, the situation had changed. JFK’s “New Frontier” and LBJ’s “Great Society” were drafted not to respond to the demand from “black slum dwellers” who were the purported beneficiaries but were rather the “initiative of presidentially appointed task forces” mainly composed of those who could be considered “professional reformers.” [115] As such, President LBJ and FDR were “receptive to proposals of this sort if for no other reason than to retain the support of this important element of the party’s national constituency.” With this, it should be surprised that the “federal grant-in-aid programs initiated” created by their administrations allowed “upper-middle-class professionals and their political allies,” with their White House access, “to extend their influence over the policies, programs, and hiring practices of municipal agencies.” [116]

From this, you could say the similarities are that both the New Deal and “Great Society” benefited those deemed “middle class” while not helping those who were dispossessed as much as has been claimed. They provided some benefits to those in “lower rungs” of society, but that was not their chief focus. The New Deal was meant to stabilize capitalism, and the “Great Society” was meant to build out the party base, with the same idea enshrined in the New Deal.

After Johnson, 1968-1977

Police brutality in Chicago in 1968 near the Democratic National Convention

The 1968 presidential election was a calamity for the empire. People like Hunter S. Thompson were appalled by Democratic Party corruption and “outright evil” of the GOP, so he told friends to vote for Nixon, to, in his mind, cripple the Democrats, forcing it to change by the next election. [117] This was not a strategy which had the proletariat in mind but was another version of the discredited “lesser evil” idea. As for Nixon, as it was clear he would have the nomination, he put up a wall between himself and the press, restricting press access as the “Nixon people became preoccupied…with not making a mistake” and in November he won in what has been described as a landslide. [118] This was evident already from the Democratic Convention of 1968 where there were “young rioters in the streets of Chicago” with alienated Democrats in the South and blue-collar northern areas voting for Nixon as they were horrified by social changes, especially in racial relations, even resenting the “relentless reporting of the war in Vietnam.”

The years after LBJ led to turmoil in the Democratic Party. While some Democrats refused to take responsibility for their part in the Vietnam War, saying it would be a “political bloodbath,” they held onto control of the gubernatorial seats of the “mountain states” of Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Arizona. However, by 1998 the governors of all of these states were Republican, “as were three-quarters of the U.S. senators” in that region, making  the region “more staunchly Republican than the American South.” [119]

The 1972 election, between Richard M. Nixon and George McGovern was a disaster for the Democrats. As some didn’t like McGovern “shilling for votes” the fact he expressed an antiwar position, at least publicly. [120] With Nixon spies inside the McGovern campaign, it is no surprise that Nixon won in a landslide. Like Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, McGovern was trying to pull the antiwar energy to the Democratic Party which partially succeeded but was not fully a reality because McGovern was defeated. Such spying on McGovern was the Nixon sabotage of the 1968 peace talks, pre-longing the war in Vietnam until 1973, despite his claim in the campaign that he would scale-back the war, in order to help his presidential campaign and ensure his victory. As David Halberstam argued, the reason that Nixon won in 1968 and 1972 was that LBJ had lost control of the country, there was too much disorder, and inevitably…people connected that chaos to him.” [121] However, this viewpoint seems to ignore the shenanigans the Nixon operators pulled to win both elections, engaging in unsavory methods, to say the least.

Other than this, those in the feminist movement considered ways to play the Democrats off the Republicans, as stated by the Hyde Park Chapter, Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, in pamphlet titled “Socialist Feminism: A Strategy for the Women’s Movement” put out in 1973. At the same time, while Nixon went through the Watergate scandal, in which the CIA was involved, top Republican and Democratic leaders gave “secret assurance to Nixon that if he resigned they would not support criminal proceedings against him”! [122] Even so, during his time in office, Nixon supported Social Security “in the context of a general concern on the part of moderate Republicans to improve social insurance and welfare benefits as a way to reduce inner-city tensions and gain more support for their party among the elderly.” As a result, Congress put “benefits for low-income, blind, disabled, and elderly people into a new program, Supplement Security Income, which was funded out of general revenues and administered by the Social Security Administration” with such changes, at the time, “acceptable to corporate moderates.” With that, the contrast between the support of corporate moderates  “for government insurance programs” to their “campaign against unions at the time could not be more dramatic, continuing a pattern that began in 1935.”

The system in general, however, seemed to work the same way, whoever was in power.  Democrats, Republicans, newspapers, and television closed ranks “behind Ford and Kissinger,” after the the Mayguez Incident, and behind, fundamentally, “the idea that American authority must be asserted everywhere in the world.” This meant that even those who had been “critical of the Vietnam war now seemed anxious to pull things together in a unified show of strength to the rest of the world.”

Jimmy Carter: the fake “populist” (1977-1981)

A quote showing that Carter was willing to accept the corrupt idea of a “just war”

Under Jimmy Carter’s presidency, there seemed to be an attempt “by one part of the Establishment…to recapture a disillusioned citizenry.” However, Carter protected “corporate wealth and power,” maintained a huge “military machine that drained the national wealth, allying the United States with right-wing tyrannies abroad.” He also “presented himself as an ordinary American farmer” even though he was a millionaire-peanut grower. Even though he supported the Vietnam War until its end, he presented himself differently, while he had varying cabinet appointees with “strong corporate connections” and an approach “combining practical strategic needs with the advancement of civil rights.” This  meant the support of horrendous, murderous government in the Philippines, Iran, Nicaragua, and Indonesia,  even declining to “give aid to Vietnam for reconstruction, despite the fact that the land had been devastated by American bombing.”  Additionally, he stayed with the Shah until the end,with broad anger against those of Iranian descent, with the “sudden” hostage crisis (as seen by those in the empire), lasting for 444 days, and “economic distress felt by many… largely responsible for Carter’s defeat.” All of this is no surprise since Carter was trying to “reverse the damage” of Watergate, and seeming to “represent the simplicity and decency” restoring faith in the system itself, but he was utterly insensitive to Congress itself. [123] Carter’s “crisis of confidence” over energy would be pushed aside in favor of the nation’s lack of confidence in Carter himself by the end of his presidency.

By 1977, Congress worked, in a bipartisan way, to raise the “maximum income that could be taxed for Social Security purposes and increased payroll taxes equally on employers and employees” even as this involved some “slight long-term cutbacks in benefits.” However, by 1978, the Republicans gained in he elections, declaring that “Social Security was both a big part of the budget and another reason to worry about future government debt, even though it was funded by payroll taxes, not federal income and excise taxes.” This gained “dramatic coverage in the media” with the “inviolate nature of the trust fund established by Congress in 1939 was now ignored or forgotten.” By 1980, Congressional conservatives made a change in Social Security “by reducing disability benefits on the grounds that they were overly generous.” The assault by the conservative forces, the reactionaries, was at full force more than than ever.

The retreat of liberals and the age of Reagan

The inherent “limited government” idea of Reagan while he raised military budgets through the roof through his ruthless anticommunism

In the age of Reagan liberals and Democrats faced a retreat. There was a “right turn on Social Security by the corporate moderates,” as they were now ready to join with ultraconservatives to limit Social Security, facing up against the so-called liberal-labor alliance which was “able to hold on to most of the basic features of the Social Security program because it made concessions and played its cards well.” Later, the Reagan Administration overplayed its cards, withdrawing its efforts to “cut Social Security that were moving forward quietly in the House” with Democrats making “the earlier Republican attempt to cut Social Security a major campaign issue in 1982:  and the Republicans coming to a compromise, that they would create “a large reserve fund that might ensure the full stability of Social Security for 50 to 75 years.” As such, some argued the “liberal-labor alliance was able to restore public confidence in the system and give it legitimacy for the next 20-25 years in the face of a predominantly conservative Congress.”

By the mid-1980s, the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) faciliated the “colonization” of the Democratic Party by the capitalist class which traditionally had dominance in the Republican Party. This involved the linking, through the New Democrat Network or NDN, with “dozens of corporate contributors from the Fortune 500 such as Bank One, Dow, DuPont, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and Raytheon.” [124] This was complemented by the fact that by 1983, old-fashioned political machines still existed but mainly at the local level, with big contributors paying for staffs and “costly media campaigns” with the reach of television to every home, along with “fracturing of party organizations.” This meant that while there were differences within and between the two major parties, which seemed to be “worrisome enough” to induce millions to vote for one party or other, this allowed the two-party system to function as “a marvelous ruling-class device,” with the parties as fraternal “rather than identical twins.” [125] Michael Parenti described this well in his book, Democracy of the Few:

For the similarities between the parties in organization, funding, ideological commitment, and policy loom so large as frequently to obscure the differences. The Democratic and Republican parties are both committed to the preservation of the private corporate economy; huge military budgets; the use of subsidies, deficit spending, and tax allowances for the bolstering of business profits; the funneling of public resources through provide conduits…the concoction of palliatives for the less fortunate segments of the population; the use of repression against opponents of the existing class structure; the defense of the multinational corporate empire; and intervention against social-revolutionary elements abroad. In short, Democrats and Republicans are dedicated to strikingly similar definitions of the public interest…the lack of real differences between the major parties is evident to the corporate business elites

With this, the Democrats and Republicans not surprisingly cooperated to “maintain their monopoly over electoral politics and discourage the growth of progressive third parties” while they raised millions upon millions of dollars from big capitalist contributors, especially on “primaries, national conventions, and presidential electoral expenses.” [126] This means that if both parties “ignore public opinion, there is no place voters can turn” with both parties long joined in “bipartisan foreign policy,” especially in terms of imperial domination. This was even the case during the Gulf War where the Democratic Party “was pleased with the results” with only “some misgivings about civilian casualties” but did not “constitute an opposition.”

The Clintonites in the White House (1993-2001)

Clinton continuing to express the corrupt liberal dogma even in 2012, as he continues his arrogance as a mainstay of the Democratic Party machine.

We then get to the Clintons. They were “intelligent lawyers from the moderately well-off middle class,” listening to the rich and protecting their wealth. [127] However, Bill Clinton didn’t understand that the President is not a “man of power” and is rather used by corporate interests, as Gore Vidal claimed. Later on in his presidency the Clintons lost the case for healthcare which would have helped the healthcare industry, later to be resurrected under Obama in a different form.

During his first term, he made plans against People’s Korea. This was during the so-called “1994 nuclear crisis” with officials of the murderous empire saying they would win even as they recognized that the war would involve “many casualties.” As a result,”took a tough stance in meetings” with leaders of People’s Korea, warning of consequences of continuing the self-defense missile program, even as they had flexibility. However, when George W. Bush took office, he informed Kim that he “would be terminating all talks with the North.” Through all of this the Clinton administration “harbored no unrealistic hopes about a quick and easy resolution of the Korean security challenge… though U.S. policy included sanctions as both carrot and stick, there is little discussion of military options.”

When Clinton was re-elected in 1996, there was a “distinct lack of voter enthusiasm” with the electorate “not happy about its choices.” With Clinton demonstrating in his first term his confidence in capitalism, he also was fully supportive of using force. He had been “in office barely six months when he sent the Air Force to drop bombs on Baghdad, presumably in retaliation for an assassination plot against George Bush on the occasion of the former president’s visit to Kuwait.”He also worked to open up Russia, seeing it as “a market for American goods,” overlooking “bullying policies of Russian president Boris Yeltsin” and even overlooking the “invasion…of the outlying region of Chechnya.” As such, it is no surprise that the Democratic and Republican Parties led “in the mid-nineties to a number of attempts to create independent political movements.”At the same time, he  presided over the passage of the anti-worker NAFTA, in 1993, and vigorously supported “free trade” to the benefit of the corporate community, while enlarging NATO, expanding the tentacles of the imperialists. [128]

It is also worth noting that Clinton held a strong law-and-order stance, as did the Republicans. While as governor in Arkansas he “approved the death penalty and as a presidential candidate he accused Republicans of being soft on crime” during the 1994 midterm election campaign, he “supported a “three strikes” provision in a federal crime bill.” As anyone in their right mind would know, such provisions brought law and disorder, not law and order.

Also in the 1990s, Democrats became “far more willing than the Republicans to support tough food-safety legislation” and there were the “culture wars” into the 2000s. [129]. As Cornel West put it,

the well-financed right-wing convinced many fellow citizens that the Left–from progressive professors to neoliberal Clintonites, multicultural artists to mainstream feminists, gay and lesbian activists to ecological preservationists–was leading America over the abyss

In reality, the only people who were leading America “over the abyss” was the well-financed right-wing, along with those who supported the capitalist system with fervor.

The Bush era and “War on terror” (2001-2009)

While many liberals thought Bush II was “stupid” he was actually a deceptive manipulator (as this quote shows) who was able to fool people using propaganda into a “war on terror,” the second phase of the Iraq War, a war in Afghanistan, and much more.

Then we get to the Bush era. During the presidential elections in 2000, the Democrats and Republicans echoed each other’s position on crime, abandoning the “traditional liberal agenda” which included “prevention, community development, rehabilitation, and abolition of the death penalty.”

It was also during this area that the second phase of the war against Iraq, which had begun in 1990, began. Only a few days after the beginning of this phase in Marc 2003, Walter Slocombe, “a centrist Democrat who’d had the job for six years under President Clinton and was well known in the Pentagon” came to work in Iraq with Dough Feith to disband the Republican Guard and Fedayeen with the idea that “high-ranking Baathists” would be sent home while “mid-level officers and below” would stay. This was approved by Bush himself, but afterwards the regular Iraqi army “appeared to have vanished,” and later, Paul Bremer, on his own authority, issued CPA order number 2 which dissolved the army, air force, navy, ministry of defense, and intelligence service of Iraq. [130] This created, evidently, “legions of new enemies.” Once the empire had taken over the Republican Palace, “bumper stickers and mousepads praising President Bush were standard desk decorations” and while the CPA had a “small contingent of Democrats” which called themselves “Donkeys in the Desert,” they faced “regular harassment from hardcore Republicans,” leading most in the group to keep their membership secret. They tried to reach out to Republicans in Name Only or Rhinos but this was risky for their social standing. [131] Still, they were not fundamentally opposed to the war or the mission to force bourgeois democracy on the populace. As the Democrats wanted the Bush Administration to do more to get the UN back in Iraq while getting other countries to pay for “reconstruction projects,” it is no surprise that some of those hired to the CPA were prominent contributors to the RNC, with those interviewing potential candidates asking people who they voted for. [132]

As  the years passed, many voters saw “too little difference between two corrupted parties” of Democrats and Republicans. Not only were “blacks being taken for granted by the Democrats” but the majority of voting-age citizens who didn’t vote knew that “political leadership is confined to two parties that are both parasitic on corporate money and interests.” [133] This added to the fact that the prevailing conservative culture “made the Left–progressives and liberals–internal enemies” of a sort. Additionally, as Cornel West described it, there was “political nihilism…within the ranks of the Democratic Party ” which he called paternalistic nihilism” with such individuals possibly wishing “that the system could be made to serve truly democratic purposes,” but they have succumbed “to the belief that a more radical fight for truer democracy, battling against the corruption of the elites, is largely futile.” Such individuals have also “lost the conviction that corporate elites can be forced to make concessions under the pressure of organized democratic forces.” [134] Those who exemplify this, he argued are Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, describing them as those who “long to believe in a grand democratic vision yet cannot manage to speak with full candor or attack the corruptions of the system at their heart” and saying that they put forward a “weak technocratic vision of America as the economic engine of a global economy that uses soft (nonmilitary) power to ensure its hegemony while wealth inequality stabilizes (or slightly declines) at home.”

When John Kerry ran for president, in 2004, he was still one of these paternalistic nihilists, as Cornel West described it.Apart from John Kerry meeting with Hunter S. Thompson and joking that he would make him Vice-President, Kerry was far removed from his days as a member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. [135] Perhaps Bush did rig the 2004 election, but the corporate community loved him with Citigroup, Microsoft, IBM, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America as some of his top contributors. This was because he supported the No Child Left Behind Act, favored harsh crime laws, supported the war in Iraq, and voted for NAFTA, to name a few positions.

Compounding this is the fact that “two Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, were ready to accept long-term cuts in Social Security in an attempt to placate the corporate community and the conservatives in Congress.” Additionally George W. Bush  tried to “push a semi-privatization plan in 2005 in the aftermath of his 2004 election victory,” but the strong push back made him abandon this.

A continuation of Bush: Obama and the illusion of “hope” (2009-2017)

The text comes from his last interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes and shows the bankruptcy of his “hope and change” which translated into imperialism, platitudes, and “liberal capitalism”

With Obama’s election there was the claim there would be change. This was already invalidated by the fact that in 2010 Obama “appointed a debt-reduction commission…[that] wanted to cut the inflation adjustment built into Social Security pensions by a “mere” .03% a year” Obama spoke approvingly of this, even during the 2012 presidential campaign. It was only a “strong push by the liberal-labor alliance kept Social Security cuts out of the deal that averted the fiscal cliff at the turn of 2013.”

There is more than that. In 2015, in his State of the Union, he made various so-called “progressive” pronouncements including minimal raises in taxes on the capitalist class and free community college but not really because the plan “doesn’t cover fees, which schools routinely charge for using labs, campus health centers and computer labs” with students still having “to borrow to cover any additional living expenses under this plan” with states being asked to pick up a quarter of the coast of the bill. [136] Also consider that these proposals were coupled with support for continued oil and gas drilling to reduce dependence on “foreign oil” along with other proposals which tuck him well “under the corporate wing of his party, mightily beholden to the investment sector he occasionally decries to maintain his credibility.” Let us also consider that Obama is “a born again” evangelical Christian, whom allowed federal money to go “conservative faith-based groups affiliated with the Family Research Council, anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and an entire network of evangelical abstinence-only educators.” His speech also enaged in further calls for “illegal war” against Daesh which allows the “imperial war machine [to go] back on the offensive” which simply just feeds “war lust.” This was definitely the case  for the part of the speech he declared that the empire will “hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally…in Iraq and Syria” while opposing so-called “Russian aggression” (it isn’t that) by supporting those who oppose Russia, especially in Ukraine, including sanctions on Russia.

He also supported investor-rights agreements like the TPP, TAFTA/TTIP, and TISA, which goes against those in his own party, as he supported the “trade promotion authority” or “fast track.” Followed by this was his budget which “strengthen[ed] U.S. cybersecurity defenses after a spate of high-profile hackings,” and gave more money to “moderate” opposition in Syria which are literally terrorists. [137] There was even more in the speech. He supported the flawed  “all of the above” energy approach which proposes that fossil fuels be developed alongside “cleaner, alternative fuels and vehicles” as he stayed as “a care taker for the economic interests that he represents.”

All of this should be no surprise. Obama voted “voted yes on the war budgets while in the [US] Senate” while his speech about the second phase of the war in Iraq, in 2002, framed the invasion in ways the U.S. foreign policy establishment would have done. This is because, as Adolph Reed put it, he is “not a leftist” distancing himself from radical politics, engaging in “rhetorically pretentious, jingoistic oratory about the superiority of American political and economic conditions.” [138] Basically he was “no more than an unexceptional neoliberal Democrat…with solid connections and considerable good will from the corporate and financial sector.” The imperial foreign policy was evident. Not only, as of 2011, was the CIA was interrogating people in a secret Somali prison but a Somali man was interrogated for two months on a navy vessel while people were interrogated and tortured in Afghanistan’s Bagram prison. At the latter place prisoners were sleep deprived, “beaten by American soldiers,” kept small cells, and having no access to  lawyers, with men held there engaging in hunger strikes to resist “their indefinite detention and solitary confinement.”[139] All of this makes it no surprise that his executive order ending the “black sites” and Bush-style torture, declared that “federal law enforcement agencies” could use “non-coercive techniques of interrogation that are designed to elicit voluntary statements” while extraordinary rendition, the practice of sending  “terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation,” continued unabated. The same can be said for Obama not prosecuting any Bush administration officials for torture, including those CIA agents who destroyed tapes showing interrogations. [140] As for Obama himself, he defined torture as justified in the post-9/11 environment, saying:”…we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values…it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots…[still] we did some things that were wrong…after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.” Through all of this, Guantanamo remained open during the Obama years, which is still illegally occupied by the empire to this day.

Then there was Obama’s program of extrajudicial killings or those killings  “outside judicial or legal process…in contravention of, or simply without, due process of law” as a UN expert argued that the “use of force must be proportionate…and everything feasible must be done to prevent mistakes and minimize harm to civilians.” [141] Such killings are the  drone program, continued under the orange menace, are terroristic strikes determined by  metadata which is unreliable, in which all of those killed are considered “militants” even if they aren’t in reality, with a minimum of 7,085 killed, and maximum of 10,342, killed by CIA and JSOC operators between 2002 and 2017 in Pakistan (2004 to present), Somalia (2007 to present, including some air strikes), Yemen (2002 to present), and Afghanistan (2015-2017 at least) according to data compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Then there’s the reality that Obama was cozy with oil companies. For one he approved the southern part of the Keystone XL pipeline after he had rejected it in the past, with a rejection of the pipeline on the “arbitrary nature of a deadline” and saying that “an oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico” may be developed. Specifically, on March 22 in Maljamar, New Mexico he declared that “we’ve announced our support for more [pipelines] including” Keystone XL and that he was directing his administration to make it a priority to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

This should be no surprise since almost $1 million dollars from the Oil  & Gas industrywent into his campaign coffers, with Obama receiving over $66,000 from employees of big oil companies, with two “oil industry executives…bundl[ing] money for Obama” with BP contributing a huge amount of money to him in the 2008 campaign and beyond. [142] While he seemed cautious on energy policy, he offered support to the autocrat of Chad, Idriss Deby, while slyly being on the side of Chevron, and criticizing ExxonMobil during the 2008 campaign because it was unpopular. Even with this, individual contributors from big oil companies preferred Obama, and one of his foreign policy advisers, Daniel Shapiro, was registered to lobby for corporate clients such as the American Petroleum Institute. From this, it no surprise that  Obama’s administration supported an Iraqi law which allowed foreign oil companies a 75% stake in oil development, even allowing the ” to use private security forces to protect their facilities” and “hire and train [non]Iraqi workers and…transfer…needed technology” along with Obama lifting, one months before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon removed a “20 year moratorium” on oil drilling, opening up much of “the Atlantic coast line, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling.” Others said that Obama went easy on BP after the “oil spill in return for a pledge to support cap-and-trade legislation” while some said that “Barack Obama and his Democrats passed no new laws, promulgated no new executive decisions to regulate Big Oil.” Then there was the use of the Corexit dispersent, which was green-lighted by the Obama administration and toxic to wildlife.

Most of all, there was the war in Libya in 2011. Officially it was claimed that the Empire was trying to “prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.” However, it really was about oil and international dominance as those varying from libertarians , University of London Professor Gilbert Achar, even Representative Ed Markey, Black Star News in a April 2011 post, and Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation, among others. Basically Obama was an “oiled” president, plain and simple. As Solomon Comissiong adds,

In 2011 the Obama administration bombed Libya into oblivion while using racist and terrorist rebel groups to do their dirty deeds on the ground. These terrorists often targeted Black Africans for rape, torture, and public lynchings, simply because they were seen as allies to Muammar Gaddafi — who had provided a safe haven for those same Black Africans…The Obama administration knew all of this. They used the CIA to deliver arms, advice and even cash to terrorist rebels, in an effort to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and the Libyan Jamahiriya. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton desperately wanted to halt the advancements of Gaddafi and his government…African/black people’s ability to control their own destinies will not come from the Democratic or Republican Parties…The Democratic and Republican parties cling to the same white power structures that enable institutional racism to thrive.

In terms of GMOs, Obama was a huge supporter. During his administration, there was “regulatory capture” of important governmental positions by Monsanto, especially in the FDA and USDA, leading to favorable policy for them. This was enshrined in documents such as the Southern Africa FY 2010 Implementation Plan, in 2010 calling for “increased cooperation” on GMOs by having a “harmonized regional bio-safety framework, standardized regional sanitary and phytosanitary… measures”and supposed “oversight systems…[to] reduce any environmental risks” from GMOs. However, this is questionably because there was, by 2010, a  “close relationship between FDA personnel and private sector professionals that represent big agricultural companies” along with the head of the USDA at the time, Tom Vislack, favoring GMOs as Iowa Governor and Monsanto itself. Additionally, the FDA Commissioner, Michael Taylor, a former Montanto VP of pvlic polic, served as a person who determined “regulatory priorities, develop[ed] the FDA’s budget request” and implemented “new  food safety legislation.” By 2012, Monsanto had such deep roots in the empire that it spent over “$1.4 million lobbying Washington…and spent about $6.3 million total last year” especially with its PAC, the Monsanto Citizenship Fund, giving more to Republicans than Democrats but still favoring Democrats.

With this, one can review Obama’s supposed “accomplishments” or “legacy.” Not only did he love Reagan, promote the “Russian hacking conspiracy,” but he was the Black face of the murderous empire, but he, as I noted in January of last year:

  1. Voted  against UN resolutions which condemned “glorification of Nazi and denial of Nazi war crimes in 2014 and 2016,”
  2. Deployed “US special forces can be found in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” with elite forces deployed to “138 countries in 2016”
  3. Continuing the imperialist war in Afghanistan
  4. Increased the use of private mercenaries in Afghanistan and Iraq, to say the least.
  5. Bailed out Wall Street, following the advice of his “neoliberal advisers” while no Wall Street execs went to jail
  6. took a pro-police stance in response to Black Lives Matter with “with words about the difficult plight of police officers,” calling Black youth in Baltimore “criminals and thugs” (so did Jay Carney).
  7. Engaging in an education policy which “closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones,” continued under Betsey DeVos
  8.  Created a ” a market-based healthcare policy”
  9. Deported “nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch”
  10. Responding to Zionist aggression by funding the Israeli army with many more millions of dollars
  11. Keeping the mass incarceration system in place even with his “statistically meaningless” clemencies
  12. Overseeing “brutal force-feeding of untried prisoners at a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”
  13. Engaging in raids “against legal marijuana dispensaries”
  14. Granting “legal immunity to telecom companies that had conducted invasive spying during the George W. Bush years
  15. Expanded Bush’s drone program, creating a “kill list” where he would “select people to be killed in the world every Tuesday”
  16. “Normalizing” relations with Cuba and Iran, which could allow “US capitalists to salivate” even as restrictions remain on these ““new” markets ready for Western capitalist exploitation”
  17. Having an auto bailout in 2008 and 2009 which didn’t change anything about the auto industry at all  even though it was temporarily nationalized
  18. His legacy could be a “devastated Democratic Party”
  19. Ignored those at Standing Rock as he “champions fracking and tar sands oil pipelines”
  20. Pushed for war “or some sort of conflict with Russia
  21. “consistently supported Israel through its numerous bombing campaigns”
  22. Engaged in “US-backed coups in Ukraine (2014), Honduras (2009), Paraguay (2012), Maldives (2012), and Brazil (2016)

There’s nothing else to say here.

The milquetoast “resistance” of the Democrats and the orange menace (2017-present)

From one of her commentaries on Black Agenda Report.

Liberals, since the ascendancy of the orange menace in 2017, have tried to act like they are the resistance. There was the science march, which “will have no effect on policy or direction of the reactionary Trump Administration” and Democrats engaging in hand-ringing, like Chuck Schumer. This false opposition is indicated by the fact that there is an “unsubstantiated and feverous phobia over Russia, propagated by the US intelligence establishment, desperate Democrats and complaint Republicans, and much of the bourgeois media” with the “never-ending “Russia conspiracy”” used by the Democrats to push the orange menace “out of office, to unseat him, to overthrow him” as I wrote last year. More than that, “there is no doubt that the efforts of the Russophobes within the national security establishment and within the Democratic and Republican political parties will intensify their efforts in the coming days” as I said many months ago, but is still the case today. Such Russophobia is supported by liberal organizations and the Democratic Party who closed their ranks to defend James Comey, relying on weak “evidence” to implicate the Russians, with ““left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn
Greenwald, and other “respected” publications like Mother Jones.” As such,

Democrats, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer in the Senate, and Marylander Steny Hoyer and Californian Nancy Pelosi in the House, not even Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and the like cannot be trusted to stand against Trump. They are clearly milquetoast liberals and progressives, with the possibility of Trump and Schumer working together in the future, and the Clinton team (Bill & Hillary) attending Trump’s  inauguration…Bourgeois liberal commentators or Democrats won’t save us from Trump’s fascism. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, they can easily pass Trump’s agenda, and a good number of Democrats will likely fall in line.

The liberals currently on the stage of “political discourse” was undeniably toxic. Matthew “Matt” C. Taibbi, is a bourgeois commentator who misses “the point that Venezuela is bad straits because of the murderous empire,” mocking the idea that “Venezuela’s problems are part of a US “economic war” and calls the government of that country “Maduro’s regime,”” evening saying he “is glad Marx is dead is anti-communist in the fullest extent.” He also said he is against “progressive efforts to stand against fast food industries or even moves that increase government control in a way to help people’s lives,” seems to accept the “goodness” of corporations, and has a developed ego. Then there’s David Swanson, a former press secretary for “bourgeois Democratic “peace” politician, Dennis Kucinich” who is a progressive but undeniably bourgeois, celebrity left personalities Shaun King, and Deray, along with Obamabot Ta Nehisi Coates. Additionally there’s Bernie Sanders who is a “downright imperialist” who has “supported sanctions against Iran” and basically doesn’t “oppose the imperialist agenda of the murderous empire” but is ultimately a “pimp for empire.” To top it off, there is Naomi Klein who sidelines  the reality that “Obama set the foundation for Trump” or that Obama is a brand engaging in faux environmentalism, is a Berniecrat, doesn’t even try to defend Venezuela, and engages in  progressivism which ignores that she is a brand just like many other progressives,and groups, like 350.org, or people such as  “Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander…Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges” or progressive media like “Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation,” foundations, and non-profits. In sum, she is “a brand, a commodity, and a “heat vampire.”” Others who seem to be outside of this, like Rania Khalek, does not inspire much confidence.

Beyond such personalities there  are vapid groups which claim to be part of the “resistance.” This includes Reset the Net, with their supporters being either for-profit companies or non profits for the post part, Fight for the Future which is supported by “the Democratic Party and important foundations.”There is also the reality thatDemocrats in 2016 pushed forward a “gun control” measure aiming to “demonize Muslims by pushing to exclude those in on “watchlist” that the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center maintains” and continue to push for “their sacred cow of Obamacare” rather than universal healthcare. With all of this, it is clear that “Democrats are not an opposition party, but are easily falling in line…[and are] not really resisting Trump,” beginning with the “Obama administration…giving Trump and his cronies more power!” As such, we should recognize the following about such forces:

While we should undoubtedly be critical of bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives who claim to have the “answers” and solution to fighting Trump, rejecting their pleas to move the capitalist Democratic Party “more left” to fight the “bad Republicans,” there is no reason to sit idly by.

Democrats: “the one party [in the U$] that cares for black Americans”? [143]

Just take the race of Democrat Doug Jones facing Republican Roy Moore, with Blacks overwhelmingly favoring Jones, as an example.

Liberals have said that Republicans still “don’t care about black people” as it tries to “soothe enough whites’ discomfort with voting for a racist party” while Democrats act “more boldly on race issues” than Republicans and “care about people” so much so that Obama called on Blacks to turn out in the 2014 elections. [144] Conservatives fire back  by saying that “Democrats are fighting hard against the supposedly racist voter ID laws,” claiming that they are making “sure that blacks remain dependent upon Government handouts,”that people only need “jobs and education,” and that there has been “continual destruction of the black family as a result of liberal policies.” Others claimed that the Democrats’ best strength is to “present itself as empathetic, caring and compassionate while simultaneously pushing policies that hurt the very people they claim to represent,” calling out what they claimed was “leftist hypocrisy” or that “liberals are all about a will for power, not about caring for the poor.” Without getting into the weeds on this, it is worth noting that conservatives within the murderous empire are the biggest chearleaders, along with a host of liberals, neoliberal phase of modern capitalism which is fundamentally racist. Of course, they don’t recognize that in their quest to see their argument as superior to the “horrid” liberals. That doesn’t mean that liberals are off the hook however. This section aims to look at the history of the Democrats to determine how much (if any) they care about Black people and advancing them forward within the murderous empire. There is some truth to their claims based on the fact that corporate Democrats or the Clintonites supported mass incarceration of Black and Brown individuals, but conservatives were also gung-ho about it as well. Is a surprise that Black women are seeing the Democratic Party as not serving the interests of Black people?

Let us first acknowledge when Blacks began voting Democratic, as noted by an article by FactCheck 9 years ago:

Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all. The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats. It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment. Even after that, Republican nominees continued to get a large slice of the black vote for several elections. Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon got 32 percent in his narrow loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960. But then President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation in public places) and his eventual Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson got 94 percent of the black vote that year, still a record for any presidential election. The following year Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since.

You may ask, what about Blacks before 1932? After all, the Democratic Party was formed in 1824. The following two sections address that:

  1. From 1824 to 1932
  2. 1932 to Present

From 1824 to 1932

When the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified as part of the Reconstruction Amendments on February 3, 1870, it declared that Black men have the right to vote, saying that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” making Blacks an electoral consistency. As a result of that, in all likelihood, by 1870, all Blacks were mostly supportive of the Republican Party for a number of reasons:

  1. “”Jacksonian Democracy,” started by Andrew Jackson,  “had tried to create a consensus of support for the system to make it secure” but clearly, “Blacks, Indians, women, and foreigners were…outside the consensus” [145]
  2. Whigs and Democrats, by the 1840s were seen as “corrupt and chained to Southern votes” by abolitionists, including “free” Blacks in the North, resulting in the formation of an “antislavery organization” called the Liberty Party, formed in 1840, which fielded its own candidates while those who wanted to “stay within the Whig or the Democratic Party” were purged from the abolitionist movement [146]
  3. Whig President John Tyler, a “slaveholding Virginia aristocrat who had allied himself with Clay and his Whigs in the 1830s out a shared distrust of Andrew Jackson’s Democratic agenda,” vetoed legislation “to centralize the banking system,” and ultimately became a “president without a party,” trying to make overtures to the Democratic Party but this failed so he saw “salvation in Texas, favoring its annexation, even committing U.S. troops to Mexico in the spring of 1844 [147]
  4. James Polk, who was seen by Andrew Jackson or “Old Hickory” as “salvation” of the Democrats, had a career “as an offshoot of Jackson’s,” was born in Western North Carolina to “wealthy, slave-owning parents,” with his faith in “territorial expansion…grounded in his history” with his parents and grandparents prospering “at the expanses of Native Americans” since “Westward expansion was the source of the family’s riches.” Furthermore, he made his “real money off westward expansion and slavery” rather than being a lawyer, paying “more attention to his investments in land than to his investments in human flesh” and even using “slaves to grow cotton on a plantation in Mississippi” and later announcing he favored the “immediate reannexation” of Texas…[while] the United States had no legitimate prior claim on Texas” and the fact that adding Texas would increase the number of slave states without a doubt [148]
  5. “Whigs and Democrats fought on fairly equal terms for more than a decade, but after 1848 the former disintegrated over the issue of slavery,” with Democrats holding “together–often tenuously–until 1860, when they, too, split” and faced “a formidable challenge from the Republican Party,” after 1854, with the Democratic candidate, Abraham Lincoln, capturing the Presidency in 1860. [149]
  6. In 1848, “disaffected Democrats, Liberty [party] men, and a few stray politicians looking for a home–formed the Free-Soil Party” putting forward former President Martin Van Buren as its candidate, “once obnoxious to abolitionists,” with a platform advocating for “the non-extension of slavery” and was not “truly antislavery” as it did not demand “immediate emancipation.” [150]

After that point the Republican loyalty of Blacks was further cemented. With many Blacks fighting for the Union in the Civil War, the “first modern war” in which “the fight over race and empire literally pushed the American democratic experiment into modernity” and 600,000 died on both sides while thousands more deserted, they gained loyalty to the country and not those trying to undermine it. [151] As the Reconstruction went forward, with the story told well by Eric Foner in the Short History of the Reconstruction, Democrats worked to uphold white supremacy. While some saw Black Republican politicans, at the time, as gentlemen on par with Democrats in the antebellum South, those who voted for the Republican party were sometimes whipped while voting for the Democrats led to praise, even though Democrats in the South pushed for a “white man’s government.” [152] These Democrats also called the elected Black politicans “devils,” systematically disarmed Blacks, manipulated the ballot box even training cannons at polling areas while Whites fled the Republican Party and joined the Democrats. Even as Black Republicans and their allies put up a fight, they had few resources since “white Democrats controlled the money, the land, and credit factories.” Furthermore, in “response to the democratic agenda of the Mississippi Reconstruction government,” with universal male suffrage, eradication of “black codes,” establishment of public education, elimination of vagracy laws, taxes for mechanics and artisans were reduced, married women given the rights to control income independent of their spouses, and husbands being required to receive “consent from their spouses on the sale of family domiciles” as put forward in the 1868 Mississippi Constitution and implemented in years afterward, a number of groups came together: “former Confederates, the White planter class, and their allies” who worked to undermine and defeat “the Republican government.” [153] The arm of these reactionary, bigoted groups was the Democratic Party while White supremacy was their mobilizing tool, as they used “extra-legal violence as a major vehicle to achieve their interests,” with the development of White terrorist organizations, with intimidation of Black farmers and laborers. Ultimately with the Democrats able to defeat the Black militia in the courts, with the demobilization of the militias weakening defense and resources “available to Mississippi’s Black communities ten years after the end of chattel slavery,” and the Reconstruction being doomed to failure “in the face of a White supremacist armed rebellion, insufficient federal intervention, and the decision not to provide arms to the Black majority,” the stage was set for the 1876 compromise. [154]

By 1876, the Democrats worked to further consolidate their control. After organizing governments in the South like the Republicans, they made sure that “orderly counting of electoral votes” in the disputed 1876 Presidential Election couldn’t happen because of a filibuster, leading to the Great Compromise. [155] This agreement, also called the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877, was the following:

…Southerners refused to back the filibuster efforts of Northern Democrats on Tilden’s behalf, thus insuring the selection of Hayes as president. In return, Hayes and leading Republicans agreed to remove federal troops from the three “unreconstructed” states, appoint a Southerner to his cabinet, support the expenditure of increased federal funds on internal improvement in these three states, encourage the construction of a transcontinental railroad with a terminus in the South, and have the president visit the South…Conspicuously absent…were safeguards for Southern freedmen.

With even Thomas Nast deriding the compromise, which ensured that “any pretesne of federal intervention in Mississippi and the former Confederacy” would be dropped for decades to come, the result was, as Cornel West put it, the Union had won “the most barbaric of nineteenth-century wars, but white supremacy and imperial expansionism won the American peace,” even thoughit was a violent order in the South. [156] With “terrorist violence unleashed to secure the White planter elite in power and to perpetuate a system based on White supremacy,” by the 1880s, a coalition of Northern Republicans and southern Dixiecrats was forming, with the Republican Party forgetting Black people by the end of the 19th century. Still, the Democrats were the party of the white supremacist order in the South, and the Republicans were not, so Blacks in all likelihood mainly stuck with the Republican Party due to its past history before the betrayal in 1876.

From the 1890s onward, the “potential political power of blacks” was recognized by the Democratic Party, including in South Carolina which had been “a predominantly black state since 1820,” with White political demagogues courting favor of the white population by not only “denying the vote to blacks” but by “appealing to whites’ fear of black leadership, which those in power viewed as domination by blacks.” [157] Such racist attitudes were part of the reason that by the 1890s, Blacks had “tied themselves to the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and civil rights laws” with Democrats as “the party of slavery and segregation.” The Democratic Party further played on racism of white farmers to gain those who would have favored the Populist party, which was enticed into the Democratic party, Bryan, the Democratic candidate, was defeated by William McKinley, the Republican for “whom the corporations and the press mobilized, in the first massive use of money in an election campaign.” [158] After McKinley won, any hint of Populism within the Democratic Party was purged, with the “big guns of the Establishment pulled out all their ammunition to make sure.” The Democrats, who styled themselves as the “party of white solidarity and region self-determination,” had manipulated the Populist movement, saying that the region’s woes were due to “newly enfranchised black voters” while the Spanish American War in 1898 “reinforced white racial arrogance” as widely popular social Darwinism “seasoned the politics of the Progressive era” to come in the next century. [159] As such, Black men and women met “white terrorism at the polls” in the South, where most of the Black population lived, with “federal endorsement of white hegemony” while the North was anything but the “promised land” for Blacks, with Blacks later gaining participation in urban politics there which became “a factor of national consequence.”

By the early 1900s, the racism was ingrained in the Democrats, but also the Republicans with their overseas imperialism. While Cornel West calls it the “American democratic experiment” it is more accurate to say that the murderous empire “entered the twentieth century…with overseas possessions [such as] Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa” meaning that the empire had “domestic racist systems of terror over black, brown, Asian and red peoples.” [160] By 1912, Jim (and Jane) Crow dominated the American South. It was time for Woodrow Wilson.

In November 1912, Wilson won election as a Democrat, even attracting the support of W.E.B. Du Bois. Some conservatives write that his “racist legacy…is undisputed” and the National Review, a neoconservative publication, writing about how he “brought Jim Crow to the North” by saying that the “railway mail service” should be segregated, that in 1907 he campaigned in Indiana for “the compulsory sterilization of criminals and the mentally retarded” which he signed into law when governor of New Jersey, that the civil service of the United States was segregated even with the NAACP and National Independent Political League objected. [161] Their viewpoints are complemented by those of liberals, who write about Wilson’s “racist legacy,”noting that he  “oversaw unprecedented segregation in federal offices” even throwing out then-civil rights leader William Monroe Totter out of the Oval Office despite the fact that Totter was a Wilson supporter, and even claiming that segregation benefited Blacks, an absurd idea! Furthermore, consider that Wilson “eulogized the antebellum South,” lamented the Reconstruction, felt that segregation is to the “advantage of the colored people themselves,” and snubbed a young Vietnamese nationalist named Ho Chi Minh at Versailles who had “an eight-point program that would result in his country’s liberation from French colonial rule.”  Minh was turned away at Versailles with the French wanting to preserve their colonial interests while Wilson would not “grant Minh a private audience.” As a result of this, Minh turned to “the Bolshevik Government in Russia for assistance” which was the beginning of “Minh’s lifelong association with Communism.”

All of this should be no surprise since Wilson was “Southern-born and Southern-sympathetic” who may have been seen as “a legendary advocate for expanding all sorts of rights and an inspiration to the world after the Great War” while he not only refused to extend those rights to Blacks but was “backwards and bigoted when it came to race,” drawing into question how “progressive” his politics really were after all. William Keylor, a Boston University professor, describes Wilson and his racism as follows:

…Democrat Thomas Woodrow Wilson became the first Southerner elected president since Zachary Taylor in 1848. Washington was flooded with revelers from the Old Confederacy, whose people had long dreamed of a return to the glory days…when southern gentlemen ran the country…Wilson is widely and correctly remembered…as a progressive Democrat who introduced many liberal reforms at home…But…Wilson was a loyal son of the old South who regretted the outcome of the Civil War…Wilson promptly authorized members of his cabinet to reverse this long-standing policy of racial integration in the federal civil service. Cabinet heads…re-segregated facilities such as restrooms and cafeterias in their buildings…A delegation of black professionals led by Monroe Trotter…appeared at the White House to protest the new policies. But Wilson treated them rudely

Fast forward to 1932, when the situation for blacks had changed.

1932 to Present

Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet via Wikimedia

During the Great Depression, “Blacks began to flock to the Democrats…abandoning the Republican Party with which they had stuck with since emancipation.” [162] In 1932, 25% of blacks voted for FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and by 1940, 52% of the Blacks in Chicago were voting for him! FDR, who was elected four times, was a “superb radio performer,” and had polio but the national media didn’t show it. [163] Even then, however, supporting the Democrats, as millions of blacks began to do, was a “leap of faith” since those who advocated for “racial equality came from the fingers of American politics” with the problems of Blacks a minor issue even among “the most enlightened northern Democrats” as it was evidently the case.

In 1933, Charles Goodwin Woodson wrote in “The Miseducation of the Negro” that Blacks should appeal to Blacks as a whole, rather than one political party, using their votes for action in the present, not something that happened in the past:

The Negro should not censure the Republican party for forgetting him and he should not blame the Democratic party for opposing him. Neither can the South blame any one but itself for its isolation in national politics. Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised. As a minority element the Negro should not knock at the door of any particular political party. He should appeal to the Negroes themselves and from them should come harmony and concerted action for a new advance to that larger freedom of men. The Negro should use his vote rather than give it away to reward the dead for some favors done in the distant past.

Under the Roosevelt administration Blacks did not fare well. Not only did the capitalist system remain in place by the end of the New Deal, but “most blacks were ignored by New Deal programs” since they were tenant farmers. [164] This was due to the fact that the New Deal itself “bolstered the power of Black Belt planters” in the segregationist South even as it challenged existing political relations in the South. Even Southern Democrats, by 19132, were pressing for government action, rallying behind FDR. The political upheaval created by the Great Depression opened up new opportunities for blacks to assert their citizenship, especially Black voters in Northern cities, such as Mary McLeod Bethune working to get Black professional people “placed in every bureau of the federal government.”  [165] Despite this, there were negatives, like Southern employers exploiting NRA (National Recovery Administration), to persuade Southern Black leaders “to endorse a lower minimum wage.”

Later, in 1937, southern Democrats joined to opposed the New Deal, arguing that there needed to be reduced taxes, a balanced budget, “states’ rights” restored, private property an “rights of capital” strictly observed, opposing the Fair Labor Standards Act which “promised to further erode regional wage differentials.” Young Southern supporters like Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) came to support the New Deal while Lucy Randolph Mason of the CIO called on Eleanor Roosevelt to abolish the poll tax in the South in order to change the makeup of the electorate since the poll tax and other restrictions kept most blacks and a majority of low-income whites from voting.” [166] In later years, even some Southern liberals were angry that FDR interfered in a state political contests by endorsing U.S. attorney Lawrence Camp to beat incumbent Walter George for Georgia’s seat in the senate, Olin Johnson for South Carolina’s seat in the senate, and William Dodd, Jr. for Virginia’s seat in the Senate. By 1936, Roosevelt had embraced “class-based politics” to such an extent that it “absorbed much of the energy created by nascent independent movements on the Left” with the battle for the northern Black vote a major feature of the 1936 campaign” with the so-called “Black cabinet”forming in his administration [167] Perhaps the former was purposeful as to stave off any progressive movements and strengthen the Democratic Party as it began support a “new industrial democracy” asserted by the United Mine Workers (UMW), CIO, and other unions, moving away from the “racially and culturally exclusive world” of the AFL. Then there was the symbolic action of Eleanor Roosevelt against segregation in Alabama in 1938, with such enforcement of discriminatory laws by none other than Eugene “Bull” Connor, tied in with the NAACP’s Crisis declaring in January 1944 that “the Dixie octopus strangling the rest of the country must be shaken off.” [168]

During this period, radical forces were organizing in the South. There were victories in 1932 elections for Communists in Elmore, Crenshaw, and Perry counties, in Alabama, where the Share Croppers’ Union (SCU) was active. [169] There were many skilled radicals organized in the South, some of whom came from “outside the South” but others who were native to the area. As the Popular Front, run by the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA), retained rhetoric favoring Roosevelt, Southern Communists believed that a “progressive agenda could be realized through the Democratic Party” just like those in many failed “progressive” campaigns in years after. The Democratic Front, used by such Southern Communists was the only door into “the world of Southern liberals” whom Communists allied with to create a united front for racial justice called the Southern League for People’s Rights. [170] In years that followed, the CPUSA launched a campaign to enfranchise poor Black and White voters, with Black organizers, when they had the Popular Front, asked to “distribute literature in support of Democratic candidates or leaflets explaining progressive legislation” but, before 1938, no effort was made to “systematically challenge the Board of Registrars.” Interestingly, upper-class Black folks opposed extending the franchise of voting to the mass of Blacks, saying that they were “uneducated and illiterate,” not ready to vote, in their elitist way.

As the CPUSA’s hopes for “a legitimate place in American politics” ended with the so-called “Nazi-Soviet pact,” their “comrades in Alabama emerged with renewed strength” with the “pure folly” of creating a left-wing bloc within the Democrats discarded for something more radical: “a new culture of opposition derived from militant interracialism, socialist values, and democratic principles.” [171] As the Alabama Communist Party had become, by the 1940s, “a kind of loosely organized think tank whose individual members exercised considerable influence in local labor, liberal, and civil rights organizations,” Eugene “Bull” Connor declared in 1949 that he tried to get the Democrats to add a plank to their platform “calling for the deportation of all communists” saying that the ship back to Russia should sink on the way there! So not only was Connor a racist, but he was a hard-core anti-communist. With such talk, it is no surprise that Dan Smoot declared in his “right-wing newsletter,” titled the Dan Smoot Report, would declare that in 1930 began the “communist program of racial agitation in the United States” and that race relations deteriorated because Roosevelt and Truman adopted the “communist program of racial agitation.” [172] In such propaganda for the white supremacist Citizens Council, it is no surprise that blacks were said to be gained under segregation and Democrats painted as communistic even though they were anything but this, engaging in anti-communist viewpoints without question.

In 1936, about five years after A. Philip Randolph issued his challenge to Roosevelt there was a remarkable assembly “of civil rights activists,” Black and White, in Chicago, called the National Negro Congress (NNC). With thousands at the evening sessions, those ranging from representatives of New Deal departments, old-line Republicans, Young Republicans, Communists, proponents of the Forty-ninth State movement, Garveyites, Baha’ists, prominent bishops, the National Housewives’ League, and many others, met and discussed in the same place. [173] Many of these individuals “sought alternatives to white-dominated capitalism” and stood in contrast to the “serious and stodgy atmosphere” of Urban League and NAACP meetings, even as both had resentment and dissatisfaction with the existing “racial status quo.” As for A. Philip Randolph, as he was the “best-connected and best-known man in America” he made no idle threat “when he proposed the March on Washington” with Roosevelt’s advisers thinking he could possibly mobilize “thousands of black protestors.” [174] In the years to follow, he engaged in varying overtures to blacks but not make civil rights “a national issue” as it would have a “high political price” with Southern Democrats amassing control of many “key congressional committees.” Even when Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1939 because they refused to “allow Marian Anderson to sing in Constitution Hall,” she entered the small group of Whites “whom nearly every black admired.”

As the years past, many young blacks on the Left saw the “liberatory possibilities of the rights revolution” and  fought for “black political empowerment” including later anticommunist (and NAACP publicist) Henry Lee Moon. [175] Additionally, the CIO-PAC which stood on the “left-liberal side of the New Deal” pushed for “racial equality and published its civil rights efforts” in a booklet titled “The Negro in 1944.” It was at this time that there was a “remarkable sift of black voters to the Democratic Party,” even leading to FDR’s victory in 1944. While the Democrats had never shaken off their “association with slavery” or that leaders like William Jennings Byran and Woodrow Wilson had supported “segregation” Republicans sought to “win back Negro voters who had defected to FDR” with candidates like Wendell Wilikie but Republican moderates like him were marginalized within the party as a whole. [176]

With the heightening of World War II, conservatives took power in Washington with anti-New Deal Democrats from the South wielding “the balance of power.” Even some pointed to the “emergence of northern black voters as a constituency within the Democratic Party” as a reason to discredit the whole New Deal, saying the the programs were “wasteful, excessive, and possibly subversive.” [177] Even so, the campaign to repeal the poll tax heated up, with the poll tax an effective measure to restrict Black voting and also lending itself to “vote-buying and…a source of fraud and corruption.” These forces were victorious in getting the poll tax suspended during wartime for soldiers, as those in the South grumbled about the “creeping power of the federal government.” [178] However, in 1943, the bill to give soldiers the vote was defeated at first but a new bill was passed even as it caused divisions among those in the New Deal Coalition. With all of this, it is easy to say that the New Deal encouraged expanded Black political participation, leading to tens of thousands of Black votes in 1936, and Black Carolinians in the “vanguard of  the movement for voting rights and for full participation in the Democratic Party.” Some Democrats, however were angry by Black participation, especially those in the South, declaring that the party stood for “states rights and white supremacy” as it always has, leading to votes against Henry Wallace who felt the Democrats should be an “effective vehicle for advancing economic and political democracy,” of course. By the end of the 1944 convention, many Democrats felt betrayed as Truman was the Vice-President instead of Henry Wallace, but his showing at the convention gave such liberals “renewed hope and direction,” keeping them within the Democratic Party fold. [179]

Moving back to 1943, there were varied action that year. Civil rights activists flooded the White House with “letters and petitions” to keep the Fair Employment Practice Committee (FEPC) in place, while Randolph mobilized protests nationwide as part of the March on Washington Movement, or MOWM,  to save the FEPC. FDR was in a bind as Southerners wanted to eviscerate the FEPC but the “spectre of black-led protests threatened his goal of wartime unity at whatever cost.” [180] At the time time, wartime propaganda took in the black and leftist comparison of racism and fascism. This came from the Black activists and intellectuals who were “staunchly antifacist during the 1930s” who would be vilified by the McCarthyites many years later in the 1950s.

By the 1940s, Communists, at least those associated with the CPUSA, had a checked record, on civil rights, even as they exposed the hypocrisy of empire. During World War II the CPUSA was accused of backpedaling on civil rights for fear of embarrassing FDR and “jeopardizing the victory of America’s Soviet ally” and not joining in calls to desegregate the military since they opposed “aiding American armed forces in the Cold War.” [181] Even with this, as Thomas J. Sugrue writes, in an anticommunist tone,

…racial equality remained a central issue for postwar leftists. Communists saw protests and publicity as a tool to delegitimize the United States worldwide…as decolonization efforts, many of them Communist-led, were under way throughout Asia and Africa, many leftists interpreted the black freedom struggle in the United States as part and parcel of the struggles of non-white peoples worldwide…advocating fair employment practices [was central for]…political leftists…[like the] Communist-dominated Civil Rights Congress…leftist National Lawyers Guild, the Worker’s Defense League (Socialist), and various left-led unions.

However, by the mid-1940s,”leftists of all varieties came under siege” with organizations like the NAACP having the “dangers of the red taint” pushed upon them. From 1945 to 1964, 29 states, outside the South, enacted “fair employment practices laws” and while “states’ rights” was used by segregationists in the South to resist civil rights initiatives, in the North, “state and local autonomy gave civil rights activists new arenas for struggle.” [182] Even moderate Northern Republicans endorsed civil rights and in “politically competitive” Northern states, such as New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey, all was up for grabs, with prominent Communists and Socialists in New York pulling many leftward while New York Republicans were “among the nation’s most liberal” and responded to pressure from “the state’s well-organized civil rights organizations.” Even in some instances, Republican fought against Republican, with Republicans moving to a “probusiness, antigovernment campaign” as the years went on, as proposed fair employment practices acts began to supposedly conflict with business.

In the 1948 election, the Democratic Party held a different position than Henry Wallace on civil rights. While they framed “civil rights as a national issue” Wallace engaged in a third-party challenge and clear attack on segregation. It was then that A. Philip Randolph convinced Truman that racial segregation in the military of the empire was a potent issue “for Soviet propagandists”so he better desegregate the military. [183] It was then he moved to desegregate the military. He was possibly prompted by the election and by the “need to maintain black morale” in the military but it “took over a decade to complete the desegregation in the military.” [184] Before he issued an executive order providing for desegregation there was the “Dixiecrat revolt” with racist Democrats (“States’ Rights Party”) bolting from the national Democratic Party, but still saw themselves as “Democrats” and were tied to the party, expressing their “disenchantment with the Democratic Party’s civil rights plank as an expression of fundamental issues of American constitutionalism, a threat to local government and the right of states to determine their own social policy.” Many years earlier, civil rights activists had directly challenged Truman, who tried to get Blacks from “wandering off toward Henry Wallace” with black voters “entering into Truman’s calculations” despite the face that his “civil rights record” in the Senate, before taking office, was mixed. [185] However, be became concerned about the impact of the “Negro problem” on the reputation of the empire since the Soviets had “long reported on riots, lynchings, and racism in the United States” as he sought to deprive the Soviets of one of their weapons used in their propaganda: “America’s abysmal record on civil rights.” In 1946 he even announced the creation of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights or PCCR, a “blue-ribbon, interracial commission” to safeguard people’s civil rights, as it gathered “evidence about segregation and discrimination in the United States.” Even so, Henry Wallace took a further left approach to civil rights. The PCCR addressed whites, while Wallace “denounced Jim Crow to angry white crowds,” engaging in harsh attacks on segregation which gained him Black support, but Truman drummed up support in the North. [186] However, after he was elected, he “supported antidiscrimination laws for naught” and dragged his feet on “fair employment practices.” It was clear that no Democratic candidate for president could “again ignore black voters.”

By the time of Eisenhower, there was a liberal on the court: Earl Warren. As he handed down a decision “desegregating America’s public schools” in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, segregationists like Kyle Palmer were furious at such “liberalism” even as Warren still saw both of them as friends despite their differences. [187] In later years there was so much anger that  some, in the conservative Los Angeles Times, said that Warren was a communist and should be impeached, although this was obviously false without a doubt. Desegregation in Mississippi starting in the 1950s, which was influenced by a shift of political power away from “the rural Black Belt agricultural elite” tied to the national Democratic Party, changed the political landscape of the state to one with a urbanized business class which “aggressively sought federal dollars, advocated a pro-corporate, anti-union politics of…the Republican Party” by the 1980s! [188] This is a horrifying development to say the least, but it does not mean that desegregation shouldn’t have happened, but rather that it was part of a broader political shift.

Apart from what has just been stated, in the 1950s, the “Lily-Whites,” a faction of the Republican Party, gained power in Mississippi. In 1956 they registered before the “Blacks and Tans” rival faction of the Republican Party, with Republican leaders seeing the convention that year as an “opportunity to reclaim black voters” as so-called “states rights” solidified as a position of some Republicans. [189] With this, some in the South were disappointed that the Eisenhower administration was not a turning point, with his use of federal troops in Little Rock confirming “that the Republicans were and always be the party of Lincoln.” The same was even the case for Nixon, who discouraged a southern filibuster of the 1957 Civil Rights Act and held a civil rights platform, even as he voted against the Fair Employment Practices Commission. As such, it is no surprise that White pro-segregationist southern Republicans were angry at National Republicans not embracing their viewpoints in the broader party. [190] As for the Mississippi Democrats, many hardly agreed for what “passed for modern conservatism” even as they held segregationist views, supporting New Deal programs that “disproportionately aided southern interests.” However, in 1960, some unionists like the Trade Union Leadership Council (TULC) endorsed JFK, pushing him  to support fair employment practices, even after his election, while A. Philip Randolph refused to join the Democrats. [191] Despite this, it is worth noting that even though JFK had “endorsed the civil rights movement” on the campaign trail, his record on civil rights while in the House and Senate “had been spotty” and he gave few indications “that the problems of the northern inner cities would be part of his program” even as the Democratic Party “adopted a civil rights plank in its 1960 platform that was far to the left of Kennedy” but the platform “mattered relatively little” compared to the Democratic Party support for “a generous welfare state.”

From there there’s JFK. As a “gifted speaker and eloquent communicator” he positioned himself apart from the “liberal New Deal tradition,” understanding “the moral correctness of integration but…was reluctant to press too far in the struggle for racial justice.”Additionally, while the Kennedy’s needed “the Black vote to win the presidency in 1960″ the Democrats were “still a Jim Crow party” as Blacks were “almost entirely disenfranchised in the South and the border states.” In order to maintain the support of the South, JFK “appointed five supporters of segregation to the federal judiciary” while   his brother Bobby “authorized FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover to begin wiretapping Martin Luther King’s telephone conversations” on the grounds that MLK’s “King’s closest adviser,” Stanley Levison, “was allegedly a closet member of the Communist Party.” They also put “enormous pressure on the organizers of the historic March on Washington in August 1963 to cancel the event” and when that didn’t happen, they tried to “control it,” with the administration refusing to “provide federal protection to civil rights activists.” As a result, the March was a “sellout” with the white Kennedy administration taking it over, meaning that the march lost its militancy, was no longer anger, it became “a picnic, a circus” with nothing “but a circus, with clowns and all” as Malcolm X put it. [192] While much of the black press and white-dominated media called him a “Negro extremist” while Blacks were suspicious of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, he “articulated a powerful undercurrent of black discontent that few whites understood.”

This was no surprise because JFK “conducted a policy that was virtually a carbon copy of the one Dwight Eisenhower carried out” on civil rights, feeling that it had “to be kept at a gradual pace, lest a situation of unrest and backlash erupt all over the south” and were angry at CORE and Freedom Riders, with “the momentum for Civil Rights was possible only because of Johnson’s actions, not JFK’s.” Because of this, the Kennedy Brothers were not responsible for earlier successes in the civil rights movement and Bobby declaring to  University Of Georgia Law School in May 1961 that “we…must avoid another Little Rock…It is not only that such incidents do incalculable harm to the children…seriously undermine respect for law and order, and cause serious economic and moral damage. Such incidents hurt our country in the eyes of the world.” Anger at the Kennedys was evident in parts of speech John Lewis wrote to be delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, which includes text he was told to remove by civil rights leadership:

…In good conscience, we cannot support the administration’s civil-rights bill, for it is too little, and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality [which was changed]…This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromise…What political leader here can stand up and say, “My party is the party of principles”? The party of Kennedy is also the party of Eastland. The party of Javits is also the party of Goldwater. Where is our party?… I want to know, which side is the federal government on?…We cannot depend on any political party, for the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence…The next time we march, we won’t march on Washington, but we will march through the South, through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own “scorched earth” policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground – nonviolently...I say to you, Wake up America!!

As such, JFK was not really standing against those segregationists who wanted to maintain “Mississippi’s and the South’s role within a viable Democratic Party.” [193] One can say that honestly even despite his baby steps on civil rights the creation of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (PCEEO) in March 1961 by executive order, which was seen positively even though it “lacked enforcement powers.”

After JFK’s death in 1963, from which some said conservative right-wingers like Carl McIntire, contribute to the “extremist hatred” fueling the assassination, LBJ came into the picture. While you could say, like Cornel West, that he “recognized that the interests of poor whites were the same as those of the vast majority of black people in America” this seems to distort the situation, giving him too much credit. [194] During Freedom Summer or the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964, where  Freedom School coordinators “approved the idea of a young peoples’ mock convention, coinciding with the statewide convention of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, the young people took over,” with books like Lerone Bennett Jr’s book, Before the Mayflower used by teachers, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party or MFDP was created. This was projected to be a multiracial party challenging “the legitimacy of the Mississippi Democratic Party at the National Democratic Convention.”  [195] One Black woman, Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the co-founders of MFDP, would lead their delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention, challenging “the seats of the all-white Mississippi Democratic party delegation” and leading to a pledge that at their 1968 convention in Chicago the Democrats “would not seat delegations to the national convention that excluded black members.” But there was more to the story than this.

With Hamer’s presentation at the 1964 Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey “notable” and played a major role, giving her “a place in history,” the grassroots MFDP declared before a national audience at the 1964 convention that “Mississippi was not a democratic society and only serious federal intervention would make it so.” [196] For all of this, LBJ became obsessed with the MFDP, tracking its “every move and spoken words” during the convention, pressuring the Credentials Committee to “not side with the MFDP” as he did not want embarrassment or even a “walkout by white Southern delegates.” He even initiated FBI involvement with “background checks…on MFDP delegates” with 37 FBI personnel arriving in Atlantic City two days before the MFDP, using wiretaps, informants, some of whom posed as journalists (with the permission of NBC) to “obtain off-the-record information from the Freedom Democrats.” This is pretty nasty stuff, but it is only getting at the surface. As Hamer gave an “emotional recounting of the Winona jail beating,”  the MFDP received “hundreds of telegrams” supporting their efforts even though the television network (NBC) “hurriedly cut away from Hamer’s testimony to cover a press conference that President Johnson called to lesson the impact of her statement.” [197] But by the evening, television had “aired her full testimony.” As Hamer showed that a “vital segment of American society was being constantly and continually subjugated” and the MFDP favored “liberal policies of the national [Democratic] party,” this did not prevent internal conflict within those favoring civil rights.

As the days passed, and the majority of the MFDP initially seemed to favor a compromise, Hamer expressed her disgust with Democrats who would seat those who participated in sterilization of Mississippi women. [198] Even MLK, who had sided with the MFDP before, agreed with white liberals and other civil rights leadership to “push full-speed ahead in getting the MFDP to accept the administration’s compromise,” saying it was the best they could get, while he later said he would support the MFDP no matter what their decision was.  With this, Hamer and Ella Baker condemned the civil rights leadership, seeing them as sellouts, with Hamer saying “we didn’t come all this way for no two seats,” even trying to sit in seats allocated for Mississippi before they were escorted out. [199] While many condemned the MFDP’s decision, especially among the civil rights leadership, to not accept the compromise, they continued their “fight against the legitimacy of the lily-white faction.” Ultimately the failure to unseat the “all-white delegation” at the convention led to radicalization and disillusionment, with Hamer who lashing out at “tom teachers,” “chicken-eating ministers,” or what she called the “black bourgeoisie,” referring to the civil rights leadership who claimed to “be leaders of the people but…were so were so ready to accept compromise” and Hamer becoming “more disillusioned with the white power structure.” [200] Even with that, the stand in Atlantic City “was undoubtedly historically significant,” because it sent a message to white power in the South that “black Mississippians would no longer collaborate in their own oppression.” It also told “southern white supremacists and their sympathizers” that they would be challenged by opponents using “their own political institutions and legal system if necessary,” showed the “virtual powerlessness of black Mississippians to the nation,” marked Hamer’s “emergence on the national scence,”and was “important for Hamer’s evolution as a leader.” This challenge and Mississippi’s record vote for Barry Goldwater meant that 1964 “marked a watershed year in Mississippi and American politics.” [201] The Southern Strategy of the Republicans coincided with “dramatic change” among Mississippi Democrats, changing the “political realities.” This involved the creation of groups like the Mississippi Democratic Conference (MDC) which tired to restructure the “Democratic Party along biracial lines” starting in the summer of 1965 and the Mississippi Young Democrats consisting of “biracial moderates,” some of which walked a narrow line on racial issues, “too narrow for the taste of many Mississippi blacks.”

While Hamer was under surveillance by the FBI, as she, and many other Mississippi activists felt that “the FBI did too little to protect them” there were other groups like the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM). [202] They argued in 1964 that the government of the murderous empire “was a colonial government and the enemy of Black people also ran counter to the liberal reformist view of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), which saw elements of the Democratic Party and the federal government as allies.” Such views were common as “Freedom Struggle activists and Black Mississippians” were dissatisfied after Freedom Summer. the failure of the MFDP was a “serious disappointment to Movement activists” leading many activists to lose “faith in cooperation with White liberals and the Democratic Party as a means to secure the goals of the Struggle.” [203] Malcolm X expressed this in his famed “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech in April 1964:

I’m not a politician, not even a student of politics; in fact, I’m not a student of much of anything. I’m not a democrat, I’m not a Republican, and I don’t even consider myself an American…In this present administration they have in the House of Representatives 257 Democrats to only 177 Republicans. They control two-thirds of the House vote. Why can’t they pass something that will help you and me? In the senate, there are 67 senators who are of the Democratic Party. Only 33 of them are republicans. Why, the democrats have got the government sewed up, and you’re the one who sewed it up for them. And what have they given you for it? Four years in office, and just now getting around to some civil-rights legislation. Just now, after everything else is gone, out of the way, they’re going to sit down now and play with you all summer long — the same old giant con game that they call filibuster…I’m not trying to knock out the democrats for the republicans, we’ll get to them in a minute. But it is true — you put the Democrats first and the Democrats put you last…A Dixiecrat is nothing but a Democrat in disguise. The titular head of the Democrats is also the head of the Dixiecrats, because the Dixiecrats are a part of the Democratic Party. The Democrats have never kicked the Dixiecrats out of the party. The Dixiecrats bolted themselves once, but the Democrats didn’t put them out… The Dixiecrats in Washington, D.C., control the key committees that run the government. The only reason the Dixiecrats control these committees is because they have seniority… If the black man in these Southern states had his full voting rights, the key Dixiecrats in Washington, D. C., which means the key Democrats in Washington, D.C., would lose their seats. The Democratic Party itself would lose its power. It would cease to be powerful as a party. When you see the amount of power that would be lost by the Democratic Party if it were to lose the Dixiecrat wing, or branch, or element, you can see where it’s against the interests of the democrats to give voting rights to negroes in states where the democrats have been in complete power and authority ever since the civil war. You just can’t belong to that Party without analyzing it…When you keep the Democrats in power, you’re keeping the Dixiecrats in power. I doubt that my good Brother Lomax will deny that. A vote for a democrat is a vote for a Dixiecrat…The black nationalists aren’t going to wait. Lyndon B. Johnson is the head of the Democratic Party. If he’s for civil rights, let him go into the senate next week and declare himself. Let him go in there right now and declare himself. Let him go in there and denounce the southern branch of his party. Let him go in there right now and take a moral stand — right now, not later. Tell him, don’t wait until election time. If he waits too long, brothers and sisters, he will be responsible for letting a condition develop in this country which will create a climate that will bring seeds up out of the ground with vegetation on the end of them looking like something these people never dreamed of.

That same year, many Southern Republicans played a part in crafting the 1964 platform of the Republican Party, drawing fierce protests. The platform itself advocated for a “minimum of government interference,””weak” in fighting Communism, undermining the UN, has failed to create jobs, help the poor, betrayed the farmer, and weakened responsibility. However, the platform still called for “…full implementation and faithful execution of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and…improvements of civil rights statutes adequate to changing needs of our times.” Still, it seemed to be written in ways that would favor segregationists, but not completely, of course.

The Democratic platform that year had a different tone. While it was also anti-communist and favoring war (and imperialism), asserting that “as citizens of the United States, we are determined that it be the most powerful nation on earth” while saying that “the Civil Rights Act of 1964 deserves and requires full observance by every American,” adding that “we cannot and will not tolerate lawlessness. We can and will seek to eliminate its economic and social causes” showing that such support for Blacks only went so far, as one would expect.

Both mentioned the Civil Rights Act of 1964 since it has passed in July of 1964. While the ideas of the act had been proposed by JFK, covering “voting rights, public accommodations, school desegregation, some new agencies, and an end to race-discrimination in federal programs” it did not have “protection against police brutality, ending discrimination in private employment, or granting the Justice Department power to initiate desegregation or job discrimination lawsuits”! That is significant to say the least. As Thomas J. Sugrue writes, few believed that this law alone would “transform the economic status of urban blacks” but they held out hope that LBJ would enact a “comprehensive antipoverty program.” [204]

By 1965, Blacks “gave unanimous support to the MFDP candidates” rather than the white Democrats as part of the Freedom Vote initiative by the MFDP. This was coupled by direct challenges to the seating of white Democrats, highlighting efforts used to keep blacks in Mississippi from voting, using lawyers here and there, with the white Democrats saying the challenge was not valid because they were non-challengers even though the MFDP’s candidates “had made several attempts to get on the traditional Democratic party’s November ballot” many months earlier. [205] Unfortunately a 228-143 vote in the House of Representatives dismissed the challenge, with Hamer, Devine, and Gray of the MFDP feeling “again disappointed and disillusioned.” As the years past, national bourgeois media saw Hamer as “unwise, impatient, and irreverent rabble-rouser” with black moderates harshly criticizing her, while SNCC and MFDP had more strain as SNCC went “through an ideological and structural transition” which the MFDP would experience two years later. [206] This was because the failure at the convention in 1964 “left many SNCC leaders wondering if the organization could continue to be effective with its strategy of guerrilla-style mobilization of severely repressed and disfranchised communities.” Even some SNCC vets like Bob Moses and James Foreman persuaded SNCC to pull back and re-evaluate, with SNCC considering a motion in February 1965 to make only those who had a 12th grade education on the new committee which would discuss support for the poor, which didn’t pass. [207] Even so, it but made Hamer “hurt and embarrassed” as she felt disaffected, especially when the organization, December 1, 1966 voted by 19-18 to expel whites from the organization. Even as Hamer “remained devoted to black nationalism” but she “remained opposed to judging people on the basis of their race,” arguing that “white participation in a movement for racial justice was not at odds with the intentions and achievement of black self-determination.”

The Democratic Party-dominated Congress wanted to implement law and order. In 1967, Congress responded to the riots that year by passing the Civil Rights Act of 196 which included a provision saying that those who engaged in a riot, “or an action by three or more people involving threats of violence” was prohibited, with H. Rap Brown the first person prosecuted under this law, and enforcers of laws excluded from provisions supposedly protecting blacks from violence. [208] In later years, efforts to discredit the MFDP led to a crescendo. As a result, there was an “eventual split of some from the MFDP to form a biracial coalition, the Loyalist Democrats of Mississippi,” with these members able to “unseat the Regulars at the violence-laden Democratic National Convention in Chicago.” As a result, the MFDP was beginning its “slow descend into obscurity” even as it left “its mark on Democratic Party politics.” [209] Even so, at the 1968 convention Hamer, who appeared “as a delegate with the the Loyalist Democrats…[with the] majority…black and white professionals” was angered by the participation of those who did not participate in Mississippi’s movement and was not pleased with efforts by the MFDP to join them but did so anyway. At the same convention, she spoke before the committee formulating the Democratic platform, calling for “the Democratic Party to support land grands and low-interest loans for cooperates” along with “guaranteed annual income, extended day care, comprehensive medical care, increased food programs…free higher education…an end to the Vietnam War and compulsory military service…renewed diplomatic ties with Cuba and China, an arms embargo of South Africa, and an end to Middle East arms shipments” while protesting the “gender inequities within the delegation and the entire convention.” Not surprisingly these progressive proposals were not adopted. [210]

In later years, Blacks became to be integrated in the Democratic Party structure. For example, Unita Blackwell, a civil rights activist, was elected “vice chair of the [Mississippi] state Democratic Party and a member of the Democratic National Committee.” [211] There was also the rise of Black capitalists. As Fred Hampton put it in a speech in 1969, capitalists can be of any color:

We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist…Politics is war without bloodshed, and war is politics with bloodshed. If you don’t understand that, you can be a Democrat, Republican, you can be Independent, you can be anything you want to, you ain’t nothing.

Even so, as Democrats embraced more, in terms of civil rights, many “evangelical conservatives” who were White Southerners left the party, voting “against the Democrats because of civil rights” even started as far back as 1964. [212] As you could call, the “white backlash,” which was to be expected, had begun. In years to follow, even as Mississippi Democrats kept firm control over the governor’s mansion, the tenor of those elected changed. For one, in 1971 and 1975, Mississippi elected Democrats “characterized by their racial moderation and appeals to populist economic issues” with governors in later years in Mississippi continuing this trend. [213] This shows that the movement was not over and that the “impulse for racial equality” was not dead. In fact, during this period, it “thrived in the activities of thousands of grassroots organizations…and protest groups” but there were fewer “conduits of information connecting these groups” with such groups not having the resources to share information or combine their efforts, leading to “localization and fragmentation” which came at a price. [214] But there were some conventions where people came together like the National Black Convention in 1972. However, many were dispirited after Nixon’s re-election in November, and the National Black Agenda, formed at the aforesaid convention, was forgotten. Others Blacks who aimed to engage in “race conscious parties” on a local level failed, with the Black Panthers defeated in Oakland, the Socialist Workers Party and CPUSA selecting black candidates but led to “quixotic” efforts, with Blacks in most cities casting their “lost with the Democratic Party,” working to pull it leftward or even opted “out of the electoral process altogether.” In the years to come, Black Democrats, who were “left of center” would bring a “distinctive cast to liberal politics” with some even engaging in Black Power rhetoric but few calling for the “creation of a separate black nation or called for the revolutionary overthrow of the American government” even as interracial politics thrived in cities with a small Black electorate and liberal Whites. [215]

As for Jimmy Carter, the next Democratic president, 9 years after LBJ left the White House, attempted to use an appeal to Black voters. After all, his “strongest appeal was to blacks, whose rebellion in the late sixties was the most frightening challenge to authority since the labor and unemployed upsurges in the thirties.” For example, he used then-U.N.-Ambassador Andrew Young to “build up good will for the United States among the black African nations, and urged that South Africa liberalize its policies toward blacks.”However, it was clear that ” the United States needed was a stable government in South Africa; the continued oppression of blacks might create civil war.” Additionally, Democrats joined Republicans in denouncing welfare programs, which helped Black and impoverished people, supposedly to “gain political support from a middle-class public.” This was not a surprise since after not only had Northern Democratic liberals who were “sympathetic to the plight of blacks” used the issue “of civil rights” in order to discredit “their opponents within the Democratic party” while the so-called “civil rights revolution…destroyed the institutional foundations of the traditional southern Democratic regime.” [216] It is no surprise from this that Jimmy Carter would endorse public-private partnerships while his urban agenda foundered on the shoals of stagflation.”

In the later 1980s, with much pressure, the Civil Rights Act of 1982 was extended. This allowed for the “improvement in black voting strength and the number of black elected officials.” Such a vote may have “represented an important marker in the history of white opposition to civil rights in Mississippi” with several former segregationists voting for an extension of this civil rights law. [217] However, the general condition for Blacks, within the murderous empire, was not positive, especially on an economic basis, without a doubt, even with these improvement. By the 1990s,some Black politicians, like Roxanne Jones, felt marginalized in their own party as the Democrats moved rightward, endorsing welfare “reform” which took in Republican ideas line, hook, and sinker. [218]

Then we get to Bill Clinton. Not only did he abandon bold people of color from appointing to government posts, but the “Crime Bill” of 1996, supported overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans, “dealt with the problem of crime by emphasizing punishment, not prevention” and it extended the “death penalty to a whole range of criminal offenses, and provided $8 billion for the building of new prisons.” This was a time when Democrats tried to deal with racial divisions in the party by keeping “racial issues” at arms length and “black politicians,” hoping that the Clinton-Gore ticket would appeal “directly to southern white voters” as they wanted to expand the Democratic coalition into the “business and middle class” as they won at the polls. [219] However, even with their tactic of ignoring blacks and courting “conservative whites” black voters supported the Democratic Party while conservative whites reveled in Clinton’s “well-publicized conflicts with Jesse Jackson” for example. The policies against Black people were further embodied in the welfare bill signed by Clinton, which was followed by efforts by his administration to ” block a number of welfare changes instituted by the state of Wisconsin,” in an effort to “avoid handing the GOP a potent campaign issue for the 1996 presidential election.” [220]

Comes from a NYT article in Jun 2008 titled “Obama Sharply Assails Absent Black Fathers.” He repeated the same message in 2013, harping on “personal responsibility” an oft-repeated idea started by the right-wing.

As noted earlier in this article, Obama took a pro-police stance in response to Black Lives Matter, engaged in an education policy which “closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones,” continued under Betsy DeVos, and kept the mass incarceration system in place. Some may say he was good for the Black community as the “first Black president” (he was actually biracial) but in reality he was horrible for the Black Community. As Margaret Kimberley argued in Black Agenda Report,

Barack Obama’s Justice Department only prosecuted two cases of police brutality and Eric Garner’s was not among them. Obama’s response to demands was phony, meant to give the appearance of action when none was taken. He sent scoundrels like Al Sharpton to Ferguson, Missouri but only for show. Obama would even meet with activists and family members when he thought he could get political cover by doing so. But he never gave Eric Garner or his family the justice that he had the power to give.

Glen Ford added to this, in the same publication, writing in July 2016 that

President Obama, however, has diametrically opposite plans for these communities…Obama is preparing to reverse his decision to ban the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars in armored vehicles, battlefield weapons and riot gear to local police departments. The president reportedly agreed to review the restrictions after meeting with leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations. Obama’s short-lived retreat from the federal government’s frenzied militarization of local police, announced with great fanfare in May of 2015, was his sole substantial concession to the movement that swept the nation after the rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri. The sight of armored vehicles and battle-ready cops on the streets of American cities was an international embarrassment for the United States – bad “optics” for the First Black President’s legacy. However, the sad truth is that Obama is responsible for the biggest escalation in the history of the one-sided war against Black America…Even with the scale-back announced in 2015, Obama still managed to transfer a $459 million arsenal to the cops – 14 times as much weapons of terror and death than President Bush gifted to the local police at his high point year of 2008…Obama escalated the war against Black and brown communities by several orders of magnitude. Based on these numbers, Obama is the biggest domestic war hawk in the history of the United States…What separates the current era of mass Black incarceration, and all of its attendant police atrocities, from the period before the 1960s, is that the “New Jim Crow” has been financed and directed by the federal government…since passage of the Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 1968, the feds have made suppression of Black people a national priority…The Obama administration marks a new stage in the street war against Black and brown people – a war he escalated before the emergence of a new Black movement, rather than in response to it….Clinton or Trump will surely build on Obama’s lethal legacy

Are the Democrats antiwar

From an article he wrote on Consortium News

Another one of the major claims about Democrats often used is that they are antiwar. Even looking up “democrats are antiwar” shows this is not true. For one, Salon, a liberal site, declares that the Democrats do not have an “antiwar agenda” but rather push for war while others say they are the “real party of war” and that those who were antiwar sold out, with the Democrats as an “aggressive war party” now. [221] This section aims to go more in depth on this topic.

First and foremost, the inhabitants of the empire are taught, “from an early age, through schooling, and [in phrases] used by politicians, whether Democratic or Republican to make “patriotic” arguments” their founding myths, which include those of war and peace. After all, Democratic desertion from the antiwar movement caused it collapse in the later 2000s, after Bush’s terms of office.

Within the history of the empire there have been a number of major wars. Since the Democratic Party was founded in 1824, Mr. Madison’s War or the War of 1812 (1812-1815) cannot be included here. However, since then there have been a number of major conflicts in the empire’s history. Of these, the following were initiated by Democrats:

  1. Mexican-American War (1846-1848), for which many Democrats voted for, along with most of the Whigs, the “opposition” party
  2. WWI (1917-1918)
  3. WWII (1941-1945)
  4. Libya War (2011)

And those carried out by Democrats and Republicans, meaning the were bipartisan:

  1. Vietnam War (1953-1975 at least), first by Eisenhower (1953-1961), then JFK (1961-1963), then LBJ (1963-1968), then Nixon (1968-1974), then Ford (1974-1977)
  2. Iraq War phase 1 (1990), phase 2 (1990-2003), phase 3 (2003-2011), phase 4 (2015-present), first by Bush I (1988-1992), then by Clinton (1993-2001), then by Bush II (2001-2009), then by Obama (2009-2017), then by Trump (2017-Present)
  3. Afghanistan War (2001-Present) by Bush II (2001-2009), then by Obama (2009-2017), then by Trump (2017-Present)

Then there’s the Spanish-American War (1898) which was backed by Democrats but initiated by Republicans. This was because public support for Cuba Libre, or free Cuba was growing in the United States, “with the two major  capitalist political parties (Democrats and Republicans) declaring their support” Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, “refused to aid Cuban rebels, at a time when U.S. business interests, which had $50 billion in
agricultural investments in Cuba, “feared a truly independent Cuba,” since Cuban revolutionaries at the time “were calling for social reforms and land redistribution.”” So, he was favoring the capitalist class. In essence, you could say that Democrats are the war party, although Republicans have their share of militarism as well.

While it is known that a number of Democrats voted for the declaration of war for the Mexican-American War, the original record does not record their party, just their names. We do know, however, from these records that it passed 40-2 in the Senate and 117 to 50 in the House, a rousing majority to say the least:

See the original page for the Senate vote and for the House vote for war with Mexico.

However, using this Wikipedia page we can determine the political parties of these individuals and come up with two charts of how they voted on party lines.

The “senators present” does graph, on the right, does not include the three senators who did not vote, as that is included in the other chart on the left. The chart on the left shows that even if all the people who were absent and not voting voted against the war, it still would have passed, by a 40-18 vote. The reality of the situation in the Senate, as shown on the right, shows that those in favor won by a 40-2 vote.
Notes on the above image. For one, Jefferson Davis was a Democrat and two, the one with the star, the American party, refers to the nativist “Know-Nothings”

Both WWI and WWII passed overwhelmingly in the houses of Congress. For WWI, as the The American Year Book reports, it passed the House 82-6 and the Senate 373-50 on April 6, 1917, with some denouncing Wall Street for stirring up war sentiment. What followed was a draft. I tried to find a more original record, but that doesn’t seem to be easy to find.Even so, a record on GovTrack shows that most of the Democrats and Republicans in the House voted for the war, with a similar result in the Senate. The declaration of war on Austria-Hungary in December 1917 had similar results: 74 voted for it in the Senate and 365 in the House, meaning it passed by a supermajority in both houses.

As for WWII, on December 8, 1941, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous day. Jennette Rankin, a feminist and pacifist voted against the war (as she did for WWI), for which she got a lot of flak for, the only person to so in the House for the war declarations against Japan, Italy, and Germany.  The specifics, according to GovTrack was a vote, for war against Japan, passing 388-1 in the House in favor and 82-1 in the Senate in favor. The same was the case for war against Italy, passing the Senate 90-5 (the five were not voting) in favor and the House 399-1 in favor. It was also the case for the war against Germany, passing the Senate 88-7 in favor, and the House 393-1 in favor. In all of these instances all the Democrats voted in favor of the war, as did all of the Republicans, except for those not voting.

During WWII, when Josef Stalin of the USSR asked for “American and British troops to open a “second front” that would draw German troops away from the massive invasion of the USSR” FDR refused to do so. As a result, the Soviets stopped, by spring 1943, the invasion by Nazis but only “at the cost of millions and millions of lives.” [222] By the end of the war, the empire emerged, as Truman put it, “the most powerful nation in the world” with military strength forming a part of the new postwar world order with a demand for free trade while the Soviets did not want an “open break with the West,” wanting to be respected, but this did not happen, with aggressiveness on the part of the capitalist world. These ideas were further reinforced by George Kennan’s doctrine of containment, which declared that Russians have an instinctive sense of insecurity with Soviet power not taking “unnecessary risks,” as he declared that Russia must be apprehended, see how much the public is educated to the capitalistic “reality” of Russia, ensuring the “health and vigor” of the empire, putting forward a picture of the world, and cling to Western “methods and conceptions of human society.”

Some claim that JFK was antiwar (those horrid revisionists) but they are dead wrong. For one, the year he was elected the military budget increased, and by the time his tax cuts, which benefited the capitalist class, was put in place, “defense spending constituted a whopping 42.1 percent of the federal budget.” [223] Additionally, JFK wanted the Limited Test Ban Treaty “chiefly for environmental reasons…not because he envisioned the long-term elimination of nuclear weapons.” This was because his Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara “came up with the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) principle” while JFK stuck with the containment policy of the Soviets enshrined in the Truman Doctrine, and he increased “America’s troop number from 500 to 16,000” thinking that a pull-out of troops “would be a mistake,” which was reinforced by the fact that he authorized “the coup that resulted in Diem’s overthrow and assassination on November 1, 1963” even though he didn’t desire the latter, but it was “extremely naïve for him to not foresee such a result.” Additionally,his “proposed 1000 troop reduction was not a done deal” and was dependent on conditions on the ground, with JFK leaving “Lyndon Johnson with the unpleasant dichotomy of either go-in full-scale or pull-out completely in 1964, when the decision had to be made.” As the National Security Archive put it

Top U.S. officials sought the November 1, 1963 coup against then-South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem without apparently considering the physical consequences for Diem personally…U.S. officials, including JFK, vastly overestimated their ability to control the South Vietnamese generals who ran the coup…the United States supported, remained in the throes of a civil war between the anti-communist government the U.S. favored and communist guerrillas backed by North Vietnam…The weight of evidence therefore supports the view that President Kennedy did not conspire in the death of Diem…The documentary record is replete with evidence that President Kennedy and his advisers, both individually and collectively, had a considerable role in the coup overall, by giving initial support to Saigon military officers uncertain what the U.S. response might be…The ultimate effect of United States participation in the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem was to commit Washington to Saigon even more deeply.

This was also expressed in JFK’s speech during the Cuban missile crisis on October 22, 1962. With the empire spying on Cuba and getting intelligence on “the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba” as he called it, the empire kept issuing warnings, saying that the missiles were an “already clear and present danger,” and put in place a quarantine around Cuba (including reinforcing of Gitmo). [224] He also claimed, in anti-communist fashion that the people of Cuba were captive of a nationalist revolution with leaders who are “puppets and agents of an international conspiracy” and no longer “Cuban leaders” which is utterly racist. All in all, the empire was really the danger, not Cuba or the Soviets! After all, as SDS put it in its Port Huron Statement the same year, few if any Democrats caelleged for a change in the system of the empire wich had “confused the individual citizen,” paralyzed “policy discussion,” and consolidated “the irresponsible power of the military and business interests,” instead engaging in policies to reinforce and aggravate these developments. [225] Through all of this, some saw the Democrats as “strong and firm in dealing with the Communists” while Nixon was seen as a “yes man for Kennedy.”

Additionally, the Kennedy administration rarely discussed  “basic assumptions as it gradually involved itself in Vietnam” with many commentators having the impression that involvement of the empire “was unthinking and almost accidental, with no real understanding of the risks and costs.” However the opposite was true. Instead, JFK “and his many appointees with longstanding involvement in the CFR believed they could do better than the French had done because they were not defending a colonial empire, thought of themselves as sympathetic to an independent non-Communist Vietnam, and had a hugely superior air force to that of France.” Such imperial arrogance has resurfaced in many years to come. If JFK had not been shot on November 22, 1963, some say he would have ended the Vietnam War. However, that is completely wrong, as the speech he would have given is imperialistic to the max, and anti-communist while talking blandly of “peace” which is absurd:

…this Nation’s strength and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply explained…In this administration also it has been necessary at times to issue specific warnings…our successful defense of freedom was due not to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend. This strength is composed of many different elements, ranging from the most massive deterrents to the most subtle influences. And all types of strength are needed–no one kind could do the job alone…the strategic nuclear power of the United States has been so greatly modernized and expanded in the last 1,000 days…In less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70 percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent our Minuteman purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our strategic bombers on 15-minute alert, and increased by too percent the total number of nuclear weapons available in our strategic alert forces. Our security is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons…We have, therefore, in the last 3 years accelerated the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and increased by 60 percent the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe…We have radically improved the readiness of our conventional forces–increased by 45 percent the number of combat ready Army divisions, increased by 100 percent the procurement of modern Army weapons and equipment, increased by 100 percent our ship construction, conversion, and modernization program, increased by too percent our procurement of tactical aircraft, increased by 30 percent the number of tactical air squadrons, and increased the strength of the Marines…we have achieved an increase of nearly 600 percent in our special forces…About 70 percent of our military assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the Communist bloc–nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the threat of Communist aggression–Viet-Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran…success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in the world as well as our missiles–on a clearer recognition of the virtues of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny. That is why our Information Agency has doubled the shortwave broadcasting power of the Voice of America and increased the number of broadcasting hours by 30 percent, increased Spanish language broadcasting to Cuba and Latin America from I to 9 hours a day…that is also why we have regained the initiative in the exploration of outer space, making an annual effort greater than the combined total of all space activities undertaken during the fifties…there is no longer any fear in the free world that a Communist lead in space will become a permanent assertion of supremacy and the basis of military superiority. There is no longer any doubt about the strength and skill of American science, American industry, American education, and the American free enterprise system.

While LBJ was re-elected as “the peace candidate” in 1964, upper-middle-class Democrats, who were liberal, railed against the White House, wanting to “subject the military-industrial complex to stricter external control..disrupt the set of compromises that Presidents Roosevelt and Harry Truman had arranged” which liberals had then been enthusiastic participants in. [226] While the “attack on the national security sector” by such liberals after Vietnam was successful with legislation to place “limits upon the use of presidential power at home and abroad,” Republicans began to cultivate support in those regions of the empire and “interests in the business community with a stake in defense spending.” At the same time, moderate Democrats organized the Democratic Leadership  Council (DLC), engaging in a  version of the “southern strategy” used by the GOP.

The Gulf of Tolkin Resolution, like with previous wars, passed each house overwhelmingly, giving war powers to LBJ and was, at least formally, the first stab at Congress’s power to declare war, which it has acquiesced by the present day. In the House, 416 voted for it, with none voting against it (others said they were present and not voting) while in the Senate 88 voted for it, and 2 voted against it, those two being Democrats Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening. The latter would demand the withdrawal of the empire from Vietnam  while the former said it gave LBJ a “blank check” for war in Vietnam, with both being undoubtedly right.

As a result of the Vietnam War there were anger at the imperial footsoldiers, expressed by Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, both whom fought in Vietnam (and held jingoist views) but also showing presidential continuity on the war itself:

…we were members of an elite, experimental combat division trained in the new art of automobile warfare at the behest of President John F. Kennedy…the class of 1965 [at West Point] came out of old America, a nation that disappeared forever in the smoke that billowed off the jungle backgrounds where we fought and bled. The country that sent us off to war was not there to welcome us home. It no longer existed. We answered the call of one President who was no dead [JFK]; we followed the orders of another [LBJ] who would be hounded from office, and haunted, by the war he mismanaged so badly. Many of our countrymen came to hate the war we fought. [227]

These views were contrasted by those of SDS, which called for “an immediate cease fire and demobilization in South Vietnam” in 1965, noting that the Vietnamese have the right “of nationhood” and that it is not the role of the empire to “deny them the chance to be what the will make of themselves” with questions of where the “leaders of the country” even posed by John Kerry, then of the Vietnam Veterans Against The War (in April 1971). This was followed by efforts in 1967 to “dump Johnson” from the Democratic Party as pushed by National Student Association, supporting Bobby Kennedy instead, who was anything but antiwar (he was just posing to pull in antiwar feelings). As by McNamara’s accounting, with figures supplied by the military itself, the number of troops went from 16,300 advisers in November 1963 to 23,300 advisers in late 1964/early 1965, then 81,400 troops by July 1965. Finally, this number rose to 184,300 troops by December 1965, 485,600 troops by December 1967, and 543,000 troops by January 1973. [228] The number of imperial footsoldiers in Vietnam had risen from 16,300 to 543,000 in a matter of 10 years, astounding to say the least. The so-called “sound…strategy of global military containment of the communist bloc” was said to lead to the escalation of the involvement in Vietnam, but it was actually about “prestige” resting on the “proposition of keeping SE Asia free” or open to capitalist exploitation as Eisenhower himself told LBJ in a meeting he had with him in February 1965, leading some to say that the Vietnam War was a “military defeat” but still just, an absurd argument but also wholly imperialist. [229]

Even with this, there was another reason for resentment against those protesting Vietnam, other than that expressed by the imperial footsoldiers earlier in this section. For one, “liberal wisdom about welfare, ghettos, student revolt, and Vietnam” had only a marginal place “for values and life of the workingman” flying the face of what many working people were taught to respect: “hard work, order, authority, [and] self-reliance,” and doing the “right things” in society. [230] This led to actions such as the hard hat riots and other acts of some working people supporting the war. At the same time, the war in Vietnam made the empire look “ineffective and divided” while Watergate showed the empire look ridiculous, even as “Watergate had flowed from Vietnam and from the polarized domestic politics the failed American war in Indochina had induced” as some commentators put it.

There were other measures by Democrats. As they sought “to block the Republicans’ use of the national security apparatus as a weapon,” after the defeat of the nuclear freeze proposal, they charged “that waste and fraud were rampant in the military procurement process” an attack which was the “equivalent to the conservatives’ crusades against welfare fraud.” [231] This was also a time that liberal Democrats lost the “access to the presidency they had previously had enjoyed” during the Johnson years, before they broke such access by opposing the war, so they opposed reforms increasing presidential control of the executive branch. By the time of Reagan, Democrats saw “Gramm-Rudman-Hollings as a way to compel Reagan to accept tax increases”since they calculated that the “president would not willingly reduce military spending.” [232]

By the time of Clinton, militarism was ramping up again. In 1993 he sent “troops to Haiti.” then sent a “large peacekeeping force to Bosnia” later in his administration and in 1998 he “assembled air and sea power to attack Iraq.” This was because the principle that presidents have “the authority to use American military forces” no longer debated in bourgeois politics, with Reagan and Bush eroding constraints on military forces. [233] Even so, he had a bureaucratic struggle with  the military establishment even leading him to “fire his first defense secretary, Les Aspin.”

Finally, there’s Obama. The effort to Joseph Kony (and his Christian fundamentalist LRA militia), enshrined in KONY2012, led those in Uganda to oppose military action, with the reason for imperial intervention is due to big oil deposits, and money, that this would allow AFRICOM to expand its roots. While much of this is noted in an earlier section, it is worth summarizing here. Not only did he succeed “in making some neocon dreams come true” by destroying Libya, supporting “a coup against an elected government in Ukraine and attempted regime change in Syria” but he also supported the “Saudi genocidal war against Yemen,” with all of these things meaning that “Barack Obama, his secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and all of NATO have blood on their hands” with the horror continued by the orange menace. With the Obama administration giving “the green light to the Saudi war on Yemen” with direct “support from the U.S. military” this continues under the orange menace, with “the people of Yemen…suffering” and crying out “for help, for an end to their misery, respect, and protection of their human right to live. But their voices are unheard.” To conclude this section is an article noting how Obama has become the keeper of lies with the ascension of the orange menace:

The ruling class is seriously rattled over its loss of control over the national political narrative — a consequence of capitalism’s terminal decay and U.S. imperialism’s slipping grip on global hegemony. When the Lords of Capital get rattled, their servants in the political class are tasked with rearranging the picture and reframing the national conversation. In other words, Papa Imperialism needs a new set of lies, or renewed respect for the old ones. Former president Barack Obama, the cool operator who put the U.S. back on the multiple wars track after a forced lull in the wake of George Bush’s defeat in Iraq, has eagerly accepted his new assignment as Esteemed Guardian of Official Lies…At this stage of his career, Obama must dedicate much of his time to the maintenance of Official Lies, since they are central to his own “legacy”…After the election, lame duck President Obama was so consumed by the need to expunge all narratives that ran counter to “The Russians Did It,” he twice yammered about “fake news ” at a press conference in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel…Although now an ex-president, it is still Obama’s job to protect the ruling class, and the Empire, and his role in maintaining the Empire: his legacy.

What about the Libya War? Well, there was no vote on the Libya War in 2011 since Obama engaged in an illegal war without a declaration of Congress. However, on Libya, Democrats and Republicans overwhelmingly voted for war in the North African state (after the war had begun on March 19) in June, 265-148, with 19 individuals not voting, in the House. There was a similar result in another antiwar resolution voted on the same day and rejected by the House 268-145.

Corruption in the Democratic Party?

Quote taken from the screenplay of Martin Scorcese’s movie, which I watched recently, Gangs of New York

A topic that is worth discussing is the question of corruption in the Democratic Party. After all, by 1952, “Democrats had become synonymous with crime and corruption.” [234]

In the 1930s, Democrats began their “links to federal social welfare and regulatory agencies date from the 1930s.” They did this “by establishing a base in the agencies of the national government…to counter the influence of the conservative machine politicians and southern oligarchs” meaning that the Democrats became a party “grounded in governmental bureaucracies rather than local organizations.” [235] This was compounded by the fact that while “Roosevelt’s efforts generated major struggles, on state and local levels…where incumbent machine politicians supported the New Deal” FDR was willing to “distribute the patronage generated by New Deal programs through local party machines” and where “incumbent Democratic leadership was hostile to the national administration and commanded a broadly based, patronage-oriented party machine” like Tammany Hall in New York City, followers of FDR “organized through third-party movements or reform clubs.” Since then, Democratic Congresses and presidents worked to enact “a large number of social and regulatory programs” with creation of  bureaucracies which were “linked by grants-in-aid to public agencies and nonprofit organizations at the state and local levels and through these to the Democratic party’s mass bases.”

Acclaimed journalist David Halberstam once wrote that FDR’s “welfare programs” deprived the Democrats of their function of delivering “services and jobs to the urban needy” but that television deprived “both parties first of their ability to offer access to aspiring candidates and…ability to control their own conventions.” [236] However, by the later 1950s, pollsters, who came from “the top of society,” were phasing out party professionals, changing the game.

In the 1940s and 1950s there were some changes. As the Federal Bureau of Narcotics or FBN claimed that “Labor Party district leaders loyal to Congressman Marcantonio assured police protection through their allies in Tammany Hall,” allowing the latter’s operatives to bring in Puerto Rican immigrants “for the purpose of selling Mafia narcotics, and to encourage their countrymen to vote for Mafia-approved candidates.” They expanded this to mean that Democratic Party officials were stigmatized as it linked them to “a drug-smuggling conspiracy with Blacks, Puerto Ricans, the left-wing labor movement, the Mafia, and communists.” [237] Additionally, the personal involvement of Mal Harney, a staunch Republican and Anslinger’s enforcement assistant, in “the Kansas City investigation earned him Truman’s personal enmity and prevented his promotion until the Eisenhower administration.” As FBN district supervisor George W. Cunningham had “the lobbying power on the Democratic side,” Anslinger and Harney had the same, but on the Republican side, with one of the higher-up FBN members, George White, producing documents to a congressional hearing “linking gambling czar Frank Erickson to the Democratic Party, legal gambling establishments and politicians in Florida.” [238] The efforts to tie the Democrats with organized crime continued.

In the 1960s, the game changed. While Democrats had been “the nation’s dominant political force, led by a coalition of southern white politicians and northern urban machine bosses” from the mid-1930s while the Republicans had been the main minority party, the turbulent times destroyed this dominance. [239] Much of the “power of machine bosses and labor leaders” was destroyed  by liberal activists who fought on behalf of “liberal goals”with such liberal activism leading Democrats to victory in congressional elections but becoming a supposed “hindrance in the presidential electoral area.” Even with all of this, the so-called “Great Society” was, like the New Deal legislation, “passed due to the skillful mastery of the system.” [240] It was envisioned, in LBJ’s words, supposedly, to demand the “end to poverty and racial injustice…[create] a place where every child can find kowledge  to enrich his mind…a welcome chance to build and reflect” but this was all lofty rhetoric that never led to anything, as it was a new liberalism, not the classical one which ahd a “passion for liberty [and], a concern for freedom” but included an activist government and varying reforms, along with compromises as “needed.” Even so, as Baynard Rustin argued in 1965,

…where the Negro-labor-liberal axis was weak, as in the farm belt, it was the religious groups that were most influential in rallying support for the civil rights bill…I do not believe that the Johnson landslide proved the “white backlash” to be a myth. It proved, rather, that economic interests are more fundamental than prejudice: the backlashers decided that loss of society security was, after all, too high a price to play for a slap at the Negro. This lesson was a valuable first step in re-educating such people, and it must be kept alive, for the civil rights movement will be advanced only to the degree that social and economic welfare gets to be inextricably entangled with civil rights…we are challenged now to broaden our social mission…we can agitate the right questions by probing at the contradictions which still stand n the way of the “Great Society”…motion must begin in the larger society, for there is a limit to what Negroes can do alone. [241]

Through the later 1960s and into the 1970s, traditional part organizations were “almost completely obliterated, labor unions were weakened, and the Democratic Party became more fully dependent on its base of power in the domestic state.” This was accompanied by  liberal groups such as Common Cause, Public Citizen, and the National Resources Defense Council attempting to “increase their own influence in the regulatory process by sponsoring sunshine laws, by subjecting regulatory agencies to close supervision, and by providing for the representation of public interest groups in the administrative process,” with agencies like OSHA and EPA and the congressional committees that “oversee and protect them” becoming major “Democratic bastions with substantial influence over the domestic economy.” [242] As such, liberal political forces “significantly changed the structure and practices of the Democratic Party” with a marked decline “in voter turnout rates” because “strategies of bureaucratic warfare” by liberal Democrats “during this period served as a substitute for party building.” As a result, Democrats aimed  “to entrench themselves in major segments of the domestic state” instead of engaging in mass mobilization, providing “an opening that Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush later exploited.” Even so, the Democrats used the press to their advantage, denouncing the actions of Nixon in trying to block the publishing of the Pentagon papers, launching a “full-scale assault…in the Watergate controversy.” [243]

Through the Republican years of the 1980s and 1990s, Democrats continued entrenching themselves “in Congress, federal social service, labor and regulatory agencies…government bureaucracies and nonprofit[s]” while the GOP has sought to “entrench themselves in the White House, the national security apparatus…and those segments of American society.” As such, federal “social and regulatory agencies” began to “serve as centers of influence for the Democrats” with such “bureaucratic networks…tied to a popular base” with such entrenchment in domestic agencies providing “Democrats in Congress with administrative capabilities.” [244] This makes it no surprise that “federal spending…on social programs defended by the Democrats has continued to rise” since such programs and agencies “have become such important Democratic bastions,” with Republicans laying “siege to them during the 1980s.” Ironically, the defeat of FDR’s plan t strengthen “White House control over the bureaucracy” made it possible for “congressional Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s to retain substantial influence over administrative agencies in the face of Republican dominance of the presidency.”

By the years of Bill Clinton, he aimed to extend Democratic entrenchment. Not with his business-friendly economic policy but with his healthcare plan, with the idea of managed competition with “an extensive set of new government agencies and institutions,” aiming to provide “millions of voters with an ongoing reason to support the Democratic party,”  which was defeated. [245] Likely it was meant to counter the effect of deregulation at eroding the “accommodations between business and labor” and coupled the effort of “probusiness policies lured some segments of the business community back into the Democratic field,” along with “three years of sustained economic growth, increased tax revenues all but eliminated the federal deficit” by 1998. By the time of the Bush Administration, Democrats attempted to “block presidential appointments to what had been considered Democratic bastions.”[246] Some have added that a strategy of mobilization for the Democratic Party would involve “a serious effort to bring into the electorate the tens of millions of working-class and poor Americans who presently stand outside the political process.”

All of this generally doesn’t point to corruption, but rather more of political infighting between Democrats and Republicans, each of which has entrenched itself in parts of the federal government. Even saying this, there is no doubr both parties are corrupted by money, and there’s no doubt about that.

However, there are elements of corruption, not by money. Apart from the 1960 presidential election, which is noted earlier in this article, there are some other instances. Mark Crispin Miller wrote about election fraud by Republicans in the 2004 election, with conservative commentators (such as National Review’s Rich Lowry, Tucker Carlson, Mike Foley of Florida, Sean Hannity of Fox News, and Rush Limbaugh to name a few) mocking those who mentioned such fraud, Democrats not having the “proper clarity and force” to deal with the issue with many liberals silent on the matter, which harkened back to the 2000 election which Democratic Representative Corrine Brown called a “coup d’etat” in Florida (undoubtedly accurate) and Jimmy Carter’s criticism of faltering electoral reforms. [247] Within the book he almost had a footnote about Democratic electoral fraud. He wrote that such fraud occurred but was nothing like that which Bush and Cheney, with their machine, did in the 2004 (and 2000) election [248]:

As one who came of age in Cook County, Illinois, where the first Mayor Richard J. Daley ruled the roost, I suffer no illusions about Democratic practice at the polls. Moreover, it was, of course, the Southern Democrats who invented and perfected the machinery of disenfranchisement throughout the Jim Crow era. However, between the parties there is an enormous difference in the scale, boldness, cynicism and sophistication of their respective efforts to meddle with elections. While Democrats have certainly filched races in the past, Bush/Cheney’s second effort was a systematic national and local enterprise, involving not just the traditional methods for suppression of the vote but the subversion of the very infrastructure to count the vote. In any case, the Gore and Kerry campaigns were both extraordinarily scrupulous, as opposed to the extraordinary perfidy of the Bush/Cheney machine, which has returned the South, and forced the entire nation, back toward the bad old days of poll taxes and literacy tests, among other anti-democratic methods once unique in Dixie.

It is worth delving more into this “filching” of the elections by Democrats, which Miller only refers to in passing. As early as the 1840s, Whigs, who opposed the Democrats, felt that Democrats imported voters in elections, as they opposed voter registration, saying it could hurt those who were already legally registered! [249] This is despite the fact that the Whigs imported their own thugs to intimidate New York City voters in 1838. It was in this context that Tammany Hall developed, becoming synonymous with election fraud and “boss rule.” With the source of its power as William M. “Boss” Tweed, whom is mentioned at the beginning of this section, Tammany Hall engaged in all sorts of voter intimidation, scouring the city for aliens to vote in elections or even bringing in inmates (or paupers) to do the same. [250] Additionally, prospective voters were assaulted with their gangs of thugs called “rowdies” (which had been going in New York City since 1769), gained crucial control of the police force, even as they faced off against reformers who were not all to successful. Such fraud also happened in places such as St.Louis, New Orleans, and other areas of the West, with even Abraham Lincoln proposing a resolution to condemn such fraud in Illinois, often by Democrats, and even happening during the 1844 Presidential Election with the latter party dismissing Whig claims that the election had been stolen. Such practices were continued by the nativist Know-Nothing Party in New Orleans, for instance, in response to what they thought would be Democratic stealing of the election, to give one example. [251] In years to come, the party became split by the issues in “bleeding Kansas.” As such, the system became one in which it could not register the popular will, leading to “devastating results”: a Democrat “winning” fraudulently in Kansas which a court overturned as a result of a successful lawsuit by the Republican Party.  [252] In order to “defeat Lincoln” in the 1860 Presidential Election, Southern Democrats engaged a special type of fraud. They excluded Lincoln’s name from the ballot all together, with his victory in the elections showing the “failure of popular sovereignty.” [253]

In years to come, Democrats would try to continue their tactics. During the Civil War they objected to soldiers voting because they favored Republicans (as they saw it), impersonated soldiers in New York State in order to illegally record their votes, with the U.S. Army even intimidating Tammany Hall in 1864 which led to a quiet election. [254] When the war ended, black suffrage was implemented, which some saw as “revolutionary.” Democrats saw it as something to fear. As such, they used the tactic of terror, with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) formed in Tennessee,with free Blacks trying to vote shot at, whipped and threatened, with its suppression of the Black vote making the KKK “an operating arm of the Democratic party throughout the South,” bribing Blacks to vote for the Democratic Party. [255] Even with this, Democrats denied that the reality there was electoral fraud occurring, claiming that free Blacks wanted to vote with their “Democratic masters,” an absurdity not even worth commenting on. When such terror by White terrorist groups like the KKK was not used, then Black voters were challenged by Democratic poll officials to pay poll taxes, while in New York Tammany Hall continued its fraud, with Tweed admitting that “I don’t think there was ever a fair and honest election in New York City.” [256] To counter terroristic tactics of Southern Democrats, Republicans in Congress passed the Enforcement Acts which “prohibited intimidation and violence and the polls” along with prohibiting “racially biased election laws” leading to election supervisors, with violators of the law prosecuted by the Justice Department. As the Democrats nominated Samuel Tilden in 1876, Tammany registered thousands to vote for Tilden even though he helped “topple the Tweed Ring in New York City” in 1871, with the Republicans saying that many of the votes in Louisiana were the result of  “fraud and intimidation.” [257] With all of this, while we cannot know who really won the election in 1876, it seems evident that the election was not “free and fair” as Hayes would have carried “Deep South states on the basis of the black vote for Republicans.” Through the rest of the 19th century, Southern political machines dominated, engaging in electoral fraud and intimidation to keep White supremacist forces in power. [258] This even stopped the Populist Party from gaining power in the South, with the Democrats considering it a “duty” to rob other competing political organizations of votes, as other tactics like having a “portable voting place” used by such individuals.

Beyond such fraud, the Democrats also got huge deposits of money starting in the Gilded Age, leading to a whole new type of corruption, through money, with thousands of dollars taken in and distributed in patronage, as was done in Louisville, Kentucky. [259] Fast forward to the onset of the Great Depression. Democrats took control of St. Louis, which had previously been controlled by Republicans, pushing forward a “riverfront development project,” claiming that building the Gateway Arch would clear away a possible “slum,” with money flowing from the federal government. In order to do this, however, Mayor Bernard Dickmann utilized all the 7,000 city employees as campaign workers to get the necessary bond, moving forward, even with opposition from a taxpayers group and a citizens groups, with it passing by a wide margin due to their public relations tactics. From there, the Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis showed the area, to be cleared, was not a “slum” but was economically productive and that construction there will raise real estate values, but the project seemed to have “democratic will of the people” on paper except in reality there were false registrants, people paid to vote, people voting numerous times (called repeaters), and a corrupt election board which just accepted the results from the Democratic party. [260] With such blatant corruption in the voting, criticized by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, FDR supported the project when Mayor Dickmann said he would campaign against FDR, there were varying people indicted by a grand jury, a federal judge threw out the case, while the U.S. Court of Appeals issued an injunction. This stayed in place until a later decision by the same court said the bond decision was valid because it constituted a “binding contract” between the city and the federal government. While the Post-Dispatch withdrew its endorsement, after decades later trumpeting “the benefits of the Gateway Arch or “Jefferson National Memorial,” the U.S. Supreme Court refused “to hear the case” and the Missouri Supreme Court halted any further investigation, which was called a “miscarriage of justice,” showing that the courts were dismissing the fraud that had occurred! While some of those in Congress were up in arms, trying to prevent funding for the Gateway Arch, saying that it was a real estate deal since development of such a riverfront district was meant to increase land values, benefit banks and investment firms, showing that it had “nothing to do with jobs or memorializing Thomas Jefferson.” [261] With the riverfront area that was raised, not only did 196 businesses have to re-locate, alone with many other “forgotten people” with relief to  unemployed laborers not happening and historic sites, like “the courthouse where the Dred Scott case was first heard,” demolished. In the years to come, in 1966 a bond issue for the arch failed to pass, only getting about 60% of the vote, while four months later it received 70% of the vote likely by unscrupulous means, while those who engaged in the fraud in the first place “rose to substantial posts on the national scene” with Robert Hannegan becoming postmaster general, Dickmann becoming St. Louis postmaster, and riverfront development realized beyond the dreams of Luther Ely Smith. [262] Through all of this, the project, completed in October 1965, not only contributed to unemployment in the city, benefited citizens of the city little but gave benefits to real estate companies, showing, as Tracey Campbell put it, not only are accurate election courts “beside the point” but that the Arch

…vividly displays the power of a determined city hall and the clout of the city’s real-estate interests to overcome staunch political opposition, and stands as a reminder of what a stolen election can sometimes produce.

Then we have the actions during the 2000 election where Republican officials engaged in electoral fraud against Democrats in Florida, rejecting ballots just on the basis that they voted for Democrats, as others said that they should just wait until people spoke again in another election, ignoring what happened in 2000. [263] Of course, the report issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights after the election said that there was “widespread voter disenfranchisement” which was the main feature of the election, while Republicans rejected this with a dissent. Apparently, in 2004, union leaders in Michigan set up laptop work stations to let people cast their ballots, seeming to make it clear that the votes were secret, claiming that online voting was as secure as absentee balloting. [264]

All of this reveals a good amount of corruption, and not by money (legalized bribery), but as of now more of such corruption is done by the GOP, with their voter ID laws for example, than by the Democrats.

Radicals and concluding words

The stance against the Democratic Party in radical circles is not completely united. Back in April 2016 the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) addressed registered Democrats, saying they should vote for Bernie Sanders. In the 1930s, those in the CPUSA thought they could make the Democrats more progressive, a line which they expanded, since the Clinton years, to include the endorsement of horrible Democrats to face the right-wing, even though such Democrats are right-wing themselves! Perhaps you can say that the working class wants traditional  left-wing politics. Others argued that Berniecrats could be pulled to revolutionary politics, that the Trots in “Socialist Alternative” are not even building such a revolutionary party. Some say you need a revolutionary party when in bourgeois politics, which I would tend to agree with, with other questions about voting in general, even criticism of DSA.

The CPUSA itself has said it was willing to work with the Democrats, and is horrible in general. Beyond this, there seems to be general disagreement with support of Sanders. In my view, I agree with the PSL, saying that people should abandon the Democrats and with endorsement of social democracy. I further agree with Lenin who wrote, in 1912, that “unless the masses are interested, politically conscious, wide awake, active, determined and independent, absolutely nothing can be accomplished in either sphere.” At the present I think that voting for either Democrats or Republicans is a waste of time. Perhaps it is worth going to the voting booth to have a voice on local issues, of states within the empire or even territories (i.e. colonies), but that’s about it. More energy should be moved to building and maintaining revolutionary organizations instead of sucking so much energy into the electoral area, at least when it comes to politics within the murderous empire. The Left is weak within the empire and there has to be organizing to get it stronger. I don’t think electoral campaigns will help in that respect, which the PSL and WWP do during the time for presidential elections, and frankly is a waste of time and resources. Before such campaigns are even attempted, the resources have to be built up instead. That is the bottom line here, without a doubt.

 

Notes

[1] I’ve noted, as linked in the above article, how the Democrats have condemned Trump (Chuck Schumer), promote founding myths just like the Republicans, are Russophobic especially as highlighted in recent days, are brands in this way and that (especially among the Clintons), include bourgeois trash like Matt Taibbi in their ranks, support the fake campaign called “Reset the Net” along with another called “Fight for the Future,” and want continual war. I’ve also noted how some Democrats were up in arms about Trump’s Muslim Ban, supported gun control measure to demonize Muslims after the shooting at the Orando nightclub in 2016, include “progressives” within their ranks who are still fundamentally imperialist (i.e. Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich), are not pushing for universal healthcare but instead for the flawed “Obamacare,” anti-war liberals within the party remained complacent under Obama’s administration, and are posing themselves as the “resistance” against Trump although this is an utter joke. Additionally, I have noted how Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt began the US imperial inter-relationship with the murderous Saudis, nominated the hawkish Killary as the candidate in 2016, and are a capitalist party without a doubt.

[2] Peter Beinart, “The Growing Partisan Divide Over Feminism,” The Atlantic, December 15, 2017.

[3] Doug Criss, “The (incomplete) list of powerful men accused of sexual harassment after Harvey Weinstein,” CNN, Nov 1, 2017 (and updated version on Nov 22 on winknews.com); Anna Menta, “An Updated List of Men Accused of Sexual Harassment, Misconduct and Assault,” Newsweek, Nov 12, 2017; USA Today Editors, “After Weinstein: More than 100 high-powered men accused of sexual misconduct,” Nov 22, 2017; Dan Corey, “Since Weinstein, here’s a growing list of men accused of sexual misconduct,” NBC News, Dec 15, 2017; After Weinstein: 42 Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Their Fall From Power,” New York Times, Dec 14, 2017.

[4] The Home Work Convention (1996) states that “national policy on home work shall promote, as far as possible, equality of treatment between homeworkers and other wage earners, taking into account the special characteristics of home work and, where appropriate, conditions applicable to the same or a similar type of work carried out in an enterprise…National laws and regulations on safety and health at work shall apply to home work, taking account of its special characteristics, and shall establish conditions under which certain types of work and the use of certain substances may be prohibited in home work for reasons of safety and health.” Of course this was not ratified by the murderous empire but is worth pointing out as it is partially what I am talking about above.

[5] Brian Montopoli, “31 GOP Senators Oppose U.N. Children’s Rights Convention,” CBS News, August 24, 2010; Joe Louria, “Why Won’t the US Ratify the UN’s Children’s Rights Convention?,” Huffington Post, Nov 25, 2014.

[6] Mimi Hall, “Both sides of abortion issue quick to dismiss order,” USA Today, Mar 24, 2010.

[7] Susan Faludi, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women (New York: Anchor Books, 1991), pp 267-270, 276.

[8] Ibid, pp 272, 274-275.

[9] Ibid, pp 279-280.

[10] Benjamin Ginsberg and Martin Shefter, Politics by Other Means: Politicians, Prosecutors, and the Press from Watergate to Whitewater (Third Edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002), pp 13, 163-165.

[11] This comes from an article by the horrid liberal Jamie Bouie, on Slate, in which he writes that “the Democratic Party styles itself a fighter for the working class. But a substantial part of that class—the white part—wants nothing to do with it…Which gets to an important point: The white working class is a huge subset of Americans…The key fact is that “white working class” is a big category with a large number of different kinds of voters, including millennials, who fall to the left on most national issues…After all, working-class whites didn’t leave the Democratic Party over insufficiently populist policy and rhetoric…Democrats can adopt populist rhetoric, but there’s no guarantee working-class whites will buy it.”

[12] Andrew Levison and Ruy Teixeira, “Why the Democrats Still Need Working-Class White Voters,” The New Republic, Sen. Bernie Sanders On How Democrats Lost White Voters,” NPR, Nov 19, 2014; Guy Molyneux, “Mapping the White Working Class,” The American Prospect, Dec 20, 2016; Rebecca Shabad, “Bernie Sanders “deeply humiliated” Democrats can’t talk to working class,” CBS News, Nov 14, 2016; Josh Mound, “What Democrats Must Do,” Jacobin, 2017; Kevin Drum, “Democrats Have Done Virtually Nothing for the Middle Class in 30 Years,” Mother Jones, Mar 10, 2014; Stanley B. Greenburg, “The Democrats’ ‘Working-Class Problem’ Is Worse Than We Think,” AlterNet, Jun 7, 2017; Lee Drutman, “Donald Trump Will Dramatically Realign America’s Political Parties,” Foreign Policy, Nov 11, 2016; Callum Borchers, “Joe Biden says Democrats have stopped talking to white, working-class voters,” Washington Post, Jul 27, 2016; Mori Rothman and Yasmeen Qureshi, “Democrats aim to reclaim the working class vote,” PBS NewsHour, Feb 19, 2017.

[14] They also have not ratified the convention on statlessness which meant to reduce statelessness.

[15] Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (Modern Classics Edition, New York Harper Perennial, 2005), p 127; Gore Vidal, The American Presidency (Monroe, ME: The Common Courage Press, 1998), pp 18-19.

[16] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 18-19.

[17] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 128,  129, 130.

[18] Ronald G. Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860 (Revised Edition, New York: Hill and Wang, 1997), p 7; Amy S. Greenburg, A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), p 25.

[19] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p 26.

[20] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 134.

[21] Ibid, p 141.

[22] Vidal, The American Presidency, p 20.

[23] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 130.

[24]  Greenburg, A Wicked War, p  10.

[25] Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860, pp 34, 131, 177, 185,  187-188. The cause of Temperance was also, as Walters writes on page 140, a “protest against the demagoguery of Jacksonian office seekers” but it also “reeked with content for the besotted rabble” and those, mainly Democrats, who sought votes by appealing to “the people” and attacking “aristocracy”  while “ignoring  moral issues.”

[26] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p 32; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 217.

[27] Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860, p 7.

[28]  Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 130, 146-147.

[29] Ibid, p 148.

[30] Leftist Critic, “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” Soviet History, Vol 1, no 1, pp 17, 18.

[31] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 18, 19.

[32] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p 23.

[33] Ibid, pp 34-35.

[34] Ibid, pp 28-31. Greenberg further adds on page 75 that “by brilliantly manipulating the gender codes of the day, Sarah Childress Polk became one of the most powerful First Ladies in history. Were it not for her political skills, James Polk might never have won office.” So she was no feminist, she was a bit like Hillary Clinton in supporting her husband’s ambitions.

[35] Ibid, pp  38-41.

[36] Ibid, pp 42-43.

[37] Ibid, pp 46-47, 55, 57, 59.

[38] Ibid, pp  59-60.

[39] Ibid, pp 36-37, 62-63.

[40] Ibid, pp 69-71.

[41] Ibid, pp 77-79.

[42] Ibid, pp 99-100; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 150.

[43]  Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 152, 153.

[44] Ibid, p 153.

[45] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p  104.

[46] Ibid, p xv.

[47] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 20-22; Greenburg, A Wicked War, pp 116-117,  197-199, 212.

[48] Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860, p 99; Kenneth M. Stampp, The Era of Reconstruction 1865-1877 (New York: Vintage Books, 1965), p 31.

[49]  Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860, p 98.

[50] Paul Calcore, The Causes of the Civil War, p.198; M. Karen Walker, Edwards, J.A. and Weiss, D. (2011). The Rhetoric of American Exceptionalism: Critical Essays, p. 35; American Crisis Diplomacy: The Quest for Collective Security, 1918-1952, p. 603; Lars Schoultz, Beneath the United States: A History of U. S. Policy Toward Latin America, p. 52; Marion Mills Miller, Great Debates in American History: Foreign relations, part 2, p. 73; Lowe, E. T.L., Race Over Empire: Racism and U.S. Imperialism, 1865-1900, p. 99.

[51] The endorsement which also included a bit about the acquisition of Cuba as well.

[52] Jordan, B.M, Triumphant Mourner: The Tragic Dimension of Franklin Pierce, 2003, p. 88.

[53] A compilation of the messages and papers of the presidents, Volume 5, p 279.

[54] The American Way of Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life (17 pages into Chapter 4: Averting a Balance of Power in North America: Power Politics and American Expansionism, as written by supposed ‘democratic nationalist‘ Michael Lind in 2006. As the years passed, expansionist tendencies were somewhat hampered by the Civil War and resumed full force in the waning days of one of America’s bloodiest domestic conflicts. This resulted in, in the years after the war, the US engaging in genocide against the American Indians pushing the remaining ones to tiny bits of land called ‘reservations,’ then looking to places abroad to conquer (Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, etc…) in order to satisfy corporate profit.

[55] Other articles similar in this vein include “Buchanan the peacemaker?“and one in BBC by titled “James Buchanan: Worst US president?”

[56] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 20.

[57] Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860, p 193.

[58] Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p 51.

[59] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 22, 24, 25.

[60] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 24.

[61] Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki and Paul Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire: A Graphic Adaptation (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008), pp 26-27.

[62] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 258.

[63] Ibid, p 259.

[64] Zinn,  Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, pp 39, 260.

[65] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 26; Cedric B. Cowing, Populists, Plungers, and Progressives: A Social History of Stock and Commodity Speculation 1893-1936 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965), p 18.

[66] Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2006), pp 32, 34 ,82, 86, 107, 112.

[67] Vidal, The American Presidency, p 32; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 29.

[68] Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (New York: Perennial, 2002), 278.

[69] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 32; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 351.

[70] Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, p 77; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 30; Vidal, The American Presidency, p 39.

[71] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,”  p 34.

[72] Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, pp 97-98; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 356.

[73] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 349, 353; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 33; Cowing, Populists, Plungers, and Progressives, pp 47, 63.

[74] Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, pp 84-85; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 33; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p  362; Cowing, Populists, Plungers, and Progressives, pp 76-77

[75]  Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 364, 368-369; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 34; Cowing, Populists, Plungers, and Progressives, pp 80.

[76] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 35.

[77] Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (New York: Verso, 2004), p 8-9.

[78] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 38.

[79] Cowing, Populists, Plungers, and Progressives, pp 144-145, 146.

[80] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 392.

[81] Ibid, pp 393, 397.

[82] Ibid, pp 395-396, 401.

[83] Ibid, p 397;  West, Democracy Matters, p 33.

[84] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 41.

[85] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 44-45; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p  403; West, Democracy Matters, p 33.

[86] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 403-404.

[87] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 43, 44; Zinn, Konopacki andBahle, A People’s History of American Empire, p 120.

[88] Vidal, The American Presidency, p 45-46.

[89] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 45, 46, 47; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 414, 417.

[90] Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, pp  122, 125; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 412, 415, 416.

[91] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 46-47; Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, p 127.

[92] Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, p 137; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 423-424; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 48.

[93] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 49; Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 50-52; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 425.

[94] Lisa McGirr, “Piety and Property: Conservatism and Right-Wing Movements in the Twentieth Century,” 2001, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 356-357, 359; David Halberstam, The Powers That Be (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p 121

[95] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 52, 53; Vidal, The American Presidency, p 53.

[96] William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Common Courage Press: Monroe, Maine, 2000), p 127.

[97] Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008), pp 32-33; Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador: New York, 2007), pp 317-318; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 438; William O. Kellogg, Barron’s American History: the Easy Way, p 282.

[98] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 438; Lawrence S. Wittner, Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1941-1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), pp 184-185.

[99] Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Reprint, Henry Holt & Company: New York, 2004), pp 22, 194; “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 51, 56.

[100] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 52, 56; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 435.

[101] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” pp 52, 54.

[102] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 431-432.

[103] “Annotating a section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” p 55.

[104] William McKeen, Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,  2008), p 183.

[105] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition — 1742-2002 (New York: Carroll & Graff Publishers, 2005), pp 242-267; Thomas J. Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (New York: Random House, 2008), p 417.

[106] Joseph Crespino, In Search of Another Country: Mississippi and the Conservative Counterrevolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), p 36.

[107] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 431; Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 58-60.

[108] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 58-61; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 475.

[109] Mamie E. Locke, “Is This America?: Fannie Lou  Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party,” Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailbrazers and Torchbearers, 1941-1965 (First Paperback Edition, ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), p 29-30.

[110] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 62-64.

[111] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 476.

[112] Vidal, The American Presidency, p 64.

[113] Ginsberg and Shefter, Politics by Other Means, pp 84-85.

[114] Ibid, p 86.

[115] Ibid, p 89.

[116] Ibid, p 90.

[117] William McKeen, Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,  2008), p 125.

[118] Halberstam, The Powers That Be, pp 590, 596.

[119] Zinn, Konopacki and Bahle, A People’s History of American Empire, p 196; Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, p 64.

[120]  McKeen, Outlaw Journalist, p 195. During the campaign Hunter Thompson tried to “infiltrate a group of young Republicans heading into the convention hall to cheer Nixon” and he felt a sense of doom about the convention itself as McKeen notes on page 197.

[121] Halberstam, The Powers That Be, p 599.

[122] Woodword and Bernstein, as McKeen writes on page 205, shared their “unconventional work methods with Hunter Thompson.” Also see page 607 of Halberstam’s The Powers That Be on the CIA connection, and pages 645 and 647 about the Watergate scandal and how Ben Bradlee had to weigh if the Washington Post was being played or not.

[123] “Confrontations and new limits,” A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 274; David Farber, “Taken Hostage,” 2005, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 313-314, 316; Jimmy Carter, The “Crisis of Confidence” Speech: President Carter’s Address to the Nation,” 1979, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 325, 327, 330.

[124] Robert Perrucci and Earl Wysong, The New Class Society: Goodbye American Dream? (2nd Edition, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003), p 133.

[125] Michael Parenti, Democracy for the Few (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983), pp 200-203.

[126] Ibid, pp 205, 228-230.

[127] Vidal, The American Presidency, pp 76, 78-81.

[128] George C. Herring, “From Gulf War I to Gulf War II: Confronting the Post-Cold War Cold Order,” 2002, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 401, 406.

[129] West, Democracy Matters, p 9; Schlosser, Fast Food Nation, p 278.

[130] Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), pp 84-87.

[131] Ibid, pp 92-93.

[132] Ibid, pp 104, 214.

[133] West, Democracy Matters, pp  2-3, 10.

[134] Ibid, pp 31-33, 35, 61.

[135] McKeen, Outlaw Journalist, 345.

[136] “Why college isn’t always worth it,” Washington Post, Jan 30, 2015; “There’s a big catch in Obama’s plan for free community college,” Washington Post, Jan 1, 2015; “Obama’s plan doesn’t actually help the average middle-class taxpayer,” Washington Post, Jan. 30, 2015.

[137] “Obama proposes $3.99 trillion budget, draws scorn from Republicans,” Reuters, February 2, 2015.

[138] Adolph Reed, Jr, “Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals,”. Harper’s Magazine, Mar 2014, pp 31, 32, 35.

[139] “U.S. to Prosecute a Somali Suspect in Civilian Court,” New York Times, Jul 5, 2011; “Afghans ‘abused at secret prison’ at Bagram airbase,” BBC News, Apr 15, 2010; Jason Linkins, “Obama’s Bagram Detainees Decision ‘Eerily Familiar’,” Huffington Post, May 14, 2009; “U.S. Says Rendition To Continue, But With More Oversight,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2009; “Renditions continue under Obama, despite due-process concerns,” Washington Post, Jan 1, 2013.

[140] “C.I.A. Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations,” New York Times, Dec. 7, 2007; “U.S. Says C.I.A. Destroyed 92 Tapes of Interrogations,” New York Times, Mar 2, 2009.

[141] “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” New York Times, May 29, 2012.

[142] Reuters Staff, “Obama biggest recipient of BP cash,” Reuters, May 2, 2010; Steve Coll, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power (New York: Penguin Books, 2013, pp 543, 369-370, 497, 538, 543, 550-551.

[143] Comes from an article in the conservative American Thinker.

[144] Heather Digby Parton, “Republicans still don’t care about Black people: Why the GOP’s racist history is alive & well,” Slate, Jun 3, 2015; Matthew Delmont, “When Black Voters Exited Left,” The Atlantic, March 2016 which asks what Blacks in the murderous empire lost by aligning with the Democratic Party; Patricia L. Dickson, “What White Democrats Really Think About Black Americans,” American Thinker, May 23, 2014; Logan Albright, “Can We Stop Pretending Democrats Care About Black People, Immigrants?,” Freedom Works, Feb 27, 2013; Tom Trinko, “What Democrats Really Care About,” American Thinker, Oct 6, 2013; Derek Hunter, “Dear Black People: The Democrats Are About To Break Up With You,” TownHall, Nov 16, 2014; Sam Rolley, “Democrats Have A 2014 Strategy: Pretend That All Republicans Hate Black People,” Personal Liberty, May 9, 2014; A.W.R. Hawkins, “The Democratic Party: Keeping Blacks Down Since 1964,” Human Events, Jul 14, 2010; Musa Al-Gharbi, “Why Aren’t There More Black Republicans?,” The American Conservative, Jan 18, 2016; BE Team, “Black People Turned Out (Again) For Democrats. Will Democrats (Finally) Turn Out For Blacks?,” Black Excellence, Dec 15, 2017; Patrice Lee Onwuka, “Black Women Leaving the Democratic Party, Cracking the Base,” Newsmax, Sept 27, 2017; Crystal Wright, “Barack Obama has done zero for black people,” The Telegraph, Aug 3, 2015; Jamelle Bouie, “Do Minorities Do Better Under Democrats?,” Slate, May 2014.

[145] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 221.

[146] Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860, pp 91, 92.

[147] Greenburg, A Wicked War, pp 11-12.

[148] Ibid, pp 24, 27, 33.

[149] Walters, American Reformers 1815-1860 , p 7.

[150] Ibid, p 96.

[151] West, Democracy Matters, p 51; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 237.

[152] Lerone Bennett, Jr, Before the Mayflower: A History of the Negro in America 1619-1964 (Revised Edition, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966), p 211, 212, 213, 216, 217. Additionally, as Kenneth Stamp noted, “before the reconstruction era had come to a close, the old southern Whigs had been driven into the camp of the Democrats, and the solid Democratic South had been formed–a disaster Lincoln had tried so hard to prevent” (Kenneth M. Stampp, The Era of Reconstruction 1865-1877 (New York: Vintage Books, 1965), p 49)

[153] Ankinyele Omowale Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2013), p 13-14.

[154] Ibid, p 16.

[155] Bennett, Jr, Before the Mayflower, p 217.

[156] Umoja, We Will Shoot Back, p 16; West, Democracy Matters, p 50; Kenneth M. Stampp, The Era of Reconstruction 1865-1877 (New York: Vintage Books, 1965), p 214.

[157] Barbara A. Woods, “Modjeska Simkins and the South Carolina Conference of the NACCP, 1939-1957,” Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailbrazers and Torchbearers, 1941-1965 (First Paperback Edition, ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), p 100; Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 289.

[158]  Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 291, 295.

[159] Patricia Sullivan, Days of Hope: Race and  Democracy in the New Deal Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996), pp 13, 14, 15

[160] West, Democracy Matters, p 51.

[161] Paul A. Rahe, “Progressive Racism,” National Review, Apr 11, 2013; Randy Barnett, “Expunging Woodrow Wilson from Official Places of Honor,” Washington Post, Jun 25, 2015; Dick Lehr, “The Racist Legacy of Woodrow Wilson,” The Atlantic, Nov 25, 2015; Randy Dotinga, “5 surprising facts about Woodrow Wilson and racism,” Christian Science Monitor, Dec 14, 2015. The National Review also said that Wilson was a rational segregationist, that progressives in high place often “enthusiastically embraced eugenics and racial theory,” and claimed that  progressives today “are no less confident of their own righteousness than were the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” making them sound the same when in actuality the entire realm of politics has moved to be more reactionary since that time, especially among liberals and progressives.

[162] Bennett, Jr, Before the Mayflower, p 302.

[163] Vidal, The American Presidency, p 43-44; Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, p 20.

[164] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 403-404.

[165] Sullivan, Days of Hope, pp 3, 11, 12, 45, 76.

[166] Ibid, pp 61-62, 65, 66

[167] Ibid, pp 92-93, 94.

[168] Ibid, 100, 103.

[169] Robin D.G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp 48, 82, 177.

[170] ibid, pp 178, 182, 183.

[171] Ibid, pp 195, 220.

[172] Crespino, In Search of Another Country, p 80.

[173] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, p 33.

[174] Ibid, pp 48, 50, 51.

[175] Ibid, pp 88, 89, 90.

[176] Ibid, p 95

[177] Sullivan, Days of Hope, pp 104-105, 106, 107.

[178] Ibid, pp 116-117, 129, 130, 131, 143, 170, 171, 175, 183, 186.

[179] Ibid, 186.

[180] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, pp pp 75, 78

[181] Ibid, pp 103, 104, 105.

[182] Ibid, pp 111, 112, 113, 117.

[183] Sullivan, Days of Hope, pp 258, 259.

[184] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 449; Crespino, In Search of Another Country, p 49.

[185] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, pp 97, 98, 99; Sullivan, Days of Hope, pp 259

[186] Ibid, pp 100, 101, 102.

[187] Halberstam, The Powers That Be, pp 122, 295.

[188] Crespino, In Search of Another Country, p 7.

[189] Ibid, pp 84-85.

[190] Ibid, pp 86, 88

[191] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, pp 125-126, 265-266

[192] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, pp 457-458; Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, p 309

[193] Crespino, In Search of Another Country, pp 21, 164; Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, pp 267-268

[194] West, Democracy Matters, p 33.

[195] Chana Kai Lee, For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (First Paperback Edition, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000), p  20; Ankinyele Omowale Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement (New York: New York University Press, 2013), p 85;  Michael Eric Dyson, I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: The Free Press, 2000), p 207.

[196] Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, pp 58, 62, 84, 85, 86-87.

[197] Ibid, pp 89-90; Mamie E. Locke, “Is This America?: Fannie Lou  Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party,” Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailbrazers and Torchbearers, 1941-1965 (First Paperback Edition, ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), pp  27, 30, 32.

[198] Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, pp 90-91, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98.

[199] Ibid, pp 98, 99-100; Mamie E. Locke, “Is This America?: Fannie Lou  Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party,” Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailbrazers and Torchbearers, 1941-1965 (First Paperback Edition, ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), p 32-33.

[200]Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, pp 100, 101.

[201] Crespino, In Search of Another Country, p 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211.

[202] Ibid, p 20; Umoja, We Will Shoot Back, p 93.

[203] Umoja, We Will Shoot Back, pp 119-120.

[204] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty,p 365.

[205] Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, pp 109, 111-114.

[206] Ibid, pp  118-119.

[207] Ibid, pp 136-139.

[208] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 461.

[209] Mamie E. Locke, “Is This America?: Fannie Lou  Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party,” Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailbrazers and Torchbearers, 1941-1965 (First Paperback Edition, ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), p  35; Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, pp 164-165.

[210] Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, p 165.

[211] Vicki Crawford, “Beyond the Human Self: Grassroots Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement,”  Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailbrazers and Torchbearers, 1941-1965 (First Paperback Edition, ed. Vicki L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), p 23.

[212] E.J. Dionne, Jr., “The Religious Right and the New Republican Party,” 1992, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 377.

[213] Crespino, In Search of Another Country, p 212.

[214] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, pp 497, 498, 500, 501.

[215] Ibid, pp 502-503, 526.

[216] Ibid, pp 522-523; Ginsberg and Shefter, Politics by Other Means, pp 88, 116.

[217] Crespino, In Search of Another Country, p 268.

[218] Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty, pp 528-531.

[219] Ibid, pp 56-58.

[220] Ibid, pp 128, 166-167.

[221] Charlie May, “The Democrats are perfectly positioned to be the party of peace, but they’ve chosen war,” Salon, Nov 12, 2017; Willie Osterweil, “Democrats Are the Real Party of War,” The Baffler, Jun 16, 2014; Michael LaRosa, “What happened to the anti-war Democrats?,” MSNBC, Sept 17, 2013; Josephine Hearn and Patrick O’Connor, “The Democrats’ anti-war dilemma,” Politico, Sept 11, 2007; Robert Perry, “Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party,” Consortium News, Jun 6, 2016; Jeremy Scahill, “Shame: The ‘Anti-War’ Democrats Who Sold Out,” AlterNet, 2009; Matthew Yglesias, “How Anti-War Were Democrats?,” The Atlantic, Jul 14, 2007; Brad Plumer, “How Obama demobilized the antiwar movement,” Washington Post, Aug 29, 2013; John Nichols, “Pushing Democrats in an Antiwar Direction,” The Nation, Sept 12, 2006.

[222] “America becomes a world power,” A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 1; Robert McMahon, “World War II and the Destruction of the Old Order,” A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 9, 10, 11, 14; George F. Kennan, “The Necessity for Containment,” 1946, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 19, 21, 22.

[223] Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, p 437.

[224] JFK, “The Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy’s Address to the Nation,” 1962, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp  24-25, 29.

[225] SDS, “The Port Huron Statement,” 1962, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp  84; Halberstam, The Powers That Be, p 349

[226] Vidal, The American Presidency, p 64; Ginsberg and Shefter, Politics by Other Means, pp 53, 91, 92.

[227] Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” 1992, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 227, 229; SDS, “March on Washington: The War Must Be Stopped,” 1965, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 237; William H. Chafe, “Dump Johnson,” 1993, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 240-241, 244-246; John Kerry, Statement before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 1971, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 254.

[228] Robert McNamara, “In Retrospect,” 1995, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 263.

[229] Michael Lind, “The Genuine Lessons of the Vietnam War,” 1999, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 267-268, 271.

[230] Peter Schrag, “The Forgotten American,” 1968, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 288, 293; Kim McQuaid, “Watergate,” A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 301-302, 304, 309.

[231] Ginsberg and Shefter, pp 94, 140-141.

[232] Ibid, p 134.

[233] Ibid, pp 118, 120, 139.

[234] Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (New York: Verso, 2004), p 91.

[235] Ginsberg and Shefter, Politics by Other Means, pp 82, 84, 87.

[236] Halberstam, The Powers That Be, p 320

[237] Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf, pp 56, 83.

[238] Ibid, pp 58, 87.

[239] Ginsberg and Shefter, Politics by Other Means, p[ 47, 49.

[240] West, Democracy Matters, p 33; LBJ, “”The Great Society”: Remarks at the University of Michigan, 1964, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 95, 97; Bruce J. Schulman, “Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism,” A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp 99, 100-113.

[241] Baynard Rustin, “From Protest to Politics,” 1965, A History of Time: Readings on Postwar America (Seventh Edition, ed. William H. Chafe, Harvard Sitkoff, Beth Bailey, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p 146.

[242] Ginsberg and Shefter, Politics by Other Means, pp  88, 93, 95.

[243] Ibid, p 37.

[244] Ibid, pp 81-83, 86, 97.

[245] Ibid, pp 98-100, 106, 108, 137.

[246] Ibid, pp 101, 228.

[247] Mark Crispin Miller, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too (New York: Persus Brooks Group, 2005), pp 103-111, 276.

[248] Ibid, 86-87.

[249] Campbell, Deliver the Vote, pp 14-15, 18

[250] Ibid, pp 18-25.

[251] Ibid, pp 29-30.

[252] Ibid, pp 43-45, 49.

[253] Ibid, p 50.

[254] Ibid, pp 51, 55, 56, 57.

[255] Ibid, pp 58-59.

[256] Ibid, pp 62-65.

[257] Ibid, pp 66-67, 73, 74, 77.

[258] Ibid, pp 84-85, 100-102, 118-119.

[259] Ibid, 122-123, 160-164, 188-189

[260] Ibid, 165-183

[261] Ibid, 184-188

[262] Ibid, 189-191

[263] Ibid, pp 306-311, 313, 316, 324.

[264] Ibid, p 333.

A profile of the Zimbabwean Communist Party

There have been varied musings on radical subreddits, like /r/communism on the Zimbabwean Communist Party (ZCP), in recent days. Some have said that the party is “not significant and had no role in the land reform and subsequent turn against imperialism” and that the “reactionary nature of this event [the coup, an intra-party struggle within the Zanu-PF] is clear.” Others have said that “the ZCP ally themselves with the ANC” and some added that “our Zimbabwean comrades are not well versed in the National situation of SA, and by extension the correct or incorrectness of their communist party.” Some have also noted that “this party has only been functioning for 6 months.” This article aims to summarize what we now know about the ZCP.

The Secretary of the party was part of the MDC?

An article on Bulawayo 24 notes that “Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena based in South Africa has resigned from the MDC…after the formation of their new political party Zimbabwe Communist Party in which he is now the secretary general.” It quotes a Facebook post, this past May, where he explained himself:

As l sat on the bus from Bulawayo to Johannesburg, l wrote my resignation letter to the MDC Secretary General informing her of my decision to resign my membership of the MDC. I had joined the MDC in September 1999 when it was officially launched at Rufaro stadium. Before then, we worked hard with the likes of Cde Austin Moyo, Dr Morgan Sebele, Cde Danisa Zulu , Cde Linda Mthimkhulu , Dr Lawrence Mbobo (who then decided not to join the MDC) towards the formation of the MDC. I had joined the MDC , a year after l was recruited into Communism by the then SACP [South African Communist Party] spokesman Cde Mazibuko K Jaha and Cde Molly Dlamini (a trade unionist and a Communist). During my years in the MDC, l worked closely with comrades from the Keep Left, the likes of Cde Trevor Ngwane, Prof Patrick Bond, Cde Claire and others. We used to invite Prof Welshman Ncube in our Keep Left meetings but over the years, l was drawn closer to the SACP, attending its political study groups , Communist University. When we went to the MDC congress in 2006, we had to reclaim our movement as Pan Africanist in character, when the congress was held under the theme, ‘My Zimbabwe, My Pride , Our Heritage’. Unfortunately, our then President Prof Arthur Mutambara failed to articulate our political message to an extent that, we were not understood and were labeled stooges of Zanu (PF). This misunderstanding cost us the support from the working class who had to stick with MDC-T. After the 2013 elections, it became clear to me that, for us to win both the urban and rural electorate and expose Zanu (PF) for what it is, was to challenge it ideologically. This would have required us to transform the MDC into a socialist movement or a political movement biased to the left. Given that the MDC is home to various class interests and it had to stick to Social Democracy, some of us started to work towards the formation of the vanguard of the working class in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Communist Party was officially launched on the 3rd May 2017 and l was left with no option but to resign my membership of the MDC. I have no hard feelings towards the leadership and the entire membership of the MDC. In fact, l respect the political leadership of Prof Welshman Ncube, an organic intellectual in his own right. Normally, when people resign from parties, they tend to trade insults and make all manner of accusations. With me, it is different. If the MDC allowed dual membership like the ANC/SACP, l would have resigned from my position in the MDC and remained a card carrying member.”

This  is already worrisome.  I say this because the MDC is clearly the Western puppet opposition which anyone with half a brain would realize. He is almost acting like the MDC is a leftist force instead of just being a force of Western imperialism! This is not good. He is acting like there are “good” people in the MDC which is laughable.

Not much can be found on the people he mentions other than that one works for the revenue authority in Zimbabwe, another as a medical doctor, one as a civil engineer, one at the Health Wellness Institute, two who are is a spokespeople for SACP, a self-declared socialist in South Africa, a current President of one of the MDC factions, the horrible anti-Mugabe “scholar,” and more. This further seems to indicate that this party, which seems to have its main roots in South Africa, has some fundamental issues, especially with its conversations with those who hate Mugabe or are part of the puppet opposition in Zimbabwe! This does not portend well at all.

The ZCP, Mugabe, and the Zanu-PF

It is already clear that the ZCP endorsed the “military takeover in the country” of Zimbabwe. They argued that

the politico-military action taken by the Zimbabwe National Army is the result of the chaotic state of Zimbabwe as a whole and the ruling party, Zanu (PF), in particular. The extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite contrast sharply with the extreme poverty of the majority of the Zimbabwean people.

The Party also called for a “transitional arrangement that would ensure a peaceful, free and fair election” within a “reasonable time frame” and indicated they would be “willing to engage with a new government once it’s in place to establish areas of mutual concern and possible agreement in the interest of taking the country forward.”

These views already seem to be in line with the imperialist faction of the Zanu-PF and their Western sycophants who have been blabbing about “Mugabe the dictator” (or “Mugabe the homophobe”) for years. Why would anyone endorse this coup which has led to, basically a “counter-revolution” in Zimbabwe?

In this past year, the ZCP has called Mugabe and Jacob Zuma dictators, saying the former sold off the country while also declaring that there is “economic damage caused by Zanu PF’s warring factions.” This aligns with their view that Mugabe lost the chance to help Zimbabwe’s economy. They even said that Grace Mugabe has a problem with managing her anger. Even with this, the party has said they will not “even want to contest this year’s elections” but instead want more public engagement in the country apparently.

This already makes me a bit nervous from a radical standpoint. The party says they are a “class movement, a case of a three pronged struggle against imperialism, dictatorship and national bourgeoisie” making them a “Marxist -Leninist political organization whose ideology will run on scientific socialism,” adding that “we seek to embark on an exercise of genuine nation building since our people have been divided into ethnic enclaves since attaining independence. The regime has failed to resolve ethnic divisions in our society.” Other articles quote them as saying that they are “going to encourage productive capitalism and take the economy to the people” and aimed to form “a vanguard party that will see the working people of Zimbabwe, especially the poor, having their share in the country’s wealth,” influencing policy decisions “that would be beneficial to the working poor,” while criticizing “opposition” parties. It has also been noted that the party is basically a “group of committed people who are politically active in other organisation that also include the so called opposition parties.” One document, earlier this year, outlines their views to an extent:

…We are encouraging others to join our ranks. This will help in strengthening the Africa Left. Our main aim is to promote democratic principles in our region guided by Marxist-Leninist philosophy…The economic crisis in Zimbabwe is worsening…We must then comrades, find a solution to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe and the region. It cannot be correct that the South African economy can develop when surrounded by poor nations..As the ZCP, we are calling for a National Economic Dialogue to find a solution to our economic challenges…This National Economic Dialogue must be attended by the ruling party, the opposition parties, liberation movements from the SADC region, trade unions, informal sector organisations, progressive civil society organisations, faith based organisations, rural based formations, youth and women formations…As Communists, we want an economy that is free both from imperialist influence and from looting by parasites…The alternative to the capitalist system is socialism. Socialism will never be achieved unless we build peoples power in our communities and at the work place.

While you could say this rhetoric is encouraging, their lack of understanding of the power relations with the United States as the head honcho of world imperialism, working with European imperialisms, especially that of the British, shows that their viewpoints have fundamental problems to say the least. Could it be said that they are just an organization to distract the Zimbabwean proletariat? Perhaps it can. Having revolutionary forces work together is a good idea but I’m not sure they are a revolutionary force, especially when they endorse the idea of “productive capitalism” at the present! The Zanu-PF are socially democratic, as it currently stands, and support a bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe, but how the ZCP any better? They seem to be woefully misinformed with fundamental falsehoods.

Looking at the ZCP’s Facebook page and a conclusion

Their page tells a bit about their positions. They declare that “Prof Jonathan Moyo…should be clasified as a terrorist,” say that they are “extremely overwhelmed with great joy upon learning that Mr Mugabe has tendered his resignation letter today” even as they “appreciate his contribution and achievements for his 37 years of reign,” and argue that “Mugabe must step down with immediate effect,” adding that they need to show their “anger over Mugabe’s four decades of gross misrule. No to Mugabeism of our state.” Other posts said that “the ZCP party,its ex[ec]utive council,the membership and its affiliate organisation are proud and satisfied by the conduct of the country’s military at a time Zimbabwe was sliding into chaos.” One final post said that the “ZCP’s Executive council has yesterday taken off from the Airport to [revisionist] China” in order to “attend the Congress of the CPC where the interim leadership will engage their CPC counterparts to take some notes on how we can hold our own elective Congress back home.”

Using this and what is currently known, it is hard to trust the ZCP, especially since they think the Chinese revisionists are “socialist” or “communist.” Perhaps they can pull off something and change their reputation but this seems unlikely at the present.

Is Dennis Rodman a comrade?: A study of “basketball diplomacy” and DPRK solidarity

From Rodman’s recent visit to the DPRK, he gave them Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal

Editor’s note: This piece was, four days after it was published here, published on anti-imperialism.org in an earlier format. I have also changed all the words of “baseball” to “basketball” as the editors there pointed out, something I wouldn’t have caught despite reading the piece over. The version below adds some content but the two versions are relatively similar and I stand by both articles. The one paragraph about anti-imperialism.org has been eliminated, as it has been published there now. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so hasty!

Every day, the people of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), derisively called “North Korea” in the West, is threatened or under attack. This was most recently on display in a hateful, bigoted, reactionary, and generally awful speech, to the UN General Assembly by Trump (called the orange menace in the rest of this article), accusing the DPRK of mass human rights violations, and threatening the world while he threatened the country and its leadership, which called “a band of criminals,” by declaring that in purported “self-defense,” the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” and offensively calling Kim Jong-Un “Rocket Man,” a name due more to the orange menace’s obsessions than the Elton John song of the same name.If that isn’t enough, Muslim ban 3.0 includes the DPRK and Venezuela on the list, along with six other countries (Iran, Somalia, Chad, Libya, Syria, and Yemen), with increased restrictions on those from Venezuela and Iran specifically, which are predominantly Muslim.

The speech (similar to what Obama would have said), in which the orange menace outlined his “axis of evil” (DPRK, Iran, Syria, Cuba (implied), and Venezuela), was panned by drone-loving imperialist Dianne Feinstein, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Col. Larry Wilkerson (in a sense), Richard Haass of the elitist Council of Foreign Relations, Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Daniel Larison in The American Conservative, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani who described the orange menace as a “rogue newcomer…to the world of politics,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, Rep. Ted Lieu of California, and Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, along with worries from the elected leaders of Britain and France. [1] However, it was embraced by the hard-core Zionist President of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared that he had “never heard a bolder or more courageous speech” in 30 years, conservative commentator Katie Pavilich who said that “it’s a new rhetorical day at the U.N. The next step is action toward real change and results,” and CIA propagandist David Ignatius who called the speech “conventional” even as he describes the orange menace as the “Great Disrupter.” Also, Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Bret Baier of “Fox News,” former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, the orange menace’s cheerleader in the UK, Nigel Farage, Ivanka Trump, and North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham, praised the speech, a typical show of support. After all, the speech was reportedly written by an ally of white nationalism, Stephen Miller, making sense it would get “cheers from the president’s xenophobic base.” All of this makes it no surprise that the envoy to the DPRK left “the room before Trump took to the podium and made more threats against Pyongyang,” since the orange menace rejected the possibility of an “Iran-style deal” with the DPRK, even supported by one GOP representative. Lest us forget, however, that both parties in the US “support militarism” because they “support the interests of the oligarchy” which is interested in “maintaining the empire.” Kim Jong-Un responded to Trump’s diatribe in a statement that the co-editor of Dissident Voice (usually anti-imperialist and strongly alternative to the bourgeois media) Kim Peterson grumbled about as “raising” tensions. The statement, which was carried in a KCNA article on September 22nd titled “Statement of Chairman of State Affairs Commission of DPRK” and referenced in another titled “Kim Jong Un Makes Statement” is strongly anti-imperialist and shows how the DPRK is standing up to US aggression:

The speech made by the U.S. Chief Executive in his maiden appearance on the UN arena in the prevailing serious circumstances, in which the situation on the Korean peninsula has been rendered tense as never before and is inching closer to a touch-and-go state, is arousing worldwide concern.  A certain degree of my guess was that he would make stereo-typed, prepared remarks a little different from what he used to utter in his office on the spur of the moment as he had to speak on the world’s largest official diplomatic stage.  But, far from making somewhat plausible remarks that can be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors. A frightened dog barks louder. I would like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.  The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the UN arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty reconsider discretion and composure.  His remarks remind me of such words as “political layman” and “political heretic” which were in vogue in reference to Trump during his presidential election campaign. After taking office Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail against all countries. He is unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of the military forces of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician.  His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last. Now that Trump has denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world and made the most ferocious declaration of war in history that he would destroy the DPRK, we will consider with seriousness taking a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history. Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say. As a man representing the DPRK and upon the dignity and honor of my state and people and upon all my own, I will make the man holding the prerogative of supreme command of the U.S. pay dearly for his rude nonsense calling for totally destroying the DPRK.  This is not a rhetorical expression loved by Trump. I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected from us when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the old lunatic of America with fire.

Dennis Rodman, a Black retired NBA star and “washed-up celebrity” by bourgeois media standards is sometimes at the brunt of attacks on the DPRK. Rabid nationalists who concoct and engage in these attacks have no life other than attacking anyone who “dishonors” the murderous empire like a pack of wild, rabid dogs foaming at the mouth, waiting for “the kill.”

In order to analyze if Dennis Rodman (called Rodman in the rest of this piece) is a “comrade” and/or define his role in concern to DPRK-US relations, it is worth explaining a bit about his life, political leanings, and past statements (and trips to) on the DPRK and its socialist leadership.

Rodman’s political views, life, and “basketball diplomacy”

The picture of Rodman and Kim Jong-Un the imperial apologists often use.

At age 3, Rodman was abandoned by his father, Philander Rodman Jr., who ran off with a “military chaplain’s daughter.” Since then, Rodman’s father has become the parents of 28 siblings (from four wives) and lives in the Philippines, proud of Rodman although he has slamming his father before for personal benefit, distorting the reality. [2] Due to his father’s abandonment, he lived with a white family in Oklahoma and, more recently, called his father a “friend.” As his “status” increased due to his sports career, and even after his retirement from the NBA, the family in Oklahoma felt that they had “lost a son” as he started “drinking hard and partying.” [3] His time in the NBA began in 1986 and ended in 2000, playing on Detroit, San Antonio, and Chicago teams. While this got him the nickname, “the worm,” he was remembered more for: calling out another all-star player Larry Birth, by saying he only had a lot of publicity because of his white skin, kicking a “cameraman in the groin” in 1997, having a rocky relationship with popstar Madonna, and general moodiness. [4] Apart from the police being called to Rodman’s house for loud parties 70 times between 2000 and 2006, having a flamboyant personality, to say the least, he has a varied “rap sheet,” which is common among such superstars, to be “cool.” These included accusations of felony burglary, assault (he pleaded guilty to “spousal battery” in 2004), sexual harassment, and was a raging alcoholic. [5] For this, he was in and out of rehab for years, booted for restaurants for his drunken behavior and “wild ways.” This included drinking heavily in the mostly “dry” DPRK, and general drunk driving. In my recent article about DPRK’s healthcare system, I pointed out that almost 79% of the population abstains from drinking, with stronger alcohol consumption among males than females, among those who drink. To top it off, Rodman even released his own vodka brand, and is as much a brand as the orange menace or even Naomi Klein.

Politically, Rodman leaned, not surprisingly, to “the right.” Apart from advocating for a Black pope at the Vatican, he stripped naked for an anti-fur campaign by the PR-savvy animal welfare group, PETA, and endorsed the orange menace for President in 2015. [6] Lest us forget that the Vatican, the mainstay of the Catholic Church, has cooperated with Nazi Germany’s butchers, purged Jews from their ranks, sometimes endorsed the fake doctrine of “creationism” rather than the evolving scientific theory of evolution, bestowed sanctity on “right-wing” religionists, suppressing liberation theology in favor of terror and destruction, and opposed abortion. They have also opposed stem cell research, divorce, and gay rights, all while sex predators lurk throughout the church hierarchy from the top to the bottom. [7] As for Rodman, he called the orange menace a “great friend for years” and said that “we don’t need a politician for president, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump,” not recognizing government and capitalist combines function differently. He also defended the horrid Hulk Hogan as “not” racist despite Hogan plainly saying the n-word and being generally a horrible person, for example, saying that those suffering from Hurricane Irma (in the US) are “crybabies.”

This puts Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy,” as he calls it, into context. In 2013, when he said he would go “anywhere’ he was needed, it was reported that Kim Jong-Un, who only become First Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea, marshal, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission the previous year, had told him the DPRK “doesn’t want to go to war with America” but only wanted to “talk basketball with Obama.” [8] At the same time, he said Kim Jong-Un should do him a “solid” and release Kenneth Bae. Hence, he positioned himself almost an unofficial ambassador trying to break ice between “hostile countries.” [9] Earlier that year, his trip to the DPRK questioned how much a neutral observer he was, after all. The trip was the brain child of Shaun Smith at VICE, who saw the DPRK as a “bizarre place.” This is in-keeping with their bigoted content, blasting onto TV and websites for their millions within their white hipster/dudebro audience, which has amplified white power in part by giving white nationalists, like Christopher Cantwell and Weev, a platform, and is generally imperialist in character, even as some could say it has “good people” on its staff, whoever they are. [10] While Rodman famously (in the minds of arch-imperialists) called Kim Jong-Un his “friend for life” and said he was a “friend [of]…the DPRK people,” the fact that the trip was filmed by VICE for a capitalistic, orientalist purpose questions his intentions. This is especially the case considering that he worked for the orange menace, then heading “the Celebrity Apprentice,” afterward, who called Rodman’s trip that year “smart,” which could be seen as an endorsement although he called the country the “last place on Earth I [would] want to go to” in May 2014. [11]

Rodman’s jingoistic feelings were evident, much more than Mohammad Ali who didn’t want to criticize US imperialism or be “misquoted” in the bourgeois media in his trip to the DPRK in 1995. Rodman declared that “it’s all very anti-American. North Korean kids are fed anti-American propaganda” since their birth. [12] Such statements raise red flags about if Rodman is even a comrade at all. Someone who believes in solidarity against imperialism would never, if they were earnest in their beliefs, say something as orientalist and jingoistic as Rodman, instead asserting that politicians of all levels in the DPRK are elected by the populace. His words are racist (yes, Black people CAN say things that are racist to those races they are “above” or are perceived to be “above” of). To use the words of Satre, racism is a form of violence that is self-justifying since it is “violence presenting itself as induced violence, counter-violence and legitimate defence” and is based in making individuals (in this case Koreans living in the DPRK) “sub-human.”

Later that year, Rodman displayed his “basketball diplomacy” once again. He called Kim Jong-Un a “good guy” who wants “to change” the DPRK, with Rodman hoping he could change Obama’s mind in favor of diplomacy rather than imperial aggression. [13] Playing on the idea of nuclear families, deeply rooted in the beliefs of traditionalists of the U.S., Rodman declared that Kim Jong-Un was a “good dad and has a beautiful family” after meeting his wife Ri Sol-Ju, and their newborn Ju-ae. As he continued to push the “sports angle” in the DPRK, sometimes journalists tagged along, but not when he sung the happy birthday song to Kim Jong-Un, angering U.S. imperialists to no end. [14] The following year, 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department reportedly investigated whether Rodman’s thousands of dollars in luxury gifts to the DPRK violated murderous sanctions. At the same time, the idea of a Hollywood movie on Rodman’s “relationship” with Kim Jong-Un was floated but seemed to die a quick death. [15]

Fast forward three years. A few months ago, in June 2017, Rodman said he wanted to bring sports to the DPRK, and nothing else, with some speculating if the orange menace was somehow behind the meeting. [16] This speculation is not completely unsubstantiated because Rodman is a “mutual acquaintance” of Trump and Kim Jong-Un. More significantly was what Rodman gave to Kim Jong-Un and his family: the orange menace’s The Art of the Deal, soap, Where’s Waldo? books, and autographed jerseys. [17] While the giving of soaps and other products might be harmless, and are mostly for Ju-ae one could presume, the gifting of The Art of the Deal, ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz, could be a book that, may, inform Kim Jong Un’s strategy in dealing with threats from the murderous empire. The ideas expressed in the book are that you either dominate or submit, you create or exploit fear or you succumb to it, with every encounter seen as a content to be the winner, and the conception of “immediate self-interest.” [18] While the description of the book so far shows that it could, for Kim Jong-Un and the DPRK’s leadership, give them insights into the orange menace’s “management style” (if he has one), there are further elements which would more likely be used by the DPRK: making “deals,” some of which are “great,” and having many options available, using available “leverage.” If giving the DPRK the orange menace’s book is somehow a secret strategy to make the country more capitalistic and individualistic, which isn’t beyond belief, then it didn’t work at all.

Back to Rodman. Near the end of June, he said he was glad that the young White college student Otto Frederick Warmbier, a jingoistic disrupter, was released. On the other side of the token, he bellowed that the country is more “modernized” now, with people not seeing the “good side” of the DPRK with Kim Jong-Un as a “friendly guy.” [19] In keeping with his idea of “neutrality,” he said that Kim Jong-Un and the orange menace need an open dialogue. Just last month he expanded on these remarks. He was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying that the DPRK was becoming a “24th century country” with a “homemade feel” for everything, and how his status as a “famous athlete” meant nothing there. [20] This is by far, the most positive thing he has said about the DPRK. In the interview quoted by the New York Daily News, in the literal magazine for wealth, Du Jour, Rodman described the DPRK’s people as taking pride in “simple things” (similar to what was recently said in PressTV) and people living through Kim Jong-Un, looking up to him. [21] Again, like his other statement, this was not “noble” as most of what he said (apart from the possibly orientalist statement about people living through Kim Jong-Un) has been said and recognized, mainly by those in solidarity with the DPRK, for many years. Adding to this, his seemingly “comradely” statement was thrown into question with his “clarification” earlier this month. He told a British TV show that he hardly ever talks politics with Kim Jong-Un, calling himself an “ambassador for sports” and declaring that he doesn’t love Kim Jong-Un but wants to “straighten things out for everyone to get along together.” [22] While this seems to be positive, let us consider that he still admires the orange menace despite the fact he admits that the orange menace can be a “little bit crazy sometimes.”

Ultimately, Rodman seems more like a partisan of the orange menace than a neutral observer or unofficial ambassador. While he is written five basically auto-biographical books (three in the 1990s), he is no scholar. It is too much of a stretch for Rodman to be “Comradman” by any measure. What has been explained so far makes clear his life story, political beliefs, and views on the DPRK (mostly on Kim Jong-Un). It is a possibility, which should not be discounted, that his visits to the DPRK are supported covertly by more “moderate” elements in the US foreign policy establishment since diplomacy for the murderous empire is imperialistic in nature no matter what way you spin in. As Satya Vatti wrote, generally the US capitalist class prefers “moderate bourgeois elements” even as it, in desperation or seeing a good opportunity, relies on “far-right, fascist forces,” like in Ukraine, to accomplish their objectives. [23] Rodman is fundamentally a “moderate bourgeois element” to put it plainly. There are, additionally, a number of aspects that throw into question the thought of Rodman even being a comrade. If he was in solidarity with the socialist state, he would support the launch of two missiles “over Japan” (not really in realistic terms) as a show of force against blood-thirsty imperialists. He would also publicly oppose US efforts to strangle the country such as proposed fuel cutoffs, asset freezes, and threat of total annihilation, instead supporting more than a “dialogue” but immediate and direct talks between the US and DPRK, which the US has clearly rejected for imperialistic reasons. [24] Rodman is not the same side as Bruce W. Bennett of Rand Corp, the CIA, or Seth Rogan who wanted to hurt the DPRK with their box office bomb, “The Interview.” But, he also is not supportive of the DPRK’s nuclear tests and by extension exposing nuclear tests by the murderous empire, which are much more dangerous to the idea of a peaceful world free of exploitation. [25] Along with that, a comrade would oppose harsh sanctions on the DPRK and possibly be for a freeze-to-freeze in which the ROK (Republic of Korea or “South Korea”) and U.S. military would limit or end huge exercises in military aggression in exchange for the DPRK’s nuclear program ending. This is just a small list of what make one a comrade in solidarity with the DPRK. There is no set list but these basics follow along with established radical and communist principles. Rodman is not a hater of U.S. imperialism, like the Black Panther Party which allied themselves with the DPRK, or an “aficionado of U.S. popular culture” as Kim Jong-Un is, but he is a “washed-up celebrity” who sees himself as “neutral.” Most likely, he is being used to create a wedge in U.S. policy. Hence, his “basketball diplomacy” is not necessarily a “success” but is rather something that is easily exploited.

For the DPRK, they may not mind meeting with Rodman because they see it as a way to open up diplomatic relations with the US. While Rodman is clearly on the right-wing, he is much more level-headed than anyone currently in power, so in that sense those in the DPRK leadership don’t mind talking to him. But, if he rarely talks about politics, it could just be to show that the DPRK is welcoming to non-white and oppressed peoples. Whatever the reason, the capitalist ideals of Rodman are not brushing off on the DPRK. Not one bit. Nope.

The Russians and Chinese

President Xi Jinping of China (left) and President Vladimir Putin of Russia (right) in 2014

The Chinese and Russian governments have some positive foreign policy, when it comes to helping imperialist countries like assisting Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. But, since neither of these countries are socialist, they easily cut deals with Western capitalists to help their respective bourgeoisie. This is part of the reason why capitalist Russia and revisionist China have not stood behind the DPRK’s acts of self-defense against aggression by the murderous empire and its allies. Instead, if to “buy time” from the orange menace and/or to prevent nuclear contamination of their citizenry (in the case of China), they have held a moderating tone, supporting peaceful negotiation, condemning the DPRK’s actions, and supporting murderous sanctions, like the others on the UN Security Council. [26] Where has the solidarity gone? Perhaps it is past viewpoints of the leadership of the DPRK, if this has any validity at all, are also a sticking point for China, even though China is bound to protect the DPRK if it is attacked. With the “zigzag approach” to the DPRK by the orange menace, Russia and China would benefit the world by defending the socialist state, but they have not done so, instead proposing the idea of a “freeze for freeze” which the US has rejected, as noted earlier. [27] As Gregory Elich recently put it, “unless China and Russia can find a way to oppose U.S. designs without becoming targets themselves, the North Korean people will stand alone and bear the burden of Trump’s malice.” Recently, according to some reports, food exports from China to the DPRK surged showing that the Chinese are playing an interesting game.

Luckily, some have taken stands in favor of the DPRK that Russia and China have not. Satya Vatti, in Liberation News, pointed out that striking at the roots of white supremacy means that we need to fight U.S. imperialism, the warfare state, and for states under attack by imperialists. [28] Additionally, the Workers World Party recently congratulated Kim Jong-Un, the people of Korea, and the Workers Party of Korea or WPK for “courage and honesty in standing up to U.S. imperialism.” There were also gatherings of those opposed to such imperialism in Rochester, NY and Baltimore, MD recently. [29]

There is more to say than this short section, but this is meant as a starting point on this topic since the Russian and Chinese governments are both not socialist. The capitalist roaders, as Mao Zedong described them, have taken power and hold of the Communist Party of China, basically “bourgeoisie inside the party” as some describe it. Russia has no Communist Party leading it, but has a nationalist party. As one article put it recently, US policy toward Russia has remained unchanged because US imperial policy is “driven by Wall Street’s drive for profits, not the good or bad wishes of individual politicians.”

Once again, there is more to say on this topic as I have not fully explored my argument on this issue, but it is still in progress.

Steps forward and concluding thoughts

These photos come from a Sept. 22 article in KCNA. [30]
Rodman has the right idea that the “good side” of the DPRK is not talked about, but its more than that. There is a whole media campaign to demonize the socialist state. Even a recent issue of the “respected” partially bourgeois Smithsonian magazine has photographs from Pyongyang showing industrialization, newly-built high-rises, morning commuters on tram buses, a deep metro center, reading rooms in the People’s Study House (in the central library of Pyongyang), people watching videos at a sci-tech center, and an amusement park called the “Youth Fun Fair” to name a few. [31] While the photographer, a Brit named Tariq Zaidi, clearly has internalized Orientalist values, he still said that the county is “a scenic beautiful country….the cleanest you will ever visit with…hospitable people who will go out of their way to help you.” Stories like this pale in comparison to the “amazing infrastructure, free housing and medical care, impressive agriculture and green energy,” along with bustling cities, touted rightly by Eva Bartlett. This is the side of the DPRK which should be widely shared, not the distorted, “hellish” “stories” from the humanitarian imperialist spinsters at Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International, along with varying bourgeois NGOs often called out by Wrong Kind of Green, accompanied by those within the bourgeois media (and U.S. government).

It is hard to counter every piece of imperialist propaganda about the DPRK but its possible to show what it’s really like to the best of our collective abilities. We don’t need Russian smugglers, DPRK defectors, or anyone else to “save” the country. [32] Regardless of what the smarmy “North Korea watchers” (i.e. North Korea Economy Watch and 38 North), talking heads, or any other individual with an orientalist mindset says, the leadership of the DPRK is “understandable and rational,” having nukes to only be used in self-defense if the U.S. attacks, not having a “first strike” policy like the murderous empire. Like all oppressed people, they can choose how they will struggle or do what is “best suited for their conditions.” [33]

The existence of the DPRK is a breath of fresh air. It shows that a “greater collective human spirit” and more satisfaction can come from socialism than capitalism, that they are becoming a “powerful socialist nation” which is steadfast in their “independent spirit.” [34] They do not want war. While bourgeois experts bemoan the travel ban of US citizens to the DPRK, as it will be harder to subvert socialist society there, perhaps this can be taken as an opportunity for more self-development as Trumpian racism and “economic nationalism” embodies the murderous empire. [35] Why not counter the demonization, begun with an illegal war in 1950 (and even earlier since the DPRK’s formation in 1948) which destroyed much of the country, with continued strengthening of universal and state-funded education, a strong healthcare system, and expanding alliances internationally from a few African countries to the whole continent? Those decisions are ultimately up to the people of the DPRK and their elected leadership.

I end with a quote from self-declared Black nationalist Robert F. Williams before his escape from the spotlight after returning to the U.S. in 1971, from exile. Many of the words of his 1964 speech, reprinted in his publication, The Crusader, still ring true today. The DPRK has developed, as they describe it, a hydrogen bomb which should be seen as a necessity under current conditions, celebrated as an achievement by an oppressed people, by people of color. Williams said, in part, words which are optimistic but are worth recalling:

“…We, the captive people of the free world of racist America, support the right of all oppressed people to meet violence with violence. We resolutely support the right of all people to self determination…the U.S. Government has sunken to the level of devil of the world…the anti-racist, anti-imperialist forces of the socialist camp are growing more powerful everyday…We believe in the right of armed struggle. We believe in the people’s right to defend themselves…We proudly hail the nuclear achievements of the staunch defenders of the oppressed, our Chinese brothers, in developing weapons for self-defense against nuclear intimidation by the racist USA. Our people, who have for many generations been defenseless victims of monopolized white supremacy terror, consider the Chinese bomb, a people’s bomb, a freedom bomb of the oppressed.”

Notes

[1] Robin Wright, “Donald Trump’s War Doctrine Débuts, at the U.N.,” The New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2017; Margaret Talev and Nick Wadhams, “Trump Bluntly Threatens to Wipe Out North Korea in UN Debut,” Bloomberg News, Sept. 19, 2017; David Rothkopf, “Trump’s first speech to the United Nations was a disastrous, nationalistic flop,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta, “Trump Soft-Soaps the U.N. Of Course, It Was Only Day 1. . .,” New York Times, Sept. 18, 2017; David Ignatius, “The most surprising thing about Trump’s U.N. speech,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; AAP, “’Shameless and ignorant’: World stunned after Trump’s fiery speech,” SBS, Sept. 19, 2017; Jeffrey Rodack, “Conservatives Welcome Trump’s ‘Blunt’ Speech to the UN,” Newsmax, Sept. 19, 2017; Abbie Bennett, “Franklin Graham says Trump’s speech was ‘one of the best ever’ at the UN,” The News & Observer, Sept. 19, 2017; Joseph D. Lyons, “Ivanka Praises Trump’s UNGA Speech Despite Criticism From Everyone Else,” Bustle, Sept. 19, 2017. Some, like George Eaton of The New Statesman, even argued that “Trump’s words merely provide further justification for its nuclear weapons programme,” while they predictably followed the bourgeois media in condemning the country’s government, a point which has validity. Recently, a British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, quoted a reported “defector” from the DPRK, Hee Yeon Lim, to tell a wild story of executions, sex slavery, luxury, bribery, privilege, and torture, which undoubtedly a total lie, appended with the call for nuclear weapons to be brought back to south Korea!

[2] Jet Magazine, “Dennis Rodman’s dad had 27 kids and runs bar in the Philippines,” Sept. 23, 1996; Kurt Hean, “Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings,” NBC Sports, Aug. 15, 2011; AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012.

[3] AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012; Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013.

[4] Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; NBA profile, “Dennis Rodman,” accessed Sept. 14, 2017; Mike Puma, “Rodman, King or Queen of Rebounds?,” ESPN.com, Feb. 21, 2006.

[5] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; Dave Hannigan, “The top 10 Dennis Rodman moments,” The Times, Jan. 8, 2006; Espn.com, “Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin into Hall,” Apr. 5, 2011; Jeanette Settembre, “Former NBA star Dennis Rodman to launch his own Bad Boy vodka brand,” New York Daily News, Jul. 12, 2013; Megan Masters and Aly Weisman, “Dennis Rodman Rebounds Back to Rehab,” E! News, May 3, 2009; Steve Forrest, “Dennis Rodman checks into alcohol rehab after N. Korea trip,” CNN, Jan. 19, 2014; Stephen Smith, “Dennis Rodman in debt, faces possible jail time,” CBS News, Mar. 28, 2012; TMZ, “Boozy Dennis Rodman Booted from Restaurant,” Jan. 10, 2010; CBS News/AP, “Rodman pleads guilty to DUI,” CBS News, Jul. 28, 2000; Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman arrested in L.A.,” Reuters, May 1, 2008; AP, “Police arrest Rodman after report of dispute at hotel,” May 1, 2008; People Staff, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest in domestic assault,” People magazine, Jun 25, 2008; AP, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest to DUI,” USA Today, Apr. 21, 2004; James Queally, “Dennis Rodman facing criminal charges in July hit-and run, prosecutors say,” LA Times, Nov. 21, 2016

[6] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; WEMM, “Rodman to strip for PETA,” Contactmusic.com, Dec. 22, 2004; Pay Owen, “Dennis Rodman at the Vatican: ‘I want to be anywhere in the world I’m needed,’” The Guardian, Mar. 13, 2013; Sophie Tatum, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” CNN, Jul. 24, 2015; Adam B. Lerner, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” July 24, 2015.

[7] Michael Parenti, God and His Demons (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2010), 60-62, 77, 95, 131-132, 135, 139, 143, 147.

[8] Kranz Lidz, “Dennis Rodman,” Sports Illustrated, Jul. 8, 2013.

[9] David K. Li, “Dennis Rodman’s ranting saved me from North Korean gulag,” NY Post, May 2, 2016. Bae later claimed that Rodman’s drunken ranting had brought international attention to his plight, leading to his release back into the world of Western capitalism.

[10] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; Alan Dulz, “Dennis Rodman to North Korea: ‘I come in peace,’” CNN, Feb. 27, 2013; Johee Cho, “Rodman worms his way into Kim Jong Un meeting,” ABC News, Feb. 28, 2013; Justin Rocket Silverman, “Vice finale tracks Rodman’s strange days in North Korea,” New York Daily News, May 21, 2013.

[11] Politico, “Donald Trump praises ‘smart’ Dennis Rodman North Korea trip,” Mar. 4, 2013.

[12] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; IBT staff report, “Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un chat courtside at Pyongyang Basketball Game,” International Business Times, Feb. 28, 2013; ROK Drop, “Ric Flair Describes How Muhammad Ali Told Off North Korean Officials,” Jun 8, 2016; Austin Ramzy, “Muhammad Ali in Pyongyang: A Little Less Love than Rodman,” Time magazine, Mar. 3, 2013; Ronald Kirk, “Muhammad Ali At N. Korea Sports Festival — Unlike Rodman, He Spurned Regime,” Forbes, Jun 4, 2016.

[13] Josh Lewis, “North Korea: Reality vs. the world according to Dennis Rodman,” CNN, Sept. 10, 2013; James Pearson and Megha Rajagopolan, “Rodman returns to Pyongyang but says won’t bring back jailed American,” Reuters, Sept. 2, 2013; Caitlin McDewitt, “Rodman; Kim Jong Un is ‘a good dad,’” Politico, Sept. 9, 2013; Evan McMurry, “Dennis Rodman to train North Korean Olympic Basketball Team,” Medialite, Sept. 9, 2013; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017.

[14] AFP, “Rodman heading back to N Korea to Train Basketball Team,” Newsmax, Dec. 4, 2013; RTE, “Dennis Rodman Departs for North Korea for basketball exhibitions,” Jan. 6, 2014; Kurt Helin, “Dennis Rodman still planning exhibition game in North Korea with former NBA players,” NBC Sports, Nov. 22, 2013; News Desk 2, “Dennis Rodman announces basketball diplomacy for upcoming games in North Korea,” the Florida News Journal, Jan. 6, 2014; AP, “Dennis Rodman: ‘I had been been drinking,’” ESPN, Jan. 9, 2014; “Today FM’s Matt Cooper is in North Korea with Dennis Rodman,” thejournal.ie, Jan. 6, 2014.

[15] Fox News, “Feds reportedly investigating Rodman for violating sanctions against N. Korea,” Jan. 25, 2014; Hugh Armitage, “Kim Jong-Un, Dennis Rodman film planned by Ride Alans director Tim Story,” Digital Spy, Feb. 24, 2014; Tatlana Siegel, “Dennis Rodman North Korea Mission to Become Fox Movie (Exclusive),” The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 23, 2014.

[16] Matt Rivers, Will Ripley, and Joshua Berlinger, “Dennis Rodman hopes to ‘something pretty positive’ in North Korea,” CNN, Jun. 13, 2017; Anna Fifield, “Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. Was he sent by Trump?,” Washington Post, Jun 13, 2017.

[17] AFP and staff writers, “Dennis Rodman gives North Korean minister a copy of Donald Trump’s the Art of the Deal,” news.com.au, Jun 10, 2017.

[18] Tony Schwartz, “I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past,” Washington Post, May 16, 2017; Jeremy Greenfield, “10 Things You Learn Reading Donald Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal,’” The Street, Sept. 16, 2015; Josh Barra, “10 things I learned about Donald Trump in ‘The Art of the Deal,’” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2015; Richard Feloni, “Donald Trump’s core business philosophy from his best-selling 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’” Business Insider, Jun 6, 2015.

[19] Catherine Thorbecke, “Dennis Rodman speaks out about his visit to North Korea,” ABC News, Jun 23, 2017.

[20] New York Daily News, “Dennis Rodman praises Kim Jong Un for modernizing North Korea,” Aug. 30, 2017.

[21] DuJour magazine, “Candid moments with Dennis Rodman,” Fall 2017 edition, p. 58. He also says that citizens kind and live lives through Kim Jong-Un; Eric Wilson, “Us Weekly, for a Lot Fewer of Us,” New York Times, Aug. 8, 2012; Jane L. Levere, “Two Luxury Names Expand Collaboration,” New York Times, Aug. 11, 2014; Katja Presnal, “Lifestyle: New Luxury Lifestyle Magazine DuJour,” Skimbaco, Sept. 9, 2012; Robert Channick, “DuJour magazine on the menu for those with the most money in Chicago, U.S.,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 10, 2012.

[22] Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman talks of skiing friendship with Kim Jong Un,” Reuters, Sept. 6, 2017.

[23] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[24] Michael Ellemean, “North Korea’s Hwasong-12 Launch: A Disturbing Development,” 38 North, Aug. 30, 2017; “DPRK Nuclear Weapons Institute on Successful test of H-Bomb for ICBM,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept. 4, 2017; David F. Sanger and Cahoe Sang-Hun, “U.S. Urges Fuel Cutoff for North Korea, Saying It’s ‘Begging For War,’” NY Times, Sept. 4, 2017; BBC News, “North Korea crisis: US seeks Kim Jong-Un asset freeze,” Sept. 7, 2017; Al Jazeera, “US: N Korea to be ‘destroyed’ if behaviour continues,” Sept. 18, 2017; Jon Schwartz, “North Korea says it might negotiate on nuclear weapons. But the Washington Post isn’t reporting that,” The Intercept, Sept. 25, 2017; “U.S. dismisses immediate talks with N. Korea,” Yonhap News, Sept. 6, 2017; David Tweed, “Trump’s olive branch to North Korean opens slim path to talks,” Bloomberg Politics, Aug. 23, 2017.

[25] Tom Shorrock, “How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogan, and the CIA secretly planned to force regime change in North Korea,” Alternet, Sept. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “North Korea conducts most powerful nuclear test yet,” Sept. 3, 2017; NNSA, “B61-12 continues to meet qualification test schedule,” Aug. 2017; RT, “US holds 2nd test of B61-12 gravity nuclear bombs,” Aug. 29, 2017; Binoy Kampmark, “Unnerving the Donald: North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test,” Sept. 4, 2017; AP, “The latest: Haley: US to push for more North Korea sanctions,” Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2017; Moon of Alabama, “Why North Korea Needs Nukes – And How to End That,” Apr. 14, 2017; Robert Ramptor and David Brunnstram, “Trump says tougher steps needed on North Korea after new U.N. sanctions,” Reuters, Sept. 11, 2017.

[26] “China rejects possibility of military intervention in North Korea,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; “Russian envoy warns any slip-up on Korean peninsula may lead to military outbreak,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; Zachary Cohen and Richard Roth, “US passes fresh sanctions on North Korea,” CNN, Sept. 12, 2017.

[27] Anne Gearar, “Trump’s zigzagging approach to North Korea veers toward military options,” Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2017; “Sanctions Against North Korea a Dangerous Dead-End,” The Real News, Sept. 6, 2017.

[28] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[29] Workers World Party, “WWP congratulates DPRK for its courage,” Workers World, Sept 12, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Rochester, N.Y., anti-war groups say no to U.S. threats and sanctions against DPRK,” Workers World, Sept. 11, 2017; David Card, “New war threats against North Korea,” Workers World, Aug. 31, 2017.

[30] The article says the following: “The Moranbong Band, the State Merited Chorus and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe Music and dance performances gave a music and dance performance in Wonsan City from September 13 to 21. The numbers of the performance included male solo and chorus “Song Dedicated to the Motherly Party”, light music “Pyongyang Is Best”, orchestra and male chorus “We’ll Travel One Road Forever”, dance “Dash toward Future” and tap dance “Young Days”. The performers sang high praises of the dynamic spirit of socialist Korea dashing ahead like the wind toward the final victory at the speed of Mallima despite all sorts of difficulties and trials of history, rallied close around respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The artistes of the Moranbong Band in light music and serial songs “Oh Party, It’s Thanks to Your Care,” female solo “We Call You Father,” female chorus “Fatherland and I,” etc. impressively represented the profound trust and gratitude of the army and people to the Workers’ Party of Korea which made a history of great changes under the banner of independence, Songun and socialism, winning great victories. Those of the State Merited Chorus in male solo and chorus “Korea, Forward under the Line of Simultaneously Developing the Two Fronts” and male trio and chorus “Only along the Road of Socialism,” strikingly showed the rock-firm faith and will of the Korean army and people to dynamically advance along the road of simultaneous development of the two fronts under the leadership of the great Party and attain the final victory of socialism. The Wangjaesan Art Troupe presented lively dynamic dances showing the stirring reality of the DPRK where the people are working great innovations in building a socialist power while resolutely foiling the U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces’ unprecedented sanctions and pressure. The performance deeply impressed the audiences.”

[31] Lorraine Bussaneault, “The view from Pyongyang: An Exclusive Look at the World’s Most Secretive Nation,” Smithsonian magazine, Sept. 6, 2017.

[32] Pepe Escobar, “North Korea: Fire, Fury and Fear,” Global Research, Aug. 10, 2017; Tania Branigan, “Hope, Pride, Fear: How North Koreans feel about their homeland,” The Guardian, Aug. 10, 2017; The Moscow Times, “North Korea Receiving Russian Supplies Despite Sanctions—Reports,” Sept. 12, 2017.

[33] Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Editor, “Self defense and the DPRK,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Ri Hak Nam, “DPRK is certain to win Thanks to Peerlessly Great Man,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 12, 2017.

[34] Kang Choi Su, “No Force on Earth Can Block Advance of DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 22, 2017; Jo Hak Chai, “WPK’s Line of Simultaneously Developing Two Fronts Is Eternal Banner of Peace and Prosperity,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 19, 2017; Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017.

[35] Robert Rennebohm, “Understanding North Korea,” Global Research, Aug. 21, 2017; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017; Samuel Romani, “North Korea’s African Allies,” The Diplomat, July. 4, 2016; Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “North Korea: Their Health System Sucks, Do They Have Schools and Hospitals…In America We’ve Got Medicare…,” Global Research, Aug. 16, 2017; Brian Wilson, “Korea and the ‘Axis of Evil,’” Global Research, Apr 27, 2002; Doug Palmer, Megan Cassella, and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump mulling withdrawal from Korea trade deal,” Politico, Sept. 2, 2017; Yonhap, “Trump says to weigh withdrawal from S. Korea trade deal,” The Korean Herald, Sept. 3, 2017; Andray Abrahamian, “Commentary: The downside of banning Americans from North Korea,” Reuters, Aug. 31, 2017; Felicity Arbuthnot, “North Korea an Aggressor? A Reality Check,” Dissident Voice, Aug. 24, 2017.

The hilarious and deluded criticisms of my post on Syria, Trump, and certain Kurds

My response to the comments on my post. Well, not really. But, this is one of my favorite Simpsons’ scenes (its from S7e9, “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaning“)

In response to my post, people were as angered as “mad-hatters.” It was a bit hilarious to watch it all unfold. I noted the comments in a post on /r/communism, but will address each “criticism,” if some could be called that, here:

“Can we just do away with the idea that Assad’s Syria is a socialist democratic state? It is false and the author does not try to prove any of his affirmations about Syria. This piece is garbage as a result, does nothing but cloud our judgement of the situation”- some person on /r/fulldiscourse

This person clearly did NOT read my post. I specifically called the “Assad’s Syria” a “secular, socially democratic state” and criticized Gowans for calling it socialist (certain parts are bolded for emphasis):

Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans[,] that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states.

Hence, their “criticism” was disingenuous.

The next person claimed that….

“So ridiculous that the war for a de facto monarchy (the Al-Assads) that is fought for by one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes doesn’t get any meaningful criticism on a website called ‘anti-imperialism.org””- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This is an Orientalist diatribe. To call the Bashar Al-Assad or the Assad family in general royal is laughable (its as bad as calling the DPRK a “monarchy”). They were duly elected by the people of Syria and not even the intelligence and military establishments of the murderous empire (US) have EVER called them monarchial. They have scowled at Syria since the 1960s. Russia, which is implied here, is NOT “one of the most aggressive imperialist regimes.” Such aggressiveness comes from the murderous empire (US) and European capitalists, not from those who were supposedly imperialist.

“Imagine a prose written by a late 19th, early 20th century industrialist writing for a pro-industrialist website, promoting the virtues of child labor and educating the poor through hard labor. Sorry, but that’s how ridiculous it is to be a revolutionary anti-imperialist in 2017. Or should be.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

I don’t even have any comment to this other than to laugh. I would consider myself to be a “revolutionary anti-imperialist” though.

“It is very obvious that these people writing this have an agenda. You couldn’t have chosen the perfect image either – the US standing in front of Turkey’s aggressive military to prevent them from annihilating the Kurds… The evil US Imperialism! Who stands to gain for all the points this article has mentioned? Which groups, which governments.. Then you can see how far toxic these kind of articles are. The no-war signs, the civilians being bombed to stop the US from bombing ISIS.. The thing that gets on my nerves is the actual nerve to use these kind of low tactics to get the US to weaken its position so other powers can take control or do what they want without anybody stopping them. If this is the “left” angle, They are but a tool, being used now to be anti-america to benefit others, as usual.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

This person is almost frothing at the mouth in outrage. To cast the US as saviors of the Kurds is silly at best. My article does not, in any shape or form, defend Turkey’s attacks on the Kurds. I stand with all nations under imperialist attack and Turkey is NOT one of those. It is happily working with the global capitalist class while there is some tension. The questions about who will “benefit” from this article is like a person claiming that there are commies under beds, making the comment also a joke. I would not call my article “anti-america” but I would call it pro-Syria, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist, at minimum, to name a few descriptors. That should be obvious. Also, obviously the site as an agenda. Its called anti-imperialism.org. Its not called magical swill’s site of extraordinary wonders or something like that.

“Because, unlike the lunatic writing this garbage, sane people recognize that the definition of a revolutionary is not avoiding everything connected to the US military when your shared enemy is Islamic State.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

Apart from the ableistic slur (“lunatic”), to think that working with the US military is “revolutionary” shows this person does NOT recognize how revolution works. Also, they clearly have no knowledge of the destruction the murderous empire has foisted on indigenous people, enslaved Black peoples, Mexican peoples, and all those  around the world who have been killed by bombs and missiles sent (or dropped) by the bloody planes and warships of empire. Also, calling it the Islamic state is confusing as it confuses one with an ACTUAL state based on Islam like Iran, so its better to call them Daesh. That’s all I have to say about that.

“Tight cooperation with multiple powers that have differing agendas has been a cornerstone of successful movements in history. Earlier this year, the Manbij Military Council met with US 4-star General Votel one week and signed an agreement with Russia the next week for regime forces to assume positions along its border. Raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality is the main problem for lunatic fringies like the writer of this article who cites Roy Gutman once, cites Marx a half-dozen times, never quotes anyone who lives in North Syria, and nevertheless pretends that they know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear.”- person on /r/syriancivilwar/

It may be the case that tight cooperation with multiple powers leads to victory, but those powers don’t have to be blood-sucking imperialists! If what they say about the agreement between a US general and capitalist Russia is true (which is possible) then that is positive that “regime forces” (the Syrian government) can have positions on the border. I wouldn’t see that as bad. To call myself part of the “lunatic fringies” brings up two questions: what is a “fringie”? and how is writing about something in a radical flair make me a “lunatic.” Wouldn’t those who are apologists of empire more readily fall into this category. I didn’t know defending Syria and carefully explaining what is happening in the region from my point of view was “raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality.” I also didn’t know that Roy Gutman was such an expert apparently, as they imply. Yes, I did cite “Marx a half-dozen times,” but so what? Sure, I didn’t “quote anyone who lives in North Syria,” but I don’t need to know the broader trends of what is happening in the region. I also do NOT pretend I “know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear” as they claim. Instead, I am just analyzing the reality. If people don’t like what I’m saying about what is happening, that’s just too bad.

Comments like these are deluded but also fun to read through. Thanks, magical critics for making me laugh at your silliness.

“Massive, dangerous and wasteful”: US imperialism repositions itself in Syria

Comes from the official mouth of the national military establishment.

This post was posted on anti-imperialism.org two days before but somehow I didn’t catch that until yesterday, so it was posted here.

You’ve probably heard the recent news that the Trump Administration is ending the CIA program to fund “anti-Assad” “moderate rebels,” who are actually terrorists. [1] The bourgeois media and run-of-the-mill imperialists cried bloody murder. Some say it was a “victory” for Russian president Vladimir Putin, although it was seen, even by crusty analysts, as a failed program. Removing CIA support is a victory for the Syrian people, not for the Russians or Trump and his advisers. In defending this action on Twitter, Donald Trump, in his typical bullish style, attacked the “Amazon Washington Post” and CNN, saying they are pumping out “fake news” about his policy and questioned if the Post is being used to keep “politicians from looking into Amazon’s no-tax monopoly.” He, of course, framed the program as his accomplishment, as the end of “massive, dangerous and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad,” although these “rebels” are, again, terroristic elements. Even with US imperialism ending CIA support for such elements, the murderous empire has not given up the goal of toppling the Syrian government. Rather, it has “repositioned” itself.

In the article announcing the end of the CIA program, the CIA mouthpiece, the Washington Post bellowed that there was a “potential risk” of ending the program. They claimed that ending the program would mean that the US may be unable to stop other countries from “funneling more sophisticated weapons” to “anti-Assad” terrorists. [2] This implies a “loss of control” over world events by the murderous empire, and it is part of the anxiety that comes with US imperialism loosing its footing. Still, the murderous empire is not bumbling like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes, as “acclaimed” journalist Jeremy Scahill (a brand) noted in one tweet some time ago, but it just facing more challenges. The removal of this support, which was reportedly a foreign policy move to improve ties with Russia, ended a program which had begun in 2013 under the supposedly “smart” imperialism of the Obama presidency. [3] The program itself, in the minds of anonymous “US officials” quoted, and perhaps within upper echelons of the empire itself, “produced little success.” Reuters denoted that US support will not end. Quoting the magical (and often deceptive) anonymous “US officials,” it was noted that the US military will train, arm, and support certain Syrian terrorists with airstrikes and other actions. [4] It would not be surprising if this is the case. The Syrians recognize that the ending of the CIA program is a start to to “solving the Syrian crisis” but not a “genuine policy shift.” Rather it was an admission by the murderous empire that they have failed as Syrian government minister Ali Haidar pointed out. [5]

As it seems evident, US imperialism has “repositioned” itself in Syria by allying with the “good” Kurds, by Western standards, the ones clustered around the illegitimate regional government in northern Iraq and those related to Rojava. Stephen Gowans points out that not only is the YPG, one of the groups which is associated with Rojava, basically the PKK, but that they would control regions currently occupied by Arabs, a move supported by Israel and the US. However, Turkey does not support it as they detest the Kurds, but also the Syrian government, with their own designs for “regime change” in the country, and the current Syrian government opposes it as a clear violation of their sovereignty and independence. Such a takeover of Arab areas, which could be a prelude to ethnic cleansing, is supported by illegal no-fly-zones by the US over parts of Syria, and the partition of Syria along “ethno-sectarian lines,” favored by Washington and Tel Aviv. Some will say that the YPG, SDF, and other forces associated with Rojava, are somehow revolutionary. For one, if this was the case, why would they have allowed the US to build two military bases within “their territory” by March 2016? [6]

When Black nationalist Robert Mugabe led the liberation struggle of the then-Maoist Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, alongside the more moderate Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu-PF, he did not go the US asking for help to fight the white colonists. When Hugo Chavez and his newfangled movement were gaining traction in Venezuela, they didn’t turn to the European imperialists. There are many other examples that could be given. Allowing an imperialist power to create bases within one’s territory means that one’s anti-imperialism is partially, if not completely, non-existent.

Around the same time that it was revealed that the US had two military bases in Syria, the special presidential envoy to the coalition against Daesh, Brett McGurk, visited Rojava, showing the US-“good” Kurd alliance was in the making. Since then, the murderous empire has increased their support for these Kurds. The same Kurds who tortured two Arab prisoners to demand they tell them

“where are the Daesh fighters,” threatening their life and limb when they didn’t answer “correctly.” Recently, the murderous empire armed these Kurds directly to mount an assault on Daesh’s de facto capital, Raqqa. More than that, over 1,000 US special forces are within Syria, with the US helping Rojava-associated forces, since 2014, take control of territory with their “overwhelming” air power. Furthermore, not only are these Kurds wedded to their alliance with the Western imperialists, who also back, with arms, those in Northern Iraq, but they are liked by Western European, Japanese, and Scandinavian governments, along with some in Central Europe and Eastern Europe as well. This is indicated by their diplomatic outposts all across Europe to spread the “reality” of their supposed “struggle,” with the impression that they are a “real” country. Even the Russian Federation seems to favor them to an extent. Such favoritism, mainly by those in the West, is related to the fact that Rojava is opposed to the Syrian government is a “resources-rich” mine for imperialism even though it is basically an illegal entity. Its existence violates the UN charter, especially article 2, and the Syrian Constitution (at least 5 articles). Some may cry that Rojava and the Kurds need “self-determination” but the entity itself violates Syrian sovereignty and such a claim to self-governance by the “good” Kurds is utterly (and completely) illegitimate.

If arming and providing direct military support to these Kurds is not enough, the US had reportedly provided advice on branding, a feature of modern capitalism in the Western world. Raymond Thomas, General and commander of US Special Operations, said at the Aspen Forum recently that the US told the YPG that they needed to re-brand because of their ties to the PKK, and called the name of SDF a “stroke of brilliance” since “democratic” was within the name. This account was also posted on SoL international, a site run by the Turkish Communist Party. In their summation, it was noted that Thomas said that the YPG and PKK have to “work on their own branding,” acting like they are separate. In response, Erdogan, a murderous leader of Turkey who represents that country’s bourgeoisie, said that “friends” should not deceive each other, implying that the US and Turkey are still “friends.” This is true to an extent, but the US and Turkey are pursuing different methods to overthrow the Syrian government. This is indicated by stories in the Turkish state media, which has an anti-Kurdish flair to it, such as one claiming that a US Army Magazine showed a PYD individual, associated with Rojava, with a patch displaying the face of the PKK’s jailed leader, Ocolan. To put it simply, relations between the murderous empire and ethno-nationalist Turkey are fraught. This is proven not only by Erdogan’s remarks noted above but declarations by the Turkish government that it will not allow a “terrorist state” of Rojava on their borders and claims that hundreds of trucks from the US are aiding the Kurds with a large amount of weapons. The latter article, which lists the exact location of 10 US outposts/bases in Rojava, was also written up by The Daily Beast. [7] This article notes that there is US presence from “one end to the other end” of Rojava, with two bases in northern Syrian and eight outposts, one of which is the communications center for the US-led coalition “fighting” Daesh.

With ten bases, effectively, in northern Syria, US imperialism has easily positioned itself to assist covertly and overtly in the overthrow of the Syrian government. Add to this the illegal US presence in Syria coupled with the bombing of Syria and Iraq which has killed a minimum of 600 people with the actual total likely topping over 7,000 civilians. Take for example a raid in Syria on July 4, by US bombers, which killed nine civilians and damaged civilian housing. Assisting the murderous empire in its “regime change” operation are the Israeli Zionists who frequently bomb inside Syria, directly helping the “anti-Assad” terrorists, accompanied by propaganda from outlets, such as National Geographic, to smear the Syrian government, as represented in their upcoming documentary which is totally fraudulent. If that isn’t enough, there have been direct provocations in Syria by the murderous empire. In June, the US shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet which was carrying out attacks on Daesh, a “blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and international law.” This was only part of such provocations stemming from the dropping of thousands upon thousands of bombs on Syria, since 2014, thousands of US troops being sent into the region, false stories of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, and other provocations, sometimes with the help of British special forces. Additionally, the UAE, the Turks, Qatar, the Saudis, and numerous others, want a piece of the action, sending “tens of thousands of mercenary and reactionary forces to bring down the Syrian government.

While US imperialism under Trump is “re-positioning” itself by seeking new alliances and harsher policies toward alleged US enemies, the goal in Syria has not changed. As noted earlier, the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state. Gowans explains this simply. He notes that the murderous empire is angry that Bashar Al-Assad hasn’t integrated the Syrian economy into the “US-superintended economy,” while possessing principles of “Arab socialism,” anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism. Such ideas also come with Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah. Hence, since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria, with the idea since 2003 that the US would eliminate Arab nationalists in the region by invading their countries.

Iran puts a damper on such regime change plans, as does Russia. Already Iran and Russia have developed close relations, like Syria and Russia, with the idea that Iran-Russia contact can prevent Washington’s further intervention in Syria. As Raymond Thomas, quoted earlier, admitted, since Russia has established a “more credible foothold” in Syria, it could, in his summation, use this influence to expel US forces from the country. Whether this would actually happen is not known. As the murderous empire sees it, Iran, Syrian, and Russia are part of an “evil axis” to them. That is why the CIA’s mouthpiece, the Washington Post, declared that the US is threatening Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf whether a “shot across the bow” actually happened or not. [8]

The same goes for the 98-2 vote in the US Senate in favor of increased sanctions on Iran and Russia in mid-June. Only two Senators, with enough political capital, voted against it: “socially democratic” imperialist Bernie Sanders and libertarian-Republican Rand Paul. The sanctions themselves, introduced by Bob Corker, did not pass the House. The legislation not only claims that Iran threatens the US (and allies) in the Mideast, North Africa, and beyond, but it shows US apprehension about Iran’s influence.

In the past month, a new round of sanctions passed both legislative houses, incorporating some of Corker’s legislation on Russia and Iran, but also adding harsh sanctions against the DPRK. On July 25, the House passed the legislation 419-3, with only Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Jimmy Duncan voting no, all of whom were Republicans. The vote in the Senate two days similar was similar to the one the month before: Sanders and Paul voted against it.

Specifically, the new sanctions are slapped on Iran for its missile program and “human rights abuses” while squeezing the Russian economy and removing authority from the presidency to ease Russian sanctions. The latter is due to the unsubstantiated and feverous phobia over Russia, propagated by the US intelligence establishment, desperate Democrats and complaint Republicans, and much of the bourgeois media. The fact that Trump approves of the sanctions legislation flushes away all possibility he is “pro-Russia” in any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, the fact that Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership declared that the US’s diplomatic mission in Russia has to “reduce its staff by 755 employees” was a justified “aggressive response” that the New York Times, in typical fashion, called something which was seemingly “ripped right from the Cold War playbook.” Russia cannot respond by military force to these sanctions, so this reduction is a way of firing back, sending a message to Washington that the sanctions are not OK. [9]

As it seems evident, the murderous empire wants to weaken Iran (and Russia to an extent) to cause the dominoes (Syrian government, Hezbollah, and Hamas) to fall so that imperial hegemony can reign across the region. [10] The Russians, Syrians, and Iranians aren’t standing for it. With Iran having “Washington’s moves under close surveillance,” they have worked to build military cooperation with Iraq, a major step forward in regional security to counter destabilization by the US and its affiliates.

Such an agreement, which disappoints the US, involves both countries working together to improve border security while providing the military forces of each country with “training, logistical…and military support.” Furthermore, the Iranian Parliament recently allocated $600 million to strengthen the country’s defensive missile program and the IRGC’s Quads force. Even with such measures, the moderate Iranian leadership is trying to create linkages with European capitalists created by the nuclear deal they negotiated with the West. The idea is that Iran should be “self-reliant and self-sufficient” since it has strong bilateral relationships with capitalist Russia, revisionist China, and a “remarkable number of European countries.” As Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, recently put it, there is an opportunity of strong relations between Iran and Europe, with creation of “indigenous technology using international advanced technology.” The Iranians also likely see such linkages as a way to partially deter some of the effects of sanctions imposed on them. Some capitalists, like the French, have jumped at the bit. Just recently, Total S.A., a French oil giant, signed a 20 year contract with Iran, with an “estimated cost of 2 billion US dollars.” This would result in 30 wells, 2 offshore platforms, and two pipelines as part of the Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) they signed with the Iranian government.

Even with Iran’s moves to court Western European capitalists, there are evident challenges. For one, Trump is continuing to push for “regime change” in Iran, dismantle the “Obama-era balance of power” and return to anti-Iran policies of Bush II. This isn’t much of a surprise since his foreign policy team is filled with Iran hawks, those who want to be more aggressive toward the country. Additionally, there are individuals like the chain-smoking, brutish, covert to Islam, whose name is “Mike Roger” when undercover and nicknamed “Ayatollah Mike.” [11] His full name is Michael D’Andrea. He is leading the anti-Iran campaign but previously ran the drone program, is brash, and was involved in the illegal torture program. [12] As one person quoted, in the CIA propaganda-filled New York Times, says, this is a sign of an “aggressive line toward Iran.”

For having a man who is a Muslim (converted because his wife was Muslim) leading a covert effort to undermine (and ultimately topple) a government rooted, bourgeois liberals and progressives will likely scream “intersectionality!” In reality, it is just imperialism with a nice bow on it, but the same tactics as before. Nothing has changed in that way at all.

In a recent article in the Monthly Review, Fred Magdoff noted that when corporations of “leading capitalist states have problems abroad,” they use the international structure they helped shape, also working to create “more favorable conditions at home and abroad to increase their flexibility and ability to make profits with the fewest restraints” evidenced by thirty CEOs of major US corporations visiting “Saudi Arabia with Trump.” He adds that economic elites and corporations use the power “of their home nation to secure advantages globally” with the nation state’s power of a “significant use to capital” with corporations, no matter the historical era, using “whatever leverage is at their disposal…to get their way,” to gain access to “foreign markets and investment opportunities.”

What Magdoff writes has relevance for the geopolitical position and relation of Iran, Syria, Russia, and the United States, to name a few international “actors” at the current time. Each of these countries has their respective bourgeoisie. For Iran and Syria, their national bourgeoisie is revolutionary in character. Specifically for Iran, this bourgeoisie, especially the reformist faction, is trying to entice European capitalists to invest in their country in order to become “self-sufficient” and create their own products. The principalist or “hardline” faction seems to not be fundamentally opposed to the prospect of self-development, as they support investment, but they are wary of Western influence from capitalists of Europe (mostly) since the involvement of Western international capitalist combines had a role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossedegh in 1953 and were part of the pillaging of their country up until the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The reformist faction, which was reinforced by the recent election in Iran’s populace, seems to be in a current truce with the “hardline” faction, the latter of which wants a “revolutionary economy” as Ayatollah Khomeini puts it, but does not oppose privatization, for example. The Western capitalists are salivating at the opportunity for a new market with US companies likely furious about the new sanctions since this closes markets for them, inadvertently giving the Europeans a head start in this new market, benefiting them and isolating the United States. Iran needs capital for its self-development, but accepting this capital means that Western capitalists will be able to use the “universal whore, the universal pimp of peoples,” money, as Karl Marx once described it, to try and corrupt Iranian society to make it more consumerist, accepting more and more Western values. [13] If that ultimately happens, then the Iranian Revolution will have failed and capitalism will be triumphant in Iran.

Like Iran, Syria has a national bourgeoisie. Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states. As Karl Marx wrote in 1844,

“…it is precisely the ability of the capitalist to direct his capital elsewhere which either drives the worker into starvation or forces him to submit to the capitalist’s demands” [14]

In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances, to be part of what Ahmad Sa’adat, imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), once called the “international left alliance.” Still, they are affected by competition among capitalists, as this influenced policies of those countries which are attacking them.

As for Russia, it is an interesting case. It is clearly capitalist, but it also has a progressive foreign policy. Partially this policy was forced on it by “isolation” pushed upon it by the US, but also due to its effort of building alliances with those countries under harsh attack by the murderous empire. Still, we cannot forget the Russian oligarchs, who are the Russian bourgeoisie. Even so, they are not like the US in interfering in the affairs of other countries, seeming to follow the principle that sovereignty is the “essence of the state” and that the sovereignty of the leader is based on the people since the “political state is…only a self-determination of the people.” [15] They are, as was noted by the Workers World Party at discussion at the Left Forum earlier this year, wanna be imperialists. Rome, and now the murderous empire, along with competing neo-colonial Western capitalistic states, treats “conquered countries….as private property.” [16] Russia, even if you said that it “conquered” Crimea, which it didn’t since there was a referendum where the people of the peninsula voted to be part of the Russian Federation, is not treating this area or any other area under their influence as their “private property.” Due to US restrictions and that of Russophobic European capitalist states, their markets are limited, so their imperialistic tendencies have not been developed as of yet. If these restrictions were lifted they would become a semi-imperialist state.

The murderous empire has “re-positioned” itself when it comes to Syria, and states associated with it, but as noted in this article, the goals remain the same. This was indicated in a recent speech by Vice President Mike Pence who bemoaned the “grave and growing threat posed by the missile capabilities of dangerous regimes in North Korea and Iran” and noted that Trump called on Russia to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and to cease its support for hostile regimes like North Korea and Iran.” If this sentiment is held by numerous other policymakers in the echelons of the intelligence and military establishments, which it likely is, it means they see Russia as the “puppetmaster,” directing other countries like Iran and Syria. This could not be farther from the truth. Both Iran and Syria have self-interested and justified reasons for their amiable relations with Russia” to counter the aggression of the murderous empire.

As those who care about the world around us, whether we are communists, socialists, or radicals of any flavor, we should recognize what Marx said in September 1843: “nothing prevents us from…taking sides in politics…we simple show the world the way it is struggling and…[push for] the reform of consciousness.” [17] If we can take that to heart, standing in international solidarity with Iran, Syria, and Russia, even though each of these countries has a national bourgeoisie, against the murderous empire, that is a step in the right direction. We should take heed from Marx when he says that revolutions are “not made by shame” and arguing that

“A Ship of Fools can perhaps be allowed to drift before the wind for a good while; but it will drift to its doom precisely because the fools refuse to believe it possible. This doom is the approaching revolution.” [18]

While Marx was talking about Germany in March 1843, this sentiment applies to the present. The capitalists and their lackeys, imperialists of any character, of the murderous empire are the “fools” and they can be usurped by a revolution. In closing, we should believe it possible to engage in such actions to undermine (and ultimately overthrow) the capitalist class wherever, whether in the core, the periphery, and semi-periphery, standing in solidarity, in whatever way we can, with those fighting against the beast of capitalism.

Notes

[1] Anti-Assad is in quotation marks because that is how they are framed, although the Syrian government is much more than just Bashar Al-Assad, who was duly re-elected, like the rest of the government last year.

[2] Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous, “Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow,” Washington Post, July 19, 2017.

[3] BBC News, “Syria war: Trump ‘ends CIA arms programme for rebels’,” July 20, 2017.

[4] John Wolcott, “Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels – US officials,” Reuters, July 19, 2017.

[5] Dahila Nehme, “Syria says US halting aid to rebels is step toward ending war,” Reuters, July 25, 2017.

[6] Reuters, “US builds two air bases in Kurdish-controlled north Syria: Kurdish report,” Mar. 6, 2016.

[7] Roy Gutman, “Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria,” The Daily Beast, July 19, 2017.

[8] Andrew deGrandpre, “An Iranian ship refused to heed the Navy’s warning. Then shots were fired,” Washington Post, July 25, 2017.

[9] Neil MacFarquhar, “Putin, Responding to Sanctions, Orders US to Cut Diplomatic Staff by 755,” New York Times, July 30, 2017.

[10] It is clearly not a big “conspiracy” as they might think it is.

[11] Greg Miller, “CIA official who directed hunt for bin Laden is being removed from post,” Washington Post, Mar. 25, 2015.

[12] Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, “Deep Support in Washington for C.I.A.’s Drone Missions,” New York Times, Apr. 25, 2015; Matthew Rosenburg and Adam Goldman, “C.I.A. Names the ‘Dark Prince’ to Run Iran Operations, Signaling a Tougher Stance,” New York Times, June 2, 2017.

[13] Karl Marx, “Money” within 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which is part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 377. On page 295, also within the “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” Marx describes capital as the power to command labor and products, and stored up labor.

[14] Karl Marx, “Wages of Labor” within 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which is part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 283.

[15] Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State” in 1843 within Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 82, 85, 89.

[16] Ibid, 179.

[17] Marx’s letter to Ruge in September 1843 within the Franco-German Yearbooks and part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 208-209.
[18] Marx’s letter to Ruge in March 1843 within the Franco-German Yearbooks and part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 200.