The specter of DPRK-U$ detente and what it means for the world

Kim and the orange menace shake hands at the June 12th Singapore summit.

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org, with changes of some links to this blog and text itself for reasons of smoothness.

Last month, I wrote a criticism, on this very website [anti-imperialism.org], of the orange menace’s letter which canceled one-on-one talks with Kim Jong Un, the DPRK’s elected leader, whom has held the ceremonial title of “supreme leader,” and commander of the Korean People’s Army, since December 2011. [1] Since then, the letter has become old hat, with the one-on-one talks on June 12 at a hotel located on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. Perhaps, the letter from the orange menace was a warning shot across the bow, supposed to say who was in “control.” With the summit, Pence, Bolton, and others within the U$ government which didn’t want the summit, were marginalized. The giddy liberals, like Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson or former CIA director John Brennan were likely annoyed, as were those on news stations like MSNBC, unable to contain their hatred for the people of the DPRK, especially for Kim himself, calling him a “murderous dictator” who had “gulags” time and time again. As I wrote last month, “Kim and the DPRK have the upper hand here, not the imperialists, showing the DPRK are in a strong position, at an advantage.” As Amber B. recently wrote [on anti-imperialism.org], criticizing the left-opposition of the orange menace by groups such as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and Refuse Fascism, instead of focusing on the orange menace, only a figurehead of the moment, as the primary enemy, it is better to “highlight the innumerable ways his administration works in perfect continuity with amerikan imperialism in general,” while understanding his peculiarities, but not giving them primary importance. With this, the following article aims to highlight the anger from sectors of the bourgeoisie on the summit, the results of the summit itself, how it fits into the broader framework of U$ imperialism, and what it means for the world as a whole.

In order to highlight the reactions and results of the summit, it is best to reprint the joint statement by Kim and the orange menace which was posted on the websites of Explore DPRK and Rodong Sinmun. The statement which was released on June 12 is as follows:

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, held the first historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump state the following:

1. The DPRK and the United States commit to establish new DPRK-U.S. relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The DPRK and the United States will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The DPRK and the United States commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the DPRK-U.S. summit, the first in history, was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for opening of a new future, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The DPRK and the United States commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the DPRK-U.S. summit.

Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America have committed to cooperate for the development of new DPRK- U.S. relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

One can say it is positive that both sides agree on establishing new relations which will contribute to “peace and prosperity,” build a “lasting and robust peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula, and will work together to recover POW/MIA remains. The same can be said for implementing the summit’s outcomes, and planned cooperation tied with “the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.” The DPRK itself is compelled by the agreement to work for “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and reaffirm the ROK-DPRK Panmunjom Declaration, while the U$ is committed “to provide security guarantees to the DPRK.” Still, it is going too far to say that this is a “pretty comprehensive document” as the orange menace declared recently. Rather, it is much more moderate, even if we take Kim’s words that the past will be left behind and that the “world will see a major change.” It is also an agreement which is  supported by 51% of those in the U$, a strong showing of the populace for peace.

Recent developments have raised questions about the specter of detente, with papers like the New York Times declaring that the DPRK “ruined” negotiations and The Atlantic declaring that the road for denuclearization will not be an easy one. [2] Basically, the DPRK is asking for concessions from U$ imperialists in exchange for denuclearization, criticizing unilateral and irreversible denuclearization pushed by Pompeo (and neo-cons) most recently in his meeting with high-level DPRK officials, such as key Workers’ Party of Korea official Kim Yong Chol, whom have called for a phased approach toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula rather than “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” (CVID) demanded quickly by the U$. As such, the DPRK said the talks with Pompeo, whom declared that both sides had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” were regrettable, while Chol said that “the more you [Pompeo] come, more trust we can build between one another.” This could indicate differences within the DPRK’s leadership on how the U$ should be approached.

The full statement from the DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 7 showed the rightful criticism of the U$. It says that while they expected “that the U.S. side would bring itself with a constructive proposal which would help build up trust true to the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” with the DPRK putting forward “constructive proposals to seek a balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Joint Statement,” including putting in place “multilateral exchanges for improved relations between the DPRK and the U.S., making public a declaration on the end of war first on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement to build a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, dismantling the test ground of high thrust engine to make a physical verification of the suspension of ICBM production as part of denuclearization steps and making an earliest start of the working-level talks for recovering POW/MIA remains.” Kim even wrote the orange menace a personal letter out of respect. However, the U$ imperialists demanded that the DPRK comply with the demand for unilateral denuclearization which “run[s] counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks,” never mentioning the issue of “establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war,” instead saying they would backtrack on ending “the status of war under certain conditions and excuses”! This seems to follow efforts of previous administrations, with the suspension of the war games something that could be reversed. The foreign ministry adds that the DPRK was naive to think that the U$ would “come with a constructive proposal which accords with the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” and notes that while the DPRK in the last few months “displayed maximum patience,” watching the U$ and initiating many “good-will steps,” this was misunderstood by the U$. They further commented that such imperialists are “fatally mistaken” if they think that “the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience” the imperialists’ demands. The statement closes by saying that “the U.S. should make a serious consideration of whether the toleration of the headwind against the wills of the two top leaders would meet the aspirations and expectations of the world people as well as the interests of its country.” So, the negotiations and burgeoning detente will continue, but tensions are rising to the surface, even if the orange menace really does give Kim a CD with Elton John’s “Rocket Man” as some bourgeois media are alleging.

Since the summit: the U$ and DPRK’s response

What has happened since the summit is important to recall. Positively, the U$ ended military drills, also called “war games,” with the ROK, with the orange menace rightly calling them “inappropriate” and “provocative” while even floating the withdrawal of U$ troops from the ROK. However, this could be part of his strategy to make a mark globally, or to force concessions out of Japan and ROK through his measures. [3] At the same time, military drills could even be “used again to threaten Pyongyang once it doesn’t proceed with the denuclearization as Washington wants” as the Global Times posited. This is no surprise however, because there is a clear trend of imperial arrogance under the current administration, exemplified most poignantly by Nikki Haley in response to social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders, telling him that “it is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America. The Special Rapporteur wasted the UN’s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world’s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world.”

The U$ imperialists have been holding a tenacious line. Hawkish John Bolton declared that discussions between the DPRK and U$ (including Mike Pompeo) would continue, putting the onus on the DPRK, saying that denuclearization can happen within a year (or even 2 ½ years), with an undefined program with “asks” mentioned by Bolton and unnamed U$ officials, perhaps numbering as many as 47 as TASS reported recently. [4] The orange menace claimed this would include consultations with the ROK, Japan, and China. At the same time, there are some talk of a second summit between Kim and the orange menace, possibly at the UN General Assembly’s annual session beginning in September, even though there are efforts to put stumbling blocks in place. Of course, people like Pence claim that the “success of this summit and the progress that we’ve made is a direct result of President Trump’s steadfast leadership, and the courage of one American family” referring to Otto Warmbier’s family. The orange menace unconsciously, since he is a political amateur, as the Koreans said at the past, has disrupted, in another attempt to put his “mark” on history, the imperial Orientalist narrative on the DPRK by saying that people in the country “love” Kim with a “fervor,” and that the people in the country are hard-working and industrious. He also said that “I believe it’s a rough situation over there [in the DPRK]. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.” [5] Even with this, the imperial hostility toward the DPRK continues.

It is good to see the orange menace admitting that calling Kim “rocket man” was foolish. However, disgustingly he claimed it was part of his strategy to “earn” Kim’s “respect”! This seems like a horrible strategy which was not worth the cost! Detente could have been started much earlier. The current imperial strategy however is a bit confused as the orange menace extended the “national emergency” for the DPRK for another year, saying it constitutes an “extraordinary threat” to the U$, allowing economic sanctions to remain in place! Further disjunction is evidenced by the orange menace’s claims that he had “good chemistry” with Kim, who he called a “very smart guy,” “tough guy,” “great negotiator,” and “very talented” as one of very few to run a “tough country,” but nodded to the Orientalists by saying that Kim has engaged in “very bad things” even as he said that “so have a lot of other people that have done some really bad things.” This is another crack in the imperialist narrative. Let us be clear that Kim outmaneuvered the orange menace, who depends on advisers like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, while Kim serves as the guiding force of the DPRK, far from what those in the West call a “dictator” with venom on their lips. The orange menace is falling on his own sword by playing up the summit’s results. Of course, no one would even dream of considering denuclearization of the U$!

Since the summit, Kim and the DPRK leadership has taken a strong stand. If Bolton is to be believed, Kim told the orange menace on June 12 that he was different than Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. [6] While some say that the exact details of what the orange menace and Kim talked about is not known, Rodong Sinmun described the meeting as an “epoch-making meeting…[with] a candid exchange of views on the practical issues of weighty significance in putting an end to the decades-long hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S.” It also says there was “a comprehensive and in-depth discussion over the issues of establishing new DPRK-U.S. relations and building a permanent and durable peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula at the talks” with Kim praising “the president’s will and enthusiasm to resolve matters in a realistic way through dialogue and negotiations, away from the hostility-woven past…[and that] the two countries should commit themselves to refraining from antagonizing each other out of mutual understanding, and take legal and institutional steps to guarantee it.” Additionally, “Kim Jong Un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time and Trump invited Kim…to visit the U.S.” This having been the case, people have sent Kim congratulatory letters, while he has met with Xi Jinping, who represents the Chinese revisionists, and with Moon Jae-in, negotiating to have continued reunions of families separated by the Korean War, leading even a common revisionist, Roland Boer, to float the idea of Nobel Prize for Kim and Moon. There have also been meetings between high-ranking DPRK and ROK generals. Most importantly for the Korean people is Kim’s public appearance at a Sinuiju province cosmetics factory in which he said “it is important to completely eliminate manual labor and modernize production processes,” by bringing in automation. [7] He also said he “always hoped for a visit to the cosmetic factory in Sinuiju…They are famous for producing cosmetics with a spring scent,” and was also “proud of the factory’s production levels, but encouraged workers to continue excelling” as one article noted. We can debate automation of the workforce, but Kim clearly cares about his people while the orange menace does not care one bit, a fact the DPRK is undoubtedly aware of.

Then we get to claims of increased nuclear production in the DPRK’s facility in Yongbyon from 5-6 unnamed “U.S. officials,” a supposed report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and most “strongly” from commercial satellite imagery, displayed by anti-DPRK “watcher” website, 38 North, a project of the Henry L. Stimson Center, whose “partners” include many foundations and imperial groups. The center is also, as it should be noted, funded by the capitalist governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, UK, and U$, along with various private individuals, corporations, and foundations. [8] The imagery used by 38 North comes from a Pleiades satellite run by the French subsidiary of Airbus Defense and Space, called Airbus DS Geo SA, a global business which bills itself as an “international pioneer in Earth observation services.” As it turns out, Airbus Defense and Space is a subsidiary of the aerospace company, Airbus, over a quarter of which is owned by the capitalist French, Spanish, and German governments, according to page 108 of the organization’s most recent annual report. That doesn’t sound like an unbiased source at all! I am reminded of a recent article by Melinda Laituri in The Conversation, where she writes that

Satellite images…are captured through remote sensing technologies…without physical contact or firsthand experience. Algorithms refine these data to describe places and phenomena on the Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere…I think it’s important for people to understand the limitations of this technology, lest they misunderstand what they see…But there are some caveats that anyone working with satellite images – or viewing them – should consider. Satellite images are only as good as their resolution. The smaller the pixel size, the sharper the image. But even high-resolution images need to be validated on the ground to ensure the trustworthiness of the interpretation. Should we question the images we see? Whose view of the world are we seeing? One example of the misuse of remotely sensed data was in 2003, when satellite images were[falsely] used as evidence of sites of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq…processing satellite images is computationally intensive. At best, satellite images are interpretations of conditions on Earth – a “snapshot” derived from algorithms that calculate how the raw data are defined and visualized. This has created a “black box,” making it difficult to know when or why the algorithm gets it wrong…Through platforms like Google Earth and Earth Explorer, satellite images are increasingly available to not only researchers and scientists, but to people around the world…maps derived from satellite images are constructed by those who may not be very familiar with the site. Mappers have an important responsibility when representing other people’s places. Maps derived from satellite images without local context – like street names or information about vegetation types – tell incomplete stories. Building footprints can be digitized, but only locals can identify the purpose of that building. Imaginary lines, like country boundaries, don’t show up on remotely sensed images. As satellite images become more ubiquitous, we should reflect on where they come from, how they are created, and the purpose for their use.

Keeping that at mind, we should not, for one second, accept the claims made by the DNI, unnamed U$ officials, and even the interpretation of satellite imagery at face value. As Stephen Lendman, who I’ve cited before, writes, even 38 North can’t confirm if the work it says occurred, “continued after the June 12 Kim/Trump summit” after the summit or not! So, this makes their article totally worthless, a piece of junk which should be incinerated in the closest furnace, without polluting the air of course.

Capitalism coming to the DPRK?

There are signs of possible shifts. Kim met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on June 11, saying he would “learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future,” adding that issues of bilateral relations and increased “wide-ranging exchange and cooperation” was encouraged, while Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Singaporean Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung went to the DPRK. This raises the question: is capitalism coming to the DPRK as part of the detente with U$ imperialists?

We know that a four-minute short, created by the National Security Council, was shown to Kim, along with the capitalist media later on, with a voice over thundering that “Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity. A new story. A new beginning. Out of peace. Two men, two leaders, one destiny.” [9] This video “shows scenes of high-tech societies and everyday America, contrasted with images of traditional and contemporary Korean life, spliced with shots of rockets and North Korean militarism” as one bourgeois news outlet puts it. As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which is not anti-imperialist in the slightest, describes it, the video serves “as a kind of hyper-capitalist real estate pitch, complete with beachfront property and speedboats and babies.” There’s also the fact that the orange menace, who says the video was shown in English and Korean, claims it was “loved” by Kim and eight Korean representatives. If he and other top DPRK officials liked the video, which we can’t be completely sure about unless we take the word of the orange menace at face value, it is somewhat worrisome considering the capitalist nature. Even so, it wouldn’t mean that the country is moving in a capitalist direction. In fact, it could mean they see it more broadly without abandoning the country’s social model.

At the same time, it is significant that the foreign affairs minister of Singapore, Vivian Balakrishnan, was impressed with what he saw in the DPRK on his visit. As he recounted:

…I come back very impressed…my views have also altered based on what I saw, heard, and (after I had) spoken to people. Clearly, the government has been hard at work all these decades to upgrade their infrastructure. I also got to experience the rugged, disciplined, determined, self-reliant society. They know they have had enormous challenges for well-nigh a century in North Korea. But they are proud of themselves and of their identity, and I can see there is that determination to move on, get ahead and to progress. So the society itself is a very impressive society and a city in its own right. Despite these maximal sanctions, what you have is a society that has continued to invest itself and continuously trying to upgrade people and their skills and the services they provide to their citizens. Now, can you imagine if peace finally comes, and North Korea is allowed to open up to the world and gain access to technology, capability, skills and markets. I think the sky is the limit for their people. If a breakthrough is achieved during the summit in Singapore, if peace comes, there will be a bountiful harvest. Primarily of course, with the Korean peninsula but also the rest of us, including Singapore as well. [10]

The question remains: who will collect this “bountiful harvest”? Will it be the Korean people or capitalists, Chinese, ROK, Japanese, Singaporean, and U$, spreading their wings and planting themselves in the North? If the latter is the case, then it will be a sad day for the forces fighting global imperialism. If the former occurs, which is something all those who care about justice should push for, then this would be a great relief for Korean people. We already know that 80% of ROK trading companies want to take part in development projects in the DPRK after international sanctions are lifted and are asking for better cross-border exchange. [11] Additionally, the national assembly of the ROK has seen an “increase in the number of bill proposals by legislators pushing to bolster economic exchanges with North Korea,” with many focused on inter-Korean railways and other economic exchanges. We also know that the U$ may be interested in negotiations with the DPRK because of large “deposits of rare earth elements (REEs)…potentially worth billions of US dollars” at a time that the DPRK “may be on the cusp of being integrated into a vast supply chain via an Iron Silk Road, with the Russia-China strategic partnership simultaneously investing in railways, pipelines and ports in parallel to North-South Korean special economic zones (SEZs), Chinese-style” as Pepe Escobar, favorable to Chinese revisionism, wrote recently. Furthermore, the orange menace and certain U$ imperialists want the summit in order to further “U.S. capitalist interests in Asia.”

It also seems that the DPRK is preparing itself even more for the world spotlight. One traveler from New Zealand, calling himself Indigo Traveller Nick, described Pyongyang as “impeccably clean,” thanks to efforts by locals, with grand metro stops, a fascinating but brutal war museum about the Korean war, feeling invisible as a foreigner, and having relative freedom for footage except for taking images of statues of current or former leaders. [12] He also claimed that those in rural regions of the country “looked like they walked straight out from a 1940s film,” reminiscent of the Soviet Union. He ended by calling it the “most unique and fascinating country” he had ever visited. On a related noted, the country is also connected culturally and linguistically to the south, with both countries sharing the same unofficial national anthem, “Our Wish is Reunification.” At the same time, a 42-minute video of the summit and visit of Kim and other top DPRK officials to Singapore was proudly broadcast on Korean Central Television (KCTV), including a “glittering Singapore skyline,” with Kim approving of Singapore as “clean and beautiful.” This would seem at least somewhat worrisome since Singapore is, as the bourgeois media has argued, a “prosperous capitalist nation,” only being “prosperous” for the capitalists.

The Russians are key in future developments in the DPRK, since they play a part in the search for a solution to the woes of the Korean Peninsula. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov is noted as saying in mid-June that they “seek economic cooperation with South Korea, which is our second largest trading partner in Asia after China,” while there would be high-level talks later in the month, focusing on “further development of Russia-South Korea relations in political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres.” [13] This is connected with the idea, posed by ROK president Moon Jae-in, that there be a Trans Korean Maine Line which can be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which can benefit both Koreas and Russia, connected with having a gas pipeline from Russia connecting the two Koreas, along with electric lines as well, possibly even connecting with Japan. Moon also said, elsewhere that the DPRK can be part of negotiations with Russia “after permanent peace is established in the region.” An outlet of the Vietnamese revisionists, VN Express, reported on the topic as well, noting that between the ROK and Russia, there was hope “that reduced tensions with Pyongyang will open up opportunities for economic and infrastructure projects that would directly link South Korea with Russia through North Korea” with an area of common interest being “railway projects,” with current development “of a railway link between the Russian eastern border town of Khasan and the North Korean port of Rajin.” The DPRK clearly realizes the value of Russia as well, with Kim touring a military site in a Russian-made Lada Priora, a car produced by a large automaker in Russia, AvtoVAZ, which is majority-owned by the French car company, Renault.

China, which is revisionist and connected to global capitalism, has a similarly strong role in the events in the country itself. There are indications that any transformation in the DPRK will be based on what has happened in China since 1978, not on what has happened in the U$, engaging in economic reconstruction with any capitalistic opening limited to SEZs. [14] The Chinese state media claims that the DPRK’s cosmetic industry will gain from capitalistic Chinese investment, building upon existing connections to Chinese cyberspace. With all of this, the DPRK’s leadership increased the country’s ties with China, with the Chinese hosting a banquet for Kim on June 19, with talks in the following days, returning after the talks, on June 21. Interestingly, he visited, with his wife Ri Sol Ju, “the Beijing Municipal Track Traffic Control Centre,” learning the details and asking pointed questions, adding that “he admires at the high-level automation and good combined control system of the centre, he hoped that the centre would further develop into a world-level traffic control centre and make greater progress.”

There have also been rumblings about the “erasing” of anti-imperialist propaganda in the DPRK, which claims it was “replaced” by other propaganda celebrating Korean unification and not as critical of the U$. [15] A tour manager of Young Pioneer Tours named Rowan Beard, Peter Ward of NKNews, and a researcher at the ROK’s Korea Institute for National Unification named Hong Min, along with some other so-called “experts” said this was the case. Additionally, AP reported that the annual anti-imperialist rally to mark the start of the Korean War, or the Great Fatherland Liberation War, is not occurring this year. Of course, this is reporting on the outside, looking in, so what they are saying is likely distorted. It is clear that Rodong Sinmun is still celebrating the “socialist public health system in the DPRK,” writing on June 25th that this system is “symbolic of the advantages of Korean-style socialism centered on the popular masses, where the working masses are masters of everything and everything in society serves them.”

Clearly, the stage is set for some sort of capitalist opening in the DPRK. There are already some SEZs and other market mechanisms, as allowed by the country’s constitution, but these seem to be limited within the country itself. It is not known how much the country will “open” up, but if it is as much as China, this could be deleterious to the Korean people in the North by hurting any efforts for socialist construction in the country. Whatever is in store in the months and years to come, Russia, China, and the ROK will be key players, as will the DPRK. Perhaps Japan will be part of the equation, as will the U$, but the result of the detente will determine what the role of U$ imperialists will be going forward. The DPRK could also follow the model of Vietnam, which those like Pompeo hope for, as he recently said in Hanoi that “I say all of that because it’s important, but I hope that the United States, that one day we can share the same relationship with North Korea [that we have with Vietnam].” He added at a press conference in Japan that “in light of the once-unimaginable prosperity and partnership we have with Vietnam today, I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong Un. President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It’s yours if you’ll seize the moment. The miracle could be yours. The choice now lies with North Korea and its people.” Whether that comes to pass, the fact is that the DPRK will adapt to the new surroundings, as has done since September 9, 1948, when the country was founded, with its efforts to play the Soviets and the Chinese off each other, especially after the 1960s, until the end of the Cold War in 1991, leading to some criticism from certain parts of the world.

The warmongers continue their assault: liberals and corporate media

While the orange menace rattles on about “fake news” from NBC and CNN, saying that there should be “negotiating in good faith” by both sides, with war and “potential nuclear catastrophe” involving the DPRK averted, he poses himself as a “courageous” individual for making “peace.” At the same time, Bruce Cumings, a liberal bourgeois historian, has said that this summit “frees Trump from Washington establishment thinking, and create[s] a real possibility of peace in Korea.” Not everyone sees it that way: liberals and much of the corporate media is opposed to detente between the DPRK and the U$ since they want the detente to fail.

This attitude is evident without question. On June 12, Ankit Panda of The Daily Beast declared that during the meeting Kim “got the better end of the bargain” and that the DPRK gained an “important propaganda coup.” [16] The same day, The Guardian blared that Kim “won” the summit, gaining “bolstered status and diplomatic leverage,” even saying that the war games were positive! Others, like William Rivers Pitt of Truthout, went into the bizarre, calling Kim a “dangerous menace” who was a “fascist” like the orange menace! This wasn’t much of a surprise considering that others like Tony Schwartz (former ghostwriter for the orange menace) and Rebecca Gordon of TomDispatch fell in line, saying that the orange menace was moving closer to “enemies” of the empire. They “proved” this by citing the orange menace’s comments that Kim is a “tough guy” who is “smart” and a “great negotiator,” while saying, some time ago, in response to typical bourgeois criticism of Putin, “what do you think, our country’s so innocent?” The latter statement alludes to imperial violence since 1776 while such violence continues unimpeded! By contrast, progressive “luminary” Amy Goodman was more positive on the summit, saying that there should be unification behind “peace movements that are driving this diplomatic opening.” The same was the case for Tom Shorrock, who called Kim a “dictator,” who was also positive, especially criticizing corporate pundits.

A number of radical and alternative commentators exposed the true nature of the warmongers. Some wrote that the summit was “filled with the sorts of reality-television antics we’ve come to expect from the U.S. leader,” but also said that those Democrats who were Clintonites or Obamaesque, “struggled hard to express principled disagreements with the White House over a rapprochement with Pyongyang,” using a “laundry-list cliché of complaints,” with the orange menace “incapable of doing any good unless he’s applying a language of pressure, sanctions and veiled threats using acceptable language.” Even the Greanville Post, an alternative media outlet which is favorable to revisionism, pointed out that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, the U$ House Minority Leader, did not like the moderate concessions by the orange menace to Kim, wanting more brinkmanship, not wanting a “genuine and durable peace” on the Korean Peninsula. The union-funded publication, In These Times, said something similar, noting that Koreans were optimistic about the summit, while those like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, liberal cesspool Vox, Hallie Jackson of MSNBC, and King Russophobe Adam Schiff, among other establishment liberals, as some call them, were up in arms, with even social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders praising the summit! This was not unusual. The bourgeois media made the faulty assumption for weeks leading up to the summit (and since) that “North Korea cannot live without nuclear weapons” and do not take one second to “understand North Korea’s strategy in regard to nuclear weapons,” not recognizing that the DPRK was ready and willing to negotiate openly with the U$ back in 2013, but the U$ refused to negotiate. This same media seemed to be more concerned about Kim than the orange menace, which has thousands more weapons possibly at his (and his government’s) disposal, 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads on ICBMs and 180 tactical nuclear weapons at bomber bases in Europe, a much greater threat to the world as a whole. After all, while the orange menace is the person followed by the “football”, the imperialists have granted themselves all “rights” to use nuclear weapons as they see fit. Such warmongers easily align with the military contractors whose stocks took a dive as Kim and the orange menace signed an agreement on June 12, as their dreams of “yet another catastrophic U.S.-led military conflict” seem to have faded away.

Black Agenda Report was spot on in their criticism of such warmongers. Margaret Kimberley said that the Democrats “are left with nothing except attacking Trump from the right” because they fundamentally “like war, interventions and United States hegemony” as “true believers in imperialism.” They are not at all, as she notes, progressive, instead supporting “America’s professed right to invade and intervene in the affairs of countries all over the world,” upholding the U$ as the global police force, not supporting any “sovereignty and equality among nations.” Ajamu Baraka similarly wrote about how any move “toward normalizing relations between the United States and North Korea” was derided by Democrats, along with others from NPR, MSNBC, and CNN, who do not realize that this process, is, for the Korean people, about de-colonization. He also said that ultimately the orange menace will fall in line and misread the Koreans since “peace, de-colonization and national reconciliation for Korea are counter to U.S. interests,” meaning that there must be a demand upon the empire to get out of Korea, supporting a process to make that occur. Of course, the Democrats who stake out “a position to the right of John Bolton on the summit” cannot be trusted to make this happen, with even the Poor People’s Campaign, launched in May 2018, having little to say on the topic. In contrast, the newfangled Black Alliance for Peace has adopted the strong position of: “not one drop of blood from the working class and poor to defend the interests of the capitalist oligarchy.”

This leads to a further conclusion: that the “Democratic Party establishment and its media surrogates,” which some claim are MSNBC and CNN, are not part of the “Left” anymore. After all, these forces have called for increased pressure on Russia and the DPRK while they support a full-fledged proxy conflict in Syria and the murderous Zionist apartheid state, making common cause with neo-cons, the military establishment and multinational capitalist combines. This is part of what Amber B. described on this website [anti-imperialism.org] back in June: that Democrats are intensifying their rightward shift “in the midst of a new looming crisis in imperialism, critiquing Trump for overseeing a declining u.$. empire, de-escalation with N. Korea, an Assad victory in Syria, and defeat on virtually every front of soft power available to the u.$.” This is connected to a new predicament and threat of inter-imperialist war, necessitating greater unity among revolutionary forces in order to defeat “the u.$. in all conflicts and colonial holdings, in and outside north amerika, and ultimately of taking power.” Such unity requires, as Amber B. noted correctly, that the direction of U$ imperialism belongs to a greater authority: “the whole constellation of relations of moribund imperialism, settler and neo-colonialism, and inter-imperialist rivalry.” This means that “unless and until the u.$. state is overthrown, its ruling classes suppressed, its sovereignty over captive nations ended, then amerikan imperialism will continue, till total victory or total ruin, no matter who is in power.” Looking at the changes of power since 2000, from Clinton to Bush II in 2000, from Bush II to Obama in 2008, from Obama to the orange menace in 2016, as a small example, there has been imperial continuity manifested in the Afghanistan war, extraordinary rendition of any suspected “wrongdoer,” the developed mass surveillance system, the dungeons of mass incarceration, maintaining the Guantanamo Naval Base, and the overall warfare readiness of the empire, with interspersed wars, terroristic drone strikes, expanding bases, and covert (and overt) activity.

What does the summit mean for the world?

On June 12, in the flurry of news on the topic, the New York Times took a typical Orientalist perspective but still admitted that “for the first time since 1953, the door has been opened to peace on the Korean Peninsula.” But there is more than just a door that has been opened. A whole new opportunity and paradigm is possible, with those such as Kim, very-popular ROK president Moon Jae-In, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, key players in such negotiations, which can be said to be part of “serious peace talks,” with ending the state of war giving the Korean people “space they need to deal with their own division,” leading to future democratic change. Even the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union praised the summit, saying it signals “a new era in which peace on the Korean Peninsula is possible” while they worried that the agreement was not concrete enough, saying that the conclusion “peace treaty by all relevant sides and a non-aggression pact between the U.S. and North Korea are needed as steps towards creating a Korean peace regime.” This union was also concerned that the comments by the orange menace about “prosperity” in the DPRK is “predicated on private investment and the capitalist opening” of that country’s economy, a process that “does not involve workers’ participation, [and] has the potential to lead to the expansion of labour rights violations and increase in economic and other forms of inequality.” In the meantime, the murderous empire has no intention to operate “within the rule-based international order designed to govern relations between states and between people and governments” evidenced by the withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council because it criticized Zionist oppression. Bolivian President Evo Morales rightly described that this event was the most recent evidence that the U$ is “an interventionist, coup-mongering state, and a violator of the people’s right to life, especially of the poorest…[and] an accomplice of Israel, that massacres civilians, and [the U$] today incarcerates innocent children that cross its border.” The empire is, as he noted, with all its unilateral actions since 2017, “the worst threat for world peace, human rights, and Mother Earth.”

As the Chinese revisionist leadership and DPRK leadership increase their ties, there is talk of a railway going from China into the DPRK, with the revisionists not letting up on supporting murderous sanctions on the Korean people. [17] This could complicate matters for the orange menace as it increases the leverage of Xi Jinping in the trade war between the U$ and China, with the Chinese restraining their criticism of the orange menace. This trade war, whether it leads to a shooting war or not, allows Xi (and the Chinese revisionists) to disrupt possible negotiations between the DPRK and U$. As Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “what matters is how China and the US cooperate. Let competition drive cooperation,” showing they operate within the capitalist model. Let us not forget that Kim arrived on an Air China jet in Singapore, undoubtedly a symbolic move without question, showing that China “brought him there and back.”

Still, the DPRK is not a Chinese colony. Rather, the DPRK decides its own policy, with Kim outmaneuvering the imperialists, with the U$ adopting the freeze-for-freeze policy, in the simple agreement on June 12 which did not have “any decisive or concrete details,” proposed by the Russians and Chinese, and more recently endorsed by the DPRK itself. Such independent policy has led the ROK has made some concessions even though their military remains wary. In a recent KCNA article describing the summit, it was clear that the Koreans were pursuing their own path, treating the U$ respectfully, while still holding a strong line. This independent policy was recently showcased in the president of the Presidium, the leading body of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), Kim Yong Nam, congratulating Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador upon his election as president of Mexico (by a landslide), saying that it is “an expression of the Mexican people’s trust and expectation,” while adding that he wished Obrador “good health and great success in his responsible work, expressing belief that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would develop onto a new higher stage in line with the aspiration and desire of the two peoples.” Whether Obrador can challenge existing capitalist orthodoxy is an open question, but the Mexican people got a long-needed change and social movements in the country can push Obrador to move the country in a progressive, even radical, direction. On the topic of the DPRK’s independent policy, one should also point out the favorable relations they hold with socially democratic Nicaragua, the secular socially democratic state of Syria, socially democratic Venezuela, Islamic nationalist Iran, socialist Cuba, and support for Palestinian liberation without question.

The former colonial master of Japan has been broadly left out of discussions, becoming a bystander, even though it will eventually have to conform. [18] The DPRK has said already that Japan will be ignored as long as it continues efforts to boost its military readiness and large-scale military drills, that the anti-DPRK policy of the government must be scrapped, and replaced with “sincerity toward Peace.” Other countries have been more positive. The Iranians, with Mohammad Bagher Nobakht of the Iranian government saying that “we are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad,” who warned Kim of the U$ duplicity, were positive about the summit, with Iranian Ambassador to London, Hamid Baeidinejad saying that “one positive aspect of the agreement between the US and North Korea is that the possibility of war and military conflict between the two sides, escalated by Trump’s bellicose remarks, which could have affected South Korea, Japan and China, and had caused great concern, has now been reduced.” More specifically, the Japanese, ROK, and Chinese were pleased. But neo-cons like Marco Rubio, David Purdue, Brett Klinger (former CIA, Heritage Foundation), and conservative analyst Brit Hume were fuming while Lindsey Graham and Cory Gardner were more optimistic. Even the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, Mac Thornberry, supports ending the war games, while he still supports a strong imperial presence in the ROK. The Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, Brian Schatz, Chris Murphy, and Steve Cohen, sided with the neo-cons, as one would expect.

It remains to be seen if future negotiations will focus on “eliminating Washington’s regional nuclear umbrella…[or] pulling US troops out of South Korea.” Even if this is the “beginning of a different sort of diplomatic process” as some say, even some bourgeois analysts grumble that “North Korea is not going to jump into our alliance network anytime soon, but the Singapore summit may give it the opportunity to move out of China’s orbit,” seeing a possible future ally of the empire, not realizing the interconnections of the DPRK and China or their shared history. [19] Then there’s the question of possible sanction relief, which the U$ seems to be holding out as a possibility but only once the DPRK unilaterally and completely disarm its nukes, which they aren’t prepared to do without major concessions by the imperialists first, a justified response. The DPRK wants to protect and expand the standard of living of the people within the country, but will not dismantle its nuclear industry since “nuclear technology can be used to generate electricity and is a prestige item for the North generally.” While it is hard for some to see “coherence in Trump’s bellicose policies towards Iran and North Korea,” the fact, as one analyst noted, is that “any increased popularity Trump would gain from a war now would invariably diminish by the time he’s up for reelection. Thus, for Trump, commencing war two years later, just before the presidential election, would make far more sense. Republicans, independents and even some Democrats would rally to the flag and be more likely to vote him back into office.” Furthermore, as Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, noted, the orange menace is not “causing chaos in the imperial Big House because he wants to hasten the demise of U.S. imperialism” but rather he is trying to “stamp his orange imprint on history,” not knowing what he does, while he aligns closely with the Zionists and Gulf autocrats.

I tend to disagree with Ford’s comment that the orange menace doesn’t know what he is doing. There seems to be precise calculations for what he is doing. Sure, he is trying to imprint on history, but his snap analysis, manifested by his comment in Canada that “they say you know you’re going to like somebody in the first five seconds – you ever hear of that one? Well, I think I’ll know very quickly whether or not something good is going to happen. I also think I’ll know whether it will happen fast” about Kim, adding that “I’ll be on a mission of peace. In my heart, we will be carrying the hearts of millions of people, people from all over the world. We have to get denuclearization, we have to get something going.”” While this is utter hogwash, there is rationality to his method. At times, the administration is just trying to push the envelope, while other times his statements serve as a distraction from pressing matters. It all fits within the framework of U$ imperialism which broadly continues on the path set by Bush II and Obama, with even further venom spewed toward Venezuela, Cuba (to a lesser extent), Russia, and China. And no, the summit between Kim and the orange menace, even with its antics of those like reactionary Dennis Rodman, was not a distraction from the meeting of some elites, like Henry Kissinger and 130 others, at Bilderberg. Rather, the bourgeois media would just not cover the Bilderberg meeting, regardless of whether the Kim-orange menace summit occurred. This isn’t because of some magic conspiracy, but rather because the summit was more jazzy, fitting with the bourgeois media model than a “boring” and secretive Bilderberg summit, as they would likely describe it.

What is in the cards in the coming days is a summit between Vladimir Putin and the orange menace on July 16 in Helsinki, which is already being panned by bourgeois media and their Russophobic allies here, there, and everywhere!. [20] This summit would undoubtedly be modeled the same way as the summit between Kim and the orange menace. In the process, anti-imperialists must push the U$ for concessions on reducing military pressure, while having no illusions about the Russians, who are nationalistic and wedded to capitalism, with their own bourgeoisie which is willing to work with the U$ as needed.

The specter of detente between the DPRK and U$ scares the liberal and neoconservative imperialists who would like a state of war on the Korean Peninsula, posing the DPRK as a “threat” to global humanity even though the murderous empire is the real threat. This is evident in the fact that this empire has over 266 times more nuclear weapons than the DPRK! [21] At the same time, those imperialists in the corner of the orange menace see this as an opportunity to “flip” the DPRK into the U$ imperial umbrella. What comes next is in part up to the DPRK and U$ negotiators, but can also be influenced by the proletariat in the DPRK, ROK, China, and Russia, along with long-standing movements such as the peace movement. In the end, we should remain critical while rejecting Orientalist propaganda aimed at the Koreans and not being dismissive of the detente, realizing the potential of a peaceful Korean Peninsula for those occupying it, those in the countries surrounding it, and the world at-large.


Notes

[1] In 2012, he also became the Chairman (called “First Secretary” from 2012 to 2016) of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission (called the National Defence Commission from 2012 to 2016), Chair of the Central Military Commission, and a member of the Politiburo’s presidium which is led by Kim Yong Chol.

[2] Uri Freedman, “America’s Moment of Truth With North Korea Is Coming,” The Atlantic, July 10, 2018; Reuters Staff, “North Korea says resolve for denuclearisation may falter after talks with U.S.: KCNA,” Reuters, July 7, 2018; Matthew Lee and Andrew Harnick, “North Korea Says Talks With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Were ‘Regrettable’,” AP (reprinted by Time), July 7, 2018; Rozina Sabur, “Mike Pompeo arrives in Pyongyang to press for commitment to denuclearisation,” The Telegraph, July 6, 2018; Hyonshee Shin and David Brunnstrom, “North Korea slams ‘gangster-like’ U.S. demands after satisfied Pompeo leaves,” Reuters, July 6, 2018.

[3] Wang Peng, “US move to suspend military drills with South Korea a calculated move,” Global Times, June 19, 2018; “President Trump Says North Korea Has Returned the Remains of 200 U.S. Soldiers,” Time, June 21, 2018.

[4] Stefan Becket, “Bolton says U.S. could dismantle North Korean arsenal “within a year”,” CBS News, July 1, 2018; Elise Labott, “US and North Korean officials met Sunday to discuss implementing agreement between countries,” CNN, July 1, 2018; Mike Allen, “Scoop: Trump may hold Round 2 with Kim Jong-un in NYC,” Axios, July 2, 2018; Ian Kullgren, “Bolton downplays North Korea weapons report,” Politico, July 2, 2018; Julia ManChester, “Pence on Trump-Kim summit: ‘It takes courage to make peace’,” The Hill, June 13, 2018; Phil Stewart, “U.S. to give North Korea post-summit timeline with ‘asks’ soon: official,” Reuters, June 24, 2018; “Trump: North Korea ‘total denuclearization’ started; officials see no new moves,” Reuters, Jun 22, 2018. In his interview with ABC News, as noted in the June 12 article titled “President Trump sits down with George Stephanopoulos: TRANSCRIPT,” he said that “we have the framework of getting ready to denuclearize North Korea…We’re going to work with South Korea. We’re going to work with Japan. We’re going to work with China…They’re [Korean] gonna start immediately. They really already started. They blew up a site, which was the real deal site that was their big site, they’ve blown it up…We stopped playing those war games that cost us a fortune…they’re very expensive…His [Kim’s] country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people — that they’re so hard working, so industrious…We’re starting from scratch. We’re starting right now, and we have to get rid of those nuclear weapons…there are reasons he [Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il] didn’t because he was let down by the United States, but that’s irrelevant…In the past we’ve tried, but it never worked out and it never did work out. And it was embarrassing actually to the United states and to our leadership…He trusts me, I believe, I really do. I mean, he said openly, and he said it to a couple of reporters that were with him that he knows that no other president ever could have done this.”

[5] Morgan Gsalder, “Trump: North Koreans love Kim,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Collum Borchers, “Trump’s refreshing admission that he felt ‘foolish’ when taunting Kim Jong Un,” Washington Post, June 13, 2018; AP, “Trump flips on North Korea, declaring country still an ‘extraordinary threat’,” The Guardian, June 23, 2018; “Trump touts ‘great chemistry’ with Kim Jong Un,” AOL News, June 24, 2018; Lisa de Moraes, “Donald Trump Defends “Great Negotiator” Kim Jong Un Who Bret Baier Calls “Killer”,” Deadline, June 13, 2018; Steve Holland, “Trump defends policies on border, North Korea in visit to Las Vegas,” Reuters, June 23, 2018. Even the orange menace has doubted, there will problems of this strategy, saying “I think he’s going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse” as noted in Dylan Stableford’s June 13th article in Yahoo! News titled “’Sleep well tonight!’: Trump promptly declares North Korea no longer a nuclear threat.”

[6] Stefan Becket, “Bolton says U.S. could dismantle North Korean arsenal “within a year”,” CBS News, July 1, 2018; Ian Kullgren, “Bolton downplays North Korea weapons report,” Politico, July 2, 2018; Krishnadev Calamur, “No One Knows What Kim Jong Un Promised Trump,” The Atlantic, Jul 2, 2018; “Date set for reunions of war-separated Korean families,” DW, June 22, 2018.

[7] Tom O’Connor, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Wants to ‘Completely Eliminate Manual Labor’,” Newsweek, July 2, 2018; Kim Myong-song, “Kim Jong-un Visits Chinese Border Region,” Chosun, July 2, 2018; “Kim Jong Un visits cosmetics factory in special economic zone near border with China,” Straits Times, July 1, 2018.

[8] Kanga Kong, “North Korea Ramps Up Nuclear Effort Weeks After Trump Summit,” Bloomberg, July 2, 2018; Courtney Kube, Ken Dilanian and Carol E. Lee, “North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials,” NBC News, June 29, 2018; Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick, “North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say,” Washington Post, June 30, 2018; Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea Expands Key Missile-Manufacturing Plant,” Wall Street Journal, Jul 1, 2018; Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu, “Infrastructure Improvements at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility,” 38 North, June 26, 2018.

[9] Kate Simmons, “Creator of the Trump-Kim ‘Movie Trailer’ Steps Forward,” Newser, June 13, 2018; Alana Abramson, “National Security Council Says It Created That Video President Trump Showed Kim Jong Un Before the North Korean Summit,” Time, June 13, 2018; Euan McKirdy, “Destiny Pictures founder claims mistaken identity, distances himself from Trump video,” CNN, June 14, 2018; Julian Borger, “’Harebrained’: National Security Council owns up to widely derided Trump video,” The Guardian, June 13, 2018; Tim Hains, “Scott Adams: Trump Video Message To Kim “Might Be The Best Thing Anybody Ever Did In A Negotiation, Period”,” RealClearPolitics, June 12, 2018; John Hindertaker, “The Kim Destiny Pictures Video: Brilliant or Stupid? [Updated],” PowerLine, June 13, 2018.

[10] Leong Wai Kit, “’I come back very impressed’: Vivian Balakrishnan on trip to North Korea,” Channel News Asia, June 9, 2018.

[11] “Bulk of S. Korean trading firms want to take part in N. Korea projects: poll,” Yonhap News, June 17, 2018; “Parliament sees more bill proposals for inter-Korean economic exchanges amid warming ties,” Yonhap News, June 10, 2018.

[12] “Inside North Korea: Kiwi’s ‘surreal’ trip to the secretive nation,” New Zealand Herald, June 25, 2018; Ben Westcott and Stella Ko, “North Korea state media airs unseen video from Trump-Kim summit,” CNN, June 14, 2018.

[13] “Russia, South Korea to discuss economic cooperation, Korean Peninsula issue,” Xinhua, June 20, 2018; “Putin tells Moon: We’ll keep working for Korean peninsula peace,” Reuters, June 22, 2018.

[14] Cynthia Kim and Christian Shepard, “North Korea seen looking to China, not U.S., for help in any economic transformation,” Reuters, Jun 10, 2018; Cao Siqi, “North Korean cosmetics firm gains attention from Kim’s factory visit,” Global Times, Jul 3, 2018.

[15] Andreas Illmer, “North Korean propaganda changes its tune,” BBC News, June 23, 2018; Eileen AJ Connolly, “North Korea erasing most anti-US propaganda,” New York Post, Jun 23, 2018; “North Korea to erase anti-U.S. propaganda,” BlackListed News, June 24, 2018; “North Korea media tone down anti-US rhetoric,” Financial Times, accessed June 25, 2018; Cha Song Ho and Eric Talmadge, “In sign of detente, North Korea skips annual anti-US rally,” Washington Post (reprinted from AP), June 25, 2018.

[16] Ankit Panda, “Trump’s Singapore Summit Was a Bust—for the U.S.,” The Daily Beast, June 12, 2018; “The Guardian view on Trump in Singapore: a huge win – for North Korea,” The Guardian, June 12, 2018; William Rivers Pitt, “Winning the News Cycle: Trump’s Made-for-TV Singapore Summit,” Truthout, reprinted in Information Clearing House, June 13, 2018; “Trump Dismisses Kim Jong Un’s Atrocities: ‘He’s a Tough Guy’,” The Daily Beast, June 14, 2018.

[17] Liu Caiyu, “North Korea deserves trust as Kim shows resolution on China trip: analysts,” Global Times, June 21, 2018; “As Kim Visits China, Xi Flaunts Bargaining Chip in Trade Dispute,” Bloomberg News, June 19, 2018; Deng Xiaoci, “FM urges US to cooperate on trade, N.Korea as Pompeo visits China,” Global Times, June 14, 2018; Moon of Alabama, “The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit – Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement),” Information Clearing House, June 14, 2018.

[18] Akira Kimura, “Trump-Kim summit leaves Japan struggling with outdated strategy,” Global Times, Jun 14, 2018; “North Korea says to ignore Japan until it scraps military drills, other measures,” Reuters, June 25, 2018; “Iran spokesman warns Kim about nuclear agreement with Trump,” AP, June 12, 2018; Julia Manchester, “Dems rip Trump concessions, ’embarrassing’ rhetoric with Kim,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Brian Murphy and Shibani Mahtani, “With some reservations, East Asian countries welcome the Trump-Kim summit,” Washington Post, June 12, 2018; Ellen Mitchell, “GOP senator ‘troubled’ by Trump announcement to halt US-South Korean military drills,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Paul LeBlanc, “Fox News Analyst Calls Trump Handshake With ‘Thug’ Kim Jong Un ‘Disconcerting’,” Newsweek, June 12, 2018; Eli Stokols, “Republicans remain skeptical despite Trump’s boasts of breakthrough with North Korea’s Kim,” LA Times, June 12, 2018; Ellen Mitchell, “House GOP chairman backs Trump’s move to halt military exercises with South Korea,” The Hill, June 13, 2018.

[19] Christopher Steintz, “The Trump-Kim summit advances a unique rapprochement,” The Hill, June 13, 2018; “Pompeo: No Sanctions Relief for Pyongyang Until After Denuclearization,” The Daily Beast, June 13, 2018; Sharon Marris, “Confusion As North Korea Says US Will Lift Sanctions,” Information Clearing House (reprinted from Sky), June 13, 2018; Jeffrey Sommers and Peter Paik, “A Blow to Interventionists, as US and North Korea Move Toward Peace,” CounterPunch, June 13, 2018; Alana Abramson, “President Trump Says It’ll Take Him 1 Minute to Figure Out If Kim Jong Un Is Serious About Peace,” Time, June 9, 2018; Matt Agorist, “As Media Hypes Trump-Kim Summit, The Real Rulers of the World are Secretly Meeting at Bilderberg,” Activist Post, June 7, 2018; Steve Geimann, “Dennis Rodman to Cheer ‘My Friends’ Trump and Kim in Singapore,” Bloomberg News, June 9, 2018; Jennifer Epstein, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Jennifer Jacobs, “Trump, Kim Planning One-on-One Talk at Start of Summit,” Bloomberg News, June 9, 2018.

[20]John Wagner, Anton Troianovski and Philip Rucker, “Trump and Putin will meet July 16 in Helsinki, Washington and Moscow announce,” Washington Post, June 28, 2018; Philip Giraldi, “Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?,” Unz Review (reprinted in Information Clearing House), Jun 21, 2018.

[21] This comes from information compiled by the Arms Control Association in June 2018, and the Ploughshares Fund in July 2018. If we include all nuclear weapons of the U$, including the 2,500 said to be “retired” but are still intact, then the U$ has over 436 times as many nuclear weapons, having 6,500 while the DPRK, according to a January 2018 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “have produced sufficient fissile material to build 30 to 60 nuclear weapons, and that it might possibly have assembled 10 to 20 warheads,” adding at the end of the article that “as far as we can assess…North Korea might have produced sufficient fissile material to hypothetically build 30 to 60 nuclear weapons (if it used all the material), but only assembled perhaps 10 to 20 warheads, if even that many.” This is where the number of 15 comes from the Arms Control Association and Ploughshares Fund, which seem to have averaged the numbers 10 and 20 together. As such, the nuclear superiority of the murderous empire might be even more! Both of these organizations are undoubtedly bourgeois without question, but even using their numbers it shows nuclear superiority of the murderous empire. The amount of nukes held by the DPRK is small, as Russia and the U$ hold 92% of the world’s nukes! So the complaints of the imperialists, and even revisionists like those in Laos, China, and Vietnam on this topic is laughable, as they do not recognize this glaring disparity!

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Changing alliances for Juche Korea: Iraq in 1968, Iran in 1979

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, meets with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in Sept 2016

On February 8, 1963, as I’ve written on this blog before, the CIA gave “economic assistance” for the coup that day by the Ba’ath Party, thinking this would benefit U$ policy. Because it was against “Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim (or Qassem) [who] enacted a land reform program, constructed a massive urban development for Revolution City…and partially nationalized the oil industry.” However, this is a bit simplistic. As the Ba-ath Party, fully called the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party – Iraq wrote in their report, titled “Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973,” the situation was a bit more nuanced. While thousands of communists were killed in the February 8 coup, on November 18 there was another coup led by those favoring Nasser in the Ba’ath Party, which the Ba’ath Party described as a “shock…[and] loss of the revolutionary gains and the loss of many Party martyrs who fell while bravely fighting the regressive move.” The Ba’athists were out of power and on February 23, 1966, the Ba’athists in Syria would engage in a “military coup against the national authority of the Party as represented by the National Command…[leading to a] vertical and horizontal split within the Party…[with] psychological, organizational and political effects of such a split…in Iraq,” leading to further schisms. Those who took power in Syria would be Nureddin al-Atassi from 1966 to 1970 (he was the second Ba’ath Party president in Syria, after Amin al-Hafiz who served from 1963 to 1966), then Ahmad al-Khatib (1970-1971), and finally Hafiz Al-Assad (1971-2000) who would soon be followed by his son, Bashar al-Assad. It was 1966 that Juche Korea established diplomatic relations with the Syrians. On July 17, 1968, two years after those in Syria took matters into their own hands, Saddam Hussein and Salah Oman al-Ali engaged in a successful coup in the Republic of Iraq. That year, Juche Korea would establish diplomatic relations with Iraq.

Three years later, Kim Il Sung talked to a delegation of Iraqi journalists, saying that in the past Korea “was a colonial, semi-feudal society in the past,” having to fight off U$ imperialists, he said they currently had “an advanced socialist system, under which all people work and live a happy life helping each other” with achievements through the leadership of WPK and the people, with a “dedication to the idea of Juche. In response to a question from one of the journalists, Sung said that the Iraqi people had, by that point, attained “national independence through their protracted arduous struggle against the domination of foreign imperialism,” adding that “antagonism and discord between nations…are advantageous only to the imperialists and simply detrimental to the people.” He also applauded a “peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem,” and said that the government of Iraq stands “firm in the ranks of struggle against imperialism and colonialism.” Later on in press conference he said that “the Korean and Iraqi peoples are close comrades-in-arms fighting against the common enemy…part of the great unity of the Asian and African peoples against imperialism and colonialism,” while also focusing on a number of other matters like the “expansion of the aggressive war by the U.S. imperialists in Indo-China,” noting that those of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos have made Indochina “a graveyard for the aggressors,” while adding that the “Korean people will assist those fighting against U.S. imperialism in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos.” It seems evident why Sung supported the Iraqis despite their problematic history. For one, the Ba’athists, at least openly, had an ideology to “guide for the masses [and show]…the way for unity, freedom and socialism,” and that they were engaging in an “Arab revolution” and differently from in 1963, when the party failed to lead “a revolutionary Party” after this revolution it became necessary to go a different path. As such, “imperialist countries such as the U.S., Britain and other reactionary regimes…mobilized all of their political, technological, material and highly developed informational potential” to bring down their government. Additionally, the party, at the time, dedicated itself to “unity, freedom and socialism in order to rebuild a united, free and democratic Arab society,” with a duty to “achieve a truly democratic, socialist and integrated state which could be the model for the other states in the Arab World… and the Third World,” while strongly fighting “the imperialist Zionist enemy.” Subsequently there was a “decisive move of nationalization” with the government talking country of “65% of the oil producing sector of the national economy” and was basically in “control of 99.75% of the land from which oil is extracted.” They also worked to establish a “progressive front” in the region while making the society as a whole more democratic. It is the fact that the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party declared itself as a “socialist revolutionary Party which considers socialism imperative for the liberation, union and resurgence of the Arab Nation,” that they received Korean support, even through they were just economic nationalists in reality. Some remnants of “socialism” or what can really more actually be called bourgeois nationalism stayed on for years. Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran wrote about this in 2006, noting that the Ba’ath party was broadly based among professionals, that the state subsidized fertilizer, electricity, and gasoline costs, along with varied state-owned enterprises. [1] At the same time, there was “loud and boisterous” stock exchange in Baghdad, which was re-opened by the U$ after the war, a sign of capitalism, and Saddam consolidated more power for his enrichment, while the population suffered, with his government backed by the imperialists. Of course, after the 2003 invasion, the U$ reversed all these elements, engaging in mass privatization by abandoning “Saddam’s centrally-planned, socialist welfare state for a globalized free-market system” (I’m not sure if it was a “socialist welfare state,” but it wasn’t a state which had privatized industries) and resulting widespread anger by the Iraqi population, thanks to unemployment caused by these horrid policies in this new “capitalist utopia.”

On September 22, 1980, Iraq, led by Saddam, invaded Iran, leaded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The war, which drained the national coffers of Iraq, putting the country “tens of billions of dollars into debt,” in a war which lasted almost 8 years to August 20, 1988. [2] Years later, in 1991, he would invade Kuwait (apparently with U$ permission), resulting in “debilitating United Nations sanctions” which cut off “Iraq from the world.” In the Iran-Iraq war, from 1980 to 1988, Canadians, Danes, Egyptians, East German revisionists, Hungarians, Polish, Qataris (initially), Romanians, Singaporeans, Sudanese, UAE, Yugoslavian revisionists, Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Jordanians supported the Iraqis and no others. However, there were a number of individuals who gave arms to both sides: the Soviet revisionists (arms to Iran covertly), Austrians, Chinese revisionists, French imperialists, the West Germans, Italians, Japanese, Portuguese, South African racists, Spanish, Swiss, Turks, the U$ imperialists (to Iran covertly as uncovered in the Iran-Contra scandal), and UK imperialists. There were a number of others that directly gave to Iran: the Ethiopians, the Belgians, the Argentinians, reportedly the Zionists (covertly to establish more influence), Netherlands, ROK, Libyans, Pakistanis, Syrians, Swedish (covertly), and Juche Korea, last but not least. This is no surprise since in 1982, the latter had extended its “international solidarity to the revolutionary state of Iran to fight in the war against Western-backed Republic of Iraq” while the Koreans had established relations with Juche Korea in 1973, while the Shah was still in power, but relations was not fully forged until after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, five years after Hafiz Al-Assad had visited Pyongyang himself. During the ensuring war, Juche Korea would become a “major supplier of arms to Iran” and it would have a “history of cooperating on missile technology” with Iran as one website reported. As one might imagine, this makes it no surprise that Iraq cut off “diplomatic relations in October 1980,” with the Koreans following suit by continuing their alliance with Iran for the next 38 years to the present-day and never again re-opening diplomatic relations with Iraq. As the war raged between Iran and Iraq, the weapons from Korea flowed in so much that the country “accounted for 40% of all Iranian arms purchases.” One commentary by a Zionist, Kenneth R. Timmerman, with parts within the text about the Koreans being an arms conduit for other countries removed as it makes them seem to be a colony of the Chinese or Soviets when they are not, reported in the late 1980s that

…The North Koreans produce a certain amount of T-54/T-55 tanks and other equipment under license from the Soviet Union. They also continue to purchase large quantities of weaponry from both the USSR and the People’s Republic of China…The first delivery [to Iran]…through North Korea occurred in October1980…the next major deal, for an estimated $1 billion, was negotiated…by North Korea…in exchange for cash and 2 million tons of Iranian crude oil. The equipment was of Chinese origin, and was most likely taken from existing Korean inventory. Deliveries are said to have occured in stages over the1981-83 period, and included 150 T-62 main battle tanks, 400 artillery pieces, 1000 mortars, 600 anti-aircraft cannons, and 12,000 machine guns and rifles…an additional 300T-54/T-55 Korean-built tanks should be added to the list. Weapons deliveries from North Korea were worth $800 million in 1982 alone…Since then, Iran is said to have refused large quantities of locally-produced North Korean equipment, due to its poor quality…[In August 1983] the North Koreans sent 300 military advisors to Tehran…Soviet willingness to supply military assistance, training, and weapons to Iran was codified by a pair of military agreements signed with the Iranian government in July 1981….These agreements resulted in the arrival of some 3000 Soviet advisors in Iran, the building of new ports and military airfi[e]lds by Soviet and North Korean technicians, and the construction of the largest Soviet listening base outside the Warsaw Pact

Others, relying on Timmerman and some other sources, note that in 1985, Iran says it will finance the “North Korean missile program in exchange for missiles and missile technology,” the same year that the country received R-17 Elbrus (Scud-B) missiles from the Libyans and Koreans. Additionally, that year, work on the Mushak-120 missile in Iran, “reportedly begins with assistance from China, North Korea, and others at a Chinese-built factory near Semnan,” while in the summer, “Iran approaches both North Korea and China looking for ballistic missiles and missile technology.” More than this, Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament (from 1980-1989) signs a deal, that year, worth $500 million, to “receive North Korean missiles based on Soviet Scud designs” from the Koreans, while he also visits China and Juche Korea “to establish military cooperation.” As a result, the Koreans agree to “give Iran HN-5A SAMs, and to help in building an assembly site for them” and they also “offer aid to build production factories for the HN-5A and the HQ-2, to engage in technology transfers for Iran’s missile program, and to assist in the building of an assembly site for the missile that is the same as the North Korean Scud-Mod.” From 1985 to 1988, Juche Korea receives 240 Scud-B missiles from the Soviets, and 100 are “re-sold to Iran,” further showing their solidarity. By March 1986, Iran is receiving arms from Juche Korea, Libya, and Syria, even paying the Koreans over the next five years (1986-1991) money in “oil purchase debt” for the weapons they had purchased. Beyond this, the “Defense” Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the U$ declared that

the Middle East has been the major market for North Korean arms, with Iran and Libya making most purchases. Sales to Iran peaked in the early 1980s at the height of the Iran-Iraq war…The weapons North Korea exports include large quantities of munitions, small arms, artillery, multiple rocket launchers, tanks, armored personnel carriers, air defense artillery, SCUD-B short-range ballistic missiles, and some naval craft…North Korea presents itself as a fellow revolutionary struggling with constraints of relations with the superpowers…During the Iran-Iraq war, North Korea trained Iranian gunners to operate the Chinese mobile surface-to-air system and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in unconventional warfare techniques

In another part of the same report, the DIA declared that “the current size, organization, disposition, and combat capabilities of the North Korean Army…maintains North Korea’s territorial integrity and assists in internal security, civic action projects, economic construction, and a variety of agricultural programs.” Then there’s the New York Times article in 1987 declaring that Juche Korea was involved in arms trafficking to Iran, serving as a conduit for the soviets. [3] With all these claims, it is hard to know how much or what the Koreans sent to Iran. A trade register showing Juche Korea as the supplier and Iran as the recipient noted that between 1982 and 1987, the following weapons were delivered:

  • 200 self-propelled MRLs (multiple rocket launchers)
  • 150 tanks
  • 6 MiG-19 fighter aircraft
  • 200 towed MRLs
  • 480 towed guns
  • 4000 anti-tank missiles
  • 3 patrol craft
  • 20 anti-ship missiles
  • 20 self-propelled guns
  • 100 R-17 Elbrus short-range ballistic missiles

That may be the most accurate you can get on support Korea lent to the Iranians. Also consider the Special National Intelligence Assessment in 1985 which declared that there were 50-100 Korean advisers, T-62 tanks, SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, antitank missiles and launchers, small arms, field artillery, mortars, rockets, and naval mines from the Koreans in Iran at that time. They also outlined, in varying other documents how the Koreans were arming the Iranians, to the chagrin of the imperialists.

Kim Il Sung and other Koreans come to Iran in May 1989 in Pyongyang, before the Supreme People’s Assembly, with his late son, Ahmed Khomeini, saying that going to Juche Korea was “a decent thing to do” as noted in the YouTube video of the meeting of these two individuals. The video also shows other scenes from Khamenei’s visit to Pyongyang the same year.

Such support was re-paid in 1989 when then Iranian President and later Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, met with Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam reportedly “sought to acquire Rodong missile systems from North Korea” and sent a “$10 million down payment from Baghdad,” but Iraq never “received any missiles or missile technology from the deal” showing that the Koreans would not abandon their solidarity with the Iranians against imperialism, clearly knowing what side Saddam was on, which was the side of repression and global capitalism, not national liberation. Since that time, the two countries have not restored diplomatic relations, even after “the Iraqi population of around 33 million has only been subject to short periods of relative peace as competing interests struggle for control” since the 2003 invasion as Oxfam declared. There were a number of mentions of Iraq on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Juche Korea but these were in reference to “depleted uranium shells seriously affecting human health and the environment” used by U$ imperialists in Iraq, forms of U$ war which could be used to bring down “the social system of the DPRK,” the false pretenses of such imperialists to “overthrow legitimate governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya,” and noting that “the U.S. deleted Iraq and Libya from the list of “state sponsor of terrorism” that gave in to its pressure [and] it also deleted Cuba,” showing that the “the label of “state sponsor of terrorism” is just a tool for American style authoritarianism that can be attached or removed at any time in accordance with its interests,” which is undeniably true.

The relation between Juche Korea and Iran has been ironclad since the 1980s. After all, in May 1979, Kim Il Sung sent Khomeini a telegram congratulating him on the “victory of the Islamic Revolution,” and on June 25th of the same year, Khomeini met with the “DPRK Ambassador Chabeong Ouk in Qom,” on what was the “29th anniversary of the aggression of U.S. troops against the meek nation of Korea” to which “Khomeini replied in kind, calling…for the expulsion of American troops from South Korea.” [4] The Jewish Virtual Library, which is highly Zionist, says with alarm that “Iran is North Korea’s principal customer for weapons and technology, and it has been the site of a number of missile tests carried out on North Korea’s behalf. North Korea may have sold one of its most sophisticated missiles, the Nodong…to Iran…North Korean experts are also believed to have helped Iran with its centrifuges.” While most of this is likely poppycock, it does say that even the Zionists are afraid of the Koreans. These same people consider the Koreans part of the “anti-American Middle East axis” (of Syria and Iran) and that the Korean relationship with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has existed since 1983. In years since the 1980s, the Koreans worked to help fortify Iran, even though they likely did not smuggle in “missiles in pieces” as Zionists declare, instead creating “friendship farms” in each country in 1996, farms which hold “cultural exchanges, commemorations of Khamenei’s visit to North Korea, and commemorations of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il” every year. By the 2000s, some Iranian officials, “concerned with Iran’s integration into the global economy expressed alarm,” said Juche Korea was a negative example. Take for example, the former chief of the IRGC and Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaee, who said that if Iran followed “a reactionary stance internationally and a policy of developmental stagnation domestically,” it would do no better than Juche Korea. Even with this, relations remained strong, with a visit in 2007 by Iran’s deputy foreign minister to Pyongyang “as negotiation with its officials for studying and developing bilateral relations” continued, with both countries signing a “plan for exchanges in the cultural, scientific and educational fields.” In 2012, a scientific and technological cooperation agreement was signed between the two countries, showing that they are dedicated to strong relations. The next year, the Iranian Parliament approved Mohamed Hasan Nami as communications minister, a person who holds a degree from Kim Il Sung University in state management, and images showed that “Iran maintains a seven-building embassy compound in Pyongyang, at the center of which stands the first mosque in North Korea.” Then, in February and September 2014, Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister, met with “high-ranking North Korean delegations in February and September 2014.” Even so, there was some evidence of “growing distance and diverging trajectories” which bourgeois analysts said would “eventually cause Iran to see its friendship with North Korea as a liability,” claiming it has little to offer the Iranians, leaving behind a “relationship that once thrived on friendship farms and mutually admiring founding leaders.” However, as recent developments show, this observation was short-sighted. After all, if one Iran-hater, Amir Taheri, is right, the Iranians adopted tactics, used by the Koreans during the Great Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953), during the Iran-Iraq War, with Khomeini’s “resistance economics” loosely based on Juche ideology in Korea itself! [5]

In 2017 and 2018, relations between Iran and Juche Korea have become even stronger. In May 2017, Choe Hui Chol, the vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the Iranian ambassador in Pyongyang, Seyed Mohsen Emadi, with Chol mentioning the “eye-opening successes being made by the DPRK in bolstering the Juche-based rocket force under the energetic guidance of…Kim Jong Un” and he hoped that the “traditional relations of friendship between the two countries” begun by Iranian leaders and Kim Il Sung “would grow stronger in conformity with common interests of their governments and peoples.” In response, Emadi thanked Chol for his comments, adding that the “traditional relations of friendship, provided by the preceding leaders of the two countries” is “favorably developing” under the care of Kim Jong Un, adding that both countries should strive for closer cooperation “in the international arena including the UN and expand the bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation in politics, economy, culture and other fields.” [i6] The following month, Kim Yong Nam sent a message of sympathy to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressing “deep sympathy and condolences to the Iranian president and through him to the victims and bereaved families” for terrorist attacks. He added that two countries should strengthen cooperation “in the struggle to oppose all forms of terrorism and ensure world peace and stability.” The same month, officials of the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of External Economic Relations, Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and the General Bureau for Affairs with Diplomatic Corps visited the Iranian embassy in Pyongyang, expressing “deep sympathy and consolation to the victims of the incidents and their bereaved families and reiterated the consistent principled stand of the DPRK government against all forms of terrorism.” Later on that month, the Indonesian Ambassador in Pyongyang, Bambang Hiendrasto, hosted a reception at the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club, “on behalf of embassies of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC)…as regards the end of Ramadan” with Choe Hui Chol present, along with “ambassadors of Indonesia, Syria, Iran, Palestine and Egypt and charges d’ affaires ad interim of Nigeria and Pakistan, OIC member states, and embassy officials and their families.”

The following month, August, Kim Yong Nam attended the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani in his second term in the Majlis Building in Tehran. Other countries attended as well such as EU representatives, but this showed the connection between the two countries. At his inauguration, Rouhani made a speech, expressing “the stand of his government to develop the economy, strengthen the defence capability, ensure peace and democracy and realize constructive cooperation with the international community” while he also “affirmed that Iran would cope with the U.S. moves for scraping the nuclear agreement with vigilance and make all efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East region.” Nam, attended the inauguration with numerous others such as Choe Hui Chol. At the sidelines of the inauguration, Nam, spoke with Robert G. Mugabe, president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who was also present, showing they were, at that time, part of the anti-imperialist front. Afterwords, Nam attended “a banquet arranged by the Iranian President.” [7] The same month, Nam talked with Rouhani, noting that “the line of simultaneously developing the two fronts set out by the Workers’ Party of Korea is being implemented…under the guidance of…Kim Jong Un” and outlined the “achievements gained in the struggle for independence.” He also said there needs to be further development of “friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK and Iran and the Non-Aligned Movement.” Rouhani responded by saying that “Iran-DPRK relations have developed on a very high stage, expressing the belief that the friendly relations between the two countries which have jointly struggled against the U.S. will boost in broad fields in the future.” Earlier on, Nam had met “Speaker of Majlis Ali Larijani and First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri of Iran.” Also that month, Pak Pong Ju, Premier of Juche Korea, sent a “congratulatory message on Thursday to Eshaq Jahangiri” on his re-appointment as First Vice President of Iran, wishing him “bigger success in his work for the independent development and prosperity of the country and the friendly government and people of Iran happiness and prosperity.” The same day, Ri Yong Ho sent a “congratulatory message to Mohammad Javad Zarif” on his re-appointment as Iran’s foreign minister.

Photos of Iran’s old embassy (right) and new embassy in Iran (left). With photos from Wikimedia for the old embassy in 2011, and for the new embassy, after 2017, from KCNA.

The same month, the murderous U$ imperialists passed a host of sanctions aimed against Russia, Iran, and Juche Korea, to which Iran responded by “vowing to pass retaliatory bills regarding the passage of the sanctions bill as a blatant act of hostility against Iran.” More important, a new embassy of Juche Korea was inaugurated in Tehran, with “Ebrahim Rahimpour, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, personages of the Tehran City Government, friendly organizations, media and different social standings and members of an Iranian construction company,” and numerous Korean officials attending. [8] Cho Hu Chol, at the inauguration said that the “premises of the DPRK embassy were built a new to boost exchanges, contacts and cooperation between the two countries for world peace and security and international justice,” stressing the “consistent stand of the DPRK government to invariably develop the strategic relations between the two countries” which had been “forged and strengthened” by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, working with Iranian leaders “in the common struggle for independence against imperialism.” Ebrahim Rahimpour, in his speech, said he was pleased with the new embassy, and noted that “the Iranian people…remember the DPRK’s sincere help and solidarity to Iran when it was in hard times, will fully support the struggle of the Korean people at all times.” The same day, the embassy hosted a reception.

The month afterwords, September, Rouhani sent a message of greeting to Kim Jong Un, congratulating “Kim Jong Un and the Korean people on the occasion of September 9, the birthday of the DPRK.” In the same message he “hoped that the bilateral relations would favorably develop in all fields through cooperation and joint efforts of the peoples of the two countries.” Around the same time, the daily paper, Kayhan, which reflects the views of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ran editorials “praising North Korea’s “brave defiance of Arrogance” by testing long-range missiles in the face of “cowardly threats” by the United States” with one editorial even inviting “those who urge dialogue with the US to learn from North Korea’s “success in humiliating the Great Satan.” [238] There were some responses from the Western favorites, the reformists, with one of them expressing regret that Iran was asked to “downgrade to the level of “a pariah in a remote corner of Asia,” but even so, Kim Yong Nam still came to Tehran on a 10-day visit heading “a 30-man military and political delegation” and was “granted a rare two-hours long audience with Khamenei.”

In October, the next month, relations were still strong. The Iranian Ambassador in Pyongyang, Seyed Mohsen Emadi and his staff members visited the “Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum on the occasion of the DPRK-Iran friendship week” with guests looking around the musuem’s rooms while they were briefed on “the fact that President Kim Il Sung led the Fatherland Liberation War to victory,” and Emadi made “an entry in the visitor’s book.” He also wished the “the Korean people bigger successes” under the guidance of Kim Jong Un. Additionally, Emadi and his staff “toured the Tower of the Juche Idea, [and] the Sci-Tech Complex,” while staff members of the embassy “did friendship labor at the DPRK-Iran Friendship Ripsok Co-op Farm in Mundok County.” The same month, Kim Jong Un sent messages to varying “foreign party and state leaders in reply of their congratulatory messages and letters on the 69th founding anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” including those from Cuba, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh, Syria, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Mali, Belarus, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Tunisia, Eritrea, Dominica, Egypt, Iran, and the “co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kim Il Sung–Kim Jong Il Foundation…secretary general of the United Nations…and the director-general of the International Institute of the Juche Idea.”

In the last two months of the year, relations were clearly still strong. In November, Kim Yong Nam sent a message of sympathy to Hassan Rouhani on a terrorist attack in the country, saying that “upon hearing the sad news that Kermanshah region located in the west of Iran was hit by earthquake, claiming heavy human and material losses, I express my deep sympathy and condolences to you and, through you, to the victims and their families. I hope that you and your government will recover from the consequences of this disaster at the earliest possible date and bring the life of the citizens in the disaster-stricken region to normal.” The month after, Kim Jong Un received a message from Rouhani which extended “greetings to Kim Jong Un and the Korean people on the occasion of the New Year 2018” and hoped that “global peace, justice and equality would be ensured and violence removed in the New Year.”

Foreigners at prayer in the Iranian Embassy in Pyongyang. Photo by Jaka Parker, published by NK News.

This year, 2018, relations couldn’t be stronger. The imperialists have labeled countries like Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and Juche Korea “states of special concern for religious freedom,” undoubtedly a fake label. At the end of January, in Tehran, the two countries signed a “2018-2021 memorandum on cooperation…in the fields of culture, arts, education, mass media, sports and youth” which was inked by Kang Sam Hyon, Juche Korea ambassador in Tehran, and “the vice-chairman in charge of international affairs of Iran’s Islamic cultural liaison organization.” [10] The next month, February, the Iranian embassy in Pyongyang hosted “a reception…on the occasion of the birth anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il.” Present at the reception was Kim Yong Dae, vice-president of the SPA Presidium, Thae Hyong Chol, president of Kim Il Sung University, “Kim Jong Suk, chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, [and] Ryu Myong Son, vice department director of the C.C., Workers’ Party of Korea.” Also, Seyed Mohsen Emadi, Iranian ambassador there and his staff members were there. In a speech, Emadi said that “historic relations between the two countries forged by their preceding leaders had been further strengthened thanks to Kim Jong Il,” and he expressed the “will to continue mutual cooperation in line with the desire and aspiration of the two peoples.” Kim Yong Dae added, in his speech that “the Korean people would as ever value the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries forged in the joint struggle for independence against imperialism, sincerely wishing the Iranian people success in their struggle for ensuring regional peace and stability.” The same month, Kim Yong Nam sent a “message of sympathy” to Rouhani, in “connection with a recent passenger plane crash in Iran, that claimed huge casualties,” saying that he “expressed deep sympathy and condolences to the Iranian president and, through him, to the bereaved families of the deceased.” Also that month, the Iranian embassy “hosted a reception at the Taedonggang Diplomatic Club…to mark the 39th anniversary of the victory in the Islamic revolution of Iran.” Present at the reception was Thae Hyong Chol, president of Kim Il Sung University and chair of the DPRK-Iran Friendship Parliamentary Group, Ri Yong Chol, vice department director of the WPK’s central committee, and Choe Hui Chol, along with other “officials concerned and diplomatic envoys of different countries and representatives of international organizations and military attaches of foreign embassies” in Pyongyang. Around the same time, Kim Yong Nam, “sent a message of greetings…to Hassan Rouhani…on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution of Iran,” in which he noted that “after the victory in the revolution the Iranian people have achieved a lot of successes in the struggle to defend the gains of revolution and build a powerful state while repelling the ceaseless pressure and interference by the hostile forces.” In the same message he expressed “the belief that the good ties of friendship and cooperation between the DPRK and Iran would grow stronger, wishing the Iranian president bigger success in his work for the country’s development and stability and the people’s well-being.”

We then get to more recent news. Iran continues to resist imperialist efforts to isolate it, allying more with the Chinese revisionists, the Russian capitalists, and the socially democratic Syrians, while European imperialists work to appease the orange menace with new sanctions. [11] The Saudis have also been strongly aggressive, basically doing the errand work for the imperialists as they always do. With the full-throated occupation of part of Syria by the U$ as Stephen Gowans pointed out recently, the Iranians are right to call the U$ foolish, especially in light of Mike Pompeo, neo-con of the CIA who has taken the reins of the U$ State Department from oil man Tillerson, who some thought was “moderate” but actually just engaged in imperial diplomacy. At the same time, varied Iranian minister have survived an impeachment process in their parliament, the country is aiming to launch its first operational satellite next year, and the ICAPP (International Conference of Asian Political Parties), headquartered in the ROK, met in Tehran recently for its 29th meeting. Also there were reports of the Cuban ambassador meeting with Iranian officials, and efforts to increase exports from a refinery run by ROK in the country. The protests, which had some elements with U$ backing, are over, with a massive turnout favoring the government. The Iranian government, defiantly, has said that they will negotiate over their ballistic missiles (which do not have nuclear warheads), with Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri saying that “the condition for negotiating Iran’s missiles is the destruction of the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles of the United States and Europe,” echoed by Rouhani saying that “We will negotiate with no one on our weapons…[our missiles] are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don’t have any.” This is while Iran has said it was ready for the U$ to quit the nuclear deal and opposes the U$ moving their embassy to the Zionists to Jerusalem, saying they will defend themselves with all their might if there is Zionist aggression.

At the same time, there has been some other news. For one there has been some victories, such as the British-drafted resolution on Yemen failing in the UN Security Council, or Rouhani being more relaxed when it comes to headscarves in the country. However, there have been some ruminations of developing a cryptocurrency in Iran to bypass U$ sanctions, which will only benefit the Iranian bourgeoisie. There have also been recent stories about the hidden workings of the British empire (in the past) in Iran and India, along with new findings about the clerical involvement in the CIA-backed coup in Iran against Mohammad Mossadegh or how “Operation Merlin” poisoned U$ intelligence on Iran. Most worrisome is an article in Bloomberg back in February [12] stating that

Iran’s armed forces…must divest from energy assets and other businesses to help save the Persian Gulf nation’s economy, President Hassan Rouhani said. Armed forces…must withdraw from all their commercial holdings, Rouhani said Tuesday…“Not only the Social Security Organization but all government sectors, including banks, have to divest their business holdings, and this is the only way to rescue the country’s economy,” Rouhani said. “Government officials, non-government institutions and the armed forces and others — everyone has to divest their commercial businesses.”…Rouhani’s government, now in its fifth year, has faced unprecedented scrutiny from ordinary Iranians frustrated that their living standards haven’t improved since the nuclear deal…The government needs to reduce its dependence on crude as a source of official revenue and must boost contributions from taxes, Rouhani said…Iran also holds the world’s largest proven reserves of natural gas. Paris-based Total SA signed a deal in July to develop part of the giant South Pars gas field, pledging $1 billion in investment. Total is the only major Western energy company so far to commit to investing in Iran since the easing of sanctions. Within the nation’s energy industry, divestment will focus on downstream petroleum projects including refineries, petrochemical plants and storage facilities…The program will emphasize assets owned by the government or semi-government entities, and Iran will seek to attract foreign companies “with investment, know-how, and equipment”

Now, this is troubling. Not because of the work conditions in the country for the proletariat or the supposed “mass and arbitrary detention” and tough “Internet censorship regime” that the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) bemoans. Rather it is that moving away from such state assets is a form of privatization. The Tudeh Party of Iran, which is in exile and did not participate in the country’s elections in the past or recently in 2016, Iran’s communist party as you could call it, dislikes the current government. In a statement on March 1 of this year, they talk about “grand capitalism” in Iran and privatization of factories, which is connected to a statement in January in which they state that Iran has, currently a “system underpinned by neoliberal capitalist socio-economics that has destroyed the productive infrastructure of the country and has driven Iran to unprecedented levels of poverty and deprivation.” Around the same time they released another statement saying that “the way to save Iran is not to replace one dictatorial regime with another kind of dictatorship and tyranny. Our people are striving for a national, popular and democratic republic.” While I am a bit wary of Tudeh as it is an exile, and is not based in the country itself, I think they make good points about the economic system in the country, which is becoming more and more capitalist.

With all of this, there is still no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as it currently stands, is resisting U$ imperialist aggression in the region. It is for this reason that the Koreans continue to support it, even though they do not desire a similar government in their country. For the years to come, the relations between the countries will remain strong unless the Iranian leadership capitulates to the imperialists and cuts off relations entirely to appease the capitalist poles of power. If that happens, that would be a sad day for the peoples of Iran and Korea.

Notes

[1] Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), pp 4, 30-31, 40, 47-48, 54, 61, 70, 78-80, 107, 116-118, 122, 124-127, 131, 134, 135, 137, 140-143.

[2] Ibid, pp 125-126.

[3] John Tagliabue, “How $18 Million Got Soviet Weapons To Iran,” New York Times, May 27, 1987.

[4] IranWire, “North Korea’s Deadly Partnership With Iran,” The Daily Beast, Aug 11, 2017; Victor D. Cha and Gabriel Scheinmann, “North Korea’s Hamas Connection: “Below” the Surface?,” The National Interest, Sept 4, 2014; Ariel Nathan Pasko, “North Korea: The Israeli Connection,” BreakingIsraelNews, accessed Feb 7, 2018.

[5] Amir Taheri, “Khomeini or Kim? Khamenei’s Real Teacher,” Gatestone Institute, Sept 3, 2017.

[6] KCNA, “Deputy FM meets Iranian ambassador ” Jun 1, 2017. Pyongyang Times  reprints same article.

[7] KCNA, “SPA Presidium chief attends Iranian presidential inaugural,”  Pyongyang Times, Aug 7, 2017.

[8] KCNA, “New embassy in Iran opened,” Pyongyang Times, Aug 7, 2017.

[9] Amir Taheri, “Khomeini or Kim? Khamenei’s Real Teacher,” Gatestone Institute, Sept 3, 2017.

[10] KCNA, “DPRK, Iran sign memorandum,” Pyongyang Times, Jan 27, 2018.

[11] Also see articles about a Russian firm re-developing Iranian oil fields, a trade zone between Russia and Iran, that Iran will not seek U$ permission to operate in the region, that Iran does not seek domination of any region, and there are efforts to expand Iran-China ties. The Bahrainis have even blamed the Iranians for discord in their country, using them as a scapegoat. Iran says that its main priority is to increase security in the region, as it maintains connections with nearby countries, and is about to inaugurate an “offshore project which will stop flaring gas in the Persian Gulf.”Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei told the Syrian Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) that “Syria is in the forefront of resistance against terrorism, and we are all responsible to support Syria’s resistance. Honorable President Bashar al-Assad played a prominent role of being a great defender and warrior and is highly regarded by its nation and the region…the great powers [US, the Soviet Union, NATO, the Arabs and regional countries against Iran] do not necessarily achieve what they look for…This gives insight, hope and power to the nations. So if we and you and the rest of the resistance groups remain decisive in our decisions, the enemy will not be able to defeat us.” The same was said in two articles in SANA here, here, and here.

[12] Golnar Motevalli and Arsalan Shahla, “Iran Orders Armed Forces to Sell All Energy, Business Assets,” Bloomberg News, Feb 7, 2018.

U$ imperialists torpedo opportunity for “positive changes” on Korean peninsula

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org. Written on May 24, 2018.

As you’ve probably heard by now, the orange menace, as I call him, wrote a letter to Kim Jong Un, ending the upcoming one-on-one summit with Kim in Singapore. This summit was even supported by a wide swath of the U$ public, even though many have Orientalist mindsets since they don’t trust the DPRK to be genuine. While the orange menace praised treatment of three U$ prisoners in the DPRK as “excellent,” this didn’t keep him from spouting lies in his recent letter to Kim, who welcomed the summit, showing his is more than a strongman but is the top imperialist in the world, leading forward U$ hegemony. Canceling this summit is, without a doubt, the art of the dealbreaker. This article aims to analyze the letter of the orange menace to Kim, line by line.

After his pleasantries in calling Kim by his proper title, the letter took a tone which seemed paternalistic, or at least demeaning:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that that meeting was requested by North Korea, but that is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you.

For one, it is important to recognize that the meeting was requested by the DPRK. It is not “totally irrelevant.” It shows that Kim Jong Un and the Korean leadership, led by the Workers’ Party of Korea which “may contain many revisionist tendencies and factions” as recently here by Amber B, are the ones whom are working to keep the U$ in “its place, cowed by the superior determination of the Korean people,” with embarrassed imperialists waiting on them. It also reinforces the role of the DPRK, which has attained a strong position, successfully delinking itself “from the world capitalist economy” and proving itself as a “fully sovereign and independent state,” serving on the “frontline of the struggle against imperialism and a vanguard of all Third World movements with tendencies to delink from the parasitic way the global economy is run” as argued by Abdelraheem Kheirawi of FC Apatride UTD in the pages of this website. There’s no need for those commemorative coins of the Singapore summit, which were minted, anymore!

The letter goes onto say that:

Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have a long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.

This represents a fallacy: that Kim displayed “anger” and “hostility” toward the U$. On the one hand, the letter could be referring to a comment from DPRK vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui responding to U$ Vice-President Mike Pence’s tweet, in which he wrote that “as @POTUS Trump made clear, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.” Son-hui’s comment that Pence is engaging in “ignorant and stupid remarks” which gush “out from the mouth” and that he is a “political dummy” since he is trying to “compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them” is accurate. The same goes for her comment that other high-level politicians in the U$ know “too little” about the DPRK, comparing it to Libya, and that Pence does not recognize “terrible consequences” of what he said, that the U$ will “taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now” as a result. Even with that, the statement is still not from Kim himself. After all, let us not forget that the orange menace threatened Kim with the fate of Gaddafi, saying that the U$ “went in and decimated him…we did the same thing with Iraq. That model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely,” saying there will be “absolute decimation” if a deal isn’t reached! With this, it is no surprise that the first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Kye Gwan, said they were reconsidering the summit, criticizing the comments of U$ National Security Advisor John Bolton, whom they were repulsive toward, saying they will not unilaterally abandon their nuclear weapons. Perhaps he even tanked these talks from the beginning. After all, the White House has declared that the U$ will continue “the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing” against the DPRK if the talks don’t happen. The criticism of Bolton, whom apparently wanted a possible deal with the DPRK to go before the U$ Senate, may have posed a “serious hurdle” for the orange menace, but they were right to criticize Bolton! [1]

Perhaps there is a political calculation at work here. On May 20, the New York Times reported, as summarized by The Hill, that the orange menace asked “aides if he should move forward with the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un… over fears that he could be politically embarrassed” and that the orange menace he was “surprised and angered by a recent announcement from North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator that North Korea would be unwilling to trade its nuclear weapons for economic aid,” showing he is a political novice. Aides were also quoted, anonymously, as saying they were “concerned about the president’s understanding of North Korea’s nuclear program and what is needed to ensure denuclearization.” Then a couple days later, it was reported that the orange menace publicly questioned if the summit would happen at all! [2]

Getting back to the claim in the letter that Kim stated something toward the U$ with “tremendous anger and open hostility,” Rodong Sinmun lists Kim’s last activity as guiding the 1st Enlarged Meeting of the 7th Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Otherwise, Rodong Sinmun criticizes the U$ interference in Venezuela. The DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pyongyang Times, nor KCNA list any recent statements by Kim about the summit or the U$! In fact, the most recent article of KCNA on Kim notes how he is inspecting Koam-Tapchon Railways which were recently completed in the county. [3] As such, the orange menace is clearly lying on this point, without question. The only article that mentions the summit, implicitly, is an article by Kim Rye Yong in the Pyongyang Times titled “it is needed to see DPRK-US dialogue squarely” in which Yong writes that the DPRK is out ahead:

The international community is supporting the DPRK’s effort to promote détente on the Korean peninsula and build a fine future.

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, has raised the profile of the DPRK as a world-level strategic state and safeguarded peace and stability on the peninsula and beyond by displaying outstanding wisdom, matchless courage and extraordinary political acumen.

With a strategic determination to put an end to the bitter history of the relationship between the DPRK and the US, he met US State Secretary Pompeo in Pyongyang and took a series of crucial and generous measures to seek peace and stability on the peninsula and in the rest of the world.

Foreign media attribute the current tendency towards dialogue to the DPRK’s great strength and positive efforts.

The courageous decision of Kim Jong Un and the proactive efforts of the Workers’ Party of Korea have brought a peaceful environment to the Korean peninsula, Kazbek Taysaev, secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, said as he addressed a joint seminar of Russian political parties and organizations. The rapid development of the DPRK makes the world community better understand the greatness of the Korean leader and the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, he added.

While north Korea is leading the current situation, the US is following it, Canadian newspaper Toronto Star said. What is noteworthy is that north Korea emerges victorious in the long-standing confrontation and the US and its allies are on the defensive in their approach towards north Korea, it noted, adding that it is not a big country but it is a military power and centre stage.

“Compared to the US boasting of its economic and military capabilities, the DPRK is a small country in terms of territory and population,” Nigeria-based African Regional Committee for Friendship and Solidarity with the Korean People said on a website. “But the DPRK is led by Kim Jong Un endowed with outstanding strategy and courage and has an army and people committed to their cause.”

Such being the case, some are arguing that the thaw on the Korean peninsula is a result of the US’ “hardline diplomacy” and “sustained pressure”. This is of no slight help to the development of the situation on the peninsula. Rather it hurts the atmosphere for the DPRK-US negotiations.

Explicitly, the current situation is not a passive response to any pressure but an active shift effected by the peerless political acumen and strategic decision of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

To have a proper view on the current peninsula situation is indispensable for promoting global peace and stability.

It is here, we must remember not only the past U$ atrocities, like germ warfare, but recall the new strategic line of the DPRK, which focuses solely on the country’s planned economy, with a number of actions including ending weapons testing, a statement against “first strike” of nuclear weapons (only using them in self-defense) which is consistent with previous policy, and working to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. [4] This means that the DPRK has committed itself to a no-first use commitment, although Ellsberg, in his book, The Doomsday Machine, says on page 333, that any nation making a “threat of first use of a nuclear weapon…is a terrorist nation,” listing the U$, the murderous Zionist apartheid state, Russia, Pakistan, and the DPRK as examples, which seems to be conflating all of these together. In fact, the DPRK would not qualify in this category, with the U$ and Zionists, being the real terrorists without question, especially with recent repression by the Zionists against Palestinians.

The letter then says that:

You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

Let us not forget that the DPRK has made the initiative in the realm of disarmament, showing they are fully serious and committed, while they do not, rightly, want to accept “universal disarmament.” There have been journalists from the ROK who visited the dismantling of the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site on May 24th, which was destroyed by “impressive” explosions, as one journalist on the scene described it, while he retained his Orientalist mindset. [5] This was something that the orange menace once called “smart.” Beyond that, the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK recently issued a statement explaining what happened when the Punggye-ri site was dismantled before the eyes of the world:

True to the decision of the Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK held a ceremony for completely dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK on May 24 Juche 107 (2018), to ensure transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear test.

Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site.

It has been confirmed that there were neither leakage of radioactive materials nor any adverse impact on the surrounding ecological environment.

Complete closure of the area surrounding the nuclear test ground will come on the heels of successive removal of all ground observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units, and withdrawal of staff concerned.

It has been confirmed by local and international reporters that two tunnels at the nuclear test ground were ready for use for carrying out very powerful underground nuclear tests at any time.

The dismantling of the nuclear test ground conducted with high-level transparency has clearly attested once again to the proactive and peace-loving efforts of the DPRK government being made for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the world.

The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament, and we will continue to join hands with the world peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world, a new independent world where the dream and ideal of humanity are realized.

With this, it is no surprise that the leadership of Russia and China endorsed the meeting between the orange menace and Kim, as did revisionist Laos. In the meantime, DPRK diplomats visited China, undoubtedly to talk about the summit, in part, among other issues. This is despite the fact it seemed unlikely that the DPRK would fare better than Iran, a deal torpedoed by the U$ with the European capitalists barely hanging on, while the Iranians continue to suffer.

Since the negotiations on the meeting, the U$ apparently led some B-52 bombers to change their flight plans to not fly over the Korean Peninsula, but they haven’t given up anything else since the “USS Milius, one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyers, arrived in Japan…to reinforce defenses against any ballistic missile attacks by North Korea, or anyone else in East Asia” on May 22nd! Some have even pressured the current U$ administration to “confront the North Korean leader about his country’s aggressive hacking strategy,” a “fact” which is “proven” by the U$ intelligence establishment itself and accepted by the bourgeois media as “real” even though it is clearly fanciful considering that the DPRK only has an intranet, and no internet, making such hacking physically impossible and counterproductive.

It is here I recall what Daniel Ellsberg, the person who famously provided the Pentagon Papers to the bourgeois press, in 1971, showing the lies and deception during the war in Vietnam wrote in his recent book, The Doomsday Machine. Keep in mind that Ellsberg has, like former CIA consultant (and bourgeois scholar) Chalmers Johnson who wrote on the U$ empire in his four-part Blowback series, internalized many anti-communist ideals, believing that Josef Stalin was a “dictator as ruthless as Hitler” with the Soviet Union, in the post-war period, ruled “by a single party more cohesive and competent than the Nazi Party,” occupying half of Europe and having tremendous military strength. [6] Being a nuclear war planner for years, he discovered that between 275 million would be killed by nuclear war with the USSR and China immediately and 325 million over 6 months. He also found, horrifyingly, that basic elements of nuclear war have not changed, with nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert,” a continued first-use policy of the U$, and that U$ presidents have used nuclear weapons in many crises as a threat, like a “gun…pointed at someone in a confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled.” Ellsberg also says that the “hand” which can launch nuclear weapons has “never been exclusively that of the president, nor even his higher officials,” a policy going back to Eisenhower. This is coupled with false alarms and “catastrophic dangers” concealed from the public, which could result in nuclear war, as shown in the 1964 Hollyweird movie, Fail Safe, where a computer error leads to a nuclear bomb being dropped on Moscow and subsequently one on New York City, killing the President’s wife! He also writes that there was a doomsday machine in the “form of pre-targeted bombers on alert in the Strategic Air Command (SAC)” beginning in 1961, which expanded from there. After talking about his own personal experience as a nuclear war planner, he notes that nuclear warheads arrived in Taiwan and the ROK in 1958, along with in Japan  in the 1960s, a violation of the Japanese Constitution, and the safeguards were circumvented which allowed the U$ Air Force to easily launch nuclear weapons! This was connected to the fact that varied commanders in the Pacific, part of the Commander in Chief of Strategic Arms Command (CINCSAC), could launch nukes on their own authority “without the immediate prior involvement of the president”! At the same time, CINCSAC wanted to, if there was a nuclear war, nuke China even though there was the Sino-Soviet split, so they could gain their glory and be “part” of the “action.” By 1961, there were thousands of pre-planned nuclear targets which put “every city in the Soviet Union and China” in the crosshairs with at least one warhead “allocated for every city of 25,000 people or more in the Soviet Union” alone! Ellsberg writes that he was shown, in spring 1961, calculations of a computer model showing the effects of nuclear war launched by the U$:

…275 million would die in the first hours of our [U$] attacks and 325 million would be dead within six months…[not including] wounded and sick…this was for the Soviet Union and  China alone…another hundred million or so would die in Eastern European satellite countries…many[of the U$ nuclear weapons were aimed at]…air defenses and military  installations near cities…[with] subsequent bombers..dropped megaton weapons on radar stations, antiaircraft installations, and surface-to-air sites…in Eastern Europe [such as Albania]…most warheads in Eastern Europe, as elsewhere, were ground-burst, maximizing fallout. Fallout from our [U$] surface explosions in the Soviet Union, its satellites, and China would decimate the populations in the Sino-Soviet bloc as well as neutral nations bordering these countries…as well as Japan and Pakistan…fallout fatalities inside our Western European NATO allies from U.S. attacks against the Warsaw Pact would dependent on climate and wind conditions.

The total death count, he recalled, from U$ attacks was “in the neighborhood of six hundred million dead,” mostly civilians, generally inflicted in a day or two, the others over a six month period. Ellsberg then described a graphic showing death counts from a nuclear war with the Soviets and Chinese as a “depiction of pure evil.” Still, he admits that the total death count estimated in spring 1961 was a “fantastic underestimate” as it does not include fires caused by nuclear blasts, was was the case in Hiroshima, as John Hersey put it in his book of the same name. Still, in order to make sure that the nuclear missiles remained, a “missile gap” with the Soviets was imagined, lampooned in Dr. Strangelove, after the Soviet Doomsday Machine is activated by a nuclear missile hitting Soviet missile silo, as a “mindshaft gap.” Other parts of the book note how close the U$ and USSR came to war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, with continued nuclear plans to kill millions of people with presidents objecting privately but never publicly which allowed the plans to continue, with a constant goal to decapitate the whole Soviet command system. The latter was at first only a private goal, then became part of the U$’s public anti-Soviet foreign policy. There were also nuclear threats by the U$ throughout the Nixon administration, especially in regards to Vietnam. He ends with some recommendations, saying the U$ and Russian (called “Dead Hand”) doomsday machines must end. For the U$, this involves a no-first-use policy, hearings on war plans, eliminating ICBMs, and giving up hegemony based on premise of nuclear weapons, among other aspects, even as he accepts some use of nuclear weapons to “deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies”!

With this, there is no reason in the world that the DPRK should ever trust the U$ at face value, especially not in its current imperial posture!

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only the dialogue that matters.

This seems like a strange statement as they likely have never talked directly, even on the phone to each other, which Kim wanted to do with Obama during his presidency, as Dennis Rodman told the bourgeois media when he returned to the U$ after a trip to the DPRK, but it was rejected at the time. Kim has made varied references to a DPRK-U$ dialogue, the first on April 10 as Japan Times said at the time, but that is not his main concern. Rather he is concerned with improving the living standard of the Korean people, hence the new strategic line. Such dialogue between the U$ and DPRK was not very well developed. What I mean is that just last year, the U$ was utterly hostile in its rhetoric toward the DPRK, while this year, since Kim started his effort for inter-Korean cooperation, rhetoric improved, but there still continued to be a strong hardline, especially with people like Pompeo and Bolton as the advisers of the orange menace!

Some day, I look very much forward to meeting with you.

So the orange menace leaves open the door, but is this an empty promise? I am reminded here of a recent article in MintPress News by Mel Gurtov, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, who wrote that not only is the DPRK “not going to give up its principal bargaining chip and strategic deterrent in advance of receiving incentives” but they have “always demanded are security assurances and an end to “hostile” US policies,” wanting to know that they will not be attacked by the U$, and that they want “a road map to normalization of relations with the US…But…security comes first.” He further added that while “Trump has treated Kim with respect and even exaggerated politeness, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has had two apparently upbeat meetings with Kim,” there have been “ominous signs of trouble” from Bolton, a continued “US-South Korea exercise called Max Thunder” which is a “two-week drill involving B-52 bombers and F-22 Raptor fighter jets.” But he ended by with a recommendation:

…the barrage of criticism leveled exclusively at the North Koreans is unwarranted, and reminiscent of Cold War propaganda. Their views are being dismissed by one and all as typical of their trickery and deceit, when in fact they are well known. Wishful thinking is no substitute for a careful engagement strategy. Next time, the US side should better inform itself of the North Korean perspective and priorities, and listen when an adversary says that trust building requires a long-term process.

Of course, this will not be heeded by many, including giddy liberals who didn’t even want a one-on-one meeting, like former CIA director John Brennan or Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. [7] Robinson, not surprisingly, was confused by the meeting, declaring the country “brutal,” “secretive,” and run by a “dictator” who “oppresses” his people. At the same time, the apologists of the orange menace think that he is “right” and “knows” what he is talking about, even though he doesn’t. The Korean people were optimistic, feeling they are turning a new page of history, but the U$ imperialists, of course, don’t feel this way at all! As Whitney Webb put it recently, “attempts to sabotage the Korea peace talks may also find support from elements within the U.S. government and military…[and] U.S. weapon manufacturers.” With the orange menace pulling out of the summit with Kim, he has allied himself with them, without a doubt!

In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.

While this is positive, the language of the orange menace is overly flowery and is what deluded liberals would undoubtedly call “childish” with phrases like “beautiful gesture” which seems a bit over the top. But, really, the orange menace is trying to appeal to his base, with 30-40% of the U$ populace still giving him support as varied polls in Gallup, Pew Research, and elsewhere indicate. After all, he can use this as a point to rally for re-election, declaring that he, the “great” president, released the prisoners. Also, they were not “hostages” but prisoners. He is in a sense, trying to equate those released to the Iran hostages held for 444 days as the Carter Administration refused to meet reasonable Iranian demands, and pose himself as Reagan, not Carter, of course.

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.

Kim may write the orange menace, or the message may go through other intermediaries. Of course, the DPRK wants the sanctions to be lifted, a peace treaty, and security guarantees. It is good the orange menace is keeping the door open, but he is still acting like the onus is on the DPRK, rather than the U$ which took a hardline and this drew the Koreans away, not surprisingly, as they remember their history! They will not be fooled or hoodwinked. The U$ is not blameless for the canceling of this summit, but rather holds all the blame and the DPRK, defending its sovereignty and dignity, holds no blame whatsoever.

The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.

This statement echoes his view that Kim would be able to stay as the head of the DPRK, declaring that “he’d be running his country. His country would be very rich,” without, of course, giving any specifics whatsoever of such “security guarantees.” [8] He also forgets that as Han Park, a “former unofficial US-North Korean negotiator” noted, the DPRK does not “want to be a small South Korea. They want the money, but not through capitalist, private-ownership means whatsoever. They don’t want to be like East Germany.” This is what the orange menace thinks they want, but they don’t want this at all. Still, some say the DPRK looks “remarkably similar to the Southeast Asian nation in 1986, when its Communist neighbor [Vietnam] undertook “Doi Moi” reforms to tiptoe toward capitalism.” [9] This is a worrisome sign, if a path similar to that of Vietnam, which recently rolled over and accepted the CPTPP, a trade agreement which benefits the global bourgeoisie and hurts the proletariat, being pursued, to say the least.

This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history.

While at some level it is sad for the Koreans, on another it is a defeat for the orange menace, as it makes the diplomacy of the orange menace look unorganized. It could provide ammunition for the Democratic Party domestically, while it also shows that Kim and the DPRK have the upper hand here, not the imperialists, showing the DPRK are in a strong position, at an advantage.

In the days to come, it is likely that inter-Korean cooperation will continue, while the DPRK will continue its internationalist path of non-isolation by working to connect itself with the world, even if it doesn’t engage in an “opening up” like the revisionists in Laos, Vietnam, or China, which has created a domestic bourgeoisie in each and turned these countries into revisionist havens for Western capitalists. Instead, the DPRK will undoubtedly pursue an independent policy like that of Cuba, standing in solidarity (and supporting) countries under imperialist attack like Venezuela and working to spread the ideals of Juche worldwide with their continued comradely efforts.

Long live the Korean proletariat!

Solidarity with the DPRK against U$ aggression!

Socialism, not capitalist mayhem!

Another world is possible!


Notes:

[1] Julian Borger, “Trump faces North Korea dilemma after Bolton infuriates Pyongyang,” The Guardian, May 17, 2018; “Bolton: Korea Deal Should Go to the Senate for Approval,” Red State, May 13, 2018. Reportedly, the strikes in Syria (another bout of imperial aggression), as noted by Jesse Johnson in an April 15th article in Japan Times, titled “As Kim-Trump summit approaches, Syria strikes evoke memories of Gadhafi’s gruesome fate for North Korea” were meant to “serve as a stark reminder to North Korea of the 2011 U.S.-led intervention in Libya that ended in the gruesome execution of its leader.”

[2] “Trump says meeting with DPRK’s Kim may be delayed,” Xinhua, May 23, 2018.

[3] “Kim Jong Un Inspects Completed Koam-Tapchon Railways,” KCNA, May 25, 2018.

[4] Robert Carlin, “Kim Jong Un’s New Strategic Line,” 38 North, Apr 23, 2018; Ruediger Frank, “The North Korean Parliamentary Session and Budget Report 2018: Cautious Optimism for the Summit Year,” 38 North, Apr 19, 2018; Jin Qianyi, “North Korea halts nuclear program in preparation for economic gains,” Global Times, Apr 15, 2018.

[5] “Trump Thanks North Korea for ‘Smart’ Move to Dismantle Test Site,” Bloomberg, May 12, 2018; “Statement of Nuclear Weapons Institute of DPRK,” KCNA, May 24, 2018;”DPRK receives list of S. Korean journalists to cover nuke test site dismantling,” Xinhua, May 23, 2018; Lin Xin, “Moon visits US amid uncertainty over Trump-Kim summit,” Global Times, May 22, 2018; Barbara Starr and Jeffrey Cohen, “US B-52 bombers changed flight plan after North Korea threatened Trump summit,” CNN, May 18, 2018; Eric Geller and Martin Matishak, “Trump pressed to put hacking on North Korean summit agenda,” Politico, May 19, 2018; “Leaders of South Korea and US discuss Pyongyang over phone,” TASS, May 20, 2018; “N. Korean diplomat arrives in China,” Yonhap News Agency, May 19, 2018; Tim Kelly, “U.S. bolsters Asia ballistic missile defense as Trump-Kim summit nears,” Reuters, May 22, 2018.

[6] Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (Broadway, NY:  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017), pp 2, 6, 11-13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 36-37, 42, 49-50, 53-54, 56, 62, 64, 68, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 77, 79, 82, 84, 85, 88-89, 94, 98, 99, 112, 117, 118, 124, 127, 136-137, 138, 139, 140, 142, 148, 153, 169, 185, 192, 203, 205, 211, 213, 215, 218, 265, 271, 299, 301, 305, 311, 312, 313, 334, 340, 342, 345, 349. These are all the pages information was obtained for the discussion of Ellsberg’s book. Also on 350 he talks about the “Soviet empire,” a Reaganite term.

[7] Cody Fenwick, “Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan Reveals How North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘Duped Trump’,” AlterNet, May 10, 2018; Eugene Robinson, “Lord save the world,” Washington Post, May 10, 2018; “North Korea: UN gains ‘unprecedented access’ during visit,” BBC News, May 12, 2018.

[8] Ayesha Rascoe, “Trump: Nuclear Deal Would Be Good For North Korea,” NPR, May 17, 2018; Michael Knigge, “North Korea does not want to be like East Germany,” DW, May 16, 2018; “Trump says “Libya model” not to be repeated on DPRK,” Xinhua, May 18, 2018. As noted in a Washington Post article on May 13, titled “Pompeo says U.S. assuring Kim that it does not seek his overthrow,” Pompeo also said that the U$ did not want to overthrow Kim.

[9] Shuli Ren, “Kim Could Make North Korea Samsung’s New Backyard,” Bloomberg News, May 13, 2018.

“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 revisionist 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 not U$ backed like the one in 1963. 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.

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 what they say about the agreement between a US general and capitalist Russia is true (which is possible) then that is positive that “regime forces” (the Syrian government) can have positions on the border. I wouldn’t see that as bad. To call myself part of the “lunatic fringies” brings up two questions: what is a “fringie”? and how is writing about something in a radical flair make me a “lunatic.” Wouldn’t those who are apologists of empire more readily fall into this category. I didn’t know defending Syria and carefully explaining what is happening in the region from my point of view was “raw and unadulterated ignorance of local reality.” I also didn’t know that Roy Gutman was such an expert apparently, as they imply. Yes, I did cite “Marx a half-dozen times,” but so what? Sure, I didn’t “quote anyone who lives in North Syria,” but I don’t need to know the broader trends of what is happening in the region. I also do NOT pretend I “know how a revolution in that region should and should not appear” as they claim. Instead, I am just analyzing the reality. If people don’t like what I’m saying about what is happening, that’s just too bad.

Comments like these are deluded but also fun to read through. Thanks, magical critics for making me laugh at your silliness.

“Massive, dangerous and wasteful”: US imperialism repositions itself in Syria

Comes from the official mouth of the national military establishment.

This post was posted on anti-imperialism.org two days before but somehow I didn’t catch that until yesterday, so it was posted here.

You’ve probably heard the recent news that the Trump Administration is ending the CIA program to fund “anti-Assad” “moderate rebels,” who are actually terrorists. [1] The bourgeois media and run-of-the-mill imperialists cried bloody murder. Some say it was a “victory” for Russian president Vladimir Putin, although it was seen, even by crusty analysts, as a failed program. Removing CIA support is a victory for the Syrian people, not for the Russians or Trump and his advisers. In defending this action on Twitter, Donald Trump, in his typical bullish style, attacked the “Amazon Washington Post” and CNN, saying they are pumping out “fake news” about his policy and questioned if the Post is being used to keep “politicians from looking into Amazon’s no-tax monopoly.” He, of course, framed the program as his accomplishment, as the end of “massive, dangerous and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad,” although these “rebels” are, again, terroristic elements. Even with US imperialism ending CIA support for such elements, the murderous empire has not given up the goal of toppling the Syrian government. Rather, it has “repositioned” itself.

In the article announcing the end of the CIA program, the CIA mouthpiece, the Washington Post bellowed that there was a “potential risk” of ending the program. They claimed that ending the program would mean that the US may be unable to stop other countries from “funneling more sophisticated weapons” to “anti-Assad” terrorists. [2] This implies a “loss of control” over world events by the murderous empire, and it is part of the anxiety that comes with US imperialism loosing its footing. Still, the murderous empire is not bumbling like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes, as “acclaimed” journalist Jeremy Scahill (a brand) noted in one tweet some time ago, but it just facing more challenges. The removal of this support, which was reportedly a foreign policy move to improve ties with Russia, ended a program which had begun in 2013 under the supposedly “smart” imperialism of the Obama presidency. [3] The program itself, in the minds of anonymous “US officials” quoted, and perhaps within upper echelons of the empire itself, “produced little success.” Reuters denoted that US support will not end. Quoting the magical (and often deceptive) anonymous “US officials,” it was noted that the US military will train, arm, and support certain Syrian terrorists with airstrikes and other actions. [4] It would not be surprising if this is the case. The Syrians recognize that the ending of the CIA program is a start to to “solving the Syrian crisis” but not a “genuine policy shift.” Rather it was an admission by the murderous empire that they have failed as Syrian government minister Ali Haidar pointed out. [5]

As it seems evident, US imperialism has “repositioned” itself in Syria by allying with the “good” Kurds, by Western standards, the ones clustered around the illegitimate regional government in northern Iraq and those related to Rojava. Stephen Gowans points out that not only is the YPG, one of the groups which is associated with Rojava, basically the PKK, but that they would control regions currently occupied by Arabs, a move supported by Israel and the US. However, Turkey does not support it as they detest the Kurds, but also the Syrian government, with their own designs for “regime change” in the country, and the current Syrian government opposes it as a clear violation of their sovereignty and independence. Such a takeover of Arab areas, which could be a prelude to ethnic cleansing, is supported by illegal no-fly-zones by the US over parts of Syria, and the partition of Syria along “ethno-sectarian lines,” favored by Washington and Tel Aviv. Some will say that the YPG, SDF, and other forces associated with Rojava, are somehow revolutionary. For one, if this was the case, why would they have allowed the US to build two military bases within “their territory” by March 2016? [6]

When Black nationalist Robert Mugabe led the liberation struggle of the then-Maoist Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, alongside the more moderate Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu-PF, he did not go the US asking for help to fight the white colonists. When Hugo Chavez and his newfangled movement were gaining traction in Venezuela, they didn’t turn to the European imperialists. There are many other examples that could be given. Allowing an imperialist power to create bases within one’s territory means that one’s anti-imperialism is partially, if not completely, non-existent.

Around the same time that it was revealed that the US had two military bases in Syria, the special presidential envoy to the coalition against Daesh, Brett McGurk, visited Rojava, showing the US-“good” Kurd alliance was in the making. Since then, the murderous empire has increased their support for these Kurds. The same Kurds who tortured two Arab prisoners to demand they tell them

“where are the Daesh fighters,” threatening their life and limb when they didn’t answer “correctly.” Recently, the murderous empire armed these Kurds directly to mount an assault on Daesh’s de facto capital, Raqqa. More than that, over 1,000 US special forces are within Syria, with the US helping Rojava-associated forces, since 2014, take control of territory with their “overwhelming” air power. Furthermore, not only are these Kurds wedded to their alliance with the Western imperialists, who also back, with arms, those in Northern Iraq, but they are liked by Western European, Japanese, and Scandinavian governments, along with some in Central Europe and Eastern Europe as well. This is indicated by their diplomatic outposts all across Europe to spread the “reality” of their supposed “struggle,” with the impression that they are a “real” country. Even the Russian Federation seems to favor them to an extent. Such favoritism, mainly by those in the West, is related to the fact that Rojava is opposed to the Syrian government is a “resources-rich” mine for imperialism even though it is basically an illegal entity. Its existence violates the UN charter, especially article 2, and the Syrian Constitution (at least 5 articles). Some may cry that Rojava and the Kurds need “self-determination” but the entity itself violates Syrian sovereignty and such a claim to self-governance by the “good” Kurds is utterly (and completely) illegitimate.

If arming and providing direct military support to these Kurds is not enough, the US had reportedly provided advice on branding, a feature of modern capitalism in the Western world. Raymond Thomas, General and commander of US Special Operations, said at the Aspen Forum recently that the US told the YPG that they needed to re-brand because of their ties to the PKK, and called the name of SDF a “stroke of brilliance” since “democratic” was within the name. This account was also posted on SoL international, a site run by the Turkish Communist Party. In their summation, it was noted that Thomas said that the YPG and PKK have to “work on their own branding,” acting like they are separate. In response, Erdogan, a murderous leader of Turkey who represents that country’s bourgeoisie, said that “friends” should not deceive each other, implying that the US and Turkey are still “friends.” This is true to an extent, but the US and Turkey are pursuing different methods to overthrow the Syrian government. This is indicated by stories in the Turkish state media, which has an anti-Kurdish flair to it, such as one claiming that a US Army Magazine showed a PYD individual, associated with Rojava, with a patch displaying the face of the PKK’s jailed leader, Ocolan. To put it simply, relations between the murderous empire and ethno-nationalist Turkey are fraught. This is proven not only by Erdogan’s remarks noted above but declarations by the Turkish government that it will not allow a “terrorist state” of Rojava on their borders and claims that hundreds of trucks from the US are aiding the Kurds with a large amount of weapons. The latter article, which lists the exact location of 10 US outposts/bases in Rojava, was also written up by The Daily Beast. [7] This article notes that there is US presence from “one end to the other end” of Rojava, with two bases in northern Syrian and eight outposts, one of which is the communications center for the US-led coalition “fighting” Daesh.

With ten bases, effectively, in northern Syria, US imperialism has easily positioned itself to assist covertly and overtly in the overthrow of the Syrian government. Add to this the illegal US presence in Syria coupled with the bombing of Syria and Iraq which has killed a minimum of 600 people with the actual total likely topping over 7,000 civilians. Take for example a raid in Syria on July 4, by US bombers, which killed nine civilians and damaged civilian housing. Assisting the murderous empire in its “regime change” operation are the Israeli Zionists who frequently bomb inside Syria, directly helping the “anti-Assad” terrorists, accompanied by propaganda from outlets, such as National Geographic, to smear the Syrian government, as represented in their upcoming documentary which is totally fraudulent. If that isn’t enough, there have been direct provocations in Syria by the murderous empire. In June, the US shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet which was carrying out attacks on Daesh, a “blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and international law.” This was only part of such provocations stemming from the dropping of thousands upon thousands of bombs on Syria, since 2014, thousands of US troops being sent into the region, false stories of chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, and other provocations, sometimes with the help of British special forces. Additionally, the UAE, the Turks, Qatar, the Saudis, and numerous others, want a piece of the action, sending “tens of thousands of mercenary and reactionary forces to bring down the Syrian government.

While US imperialism under Trump is “re-positioning” itself by seeking new alliances and harsher policies toward alleged US enemies, the goal in Syria has not changed. As noted earlier, the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state. Gowans explains this simply. He notes that the murderous empire is angry that Bashar Al-Assad hasn’t integrated the Syrian economy into the “US-superintended economy,” while possessing principles of “Arab socialism,” anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism. Such ideas also come with Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah. Hence, since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria, with the idea since 2003 that the US would eliminate Arab nationalists in the region by invading their countries.

Iran puts a damper on such regime change plans, as does Russia. Already Iran and Russia have developed close relations, like Syria and Russia, with the idea that Iran-Russia contact can prevent Washington’s further intervention in Syria. As Raymond Thomas, quoted earlier, admitted, since Russia has established a “more credible foothold” in Syria, it could, in his summation, use this influence to expel US forces from the country. Whether this would actually happen is not known. As the murderous empire sees it, Iran, Syrian, and Russia are part of an “evil axis” to them. That is why the CIA’s mouthpiece, the Washington Post, declared that the US is threatening Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf whether a “shot across the bow” actually happened or not. [8]

The same goes for the 98-2 vote in the US Senate in favor of increased sanctions on Iran and Russia in mid-June. Only two Senators, with enough political capital, voted against it: “socially democratic” imperialist Bernie Sanders and libertarian-Republican Rand Paul. The sanctions themselves, introduced by Bob Corker, did not pass the House. The legislation not only claims that Iran threatens the US (and allies) in the Mideast, North Africa, and beyond, but it shows US apprehension about Iran’s influence.

In the past month, a new round of sanctions passed both legislative houses, incorporating some of Corker’s legislation on Russia and Iran, but also adding harsh sanctions against the DPRK. On July 25, the House passed the legislation 419-3, with only Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Jimmy Duncan voting no, all of whom were Republicans. The vote in the Senate two days similar was similar to the one the month before: Sanders and Paul voted against it.

Specifically, the new sanctions are slapped on Iran for its missile program and “human rights abuses” while squeezing the Russian economy and removing authority from the presidency to ease Russian sanctions. The latter is due to the unsubstantiated and feverous phobia over Russia, propagated by the US intelligence establishment, desperate Democrats and complaint Republicans, and much of the bourgeois media. The fact that Trump approves of the sanctions legislation flushes away all possibility he is “pro-Russia” in any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, the fact that Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership declared that the US’s diplomatic mission in Russia has to “reduce its staff by 755 employees” was a justified “aggressive response” that the New York Times, in typical fashion, called something which was seemingly “ripped right from the Cold War playbook.” Russia cannot respond by military force to these sanctions, so this reduction is a way of firing back, sending a message to Washington that the sanctions are not OK. [9]

As it seems evident, the murderous empire wants to weaken Iran (and Russia to an extent) to cause the dominoes (Syrian government, Hezbollah, and Hamas) to fall so that imperial hegemony can reign across the region. [10] The Russians, Syrians, and Iranians aren’t standing for it. With Iran having “Washington’s moves under close surveillance,” they have worked to build military cooperation with Iraq, a major step forward in regional security to counter destabilization by the US and its affiliates.

Such an agreement, which disappoints the US, involves both countries working together to improve border security while providing the military forces of each country with “training, logistical…and military support.” Furthermore, the Iranian Parliament recently allocated $600 million to strengthen the country’s defensive missile program and the IRGC’s Quads force. Even with such measures, the moderate Iranian leadership is trying to create linkages with European capitalists created by the nuclear deal they negotiated with the West. The idea is that Iran should be “self-reliant and self-sufficient” since it has strong bilateral relationships with capitalist Russia, revisionist China, and a “remarkable number of European countries.” As Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, recently put it, there is an opportunity of strong relations between Iran and Europe, with creation of “indigenous technology using international advanced technology.” The Iranians also likely see such linkages as a way to partially deter some of the effects of sanctions imposed on them. Some capitalists, like the French, have jumped at the bit. Just recently, Total S.A., a French oil giant, signed a 20 year contract with Iran, with an “estimated cost of 2 billion US dollars.” This would result in 30 wells, 2 offshore platforms, and two pipelines as part of the Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) they signed with the Iranian government.

Even with Iran’s moves to court Western European capitalists, there are evident challenges. For one, Trump is continuing to push for “regime change” in Iran, dismantle the “Obama-era balance of power” and return to anti-Iran policies of Bush II. This isn’t much of a surprise since his foreign policy team is filled with Iran hawks, those who want to be more aggressive toward the country. Additionally, there are individuals like the chain-smoking, brutish, covert to Islam, whose name is “Mike Roger” when undercover and nicknamed “Ayatollah Mike.” [11] His full name is Michael D’Andrea. He is leading the anti-Iran campaign but previously ran the drone program, is brash, and was involved in the illegal torture program. [12] As one person quoted, in the CIA propaganda-filled New York Times, says, this is a sign of an “aggressive line toward Iran.”

For having a man who is a Muslim (converted because his wife was Muslim) leading a covert effort to undermine (and ultimately topple) a government rooted, bourgeois liberals and progressives will likely scream “intersectionality!” In reality, it is just imperialism with a nice bow on it, but the same tactics as before. Nothing has changed in that way at all.

In a recent article in the Monthly Review, Fred Magdoff noted that when corporations of “leading capitalist states have problems abroad,” they use the international structure they helped shape, also working to create “more favorable conditions at home and abroad to increase their flexibility and ability to make profits with the fewest restraints” evidenced by thirty CEOs of major US corporations visiting “Saudi Arabia with Trump.” He adds that economic elites and corporations use the power “of their home nation to secure advantages globally” with the nation state’s power of a “significant use to capital” with corporations, no matter the historical era, using “whatever leverage is at their disposal…to get their way,” to gain access to “foreign markets and investment opportunities.”

What Magdoff writes has relevance for the geopolitical position and relation of Iran, Syria, Russia, and the United States, to name a few international “actors” at the current time. Each of these countries has their respective bourgeoisie. For Iran and Syria, their national bourgeoisie is revolutionary in character. Specifically for Iran, this bourgeoisie, especially the reformist faction, is trying to entice European capitalists to invest in their country in order to become “self-sufficient” and create their own products. The principalist or “hardline” faction seems to not be fundamentally opposed to the prospect of self-development, as they support investment, but they are wary of Western influence from capitalists of Europe (mostly) since the involvement of Western international capitalist combines had a role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossedegh in 1953 and were part of the pillaging of their country up until the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The reformist faction, which was reinforced by the recent election in Iran’s populace, seems to be in a current truce with the “hardline” faction, the latter of which wants a “revolutionary economy” as Ayatollah Khomeini puts it, but does not oppose privatization, for example. The Western capitalists are salivating at the opportunity for a new market with US companies likely furious about the new sanctions since this closes markets for them, inadvertently giving the Europeans a head start in this new market, benefiting them and isolating the United States. Iran needs capital for its self-development, but accepting this capital means that Western capitalists will be able to use the “universal whore, the universal pimp of peoples,” money, as Karl Marx once described it, to try and corrupt Iranian society to make it more consumerist, accepting more and more Western values. [13] If that ultimately happens, then the Iranian Revolution will have failed and capitalism will be triumphant in Iran.

Like Iran, Syria has a national bourgeoisie. Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy since they are under attack from reactionary religious terrorists backed by Gulf and Western states. As Karl Marx wrote in 1844,

“…it is precisely the ability of the capitalist to direct his capital elsewhere which either drives the worker into starvation or forces him to submit to the capitalist’s demands” [14]

In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances, to be part of what Ahmad Sa’adat, imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), once called the “international left alliance.” Still, they are affected by competition among capitalists, as this influenced policies of those countries which are attacking them.

As for Russia, it is an interesting case. It is clearly capitalist, but it also has a progressive foreign policy. Partially this policy was forced on it by “isolation” pushed upon it by the US, but also due to its effort of building alliances with those countries under harsh attack by the murderous empire. Still, we cannot forget the Russian oligarchs, who are the Russian bourgeoisie. Even so, they are not like the US in interfering in the affairs of other countries, seeming to follow the principle that sovereignty is the “essence of the state” and that the sovereignty of the leader is based on the people since the “political state is…only a self-determination of the people.” [15] They are, as was noted by the Workers World Party at discussion at the Left Forum earlier this year, wanna be imperialists. Rome, and now the murderous empire, along with competing neo-colonial Western capitalistic states, treats “conquered countries….as private property.” [16] Russia, even if you said that it “conquered” Crimea, which it didn’t since there was a referendum where the people of the peninsula voted to be part of the Russian Federation, is not treating this area or any other area under their influence as their “private property.” Due to US restrictions and that of Russophobic European capitalist states, their markets are limited, so their imperialistic tendencies have not been developed as of yet. If these restrictions were lifted they would become a semi-imperialist state.

The murderous empire has “re-positioned” itself when it comes to Syria, and states associated with it, but as noted in this article, the goals remain the same. This was indicated in a recent speech by Vice President Mike Pence who bemoaned the “grave and growing threat posed by the missile capabilities of dangerous regimes in North Korea and Iran” and noted that Trump called on Russia to “cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and to cease its support for hostile regimes like North Korea and Iran.” If this sentiment is held by numerous other policymakers in the echelons of the intelligence and military establishments, which it likely is, it means they see Russia as the “puppetmaster,” directing other countries like Iran and Syria. This could not be farther from the truth. Both Iran and Syria have self-interested and justified reasons for their amiable relations with Russia” to counter the aggression of the murderous empire.

As those who care about the world around us, whether we are communists, socialists, or radicals of any flavor, we should recognize what Marx said in September 1843: “nothing prevents us from…taking sides in politics…we simple show the world the way it is struggling and…[push for] the reform of consciousness.” [17] If we can take that to heart, standing in international solidarity with Iran, Syria, and Russia, even though each of these countries has a national bourgeoisie, against the murderous empire, that is a step in the right direction. We should take heed from Marx when he says that revolutions are “not made by shame” and arguing that

“A Ship of Fools can perhaps be allowed to drift before the wind for a good while; but it will drift to its doom precisely because the fools refuse to believe it possible. This doom is the approaching revolution.” [18]

While Marx was talking about Germany in March 1843, this sentiment applies to the present. The capitalists and their lackeys, imperialists of any character, of the murderous empire are the “fools” and they can be usurped by a revolution. In closing, we should believe it possible to engage in such actions to undermine (and ultimately overthrow) the capitalist class wherever, whether in the core, the periphery, and semi-periphery, standing in solidarity, in whatever way we can, with those fighting against the beast of capitalism.

Notes

[1] Anti-Assad is in quotation marks because that is how they are framed, although the Syrian government is much more than just Bashar Al-Assad, who was duly re-elected, like the rest of the government last year.

[2] Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous, “Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow,” Washington Post, July 19, 2017.

[3] BBC News, “Syria war: Trump ‘ends CIA arms programme for rebels’,” July 20, 2017.

[4] John Wolcott, “Trump ends CIA arms support for anti-Assad Syria rebels – US officials,” Reuters, July 19, 2017.

[5] Dahila Nehme, “Syria says US halting aid to rebels is step toward ending war,” Reuters, July 25, 2017.

[6] Reuters, “US builds two air bases in Kurdish-controlled north Syria: Kurdish report,” Mar. 6, 2016.

[7] Roy Gutman, “Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria,” The Daily Beast, July 19, 2017.

[8] Andrew deGrandpre, “An Iranian ship refused to heed the Navy’s warning. Then shots were fired,” Washington Post, July 25, 2017.

[9] Neil MacFarquhar, “Putin, Responding to Sanctions, Orders US to Cut Diplomatic Staff by 755,” New York Times, July 30, 2017.

[10] It is clearly not a big “conspiracy” as they might think it is.

[11] Greg Miller, “CIA official who directed hunt for bin Laden is being removed from post,” Washington Post, Mar. 25, 2015.

[12] Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, “Deep Support in Washington for C.I.A.’s Drone Missions,” New York Times, Apr. 25, 2015; Matthew Rosenburg and Adam Goldman, “C.I.A. Names the ‘Dark Prince’ to Run Iran Operations, Signaling a Tougher Stance,” New York Times, June 2, 2017.

[13] Karl Marx, “Money” within 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which is part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 377. On page 295, also within the “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” Marx describes capital as the power to command labor and products, and stored up labor.

[14] Karl Marx, “Wages of Labor” within 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, which is part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 283.

[15] Karl Marx, “Critique of Hegel’s Doctrine of the State” in 1843 within Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 82, 85, 89.

[16] Ibid, 179.

[17] Marx’s letter to Ruge in September 1843 within the Franco-German Yearbooks and part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 208-209.
[18] Marx’s letter to Ruge in March 1843 within the Franco-German Yearbooks and part of Early Writings (ed. Quintin Hoare, New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 200.

“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 [capitalist] Russia, [revisionist] 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