“Take your Thorazine”: The social democratic nature of Syria

This text comes from Venessa Beeley’s website “The Wall Will Fall.” The image comes from Diana Dayoub’s instagram page, seemingly a photograph of Syria. I say seemingly because in Instagram it does not say where the photo was taken.

In response to my recent post about the Democratic Party within the murderous empire, the so-called Marxist, Louis Proyect, declared in a comment: “Syria as a social democracy? You need to take your Thorazine.” Basically he was acting like I am out of my mind, in that he is implying I have schizophrenia or some other psychotic disorder which is an discriminatory and ableist (and is also untrue) sentiment. This is not surprising because he has a deep-seated hatred for the duly-elected Syrian government, liking the “left” opposition to it, engaging in Orientalist propaganda. I included part of his comment in the title of this article to further poke at this fake Marxist who stands against everything that Marxism stands for. He’s basically a butt-hurt progressive who hates anti-imperialist governments, although he acts like he is radical (which is a lie). Anyway, Proyect was responding to my above linked post which I wrote that while Gowans thinks that Syria is socialist, but I think that, “from my research on the subject, that Syria is socially democratic…and with a vibrant democracy.” In August of last year I expanded on this topic, citing Gowans as a starting point for analysis:

…the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state…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…[with] Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah…since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria…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…In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances…still, they are affected by competition among capitalists…Iran, Syria, and Russia…each…has a national bourgeoisie.

I further added to this in other posts last year, writing that Bashar Al-Assad, and previous leaders since Syrian independence, were duly elected “by the people of Syria” with the empire scowling “at Syria since the 1960s. Furthermore, I added, in another post, that over 17.1 million are “living in the socially democratic and secular Syrian Arab Republic” with the government led by the “duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council” reaffirmed in elections in April 2016. This post aims to answer a simple question: Is Syria socially democratic and secular or it is socialist?

Table of contents for this article

  1. Defining terms
  2. Gowans argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?
  3. Further analysis: examining Syria’s economy and its supposed “socialist” nature
  4. Syria, the “good” Kurds, Syrian Communists, and elections
  5. Resistance to imperialism and concluding words
  6. Notes

 

Defining terms

Mao Zedong studying the writings of comrade Josef Stalin in the Yenan base area during the Chinese Revolution as noted on a webpage titled “Marxism-Leninism Study Guide

In order to answer the question of whether Syria is socially democratic or secular, I first turned to the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA). The term “social-democracy” was originally used as an “extension of political democracy to the economic level, the elimination of capitalism and the institution of a broad based workers democracy.” However, with the failure of the  Second International “to rally the international working class” against World War I, “social-democracy split,” and by 1919 most supporters of the Communist International “called themselves “Communists”” with social-democracy becoming “largely synonymous with the pale reformism of these now established socialist parties, such as the German Social-Democrats and the British Labour Party.” As for the term democratic, MIA defines this as “a political system of rule by the majority” but adding that communism works to move beyond the “limited democracy found under capitalism” and the “repressive nature of bourgeois democracy” itself. As such, the idea of “proletarian democracy” was not only representative, but participatory by avoiding the form of democracy where “one class of people decide what should be done, while another class of people do it” with the working class deciding “amongst themselves, by consensus what and how it should be done”with all positions “of authority in Socialist society must be elected solely by workers and subject to recall at any time.” Ultimately this would be the realization of a “proletarian democracy,” a significant step toward the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship which would “yield to the majority of the working people” and be a stead defense against world capitalism. As Lenin described it, in 1919, a

Proletarian dictatorship [or dictatorship of the proletariat] is similar to dictatorship of other classes in that it arises out of the need, as every other dictatorship does, to forcibly suppresses the resistance of the class that is losing its political sway. The fundamental distinction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and a dictatorship of the other classes…consists in the fact that the dictatorship of landowners and bourgeoisie was a forcible suppression of the resistance offered by the vast majority of the population, namely, the working people. In contrast, proletarian dictatorship is a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists. It follows that proletarian dictatorship must inevitably entail not only a change in the democratic forms and institutions, generally speaking, but precisely such change as provides an unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism—the toiling classes…[giving] the vast majority of the population, greater practical opportunities for enjoying democratic rights and liberties than ever existed before, even approximately, in the best and the most democratic bourgeois republics…it is the people [who]…are now drawn into constant and unfailing, moreover, decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state…[with] a government of the workers [who are disinterested]…in the means of production being privately owned…the dictatorship of the proletariat [like the Soviet system]…is so organized as to bring the working people close to the machinery of government…[with the] combining the legislative and executive authority under the Soviet organization of the state and…replacing territorial constituencies by production units—the factory…only the proletariat is in a position to unite and lead the scattered and backward sections of the working and exploited population…only the Soviet government of the state can really affect the immediate breakup and total destruction of the old, i.e., bourgeois, bureaucratic and judicial machinery, which has been…retained under capitalism even in the most democratic republics…proletarian, democracy [enlists]…the mass organizations of the working people in constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state, it immediately begins to prepare the complete withering away of any state…[we need to]…extend the organization of Soviets among the workers in all branches of industry, among the soldiers in the Army and the sailors in the Navy and also among farm laborers and poor peasants

Such a dictatorship of the proletariat, or what you could call proletarian democracy, would be part of an overall socialist system. Of course for the term “socialism” itself MIA has varying definitions, reflecting the debate on this term. There are words of August Bebel quoted in MIA’s definition, but it is better to use to definitions of Lenin and Marx & Engels as they are the principal Marxist theorists. Marx and Engels did not specifically define socialism in the Communist Manifesto but they talk about the “expanding union of the workers” with the need to “centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes” while he also wrote, powerfully, that “what the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” They called for the abolition “of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom” with the end of “bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom,” further noting that such freedom is “free trade, free selling and buying.” Furthermore, it was argued that private property for one-tenth of the population would be abolished, while allowing any person to “appropriate the products of society” but not having the power to “subjugate the labour of others.” This would further mean, they write, that the bourgeois family, where wives are “mere instrument[s] of production,” should be abolished (along with public and private prostitution), and rescue education “from the influence of the ruling class” while abolishing “countries and nationality” and saying that the “first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy” with the proletariat using its “political supremacy to wrest…all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State,” increasing total production as soon as possible. From there, while saying that measures will “be different in different countries,” Marx and Engels proposed “generally applicable” proposals:

  1. abolition of all land rents
  2. abolition of land as property
  3. a “heavy progressive or graduated income tax,”
  4. ending all “rights of inheritance”
  5. confiscating the property of “all emigrants and rebels”
  6. centralizing credit in the “hands of the state” with the creation of a national bank
  7. centralizing communication and transport in the state’s hands
  8. having “instruments of production” and factories owned by the state
  9. while cultivating wastelands and improving the soil
  10. having “equal liability of all to work”
  11. establishment of “industrial armies, especially for agriculture”
  12. combining “agriculture with manufacturing industries”
  13. gradually abolishing the “distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace”
  14. free education of all in public schools
  15. abolishing “children’s factory labour in its present form”
  16. Combining “education with industrial production”

After that, Marx and Engels note that once “class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation” then public power will lose its political character, and that if the proletariat is compelled to make “itself the ruling class” it would sweep away “the old conditions of production…[and] the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally,” abolishing its supremacy as a class. This means, in their words, that in the place of “old bourgeois society” there would be “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

Beyond this, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, in 1875, Marx wrote that “between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other” meaning that there is a “political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat” with which he talked about. Lenin was a bit more specific. He wrote in 1917, in chapter 2 of The State and Revolution, that during the period where a society is moving from capitalism to communism, there is unprecedentedly “violent class struggle” with which the state must “democratic in a new way” for those who are propertyless and the proletarian but “dictatorial in a new way” aimed against the bourgeoisie. He further added that such a “dictatorship of a single class is necessary…for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from…communism” and while this transition is bound to lead to “tremendous abundance and variety of political forms” the essence will be the dictatorship of the proletariat. In chapter 5, of the same book, he wrote more about this, saying that

The first phase of communism…cannot yet provide justice and equality [with] differences, and unjust differences…still persist[ing], but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production…and make them private property….the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production becomes common property, the word “communism” is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism…[Marx] regards communism as something which develops out of capitalism…In its first phase, or first stage, communism cannot as yet be fully mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism…It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois law, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie!…as soon as equality is achieved for all members of society in relation to ownership of the means of production, that is, equality of labor and wages, humanity will inevitably be confronted with the question of advancing further from formal equality to actual equality…By what stages, by means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to this supreme aim we do not and cannot know…only socialism will be the beginning of a rapid, genuine, truly mass forward movement, embracing first the majority and then the whole of the population, in all spheres of public and private life….Democracy…signifies the formal recognition of equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to administer, the state…a degree of democracy implies overstepping the boundaries of bourgeois society and beginning its socialist reorganization. If really all take part in the administration of the state, capitalism cannot retain its hold….it is quite possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the control over production and distribution, in the work of keeping account of labor and products, by the armed workers, by the whole of the armed population…Accounting and control…is needed for the “smooth working”, for the proper functioning, of the first phase of communist society. All citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state, which consists of the armed workers. All citizens becomes employees and workers of a single countrywide state “syndicate”…When the majority of the people begin independently and everywhere to keep such accounts and exercise such control over the capitalists…this control will really become universal, general, and popular…The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory, with equality of labor and pay…this “factory” discipline…will extend to the whole of society…[a] necessary step for thoroughly cleansing society of all the infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation…the more complete the democracy, the nearer the moment when it becomes unnecessary…[finally] the door will be thrown wide open for the transition from the first phase of communist society to its higher phase, and with it to the complete withering away of the state.

From this, you could say that Cuba and People’s Korea are in the first stage of communism, working to move forward to improve their existing socialism as they are limited through the continuance of international capitalism, meaning that they cannot be “mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism.” This generates the question: what should a socialist state be like within today’s world of global capitalism? Taking what Lenin said, above, to heart, he is arguing that a state would have some “unjust differences” but exploitation of one person by the other would be impossible with the means of production becoming “common property” while equality of “labor and wages” had be striven for, along with the “socialist reorganization” with workers controlling “production and distribution.” Additionally all citizens would become “hired employees of the state” with their control over society being “universal, general, and popular” with society itself becoming a “single office and a single factory” wherein all the “infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation” will be cleansed away. This is manifested in a dictatorship of the proletariat, as Lenin described it, or proletarian democracy as it is also called, would be suppress “the resistance of the exploiters” with such a state changing democratic institutions and forms but also extending “actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism” to new heights, giving them new “democratic rights and liberties” and decisive participation in the state’s administration itself while the old machinery of bourgeois, bureaucratic, and judicial character will be broken to pieces. Marx and Engels were arguing something similar, but partially different. He said that communism’s end goal is the abolition of bourgeois independence, bourgeois individuality, bourgeois freedom (free trade, free buying and selling), private property for the one-tenth of the population, the bourgeois family, countries, and nationalities. Such socialist states, as you could call them, were envisioned by Marx and Engels, would abolish land as property, all land rents, the “distinction between town and country” over time, child factory labor, and all inheritance rights. More positively, such a state would have a heavy progressive income tax, confiscate property of rebels and emigrants, have free education for all children in public schools, centralize credit in the state with a national bank, centralize communication, transport, factories, and other “instruments of production” while establishing “industrial armies” especially in agriculture, combine manufacturing and agriculture along with industrial production and education. They also called for “equal liability of all to work,” improving the soil, and cultivating wastelands. This is a lot to take in, but is worth discussing if this applies to Syria (and ultimately other countries) or not.

Gowan argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?

This map comes from page 148 of a Library of Congress report on Syria which is discussed later in this article.

Time and time again, Stephen Gowans, a leftist writer I profoundly respect (unlike that horrid individual, Louis Proyect), has said that the Syrian Arab Republic is socialist. In April of last year he wrote that the country had followed, since the 1960s, “an Arab socialist development path which is at odds with the global free enterprise project advanced by Washington on behalf of its Wall Street patron,” saying that the latter wants to “sweep away the Arab socialist impediments to the free enterprise, free trade, and free market capitalist nirvana.” Elsewhere he called Syria “pro-independence, secular, non-sectarian, [and] socialist-oriented,” citing a study by the Library of Congress along with statements by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation to support his intention that the country is socialist, in a long line of other countries. In other articles, Gowans writes that Syria has “a parliament” and is “anti-colonial and anti-imperialist” with parts of the state “remain committed to socialist goals.” Other than this, he argues that since Syria is governed by those who call themselves socialist, saying that the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party advocates for socialism, presiding over “the drafting of Syria’s constitutions, which mandate government ownership of the commanding heights of the economy and a significant role for government in the guidance of the economy” which he says is “socialism.” He adds that those in the West have “long complained about Damascus’s refusal to fully integrate into a US-led global neo-liberal economic order.” In an older post he admits, however that Afiz Assad, when he came to power in 1970, “tried to overcome the Sunni opposition by encouraging private enterprise and weakening the party’s commitment to socialism, and by opening space for Islam.” In the same post he writes that “Syria remains too much like the socialist state the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party founders envisaged for it, and too little like a platform for increasing the profits of overseas banks, investors and corporations” even as he says that “Ba’athists continue to obstinately hold on to elements of the party’s socialist program.” He also says that the Arab nationalists, “in power since 1963” represent “socialism, Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism.” Back in 2014, Gowans wrote that Syria is a state founded “on anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, Arab nationalism, and non-Marxist socialism” the latter being worrisome to say the least. However, in 2012, he wrote that Hafez Assad “minimized class warfare in favor of broadening his government’s base, trying to win over merchants, artisans, business people, and other opponents of the regime’s nationalizations and socialist measures,” calling the government a “secular Arab nationalist regime” instead of a socialist one. Gowans said that his personal “politics incline more to the left than the Ba’th could comfortably accommodate,” adding that the “Syrian state has been far more progressive than regressive.” As such, it seems that he only began to call Syria “socialist” in more recent years.  In October 2016 he made his most cogent argument that Syria was a “socialist” state, specifically an “Arab socialist” state, a definition which problematically divorces socialism and Marxism!:

Socialism can be defined in many ways, but if it is defined as public-ownership of the commanding heights of the economy accompanied by economic planning, then Syria under its 1973 and 2012 constitutions clearly meets the definition of socialism. However, the Syrian Arab Republic had never been a working-class socialist state, of the category Marxists would recognize. It was, instead, an Arab socialist state inspired by the goal of achieving Arab political independence and overcoming the legacy of the Arab nation’s underdevelopment…Marxist socialism concerned itself with the struggle between an exploiting owning class and exploited working class, while Arab socialism addressed the struggle between exploiting and exploited nations….Socialism was against the profit-making interests of US industrial and financial capital…The Ba’athist state had exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy…The Ba’athists regarded these measures as necessary economic tools of a post-colonial state trying to wrest its economic life from the grips of former colonial powers…Washington…[wanted Syria to] serve the interests of the bankers and major investors who truly mattered in the United States, by opening Syrian labor to exploitation and Syria’s land and natural resources to foreign ownership…the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, corporations, and investors…Assad underscored his allegiance to socialist values…[while] the constitution committed the state to progressive taxation…If Assad was a neo-liberal, he certainly was one of the world’s oddest devotees of the ideology.

His idea of “Arab Socialism” differs, in his mind, from what he has previously described as “social democracy.” He says that while “social democratic parties may self-consciously aim to represent the bottom 99 percent of society, they serve…the top one percent” and adds that the “party’s candidates and elected officials…are often willing to sacrifice principle for immediate electoral gain,” adding that “social democratic parties are dominated by a stratum whose direct personal interests are defined by the electoral successes of the party.” He further writes that “social democrats believe that it is possible to reform society in egalitarian directions within the context of capitalism…[and] working within the political institutions of capitalist society.” He ended by saying that while “social democratic parties espoused socialism as an objective, even if a very distant one, the socialism they espoused was to be achieved with the permission of capital on capital’s terms,” different from Soviet socialism, Cuban socialism, Korean socialism, East German socialism, or the ideas espoused by socialist figures like comrades Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, and Vladimir Lenin, which he has written about in the past.

To take his own words, he admits that Syria has never “been a working-class socialist state” but says it embodies “Arab socialism.” The question remains from this: is “Arab socialism” really a socialist program, if we define socialism as Marx & Engels and Lenin viewed it, as noted earlier in this article? Those on /r/communism, for example, argue that Arab socialism is inherently a bourgeois ideology, more of social democracy than real socialism, even as they played a somewhat progressive role in the Arab World. More specifically, Arab socialism is about nationalization (as Nasser did), and engaging in “state-sponsored economic development” which occurred in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, with a consensus, as noted by Oxford Reference, that the “most urgent national needs were independence and economic development,” adding that there were “land reforms” while the “banking, insurance, foreign trade, large industries, and large private and foreign-owned companies were all nationalized.” Additionally, such economic programs was “accompanied by expansion in social, welfare, health, and educational services.”

From this, we come back to social democracy once again. If we accept, as I believe we should and will argue further in the next section, that Syria is not a socialist state on Marxist terms, it is worth returning to what social democracy is after all. One writer, Bela Kun wrote in 1932 that social democracy says that “peaceful reformist work…would assure evolution into socialism” with the latter becoming “the cause of one class, of the working class” but collaboration of many classes, with Marxism serving as a source for slogans but no longer guide the ruling party’s policy. This writer further adds that there is a “defence of capitalist rationalisation” and the opposite of  “Marxian trade-union theory and practice” for example, supporting a “bourgeois dictatorship.” This is not the same as “revolutionary Social Democracy” embodied by the Bolsheviks which includes reforms, but also the policy of parties who work to engage in revolution to bring about proletarian democracy. Rather social democrats are “conductors of bourgeois influence” as Lenin described it, allying with bourgeois forces, focusing on nationalization, definitely not advocating for the “confiscation of all landed estates” which Lenin wrote about in 1911. These social democrats stand for democracy in the “name of capitalism,” the opposite of what the Bolsheviks did. Stalin further added that social democracy is characterized by “reformism and [an] anti-revolutionary character” with those of that ideology arguing that “the proletariat had to strive for was a peaceful path of transition from capitalism to socialism” with the time between capitalism and socialism when “capitalism will flourish and the proletariat languish in misery.”

Still, this does not fully define social democracy as a concept. Of course there are cookie-cutter definitions, as you could call them, from bourgeois dictionaries like Merriam-Webster calling it a movement which advocates for a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means” or a democratic “welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices,” and Encyclopaedia Britannica declaring that it is a “political ideology that originally advocated a peaceful evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established political processes” becoming more moderate throughout the 20th century. The same can be said of dictionary.com which declared that social democracy is a “political ideology advocating a gradual transition to socialism or a modified form of socialism by and under democratic political processes” and Wikiquote saying it is a “political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote socialism within a democratic framework and a policy regime involving welfare state provisions,” among much more. The London-based social democrat publisher, Social Europe, attempted to define it as well, writing that “social-democracy is well known as a pragmatic political tendency…[with a] reputation…as a force for progressive change” even as they note that many social democrats talk about good capitalism and accept neoliberal dogma. They add poignantly that “social-democrats have always been reformists. Social-democracy is not about overthrowing existing structures in some kind of violent act of revolution,” further saying that “markets…need to be kept in their place,” meaning that capitalism should be regulated, and not removed.

From this, and what has been said previously, one can surmise that social democracy aims to reform society within capitalism with “peaceful reformist work,” is a bourgeois ideology connected to nationalization and social welfare programs, opposes Marxian theory at its core, stands for democracy in the “name of capitalism,” and is anti-revolutionary, advocating for a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, with markets still firmly in place. However, there is more to it than this. Any reforms based on social democracy itself is “bound to fail” since it does not address “capital and its accumulation to the few at the expense of the many.” Additionally, as Minqi Li writes in the Monthly Review, “social democratic capitalism” from the 1950s to 1973 “helped to alleviate the class conflicts and maintain a relatively high level of aggregate demand” bu that “inherent contradictions of capitalism” continued to develop, as institutions within such capitalism created new “conditions that increasingly undermined worldwide accumulation” while the balance of power “between capital and labor, and between the core and the periphery” led to a “worldwide decline of profitability.” Li adds that establishment of  “social democratic capitalism could not take place without at least a partial political victory of the working classes” while noting that “in a capitalist world economy with nation states, the competition between different capitalist states will prevent them from taking full account of environmental costs” meaning that social democratic capitalism will become “an “alternative” way towards global ecological catastrophe.” That isn’t good for anyone! Add to this that the so-called “Nordic system” which is lauded by supporters for “free and effective healthcare, education, transportation, and cleanliness” they are actually “rife with problems, and do not feature an ideal socio-economic system.” They additionally cannot “completely rid itself of socially conservative beliefs” until there is a ” full socio-economic transformation that involves the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, the central characteristic of capitalism.” That has not happened in Scandinavia and likely will not in the years to go. Even a Stalin-hating individual said that social democracy has “no ability to move in any direction” and wrote that “so-called state capitalism, all terminological quibbles aside, presented mankind with a glimpse of its potential, but could not escape the logic inherent in the accumulation of value.” Beyond this, super-profits taken from “the export of capital” allows for a “greater measure of social democracy at the centres of global capitalism”while capitalists “do not care as a class for social democratic reforms because these reforms get in the way of profit” with such reforms existing “because of working-class struggle and not because capitalists wanted to play nice.” Furthermore, social democracy is permitted because it was “forced into existence by concrete struggle and thus needed to be recognized” and the loss of “surplus [which] could be circumvented through the export of capital and super-exploitation elsewhere.

While the summation of social democracy and other aspects help define it in rough terms, what Stalin wrote in 1926 is helpful in defining it more fully. He wrote that (bolding is my emphasis), talking about ideological principles within the communist party and social-democratic parties:

Some might think that the Russians are excessively pugnacious, that they love debating and multiply differences, and that it is because of this that the development of their Party proceeds through the overcoming of inner Party contradictions. That is not true, comrades. It is not a matter of pugnacity, but of the existence of disagreements based on principle, which arise in the course of the Party’s development, in the course of the class struggle of the proletariat. The fact of the matter is that contradictions can be overcome only by means of a struggle for definite principles, for definite aims of the struggle, for definite methods of waging the struggle leading to the desired aim. One can, and should, agree to any compromise with dissenters in the Party on questions of current policy, on questions of a purely practical nature. But if these questions are connected with disagreements based on principle, no compromise, no “middle” line can save the situation. There can be no “middle” line in questions of principle. Either one set of principles or another must be made the basis of the Party’s work. A “middle” line in matters of principle is the “line” of stuffing people’s heads with rubbish, of glossing over disagreements, a “line” leading to the ideological degeneration of the Party, to the ideological death of the Party. How do the Social-Democratic parties of the West exist and develop nowadays? Have they inner-party contradictions, disagreements based on principle? Of course, they have. Do they disclose these contradictions and try to over come them honestly and openly in sight of the mass of the party membership? No, of course not. It is the practice of the Social-Democrats to cover up and conceal these contradictions and disagreements. It is the practice of the Social-Democrats to turn their conferences and congresses into an empty parade of ostensible well-being, assiduously covering up and slurring over internal disagreements. But nothing can come of this except stuffing people’s heads with rubbish and the ideological impoverishment of the party. This is one of the reasons for the decline of West-European Social-Democracy, which was once revolutionary, and is now reformist. We, however, cannot live and develop in that way, comrades. The policy of a “middle” line in matters of principle is not our policy. The policy of a “middle” line in matters of principle is the policy of decaying and degenerating parties. Such a policy cannot but lead to the conversion of the party into an empty bureaucratic apparatus, running idle and divorced from the masses of the workers. That path is not our path.

With all of this, one can define social democracy as a phenomenon primarily concentrated in the West which aims to reform capitalist society peacefully, using nationalization and social welfare programs as part of a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism with markets firmly in place, and being thoroughly anti-revolutionary by not engaging in a  necessary socio-economic transformation in society, with any reforms at all only possible through struggles of the proletariat. Furthermore, using the words of Stalin quoted above, one could add that social democracy does not have unification on matters of principle which leads to party to become an “empty bureaucratic apparatus” which is “divorced from the masses of workers.” Additionally, you could add, social democracy isn’t one bit about class struggle against the bourgeoisie!

With this, we can proceed to the next section of this article.

Further analysis: examining Syria’s economy and its supposed “socialist” nature

A map on page 134 of a Library of Congress report on Syria, discussed later in this section, showing that much of the country is arid.

Before moving onto the two sources which underpinned Gowans analysis that Syria is socialist, I looked at some other sources. Everyone seems to acknowledge the government has a strong hand in the economy which some call “state-capitalist” and others call “socialist,” possibly in their intentions, with some saying that the government engaged in neoliberal reforms in the 1990s and suppressed ” independent working-class organisation” while those more supportive say that the government of Syria is actively anti-imperialist, pro-Palestinian, and should not be demonized. [1] Other sources seem to also agree that the state has a strong role in the economy. Some said that “Syria’s economy is essentially state-run, although it has remained partly private, as for example the retail trade businesses” with certain privatizations starting in 2000,private banking legalized in 2001, and “centralised and restrictive government control” leading to low “productivity” in the minds of capitalists, with others saying that the economy was diverse before the imperialist assault on Syria began, with the country, in 2013, “home to 11 private banks, three Islamic banks, and seven foreign banks.” [2] With such an assault, the country has become “lower middle income” and devastated by the state of war as forces tried to tear the country apart, as millions are displaced. A war economy was put in place after 2012, using the “hard currency reserves” of the Central Bank of Syria and allowing traders to run their own affairs and protect their own facilities, along with other arrangements, the government revived “state supermarkets” (started in the 1960s) and rolled back the “modest economic liberalization [which] began in 2005,” in attempt to “ease economic hardship for the poor and contain social unrest” along with not removing government petroleum and electricity subsidies, which Reuters called “socialist economic policies.” Such moves by the government echoed the  “nationalization measures of the 1960s” [3] under the Amin al-Hafiz (Syria’s first Ba’ath Party ruler) in Syria, which were followed by “a major industrial development program stressing heavy industry” in the 1970s. There is no doubt that before the assault, starting in 2011, “Syria’s economy was based on oil production, agriculture, industry and tourism,” where “many industries” were subsidized (even as of 2006), the former which was seemingly strengthened as the government attempts to restore order in the country. As Al Bawaba remarked in 2000, the Syrian “government still keeps intact many policies that protect home-grown industries at the expense of attracting foreign investment” such as “high tariffs and numerous import restrictions and limited access to capital for those in the private sector.”

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), part of the UN, wrote, within a 2003 publication titled “Syrian agriculture at the crossroads,” that the Syrian government in the 1970s re-defined “socialism” to mean increased industrial employment, role of the public sector, and “activation of the private sector, ” which was changed by the 1980s and 1990s to “state-led export promotion,” even putting forward some “structural adjustment” attempts at the time, aligning with those who said that the economy is “predominantly state-controlled” at the present. They added that

The economy of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) is currently under transition from one that has been largely centrally planned to one that is more liberal. The general objectives of policy have been and will remain the achievement of a sustainable level of economic abundance, social welfare, and equity…The economy is still characterized by a large but stagnant public sector, and a resilient but constrained private sector, a cumbersome regulatory regime, continuation of many state controls, and a complicated trade and exchange rate system…The financial system is dominated by public enterprises and serves primarily the public sector. Hence, one of the key requirements for private sector growth, namely the existence of financial services for the private sector, is largely missing in Syria. The current government strategy is favourable to the private sector, and to export promotion, but with the continued presence of a strong public sector.

Beyond this, the Heritage Foundation said in their page on Syria that “civil war has left Syria’s economy in ruins” with economic policy used to maintain the capacity of the Syrian military, adding with anger that Bashar Al-Assad “failed to deliver on promises to open the socialist economy,” that “functioning labor markets are…subject to heavy state interference and control” and that “despite the war, a number of foreign banks are in operation” with the Islamic banking group called Al Baraka becoming “the largest privately owned bank in the country” in 2016. [4] Similar comments to FAO’s assessment were made on the current page for Syria on the CIA World Factbook, declaring that before the current conflict, “Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies” but that “the economy remains highly regulated” with “foreign trade barriers” for example. Anger at sch regulation has manifested in Syria being “on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list’s inception in 1979” while the murderous empire has called for the removal of Assad despite the fact that Syria is a member of the IMF and World Bank along with being an observer to the World Trade Organization (WTO)!

Unlike Zimbabwe (which the IMF is giddy over as the counter-revolution continues), the last IMF “Article IV Executive Board Consultation” for Syria was back in January 2009, but it is worth excerpting from their reports in previous years:

“The Syrian authorities have been implementing gradual, but wide-ranging reforms. These reforms are motivated by the challenges posed by the decline in oil production and the strategy initiated in the early 2000s to transition toward a social market economy. The exchange rate has been effectively unified and restrictions on access to foreign exchange for current transactions appear to have been mostly eliminated. Private banks are now leading financial sector growth, and the Damascus stock exchange recently re-opened after being closed for 40 years…Some progress has been made in advancing structural reforms, including simplifying investment procedures, modernizing accounting standards, and streamlining the tax system…the authorities fully liberalized bank lending rates and rates on foreign currency deposits and loans. The share of private banks has grown considerably since they were first established in 2004…Directors recommended that the authorities reverse the recent introduction of customs duties that vary by country of origin, and address suspected unfair trade practices by other measures such as enhancing customs’ capacity to examine invoices through computerization and cross border cooperation.”- March 2010

“Relations with the EU have improved recently following the establishment of diplomatic relations with Lebanon. Subsequently, France, which currently chairs the EU, issued positive signals regarding the ratification of the association agreement with Syria…Private banks are well capitalized…The financial system is still dominated by state banks, which hold 80 percent of bank assets…advances have been made in trade liberalization by substantially reducing the tariff schedule. The export of strategic agricultural products, however, remains subject to government approval…The Syrian economy has enjoyed buoyant growth since it embarked on a liberalization program aimed at unleashing the economy’s growth potential and integrating into the world economy.”- February 2009

“Private investment has strengthened, reflecting an improved business climate, and exports have made strong gains, particularly in some Arab markets, reflecting higher demand and improved access under the Great[er] Arab Free Trade Area…Following the opening of the first three private banks in 2004, four more banks entered the market in the last two years, and several more banks are expected to start operations in 2007, including some Islamic financial institutions…Progress toward exchange rate unification and current account convertibility, investment facilitation under a more liberal investment regime, tax reform, trade and financial liberalization, and the on-going development of appropriate regulatory frameworks in key sectors have all contributed to improving the investment climate…The authorities did not exclude the possibility of raising civil servants wages, particularly in light of the start of the PPS reform…The development of a competitive banking sector is constrained by the slow progress in state banks’ restructuring…Further efforts on trade liberalization and improving the business climate are key elements of the authorities’ reform agenda…further financial liberalization are necessary to close the reform-gap with other countries in the region and position Syria to take advantage of regional and global integration…Directors commended the authorities for the sustained, timely and significant fiscal adjustment and welcomed the lowering of corporate income taxes.”- August 2007

“The authorities were encouraged to see that the implementation of their broad-based reforms elicited a positive supply response. In their view, Syrian and other Arab investors felt that a point of no return in reform has been reached. Furthermore, they welcomed strong interest from domestic and foreign investors toward the newly opened banking and insurance sectors…The authorities’ strategy to develop the financial sector by opening it to private initiative was successful in attracting and expanding private banking activities…Trade liberalization, market deregulation, and improving the business climate are key elements of the authorities’ reform agenda…The exchange system in Syria is characterized by multiple exchange rates and a foreign exchange market segmented into public and private sector pools. The private sector has almost no access to the official pool…[the directors say that] A bulge in labor market entrants will strain an already precarious unemployment situation and increase pressure to protect redundant labor in an overstaffed public sector…More broadly, Directors encouraged the authorities to press ahead with reforms aimed at scaling down the state’s involvement in the economy, improving governance, and fostering private-sector growth.”- August 2006

“The growth acceleration in the early 1990s had reflected rising oil production and an upsurge in private sector investment prompted by fiscal incentives and reforms to start the transition to a market economy…Fund policy recommendations were supportive of the authorities’ reform agenda aimed at furthering the transition to a market economy…prices have been largely liberalized, the trade and foreign exchange regimes have been simplified and liberalized, the tax system has been streamlined, and the private sector’s field of activity has been broadened…In particular, opening the insurance sector for private initiative is an important sign of the
commitment of the authorities to promoting the role of the private sector in the economy…Directors encouraged the authorities to envisage the privatization of selected enterprises.”- October 2005

This seems to say, obviously, that Syria has engaged in socially democratic measures as it earnestly went forward with “liberalization” of their economy while government control and nationalist measures were maintained to the annoyance of the IMF. As a recent article in Worker’s World, on the events in Tunisia, pointed out, the IMF “only gives loans with draconian conditions. The most common are cutbacks of social programs and raising taxes to cut budget deficits — in other words, harsh austerity.” It seems that the latter did not happen in Syria, but the government was moving toward a “market economy” until the direct imperial assault began in 2011, the so-called “civil war,” with some government control returning. Still, some measures of “liberalization” remained such as private banks some of which are concentrated on the Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) along with other capitalist ventures. The companies on this exchange include:

There are many others whose sites were only in Arabic, and not English. Basically, these companies on the stock exchange are capitalists, and hence part of what you could call, accurately, an Arab bourgeoisie, some consisting bourgeoisie specific to the Arab Republic of Syria itself. If “nothing symbolizes capitalism like the New York Stock Exchange,” as one Forbes writer noted, then why can’t the same be said about the Damascus Securities Exchange? As Frederich Engels wrote in 1895, reviewing Marx’s work in Capital, “the position of the stock exchange in capitalist production” since the stock exchange “as it develops, tends to concentrate all production, industrial as well as agricultural, and all commerce…so that the stock exchange becomes the most prominent representative of capitalist production itself.” Of course, the DSE can’t completely represent this as it was launched in 2009, nine years ago, and only 23 companies are currently on the exchange which is minuscule compared to “more than 12,000 traded products” of the Intercontinental Exchange, commonly called the New York Stock Exchange, or the 1,124 companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Then there’s the Library of Congress country study which Gowans uses to say that Syria is socialist which was published in 1988. This goes beyond the claim that the economy of Syria is socialist, but it is worth summarizing within this section of the article. The study explains the history of Syria from its earliest days to 1987, when most of the research was done. In September 1961, there was a coup where Syria seceded from the United Arab Republic (UAR) which was meant to unite Egypt (then under Nasser) and Syria, with nationalization which had been implemented under the previous government removed, with another military coup by September of 1962, and by September 1963, Amid al Hafiz, a Ba’athist, became the leader, with power contested between the “centrist and leftist” elements within the Ba’athist Party, as factionalism continued. Under Hafiz, there was a move to restore nationalization and land reform measures removed after the September 1961 coup, radicalization of rhetoric along with support for Palestinian liberation, and continuing power struggles until 1970, as Hafiz Al-Assad became a more important figure. Then in November 1970, the latter Assad came to power in a coup which has often been called the “corrective movement,” while he was elected for a seven-year term in March 1971 by the populace. In the presidency of Hafiz, relations with the Soviet improved, a Progressive National Front was formed, and the government held off those who wanted to make Islam the state religion. An independent foreign policy course was plotted, there was a controversial Syrian intervention in Lebanon, the Ba’ath Party seemed to partially mass-based, and the “merits of socialism” were explored for Syria’s economy. With public unhappiness with the government at the time, an anti-corruption campaign was begun, and in February 1978, Hafiz was re-elected, facing opposition from Muslim groups (like the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Liberation Party), specifically those who detested the secular and nationalist nature of the state itself. The latter groups demanded bourgeois “freedoms” while engaging in violent, terrorist attacks against the government, with the government, by the early 1980s, basically declaring war on the Muslim Brotherhood, looking to uproot it from the country all together. As time went on, the Syrians relied heavily on the Soviets for re-supply of weapons, based in 1980 treaty, even as the latter refused to support the rightful Syrian effort to regain the Golan Heights from Zionists, and aligned itself with Iran as the Iran-Iraq War raged through the 1980s. By the later 1980s, there was “uncertainty” about the future of Syria.

It seems a bit problematic that Gowans cites this source to buttress his claim that Syria is socialist because this study was written in 1987! There is no doubt that Syria’s study is still diverse, as it was in 1987, but the so-called “Baathist policies of secularism and socialism” are not evident. Sure, the country is secular, but the policies were never really socialist despite what the study claims, even through it was anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist. There is also certainly still a youthful population. After all, as the study itself points out, in 1970, Hafiz “reversed or relaxed the more strident socialist economic measures” which had been instituted in 1963, leading to a new class of “entrepreneurs and businessmen who made their fortunes in real estate, importing, and construction.” That doesn’t sound very socialist, but rather constitutes the re-creation/reinforcement of the Syrian bourgeoisie, since the country, by the time the study was written, lacked a “true proletariat of wage-earning workers”! Still, education was, by the later 1980s, under close government supervision, starting from 1967 onward and free medical care even as private hospitals outnumbered state-run hospitals in the country.

We then get to the economy. In the mid-1960s, the “new socialist direction,” as the report called it, of the economic policy of Syria was clear considering nationalization of major industries and government-led land reform (land expropriated from large landowners) along with state-led large-scale projects. However, by the 1970s, the economy became more dependent on foreign aid from Arab countries and military aid from the Soviets, with the climate switching from “prosperity to austerity” in the 1980s, with slashing of public investments. This seems to question if the economy was even socialist at all as the study claims there was “socialist transformation” of the economy in the 1960s, with more state commitment to the economy in the 1970s and 1980s, before austerity kicked in. However, this isn’t the whole reality. Not even half of the workforce was employed by the state by 1983, with all college graduates not guaranteed a job, with many taking second jobs in the “private sector” and possible high unemployment as the 1980s went on. Even with a so-called “socialist economy” erected in the 1960s, this was liberalized by Hafiz in 1986, with the state moving away from the agricultural, retail trade, and light industry, leading to be controlled by capitalists, with income gaps beginning to widen. In order to defend the country, huge sums were spent on the military, with administration as a the second biggest area of government expenditures, with the rest relating to the economy (with varying “five-year-plans” over the years), with a very small amount for “social welfare” and “education and culture.” Add to this that by 1984, private farmers cultivated 74% of the country’s lands, and state farms, essentially, only cultivated 1%, again asking extensive the state’s involvement was in the economy, with farmer cooperatives existing, but not broadly successful with a faltering agricultural policy, while the West cried about “inefficiency” of public enterprises and there was effectively a central bank in Syria. Additionally, liberalization of the economy started in 1970 and again in 1986. At the same time, the Soviets and Romanians were active in developing the infrastructure of Syria in the 1970s and 1980s. There are other aspects noted in the study, of course, but there are not worth discussing here.

The study seems to imply that Syria is not only not “socialist” but has a working bourgeoisie, although they don’t call it this since the study is one assembled by bourgeois analysts, as one would expect. From this, it is worth turning to two documents: the 1973 constitution of Syria (with concessions made to placate the Islamic oppositional forces at the time), and the 2012 revision in order to placate the Syrian opposition. The first constitution, in 1973, declared that

The comprehensive Arab revolution is an existing and continuing necessity to achieve the Arab nation’s aspirations for unity, freedom, and socialism.  The revolution in the Syrian Arab region is part of the comprehensive Arab revolution…any danger to which any Arab country may be exposed on the part of imperialism and Zionism is at the same time a danger threatening the whole Arab nation…The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic, popular, socialist, and sovereign state.  No part of its territory can be ceded.  Syria is a member of the Union of the Arab Republics…Sovereignty is vested in the people, who exercise it in accordance with this Constitution…The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam…The leading party in the society and the state is the Socialist Arab Baath Party…People’s councils are establishments elected in a democratic way at which the citizens exercise their rights in administering the state and leading the society…The state is at the people’s service…The state economy is a planned socialist economy which seeks to end all forms of exploitation…Public ownership includes natural resources, public utilities, and nationalized installations and establishments, as well as installations and establishments set up by the state… Collective ownership includes the property belonging to popular and professional organizations and to production units, cooperatives, and other social establishments…individual ownership includes property belonging to individuals…The right of inheritance is guaranteed in accordance with the law…The educational and cultural system aims at creating a socialist nationalist Arab generation which is scientifically minded and attached to its history…Work is a right and duty of every citizen.  The state undertakes to provide work for all citizens…All citizens have the sacred duty to defend the homeland’s security, to respect its Constitution and socialist unionist system.

While some may be cheering, this does not put workers at the central mission of the state like Cuba. A translation from a Cuban government webpage (also here) gives a better translation than other versions. In the first article it calls Cuba is a “socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a unitary and democratic republic.” This is exactly the same as a translation made by the United Nations or summary of gender rights in Cuba by UN Women. In case the UN translation is moved to another link, the UN translation has been uploaded to this blog in order to promote more learning about Cuba. As one can clearly see, Syria was not, even in 1973, a truly and accurately socialist state. Rather it was a nationalist and socially democratic one which had a developed bourgeoisie which guarantees a right to inheritance, something which Marx and Engels were strongly opposed to, with Marx saying, in August 1869, that “the laws of inheritance are not the cause, but the effect, the juridical consequence of the existing economical organization of society, based upon private property in the means of production.”

We then get to the 2012 revision. All mentions of socialism have been completely omitted, as the state instead is portraying itself as democratic and secular (although the word secular is never mentioned in the whole constitution):

The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic state with full sovereignty, indivisible, and may not waive any part of its territory, and is part of the Arab homeland…The religion of the President of the Republic is Islam; Islamic jurisprudence shall be a major source of legislation…The political system of the state shall be based on the principle of political pluralism, and exercising power democratically through the ballot box…Democratically elected councils at the national or local level shall be institutions through which citizens exercise their role in sovereignty, state-building and leading society…The national economy shall be based on the principle of developing public and private economic activity through economic and social plans aiming at increasing the national income, developing production, raising the individual’s living standards and creating jobs… Natural resources, facilities, institutions and public utilities shall be publicly owned, and the state shall invest and oversee their management for the benefit of all people…The law shall determine the maximum level of agricultural ownership and agricultural investment to ensure the protection of the farmer and the agricultural laborer from exploitation and to ensure increased production…Society in the Syrian Arab Republic shall be based on the basis of solidarity, symbiosis and respect for the principles of social justice, freedom, equality and maintenance of human dignity of every individual…The state shall guarantee every citizen and his family in cases of emergency, sickness, disability, orphan-hood and old age… The rule of law shall be the basis of governance in the state.

Perhaps some of the text from the 1973 version was kept, but only some aspects of nationalization  were kept in place as the state having a broad role in society, but not necessarily to benefit the proletariat but rather every class in society, which goes against established Marxist ideals. Instead, this constitution easily allows for capitalism to creep more into Syria through its tentacles of destruction and deception. [5]

The final indication is using reports in state media outlet, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) itself. Just like using the Zimbabwean party newspaper, The Herald, to recognize the counter-revolution going on there, one can use SANA in the same way to determine how “socialist” Syria is, if at all. One recent article talks about how the government will continue “providing the basic needs for citizens and improving their living conditions according to the available resources” with pushes by certain MPs to deal with “the issue of high prices,” reduce rationing of electricity, and reform the tax system, along with controlling expenditures of the government, along with other aspects like rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. With some of the latter measures clearly benefiting the bourgeoisie, the same can be said in a push to support “small, medium, and micro enterprises” which describe, without doubt, institutions of the bourgeoisie, specifically the petty bourgeoisie. In another recent article, it was noted that a social welfare center was opened in the countryside but it ended up being something done with the cooperation of the Greek Orthodox Church there, and mainly aimed at serving “displaced people and families affected by the crisis” of war in the country.

There were other indications of the true nature of the economy. In the realm of tourism, the Higher Council for Tourism said that it would provide “special advantages and incentives to the investors willing to set up tourist projects,” with the Prime Minister of the country adding that investors should “establish tourist projects for low-income people to boost popular tourism and give an image to the world about stability returned to the Syrian provinces due to the victories achieved by the Syrian Arab army.” The tone was expressed when the government participated in the 38th FITUR International Tourism Fair 2018 in Madrid, Spain, calling for “Spanish tourism companies to visit Syria, take a closer look at the situation in it,” worked to build a railway that would serve “passengers and businessmen” and looking to make the country attractive by encouraging “Arab and foreign businessmen to make more investments in Syria to contribute to the reconstruction stage.” You could say this is justified, considering that the government brought in “45 local, Arab and foreign companies” to talk about energy, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the  reconstruction of Syria. After all, the country wants to rebuild after years of war with an economy which is reportedly in good condition, and has put forward a “national development program” for Syria, during the reconstruction period, which builds institutions, fights against corruption, modernizes infrastructure, engages n “sustainable growth and development, social, educational and cultural development and the national dialogue.” Basically, the Syrian government is trying to draw in international capital to lead to its reconstruction. [6] However, this process shows that it is not “socialist” as Gowans claims. Rather it is socially democratic, as previously explained, secular, and it is nationalist. Even though the government seems to loosely base itself on Islam and the constitution doesn’t mention the word “secular,” it is worth calling Syria secular because for one, the country has no state religion. With secularism limited as Marx noted in “On the Jewish Question,” seeming to mean “non-religious,” the fourth edition of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary (a bourgeois dictionary) concurs with this, defining the word “secular” as “not sacred or religious,” temporal or worldly, distinguished from “church and religion.”

With all this, we can say with certainty that Syria has a developed bourgeoisie. That doesn’t mean that the state cannot do good for the people of Syria, or even the proletariat, but rather that it is not socialist or on the road to socialism in any way, shape or form. With this, we can still defend the country from imperial lies and slander from the bourgeois media and comprador progressive media, like Omidyar’s plaything, The Intercept. The official publication of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, said the same in an article, reprinted from the official Cuban outlet, Prensa Latina, in March of last year:

…Just six years after the beginning of a war that was imposed from abroad, and which has exacerbated the differences between those espousing diverse religious beliefs to an inhumane level, this nation presents a scene of enormous destruction amidst the quest to survive…Never before in the Arab and Muslim world had the destruction of a country been promoted in such a combined way, organized from the centers of the former colonial powers and the United States…The reality is neither civil war nor faith-based conflict, because the “card” at play in Syria is actually a dirty game which originated from a basic element: in 2009 when the government of Bashar al Assad vetoed a vast project promoted by Qatar…From that moment on, and planned in advance, petrodollars from the capitals of the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and Israel, played their part…Syria questioned the economic motives of Western powers, which was enough to serve as one of the objective bases for launching the overwhelming media attacks and war against this nation…In an explosion of generalized war, thousands of terrorists arrived in Syria, who, allied with national extremists, established points of attack that in the first years covered more than a dozen combat fronts throughout the Syrian territory…More than half a million dead and maimed, economic losses of $200 billion dollars and the obvious destruction of Syria’s entire infrastructure, make up a bleak but not insurmountable panorama. The media siege on this nation, a fierce commercial blockade and widespread terror over six years of an overwhelming imposed war, have not yet been able to annihilate the Syrian people.

There are further aspects. For one, the Syrian bourgeoisie, represented by the state, are willing to engage in ICT cooperation with Russian bourgeoisie, and have other agreements with the Russians (as noted here and here). One such agreement is about “cooperation in domain of public constructions and the implementation of housing projects.” I mention this because, as I’ve written on this blog before, you can say that Russia’s foreign policy is, to an extent, progressive and anti-imperialist, but Russia is without a doubt a capitalist state, with a bourgeoisie which has festered since 1991, at least, if not earlier when it developed more and more through the revisionist years of the Soviet Union (1954-1991). Syria’s government is smart enough to have strong relations with Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq, even working on creating an electricity network which connects Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Undoubtedly this will lead to further regional unity, which is good in an effort to resist imperialism. However, it also strengthens the bourgeoisie in Iran (which I recently wrote about) and Iraq. The same can be said about bringing in investors from Brazil, having economic cooperation with South Africa and China, oil production by Oman (noted here, here, and here), cooperation with Cuba, Belarus, India (see here and here), Sudan, People’s Korea, along with cooperation with other “friendly countries.” This goes back to my earlier point, that Syria is trying to bring in international capital as it looks to rebuild its country from the scourge of war which has ravaged the country since 2011. This is a noble goal, but some of those countries, like India (led by a fascist) and South Africa, at least, have established bourgeoisie, meaning that no holds are barred in dealing with other countries. This is further the case considering Syria’s dealings with Armenian businesspeople as noted in varying articles. Finally, there is the epitome of nationalism, which Frantz Fanon wrote about in The Wretched of the Earth: domestic production pushed by the bourgeoisie. In the case of Syria, this takes the form of “made in Syria” fairs/exhibitions, noted again, again, again, and again in SANA. It reminds me of the whole push for “made in the USA” products while corporations were actually moving their factories to places with cheap labor, although this is a bit different.

Syria, the “good” Kurds, Syrian Communists, and elections

Originally posted on https://anti-imperialism.org/. This calls out the hypocrisy of the murderous empire calling for “human rights” in Syria.

Syria’s location and its ties with Iran, and other countries which could be said to be part of an anti-imperialist front, are well-established. Of course, some on the Left have considered Assad, along with Gaddafi, horrid “dictators” with endorsements of the bourgeois Arab “revolution,” and saying that there is a “dictatorship” in Syria. If this wasn’t enough in that it easily meshes with propaganda emanating from the center of world imperialism, consider the PLP (Progressive Labor Party), the same organization calling People’s Korea a “fascist”/”puppet” monarchy of China which “easily meshes its Orientalist propaganda of the bourgeois media.” For Syria, they describe it as a “Russian-backed government” with benefits to Russian bosses who want to divide up Syria, accepting that Assad used chemical weapons (he didn’t), and elsewhere calling the government an “Iran-backed regime.” Apart from not being able to decide if the government is “backed” by Iran or Russia (which they think is “imperialist“), they claim that the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) (they do not specify what sect of the party) are “phony communists” and that the state doesn’t really care about the working class. They can’t seem to comprehend a Syria which is socially democratic and independent from Western influence even as it has a developed bourgeoisie. There have been elections in Syria, which all show the National Progressive Front (NPF) winning by a huge margin:

In 2016, the “National Unity alliance, supporting President al-Assad and his Baath Party, won 200 seats in the 250-member People’s Assembly. Many candidates reportedly focused on security issues. On 2 May, the President issued a decree naming winners of parliamentary elections. Elections did not take place in Raqa and Idlib provinces, which are controlled by the so-called Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front. Amid the violence, fewer Syrians registered to vote in 2016…[but] according to the Higher Judicial Committee for Elections, turnout in 2016 was 57.56%, up from 51.26 % in 2012.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 2012, “parliamentary elections took place in the context of open rebellion against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Major opposition parties boycotted the elections. The National Unity alliance, supporting the President and his Baath Party, took 183 of the 250 seats at stake. Most of the remaining seats went to independent pro-government candidates. The May 2012 elections followed a revision to the Constitution, adopted by referendum in February…Only 5.2 million of the 10.1 million eligible citizens registered to vote. 51.26 per cent of the registered voters actually took part, meaning that in total around a quarter of eligible citizens voted in the elections…Official results gave a large majority to the National Unity alliance.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“The 22 April 2007 elections were the second to be held since President Bashar Assad assumed power in July 2000 following his father’s death a month earlier. President Assad pledged to modernize the country’s economy. ..Of the 250 seats just over two-thirds (170 seats) are reserved for the ruling National Progressive Front (NPF) coalition. Voters select one list from among a series of lists of parliamentary candidates. Two-thirds of the candidates on each list are from the NPF. The coalition comprising ten political parties was led by the Baath Party which itself is guaranteed 131 seats. The other 80 seats are allocated to independent candidates…Many candidates pledged to provide economic prosperity…Several anti-fraud measures were implemented for the first time. They included transparent ballot boxes and indelible ink to prevent multiple voting…approximately 56 per cent of the 7.8 million registered voters turned out at the polls. A total of 11 967 611 citizens were eligible to vote…The final results gave Syria’s ruling NPF 172 seats. The remainder went to independent candidates…On 11 May the People’s Assembly unanimously nominated Mr. Bashar Assad as the president of the country for a new seven-year term starting on 17 July 2007. The public referendum of 27 May approved this nomination by over 97 per cent of the votes.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“On 2 and 3 March 2003 Syrians voted to elect the first People’s Assembly since President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his late father President Hafez al-Assad in 2000. According to official records, some 5,000 candidates competed for the 250 seats in Parliament…Announcing the results, Interior Minister Ali Hamoud declared that candidates of the National Progressive Front had won 167 seats (the Front consists of the ruling Baath party and six smaller allies). The remaining 83 seats went to independents. Out of the 250 members, 178 were newcomers and 30 women.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“In the 1998 elections, 7364 candidates initially contested the 250 parliamentary seats. A total of 167 of these belonged to the National Progressive Front (NPF) – the seven-party governing coalition led by the Baath Party of President of the Republic Hafez al-Assad, which itself nominated 135 candidates; the NPF has been in power since being formed in 1972…On polling day, the electorate overwhelmingly backed the NPF candidates with over 66% of the popular vote, the remaining 83 seats (one-third of the overall membership) being won by independents, as before.”-  INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“The election date was set by presidential decree on 24 July 1994, with candidatures to be submitted until 2 August. A total of 7,818 candidates contested the 250 People’s Council seats. A maximum of one-third of the Council seats were set aside for independent candidates as distinct from those of the ruling National Progressive Front (NFP). The NFP, headed by President of the Republic Hafiz Al-Assad, was formed in 1972…On polling day, the ruling Baath…once again emerged as the largest single party, with 135 seats, while independents captured 83. Of the total Council membership, 93 were incumbent Deputies. On 10 September 1994, President Al-Assad opened the newly elected Parliament’s first session. Mr. Abdel Qader Qaddoura was then re-elected as Council President.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“In the 1990 general elections, a record 2,657 candidates (including 116 women) vied for the 250 seats of the enlarged People’s Council. A maximum of one-third of the Council seats were set aside for independent candidates as distinct from those of the National Progressive Front (NPF)…On polling day, the ruling Baath…once again emerged as the largest single party, with 134 seats, while the independents’ total rose from 35 to 84. Of the total Council membership, 77 were incumbent Deputies. On 11 June, President Al-Assad opened the newly elected Parliament’s first session. Mr. Abdel Qader Qaddoura was then re-elected as Council President.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

“The Syrian Communist Party made a comeback and women more than doubled their number of seats as a result of the 1986 elections to the People’s Council. The ruling Baath party was the biggest winner, with a total of 129 seats in the 195-member Parliament. The Communists, who had no members in the previous legislature, won nine seats. There were a total of 88 newcomers to the Council.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 1981, “the elections resulted in a victory for the National Progressive Front, which captured all 195 People’s Council seats. The Baath Arab Socialist Party of President of the Republic Hafez al-Assad won 60% of all seats. As opposed to the previous legislature, no independent candidates were successful”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 1977, “party lists were presented by ruling Arab Socialist Renaissance (Booth) Party and those of four other leftist groups that together formed the National Progressive Front governing coalition of President Hafez al-Assad, in power since 1971…The voting results, as announced, showed that the Baath— which supports militant Arab unity — once again emerged as the single largest party and that the Front altogether won all but 36 seats, these being captured by Independents. The new Parliament held its first session on August 18.”- INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

In 1973, “the elections, in which 1656 candidates — 659 representing workers and farmers and 997 other social groups — contested the seats of the People’s Council, were the first since the Baath Party seized power in 1963…The Baath Party, which fielded roughly half of the candidates, and its allies — the Communist Party, the pro-Cairo Arab Socialist Union (ASU), the Arab Socialists and the Socialist Unionists — who ran on a unified ” national progressive ” ticket, succeeded in winning 10 of the country’s 15 governorates and about two-thirds of the parliamentary seats.”-INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION database

The SCP seems to recognize what the PLP cannot. The Syrian Communist Party (Unified), is one of the two communist parties in the country, and is also a member of the NPF, a coalition of “political parties in Syria that support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the current government and accept the leading role of the Arab Socialist Baath Party.” These 11 parties (Wikipedia claims there are 10 but is actually 11) are as follows: the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, Arab Socialist Union Party, Communist Party of Syria (Bakdash), National Vow Movement/National Covenant Party, Communist Party (Unified), Arab Democratic Union Party, Unionist Social Democratic Party, Socialist Unionist Party,Syrian National Social Party – Center, General Union of Trade Unions, and General Union of Peasants. As such, the Syrian Communist Party (Unified), which favored the perestroika in the Soviet Union, sees itself as part of a progressive front. In December 2016 they argued that

…Syria had to request help from the Russian Federation. Moscow provided Syria with the support it needed to resist this barbarous aggression. The Russian help confused the western government and the regional reactionary regimes of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia…Syria will continue her struggle in defense of the Syrian people and to free the whole Syrian soil from aggressors…International law does not allow any county to interfere in the internal affairs of any other country, which is what the terrorists and their supporters do in Syria. Demanding President Assad step down is an affair to be decided only by the Syrian people…it is the duty of all progressive forces of the world to supported the brave resistance of the Iraqi and Syrian peoples against the international terrorist aggressors…Syrians have proven, throughout years of imperialist aggression, their patriotism and determination to hold on to democratic, progressive and independent life. At the same time the Syrian people support the political solution of the crisis.

This statement was addressed to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties that year, to which the party has somewhat attended in the past. A few years back, in 2011, the same party criticized the consequences of “Syria’s turn toward a free market economy” and put forward, in working “with other Syrian parties, the Syrian national opposition forces, and various currents of civil society” a proposal for  “a conference for national dialogue.” This same party, or maybe the other one, demonstrated against deployment of 150 US troops in Syria over 2 years ago. We still know for sure that the Syrian Communist Party (Unified) met in the Damascus General Sports Federation building in 20102, discussing political, economic and social factors facing Syria, with the party Secretary-General, Hannin Nimr, asserting that “the Syrian people, who strive for a political solution, will continue using all means to fight terrorism and restore security to all Syrian areas” and saying that the main task at the present is “to defend the homeland and continue eliminating terrorism.”

In 1986, when the Syrian Communist Party split, there was another faction: Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) which opposed perestroika, different from other supposed communist groupings, like the National Committee for the Unity of Syrian Communists (NCUSC) which is also known as the Party of the Popular Will, and the Communist Labor Party. To give some background, some members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath party met with members of the original Syrian Communist Party, founded in 1924, from 1966 to 1970, wanting to form a “vanguard party” with some taken in with “socialist ideas” they wanted to emulate Soviet and Chinese “policies in agriculture and defense.” However, also during this period, there was a “revisionist current within the Syrian Communist Party led by Riad al-Turk” which called for the “end to Soviet influence on party policy and a shift towards objectives and programmes better suited to the Syrian and Arab context,” and with this group holding a huge sway, Secretary-General of the party, Khalid Bakdash, became a “minority in the leadership ranks.” Bakdash had shown his dedication to fighting French imperialism with unity of the masses, telling the Comintern in 1935 that

the situation in Syria imposes heavy tasks and a great responsibility on our party. Syria, because of its location between Europe and Asia and on the Mediterranean, is a strategic center of fundamental importance for the entire system of French imperialism…French imperialism, understanding the importance of Syria, has unleashed a savage terror to destroy the revolutionary movement in the country and has directed its most cruel blows against the working class and its vanguard, the Communist Party, which was reduced to a deep state of illegality. After the armed insurrection of 1925 to 1927 in which for two years the Arab peasants, workers, and labourers showed how they are capable of fighting French imperialism…we are ready to unite our efforts with all those who want a free and independent Syria.

This leads to 1986, when over perestroika, these two trends in the Communist Party broke apart, forming Syrian Communist Party (Unified) and Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash), the latter opposing perestroika, if Wikipedia has merit and the former approving of it. Seemingly, Moscow supported the Bakdash faction at least for a time.

On the website of the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties there are forty statements of this Communist Party, from November of last year to November 2008, only some of which were translated into English. The most recent of those is from July of last year at the meeting of the central committee of the party in Damascus, saying that the situation internationally is becoming more dangerous with “contradictions between imperialist powers,” adding that as U$ imperialism is “considered the most aggressive power” with dangerous escalation toward People’s Korea, and strong “Zionist influence” within the current U$ administration, that Russia is being targeted by Western imperialism, rejecting Turkish aggression towards Syria, with “international colonialist and Zionist powers…conspiring to divide Syria.” They closed by saying that the situation in the country requires “a radical transformation in the socio-economic policy that strengthens the country’s immunity and meets the basic interests of the Syrian people,” saying this requires “a complete break with socio-economic trends of a liberal nature” such as laws undermining “public sector status…encouraging foreign investment in all areas” which will “weaken the working class,” and by, ultimately, “encouraging production and creating important resources in the hands of the state” along with a “favorable pricing policy in the purchase of crops should be adopted” as part of a “policy of state capitalism of a social nature.” This would mean, in their view, “support for industrial and crafts production,” supporting agricultural production, increasing the role of the state in ” internal trade,” reviving state establishments in “the field of foreign trade,” raising “salaries and wages to be compatible with rising prices,” and expanding “social support for the population systematically.” Beyond this, take an interview with Adel Omar, of the party’s foreign bureau. He told Socialist Unity that the party believes that

…the course of events in Syria is neither a revolution nor a civil war. It is very clear that what has been taking place in Syria has been in accordance with the imperialist plans…our people are resisting the imperialist forces together. It is true that the people of Syria have demands and needs that need to be met, but the way to achieve this is not through destroying everything that belongs to the state of Syria. At the moment, our country is under attack, and achieving unity among the people to defend our homeland is what needs to be done first. At this point, we think it is especially crucial for the government to respond to the demands and the needs of the people…When we evaluate the 10-year period before the aggression toward Syria, we see that the Syrian government made grave mistakes in the economic area. By choosing neoliberal economic policies, it opened the Syrian market to foreign imports, especially Turkish and Qatari products. As a result, hundreds of factories and workshops shut down and millions of workers lost their jobs. In fact, there was not a substantial change in these neoliberal policies when the imperialist intervention started. As the Syrian CP, we think that the adoption of these neoliberal economic policies was a fatal mistake. We believe that the solution needs to start by putting an end to these policies…It is important to realize that it is not only the Syrian army that is resisting against the imperialist-backed foreign forces. Ordinary Syrians are also fighting…it is critical that the government support the people through economic policies in order for the popular resistance to be able to survive. But, unfortunately, it is difficult to say that the government realizes this fact even now. They more or less continue with the neoliberal policies. As the Syrian CP, we believe the biggest risk factor for the Syrian resistance is the economy…We are going through a war that though difficult and serious at times cannot be taken lightly. But we are determined to continue with our struggle…As Syrian communists, the duty to struggle for our homeland lies first and foremost on our shoulders…When our situation in Syria is taken into account, I can say that we need an attitude of solidarity that is more than a “message of goodwill” by this or that party…in the struggle we are waging in Syria, we have been left alone. There are 22 Arab countries, and no events in solidarity with the Syrian people have been organized in the capitals of these countries…History shows us that struggles against imperialism and fascism increase the value and respectability of the communist parties in the eyes of the people. This was the case for the Soviets in their defense of the motherland, and the same in Greece or France. Communists were at the forefront, organizing the resistance of the people for the defense of their motherland. This is the case for us as well…the Syrian Communist Party is a strong organization with more than a quarter of a million members.

This shows that this party, which defines itself as the “conscious organized vanguard of the working class in Syria,” adopting the “teachings of Marxism-Leninism,” looking to unite and mobilize “all progressive forces for the final salvation of poverty and retardation and exploitation” is much more radical than Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash). Consistently this party has stood “with the Syrian people…against the Imperialist and Zionist plans and conspiracies that the Arabic reactionary regimes and imperialist allied countries in our region is participating in,” stood in solidarity with the South African Communist Party (SACP), and had a well-thought-out statement in 2011 on “unrest in some cities in Syria,” saying that there were reactionary forces at work but understanding the tensions. They added that the party’s central committee said that the “the trend toward economic liberalization, which has negatively impacted national production and the state of the toiling masses” should be reversed, restoring and strengthening “our food security, and industry under all forms of national ownership, with emphasis on maintaining and developing the public sector.” By 2014, the party called “on all patriots in Syria to defend the homeland, to protect national sovereignty, and to be on their guard against imperialist conspiracies and tricks” and closing by saying that “our defence of our homeland is first and above any consideration.”

Some, like Caleb T. Maupin in Mint Press News, argued that it is a positive that “Syria openly tolerates the existence of two strong Marxist-Leninist parties,” saying that  Syrian Communist Party (Unified) and the Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) openly “operate as part of the anti-imperialist coalition supporting the Baath Arab Socialist Party.” while communists “lead trade unions and community organizations in Damascus and other parts of the country.” That is a positive for sure, but it doesn’t make Syria socialist and it doesn’t mean the country doesn’t have a bourgeoisie as Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) clearly acknowledges. If there was a communist party in Syria comrades should ally with, I’d say Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash) has a much more coherent analysis without a doubt and should be supported with solidarity, as should the Syrian proletariat.  Furthermore, I agree with Joma Sison of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that in the context of fighting against the murderous empire and Zionism, “the Assad government and the Syrian Arab Army have a sovereign, progressive and revolutionary cause against the US as No. 1 imperialist aggressor and its criminal accomplice Zionist Israel.” I also agree with his statement that whatever “is the social character of Russia now (even if monopoly capitalist), it is good strategy and tactics for Syria to use its alliance with Russia to counter and defeat the more aggressive imperialist power, US imperialism and its terrible sidekick Israel.” [7]

Resistance to imperialism and concluding words

The Revolutionary youth branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) created the above graphic in August 2013, an expression of genuine solidarity leading some to dub those with such a position “Assadists” which shows how little they understand about resistance to imperialism. Proyect is one of these people, disgustingly smearing the late dedicated journalist Robert Perry of Consortium News, for being an “Assadist propagandist” and only liking Perry before 2011, when he started challenging the narrative that Assad was a dictator, which makes Proyect swell up with anger, the same person who hates People’s Korea, and has intellectual foundation in Trotskyism (although he is not a Trotskyist now), showing that the origin of his deluded “leftist” commentary is in  anti-revolutionary thinking.

Resistance to imperialism by Syria has roots in its history. By 1516, Syrian had been taken over by the Turks with a feudal system kept in place, and claims to region by England and France in 18th century, while the Turks fought off Mamuluks in 1770s to preserve their colony. Before the Turks, Syria was considered part of the Persian empire! In the 1790s, Syria was one of the countries drawn into European conflicts with French bourgeoisie wanting control, leading to anger from the populace, constant Wahhabi raids in first decade of 19th century which ceased in 1811, anger at reforms by Turks in 1820s, and major disturbances until 1831, when Egyptian troops invaded. The following year the invading Egyptians took control, and even defeated the Turkish army at Tartus in 1833. By the 1870s, with Syria as a deeply important province of Ottoman Empire (root of the justified anger toward Erdogan), Arab nationalism began to develop there and in Lebanon. By World War I, Syria was taken over again, this time by the French, who used imperialism to push the Turks out of country. In the 1920s there was a war for liberation against French imperialism, which based “all its calculations on the suppression of proletarian revolutionary struggle in France and Europe by using its colonial workers as a reserve army of counter-revolution,” as the Fourth Congress of the Communist International said in 1922 and the Communists had a role in such liberation. In December 1925, when addressing the Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U. (B), comrade Josef Stalin remarked that there was a “growth of the national-revolutionary movement in the colonies and the crisis in the world domination of imperialism in general” specifically mentioning the “war for liberation waged by Syria and Morocco against French imperialism” along with the “struggle for liberation waged by India and Egypt against British imperialism” and China’s “struggle for liberation against Anglo-Japanese-American imperialism,” along with the “growth of the working-class movement in India and China.” He concluded that this means that “the Great Powers are faced with the danger of losing their…colonies” with capitalism destabilized, with a “form of open war against imperialism” in places like “Morocco, Syria, [and] China.” This was further proven by a revolt in Syria, in 1926, some saying that “the revolt in Syria has reached alarming proportions” while the Comintern that year considered the revolt as one of the “series of revolutions and revolutionary actions on the Continent of Europe as well as in the colonial and semi-colonial countries.” The following year, comrade Stalin told the Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B) that the intention of the British bourgeoisie, represented by Neville Chamberlain, was to “oust the French bourgeoisie from Syria” because from Syria it is “possible to do harm to Britain both in the area of the Suez Canal and in the area of Mesopotamia.”

Fast forward to World War II. In 1942, Churchill wrote to Stalin, saying he hoped to “assemble a considerable army in Syria drawn from our Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Armies, so as to go to help Turkey if either she were threatened or were willing to join us.” With the country controlled by nationalist but easily pliant governments of the Western bourgeoisie, for most of the time from 1945 to 1958, it is no surprise that the country signed The General Agreement On Tariffs And Trade or GATT in 1948, becoming a foundation of the postwar world capitalism. However, the country became more independent during its years as the Syrian Republic, with the U$ engaging in provocations in Syria in 1957 and Mao Zedong saying the same year that there should be solidarity with Syrian nation. In 1960, 8o Communist and Workers Parties made a statement in Moscow praising the “resolute stand of the Soviet Union, of the other socialist states and of all the peaceful forces put an end to the Anglo -Franco-Israeli intervention in Egypt, and averted a military invasion of Syria, Iraq and some other countries by the imperialists.” Six years later, there was a military coup in Syria, as previously mentioned in this article, which hurt Ba’ath Party in Iraq but conditions changed in 1968 with another military coup, which was seemingly U$-backed. By the 1970s, a full tank brigade from Cuba stood “guard between 1973 and 1975 alongside the Golan Heights, when this territory was unjustly seized from that country.” Cuba has, in the past two years, stood by Syria, shipping vaccines, is willing to have “bilateral relations based on mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of states, economic exchange and the defense of the sovereign principles of each nation,” said at the UN that “peace in Syria can only be achieved if the people’s right to self-determination is respected” while Fidel himself “strategically directed hundreds of thousands of Cuban combatants on international missions” in countries such as Syria, (also in Algeria, Angola, and Ethiopia to name a few). Additionally, Syria has stood with Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in June of 2016 expressing “their support for the independence and sovereignty of Puerto Rico,” undoubtedly angering the murderous empire while Syrian students have said that they respect the Cuban revolution, while it has pushed for the end of the blockade against Cuba, while medical students from Syria have come to Cuba. Additionally, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said that Venezuela stood in solidarity with “the Syrian people in the struggle against terrorism and against the most vile and cruel forms of warfare are admirable before the eyes of the world,” and solidarity again after a deadly strike by the murderous empire. Maduro himself warned against intervention by the murderous empire in Syria in 2013, with the government supplying Syria with oil in 2012, calls for the end to a “media war”on Syria in 2011, strengthening of agreements with Syrian businesses in 2010, and Hugo Chavez making a speech in 2009 in the Syrian province of Swaida, calling the Syrian people “architects of resistance” to imperialism, and saying that “we should fight to create consciousness that is free from imperialist doctrine…fight to defeat backwardness, poverty, misery…to convert our countries into true powers through the consciousness of the people.” Other than this, Assad and Chavez “created a $100 million bilateral development fund and discussed how to build more unity between Arab and Latin American peoples” in 2010, humanitarian aid sent to Syrian refugees in 2013, Venezuela taking in 20,000 Syrian refugees in 2015, Chavez laughing at the idea that Venezuelan  aircraft are shipping missile parts to Syria in 2008,and Assad and Chavez criticizing U$ involvement in the Middle East in 2006, to name a few instances.

Such solidarity of Venezuela with Libya, Iran, and Syria had Trotskyist Lance Selfa grumbling about Chavez supporting “dictators” or “despots,” and claiming there were “Arab revolutionaries.” Like always, the Trotskyists failed in their analysis. As Stalin noted in December 1927 when he called out the “Trotskyist opposition,” showing how they favored the bourgeoisie:

…I think the opposition does me honour by venting all its hatred against Stalin. That is as it should be. I think it would be strange and offensive if the opposition, which is trying to wreck the Party, were to praise Stalin, who is defending the fundamentals of the Leninist Party principle…The communist workers gave our oppositionists a good drubbing, such a drubbing indeed that the leaders of the opposition were compelled to flee from the battlefield…the opposition, in pursuing a splitting policy, organised an anti-Party, illegal printing press…the opposition, for the purpose of organising this printing press, entered into a bloc with bourgeois intellectuals, part of whom turned out to be in direct contact with counter-revolutionary conspirators…The opposition’s splitting activities lead it to linking up with bourgeois intellectuals, and the link with bourgeois intellectuals makes it easy for all sorts of counter-revolutionary elements to envelop it—that is the bitter truth…Its main sin is that it tried, is trying, and will go on trying to embellish Leninism with Trotskyism and to replace Leninism by Trotskyism…What is the chief aim of the present united bloc headed by Trotsky? It is little by little to switch the Party from the Leninist course to that of Trotskyism. That is the opposition’s main sin. But the Party wants to remain a Leninist party.

Add to this what the French Communist Party said in 1932, that workers are fooled by the Trotskyists who want to splinter the Communist movement, with even Josip Tito of Yugoslavia seeing Trotskyists as those clearing “the road for the fascist-imperialist bandits”! That shows this sentiment against Trotskyists was widespread. Others have said that the Trotskyists served Franco, which the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) claimed was disproved by its author George Soria but actually is talking about “the story surrounding the disappearance of Andrés Nin, the founder of the P.O.U.M., where he was freed from prison by fascist agents” with his words cited by MIA after Soria “became sympathetic to the Eurocommunism of the PCF.” Furthermore, as Harriet Parsons wrote in the Worker’s Herald in September 1980, “Trotskyists and Trotskyist organizations have a special place in the government’s arsenal for their role in stirring up counter-revolution and their activities as police agents.” As Moissaye J. Olgin wrote in 1935, basing his analysis on what Stalin had written about Trotskyism and in solidarity with the Soviet Union, “Trotskyism no more confines itself to “informing” the bourgeoisie” but has become “center and the rallying point for the enemies of the Soviet Union, of the proletarian revolution in capitalist countries, of the Communist International.”

Hostility by the murderous empire, which has “left a balance sheet of hundreds of thousands of deaths and enormous destruction” in Syria was expressed was as strong in 2003 as it was in 2014 and last year with the cruise missile attack by the orange menace. As Mexican-Argentine philosopher Enrique Dussel (who is not a Marxist but has put forward a philosophy of liberation along with other individuals) put it in October 2016 at the Eco-socialist School of Critical Decolonial Thought of Our America, “they [the murderous empire] go to Syria and they destroy it without even knowing where Syria is. They destroyed Aleppo without knowing anything about that place.”

Taking this all into account, one can, and should agree with Ramzi (Khaled Bakdash), who argued that “we must use the Leninist-Stalinist tactic of mobilising all possible forces…and using all our allies, however temporary and uncertain they may be,” arguing at the time against French imperialism and Zionist oppression but also saying that there will be “accommodation of the national reformist bourgeoisie with imperialism” and calling for Arabic unity with an “anti-imperialist popular front on the pan-Arab scale.”This is especially important considering the economic sanctions foisted on Syria with those fighting “against the Syrian government and army are a mixture of Syrian and foreign mercenaries from dozens of countries” with supplies, training, and weapons from “Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, Israel, Turkey, NATO, and of course the United States,” with the latter winding down it seems, as Syria tries to rebuild from the destruction.

With Turkish aggression against Syria, bombing the U$ imperial pawns, the YPG and the so-called “revolutionary” Kurds, the country is under assault with destruction of houses and historic sites. Some have said that Russia, Syria, and Turkey are all on the same page, with the Turks trying to change the empire’s “end game” in Syria. Perhaps the Turks and Russians are on the same page, but there is no doubt that the Syrians are furious with the violation of their sovereignty while the Kurds are angry their imperial patrons aren’t protecting them (perhaps because the empire sees more value in an alliance with Turkey?). They detest the Kurds becoming a base for the murderous empire within their country. However, they do not want military invasion or covert action brought into their country by outside powers, especially by the Turks, which are strongly against the current Syrian government. Some, like celebrity left David Graeber, are ringing their hands about Turkey’s attack, calling it “pure imperialism” and claiming that the Kurds are still “revolutionary,” a laughable concept. Graeber may have a point about Turkey’s attack, as Erdogan is no friend to the proletariat of Turkey or of the world as a whole, but is a monster without question. Sure, he has ties to Russia, but this is because Turkish and Russian interests are interconnected, as the Turkish bourgeoisie and Russian bourgeoisie don’t mind being friends. Graeber’s hand-wringing is as bad as Marcel Cartier, writing in evidently anti-anti-imperialist site, The Region, reprinted in the so-called progressive “ZNet,” declaring that Rojava is a “beacon of stability in Syria” and is supposedly “progressive.” He goes further to claim laughably that the Kurds are not puppets but are engaged in a “real revolutionary process” and that the Syrians had “exhibited a considerable degree of colonialism as far as the Kurds are concerned”! Not only does he clearly understand what colonialism is, but his answer as a whole is absurd and laughable as the Kurds are helping the imperialists divide up Syria. Without a doubt, Cartier, like Graeber believes the lies that these Kurds are revolutionary, which anyone with sense has recognized by now. Even one subreddit I follow, leftvexillology, has a tag of “Fuck YPG!” due to such propaganda in absurd, laughable writings. Of course, there are some corners of the Left that still think this, like the goofs at Links International Journal of Socialism, Trotskyists, and deluded socialists in the Middle East. Perhaps the PSL’s Liberation News has a point in saying that “the U.S. government has absolutely no concern for the well being of the Kurdish people” and that “betrayal of its Kurdish allies by U.S. imperialism is certainly no small possibility. However, as I recently pointed out on Reddit,

….the Rojava/YPG/Kurdish Workers Party are pawns of U$ imperialists, as evidenced more and more under Trump than ever before, who has given all sorts of aid to them….we know the U$ imperialists want a “safe district” in the region as a base for their imperialism, so they can easily attack Syria (and by that thinking, undermine Iran). Not only does such a state clearly violate the sovereignty of Syria with their so-called “decentralized” government, creating an entity which will lead to regional chaos…The narrative spread by those who advocate for Rojava is utterly false, without question. Not only is the propaganda outlets of the murderous empire willing to listen and talk to them, but it easily fits with “Orientalist bourgeois propaganda” against Syria…Beyond this, is the reality that while “Western and even international “left”…declare that the Rojava Kurds are “revolutionary” or somehow “liberated” such perspectives are “an unfounded and dangerous form of international solidarity”…Rojava is an illegal entity without question…Hence we should pay less attention to Rojava except to counter imperial lies and fight the blood-sucking imperialists who want to divide and conquer Syria without a doubt.

As the murderous empire seems has “drawn Turkey deeper into the Syrian conflict by announcing a policy that threatens Turkey’s national security” by announcing the creation of “a 30,000-man Border Security Force (BSF) to occupy East Syria” on January 18 and  the start of so-called “Operation Olive Branch” two days later. In the article, Mike Whitney calls this a “gaffe” and a “provocation” which was uttered by oil man Tillerson who was “blinded by hubris.” He also said that time will tell if “Washington is following Erdogan’s orders or not” and claimed that “Putin gave Erdogan the green light to conduct “Operation Olive Branch” in order to pave the way for an eventual Syrian takeover of the Northwestern portion of the country up to the Turkish border” even though he admits that Erdogan has neo-Ottoman ambitions. Whitney closes by saying that the policy will remain the same as “Washington will persist in its effort to divide the country and remove Assad until an opposing force prevents it from doing so.” This seems to be faulty reasoning as the Turks do not seem to favor the current Syrian government so they wouldn’t just give the land over to the Syrians. Instead, it seems that Putin is serving nationalist interests of the Russian bourgeoisie rather than helping protect Syrian sovereignty which Turkey is clearly violating. Some may say that Syria is acquiescing to this by not “fighting back” against Turkey but it is likely that the current government does not want to be at war with Turkey or devote resources to defending such an area, looking to liberate other parts of the country from terrorist control instead, which is a wise use of resources.

In closing, there is no doubt that Syria is a nationalist, secular and socially democratic state. But, it is not socialist, as Gowans, most prominently of all, has argued. As I’ve noted in this article, Syria clearly has a bourgeoisie. This is evidently also the case in Iran and Zimbabwe as well, along with being likely the case in Belarus and some other progressive countries (not in Cuba and People’s Korea of course), which will be investigated at a later date. Knowing the real nature of these countries by using Marxist analysis is important in order for the populace to have an accurate analysis of the world at the present. As always, I look forward to your comments and further discussion on this subject.

Notes

[1] Ashley Smith, “Explaining the Syrian civil war,” International Socialist Review; Chris Lee, “Is Syria socialist?,” Green Left Weekly, Oct 22, 2003; Serge Jordan, “Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?,” Socialist World (Trotskyist), Feb 3, 2017; Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “The ISO and the war on Syria: Silly and shameful,” FightBack! News, Sept 11, 2013; Budour Hassan, “Telling the stories of Syria’s masses,” Socialist Worker, Oct 3, 2013; Joseph Green, “Solidarity with the Syrian uprising and the Arab Spring!,” Communist Voice, Sept 2012; Alasdair Drysdale, “The Asad Regime and Its Troubles,” Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), November/December 1982.

[2] Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Syria reverts to socialist economic policies to ease tension,” Reuters, Jul 4, 2012; Jamal Mahamid, “Syria’s frail economy, before and after the revolution,” Al Arabiya, Apr 1, 2013; Aron Lund, “The State of the Syrian Economy: An Expert Survey,” Carnegie Middle East Center, Dec 23, 2013; Hamoud Al-Mahmoud, “The War Economy in the Syrian Conflict: The Government’s Hands-Off Tactics,” Carnegie Middle East Center, Dec 15, 2015; Caroline Alexander and Donna Abu-Nasr, “How War Has Destroyed Syria’s Economy in Four Charts,” Bloomberg News, Jul 29, 2015; Elias al-Araj, “How the war on Syria left its mark on Lebanon’s economy,” Al Monitor, May 13, 2016;  Jihad Yazigi, “Syria’s war economy,” European Council on Foreign Relations, Apr 7, 2014;  Rim Turkmani, Ali A. K. Ali, Mary Kaldor, and Vesna Bojicic-Dzelilovic, “Countering the logic of the war economy in Syria,” OpenDemocracy, Nov 19, 2015; Suleiman Al-Khalidi, “Syria’s economy heads into ruin: U.N. sponsored report,” Reuters, May 18, 2014; AFP, “Economic effect of Syrian war at $35bn: World Bank,” Middle East Eye, Feb 5, 2016; David Butler, “Syria’s Economy: Picking up the Pieces,” Chatham House, June 23, 2015.

[3] On April 18, 1964, the New York Times, in an article titled “Socialist Goals Pressed by Syria,” declared that “the Syrian Government na­tionalized three textile factories in the northern industrial town of Aleppo today and ordered worker management of all na­tionalized and state‐run eco­nomic establishments” with the latter “viewed as heralds of a Social­ist era in Syria under the Baath Socialist party” and seeking to “apply a brand of Socialism different from that of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of the United Arab Republic.” It also noted that “President Nasser’s So­cialism” was denounced by the Baath Socialist party, wanting to have “self­-management” by workers, expanding on nationalization of “all local and foreign banks.” Later on, there was a book by Ayman Al-Yassini titled “The socialist transformation of an underdeveloped country: Syria under the Arab Baath Socialist Party, 1963-1970,” Time magazine calling Syria “socialist” in 1967, as did Edward F. Sheehan in a January 1975 New York Times article titled “He Fears Russians More Than Israelis, Works With Kissinger.”

[4] “Syria,” 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation, accessed January 21, 2018; “Syria” (economy section), CIA’s The World Factbook, accessed January 21, 2018. There have been those like Martin Peretz of The New Republic declaring that “very few people…think of Russia and China as progressive countries,” that many “still think of Cuba as a progressive country,” with Venezuela, “Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua…express[ing] their solidarity for socialist Syria” which he considered a joke. People like this should be ridiculed and laughed at.

[5] One Trotskyist suggested that since “nationalisations received the overwhelming support of the working class in Syria” it is such nationalization and “division of the land,” which gained the government “support of the workers and peasants,” that the Ba’ath-led government was able to “maintain itself.” This argument may have some merit to it, although Trotskyists are often wrongheaded in their analysis without question.

[6] This is indicated further by other articles talking about industrial facilities, tire manufacturing, decreasing prices, a gas project, the industrial sector, importing of buses,
MPs and general budget (here and here), a fertilizer plant, monetary policy (here and here), exports (here, here, here, and here), an offshore limited liability corporation (LLC), a supposedly cooperative housing sector, agricultural production and investment, rural women’s products, investment in higher education, a shopping festival, reviving old markets, social affairs, economic diplomacy, investment budgets, budgets, nursery plantstons of wheat, a trade fair, raw materials, new gas wells, a state budget billpharmaceuticals, a goods exhibit, labor syndicates, a truck assembly plant, ports being re-opened, new projects, upgrade services, and cabinet work for 2018.

[7] Mike Whitney wrote in January 2016 that “Putin has no intention of getting “bogged down” in Syria for a decade or two. What he plans to do is to defeat the enemy and move on,” adding that “Russia plans to use its Kurdish allies in the YPG to seize a stretch of land along the Syrian side of the Turkish border to reestablish Syria’s territorial sovereignty” while noting that “Turkish President Erdogan has promised that if the YPG pursues that course, Turkey will invade, in which case, Putin will come to the defense of the Kurds.” The latter seems to have come true in the case of Operation Olive Branch as the Turks call it, despite its destruction. The former has also become true as the Russians are pulling back their involvement. Still there is, as another writer also noted in CounterPunch, an “ongoing campaign of demonization against the Russian leader” or Putin, with Avaaz portraying the Syrian government efforts to fight terrorists as “nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children” even though this is an utter lie since, as Whitney noted, in another article, “Russian air-strikes are going to be accompanied by a formidable mop-up operation that will overpower the jihadi groups on the ground” which isn’t recognized by the antiwar movement.

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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.

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 they wanted to, they could be working with Russia or China. If what they say about the agreement between a US general and 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 Russia, 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.

“Until imperialism is defeated in the region”: The Kurds and the Syrian Arab Republic

Overlay of oil/gas pipelines with Rojava territory. I created this for one of the articles on Rojava I wrote, posting it on Imgur. I am sharing here since I feel it is relevant to this topic. As I said in my article, this map overlay “shows that oil and natural gas pipelines snake through it [Rojava], including one north from Aleppo, and others going through the heart of the territory in Northeast Syria where there is also a concentration of oil and gas fields.”
Recently, I read an article in Worker’s World by an author called Damien or “D. Angelpoulos,” a man who may be a student at a Michigan University. For reasons not yet known, it was deleted (also see here). Regardless, I feel it is only a fair to address his article after writing a two-part series on Dissident Voice about Rojava. The first part, titled “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava” focused on the broad contours of the supposed “state” while the second one, titled the “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics” focused on how this entity is illegal and had illegitimate sovereignty under existing law. Each of those pieces will be quoted and summarized below.

Responding to Mr. Angelpoulos’s article

Mr. Angelpoulos has a very different, while informed, perspective than yours truly. He writes that..

For the past six years, the United States, Israel, NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have waged an unrelenting proxy war against the sovereign, secular state of Syria. The U.S.-funded Free Syrian Army, called “moderate rebels” in the corporate-owned media, fights openly alongside forces backed by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These forces, really mercenaries or contras, which include the Islamic State, Jabhat Al-Nusra (al-Qaida in Syria), Jaysh al-Islam and others, are largely constituted of foreign fighters.

While this is undoubtedly true, it is more than just the Free Syrian Army or FSA. As I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava and Imperial “Divide and Rule” Tactics,” herein called “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” there is a new “rebel” group in town: the Free Idlib Army or the FIA, a part of the FSA:

…the Free Idlib Army (FIA), [is] a division of the FSA which would theoretically fight “jihadist groups and pro-government forces in [the] northwestern Idlib province” even as it faces likely targeting from such “al-Qaida-linked factions,” even though it has coordinated with them before. The FIA entity, consisting of 30,000 to 35,000 people, is undoubtedly, as one analyst put it, “100 percent an American project,” with weaponry, financial aid, and more, funneled through Müşterek Operasyon Merkezi (MOM), an operations center based in Turkey, operated by the CIA with the supervision of the Turks.

I do not know why Mr. Angelpoulos did not mention this in his article. He almost seems to play the clickbait tab, saying that the “anti-imperialist left” of which he does not define is missing out on “one front in this proxy war” omitting it from their analyses of the situation:

Since last August [2016], the U.S. has been engaged in Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, claiming this is an attempt to “liberate” Raqqa, the proclaimed capital of the Islamic State…The U.S. has aided the Turkish-led operation in an alliance with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

For one, this is confusing way of wording it, since Operation Euphrates Shield is actually a name for the Turkish military invasion of the sovereign Syrian state, not a US-led operation. However, articles from the “Turkish military intervention in Syria” Wikipedia page, only a good starting point on this subject, not a good source in general, indicate that the US has provided air support for Turkish military operations (and in general), but seemed to halt such support in November of last year. Furthermore, there are reports that the operation has “ended” which he also doesn’t say.

The SDF’s largest fighting force is the YPG…The YPG is allied with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and both are allied with the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long fight for self-determination of the Kurdish region inside Turkish boundaries against the brutally oppressive Turkish state.

This is partially deceptive. Although I admit that I do not know everything about this conflict, I think it is worth pointing out that while the PKK has been involved in a decades-long fight within Turkish in which they have been brutally attacked by the Turkish state, they dropped their demand for an independent Kurdistan when Abdullah Öcalan, the “Wizard-of-Oz” of Rojava, was arrested. Furthermore, lest us forget, as I noted in “”A Liberated Area in the Middle East”?: Western Imperialism in Rojava,” called “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” in the rest of this article, the YPG and SDF were helped by US airpower in their efforts to seize control of about 26,000 sq km of Syria, including a 250 mile “stretch of territory along the Turkish border,” which basically constitutes Rojava.

In a sign of the contradictions inherent in U.S. imperialist policy toward Syria, on April 25 Turkish planes attacked units of the YPG in northern Syria, killing as many as 70 fighters. While U.S. diplomats said they raised concerns with NATO-ally Turkey regarding this strike, nothing concrete was done to stop future Turkish attacks against Kurdish fighters. (Reuters, April 25) This is one example in Washington’s long history of apparently backing one oppressed people and then turning on them.

You could call this an imperialist contradiction. However, but I would also say it fits with the imperial divide-and-rule tactics to break up the Syrian Arab Republic and nearby “hostile” states so they can ruled effectively to benefit Western capitalists. So, in many senses it isn’t as much as a contradiction as you might think, since the Turks AND and these Kurdish fighters are assisting Western imperialist objectives.

Many progressive people see the YPG, which is mostly made up of Kurdish fighters but includes other ethnic minorities as well as Western “foreign volunteers,” as representing the just struggle for Kurdish national liberation. Organized along democratic principles without a vertical chain of command, the forces of the YPG and their movement in northern Syria claim to model their “non-state” on anarchist, eco-socialist principles. The YPJ, the Women’s Protection Units, provide an active leadership role for women in their struggle.

I think that “progressive people” who see the YPG as representing a “just struggle for Kurdish liberation” and as organized “along democratic principles” is typical of the Western and some across the international left. However, as I noted in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” the “state” itself is ILLEGAL. Not only does its creation clearly violate the Syrian Constitution, tearing at the national fabric of unity, but it violates the UN Charter. Hence, it is an illegal entity with illegitimate sovereignty. As I said throughout my series on this topic, Rojava would not exist if it was not for intervention of Western capitalist powers.

The Kurds are a historically oppressed nation of 30 million to 35 million people. They are the world’s largest nation without a state. Most live in the contiguous, underdeveloped, mountainous region spanning four countries and speak their own language. About 14.5 million to 16 million Kurds live in Turkey, 6 million in Iran and 5 million to 6 million in Iraq. The 1.5 million to 2 million Kurds in Syria are the smallest grouping of this nation.

The estimates of how many Kurds there are worldwide vary. The Kurdish Project, a rabidly pro-Kurd website, claims there are 30 million within the ethnic community whereas the Encyclopedia Britannica says it could be as low as 25 million and Cultural Survival says it is 18 million. So, for him to say that they are the world’s largest group of people who is stateless seems questionable if best. This puts his other claims of population figures into question. As I noted in “A Liberated Area in the Middle East,” some have said that there are 4.6 million people within the illegal entity of Rojava. I am aware that the UN Charter talks about self-determination and that the principle, as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is that all peoples “have the right of self-determination” and the ability to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Some would say that Rojava falls under their requirements, which could be interpreted in an anti-imperialist manner. However, I would argue that just because people have that right, which the good “Kurds” have shown they have exercised, does NOT mean they have to use that right. In this case, the right should be waived and not enforced as that would mean, ultimately, victory for the sneering imperialists. Furthermore, it is worth noting that “self-determination is limited by conditions on territorial integrity” as an anti-Soviet bourgeois scholar even admitted (also see here).

Mr. Angelpoulos goes on to say that

During the Kurdish people’s fight for liberation from Turkey, Washington has supplied arms, logistical and satellite assistance, and political support for the Turkish ruling classes against the PKK, which the U.S. labels as “terrorist.” Yet in Syria, Washington has a cynical, opportunistic alliance with the YPG, using those forces to accomplish its aims of destroying the Syrian state. At times, the Syrian Democratic Forces/YPG have coordinated with the Syrian Arab Army in the fight against IS and other mercenary armies. However, SDF/YPG now operate in coordination with the U.S. military. Despite the SDF/YPG’s progressive principles and organizational structure, the Pentagon’s aim is to have it function as an effective proxy for the U.S. geopolitical goal of dismantling the Syrian state.

There is no doubt that the US has allied with the Turks to suppress the Kurds in the past. I think he is right that the YPG, along with other “good” (by Western standards) Kurds, unlike the “bad” (by Western standards) pro-Syrian government Kurds, as I note in “The Illegal Entity of Rojava” is serving as an US proxy force. However, I think he is giving the SDF and YPG too much credit.

It is not obvious what aggression the U.S. plans next for Syria after its deadly April 6 strike on the Sharyat airfield and the May 18 bombing of a Syrian government convoy. If Washington significantly steps up direct U.S. intervention, it will expect cooperation from the SDF in providing ground forces. The Pentagon has already been able to build two air bases in northeastern Syria in the past few months.

It is a good point that U.S. plans for Syria after the April 6 act of aggression and imperial show of force, are not clear. However, as I see it, that attack was a turning point. It meant that US foreign policy was basically being handed over to the Pentagon carte blanche, without restriction. Instead of colluding with the imperialists like Obama, Trump seems to be willing to let them do whatever they want.

Since last year, the U.S. has been sending special forces troops to northern Syria. As Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has stated since the U.S. sent several hundred more ground troops to Syria in the beginning of March, “All foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation … are invaders.” Assad, who is constantly demonized in the U.S. corporate media, is the democratically elected leader of the people of Syria.

On this count, Mr. Angelpoulos is right. As I said in the opening of “A Liberated Area in the Middle East” currently over 17.1 million living in the socially democratic and secular  Syrian Arab Republic which is “ravaged by overt and covert imperialist machinations” the government led by the duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council, the Syria’s parliament, reaffirmed in April 2016 elections by the Syrian people. It is recently that Trump dealt such Syrians “a blow” by directly supporting the “good” Kurds.

The YPG has been bolstered not only by U.S. special forces but also by foreign volunteers including people from the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries. Among them is Brace Belden, who had a Rolling Stone magazine centerfold feature on his role and inspired an upcoming Hollywood film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the “punk florist-turned-revolutionary.” Another volunteer is Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian-Israeli woman and former soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, and the first foreign volunteer in the Women’s Protection Units. These individuals violate Syrian sovereignty and package the  U.S. invasion of Syria as a progressive, “socialist” struggle against Islamic state fascism.

This is undoubtedly true. In “A Liberated Area of the Middle East” I noted how that fact that the YPG were US proxy forces dismayed “two deluded Marxists who thought they were fighting for an “egalitarian utopia”.” If you were going to fight at all in Syria, why not fight on behalf of the Syrian state. To fight on behalf of the YPG and the “good” Kurds is a violent act aimed at the Syrian proletariat and makes those that engage in such acts clear and blatant class traitors. There is no question about this. Such people undoubtedly violate Syrian sovereignty as well, there is no question.

The Rand Corporation think tank has drawn up various “peace plans” throughout the war, detailing the U.S. and its allies’ latest plans for the partition of Syria. The most recent, dated this year, projects large swathes of Kurdish-administered territory extending about halfway to Raqqa in the south and almost to Manbij in the west, as well as a corner encompassing Azaz in northwestern Syria. Buffering these zones are “proposed international administration” zones, code words for NATO occupation and Turkish-controlled areas. Notably, these “Kurdish zones” in northeastern Syria encompass much of the country’s greatest natural wealth, including its largest oil reserves.

I would not be surprised by the fact that Rand would engage in such politicking and call for the break-up of the country. After some searching, I found the report (I think) referenced here, and is one of RAND’s “scenarios” on what could happen:

In Syria, a peace process has resulted in recognized “zones of control” divided among the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the regime, and the opposition…After the zones are announced, a wave of internal displacement further consolidates Kurdish populations in the PYD zone of control; minorities including ‘Alawis, Christians, and Druze in the regime zone of control; and Sunni Arabs in the opposition zone of control. Mixed towns and border areas where the zones abut are the sites of particular ethnosectarian bloodletting. Even in microstates too small to partition, Sunni and Shi‘a self-segregate by neighborhood, with Manama and Kuwait City, particularly, divided between heavily Sunni and heavily Shi‘a neighborhoods…On the one hand, less interaction between sects decreases the daily incidence of conflict. On the other hand, the segregation of communities deepens prejudices, foreshadowing a brewing conflict

Hence, this does not seem to be what they are advocating, but it is a proposal they have under advisement to say the least. Another report actually seems to advocate intervention in the region, showing that the “good” Kurds can (and should stay) allies for the murderous empire:

…Located almost entirely in the north of the country, Syrian Kurds have a longstanding history of opposition to the Assad regime…Syrian Kurds are pressing forward against IS with U.S. military support, and their surging confidence led them to claim an independent state in the northwest…the most effective Kurdish forces engaged with IS…[are more] effective at offensive operations and, ostensibly, more useful for postconflict stability…the extreme violence of the Syrian war has made reconciliation with al-Assad all but impossible…this option seeks to protect Sunni, Kurdish, and other non-Alawi Syrians; create safe spaces for the return of refugees; and establish alternative governance in non-Alawi areas. Military force, including ground forces, may be used to expel GoS military forces from southern Syria and to expel IS from urban area. All military activities will focus on the reduction of the IS threat and the creation of safe zones for Syrian civilians. In the medium term, the United States and the coalition will invest in repatriation and reconstruction activities within these safe zones, focusing on the eventual development of legitimate local and regional governance. These efforts will be leverage to press Russia to negotiate and help remove Bashar al-Assad from power, while retaining Russian and many Iranian equities in Syria…To defeat IS and prevent its return, the United States will have to help mitigate or resolve all the major issues currently destabilizing Iraq. This means that the United States will have to remain heavily engaged in Iraq for many years, perhaps decades, just as it has remained engaged in Korea after the mid-20th century Korean War and in Kosovo more than two decades after U.S.-led coalition intervention there…this plan would…[include] a national program to recognize the bravery of Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurdish militia fighters… the incorporation of Kurdish paramilitary units into the ISF [Iraqi Security Force]…As Iraq stabilizes, it will become far more attractive to regional states as a safe investment for both private and capital wealth funds…the United States could ignore the civil war and focus on the tactical defeat of IS, leveraging Kurdish; Arab; and, if necessary, American and coalition military forces to expel the group from Raqqa and render it incapable of international terror attacks…All efforts should be made to keep the Kurds within a legitimate Syrian state, at least until Syria is fully stabilized…Ideally, Turkey will be a signatory to the Syria agreement and will accept the incorporation of YPG and other groups into the Syrian armed services in exchange for reduced Kurdish independence in the north

Not only does this raise the idea of creating zones for certain ethnicities so they can be easily controlled by the West within Syria, but it would mean, if implemented, a stronger military presence in Iraq (and in Syria undoubtedly), accompanying the overthrow of the duly elected Syrian government with the installation of a “friendly” government. Then after all of that, the US would use the Kurds as imperialist enforcers! Additionally, as a result, the US could easily accept the creation of a Kurdish state by this logic, as the above quote makes clear. This is a terrifying prospect because such a state and these machinations would lead to more chaos and destruction in the Mideast.

If the U.S. aids the SDF to annex northeastern Syria, this will not lead to any meaningful form of Kurdish independence. Rather, it will mean the Kurdish forces will be subordinate to and will collaborate with the U.S., much as the Kurdish regime does inside Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. will destroy what remains of Syria and purge any progressive forces in the Kurdish movement.

While I could see this as a possibility, based on the RAND report quoted above, a Kurdish state could be created, but it would be subservient to US imperialism. If what he says occurred, there is no doubt that Syria would be destroyed and any progressives in the Kurdish movement could be purged, although the latter may not matter as long as such progressives are willing to bow to their new masters in Washington. More worrying is the fact that Trump seems to be taking DIRECTLY out of the RAND playbook by sending arms and equipment to the “good” Syrians:

Washington has found an effective partner in the mixed Kurdish and Sunni Arab Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), which is dominated by a Syrian Kurdish faction closely linked to a violent separatist movement in Turkey in conflict with the Turkish state. This force has isolated Raqqa and is poised for an assault on the city, but lacks the weaponry that may be necessary for success. Turkey is strongly opposed to any further extension of Kurdish control within Syria and equally opposed to any American effort to arm the SDF. Washington must therefore choose whether to ignore Turkish objections and arm the SDF, seek direct Turkish army participation in the assault as a substitute, or add some American units to the assault force. Waiting for the Turkish army and its Syrian allies to arrive will require postponing the operation several months, with an uncertain end result. Arming the Kurdish‑dominated SDF and introducing additional American forces into Syria,beyond the special operations troops already there, may be the fastest and surest way of retaking Raqqa and other Islamic State territory…Employing Kurdish led forces to liberate Raqqa requires the United States to convincingly assure Turkey that Kurds will not occupy this region once it has been cleared of the Islamic State. This will in turn require some clear understanding between Washington and the Syrian Kurdish authorities. It also requires the availability of some alternative hold force. Once Raqqa and the surrounding region have been cleared, the United States will need to help that hold force resist attacks from residual Islamic State fighters, other violent extremist groups, and the regime…We suggest Washington should offer to place Raqqa, once liberated, under some form of international administration

Once again, these Kurds would be serving Western imperialism, and Raqqa would be in the hand of gleeful imperialists. There is no doubt about that.

At this point, Washington sees the claims to a separate Kurdish region based out of northern Syria as fitting its goal of dividing Syria. With the Syrian state under siege, the attempt to create a Kurdish “autonomous” zone under U.S. guidance is in direct contradiction to the preservation of Syrian sovereignty in defense against imperialism. The U.S. has made this abundantly clear, saying that it plans to station its forces in Syria even once IS has been eliminated.

He is right about that. Creating a Kurdish region that is “autonomous” would clearly violate Syrian sovereignty. But it also would serve the interests of imperialist destruction. Hence, it could be a precursor to further US presence in the county.

Moreover, all of these events obscure the fact that the Syrian government and Kurdish groups have negotiated greater autonomy for the latter on their own terms before. If there is to be any change in the relationship between the Syrian state and its Kurdish inhabitants, it is clear that this change cannot be imposed by the imperialist powers. The U.S., NATO and their allies should have no say in this history.

In this case, I think he is exaggerating the relations between the “good” Kurds and Syrian government. Such relations seem to include possibly partial recognition, but also have been in question since the Syrian government may see such groups as imperial proxies. They likely prefer the “bad” Kurds better, those groups that want to work with the Syrian government, not against it. I definitely agree with the sentiment that there should be non-interference in Syria, which means no meddling by the US imperialists.

The imperialists in the U.S. and elsewhere have planned a grim end for Syria: the destruction of the sovereign secular state in favor of Balkanized ethnic enclaves in the manner of Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia and any other state that has defied destruction and imperialist plundering since the fall of the Soviet Union. This includes the current aggression against Syria, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

I understand his viewpoint here, but I would not say that Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia are Balkanized ethnic enclaves. In fact, the US imperialists failed in that endeavor in Iraq, and likely in Libya which is in the midst of the bloody civil war, from what I can tell. However, it is true that this measure did happen in Yugoslavia, a place where the most of the inhabitants of this former system of federalism “seem willing to share their societies with ethnic and religious groups different from their own” with a few exceptions. Hence, in that case, US imperialism did not succeed either. But, undoubtedly this idea is carried over to Venezuela (which Trump wants to “fix,” whatever that means) and the DPRK as well, which is troubling and should be stopped at all costs.

There can be no genuine liberation for any peoples — Arab, Kurdish or otherwise — until imperialism is defeated in the region and the right of self-determination is fully realized and respected. Anti-war and other activists in the U.S. and NATO states must stand in full solidarity with the right of all nations to develop their collective livelihood, culture and economy without interference from imperialists. Hands off Syria! All mercenaries out of Syria! Uphold self-determination!

Again, he is correct. Defeating imperialism in the Middle East is needed for genuine liberation of any people to occur. As I noted in a footnote of “The Illegal Entity of Rojava,” if circumstances were different, with the “good” Kurds asking “for direct support from Russia, China, and the Syrian government, instead going directly to grinning Western imperialists, then I would be inclined to engage in international solidarity with them.” I still stand by that claim. I would add Cuba, Iran, Belarus and Zimbabwe (which is facing its threats of violence against the elected government coming from the US-backed opposition) to the list of nations under attack as well, along with others that could easily be added to the list.

Further comments on the “notion of American empire” (a.k.a. the murderous empire)

“The action of U.S. warplanes bombing a Syrian government military convoy near the town of al-Tanf on May 18 marks a sharp escalation of the U.S. campaign to overthrow the elected Syrian government and to dismember the country. It must be protested by all who oppose U.S. imperialism’s aggression. With bloody irony, the Pentagon claimed it attacked the Syrian government convoy because the Syrian trucks had entered “an established ‘de-confliction zone’.”The convoy had moved within 18 miles of a U.S. military base…The Pentagon set up this base without permission by the Syrian government…The Russian government called the U.S. attack a breach of Syrian sovereignty. The air attack took place as President Donald Trump left the U.S. to visit Saudi Arabia…The U.S. bombing also comes just after an agreement creating “de-escalation” zones in Syria was signed by Russia, Iran, Turkey, Syria and non-al-Qaida groups that operate in Syria…The U.S. bombing was clearly designed to torpedo this agreement. Its goal is to re-enforce U.S.-defined “safe zones”…partition Syria and overturn the Bashar al-Assad government.”- Workers World Party, May 22.

While some telling the Kurds what they should focus on, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, head of the DIA, is declaring that “Kurdish independence is on a trajectory where it is probably not if but when. And it will complicate the situation unless there’s an agreement in Baghdad,” showing that the imperialists are accepting the “inevitable.” Furthermore, are the stories about how the US-Turkey relationship could be permanently damaged if the “good” Kurds stay in Raqqa while the US gives the “good” Kurds armored vehicles, arms, “machinery, equipment, supplies” along with, as NPR even admitting, in their pro-military manner: “more American troops to head into Syria – maybe a couple of hundred” who are trainers along with “maintenance people to help with these armored vehicles” which would be there along with “some American troops close to the front lines in Syria, special operations forces like Green Berets and Navy SEALs, helping these local forces.”

Hence, the destruction of Syria will continue full force. I stand by what I said at the end “The illegal entity” about possible next steps for everyone reading the article:

…the next steps forward are up to everyone out there reading this and…the international “left[,]” which needs to get its act together with a strong message of international solidarity with governments (and peoples, but not the “good” Kurds) under attack, not division on countries such as Syria.

Hence, there needs to be a united front. After all, Trump is unpredictable in many ways, which some may say is positive but actually bodes badly in trying to counter US imperialism as it is hard to predict what will happen next. This reality of Trump was noted in a fawning Time magazine cover story. This piece said that Trump is not only tuning out “bad news about himself” but he “comes to office with no well-formed ideology,” which sounds a bit like Obama and the “blank screen.” The article further claims that he has “an evolving understanding of history and government” which is clear from his comments about Andrew Jackson ending the Civil War, and uses “his business acumen to help is more fervent supporters” while he is “extremely confident in his own judgment.” The article also notes that Trump has a social media director, Dan Scavino, formerly the general manager of Trump’s Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and that his “willingness to fight is unabated and unfiltered.”

Beyond that, the recent visit to Saudi Arabia seems to indicate that the US has its sights set on the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the Parliament Speaker of Iran, Ali Larijani, argued “it was both interesting and unbelievable to hear that the US President clearly announced the volume of cash he had received in order to make the visit” which seems to be true since he was not only there for US imperialism but to benefit his cronies (also see here) a sort of “foreign triumph” as he faces the never-ending “Russia conspiracy” the Democrats are using to push him out of office, to unseat him, to overthrow him. I say this even as I dislike Trump very much and feel he is an utter monster. Still, I don’t believe the claims of a such a conspiracy in the slightest. It is all a smokescreen to me even if questions about his stability in the future. Focusing on such a conspiracy distracts from the damage Trump and his loyal minions are doing to public lands, education, public assistance, and worldwide imperial aggression of course, while supporting increased police brutality at home. As for the journey to Saudi Arabia, it is part of a plan to create an “Arab NATO” which is an idea that threatens the region, which would cause increased instability since the Saudis sponsor many of the Islamic reactionary groups within the region. Clearly, this an anti-Iran move, anger at their measures to mitigate US imperialism.

The looming threat of war against Iran seems to be occurring at the same time the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) seems to be winning on the battlefield, implying that Washington wants to stop such successes. As Al-Jaafari put it, their goal is to combat terrorism, but “state terrorism is being practiced against Syria” with violations of international humanitarian law. I could go on, but the reality is that the Russian and Syrian government forces are the only ones earnestly fighting terrorists. The US and their international coalition which killed 255 civilians last month as the worthless piece of junk, the Syrian Observatory for “Human Rights” (SOHR) which is an imperialist, anti-Syrian government outlet, claimed. The Syrian government is even moving its planes back to the airfield the US bombed in April, showing that the US show of force was worthless and pathetic. At the same time, the Russians seem to be willing to weaken the Syrian state and benefit the “good” Kurds possibly because they have a capitalist class as well and see something positive in the “good” Kurds. This is happening at the same time that the US slaps more sanctions on the Syrian government and by extension the Syrian people as a whole.

The Syrian government (and people) will continue to be in a precarious situation until the end of the conflict and withdrawal of Western imperialism from the region. The best we can do is pledge solidarity with those fighting the mercenaries of imperial conquest, not only Daesh but the “rebel” forces and “good” Kurds, and all of those standing against global capitalism, even with our respective critiques.

“The most heinous act against humanity”: new imperial sanctions on the DPRK

Five ports in China and Russia which would be monitored/”inspected” by the US as part of the recently-passed sanctions. Map was created in Google Earth.

On the heels of Trump’s aggressive posture toward the DPRK, threatening them with military action (and with diplomatic isolation) if they don’t remove their nuclear weapons, which are their main form of self-defense against the imperial beast, the US House of Representatives in a 419-1 vote passed new round of new sanctions against the DPRK, with only GOP Representative Thomas Massie voting against it, and 10 others not voting. As to date, Mr. Massie has not explained his reasons for voting against this legislation, which is currently being considered by the Senate’s Committee of Foreign Relations. Regardless, this legislation is a direct attack upon the DPRK, trying to coax it to surrender to US imperialists. This article aims to show how that is the case.

DPRK and Russia respond to the law with strong criticism

Yesterday, the Supreme People’s Assembly, the duly-elected unicameral parliament of the DPRK, sent a letter of protest to the US House, condemning the new sanctions. As PressTV describes it, showing that the Iranians undoubtedly feel similar about the legislation, the law targets the DPRK’s “exports and shipping industry” with the new sanctions banning “ships owned or hired by North Korea from operating in US waters or docking at US ports,” prohibiting “products originating from North Korea…from entering the United States,” and requiring Trump to report to the Congress within 90 of the legislation on whether the DPRK “has retreated on its activities or should be reinstated on the government’s list of “state sponsors of terror”” which, if put in place, would “trigger even more sanctions.” The KCNA, in an article titled “DPRK SPA Foreign Affairs Committee’s Letter of Protest to U.S. House of Representatives” reprinted the message of the SPA’s Foreign Affairs Committee on the subject:

The SPA Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK avails itself of this opportunity to strongly condemn and resolutely reject the “North Korea Interdiction & Modernization of Sanctions Act” (H.R. 1644) that the U.S. House of Representatives passed on May 4, 2017, and extends this letter of protest. The passage of the above legislation amounts to the most heinous act against humanity that not only infringes upon the sacred sovereignty of the DPRK as well as its people’s rights to existence but also arbitrarily violates universal principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries which run through the United Nations Charter and international laws. That the U.S. House of Representatives passed the above legislation speaks volumes about the ignorance of U.S. politicians who know nothing about the root cause of the long-standing hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. and the essence of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula; it is yet another product of hostile policy towards the DPRK. The hostile policy and acts of the United States of America targeting the DPRK – including but not limited to the abovementioned legislation – run counter to the efforts aimed at ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula; it will only further handicap the USA in its attempt to resolve the nuclear issue. If what the U.S. House of Representatives really wants is peace and security on the Korean peninsula and resolution of the nuclear issue, it would do well to delve into more relevant issues such as the establishment of lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, enactment of laws aimed at putting an end to the hostile relations between the DPRK and the USA, etc. There’s no denying that the DPRK is fully capable of safeguarding its sovereignty along with its rights to existence and development. The consequences will be dire if the U.S. House of Representatives, obsessed with inherent sense of disapproval towards the DPRK, misjudges the DPRK’s determination and capabilities and continues to meddle in other’s internal affairs and bring pressure to bear on another country by invoking its domestic laws. The U.S. House of Representatives should think twice. As the U.S. House of Representatives enacts more and more of these reckless hostile laws, the DPRK’s efforts to strengthen nuclear deterrents will gather greater pace, beyond anyone’s imagination. The DPRK will keep a watchful eye on the next moves of the USA and continue to take legitimate actions for self-defense to counter the hostile policy of the USA towards the DPRK. The SPA Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK takes this opportunity to reiterate its position that the U.S. House of Representatives must have [a] correct understanding of the essence of the current situation and make rational moves as regards the issue of the Korean peninsula.

The arguments that the law infringes on DPRK sovereignty, violates “principles of sovereign equality and non-interference” and tries to deny “the DPRK is fully capable of safeguarding its sovereignty along with its rights to existence and development,” among others in the above quote are completely valid. Similarly, within Russia, the reactions to the law have been broadly negative and rightfully so. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house Committee for International Relations within the Russian Duma, argues that realization of this bill “includes a proposed force scenario in which the US Navy would conduct compulsory inspections of all ships. Such a scenario is simply unthinkable because it means a declaration of war.” In another translation of the same quote, Mr. Kosachev is more reserved, hoping that the bill is not implemented because it if it is, it “envisions a scenario of power with forced inspections of all vessels by US warships” which he argues is “beyond comprehension, because it means a declaration of war.” Other high-ranking Russian officials felt the same way. Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense and Security, was more specific, saying what was important was “the list of nations where US congressmen want to have special control over sea ports” which he notes includes ports within  Russia, China, Iran and Syria, showing that “the United States is again trying to expand its jurisdiction all over the globe.” He added that doing this is almost telling “Russia, China, Iran and Syria that these nations are suspects in crime, which is nonsense, according to international law.” Finally there was Andrey Krasov, the other deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Defense and Security, saying that “the US administration will receive a symmetrical adequate response to any unfriendly steps toward Russia and our allies. In any case, no US ship will enter our waters.”

The law itself

Looking at the text of the law, it is clear that concerns of the DPRK and Russian governments are well founded. The section 104 of the law that talks about imperialist monitoring shows this to be the case:

(a) REPORT REQUIRED.—

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this section, and annually thereafter for 5 years, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report—

A) identifying the operators of foreign sea ports and airports that have knowingly—

‘‘(i) failed to implement or enforce regulations to inspect ships, aircraft, cargo, or conveyances in transit to or from North Korea, as required by applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions;

‘‘(ii) facilitated the transfer, trans-shipment, or conveyance of significant types or quantities of cargo, vessels, or aircraft owned or controlled by persons designated under applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions; or

‘‘(iii) facilitated any of the activities described in section 104(a)

“(b) SPECIFIC FINDINGS.—

Each report required under subsection (a) shall include specific findings with respect to the following ports and airports:

‘‘(1) The ports of Dandong, Dalian, and any other port in the People’s Republic of China that the President deems appropriate.

‘‘(2) The ports of Abadan, Bandar-e-Abbas, Chabahar, Bandar-e-Khomeini, Bushehr Port, Asaluyeh Port, Kish, Kharg Island, Bandar-e-Lenge, and Khorramshahr, and Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, in the Islamic Republic of Iran

‘‘(3) The ports of Nakhodka, Vanino, and Vladivostok, in the Russian Federation.

‘‘(4) The ports of Latakia, Banias, and Tartous, and Damascus International Airport, in the Syrian Arab Republic.

‘‘(c) ENHANCED SECURITY TARGETING REQUIREMENTS.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary of Homeland Security may, using the Automated Targeting System operated by the National Targeting Center of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, require enhanced screening procedures to determine whether physical inspections are warranted of any cargo bound for or landed in the United States that—

‘‘(A) has been transported through a sea port or airport the operator of which has been identified by the President in accordance with subsection (a)(1) as having repeatedly failed to comply with applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions;

‘(2) EXCEPTION FOR FOOD, MEDICINE, AND HUMANITARIAN SHIPMENTS

—Paragraph (1) shall not apply to any vessel, aircraft, or conveyance that has entered the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea, or landed in any of the sea ports or airports of North Korea, exclusively for the purposes described in section 208(b)(3)(B), or to import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea to meet the humanitarian needs of the North Korean people.

‘(d) SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE

—A vessel, aircraft, or conveyance used to facilitate any of the activities described in section 104(a) under the jurisdiction of the United States may be seized and forfeited under [certain laws]

While these sanctions show that the imperial monitoring of “the territory, waters, or airspace of North Korea” shall not apply to those vessels or planes which “import food, medicine, or supplies into North Korea,” the fact that there would be monitoring by the US Navy (and Air Force?) is undoubtedly an act of war.

Ports within Iran and Syria that will be subject to imperial monitoring and inspection. Map was created with Google Earth, with titles of countries added in a photo editing software.

Section 104(a), part of an anti-DPRK sanctions law which went into effect last year,  mentioned in the above quote as part of the imperial monitoring, shows these efforts are aimed at the DPRK’s socialist, centrally-planned economy. An excerpt from this section shows this is the case, saying that President shall designate, except under certain circumstances [1], any person who he determines “knowingly, directly or indirectly”  imported, exported, or re-exported the following to the DPRK:

  • “any goods, services, or technology” which could be used for “weapons of mass destruction [WMD] or delivery systems”
  • luxury goods
  • “a significant amount of precious metal, graphite, raw or semi-finished metals or aluminum, steel, coal, or software” which can be used in “industrial processes directly related to weapons of mass destruction” or for the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), the Korean armed forces, “internal security, or intelligence activities, or the operation and maintenance of political prison camps”
  • “any arms or related materiel”

This isn’t all. Also, any person engages in the following can be sanctioned as well:

  • provides training or other services for such “WMDs”
  • engages in “significant financial transactions” relating to the creation or use of such “WMDs”
  • facilitates or engages in DPRK “censorship”
  • responsible for purported “serious human rights abuses” by the government
  • money laundering to support the government
  • “the counterfeiting of goods or currency” by the government
  • “bulk cash smuggling” by the government
  • narcotics trafficking that supports the government
  • “significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against foreign persons, governments, or other entities” on behalf of the government

Considering that the country’s industries focus on military products, building of machines, mining of coal, iron ore, and numerous other “precious metals,” along with food processing and tourism, while importing “metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments)…and fishery products” if the CIA World Factbook is to be given any credibility on this matter [2], these sanctions are not “targeted” but are rather meant to strike a dagger in the DPRK’s economy. Furthermore, these sanctions strike at the “socialist motherland” as a whole by attempting to stop any measures of self-defense (restricting arms transfers, cyber-defense, necessary censorship), or further development (stopping importation of purported “luxury goods”). This is followed by with the common slurs against the DPRK, including its purported “serious human rights abuses,” and other “new” ones including money laundering, counterfeit “goods or currency,” “cash smuggling” and narcotics trafficking by (or supporting) the DPRK’s duly elected government.

The use of narcotics as a slur against governments declared “communist” by imperial elites is nothing new. In his book, Strength of the Wolf, Douglas Valentine writes that while there were Chinese gangs in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, with the profits from opium allowing Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist government/KMT (Kuomintang of China) to survive, working directly with the drug traffickers, the New York Times alleged that Arnold Rothenstein used some of his drug money to finance “communist-sponsored strikes” in New York City’s garment district, the first time in US history that “politicians and policemen were linked with Bolsheviks and drug traffickers.” [3] That’s not all. He added that Chiang’s government, which came to power violently in 1927, which depended on drug smuggling profits, had created an “opium monopoly”/syndicate and paid for individuals to serve as part of their Communist suppression unit, such as Du Yue-sheng. [4] Adding to this, Henry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, was unwilling to acknowledge this reality. As it was evident that the Chinese Communists were engaged in “anti-narcotics activities,” not the Nationalists, Mr. Anslinger dismissed this, continuing to seek evidence that “would link the Communist Chinese to drug rings in Japan, Korea, and China” although no such evidence existed, with later anti-China propaganda asserting that all of the “illicit dope” that reached Japan came from Communist China or People’s Republic of China (PRC) while the US backed the Nationalists. [5] Anslinger made these claims even though he knew they weren’t true as part of a smear campaign against the PRC as the CIA and other entities worked with the KMT in their drug smuggling operations.

Getting back to the law, other provisions show the sanctions are even more extensive section 105, prohibits DPRK vessels (or vessels of any of the DPRK’s allies, like Russia, China, Syria, or any country not complying with sanctions on the DRPK) from entering or operating in “the navigable waters of the United States” and section 106 requires a report on the “coordination” between Iran and the DPRK. Adding to this, section 107 puts in place a report delineating if UN Security Council Resolutions are being followed by other countries, section 108 denies financial messaging services to the DPRK, and sections 201 and 202 put sanctions on the DPRK for “human rights violations.” If that isn’t enough, section 203 rewards informants who allow them to implement murderous sanctions, section 204 declares the DPRK as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and section 103 broadens an arms embargo on the country. Finally, section 102 limits financial interactions with the DPRK, section 101 modifies and expands sanctions on the Korean populace of the DPRK. [6]

The illegality of anti-Korean sanctions

Recently, in a post criticizing Trump’s imperialist act of aggression against Syria, Stephen Gowans wrote that some say that military strike was illegal because it did not have UN Security Council approval and it “represented an unauthorized act of war,” only unilaterally ordered by the White House. However, he says that such discussion of illegality is “academic” because the United States has “amassed a sizable record of crimes in Syria…[including the] intrusion of US military personnel on Syrian soil” which is an act of war. Hence, he concludes that since the US is “at liberty to violate international law with impunity” as an imperial monster, with “no higher authority capable of enforcing international law through the threat of a force” greater than the Pentagon, and that, as a result, expecting the US to “yield to international law is naïve and therefore any discussion of whether this or that act of the United States violates international law is a discussion of no consequence.” While I agree that holding the US accountable for violating international law is near impossible, I do think it is important to highlight if acts are illegal or not, as it shows the corrupted nature of the murderous empire. So, that’s where I disagree with Gowans.

This horrible law violates many international agreements, showing that the law, in and of itself, is illegal. While the legal status of blockades is murky, there is no doubt that this law violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact which basically bans war “as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another,” the UN Charter which requires all member states to refrain from the threat or use of force against other member states while preserving state sovereignty, even as it has not acceded to the 1952 International Convention for the unification of certain rules relating to Arrest of Sea-going Ships or the 1999 replacement, both of which Syria is a party to. Even more, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the DPRK has seemingly withdrawn, prohibits “any propaganda for war” which this law has engaged in, even if you take into account the typical imperial reservations by the US Congress. Inspection and monitoring required by this act would undoubtedly violate the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation which prohibits individuals from unlawfully and intentionally seizing and taking control of “a ship by force or threat thereof or any other form of intimidation; or…[destroying] a ship or [causing] damage to a ship or to its cargo which is likely to endanger the safe navigation of that ship.” Since the DPRK, Iran, Russia, Syria, and China, all of which acceded to the previous convention, just like the United States, are serious about defending themselves from outside threats, there is no doubt they will defend themselves, meaning that US actions to take commercial vessels will become an act of war since those ships cannot, by any means, be considered warships.

There are many more treaties I could consider here in this section, but I do not wish to do that at this time. [7] There is no doubt that the use of force against a state would be illegal as any act of war or forceful action has to be approved by the UN Security Council but also violates the US Constitution which requires that war can only be declared by Congress, with this law basically giving that power to the President, once again. I know that citing the US Constitution may seem like a bourgeois approach, but it is only used here to show that the law is illegal in many forms. Hence, it isn’t worth going through every single international law since the US will likely never be held to account for it.

A conclusion

With all of these approaches, it is evident that the DPRK was right to say the law is “the most heinous act against humanity” and the Russians to call it “simply unthinkable” as it will lead to a declaration of war with further ban on US ships entering sovereign Russian waters. After all, as the murderous empire, the US has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which has been ratified by the Russians and Chinese while the DRPK and Iran have signed the agreement, with the Syrians neither signing or ratifying it. Hence, the US may feel it has the “right” to enter the sovereign waters of Russia, China, Syria, and Iran so they can suffocate the DPRK’s socialist government, making in “bow” in submission.

The DPRK is stuck in a difficult situation. Recently, the DPRK has foiled an attempted joint CIA-South Korean IS (Intelligence Service) attempt to assassinate Kim Jong Un. The Ministry of State Security of the DPRK said on May 5 that both forces “hatched a vicious plot to hurt the supreme leadership of the DPRK…[using] biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance,” handing the perpetrator, part of a terrorist group that was within the country, $20,000 to commit the act. [8] This shows that the DPRK’s efforts at self-defense on its islands, with its power stations, and continuing to build their form of socialism based on the masses, connected with the idea of Juche while standing up to the US imperialists with “deterrence for self-defence.” These ideals are, in a sense, echoed by the 25% of Russians who believe that nuclear weapons can be a “deterrent for the most aggressive forces in the world” with the “fear of mutually assured destruction encourages peaceful conflict resolution” and honored even by the Zimbabwean state paper, The Herald. If this isn’t enough, just like Syria, to an extent, the DPRK, is surrounded by enemies (Japan, South Korea, and the ever-present United States). However, they are buoyed by the anti-THAAD protests in South Korea even as the South Korean government (not the one that was recently elected) has liked the US missile “shield” program in the past, even as there are daily protests against it “by villagers in Seongju and Gimcheon.” But the DPRK should rest assured even though the US and S. Korean forces still need to properly understand the will of DPRK that Cuba and Syria have pledged their solidarity with them. Even though this solidarity will not, by itself, stop the Pentagon from leading 300,000 troops in a rehearsal for military invasion and “decapitation” of the regime, assisted by, of course, the South Korean government, but it is an important part of an anti-imperialist alliance against US (and Western) imperialist actions which aim to undermine “unfriendly” governments, even if they differ in ideology.

Recently, Trump, the purveyor of “gunboat diplomacy,” says he is willing to talk with Kim Jong Un. However, this requires that the DPRK has to surrender to US imperialism, a sentiment reinforced by a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Anthony Ruggiero, who declared that Trump should only meet with Kim Jong Un if the DPRK surrenders its nuclear weapons, close its supposed “prison camps,” and not “threatening” the US, saying it should bow before US, which is equally unacceptable. It is worth pointing out that many of those living in the US have internalized anti-communist and imperial values. For one, 68% of the US feels it “is important that the U.S. be No. 1 in the world militarily,” 86% of the populace has unfavorable views of the DPRK, with “Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq” also in the same category. With this chauvinism of US populace, it should come as no surprise that 65% of the US are concerned about the DPRK with nuclear weapons, with 78%, in Pew’s results, having an “unfavorable view” of the country.

Despite the recent spat between the state media of the DPRK and Chinese media over the justified nuclear and missile program of the DPRK, it seems evident that the “strong bond between the two countries” will stay in place. [9] Hence, this “expected” victory for the US imperialists will not happen as the imperial threats continue from the “World’s Worst Human Rights Abuser.” After all, the US hopes they will remove the DPRK’s “nuclear deterrence for self-defence” is not going to happen. With the socialist power of the DPRK pushed along by the WPK, even under current conditions, this can resist the hardline positions of the US State Department, with Mark Toner showing that he is one of the many faces of imperialism by saying that “our conviction that we need to apply greater pressure on North Korea to get it to comply to international concerns. There are a number of options…isolation, diplomatic isolation being another one.”

Adding to this, it is troubling that China agreed to “suspend all coal imports from North Korea until the end of this year” in order to curry favor of the US, to appease it. After all, as some recently pointed out, if China brought the DPRK economy to its knees, US imperialism would win. With the WPK having the determination to not “yield to the war threats being hurled right now by the criminal agents of U.S. imperialism” with every right to self-defense, including against the “biggest nuclear weapons state in the world,” the United States, will China hold its ground? Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator, addressed this in an April 18 post in Liberation News, a PSL publication, writing that China has the message from Trump that it must either break from the DPRK or “apply immense pressure on it to suspend its nuclear and ballistic missile tests” or else Trump will engage in an “another round of unilateral military action on China’s border.” Mr. Becker goes on to say that Trump has borrowed “a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook” with his military action against muting “his ruling class critics,” with the Chinese leadership stunned, thinking that “unless the DPRK backs down from further expected weapons tests” there will be war. He adds that in the past the DPRK has offered to suspend its nuclear tests if the US cancels it “massive, annual military exercises that simulate the destruction of the North” but the Obama and Trump Administrations have rejected this, even as the DPRK mainly seeks a “peace treaty with the United States to formally end the Korean War that began nearly 70 years ago.” He further writes that if there is military action and the DPRK responds, this could “lead to another and possibly greater catastrophe” with the Chinese media insisting that “the DPRK not proceed with its expected missile tests,” sharply demanding that it cancel its upcoming weapons tests, and a Global Times editorial announcing that “China is ready to cut off oil exports to North Korea whose economy has stabilized in recent years.” The end of the article is worth repeating and relevant, even now, almost a month after the piece was written:

Today, the danger of igniting regional and global confrontation is real. China and Russia are backpedaling, hoping that their prudence, or possible appeasement, will deter or deflect the danger. Their position is understandable given the level of risk. But appeasement, as we know from history, poses its own risks in the face of bullying and aggression. Appeasing the bully, the aggressor, invites more not less aggression.

 

Mr. Becker makes a valid point. Any concessions to the US imperialists should be strongly criticized and not accepted, even if those concessions are by Russia and China, both of which are capitalist in their own ways, perhaps Russia more than China. As the CIA creates the Korea Mission Center to “purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” and watch the country like a persistent hawk, complains about the DPRK going to the Belt and Road Forum, the “existential threat” of the DPRK (in the strange mind of CIA chief Mike Pompeo) is being closely scrutinized, like always, by the imperialists. [10] With accusations abound by the DPRK throughout the bourgeois media, the socialist nation can only use its own wit and existing alliances in case of an imperial attack. If war under unpredictable Trump occurs, we should stand beside the DPRK in solidarity even if the war is popular within the United States, any Western country, and especially within those countries in the global periphery.

Notes

[1] If he grants a humanitarian waiver, there are activities relating to “identifying or recovering the remains” of past POWs taken during the Great Fatherland Liberation War (“Korean War”) from 1950-1953, complying with the agreement on the UN headquarters or Convention on Consular Relations, or allowing “financial services” by a non-DPRK foreign financial entity as part of a waiver.

[2] The CIA World Factbook lists the following as the country’s industries: “military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism.” It also says the country exports “minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products” while importing “petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain” with their biggest trade partner (76.4% from China, 5.5% from the Republic of the Congo).

[3] Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (New York: Verso Books, 2004), 8, 10-11.

[4] Ibid, 12-14, 17, 37-38, 47.

[5] Ibid, 68-70, 72, 77-78, 102, 133, 195, 235, 273, 309, 392.

[6] There are numerous other miscellaneous provisions manifested in sections 1-3, 301-304.

[7] See Wikipedia pages “list of treaties,” “list of international declarations,” “law of war” and the ICRC’s “Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries” page along with the Wikipedia category “Treaties adopted by United Nations General Assembly resolutions.” While Wikipedia is never source that should be cited in general, these links are a good starting point, which is why they are included here.

[8] KCNA, “DPRK Warns U.S., S. Korean Intelligence Agencies of Merciless Punishment: Ministry of State Security,” May 5, 2017; KCNA, “Statement of DPRK Central Public Prosecutors Office,” May 12, 2017; KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Gives Briefing on Situation,” May 11, 2017; North Korea wants South’s spy chief extradited over alleged Kim plot,” CNN, May 12, 2017.

[9] A DPRK (North Korean) view on the current situation as noted in a BBC interview. On May 3, 2017, KCNA released an article titled “Commentary on DPRK-China Relations” which was reprinted in Rodong Sinmun under the title “Reckless Remarks Undermining DPRK-China Relations Should Be Stopped,” by Kim Chol, a Vice Minister in the Korean Army, the same person who the bourgeois media claimed falsely was executed by mortal bombardment even though Foreign Policy said it was pure speculation. His article says the following:

The People’s Daily and the Global Times, widely known as media speaking for the official stand of the Chinese party and government, have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China. They shifted the blame for the deteriorated relations between the DPRK and China onto the DPRK and raised lame excuses for the base acts of dancing to the tune of the U.S. Those commentaries claimed that the DPRK poses a threat to “the security in the northeastern region of China” by conducting nuclear tests less than 100 km away from its border with China. They even talked rubbish that the DPRK strains the situation in Northeast Asia and “offers the U.S. excuses for deploying more strategic assets” in the region. Not content with such paradox, the commentaries asserted that to remain averse to the DPRK’s access to nukes is to preserve interests common to the U.S. and China, calling for slapping harsher sanctions against the DPRK in order to avert a war which would bring danger to China. The newspapers, even claiming China holds the initiative in handling the DPRK-China relations, made no scruple of letting out a string of provocative remarks urging the DPRK to choose one among such options if it doesn’t want military confrontation with China–“whether to face protracted isolation or to preserve national security by making a U-turn” and whether to break Sino-DPRK friendship or to dismantle its nukes. This is just a wanton violation of the independent and legitimate rights, dignity and supreme interests of the DPRK and, furthermore, constitutes an undisguised threat to an honest-minded neighboring country which has a long history and tradition of friendship. China is hyping up “damage caused by the DPRK’s nuclear tests” in its three northeastern provinces. This only reveals the ulterior purpose sought by it, being displeased with the DPRK’s rapid development of nukes. As far as “violation of national interests” oft-repeated by politicians and media persons of China is concerned, it is just the issue that the DPRK should rather talk much about. It is just the DPRK whose strategic interests have been repeatedly violated due to insincerity and betrayal on the part of its partner, not China at all. Some theorists of China are spouting a load of nonsense that the DPRK’s access to nukes strains the situation in Northeast Asia and offers the U.S. an excuse for beefing up its strategic assets in the region. But the U.S. had activated its strategy for dominating Asia-Pacific long before the DPRK had access to nukes, and its primary target is just China. China should acknowledge in an honest manner that the DPRK has just contributed to protecting peace and security of China, foiling the U.S. scheme for aggression by waging a hard fight in the frontline of the showdown with the U.S. for more than seven decades, and thank the DPRK for it. Some ignorant politicians and media persons of China daringly assert that the traditional relations of the DPRK-China friendship were in line with the interests of each county in the past. They are advised to clearly understand the essence of history before opening their mouth. Their call for not only slapping stricter sanctions but also not ruling out a military intervention if the DPRK refuses to abandon its nuclear program is no more than an extremely ego-driven theory based on big-power chauvinism that not only the strategic interests but also the dignity and vital rights of the DPRK should be sacrificed for the interests of China. One must clearly understand that the DPRK’s line of access to nukes for the existence and development of the country can neither be changed nor shaken and that the DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is. The DPRK, which has already become one of the most powerful nuclear weapons state, does not feel the need to think over how many options it has now. China should no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience but make proper strategic option, facing up to the situation. China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations.

A Global Times piece DIRECTLY responds, saying that the above piece is just a “stronger disgruntling” but not mentioning China’s support for UN sanctions “against North Korea” or Pyongyang’s next step, with the editorial board claiming that the editorial is “nothing more than a hyper-aggressive piece completely filled with nationalistic passion” and claims that the DPRK does not understand “Beijing’s deep concern for the potential risks posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear tests to people living in northeastern China.” Adding to this is evidence that the Mr. Chol was onto something when he said that “the People’s Daily and the Global Times…have recently carried commentaries asserting that the DPRK’s access to nukes poses a threat to the national interests of China.” The Global Times carried many commentaries to this effect in recent days: “Is China-North Korea friendship treaty outdated?” (May 3), “China, US share goal of halting North Korean nuclear tests” (May 2), “Is breakthrough likely on NK nuke issue?” (May 1), and “Pyongyang’s failed missile test adds to Korean Peninsula tensions” (April 29). The People’s Daily has done the same thing, running similar pieces: “Responsible actions needed to ensure peace of Korean Peninsula: People’s Daily” (May 2), “Commentary: the Korean Peninsula is not the Middle East” (April 28), “US, DPRK must hold talks before it’s too late” (April 18), and “Can Korean Peninsula go from geopolitical flashpoint to stable place of peace?” (Feb. 17). Also see this article in Sina English: “China calls for end to provocations on NK issue.”

[10] Joseph Hincks, “CIA Sets Up a Mission Center to Address North Korea Threat,” The CIA has just set up a unit to deal with North Korea,” CNN,  May 11, 2017; Ben Blanchard and John Ruwitch, “Exclusive: U.S. complains to China about North Korea’s attendance at Silk Road summit,” Reuters, May 12, 2017; Matthew Pennington, “North Korea poses ‘existential’ threat, U.S. intel chief warns,” Associated Press, May 11, 2017.

“Slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”: an imperialist act of aggression

One of the victims of the imperialist US airstrike. Courtesy of SANA.

The Syrian Arab Republic is under attack! Yesterday afternoon, two US destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base, in Homs Province, with the US government claiming, falsely, that this was where a chemical weapons attack had been initiated. [1] This strike, deemed a “vital national security interest” by the Trumpster himself, rests on the idea, reminiscent of Bush’s attacks on the Republic of Iraq in 2003. The  top echelons of the war machine once again claim that “there can be no dispute” that Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack, and that there is a “high level of confidence” of Syrian involvement, with the US striking the air base’s logistics. [2] At the same time, oil man Tillerson has reversed his more reasonable position that BasharAl-Assad’s “long-term status” should be determined by the Syrian populace to calling for outright regime change. More dangerously was not Trump’s predictable argument that past approaches to Assad “failed very dramatically” or that Trump is contradicting himself by opposing Obama’s war in 2013 and now authorizing similar action, but that Russians were at the air base hit by US missiles! [3] This portends that there will be a wider war. This is hinted by a number of facts.  For one, 900 marines, Army Rangers, and other troops are currently in Syria, which may include or add to the 279 Military and Civilian Personnel who are currently in Syria. [4] It is not known whether they were participate in this war or not. Regardless, Trump is a clear warmonger, engaging the same strike plan Obama readied in 2013, building on the imperialist Obama legacy of eight years.

While I am aware that this war is a distraction from Trump’s fascist agenda to cut down funding for social services, support police murders, greenlight pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, among many others, that trample on the rights of indigenous people, and many other horrors, I do think this deserves some treatment so this war can be effectively written about, the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives can be exposed, and an anti-imperialist strategy forward to oppose a war that the capitalist class is giddy about can be proposed.

The reasons for war

Like in Bosnia (1999), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and many actions since, this war has a humanitarian reason behind it. While this military action is hypocritical since the US coalition killed more civilians than Russia or ISIS (called Daesh in the rest of this post) last month, that the amount of explosives in Syria and Iraq will take 40-50 years to clean up, and that this missile strike is one of the many US military forays in the 21st century, with this one putting the US in a proxy battle with Russia’s military, the Pentagon doesn’t seem to care about these consequences. [5] On April 4, the Trumpster declared that the “chemical attack in Syria” was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” saying that the actions by the “Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” claiming that Obama’s administration “did nothing” (not true), and going on to say that the US “stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.” While this is typical imperialist boilerplate, it should be debunked right here and now.

While the narrative pushed by the Western capitalist government and compliant media claim that Syria is responsible for the attack on Apr 4 in Idlib, indications seem to say this isn’t the case. Even the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) showed itself to be an organ of imperialism when it declared that “the Syrian regime [needed] to stop using the war machinery, torture and killings against its own people.” Apart from the rush to judgment in this case, the Russian narrative that the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) bombed a terrorist stockpile with chemical weapons, which they didn’t know were in there, seems compelling and credible. [6] This is made further ridiculous by the fact that Syria has already destroyed their chemical weapons stockpile and even if they did, they wouldn’t use them. They have done so in compliance with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is still investigating the attack as I write this. Recently, Russia stood up for Syria in the UN Security Council by stopping a Western-backed resolution on the chemical weapons attack which presumes that the “guilty” party (who they peg as Syria) cannot be allowed to be innocent, leaving countries like Iran to call for disarmament of all terrorist groups in the country, something the West won’t dare to say.

By April 6, the foundation was set for war. When asked about military action in Syria, Trump gave no specifics to the compliant media, only saying that “what Assad did is terrible…what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes,” indicated that he may talk to Russia in the future about it, and declared that “what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.” Such vagueness was in line with the new Pentagon position to not reveal how many troops are fighting Daesh, with 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, as of June of last year, the latest numbers. It also is reminiscent of Trump’s “secret plan” to defeat Daesh that he “didn’t want to reveal” during the presidential campaign.

In his speech later that day at his lush resort in Mar-A-Lago, a show of how he is a fascist capitalist, Trump showed that he is a murderous imperialist just like the presidents before him. He called Bashar al-Assad a “dictator,” saying that he was responsible for killing “lives of helpless men, women, and children” and declaring that he ordered “a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched” which he said was a “vital national security interest” of the US, along with declaring that Syria used “banned chemical weapons,” violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, that previous attempts to change “Assad’s behavior have all failed,” and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.” It is this speech that the title of this article comes from, although I twisted his phrase to use it in an anti-imperialist manner rather than an imperialist one. He ended with a typical religious message, claiming ridiculously that as “long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.” Anyone with sense knows this is an utter lie, that the US empire is a ravenous, blood-sucking beast.

Later that day, oil man Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and war criminal McMaster, the National Security Advisor, gave a wide-ranging press conference. Tillerson spoke to the media, knowing that they were not adversarial, declaring that there had been two “chemical attacks” carried out by the Syrian govt. on Mar. 25 and 30th, saying that the US government had a “very high level of confidence” this was the case, sounding eerily like the arguments for the Iraq invasion in 2003, part of the first thirty year war on the country (1991-2011). He went on to blame Russia for being responsible for not following UN resolutions, claimed laughably that Assad is “normalizing the use of chemical weapons” (no, the Western-backed terrorists are), arguing that the strike was  “proportional…against this heinous act,” said that the US government did not have any “discussions or prior contacts” prior to the attack with Moscow or Putin, saying that the US operated under “military de-confliction agreements in place with the Russian military.” If this wasn’t enough, he went on to expect that the Kurds and Turks would applaud the action while Bashar al-Assad and Russia, would oppose it, saying that the US wants to “stabilize areas in the south of Syria…Restore them to local governance,” use the Geneva Process to “resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure,” and push out Assad, and said out right that “our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.” This is just imperialist rhetoric, but it could indicate a broader war in the future. McMaster, also the NSA Director, had a lot to say as well. He noted that the attack had been two days of planning, repeating that the US had a “very high degree of confidence precisely where the location originated, and…the sort of chemicals that were used in the attack” thanks to the intelligence community, going on to give a vague story of “three options” available to Trump, but no specifics, and claiming that “the regime will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons we think beyond this particular airfield,” when those committing mass murder is really the murderous US empire. McMaster went on to say that “this was not a small strike,” claimed widely that there had been “50 chemical attacks previously, post-2013, when the U.N. resolution went into effect,” saying that this was “entirely a U.S. operation” did not have “Russian permission” (why would it?)

So apart from the imperial lies and distortions, it is important to recognize the consequences of this murderous action by the Trump administration.

The consequences of international murder

As the Russia hacking narrative seems to fade away into the wind or at least will be pushed away by war, people are suffering from US military aggression in Syria. Before getting to that, it must be recognized that this came at a time that US military aggression in Yemen is increasing, with a US-made famine, a new US drone policy has been declared, more money has been set aside for war, and the SAA is advancing in its fight against Daesh, with the liberation of Aleppo most notably, as the US engages in varied war crimes. [7] So, this was comes at an opportune time. With low approval ratings of Trump’s presidency from Gallup and Pew Research Center, among others, reported relatively recently, the war provides a way for Trump to take advantage of the rally ’round the flag effect to boost his approval rating. Also, it is undoubtedly a distraction, like all wars are, and a way to flex US muscles.

Each of 59 the 2,900 pound Tomahawk missiles, hit “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at the Al-Shayrat Air Base, as the Pentagon claimed, backed up what they implied was “actionable intelligence.” [8] Early indications are that six to nine people, including four children and three SAA soldiers, were killed, with the Syrian media now saying that 20 were injured and one killed, but there is no doubt that this strike makes the US partner of the Western-backed (and Gulf-backed) terrorists within Syria, with unfounded claims by “experts” in the Western bourgeois media. [9] There are questions whether most of the missiles were shot down, but indications seem to say this was not the case. What is clear is that the air base attacked by US missiles had 45 airplane hangers, which were very fortified, reportedly used by Russian jet fighters, along with helicopter gunships, all to fight the terrorists within the country, Daesh and its affiliates. [10] Global Security described more of what the base had:

“…military ammunition and equipment warehouses…fuel materials storage…In 2015, Russia expanded the runways to accommodate Russian aircraft. The forces of the 50th Air Brigade, in particular the 677th and 685th squadrons of the Su-22M3/M4 fighter bombers and the 675th squadron of the MiG-23ML/MLD fighter jets, were based there. Some of the MiG-23s had not moved for many years and obviously were in a state of incapacity. Taking into account losses for previous years, probably, there could be about one and a half dozen of the combat-ready Su-22s at the airbase at the moment of the missile strike…In February of 2016, the Russian military doubled the number of attack helicopters stationed at Shayrat…Russia’s 120th Artillery Brigade with six 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B towed howitzers was deployed at a Syrian Arab Army base to the south of the airbase. There are reports that the Russians also allowed Iranian Air Force squadrons to utilize the facilities.”

In sum, apart from the smoke and broken fences, the damage was extensive: “runways, refueling stations and MiG-23 planes in their hangars” were destroyed, as Russian air defense systems ‘did not act as the Tomahawk cruise missiles flew past them.” One assessment said that “some 20 Syrian waplanes have been destroyed by US cruise missiles.” ISi, a satellite imagery company, said on a webpage which is sadly only available through Google cache, the following:

“…the total of 44 targets [were] hit. Several targets may have hit twice…An in-depth examination of the damage to the objectives shows that 13 double hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) got 23 hits. 5 workshops got hit.  The workshops are not necessarily related to WMD, but to aircraft and their ability to do maintenance and fly…Ten ammunition storages got hit. Seven fuel reservoirs of the AFB got hit at two sites with eight hits total. Two locations remain untouched. One SA6 Battery utterly destroyed along with its radars and control systems. In total, five SA6 Battery elements hit…The results show that the target hits were accurate and that the Tomahawks have been used effectively against quality targets. Although 58 missiles hit the base, it seems that the overall damage to the base is limited because the warhead of the Tomahawk is not considered large”

To get to the point, the base that was bounded was used to fight Daesh, so it only an unsurprising coincidence that ISIS would attack the airbase AFTER the missile attack (also see here). Its almost like they knew it was going to happen. So in that way, the US attack, which is aggression and an act of war, seems aimed at stalling the Syrian anti-terrorism effort.

Other consequences are as dire. Attempts to keep in place the UN ceasefire, will be harder than ever. Also, relations between the United States and Russia will become more frayed. With Russia suspending a 2015 agreement of military cooperation with US, condemning US military strike as “aggression against a sovereign government,” there were also claims that the US-Russia communication line was cut, although this was just rumors and untrue since the US contacted the Russians before the missile strikes. [11] Beyond this, Russia has pledged itself to shore up Syria’s air defenses, gave its military bases enhanced air cover, and sent a warship bound for Syria’s port of Tartus. The US, with this aggression, is dangerously close to a military clash with the Russian military, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, saying that the strikes were “one step away from military clashes with Russia. President Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext. This step by Washington will inflict
major damage on U.S.-Russia ties.” [12] The Russian Foreign Ministry put out an even broader statement condemning the attacks:

“The United States conducted strikes against Syrian government troops in the early hours of April 7, using chemical weapons attacks in Idlib Province as a pretext. The US opted for a show of force, for military action against a country fighting international terrorism without taking the trouble to get the facts straight. It is not the first time that the US chooses an irresponsible approach that aggravates problems the world is facing, and  threatens international security. The very presence of military personnel from the US and other countries in Syria without consent from the Syrian government or a UN Security Council mandate is an egregious and obvious violation of international law that cannot be justified. While previous initiatives of this kind were presented as efforts to combat terrorism, now they are clearly an act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. Actions undertaken by the US today  inflict further damage to the Russia-US relations. Russia has expressed on numerous occasions that it was ready to  cooperate on resolving the most urgent issues the world is facing today, and that fighting international terrorism  was a top priority. However, we will never agree to unsanctioned action against the legitimate Syrian government  that has been waging an uncompromising war on international terrorism for a long time. Seeking to justify military  action Washington has totally distorted what had happened in Idlib. The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons there. Damascus simply does not have them, as confirmed a number of times by qualified experts. This was the conclusion reached by the Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Over the recent years this organisation inspected almost all the facilities linked or possibly linked to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. As for Idlib, the terrorists operating there used to produce toxic land mines intended for use in Syria and Iraq. These manufacturing facilities were put out of operation in a military operation carried out by the Syrian air force. The US pretends that it does not understand obvious things, turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons in Iraq, officially confirmed by Baghdad. The US refuses to believe the evidence provided by certified documents confirming the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo. In doing so, the US is abetting international terrorism and making it stronger. New WMD attacks can be expected. There is no doubt that the military action by the US is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul,  where the campaign carried out among others by US-led coalition has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and an escalating humanitarian disaster. It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington’s decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force. Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US. We call on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments.”

With the UN Security Council meeting on the missile strike, which I’ll discuss in the next section, there is no doubt that this war will not get any easier, even with Mossad supporting US imperialism with their false claim that Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack, and Russia standing by Syria. [13]

The condemnations and international reaction

First and foremost, the Syrian government rightly condemned this imperial act of aggression. The People’s Council, or what is called the “People’s Assembly” in Syrian state media, with Hadiyeh Khalaf Abbas as its speaker, condemned the missile strikes, saying that “this blatant aggression came in defense of the collapsed terrorist organizations and in an attempt to revive them since that Israel failed to carry out this mission before…This new US aggression…reveals again the falsity of the US allegations on combating ISIS terrorist organization.” Additionally, Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, criticized the action as contradictory, the Syrian military said that the attack makes the US partners of Daesh, and duly elected President Bashar al-Assad argued that the attack was “an unjust and arrogant aggression…an outrageous act that clarifies in conclusive evidence once again what Syria has been saying that the succession of administrations of this regime does not change the deep policies of its entity which is represented by targeting states, subjugating peoples and the attempt to dominate the world.” Syria was not alone in this condemnation, with many countries showing their solidarity.

Iran and Russia were the main countries that condemned the attack. For Iran, they argued that US strikes were unwise, dangerous, destructive, and violate international law with one Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, saying that it is an “utter lie” Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack and “anti-US” slogans shouted at Friday prayers. [14] For Iran, the attack is worrisome because the possibility of a war with Iran looms larger than ever. The US is, as Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, put it, the US is “fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria.”

As for Russia, as previously discussed, condemned the attacks as aggression, saying that they will help bolster Syrian military defenses. Before April 6 meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov argued that

“It has come down to us that we do not cover the regime, but that we are in the country at the invitation of a legitimate government and that we are conducting an anti-terrorist operation there. Therefore, if there is a national point of view, it should remain within the national framework, and not be presented as truth in absolute authority…We will review the information, but we do not forget that on April 5, 2003, preparing the ground for the war in Iraq, General Powell, then the US Secretary of State waved a test tube with anthrax. Speaking of intelligence about the…types of WMD which in Iraq have never been found…They are trying through their project to gain access throughout Syria. This is unclear, because the investigation must be conducted at the crime scene.”

The embattled Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela showed their solidarity. Their Ministry of the People’s Power for External Relations issued a similar, statement, actually talking about US imperialism unlike the Russians:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the unilateral attack, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, perpetrated by the United States of America against the Syrian Arab Republic, by launching missiles at the Syrian air base Ash Shairat in the Province of Homs, yesterday. Venezuela points out that neither the United Nations nor the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have yet reported the results of their investigation into the chemical weapons incident on 4 April Resulted in a tragic loss of 86 deaths and dozens of injuries. The Venezuelan Government condemns the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by any country, person or entity, in any part of the world, whatever the circumstances and the reasons. It is deeply concerned that imperial factors justify and legitimize military interventions by endorsing actions by terrorist and extremist groups to the Syrian government through false positives. This attack has also allowed the logistical reconstruction of the terrorist groups, who then attacked the Syrian national army. The US attack on the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes an aggression to the sovereignty of this country and violates the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, such as the principle of territorial integrity, self-determination of peoples, non-interference in matters States and sovereign equality. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates its deep friendship with the sister Syrian Arab Republic, a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (Mnoal), and reaffirms its commitment to all political and diplomatic efforts for the sake of peace. Syria, respecting its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Likely, the DPRK will soon voice their solidarity as well after Syria opposed imperial machinations in the Korean Peninsula aimed against Iran and because of the cordial relations between the two country, along with their brotherly solidarity.

At the U.N. Security Council’s Meeting on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria today, streamed live by C-SPAN, numerous member states spoke out against imperial aggression. Bolivia’s representative gave an impassioned speech to UN Security Council, saying, while holding up a picture of Colin Powell, that

“Now the United States believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. That’s not what international law is about…I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States…affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found… never were they found”

As for Russia, they opposed war, as did Senegal, although the latter’s reasoning was weak, sounding like an imperial puppet state. As for Kazakhstan they supports negotiations, doesn’t want ceasefire to go away and opposes war, saying
sovereignty of states must be respected, and said that OPCW is working with Syrian govt., Ethiopia said that if situation worsens the Syrian state could collapse,
terrorists win, we need to be wise now, and have good statesmanship. UK, France, Sweden and Ukraine’s representatives supported the airstrikes, even though the Swedish ambassador wounded if the US strike follows international law. Then there was horrid Nikki Haley, who happened to be the chair of this meeting of the UN Security Council, for some reason. She claimed widely that the Syrian government has murdered hundreds of thousands, said it is “beyond a doubt” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, claimed that US “destroyed the airfield.” She went on to say that that the Syrian government engaged in “crimes against humanity,” that Iranian andRussian governments have a major responsibility for attack, and that US doesn’t want to strengthen Assad but this will lead to “more murder.” Her charges went further, declaring thar Russia is lying about chemical weapons, that US strikes are “measured” but they are “prepared to do more” and they want a “political process” to push Assad out. The Syrian representative arguably had one of the best speeches apart from the one by Bolivia’s representative. He argued that the US engaged in a “barbaric act of aggression,”leading many to be injured and wide-ranging damage, that the US has used false pretexts of chemical weapons, the very same pretext used by terrorists and their supporters in the West. He went on to say that Syria does not have chemical weapons and has not used them, that terrorists had chemical stockpiles, that the illegal American aggression violates UN charter, and that this is a grave extrapolation which came out of US covert assistance to opposition groups. He went further to say that the US has become
a partner of terrorists, trying to weaken SAA and its allies, with this action saving Al-Nusra after grave damage by SAA,and that the US,UK, and France, are spreading the same sorts of lies they used to attack Iraq. He ended by mentioning the Colin Powell speech, saying that US is using fabricated information for attack, saying that US wants to target states and assert their hegemony across the world, that the West haven’t cared about human rights for years, want hegemony and control of resources, and that this military action will lead to more chaos and threatens peace and security in the region. Right after this, Russia’s representative was recognized once again, saying that it is not right for other countries to insult Russia, like Nikki Haley. It was right after that the meeting is adjourned, with no more speakers.

With this open meeting showing broad opposition to US action, except from a few countries, who were US allies. This was bolstered by the fact that today, Moscow and Beijing proposed that “a United Nations panel investigating chemical weapons
use in Syria be extended to Iraq,” which was rejected by the UK, of course. For its part, China called for a UN investigation of the chemical weapons attacks on multiple occasions. These countries were not alone in their condemnations.

Numerous international organizations showed their solidarity. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, said that they support any Syrian response to the US aggression. Hezbollah, also called the Lebanese Resistance, argued that the US missile strikes were a continuation of aggressive policy toward Syria “in the service of the Zionist entity and to achieve its ambitions in the region” and that it is a “stupid action by the Trump
administration will mark the beginning of a major and dangerous tension in the region and increase the complexity of the situation around the world.” The Syrian Communist Party- Bakdash, had one of the strongest statements against the imperial aggression:

This attack is a new step from the American imperialist aggression on our homeland Syria, which was preceded by the landing of American military units in the north-east of our country without any accepted justification in international law…This aggressive step comes in the context of imperialist and Zionist policy aimed at the depletion and division of Syria, which is a steadfast fortress in the face of total colonial domination over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world in general…America is the largest international terrorist in the world. The Syrian Communist Party calls upon the masses of our proud people to close ranks more and more in the face of the imperialist aggression and to provide all support to our brave national army in its fierce battle against the aggressors and their accomplices from terrorist gangs. The Syrian Communist Party goes to the world progressive public opinion, to all the progressive and democratic forces, to the free world, in a call to denounce the American imperialist aggression on Syria and increase their solidarity with the Syrian national steadfastness that contributes effectively to the struggle of global liberation forces against imperialism and imperialism.

This was followed by a statement by the party’s Secretary General, Ammar Bakdash, toto Damascus Radio, saying the following, in part, in much stronger words:

“What happened today is a continuation of the American aggression on our country. This attack on a military base of the Syrian army is a continuation of the American aggression…This aggression proves once again what we have already pointed out that the main enemy of our people is American imperialism and its ally in the Zionist-Israeli region…America once again proves that it is the world’s greatest terrorist. It practices State terrorism against all the peoples of the world in accordance with its expansionist colonial interests…America has a consistent expansionist policy throughout the world, especially in our region, and all the disasters that have been taking place in the region and the tragedies that our people have been living for more than six years are mainly due to the policy of American imperialism. Our main enemy is America, which has never disappeared from the scene…Therefore, anyone who thinks that America can have a positive role in terms of the peace process in Syria, is also important, this is the catch of the wind, and the void of falsehoods. America is in its interest to subjugate the peoples of the region to its full dominion by setting up its chief agent, Zionist Israel, as an agent for this region.”

The Communist Party of Italy also condemned the attacks in similar terms, saying that Trump has “declared war…against a country already destroyed by a violent imperialist war by the US and NATO,” saying (translation of this one is not exact) that “the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be political suicide” and that the

“US military attack against Syria is nothing but an extension of the long and strategic imperialist attack against the entire Middle East region, horrendous and bloody attack that continues, unpunished for decades and has already seen complete destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with hundreds of thousands of dead and missing, of entire peoples thrown into despair and hunger, destruction of entire nations…it is equally clear that the US and NATO, and believe they have done the dirty work in Iraq and in Libya…it must be remembered how, with a fierce apology and cynical, the US and NATO attacked Syria in 2011: then, a vast arc of forces…(USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the UK) invested politically and economically in the construction of “social movement orange” against Assad and even more invested in the construction of ” Free Syrian Army ‘against Assad, “Free Army” of 100,000 men who joined in the military struggle against the legitimate Syrian government, the jihadists of Al-Nusra Front and the militia of the Caliphate…now that Assad, backed by Putin’s Russia, fought back and defeated on the field is the ‘ “Free Army” imperialist that the Caliphate…the US attack again…Trump “promises” war everywhere. The danger of imperialist world war…it really is time that the communist forces, leftist, democratic, pacifist all, come back, joined in the field, to fight and to reconstruct what is missing too long: a struggle and mass movement against the war. Against the imperialist policies against rearmament and the exit from NATO…THE PCI is in the field, it will be in every street, to struggle and to build the broadest unity against the war.”

The National Secretariat of the same Communist Party said something similar. They strongly condemned the war, saying that is no evidence that the Syrian military used chemical weapons, saying it “would be a political suicide for the Syrian government,” that Trump has “threatened war against North Korea, he has threatened China. Now he has launched an attack on Syria.”  They further argued that

“A new wind of World War II threatens the world, driven by US imperialism. The struggle for peace is the first task of the communist forces, leftist, democratic. You need to rebuild a mass movement against the war, is now closer than ever. The PCI is in the field and calls on all progressive forces and anti-war unity.”

Within the United States, the Workers World Party (WWP), Answer Coalition, and the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) professed their solidarity with the Syrian state and against US imperialism. The WWP argued that the US government reversed its position, with warmongers in Washington and their allies blaming the Syrian government for chemical attacks, saying that imperialist politicians, pro-war forces, and bourgeois press “reeked of another U.S. invasion and wider war,” saying that a similar pretext was used in Vietnam in 1964 and Iraq in 2003. The statement goes on to say that Trump “transformed before our eyes into the Clinton interventionist,” that the US stance reeks of hypocrisy. They further said that

“What smelled familiar about this lie wasn’t just the record of past wars. In 2012, Obama drew what he called a red line in Syria, the Damascus government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Syria possessed chemical weapons as a deterrent to Israeli nuclear weapons…Obama’s statement encouraged the proliferation of chemical weapons among the reactionary contra forces…in 2013 a chemical weapons attack struck the Damascus suburb of Ghouta…Obama threatened a “no-fly zone”…The corporate media marched lockstep with the Pentagon…Russia negotiated the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons to appease the Western war appetite, a process overseen by international observers. The Syrian state no longer has any chemical weapons, yet the media nearly four years later continue to mimic the Pentagon’s argument, as if this had never happened…With Islamic State on its last legs, it became clear that the U.S. role on the ground in Syria would evolve…Those who mistakenly believed Trump would be  anti-intervention may find this change shocking. Those who understand the nature of U.S. imperialism knew it was inevitable….Often, the U.S.-led coalition struck Syrian soldiers, paving the way for IS advances…Syria today stands at the front line, defending itself against a massive imperialist assault. It is the last truly independent Arab state. For six years, Syrians have faced a multifaceted fight to the death against dozens of countries, yet they and their allies are closer to victory than ever before…It is the duty of those living in the belly of the beast, in the U.S., to unequivocally demand imperialist forces leave Syria. We have to combat bourgeois propaganda until our vocal cords are worn…The liberation of the workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S. is dependent on our ability to unite our struggles with the independence struggles of oppressed nations.”

The Answer Coalition and PSL had similar statements. The Answer Coalition declared that Trump’s administration is “waging a new war of aggression in the Middle East,” noted that Killary Clinton “emerged back into the public spotlight to demand that Trump carry out military strikes against Syria,” and that US “imperialist military actions  [are] against an independent, sovereign Middle Eastern government” under the pretext of “protecting civilians from weapons of mass destruction,” bombing the “secular government of Bashar al-Assad at the moment that the Syrian national army was defeating al-Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist armed organizations.” They go on to say that “every person in the United States should assume that the U.S. government, the Pentagon, and the CIA are lying when they seek to justify this new military aggression” and that these “military strikes…pose a grave danger of escalating into a regional or even global confrontation” since the Syrian government “has the support of Russia and Iran” and they called for anti-war protests across the country. The PSL reposted the same statement and it was also promoted by World Can’t Wait. Then there is the World Peace Council which denounced the imperial action, saying

“The World Peace Council denounces and condemns the recent missile attacks of the USA against Syrian targets on 6th April,as an act of further escalation of the imperialist intervention in Syria and the region, based on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun town near Idleb by the Syrian army, a crime with suspicious motives. The US bombing of Syria constitutes not only the violation of the principles of the UN Charter but is also the continuation of the US policies of the previous US administrations, now by the Trump administration…The WPC expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people and the peoples of the region for their rights to determine freely and without any foreign interference their fortunes. We denounce also the hyprocrisy and double moral of the imperialists, who support and/or carry out attacks on peoples and nations, driving hundreds of thousands to become refugees, and at the same time “shed tears” about the displaced people who run away for their lives. The WPC calls upon its members and friends to condemn the imperialist interventions and plans in the region and to express their solidarity with the peoples in need.”

Bourgeois progressives and libertarians also opposed the war. The socially democratic Green Party of the United States, condemned the attack, only for the reasons of not having congressional approval, international support, while Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party went further, saying that the “U.S. has no moral right to wage war on Syria.” Then, there was the people of CodePink. Medea Benjamin, of the latter organization, and Ann Wright, said that in 2013, “four years ago, massive citizen opposition and mobilization stopped a possible U.S. military attack on the Assad government of Syria,” said that “the U. S. military is already heavily involved in the Syrian quagmire,” and cited the Iraq War as an example. Of course, neither the Green Party peoples, Benjamin, or Wright declared their solidarity with the government of Syria or mentioned the word imperialism. This was reflected in the fact that CodePink blared out that there should not be a war in Syria, that war is not the answer, that there is congressional authorization, and rejecting US escalation, showing that they have a bourgeois analysis. The same goes for Katrina vandenHeuvel of The Nation‏, who only said there is no “military solution” to the “crisis” in Syria, Rep. Ted Lieu who opposes US war in Syria but has no solidarity, or libertarian Senator Rand Paul who condemns what happened in Syria and says that intervention in Syria will not make the US safer, that there needs to be congressional authorization. Even Ben Norton and Max Bluementhal teamed up to write an antiwar article which says “U.S. intervention would be the last hope for Syrian rebels, and a shot in the arm to al-Qaeda, which has grown to record size thanks to America’s military meddling across the Middle East” but barely mentions the words “Russia” and “Assad,” never using the word imperialist or capitalist.

Worst of all are the statements of bourgeois progressive groups. CREDO, Peace Action, Win Without war and MoveOn put out a joint statement saying that the attack was  unilateral, reckless, and without an “apparent plan for what comes next and with no legal authorization,” saying that “this was an illegal act of war, launched in violation of the U.S. Constitution and international law” and saying that “Trump cannot bomb his way to peace,” adding that Trump should “be leading the world in a diplomatic effort to end the war, increasing American support for humanitarian assistance, and welcoming Syrian refugees to the safety of America.” As I have discussed before on this blog, diplomacy of the United States is a form of imperialism. Then there’s Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs for Peace Action, who argued that “only a political solution can end the carnage in Syria” and that if we go too far, the US would “risk retaliation against U.S. troops stationed in Syria, and could dangerously escalate tensions with Russia and Iran,” adding that “Congress has not authorized the use of military force against the Assad government, which should be a prerequisite to any military action.” [15] These pathetic, milquetoast statements will not get anyone anywhere. In fact, Martin’s statement is basically an imperialist one, worrying about risks to US footsoldiers of imperialism! These bourgeois progressives are clearly, and likely will never be, comrades of the Syrian people. They are as bad as the dumb liberals who are still complaining about Russian involvement, saying that “Assad is a butcher” (progressive talk radio host Sam Seder), which just leads to more war. Even Democracy Now! is entertaining the notion that Trump’s attack “could” violate international law, not saying it DOES violate international law. Even British politician Nigel Farage, formerly of the fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP) and self-declared Trump supporter said that Assad is secular and that “previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” with the same in this case.

We then get to the people who support the war. Clearly, the Democrats want more war with pathetic words from people like Rania Khalek which do not inspire confidence. More directly, US Senators Mitch McConnell, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain applauded the action, Barbara Lee called for a vote, like Nancy Pelosi, Seth Moulton and Steve Russell, former vets, only are concerned because there is “no plan” presented yet. [16] Beyond this, NATO’s Secretary General, Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Carl Bildt of Sweden, Donald Tusk of EU Commission, Saad Hariri of Lebanon, and the governments of the UK, Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey, Japan, France, Britain (also see here) Italy, Australia, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia, support the attack while the UN Secretary General, who caved to Israeli and US demands recently, tried to take a middle position. They were joined by Shlomo Bolt of Syrian-American Council who said that says Trump made “right decision” to go to war, horrid Erdogan of Turkey, who clearly wants more war, the Democratic “Socialists” of America clearly as anyone can see, and last, but not least, Bernie Sanders, an imperialist worth despising. Of course, the big capitalist enterprise of Rayethon supports the war since their stock is rising as a result of the use of their Tomahawk missiles in the strike, as does the Syrian National Coalition and the neoliberal NDP (National Democratic Party) in Canada with its weak response, as does the oil companies with oil prices rising since the attack. [17] Even Chomsky continued his imperialist run, declaring that “the Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.”

Then there’s the bourgeois media. Some, of course, went further, saying that Trump is taking a “stand for humanity,” while NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who earns $10 million a year, said that he was wowed by the “beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments,” which some were angry about ONLY because Rachel “Madcow” Maddow wasn’t allowed to give her warmonger speech, saying that MSNBC was being sexist. [18] It really is a silly complaint not because the allegation of sexism is wrong but because the imperial warmongering would have delivered either way. If that wasn’t enough as the US beats drums for WWIII with its illegal missile strike, the bourgeois media in the US was gushing for war, from CNN to the New York Times, with Fareed Zakeria even saying that air strike made Trump a “president,” and beyond, along with opinions saying that there cannot be any peace under Assad, that Trump should “commit” to Syria, and that we shouldn’t be shocked by chemical weapons in Syria. [19]

A conclusion

There is no doubt that wars have been escalating under Trump’s watch, even with Steve Bannon seemingly out of the picture, and that this war should be opposed. Speaking of Bannon, it seemed like suspicious timing that ONE DAY before the military strike McMaster replaced Bannon on the National Security Council.  Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of CounterPunch agrees with me on that point, while seeming to not side with the Syrian or Russian governments, a weird sort of middle position:

“I don’t know who was behind the grisly chemical attack in the northern Syrian city of Khan Shaikhoun…Obama…made the right call in 2013, when he rejected the demands of many in his inner circle and in Congress to escalate the US intervention in Syria…All of the incentives for launching this attack favor those who want the Syrian war prolonged and the Assad regime overthrown. And it seems to have worked…Trump…swiftly followed suit, mumbling his own fatwa against the Assad regime a few hours before those missiles hit Homs…So mission accomplished for the neocons and the Hillaroids…Little Marco Rubio said Congress would be “open to ground troops” in Syria and the New York Times’ Lt. Gen. (honorary) Nicholas Kristof advised that it was “Trump is right to make Syria pay a price for war crimes, and taking out airfields is the best approach.”…A few hours before Trump fired his volley of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Force Base, Hillary Clinton…advised Trump to “take out Assad’s airfields”…Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon…went into a rage and threatened to quit after getting 86’d off of the National Security Council, but stayed after Trump assured him he can continue to attend meetings…Bannon needed to be evicted from NSC before the Syrian airstrikes could be launched.”

Other than what St. Clair says, we should recognize that for one, the Syrian Coalition, an opposition group, welcomes the senseless missile strike, which may just “reinforce the balance of power between the combating factions rather than lead to a turning point,” even though it is evident that that the Trump policy is now regime change by military action. [20] It is interesting that Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, condemned use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said the country is “concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria.” Of course the bourgeois media declares that Syrians are “split” over the US missile strike, with the narrative that those in rebel-held regions supporting the strike, and those in government-held regions think differently, although there is no doubt broader opposition than their claims. [21] There will be even more opposition since it seems evident that only ground forces in Syria itself can topple the duly-elected government of Bashar al-Assad and the National Progressive Front.

For any of those who said that Trump would be non-interventionist because of his campaign promises and not understanding how he took a more pro-military position as the campaign progressed forward, like the often cited and anti-leftist analysis from the libertarians at antiwar.com, Zero Hedge, or anywhere else, they were completely wrong.  Even as the Syrian government is open into international inquiries of the chemical  attacks, the future of the war seems bleak, with more money going to war, and the Senate not coming out of recess to vote on Syria war. [22] But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and the socially democratic, secular state of Syria against the imperialist monster which threatens to tear the country apart.

With the slim, but affirmed victory in Ecuador of Lenin Moreno, there is still hope on the horizon. There is a possibility for opposing “limited action,” an imperialist war, in Syria, and we don’t have to listen to the propagandists like Avaaz who declare that “some have gone so far as to suggest that the Syrian Army did not actually drop the Sarin gas. This is such a far-fetched claim I can only assume they have been captured by Russian propaganda media,” or the bourgeois media who reprints commentaries by US generals about what is “happening” in Syria. There is no doubt that Trump angered his base, those who voted for him originally, while an approval rating bump is in question.

As radicals, revolutionaries, socialists, communists, or what have you, the first step as of now is to protest this horrid imperialist war which will benefit the capitalist class, causing them to smile in glee. This strike, I feel, is only the beginning of something greater, which was hinted at by Tillerson and Haley in recent days. This will again support terrorist propaganda that the “Christian nation” of the United States is bombing a “Muslim” nation in Syria. I don’t want to say it will lead to blowback, which is a distorted version of what former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson declares in his many books about US empire since he is talking about foreign response to covert actions, not overt actions like military strikes, but also because I think the idea of blowback seems to bring with it, at least how it is commonly interpreted, a sort of Orientalism. I have credit my fellow comrade, Karen (kazahann) with that insight, which I’ve built upon here.

I don’t see this as a one-off strike which will go away. While we can stay critical of independent capitalist Russia, as William Blum has called it, we should stand in solidarity with the Syrian state and the proletariat therein as the PSL, WWP, Answer Coalition, and Communist parties, among others, of the world have done. As most of the readers who encounter this post likely live in the core, we must do what we can to stop the imperialist beast. What that entails is up to personal discretion. But, a powerful peace movement would be a welcome addition to what currently exists now. As critics and those trying to spread our ideas to the masses, we must counter the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives, exposing their milquetoast ideas as garbage, showing that there are better ideas to move the world forward. I would have provided a more through analysis here of Syria, its history, politics and whatnot, but do to certain complications, I cannot do that at this time, but promise that such a post may come in the future. For all of those comrades out there who stand against this hideous war and those living in Syria especially, I stand with you.

UPDATE:

There are numerous statements and sayings that I missed in working through this article. Just today, the DPRK’s state media released a statement saying that Kim Jong Un, chairman received a reply from Bashar Al-Assad two days ago, thanking the former for “his kind congratulations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party” and expressed thanks for him “having appreciated the role of the Party guiding the Syrian Arab people in the struggle to meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world’s terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail.” [23] The statement also said the relations between the two countries should stay strong. There was also, as international media reported that the DPRK said that “the U.S. missile attack against Syria is a clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn this,” even though the KCNA did not report ANY articles with such words. There was then, the stories that the US wants more intervention in Syria, just like I had said yesterday, that no proof of chemical weapons use from the Syrian airfield has been presented. Apart from statements by other groups, a study guide of articles on the Syrian conflict has been assembled by a fellow comrade.

Now, for the statements of differing groups. I start with the statement of the American Party of Labor which was issued yesterday:

“The American Party of Labor condemns in the strongest terms the attack of April 6, 2017 of the United States Navy against a Syrian airbase…this attack is clearly an effort to bolster the hegemony of the United States in the midst of Trump’s own catastrophic incompetence and a myriad of evolving geopolitical environments…Trump has openly vilified refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict, showing that his administration and its supporters have little care or respect for the lives of oppressed people except when it is politically expedient. Both Trump and his administration are but the newest faces in the evolution of American imperialism…this attack by the U.S. is not done for the sake of humanity or any ethical principle. The U.S. has been sinking its teeth into Syria for years now…The pronounced ethics of the imperialist state are nothing more than a sham. This attack also demonstrates the strengthening of the international antagonisms between the imperialist powers…The threats of war are now being expressed more openly than ever. Imperialism sees war as a solution to the economic crisis and stagnation…There is an increasing risk that regional wars instigated by the imperialist powers, particularly the USA, may escalate to world war. This attack is another blatant example of “humanitarian” imperialism and has grave consequences for the peoples of the world…The American Party of Labor…condemns in the strongest terms the neo-fascist Trump regime, its warmongering and militaristic aggression, and its violation of the sovereignty of Syria.”

Of course, the Trotskyists had to get their foot in the door too, with their group, In Defence of Marxism (part of the International Marxist Tendency). They condemned the attacks but said, almost parroting imperialist propaganda, that “…the Assad regime is fully capable at carrying out such an attack…It has the upper hand in the civil war, thanks to Russia’s backing,” and going to claim that the “Russians and the Syrians were bombing Aleppo” without saying that this was part of the liberation of Aleppo! Even if you said their statement was partially anti-imperialist, they said that the war is a plan to “divide the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance and to prepare to negotiate the future of Assad,” even as they said that “there is nothing progressive in the Assad regime or in the dirty games of Russia in Syria,” although this is ridiculous especially when it comes to the Syrian government, and they add that “the only real solution is a clear independent class position…we cannot give any support to the competitors of our own imperialists, to Putin, Assad or the Mullahs in Iran.” Such absurdist reasoning shows why for one Trotskyists cannot be trusted and two that they are not believing in international solidarity.

BAYAN-USA, a progressive Filipino organization, used some of the same rhetoric as the Trotskyists but also took a more principled position:

“President Trump’s decision to launch 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian Air force base in Homs province was not driven by his humanitarian desires to help the Syrian people against the Assad regime…the US war in Syria will never resolve the problems in the country and will only create more chaos, destruction, and death. The proxy war in Syria can seem very complicated, but underneath all the political rhetoric of good versus evil…thousands of innocent Syrians have been killed and thousands having to flee their home country as refugees is due to US monopoly capitalist interest…The root of all US wars of aggression lies in imperialist geopolitical interest to expand its hegemony over land, natural resources, trade routes, consumer markets for US surplus products and cheap labor markets…Both the Trump and Assad regimes are using the same exact rhetoric of “Fighting the War on Terror” as their reasoning behind their attacks on the Syrian people, but we must uncover the truth behind their interest in this war which is economic power in a centrally located oil rich region of the world…We demand an end to US warmongering and intervention for the sake of humanity. We call on all peoples of the world to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and their rights to self-determination for their own country.”

In news beyond this, CNN spouted imperialist propaganda about “another” chemical weapons attack, citing unnamed activists (like we should trust that), the US engaged in an airstrike supposedly aimed against Daesh but actually killing 13 Syrians when it hit an internet cafe, along with protests outside US embassy in Turkey, UN Office in Syria, followed by condemnation from Turkey’s Patriotic Party. [24] Beyond this, while the Saudis praised the attack, Western moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned it, while Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the “US’s open aggression against Syria.” There’s also the reported news that the SAA attacked a a U.S. recon aircraft in Northern Syria.

I think that’s all for updates for now. More may be added in the future.

Notes

[1] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017; Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches strike on Syria air base after chemical weapons attack,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[2] Ibid; Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017; Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017.

[3] Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” and Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”.”

[4] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017. Also see the recent data (Dec. 2016) from the DMDC for the data on the 279 military and civilian personnel in Syria

[5] Rachel Roberts, “US-led coalition killed more Syrian civilians than Isis or Russia in March, figures show,” The Independent, Apr. 3, 2017; Edith M. Lederer, “UN: 40-50 years needed to clear weapons in Iraq and Syria,” ABC News (originally an AP story), Apr. 4, 2017; Josh Lederman, “Syria Strikes Add to List of 21st Century US Military Forays,” Bloomberg News (originally an AP story), Apr. 6, 2017. The missile strike in Syria adds to the list of US military forays in Afghanistan (started 2001), Iraq (started 2003), Libya (2011, recent years), drone wars (esp. 2009-2014), and ISIS (2014 onward).

[6] Darius Shahtahmasebi, “What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Yesterday’s Chemical Attack in Syria,” The Anti Media, Apr. 5, 2017; Scott Horton, “4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative,” The Libertarian Institute; Paul Antonopoulos, “Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack,” Information Clearing House, Apr. 4, 2017; Curt Mills, “Was Assad Behind the Idlib Chemical Massacre?,” U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 6, 2017; Sarah D., “‘Shame on you!’ Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s condemnation of Syrian attacks rings hollow,” Twitchy, Apr. 5, 2017; From “ashamed” to a defense of Assad: Republican lawmakers offer varied reactions to recent chemical attack in Syria,” Salon, Apr. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “Syria denies using chemical weapons in Idlib,” Al Jazeera, Apr. 6, 2017; “US Syria Strike Was Illegal, No Matter Who Carried Out Gas Attack,” The Real News, Apr. 7, 2017; Phyllis Bennis, “Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead,” The Real News, Apr. 2017; Vijay Prashad, “Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great American Catastrophe in Syria?,” AlterNet, Apr. 5, 2017. Basically, Tulsi Gabbard and Thomas Massie were wary of making conclusions yet, with people claiming they are “Assad apologists” as a result.

[7] For more information, and other related articles, see: PressTV, “Syria launches counterattack near capital after militant incursion,” Mar. 21, 2017; PressTV, “Syrian forces retake Damascus areas from militants,” Mar. 20, 2017; PressTV, “Iran commander: US will regret any adventurism,” Apr. 3, 2017; PressTV, “Russia: US covering up Daesh crimes in Iraq’s Mosul,” Apr. 2, 2017; Prensa Latina, “Syria, six years of manufactured war,” Granma, Mar. 30, 2017; Deirdre Griswold, “U.S. war crimes escalate in Syria, Iraq,” Worker’s World, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Iran urges ‘war crime’ hearing into US killings in Mosul,” Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “UN deeply concerned over US-led airstrikes on Mosul,” Mar. 25, 2017; PressTV, “Over 230 killed under rubble after ‘US-led raid’ in Mosul,” Mar. 24, 2017; Julie Ray and Neli Esipova, “Economic Problems, Corruption Fail to Dent Putin’s Image,” Gallup, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Trump hails US troops in Iraq despite deadly Mosul raid,” Mar. 29, 2017; BBC, “Mosul battle: US ‘may be responsible’ for civilian deaths,” Mar. 28, 2017; OIC, “OIC Regrets Casualties among Citizens in Mosul,” Mar. 27, 2017; PressTV, “Daesh shelling, US airstrikes raise Syria dam breach fears,” Mar. 29, 2017; PressTV, “Russian general criticizes US-led coalition’s bombing of Syria dam,” Mar. 28, 2017; Mike Whitney, “Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below,” CounterPunch, Mar. 28, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Hands off Syria!,” Workers World, Mar. 26, 2017; Carl Lewis, “Gov’t squeezes workers, bloats Pentagon,” Workers World, Mar. 22, 2017.

[8] Pentagon, “Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on U.S. strike in Syria,” Apr. 6, 2017; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb, “Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria as ‘significant blow’ to relationship,” Chicago Tribune (originally AP article), Apr. 7, 2017.

[9] What you need to know about US strike on Syrian air base,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; CNNWire, “At least 6 killed in Syria: Russia calls U.S. military strike an ‘act of aggression’,” Fox8, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria attack: US ‘deliberately avoided bombing sarin stockpile at Assad airbase’ during Trump air strikes,” The Independent, Apr. 7, 2017; Holly Williams, “Russia, Syria’s explanation for chemical attack countered by experts,” CBS News, Apr. 6, 2017; Raja Abdulrahim, “Rebels Hail U.S. Strike, Syria Says 16 Killed,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Sarin gas likely weapon used in Idlib as experts say Russian claims ‘don’t add up’,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017. In the latter article, Dearden cites the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, Hasan Haj Ali; a research fellow at Chatham House and former member of NATO, Beyza Unal; a volunteer with the traitorous White Helmets, Hamid Kutini; analyst at the Centre for Science and Security Studies and bourgeois “expert”, Hassan Elbahtimy; and a citizen journalist and Reuters photographer, Ammar Abdullah, as “experts.” Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and World Health Organisation (WHO) are also mentioned, but no specific person is quoted. Clearly, their “experts” are total crap. Lest us forget that Jan. 2013 article in the horrid Daily Mail, which has now been deleted, which said that the US planned to launch a chemical weapons attack on Syria and blame it on Assad. Did that happen in this case? Its hard to know.

[10] Jack Stubbs and Maria Tsvetkova, “Russia’s military presence in Syria is as ‘powerful’ as ever,” Reuters, Apr. 15, 2016; Tom Parfitt, “Russia sends MORE jets to Syria in bid to wipe out evil ISIS as Putin builds ANOTHER base,” Express Newspapers, Dec. 1, 2015; Reuters, “Syrian Observatory: Russia expands air base near Homs, uses another in the province,” Dec. 3, 2015; Now News, “Russia plans new Syria airbase: report,” Nov. 30, 2015.

[11] David Filpov, Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement, Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2017; BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017. This article also says that Syria used to have an effective air defense system but it has been weakened by civil war and that the fact that there are Russian surface-to-air systems makes airstrikes by US warplanes unlikely and cruise missile strikes continuing as a possibility.

[12] Steve Holland, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “U.S. strikes on Syria came close
to clash with Russia: Medvedev,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[13] Associated Press, “The Latest: US calls for transparency in UN Syria summit,” Apr. 7, 2017; Bethan McKernan, “Syrian chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun approved by ‘highest levels’ of Assad regime, Israel’s Mossad finds,” The Independent, Apr. 6, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “World powers clash with Russia at UN over Syria suspected chemical attack,” Apr. 2017; Thomson Reuters, “Russia stands by Syria at UN over chemical weapons attack,” Apr. 5, 2017.

[14] Ramin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017.

[15] Congress wants a say on Syria strategy, split on timing, what to do,” Kaine: ‘No legal justification’ for Syria strike,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; Deirdre Shesgreen, Nicole Gaudiano, and Bill Theobald, “Syria strikes draw Capitol Hill support, calls for greater congressional role,” USA Today, Apr. 7, 2017; Leah Barkoukis, “Even Schumer, Pelosi Applaud US Airstrikes in Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Courtney O’Brien, “Pelosi Demands Immediate Debate on AUMF for Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Syria Attack Launched Without Congressional Authorization,” Apr. 7, 2017; Susan Jones, “Rand Paul, Barbara Lee, Tim Kaine: ‘Unconstitutional’; Schumer Tells Trump, ‘Come Up With a Strategy’,” CNSNews.com, Apr. 7, 2017.

[16] Twitter, “World reacts after US forces launch strikes on Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. lawmakers back Syria strikes, ask for broader strategy,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Pope Francis appeals to ‘conscience’ of culprits as Russia vows to support Assad,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017.

[17] BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Michelle Nichols, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “Russia warns of serious consequences from U.S. strike in Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Jessica Resnick-Ault, “Oil rises after U.S. missile strike in Syria, weekly gain 3 percent,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Fred Imbert, “Stocks close mostly flat despite Syria attack, mixed jobs report,” CNBC, Apr. 7, 2017.

[18] Associated Press, “Brian Williams calls images of US missile launch ‘beautiful’,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[19] Sam Sacks, “Guest after guest is gushing. From MSNBC to CNN, Trump is receiving his best night of press so far. And all he had to do was start a war,” Apr. 6, 2017; Sam Sacks, “I mean, we’re just weeks removed from her Trump tax return spectacle & now is making the Trump admin’s case for war to her audience,” Apr. 6, 2017; CNNI, “”What is it going to take?” Watch ‘s emotional appeal to the world about Syria after gas attack,” Apr. 4, 2017; NBC News, “So, what IS a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile?,” Apr. 6, 2017; John Harwood, “on CNN, ex-CIA director Jim Woolsey suggests that Trump respond to Assad gas attack with military strikes against both Syria and Iran,” Apr. 6, 2017; earwulf, “fuck the New York Times, seriously,” Apr. 7, 2017; Walid, “CNN hits a new low with it’s interview with Bana on alleged Sarin attack. How can this interviewer go through with this charade?,” Apr. 6, 2017; Walid, “Congressman is a known supporter of the Jihadist insurgency in . CNN asked him how he would respond to Bana,” Apr. 7, 2017; Kersten Knipp, “Opinion: No peace under Assad,” Deutsche Welle, Apr. 2, 2017; Farzana Hassan, “Trump needs to commit to Syria,” Toronto Sun, Apr. 6, 2017; Michael Petrou, “No decent politician should profess to be shocked by the latest chemical attack in Syria,” CBC, Apr. 5, 2017.

[20] Harout Akdedian, “Will the US missile strike be the turning point in Syria’s shifting war?,” Asia Times, Apr. 7, 2017; Reuters, “UPDATE 3-U.S. allies show support for strikes on Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[21] John Davidson, “In divided Syria, U.S. strike both welcomed and condemned,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Asharq Al-Awsat English, “Syria: Khan Sheikhun Families Grateful for US Strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Hamin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017.

[22] Reuters, “Syrian government sets terms for any inquiry into gas attack,” Apr. 6, 2017.

[23] KCNA, “Reply Message to Kim Jong Un from Syrian President,” Apr. 8, 2017; Ju-min Park and Jack Kim, “North Korea calls U.S. strikes on Syria ‘unforgivable’,” Reuters, Apr 8, 2017.

[24] Associated Press, “The Latest: Syrians protest outside UN office in Damascus,” Apr. 8, 2017; Syria strikes: Site of chemical attack hit again,” CNN, Apr. 8, 2017.

Iran stands on the side of Palestinians

Courtesy of this site
Courtesy of Khamenei’s offical website

While the corporate media in the United States focuses on Trump’s right-wing declarations, they completely ignored a recent conference in the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of the Palestinian struggle against the murderous Zionist state of Israel. While white propaganda outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, right-wing outlets like Breitbart, and pro-Israel media organizations condemned the conference outright. The reality was very different.

The conference in Tehran was the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada (Uprising). The conference, promoted in the Iranian Parliament earlier this month, tried to not only counter Israel’s schemes, but to show “Iran’s unyielding back-up for the oppressed Palestinian people and the legitimate Palestinian cause.” Delegations from 80 countries, over hundreds of participants, with estimates of 500700 people, coming from parliaments, such as 20 high-ranking parliamentary groupings, academia, youth and NGOs and resistance forces” were scheduled to attend the conference, organized by Amir-Abdollahian, the secretary general. Among the attendees was Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar, who said that he was “one of several hundred foreign guests, including a small group of foreign journalists, guests of the Majlis (Parliament) for an annual conference on the Palestine issue.”

This conference was, as Iranian media put it, a move to “express solidarity with the Palestinian people,” and counter the murderous Zionist state of Israel by asserting “the just cause of Palestine.” It comes at a time that there is growing US support for the Zionist state and hostility toward Iran. Assistant Speaker of the Iranian parliament Hossein Amir Abdollahian, while denying that Iran exploits the Palestinian cause, described how the two day conference, lasting from February 21 to 22, included four committees. As decided by detailed discussions of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Iran’s legislative body, the first committee would discuss the role parliaments can play in supporting Palestine, the second would discuss how NGOs and non-profits can support Palestine, the third would be a legal committee examining human rights abuses in Palestine and resisting Israeli settlements, and the fourth is for Palestinian factions.

On February 21, the two-day conference, with the theme of “Everyone Together in Support of Palestine,” opened at the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)’s International Conference Center, a common meeting place for huge conferences in Tehran. It began with a call to Islamic prayer and the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Majlis, Ali Larijani, who was set to preside over the conference proceedings, briefly addressing the conference and mentioning the country’s Constitution. Before moving on, it is worth noting a number of aspects of the current constitution of Iran. Article 152 declares that Iran’s foreign policy is to preserve its independence, territorial integrity, defend the rights of Muslims, non-align with “hegemonist superpowers,” maintain peaceful relations with “non-belligerent States,” and reject all forms of domination. The following articles add that any agreement resulting in “foreign control over the natural resources, economy, army, or culture of the country” will be rejected (Article 153), that Iran rejects “all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations” (Article 154), and that Iran may “grant political asylum to those who seek it” unless they are deemed as “traitors and saboteurs” by Iran’s laws (Article 155).

After Larijani’s speech, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, and Ayatollah, Ali Khamenei, addressed the conference, paying tribute to the “memorial of martyrs of Palestinian Intifada” when he arrived. In his speech, broadcast live on Iran’s state television, he said that “the issue of Palestine can and should be the pivot of unity for all Islamic countries,” said that the “cancerous tumor” of Israel “has been developing in several phases until it turned into the current disaster,” adding that as long as Palestine’s name and memory are preserved “it will be impossible for the Israeli regime to strengthen its foundations.” He added that Israel’s creation has been a “plot hatched by extra-regional powers,” allowing the “real being” of Palestine to be replaced by a “fake being” of Palestine, then calling for supporting Palestinian resistance no matter what.

Khamenei makes a valid point because the “usurping Zionist entity in Palestine” has been oppressing “the indigenous Palestinians and Arabs” and their homeland for many years since Zionism fundamentally is a “racist, violent, colonial, and illegitimate project. The United Nations General Assembly recognized this in November 1975 when Resolution 3379 was passed. This resolution declared that there was an “unholy alliance between South African racism and Zionism,” that Zionism was a “racist and imperialist ideology,” and that Zionism is, simply, “a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Of course, this resolution was sponsored by UN members ranging from Cuba and Libya to Morocco, and while it was supported by the Soviet Union, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, and others, it was opposed by Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western or Western-friendly nations. Sadly, on December 16, 1991, ten days before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the same Assembly voted to rescind Resolution 3379, with one sentence. This was because Israel had demanded Resolution 3379’s removal as a condition for their participation in another one of the worthless peace conferences, in this case the Madrid Peace Conference.

Back to the speech, Khamenei went farther than condemning the Zionist Israel and solidarity with Palestinians. At the beginning, he reminded the audience that February 21 is the “martyrdom anniversary of Malcolm X, an American Muslim leader” and requested for all attendees to “recite Sura Fatiha and Sura Tawhid for the soul of this martyr.” Before going on, this is significant because it means that Khamenei is honoring a Black nationalist leader who challenged the white racial-capitalist order for which he was gunned down for by Nation of Islam (NOI) assassins, possibly with the help of local or national law enforcement. He goes on say that Palestine has a “sorrowful story” because of its oppression, that while there has been “cruel occupation of that region,” with many millions becoming homeless, there has been “courageous resistance” by Palestinians. Adding to this, he noted that Mideastern countries have often supported the Palestinian people but that there have been “existing crises in several Islamic countries” which have undermined support for Palestine. These countries include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and other “friendly” Arab countries, with alliances currently being encouraged under the Trump Administration to “counter” Iran.

Khamenei fingers on the “Zionist regime” as working to undermine such Arab unity in favor of Palestine. As an extension of this, he says that the Zionist Israel should be challenged daily by resisting the idea that the “issue of Palestine” should have a low priority and that despite differences among Islamic countries, “the issue of Palestine can and should be the pivot of unity for all Islamic countries,” making this issue the “first priority of the world of Islam and freedom fighters all over the world,” with the goal of creating harmony and unity to support the Palestinian people in “their truthful and justice-oriented fight.” Khamenei adds that this be seen as politically significant and that there are “signs of the collapse in the Zionist regime” of Israel. He says that the global environment recognizes the hostile, illegal and inhuman activities” of Zionist state, leading to possibly confrontation in the future. He goes on to describe these horrid acts as the brutal suppression of the Palestinian people, occupying Palestinian lands, building illegal settlements, and violating citizens’ basic rights, to name a few aspects. He doesn’t stop there. He argues that currently there may be a “third intifada” in place, in occupied Palestine, with Palestinians fighting on genuinely and that he hopes it will inflict another defeat, while noting that the “compromise strategies” to undermine Israel are flawed.

Khamenei goes on to say that Israel is an “illegitimate entity” which will only exist if “it is founded on the ruins of Palestine’s identity and entity.” He criticizes “compromise tactics” with Zionist Israel as not considering the “current condition of Palestine” or taking into account “the expansionist, oppressive and greedy characteristics of the Zionists” and that a “paradigm of heroic and continuous resistance and holy intifada stands against the compromise paradigm.” He then says that while Palestinian resistance has not achieved “the complete freedom of Palestine,” it has allowed Palestine to be kept alive. Such resistance, as he puts it, has a served as a “major barrier in the way of Zionist projects” whether in the narrow victory in the 1973 war, with burden put upon Hezbollah to help Palestinians fight back after 1982, “the liberation of southern Lebanon and Gaza,” and efforts of all other groups which are “involved in the Palestinian Resistance,” citing the Islamic Jihad (IJ), Hamas, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as examples. He closes by saying that dangers from the presence of Israel shouldn’t be ignored, that the needs of the Palestinian people and its resistance should be met, with no demands of “special expectations,” and that this resistance should cooperate together despite its differences or those who want to “sell it to the enemies of the Palestinian nation in their secret transactions with them.”

Later that day, it was reported that Western moderate Hassan Rouhani would address the closing ceremony of the conference and that a statement would be released at the conference’s end. Apart from Rouhani, Iranian media reported, that the Speaker of the Syrian People’s Assembly Hadiya Abbas, Iranian Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, and Iranian Lawmaker Kazem Jalali, the spokesperson for the conference, would be attending. Photographs of the conference from official media, showed that there delegations from Iran, Bosnia, Syria, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), India, Malaysia, Ghana, Palestinian Authority/State of Palestine, Lebanon, Kenya, Libya, Ecuador, Qatar, Brazil, Algeria, Oman, El Salvador, Uganda, Tanzania, Russia, China, Hezbollah, Hamas, Mauratania, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Since there were individuals from 80 countries, at most, this is only a partial list of the countries who attended.

The same day, Hezbollah’s Secretary Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah praised Iran’s support for Palestine and said that the conference sent a strong message of solidarity to the Palestinian people and that “the most important result and message of this action for the Palestinian nation is that you have not been left alone and that an important and powerful country in the region supports you,” saying that the conference’s timing coincides with recent policy changes in the US, showing the true intent of Zionist Israel. There is another reason that Nasrallah would say this. According to the SIPRI Trade Register, Iran has delivered 560 anti-tank missiles, 100 portable surface-to-air missiles (SAM), 35 mobile rocket launchers (MRL), eight Mohajer drones, five heavy artillery rockets, five anti-ship missiles, and two surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) between 1980 and 2006. While some deluded individuals could call this “terrorism” it can be more accurately called solidarity and assistance of armed Palestinian resistance to the murderous Zionist Israeli state.

In the last day of the conference, there was much activity. Apart from a Palestinian school in Tehran ringing a bell “in support of the Palestinian uprising,” Jacob Francis Mudenda, the current Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly, condemned Zionist Israel for construction of illegal settlements, praised the role of Iran in the region, and reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s support for Palestine until it turned “into a full-fledged and established country.” Others who spoke in favor of Palestinian solidarity included Hamad Saleh al-Qattane, a Kuwaiti author, and Salah Al-Zawawi, Palestine’s Ambassador to Iran, the latter saying that he appreciated Iran’s efforts and said that “US hostility…towards Muslims is becoming more evident day by day.” Other people who spoke on the sidelines of the conference include the speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament Nabih Berri who suggested that Islamic states shut down their “embassies in Washington if the U.S. decides to relocate its embassy to al-Quds, or Jerusalem in Israel,” the current head of IJ, Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, an Iranian geopolitical analyst named Alexander Azadgan who declared Trump was the first “openly shameless Zionist president” with his blunt and undiplomatic support of Zionist Israel, while praising the BDS movement, and the speaker of Iraq’s Parliament, Salim al-Jabouri who condemned Israel for failing to abide by UN resolutions. Other guests met with President Rouhani on the sidelines of the conference. These individuals were high-level government officials from Arab and Asian countries such as Hadiya Khalaf Abbas, a Syrian parliamentarian, Salim Zanoun, the speaker of the Palestinian National Council, Atef Tarawneh, the Speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives, Pandikar Amin bin Haji Mulia, speaker of the Malaysia’s lower house of Parliament, and Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament.

Later in the day, Larijani, the speaker of the Majlis, made remarks in side meetings with Parliamentarians. While on the sidelines of the conference he told Ms. Kadaga that the Palestinian nation has legitimate rights to peace and security and told Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, the Chairman of the Pakistani National Assembly that “countries in the Persian Gulf region should forge unity and exercise vigilance to thwart plots hatched by the ill-wishers in order to prevent those sowing the seeds of discords among them” and further added that it is not acceptable to have “normalization of relations with the Zionist regime.” In other meetings he said that Palestine is an important issue for the whole world and that the “voice of the oppressed Palestinian nation” has spread worldwide.

President Rouhani gave the closing speech of the conference. He argued that the Palestinian issue has “pricked the international community’s conscience for 70 years,” shown the “ineffectiveness of international organizations,” and said that the Palestinian Intifada is “manifestation of resistance” against Israel along with being a “kind of resistance for survival.” He added that Israel is engaging in “fear-mongering” against Palestinian resistance by Muslim and Arab states. Rouhani specifically was referring to, as it put it, the attempts of Zionist Israel to “normalize its situation” by referring to “certain Arab countries as its allies against the resistance front, instead of describing them as its enemies,” and claiming that most Arab countries are not Zionist enemies but share the “same phobia about resistance.” He declared furthermore that “isn’t it time that neighbors once and for all say ‘No’ to war and fratricide?” He also closed by thanking that “all the distinguished guests, speakers, parliamentary delegations, leaders of movements and resistant currents, scholars, personalities and the political, cultural, media activists, as well as the parties and groups supporting Palestine, ambassadors, foreign diplomats and heads of the regional and international organizations” for attending the conference and saying that “dear Palestine” has suffered from the “mishap of [the] global community and shamefulness of certain Muslim countries.”

After the conference ended, a pro-Palestinian 24-point statement was released. The statement in particular voiced support for rights of the Palestinian nation, the need for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land to end, need for unity among Palestinians, that the international community needs to pressure Israel to end inhumane measures such as “killing and forced expulsion of Palestinians” and that the parliaments of Arab and Muslim countries should ban “any political and economic relations with Israel.” Beyond this, there was also a call for “collective efforts of all Muslim countries to defend legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation,” and that Muslims and freethinking people should support the Palestinian Intifada, among other aspects.

The following day, February 23, the “International Conference for Activists and NGOs Supporting Palestine,” hosted by the Iranian Parliament in Tehran, ended. During this meeting, four committees were created, including a supreme committee which comprised 25 members “including senior Palestinian officials, Palestinian NGOs, non-Palestinian NGOs and fellows from interested countries’ parliaments,” with the idea that NGOs in today’s world could not only be “the voice of Palestinian nation in the world” but ultimately could “bring about serious challenges for the Zionist regime.” The same day, a book, compiling remarks made by Khamenei on Palestine, helping readers undermine the Zionist state of Israel, was released.

In days that come, Iran will continue to oppose, undoubtedly, the Israeli attempts to create alliances with Arab countries, work with such countries, like Lebanon, to oppose the Zionist state, and unconditionally supporting the Palestinian Intifada. In the end, we should still recognize that Iran stands on the side of the Palestinian people and should take something from this recent conference by engaging in critical solidarity with Palestinian resistance to the murderous Zionist state of Israel.

Elections in the “socialist motherland”: democracy in the DPRK

Dancing party of women's union officials
“A dancing party of women’s union officials and members took place at the plaza of the Arch of Triumph on Feb. 16, the 75th birth anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il.”- Rodong Sinmun on February 20

Recently, with the whole controversy over the death of Kim Jong Un’s brother and the stance of the “independent socialist state” of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), as its constitution describes it, in criticizing China whom seems to engaging in  appeasement, by banning coal imports into the country, of the imperialist desire (especially Trump’s arrogance) of the U$ to weaken the DPRK. [1] This “socialist motherland,” as one document calls it, is not only threatened by forces within “South Korea” (the Republic of Korea), programs like THAAD, provocations from the Trump administration, leading to defense of the country with nuclear weapons (rightly so) but it has been attacked by the “human rights” organizations in the West, along with the corporate media in wild accusations. I’m specifically talking about Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The latter claims that citizens in the country “suffer violations of most aspects of their human rights”  and the former saying that under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un the country “remains among the world’s most repressive countries” with a “dynasty.” [2] This echoes the CIA World Factbook and US State Department which call the DPRK an “an authoritarian state” and “communist state” (saying it in a negative way), showing that “human rights” NGOs and parts of the establishment serve the same fundamental imperialist interests. [3] All of these bourgeois criticisms, like the bourgeois liberals/progressives on /r/socialism, implies that the DPRK is not democratic. A look at their elections, especially that of the SPA, shows this to be wrong. I could debate in this article if the DPRK is engaging in “revisionism,” with a fluid definition in this post-Cold War environment in the present, but that is, frankly, for another day.

Historical introduction

In 1945, in the aftermath of deadly World War II, the Korean Peninsula, which had been occupied by the Japanese imperialists (since 1910), was roughly divided between the Soviet occupied zone and US zone. In the Soviet zone in the North, different from the South where a brutal fascist puppet government was installed, socialism was advanced. As the South Korean Party for Re-Unification put it in February 1971: “after World War II, the US imperialists entered South Korea as invaders and aggressors, not liberators. This is the reason for the division of our country.” [4] In 1945, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was created. Kim Il Sung, later the leader of the DPRK, described this process very simply, noting that people’s committees controlled the country before the establishment of a government formally, proving it wasn’t a “dictatorship”:

The foundation of the Workers’ Party representing and defending the interests of the labouring masses of Korea through the merger of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party is the greatest event in the political life of our people at the present time…In south Korea, however, the activities of those people who are sincerely striving for the merger of the Parties, are obstructed…the reactionary forces has come all out to frustrate the merger of the democratic political parties of the working people…unity and cohesion of the democratic forces throughout Korea is the prerequisite to the building of a new, genuinely democratic Korea…One year has already passed since Korea was liberated from the colonial rule of Japanese imperialism…In the past year we have laid a solid foundation for developing Korea along truly democratic lines and building a People’s Republic by carrying out the great democratic reforms. Our people who took power into their own hands…The composition of the people’s committee membership now active in north Korea is as follows : Workers [are] 5.7% [.] Peasants [are] 71.8%[.] Office employees [are] 15.8% [.] Handicraftsmen [are] 2.1% [.] Tradesmen [are] 4.6% [.] The people’s committees…strive to guard the interests of the people…In carrying out its policies, the people’s committee relies on the firm unity and the democratic united front of all the political parties and social organizations…Already in March this year, the agrarian reform was carried out in the rural areas of north Korea, bringing about a radical change in production relations. The agrarian reform dealt a decisive blow to the landlord class…Last August the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea proclaimed the law on the nationalization of industrial, transport and communications facilities and banks which had been owned by the Japanese imperialists, pro-Japanese elements and traitors to the nation…In June this year, the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea promulgated the Labour Law freeing factory and office workers from harsh, colonial-type exploitation and introducing the eight-hour working day and a social insurance system. And a law was passed to guarantee the women social rights equal to those of the men for the first time in the history of our country…Over 8,000 adult schools were opened last year to eliminate illiteracy…The people’s committees have done a great deal of work to improve the material and cultural life of the masses of the people and to ensure their political rights…The enforcement of the Law of Nationalization of Industries has wiped out the foundation of Japanese imperialist colonial rule and deprived the traitors to the nation…Meanwhile, the people’s committees protect the property of the national capitalists and encourage the business activities of individual entrepreneurs and traders…The workers have won all rights and possibilities to take part in the state political life…The establishment of the Workers’ Party through the merger of the two parties is of tremendous historical significance in expanding and strengthening the democratic forces and promoting democratic construction in our country. A party is the advanced detachment of a class defending its interests and fighting for the realization of its demands and aspirations…Our Party, however, is not the one and only Party existing in our country…Our Party gives active support to the democratic demands of the Chongu Party, and closely co-operates with it in order to advance together in step with it…our Party has waged and is waging a common struggle in unity with all the democratic political parties. We must maintain closer ties with members of the Chongu Party and the Democratic Party…We must by all means bring the lines and strategic and tactical policies of the Party home to all its membership and arm the entire Party with the scientific Marxist-Leninist theory and throughgoing revolutionary ideas…The persecution of the working class [in South Korea], in particular, has reached extremes. See the massacre in Kwangju…In this grave situation, the primary task of our nation and the entire working people is to unite and unite…We call for such unity of the toiling masses as can meet the democratic demands of the workers, peasants and working intellectuals…The independence and sovereignty of Korea on democratic lines can be achieved at an early date only if the labouring masses are united as one and all the democratic forces are knit together…Victory belongs to the Korean people who aspire to unity, national independence and democracy. Let us all march forward confidently to victory!

Two years later, on August 25, 1948, the DPRK, which had undertaken a 70-day debate nationwide on the draft constitution starting in February of the same year, elected its first deputes to the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), its unicameral legislature. [5] In that election, 572 deputies, representing “workers, peasants, deskworkers, intellectuals, businessmen, merchants and religious people,” were elected, and the First SPA met between September 2 and 10, with the constitution adopted during this time, a government formed, and the founding of the DPRK proclaimed on September 9, resulting in the Korean people celebrating it annually as “their national day.” [6] In this new legislature, the 1st SPA, Kim Il Sung was elected as the Premier and head of the DPRK. To be more specific, in 1948, Juche 37, 99.97% of Koreans in the north took part, and 77.52% of those in the south, took part in the elections. The results, as displayed in the chart below, shows that while the political parties were part of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland electoral coalition, there was also a multiparty system which had developed within the DPRK [7]:

chart1

Quick overview of powers of the SPA

Before going further, it is best to describe the powers of the SPA. As was noted in a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1991, this legislature is defined by the DPRK’s constitution (Articles 73-84) as 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.” [8] As for the voters, every citizen, regardless of “sex, race, occupation, duration of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political inclination and religious belief,” can vote as long as they are over 17, with the only ones who can’t including those decided by court verdict and “insane persons,” meaning that all citizens have the right to elect deputies. 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, which is reflected in the totals. [9] Unlike the United States, which has terms of 2 (US House of Representatives) and 6 (US Senate) years for federal legislators, the term of office of SPA members is five years, unless there are unavoidable circumstances leading to a prolonged term. [10]

This is only scratching the surface. The SPA’s most important and exclusive power is “legislative power” which includes adopting, amending, and supplementing he Constitution. Take the adoption of the first DPRK Constitution during the first legislative session, with a nationwide debate “on the draft constitution,” unlike like the U$ where the Constitution is a bourgeois classist document which was drawn up by the “founding fathers” in secrecy and illegality, with a 31-person committee organized by the SPA to deliberate over the draft, with people’s opinions taken into account. [11] Later on, the DPRK’s constitution was revised due to the changing times, with the SPA’s term of office extended, the minimum age level of voters was lowered to 17 and more deputies were allocated for the population with new electoral principles. With these changes, 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, and a law enacting “universal free education and the 11-year compulsory education.” [12] While the US still can’t even get universal healthcare, of a single-payer variety, instead getting a corporate-friendly mess (“Obamacare”) which makes the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies smile with glee, the SPA has enacted laws putting in place “perfect and universal free medical care.” In every instance, in laws like this and every law, the SPA follows steps of “deliberation, adoption and proclamation,” with laws submitted by numerous entities (DPRK President, the Central People’s Committee (CPC), the Standing Committee of the SPA, the Administration Council, and all SPA deputies), and approved by a “show of hands,” showing the democratic nature of the state. [13]

The SPA also has the authority to form central institutions of the state, electing the President of the DPRK (the people who HRW falsely says are part of a “dynasty”), who then picks a number of other individuals. [14] 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. [15] 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. [16] However, they cannot “initiate legislative activities nor adopt decisions of any legal validity independently.” These committees [17] include the following:

  • Credentials Committee (credentials members in the SPA)
  • the Bills Committee (“deliberates on the bills, amendments to constitution and laws submitted to the SPA and reports its results to the SPA and its Standing Committee.”)
  • the Budget Committees (“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 and reports its results to the SPA, and examines the budget balance and adopts measures for rectifying shortcomings revealed by the relevant executive bodies.”)
  • the Foreign Affairs Committee (“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, notifies them to the Foreign Affairs Committees of parliaments of other countries, Inter-Parliamentary Groups and individual MPs concerned and exchanges delegations with various countries the
    world over.”)
  • the Reunification Policies Committee (“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, and considers the issues of the north-south co-operation, exchange and travel and other matters related to the country’s reunification”)
  • Standing Committee (“When the SPA is not in session, the work with the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly is undertaken by the Standing Committee of the SPA. The Standing Committee works as a permanent body of the SPA in our country…the Standing Committee functions as its 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.”)

Resuming the historical overview: going through SPA elections

Now, back to the 1948 election. One book, by Anne Louise Strong, does a good job at telling the state of the DPRK in 1949. Summarizing the history compiled by the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), the “peaceful construction” of the new socialist nation was stopped on June 25, 1950 (Juche 49). As Vince Sherman noted, the moves of DPRK soldiers into South Korea “was actually an attempt to re-unite a nation partitioned by a foreign imperialist power,” despite what Trotskyists over at the ISO declare. While the Korean People’s Army (KPA) had formed into a regular army but the economic state of the country was fragile, but they still were victorious against “arrogant US imperialists” who claimed the US was invincible.  As bourgeois journalist David Halberstam acknowledged, not only were Southern Koreans angry about US presence and the US units were in horrid condition, but the people of the DPRK and Chinese communists knew what they were fighting for, unlike the US soldiers, who had no idea what they were fighting for [18]:

“They [the Chinese Communists and DPRK troops] were absolutely sure of whom they were fighting and why. They were fighting white foreigners, imperialists, and capitalists, the children of Wall Street, and of course their puppet allies in the South. The Americans were not so sure, despite periodic lectures on the evils of Communism, whom they were fighting, or for that matter why they were fighting them. They might be soldiers stationed in Japan, but they’d no expectation of going to war, especially in a place called Korea.”

Summarizing what the KFA said, on July 27, 1953 (Juche 42), the 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, with losses that were reportedly “2.3 fold the size of losses suffered by the US in the 4-year-long Pacific War in the period of the Second World War.” In December 1955, Kim Il Sung first publicly addressed the idea of Juche, one year before Khrushchev’s traitorous “secret speech”:

…The principal shortcomings in ideological work are the failure to delve deeply into all matters and the lack of Juche. It may not be proper to say Juche is lacking, but, in fact, it has not yet been firmly established. This is a serious matter. We must thoroughly rectify this shortcoming. Unless this problem is solved, we cannot hope for good results in ideological work… This, the Korean revolution, constitutes Juche in the ideological work of our Party. Therefore, all ideological work must be subordinated to the interests of the Korean revolution…By saying that the ideological work of our Party lacks in Juche, I do not mean, of course, that we have not made the revolution or that our revolutionary work was undertaken by passers-by. Nonetheless, Juche has not been firmly established in ideological work, which leads to dogmatic and formalistic errors and does much harm to our revolutionary cause. To make revolution in Korea we must know Korean history and geography and know the customs of the Korean people. Only then is it possible to educate our people in a way that suits them and to inspire in them an ardent love for their native place and their motherland…As far back as the autumn of 1945, that is, immediately after liberation, we emphasized the need to study the history of our nation’s struggle and to inherit its fine traditions…Today, ten years after liberation, we have all the conditions for collecting materials on our literary legacy and turning it to full use. Nevertheless, the propaganda workers remain wholly indifferent to this…One day this summer when I dropped in at a local democratic publicity hall, I saw diagrams of the Soviet Union’s Five-Year Plan shown there, but not a single diagram illustrating the Three-Year Plan of our country…In compelling schoolbooks, too, materials are not taken from our literary works but from foreign ones. All this is due to the lack of Juche. The lack of Juche in propaganda work has done much harm to Party work…If we had not organized the People’s Army with old revolutionary cadres as its core, what would have been the outcome of the last war? It would have been impossible for us to defeat the enemy and win a great victory under such difficult conditions…Our 20-Point Platform is the development of the Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland. As you all know, the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland existed before our country was liberated…It is utterly ridiculous to think that our people’s struggle against the U.S. imperialists conflicts with the efforts of the Soviet people to ease international conflicts with the efforts of the Soviet people to ease international tension…Hearing us say that it is necessary to establish Juche, some comrades might take it simply and form a wrong idea that we need not learn from foreign countries. That would be quite wrong. We must learn from the good experiences of socialist countries…It is important in our work to grasp revolutionary truth, Marxist-Leninist truth, and apply it correctly to the actual conditions of our country…we should not mechanically copy forms and methods of the Soviet Union, but should learn from its experience in struggle and Marxist-Leninist truth…Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, it is a guide to action and a creative theory…In connection with the problem of establishing Juche I think it necessary to touch on internationalism and patriotism…Before liberation, the mere words that in the Soviet Union the working class held power and was building socialism made us yearn boundlessly for the Soviet Union where we had never been…In order to make our Party members indomitable fighters who are always optimistic about the future of the revolution, it is necessary to intensify their Marxist-Leninist education…In order to meet this great revolutionary event, the Party spirit of the Party members should be steeled; they should be educated to have a correct mass viewpoint and to have faith in victory and optimism regarding the future of the revolution.

Beyond this, in the post-war period, the country needed to rebuild itself from much destruction, led in the effort by President Kim Il Sung. As Socialist Voice, in an opinion critical of the DPRK, notes in Marxist-Leninism Today, the the partition of the Korean Peninsula was “the product of the Cold War, which in Korea turned into a very hot war of savage proportions. Hundreds of thousands died on both sides.” This piece also notes  that the DPRK “developed and rebuilt itself after the devastation inflicted on it by the war.” With the Korean people having to “tighten their belts but they built factories, enterprises, towns and rural villages,” there was a “Three-Year Plan for the Postwar Rehabilitation and Development of the National Economy” just like in Poland, which was a success, followed by a Five-Year Plan from 1957 to 1960, with Sung saying “Let us produce more, practise economy, and overfill the Five-Year Plan ahead of schedule!” [19]

All of this makes it clear why the second session of the SPA was not until 1957. The DPRK was in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack during the Great Fatherland Liberation War. In this election, the Workers Party of Korea gained seats, while other parties lost seats, showing that it was applauded by the people. The pie chart below shows the distribution of the SPA after the election in August 1957, the 2nd SPA respectively, with only 75 of the 527 members of the first session re-elected, with only 215 members comprising the body [20]:

chart2

Courtesy of 38North, an NGO I'm pretty sure is anti-DPRK.
Courtesy of 38North, an NGO is strongly anti-DPRK. Their caption: “From left to right: WPK propaganda posters for local people’s assembly elections held on August 27, 1957 (both local and national ); November 25, 1967; July 29, 2007; July 24, 2011; and July 19, 2015.”

Fast forward five years and 2 months to the next legislative election, the 3rd SPA, respectively, in October 1962, which was eight days before the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis! By this point, as Stephen Gowans noted, the country “grew at a faster pace than the south from the 1940’s to the mid-60s” and Che Guevara was so impressed after visiting Pyongyang in 1965 that he “declared north Korea to be a model to which Cuba should aspire.” The SPA, increased in size from 215 members to 383 members, with WPK keeping its majority, showing that it was supported by the populace more than any of the other parties by a long shot [21]:

spa-distribution

Also during this session there were a number of developments, including the introduction of the single-ballot vote and representation changed to 1 delegate every 30,000 people rather than the previous electoral distribution. [22]

The following year there were local elections, for provincial people’s assemblies. In these elections, like many past and since, and Kim Il Sung was re-elected as the DPRK’s president. [23] During the elections a total of 14,303 deputies for city, county, and district positions in people’s assemblies were elected, as were 70,250 in towns, neighborhoods, villages, and workers’ districts, for people’s assemblies, and 2,517 provincial people’s assembly deputies. [24]

Five years and one month after 1962 election, in September 1967, the elections for the the 4th SPA were held. Apart from the local elections held that year where over 300 women, out of the 3,305 delegates, were elected [25], the SPA, added new members, increasing from 383 members to 457. This development meant that not only were the amount of delegates keeping pace with the population, but there was full participation, with the deputies elected for a term of five years. [26] During this session, a number of changes were made, including revising the DPRK’s constitution and allowing the President of the country to be elected. [27] The distribution of the SPA was as the pie chart below displays colorfully, showing that the WPK gained even more support of the populace while the People’s Republic Party and other organizations lost their seats as people voted in WPK deputies instead: