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

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

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

…the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state…Bashar Al-Assad hasn’t integrated the Syrian economy into the “US-superintended economy,” while possessing principles of “Arab socialism,” anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism…[with] Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah…since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria…Like Iran, Syria has a national bourgeoisie. Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy…In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances…still, they are affected by competition among capitalists…Iran, Syria, and Russia…each…has a national bourgeoisie.

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

Table of contents for this article

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

 

Defining terms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gowan argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resistance to imperialism and concluding words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The reality of the Democratic Party in the murderous empire

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

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

Table of contents for this article

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

 

Democrats as the party of feminists?

Quote from writer Arundhati Roy, relates to feminism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The definition goes on to add that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now onto the history, divided into the following sections:

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

The 1820s to the 1840s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civil War (1861-1865)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After the war and Reconstruction (1865-1876)

An illustration criticizing the power of plutocrats in U$ society

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

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

Up the 20th century (1876-1900)

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

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

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

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

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

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

From McKinley to Wilson: 1900-1921

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Wilson and to Hoover: 1921-1933

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

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

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

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

The Years of FDR: 1933-1945

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truman to Eisenhower: 1945-1960

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The turbulent 1960s and the years of LBJ

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparing LBJ and FDR

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

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

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

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

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

After Johnson, 1968-1977

Police brutality in Chicago in 1968 near the Democratic National Convention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The retreat of liberals and the age of Reagan

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

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

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

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

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

The Clintonites in the White House (1993-2001)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s nothing else to say here.

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

From one of her commentaries on Black Agenda Report.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. From 1824 to 1932
  2. 1932 to Present

From 1824 to 1932

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1932 to Present

Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet via Wikimedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are the Democrats antiwar

From an article he wrote on Consortium News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corruption in the Democratic Party?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radicals and concluding words

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

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

 

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] Ibid, pp 279-280.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[19] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p 26.

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

[21] Ibid, p 141.

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

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

[24]  Greenburg, A Wicked War, p  10.

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

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

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

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

[29] Ibid, p 148.

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

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

[32] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p 23.

[33] Ibid, pp 34-35.

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

[35] Ibid, pp  38-41.

[36] Ibid, pp 42-43.

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

[38] Ibid, pp  59-60.

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

[40] Ibid, pp 69-71.

[41] Ibid, pp 77-79.

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

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

[44] Ibid, p 153.

[45] Greenburg, A Wicked War, p  104.

[46] Ibid, p xv.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[63] Ibid, p 259.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[81] Ibid, pp 393, 397.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[114] Ibid, p 86.

[115] Ibid, p 89.

[116] Ibid, p 90.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[131] Ibid, pp 92-93.

[132] Ibid, pp 104, 214.

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

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

[135] McKeen, Outlaw Journalist, 345.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[150] Ibid, p 96.

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

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

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

[154] Ibid, p 16.

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

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

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

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

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

[160] West, Democracy Matters, p 51.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[168] Ibid, 100, 103.

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

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

[171] Ibid, pp 195, 220.

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

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

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

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

[176] Ibid, p 95

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

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

[179] Ibid, 186.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[189] Ibid, pp 84-85.

[190] Ibid, pp 86, 88

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

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

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

[194] West, Democracy Matters, p 33.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[206] Ibid, pp  118-119.

[207] Ibid, pp 136-139.

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

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

[210] Lee, For Freedom’s Sake, p 165.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[219] Ibid, pp 56-58.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[232] Ibid, p 134.

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

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

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

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

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

[238] Ibid, pp 58, 87.

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

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

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

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

[243] Ibid, p 37.

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

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

[246] Ibid, pp 101, 228.

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

[248] Ibid, 86-87.

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

[250] Ibid, pp 18-25.

[251] Ibid, pp 29-30.

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

[253] Ibid, p 50.

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

[255] Ibid, pp 58-59.

[256] Ibid, pp 62-65.

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

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

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

[260] Ibid, 165-183

[261] Ibid, 184-188

[262] Ibid, 189-191

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

[264] Ibid, p 333.

Imperial machinations, Mnangagwa, and gleeful capitalists

This is a graphic I created on 12/13/2017, and revised on 12/14/2017, to represent the continuing counter-revolution in Zimbabwe since Mugabe’s resignation on Nov 21 and Mnangagwa’s ascendancy the next day thanks to the ZDF’s coup d’etat.

The counter-revolution of President Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe continues afoot. The Zimbabwean Communist Party, as I noted previously, is no help, so the Zimbabwean proletariat are on their own as the socially democratic gains of the Black nationalist ruling party, the Zanu-PF, albeit limited by the fact that they originally accepted neocolonialism before the late 1990s as noted before, are being chipped away.

Recent Developments

Recently, on the same day that the Politburo of the Zanu-PF met, the royalty for platinum mining was slashed so that “all platinum group companies to reserve significant amounts of capital for reinvestment,” to help the bourgeoisie in that business, along with likely attracting other mining companies not native to the country, including those from the West. Again, this helps the capitalist class much more than the proletariat in Zimbabwe. If that isn’t enough, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) agreed to provide $1.5 billion for Zimbabwe’s economy in order to “meet the forex requirement for productive foreign payments” and support the “productive sector through banks and the mining sector, especially the gold sector, as well as the retooling of the manufacturing sector, among other industries.” This leaves the country, I would argue, further open to exploitation by other forces.

The ZDF (Zimbabwe Defense Force) again re-iterated the need for “calm,” basically saying that they will not be used to settle personal scores between Zanu-PF members. They also seem to want to tamp down any opposition to their moves going forward, which will come and is likely there.

The MDC was criticized by The Herald for its foray to the murderous empire. The latter publication, which has widely taken the side of the coup plotters and the imperialist sect of the Zanu-PF, declared that the MDC alliance, part of the Western puppet “opposition” is basically “campaigning for Zimbabwe’s continued isolation, despite recent developments and popular change of Government witnessed recently.” They added by saying that the MDC “has always been associated with the West” and sponsored by them in “fruitless bid to unseat former President Mugabe for the “crime” of undertaking the land reform programme.” However, they claim that Mugabe’s removal “set Zimbabwe on a historic transition process” while noting that the MDC wants to convince “the Western community to maintain frosty relations with Zimbabwe” and saying that they “expected better in a new post-Mugabe as era; there is more than enough room to talk among Zimbabweans.” This may indicate that this “counter-revolution” will involve the Zanu-PF staying in power while the Western puppet opposition is rightfully marginalized as they should have no real importance in Zimbabwe’s politics. However, the government could easily turn and work with the Western puppet opposition, however.

In terms of the land program, there seemed to be a recent development. The government ordered “illegally resettled farmers to vacate the land immediately or face the wrath of the law,” saying that the “Zimbabwe Land Commission shall be seized with the responsibility of settling land disputes emanating from resettled farmers and shall report to the Minister from time to time.” This seems to limit the land redistribution program to an extent while it tries to imply that there was corruption when the government, with Mugabe as the President, was involved in the land redistribution program. This development follows the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) saying they will “now accept 99-year leases that were given to resettled farmers by Government as collateral for bank loan,” while the new government has “stressed that it will not be fickle and will stick to its policies to maintain certainty and predictability to attract investment in the economy.” It seems that the government is willing to intervene in the economy but is hard to say this is benefiting the proletariat, as its efforts to boost maize yields was done in part because of an assessment based on “the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) indicators.” Likely such efforts will help the bourgeoisie instead since the World Bank is one of the institutions which maintains the international capitalist economy.

Additionally, as Mnangagwa appoints a new head of Zimbabwe’s intelligence service, a new VP shortly (as some reports seem to indicate) reassigns permanent secretaries, there are considerations to raise the retirement age by five years (from 60 to 65) among civil service in Zimbabwe, if I understand that correctly. Additionally, the 2018 Budget does much more: a higher rate on spot betting, an “export tax of 5% on the gross value of exported lithium” imposed, a “zero tolerance on land barons,” amending the  Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, implemented by April 2018, that “diamonds and platinum are the only sub-sectors designated as ‘extractive’” with the “51/49 Indigenisation threshold [confined] to only the two minerals” and not to the “rest of the extractive sector, nor…the other sectors of the economy, which will be open to any investor regardless of nationality.” Furthermore, this law would allow entrance into the “reserved sector,” which is “only for Zimbabwean citizens” if a the business “creates employment…seek[s] to attract both local and foreign investments,” among other aspects. The budget also declares that “State Enterprises that exhibit potential will be reformed, while those which cannot be rehabilitated will be privatised or face outright closure,” abolishing “the Youth Officer posts under the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation & Empowerment,” transferring it to another role, and limiting the civil service.If that isn’t enough, the government, as of January 2018, will “retire staff above the age of 65” and convince them to be petty bourgeoisie. It also includes adopting “fiscal anchors” which cap “budget deficits below 3%,” limit public debt, reduce spending on Infrastructure “by re-directing substantial resources towards capital development priorities,” and sticking to “…agreed Cabinet policy positions that entail pain and sacrifice.” If that isn’t enough, the budget says that “money creation, through domestic money market instruments which do not match with available foreign currency, only serves to weaken the value of the same instruments” and adding that the “new economic order” includes restored discipline “supported by political will in dealing with the following…Re-engagement with the International Community; Stimulating Production, and Exporting; Creation of Jobs, as well as a  credible 2018 election.”

The 256-page 2018 Budget Statement, which includes financial audits of all civil servants, is basically another step in the counter-revolution, a declaration of war on the Zimbabwean proletariat as the policies have a neoliberal capitalist ring to them. It is, as The Herald put it (in a supportive way, but can also be seen negatively), the beginning of an “economic cleansing” rather than just a “revival.” Clearly Mnangagwa is agreeing with commentators like Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo who serve the bourgeoisie with their words which are like a knife stabbed into the heart of the Zimbabwean proletariat.

As the Extraordinary Congress of the Zanu-PF is set to meet, with the goal “unity in the party,” it is expected to “endorse the recalling of former President Robert Mugabe and the installation of President Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President by the Central Committee on November 19” while also expected to “uphold the decision by the Central Committee to expel G40 cabal members,” including Grace Mugabe who was attacked in an undoubtedly misogynist way, and also possibly bring back “all Central Committee members elected at the 2014 Congress but suspended or expelled from the party subsequent to the Congress on the basis of fictitious or fabricated allegations by the G40 cabal be reinstated.” The coup will then be fully legitimized and the counter-revolution affirmed by the Zanu-PF itself!

Machinations by the imperialists

Apart from a brief interruption in internet service in Zimbabwe, possibly caused by imperial machinations (or possibly not), imperialists are salivating without end. As I noted in a recent post on a radical subreddit, Zimbabwe is undoubtedly in a “bad situation.” A law recently signed by the orange menace (Trump) declares that the US will stand against “any extension by the respective institution of any loan or grant to the Government of Zimbabwe, except to meet basic human needs or to promote democracy,” unless the rule of law has returned, including “respect for ownership and title to property, and freedoms of expression, association, and assembly.” The law adds that funds may be available for “health and education,” and possibly even for “macroeconomic growth assistance” if the US thinks the government “is implementing transparent fiscal policies, including public disclosure of revenues from the extraction of natural resources.” This basically means that the imperial machinations in Zimbabwe will continue, that the US still wants land redistribution removed (as in the part about “property”), wants a place for the MDC hucksters, and wants an in within the market of Zimbabwe.

In the post cited in the previous paragraph I also noted a Senate hearing for a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee to unilaterally determine Zimbabwe’s “future.” The participants had varied views.Stephanie Sullivan, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, declared that the coup offers an  “opportunity for reform that could allow the United States to re-engage in ways we have not recently been able to do,” said that they want the Western puppet’s opposition to have a voice “in charting a path forward” and saying that tbe U.S. capitalist class is “eager for improvements in the [Zimbabwean] business climate that will encourage them to invest and trade” and sees “promise in agriculture, tourism, energy, and mining.” Then the MDC Alliance representative, Tendai Biti, declared that Zimbabwe’s future was uncertain but has an opportunity for “reconstructing, rebuilding and re- fabricating a new Zimbabwean story, and a new Zimbabwean society,” declaring that the country needs “a genuine break from its tortured past…[creating] a just and prosperous society” where citizens can “pursue life, liberty, and happiness,” the Western bourgeois values in politics. He also said that there should be “political and institutional reforms” along with “major economic reforms that focus on restoring livelihoods, growing a shared economy” which includes “a commitment to real transformation other than cosmetic statements on the economy.” He feared that Zimbabwe would “pursue a Beijing model, in the respect of which there are nominal improvements on the economy while political space is closed and democracy is muzzled” while adding that Zimbabwe should not be “forgotten in our battle against tyranny and poverty and for democracy and human rights” and that once Zimbabwe shows “signs of an irrevocable and irreversible trajectory towards legitimacy, democracy, and the rule of law, we [Zimbabwe] shall require your full support as we re-engage key international institutions.”

There were two other guests. One of them was Dewa Mavhinga, the Southern Africa Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW). He did accurately describe the ZDF’s role in the coup, but he obviously cited with the imperialists by saying that ” re-engagement with the Zimbabwean government should be based on a firm commitment” of measures that “ensure tangible and long overdue democratic and electoral reforms…a clear roadmap for democratic elections.” In the meantime what does HRW want? Continuation of “existing US policy toward Zimbabwe until the military removes itself from politics and the 2018 elections are legitimately assessed to be peaceful, transparent, free and fair,” basically meaning that the murderous sanctions will continue. Finally there was the view of a a Mugabe-hating “journalist” named Peter Godwin, who was more skeptical of all. He claimed that Mnangagwa will “entice his own people and the world with a ‘reformist stance’,” working to re-brand the Zanu-PF but in actuality all of his “promises don’t stand up to scrutiny.” He also added that “opposition fragmentation is enormously beneficial to Zanu-PF, allowing them a real possibility of winning at the polls,” arguing that the Western puppet opposition needs “to unify or at least broker alliances or electoral pacts.” Again, the same strategy is trotted out by the imperialists.

Looking forward

Zimbabwe seems on the road to ruin. It will intensify the “exploitive relation between the owners of the means of production…and the producers of value” with “production of knowledge…directed towards profit” even more than in the past, with “tension between the underlying forces of competition and monopoly” as Michael Roberts put it recently. As Roberts further added that “rise of intangibles means the increased concentration and centralisation of capital” and ended by saying that “capital without capitalism becomes a socialist imperative. Furthermore, let us recognize that there are no “progressive radicals” in Zimbabwe anymore. Michael Parenti, the radical scholar everyone should listen to rather than establishment “radical” Noam Chomsky, defined this term in an interview back in 2015

A progressive radical is someone who supports democratic political procedures rather than moneyed-driven ones, much needed human services, public ownership of education, utilities, industrial production, and most financing, while opposing big corporate power and global imperialism.

There is no one like that in Zimbabwean politics. In fact Mnangagwa and his cronies want to privatize government entities, reducing public ownership, and seem willing to work with the imperial West to “improve” their country. That will undoubtedly lead to further exploitation! There is no doubt of that.

Those in the murderous empire seem to be playing a “wait and see” game, with many citing the event “committed by the North-Korean trained fifth brigade in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in the 1980’s, also referred to as Gukurahundi,” saying that Mnangagwa was involved, with Chris Coons declaring that its “critical that the people of Zimbabwe not see one dictator replaced by another and so for one I am reluctant to see us take any steps to lighten or relieve sanctions or other international restrictions on loans or partnerships until we see … concrete steps.”  Other reports say that the empire is “cautiously considering re-engaging Zimbabwe, following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe,” seeing a possibly window of opportunity. A “peace campaign” won’t stop the empire from coming in and bringing in all the corporate brands that those living inside the beast have grown to hate. At this point, let us not forget the contributions of comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe who originally embraced neo-colonialism but ultimately led the country to one that allied with China and was strongly anti-imperialism, supporting independence for Western Sahara and Palestine for example. No one should forget him and his contributions, which the current government seems intent on erasing without a doubt.

Then there is the role of China. One commentary recently asserted that “Zimbabwe’s economic and political ties to China could prove decisive for Africa’s perpetual underdog” and added that “more Chinese money is flowing to Zimbabwe as well” with it also noted that “China has been a partner to Africa when many Western investors preferred to stay away.” What will China’s role be? Well, they seem to be willing to keep their investments in the country and would be glad to have more “business-friendly” conditions to benefit Chinese companies. Again, this would not make Zimbabwe a Chinese colony, as those deluded commentators in the West assert, but it would show that both countries have embraced capitalism without a doubt.

In other news, the relations with Botswana seem to be on upswing. This is disturbing because, as I noted on Reddit, Botswana hated Mugabe, supporting the Western puppet opposition, with suggestions they are imperial puppets of the murderous empire. A new memorandum of understanding is coming soon with Botswana, which hailed the new government. This seems to indicate that Zimbabwe could be further corrupted by imperial machinations without a doubt.

The future forward for Zimbabwe is unclear. Frantz Fanon wrote back in 1961, in the Wretched of the Earth, about how the “national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type” saying that their “psychology…is that of the businessman, not that of a captain of industry” while adding that “from now on it will insist that all the big foreign companies should pass through its hands, whether these companies wish to keep on their connexions with the country, or to open it up” and that the “national bourgeoisie will be quite content with the role of the Western bourgeoisie’s business agent, and it will play its part without any complexes in a most dignified manner.” He added that when the national bourgeoisie within an “under-developed” country is strong, it can “arrange everything and everybody to serve its power” and said that there must be “very exceptional circumstances if such a bourgeoisie…is forced into denying its own humanist ideology” while the Western bourgeoisie is racist but works to mask such racism. He also wrote that

…The national bourgeoisie turns its back more and more on the interior and on the real facts of its undeveloped country, and tends to look towards the former mother country and the foreign capitalists who count on its obliging compliance…The bourgeois dictatorship of under-developed countries draws its strength from the existence of a leader…in spite of his frequently honest conduct and his sincere declarations, the leader as seen objectively is the fierce defender of these interests, today combined, of the national bourgeoisie and the ex-colonial companies…the national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is incapable of carrying out any mission whatever…The party, a true instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, reinforces the machine, and ensures that the people are hemmed in and immobilized…In under-developed countries, the bourgeoisie should not be allowed to find the conditions necessary for its existence and its growth. In other words, the combined effort of the masses led by a party and of intellectuals who are highly conscious and armed with revolutionary principles ought to bar the way to this useless and harmful middle class…In the colonized territories, the bourgeois caste draws its strength after independence chiefly from agreements reached with the former colonial power

While Fanon was talking about the development of independent nations in Africa, after their liberation wars against “colonial domination,” what he writes about the national bourgeoisie can easily apply to the Black bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe which seems to be happy and gleeful to work with the West while still wanting to defend their own interests.

With this counter-revolution, the Europeans who “robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people” will be back to do what did they in Zimbabwe for over 70 years, mainly by the British imperialists like Cecil Rhodes. The European imperialists will exploit the proletariat and peasantry with a “modern flair,” followed by the gung-ho imperialists from the murderous empire. Neo-colonialism, the most dangerous form of imperialism as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana called it, will be back “in style” as Zimbabweans continue to toil.

As Amilcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau put it in 1964, “whether we wish it or not, we are fighting against imperialism, which is the basis of colonialism, in every form.” Apart from following this advice, we should be worried about Zimbabwe’s future trajectory as it seems to invalidate  liberation of Africa from world imperialism, which was fought for so many years ago with vigor, determination, and good cause for a better world free of capitalism, but seems to be slipping away with counter-revolutions like this one in Zimbabwe. To end this post, Fanon’s words on the future path for liberation and independence are an instructive reminder of where our thoughts should go in the days forward:

We must shake off the heavy darkness in which we were plunged, and leave it behind…We today can do everything, so long as we do not imitate Europe, so long as we are not obsessed by the desire to catch up with Europe…European achievements, European techniques and the European style ought no longer to tempt us and to throw us off our balance…Let us decide not to imitate Europe; let us combine our muscles and our brains in a new direction…a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe…[this was the] United States of America [which] became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions…Comrades, let us flee from this motionless movement where gradually dialectic is changing into the logic of equilibrium. Let us reconsider the question of mankind…The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose aim should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers…So, comrades, let us not pay tribute to Europe by creating states, institutions and societies which draw their inspiration from her…If we wish to live up to our peoples’ expectations, we must seek the response elsewhere than in Europe…For Europe, for ourselves and for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man.

The counter-revolution of Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s military

As  wrote on December 29, “Mnangagwa, even more than Mugabe, seems to favor the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie” while adding that “while I hope for the best as always, I fear for the worst. We should stand with whatever forces have the interests of the Zimbabwean proletariat at heart,” arguing that the current government does not have those interests at heart. Current events seem to demonstrate that the “corrective measure” that removed Mugabe was nothing short of a coup that seems ready to benefit Western capitalists.

Amending the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA)

Already, the new government has amended the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act “to reflect its policy position that the 51-49 percent requirement only applies to natural resource-based investments.” This position runs contrary to what Mugabe issued in April 2016, meaning that the government felt that having across all sectors promised “empowerment for the indigenes without delivering it on the other hand, while creating discomfort or even suspicion to would-be investors on the other” and instead supporting a “new investment framework…clear cut in terms of what’s on offer to both domestic and foreign investors.” What is this new framework? Well, they posit “Zimbabwe as an investment destination,” and open up the “non-resource sector and reserved sector” to more foreign investment. The non-resource sector includes

beneficiation of raw materials, transfer of appropriate technology to Zimbabwe for the purposes of enhancing productivity, creation of employment and imparting of new skills to Zimbabweans, granting of ownership and/or employee share ownership for value to indigenous Zimbabweans

This sector is even larger than what The Herald stated in their recent article (linked at the beginning of this section) as noted by the National Economic Empowerment Strategy issued in 2015 by Patrick Zhuwao, then the Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (original link). It includes the manufacturing, finance services, tourism, education & sport, arts entertainment & culture, engineering & construction, energy, services, telecommunications, transport & motor industries.

The reserved sector includes those areas “reserved for Zimbabwean entrepreneurs, except for existing businesses,” including businesses such as

retail and wholesale trade, transportation (passenger buses, taxis and car hire services), estate agencies, grain milling, bakeries, tobacco processing, advertising agencies, valet services, employment agencies and provision of local arts and crafts and marketing and distribution of the same

The latter were once “non-indigenous businesses” who had to pay “the full amount of the Empowerment Levy proposed herein as part of measures designed to ensure compliance with the indigenisation legislation.” This levy, to summarize without bogged down in the details, depends on the “extent to which a business simply decides to comply with the laws of Zimbabwe, on indigenisation and economic empowerment.” This is no longer to be enforced at all!

With this, foreign investors can have control of businesses in these sectors. With this new policy, only businesses are national resources sector is required that Black Zimbabweans “hold a 51 percent stake…with the remaining 49 percent belonging to the partnering investor(s).” As a result, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act’s purpose has been subverted! As Mugabe put it in 2016 (original link), the law meant to enable “historically indigenous Zimbabweans” to be “significant players” in Zimbabwe’s economy, granting them ownership of “the country’s means and factors of production.” Only allowing it one sector benefits the global capitalist class.

I doubt that weakening of this law will put forward “goals of indigenisation and economic empowerment” of the Zimbabwean people as Mugabe stated in 2013, specifically focusing on the resources sector which is wide ranging, as provided by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General) Regulation in 2010 and noted within xxx:

Air, soil, waters and minerals of Zimbabwe…Mammal, bird, fish and other animal life of Zimbabwe…The trees grasses and other vegetation of Zimbabwe…Springs, vleis, sponges, reed beds, mashes, swamps and public streams of Zimbabwe…Any landscape, scenery or site having aesthetic appeal or scenic value or of historic or archaeological interest

I doubt that Mnangagwa and his government will stand by that interpretation of natural resources. I really do. The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (“NIEEB”) which is currently “tasked to spearhead this process of transforming the peripheral role of the indigenous majority in the economy to a leading role in the mainstream economy together with the attendant benefits of improving their standards of living” still has a role but it has been dramatically reduced.

Basically, this decision, applauded by The Herald, which seems to hold the line of the Zanu-PF adherents sympathetic to Western imperialism now unlike under Mugabe’s presidency over the years, opens up Zimbabwe to exploitation from international capital. This should be condemned by anyone with sense as it will hurt the Zimbabwean proletariat without a doubt.

What we have now is the beginning of what I’ll call a counter-revolution. It is almost like the efforts pushed by Nikita Khrushchev after the death of comrade Joseph Stalin in 1953. The difference is that Zimbabwe is not a socialist country like the USSR and does not have a communist party in that position of power, as Zimbabwe is a socially democratic country with a socially democratic political party. However, there are some parallels that could be drawn since comrade Robert Mugabe is being taken down by Mnangagwa who is not a comrade in the slightest meaning of the word! Even if The Herald says it time and time again, that doesn’t make it true!

The new presidential cabinet of Mnangagwa

Currently the cabinet has 22 members with a varied number of new members, some of which are just appointed. These include:

  1. Patrick Chinamasa as new Minister of Finance and Economic Planning
  2. Obert Mpofu as new Minister of Home Affairs and Culture
  3. Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance/Perence Shiri as the new Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement
  4. Lazarus Dokora still in charge of the Primary and Secondary Education portfolio
  5. David Parirenyatwa still as Health and Child Care Minister
  6. Kembo Mohadi as new Minister of Defence, Security and War Veterans
  7. Ziyambi Ziyambi as new Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
  8. Major-General Sibusiso Moyo as new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  9. Kazembe Kazembe as new Minister of Sports, Arts and Recreation
  10. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) chairperson Christopher Mutsvangwa as new Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services
  11. Mike Bimha as new Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development
  12. July Moyo (2) as new Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
  13. Sithembiso Nyoni as new Minister of Women and Youth Affairs
  14. Head of the University of Zimbabwe Geography and Environmental Science department Professor Amon Murwira as new Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Development
  15. Supa Mandiwanzira as now Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security
  16. Former National University of Science and Technology (NUST) pro-vice chancellor Professor Clever Nyathi as the new Minister of Labour and Social Welfare
  17. Joram Gumbo still as Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister
  18. Mimosa Mining Company executive chairman Mr Winston Chitando as new Minister of Mines and Mining Development
  19. Simon Khaya Moyo (3) as new Minister of Energy and Power Development
  20. Oppah Muchinguri (Kashiri) as new Environment, Water and Climate Minister
  21. Prisca Mupfumira as new Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister
  22. Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as new Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring of Government Programmes

Other ministers not in the cabinet were as follows:

  • Miriam Chikukwa (Harare), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Martin Dinha (Mashonaland Central), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Webster Shamu (Mashonaland West), Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Angeline Masuku (Bulawayo) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Monica Mutsvangwa (2) (Manicaland) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • David Musabayana (Mashonaland East) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Cain Mathema (Matabeleland North) Provincial Affairs Minister still
  • Josiah Hungwe (Masvingo) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Owen Ncube (1) (Midlands) Provincial Affairs Minister new
  • Abednico Ncube (2) superintending over Matabeleland South province
  • Chrsiopher Mushohwe remains the Minister of State for Government Scholarships in the President’s Office

And then there are six deputy ministers appointed by President Mnangagwa:

  • Terence Mukupe (Finance and Economic Development)
  • Davis Marapira (Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement)
  • Paul Mavima (Primary and Secondary Education)
  • Victor Matemadanda (War Veterans)
  • Pupurai Togarepi (Youth Affairs)
  • Joshua Malinga (Social Welfare)

The bourgeois media saw this in an interesting light. Bloomberg News quibbed that “his cabinet announcements have been dominated by loyalists to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, dashing hopes of significant change,” quoting the thoughts of the opposition People’s Democratic Party,  Tendai Biti. [1] Reuters said something similar. They noted how Mnangagwa swore in his cabinet, “giving top posts to the generals who helped his rise to power” including Air Marshall Perrance Shiri who declared that “who says military people should never be politicians? I‘m a Zimbabwean so I have every right to participate in government,” even as he kept “several faces from the Mugabe era, including Patrick Chinamasa as finance minister.” [2] The end of the article added the following quote from MDC’s Vice President Nelson Chamisa, “as far as we are concerned there was no contact whatsoever between President Mnangagwa, ZANU-PF and our party regarding the possibility of inclusion or involvement of our members in the government,” but we can’t completely. A German publication, DW, said that “Mnangagwa came under heavy criticism for recycling officials from Mugabe’s era” even as it was noted that “Mnangagwa still has important allies” in the military who he “nominated two of them to cabinet positions, further angering the public.” [3] It was also claimed that “Zimbabweans hoping that members of the opposition would be appointed to the new cabinet were ultimately disappointed with the outcome.” Other sites said that “the new Cabinet is just a collection of the old, corrupt and incompetent people who created the present economic shambles in the first place” with another saying that the new cabinet had “two senior military officials who played a central role in bringing him [Mnangagwa] to power were given key jobs.

As for The Herald, it said that “Zanu-PF, as the ruling party, is in a clear majority and therefore doesn’t require outsiders…There is no doubt peace and unity are key requirements for national development…What we don’t understand is why that noble role should be predicated on them [the opposition] getting positions in Government.” They added that “his Cabinet…includes a number of new faces, and a sprinkling of women in the interest of gender representation, and the disabled too and war veterans…it is the President’s prerogative to appoint and disappoint whoever he wants…common sense teaches us of the importance of continuity and institutional memory…let us give the new administration the benefit of the doubt.” Another opinion said the same, criticizing Jonathan Moyo (part of the pro-Mugabe G40 group) declaring at the end that the military’s coup “was not a revolution. Nor was it a subversion of a constitutional order, which is why our unique-coup-that-was-no-coup has become a global marvel” and claimed that “good times are promising to roll, and it will be for the national good.” This is a similar position to that held by the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF).

Mnangagwa declared, as quoted by PressTV, that “I have sworn in a new cabinet just to finish the term of the former president, which is a period of six to seven months. I believe with my team we will stand up to the challenge. I want them (Zimbabweans) to be united, we must grow our economy.”

This doesn’t seem to be a “moment of madness” as one article in The Herald scoffed at. Instead, it is directly planned. It is more than what the media above say it is. Using a Zimbabwean wiki and general online searching we find that:

  • 23 are Zanu-PF partisans (Mpofu [supportive of trade with China], Ziyambi,  Dokora, Parirenyatwa, Mohadi, Moyo (2), Nyoni, Gumbo,  Moyo (3), Muchinguri, Mupfumira, Mumbengegwi, Chikukwa, Dinha, Shamu, Masuku, Mutsvangwa (2), Musabayana, Mathema, Ncube (1),  Ncube  (2), Mushohwe, Marapira)
  • Six are Mnangagwa allies and/or coup plotters (Chinamasa, Moyo, Kazembe, Hungwe, Matemadanda, Shiri (supportive of land reform, participated in 2nd Congo War, and seems to have some feelings against Mugabe))
  • Four are former bourgeoisie in communications, travel, and mining, among others (Mutsvangwa (anti-Mugabe), Bimha, Makupe, Mavima)
  • Two are academics (Murwira, Nyathi)
  • One is part of mining bourgeoisie (Chitando)
  • One is part of telecom bourgeoisie (Mandiwanzira)
  • One works in the insurance and pension industry (Togarepi)
  • One is a consultant (Malinga)

This does not look like a collection of people who will help the Zimbabwean proletariat but rather one that will help the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie and their friends! Capitalism will win out here, and the cries of the oppressed will be drowned out in money, with the technocrats getting a hand in this, along with the imperialist faction of the Zanu-PF represented by the partisans. This is not something that Zimbabwe needs. Mnangagwa will hear what he wants to hear, and the “reform” of the economy will lead to ruined livelihoods as suffering increases beyond its current level.

In comes the IMF

According to the South African press, the IMF is sending officials to Zimbabwe to help it “design policies to revive the economy” with a statement that Mnangagwa “is putting in place his Cabinet and we stand ready to work closely with the country and the staff should help us to make progress in that direction.” It was also noted that Mnangagwa “appointed a new acting finance minister and announced a three-month amnesty window for the return of public funds illegally stashed abroad by individuals and companies.” The IMF is probably smiling that the Mugabe family, which the white propaganda outlet named VOA called the “Mugabe clan,” is not really in political life as directly as they once we and see an opening.

Mnangagwa claims he is aiming to “revive the economy” of Zimbabwe, at least from the mouth of his supporters, like the new minister Mutsvangwa, head of the Zimbabwe War Veterans group. This same person claimed that Mnangagwa talked with the opposition (Tsvangarai’s MDC-T) but that “the MDC, through their leader Tsvangirai, turned around and said he wanted to give him people of his choice.” It was also noted how Zimbabwean white farmers saw Mugabe’s exit as a positive and Mnangagwa’s rise seeming to benefit them, perhaps as part of push for “reform.” Likely Amnesty will cheer too. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa declared, after smearing Mugabe in typical imperialist fashion, that “Mugabe’s departure offers Zimbabwe an opportunity to make a break from its past.” [5]

Even more, the country has foreign debt that the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie in the construction industry complained about. So the IMF is in luck. Perhaps the new government will come begging to the IMF (and World Bank) for help, allowing them to shape the economy and screw over the Zimbabwean proletariat. Any attempt to do so should be strongly opposed by comrades anywhere, especially in the West.

Where do we go from here?

The Extraordinary Congress of the Zanu-PF is coming later this month. Already the “party is no longer going to have another Congress in 2019” with the upcoming Congress “expected to endorse the recall of former President Robert Mugabe and election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the First Secretary and President made by the Central Committee on November 19” and this Congress is “expected to uphold the decision by the Central Committee to expel G40 members such as former First Lady Grace Mugabe, Mr Phelekezela Mphoko, Professor Jonathan Moyo, Mr Saviour Kasukuwere, Dr Ignatius Chombo, Dr Walter Mzembi, Mr Kudzanai Chipanga, Ms Mandi Chimene, Mrs Letina Undenge and many others.” Additionally, it is “expected to discuss the state of the party, the economy and preparations for next year’s harmonised elections, including the manifesto for the polls.” The Herald added that after the coup, “the ruling party is now shifting its attention to dealing with economic challenges that are affecting the generality of the Zimbabwean population.”

The current Congress may feature Mugabe, although this is highly unlikely. It may even be time to say that the Zanu-PF is something that the Zimbabwean proletariat should abandon, but not exactly yet as Mnangagwa has only begun his term. Hopefully it is not as bad as I’ve outlined, but I am not completely optimistic in this realm whatsoever. I really am not. I can’t think of any forces that stand with the Zimbabwean proletariat. I wish for the best but will brace for the worst.

Notes

[1] Godfrey Marawanyika, “Zimbabwe President Changes Cabinet After One Day,” Bloomberg News, Dec 2, 2017.

[2] Emelia Sithole-Matarise, “Zimbabwe swears in first post-Mugabe cabinet,” Reuters, Dec 4, 2017.

[3] Cristina Krippahl (with Reuters, AFP), “Zimbabwean cabinet sworn in amid criticism,”  DW, Dec 4, 2017.

[4]  Eddie Cross, “How Mnangagwa deceived the world: Zimbabwe emerges as military junta,” BizNews, Dec 4, 2017; Key ‘coup’ leaders appointed to Zimbabwe cabinet,”

[5] Deprose Muchena, “Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe’s legacy,” Amnesty International, Dec 4, 2017.

A “corrective measure”?: Zimbabwe, Black power, and Western imperialism

From an article in The Herald titled “No Military Takeover in Zimbabwe” The article adds the following caption about this photo: “free movement of people in the Capital city as the Army calls for peace and calmness.”

Recently the bourgeois media has been up in arms over Zimbabwe. But what is it all about? What is going on? After one user asked what was going on, writing that “there is a decided lack of information, but things don’t look very good. Robert Mugabe has made significant efforts to keep Zimbabwe free of domination by Western imperialism and Western capitalism. Further information would be appreciated,” some comrades on /r/communism (obviously tarred as a “rush to defend Mugabe” by anti-communist subreddits like /r/enoughcommiespam and /r/Zimbabwe) responded by saying that “Mugabe, in this particular gistorical moment…should be defended it possible and the coup opposed at costs,” while others said that this is an “AFRICOM coup basically” and one said that “doesn’t matter who comes next. If he does not accept wall street to buy up the country pretty much, there will be a coup.”  [1] As I publish this, I read that the Zimbabwe Communist Party welcomed the military takeover by saying that it is “the result of the chaotic state of Zimbabwe as a whole and the ruling party, Zanu (PF), in particular. The extravagant lifestyles of the ruling elite contrast sharply with the extreme poverty of the majority of the Zimbabwean people.” Without knowing the full context of these statement or anything else about the Zimbabwe Communist Party (I only just heard of it), I cannot respond to this statement with any more than what I just said. I will look into the Zimbabwe Communist Party for a future update on this post, as noted at the end of this article I was going to put together anyway.

What the bourgeois media has “reported”

Let’s first give a brief overview of what the bourgeois media is claiming is happening. Al Jazeera, a Qatari pro-terroristic outlet, declared that “there is growing uncertainty in Zimbabwe…the army says this is not a military takeover…But as yet, there is no official word from the government or the Mugabe family as to their whereabouts” with South Africa’s Jacob Zuma apparently talking to Mugabe who “told him he is safe but confined to his home” and with an “apparent bid to expand the Mugabe dynasty” as they put since “President Mugabe sacked Emmerson Mnangagwa, an ally of the army, on November 8” with his wife Grace “eyeing” the position. [2] The article goes on to say that the pro-Western #ThisFlag “called for calm and the protection of all Zimbabweans following the army’s takeover of power” while Temba Mliswa, an independent member of parliament, supported the military’s moves, the African Union (AU) chief “said the political crisis in Zimbabwe “seems like a coup”,” humanitarian imperialist Amnesty International seemed to take a non-stand but would definitely cheer when Mugabe was gone, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said it hopes the situation “will not lead to unconstitutional changes of government,” and Lovemore Chinoputsa of the MDC supported the move as did the Victor Matemadanda, the leader of war veterans (Zimbabwe’s War Veterans Association) urged that “Robert Gabriel Mugabe…be recalled from his role as the president and first secretary of ZANU-PF.” Additionally, several Zanu-PF individuals were reportedly detained , the Zimbabwe reportedly “seized state TV and blocked off access to government offices,” with war veterans claiming that “Mugabe has betrayed the revolution.” Another article they published added that “Major General SB Moyo…denied that the army was carrying out a coup…[as] tanks surrounded parliamentary and presidential buildings” while claiming that “for many the first priority was to head to the banks” and noting that “critics of Mugabe” (who are Western-backed) don’t like the military because it favors Mugabe and the Zanu-PF. [3]

Other bourgeois media have described what they say is happenning. BBC held a similar line to Al Jazeera, claiming that the army’s move may “be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy,” noting that China “says it is closely watching the situation” closely, claiming that that”So this military action is the old guard reasserting its authority,” and saying that Gen Chiwenga was a friend of Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was recently “sacked” by Mugabe. [4] Anti-imperialism.org partially reviews other media outlets, noting that Mugabe and his wife are apparently “secured under house arrest,” The Guardian continues to support “the coup overwhelmingly [with] hands begin[ning] to point to british/south african collusion” while the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie complained “of political uncertainty just before coup” as claimed by the Zimbabwe Independent (opposition rag), the New York Times penning an “article in explicit support of the coup leaders…while endorsing the ascension of a 75 year old man, older than the oldest amerikan president-elect.” They added that

…the politics of peripheral states are rarely their own, and the likelihood of imperial machinations at work in the current powerplay are high. The pro-monopoly capital leanings of Mnangagwa suggest he could be supported by either the u.$. or uk…As is often said in military coups, the commander in charge has expressed vague platitudes of democracy and constitutionalism as the justification for the move, stating that civil order will be restored shortly…It is unclear what role the UN and AU is to play in this transition, but given recent threats by the UN sanction-regime which has been harassing regional governments suspected of undermining the blockade imposed over the DPRK, it is clear nothing good will come of it…The confusion caused by misinformation promoted by coup leaders, along with the imperialists in their premature victory-lap, has created a difficult scenario for getting reliable information from the country.

The Washington Post held a similar line. They bellowed that Mugabe led “the country from the triumph of its independence struggle to economic collapse,” with now, the “world’s oldest head of state becam[ing] a prisoner of the military he once commanded” and basically endorsing the coup my saying the military’s move “appears to end one of Africa’s most controversial political dynasties while raising questions about what might come next.” [5] They go on to gush that “this appears to be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and southern Africa, which have suffered from the tumult of Mugabe’s reign…the events bore all the signs of a coup…the commander of Zimbabwe’s military forces, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, made the move as a struggle over who will succeed the country’s elderly leader came to a head. Mugabe…in recent years, as Mugabe’s presidency was marred by allegations of corruption, nepotism and repression…In recent weeks, there have been signs of an increased sensitivity to criticism of the government.” One article linked to is by the Associated Press quotes the US State Department as saying that the murderous empire is “concerned by recent actions undertaken by Zimbabwe’s military forces,” calling for restraint but has been in contact with “Zimbabwe’s military [coup plotters] and foreign affairs ministry.” [6]

With Reuters saying that the military swept “into power,” CBS News declaring that “who will rule Zimbabwe should become clearer in the coming days,” and the Washington Post editorial board declaring that “his removal could “pull a once-prospering country from the ditch into which Mr. Mugabe drove it” as they endorsed the coup by saying “some reports suggest that Mr. Mnangagwa, if put in power, could reverse some of the regime’s worst mistakes…the end of Mr. Mugabe’s rule offers a fragile opportunity to rescue an African country — but only if it does not lead to the installation of another strongman.” [7] Then there’s other media, like USA Today, NPR, saying that Mugabe’s tenure recently has “been marked by human rights abuses and economic collapse” or ” international alienation and economic collapse,” others calling him a tyrant and “authoritarian.” Some in the Bloomberg News said that the coup would extend Zimbabwe’s “reign of terror” with  generals “paved the way for the dictator to be replaced by one of his henchmen” in the mind of bourgeois scholar Eli Lake, and othersclaiming that Mugabe transformed from “his transformation from a national liberation icon to an autocrat.” [8] Other media said that the coup would be opening a “door to freedom” and end “economic collapse.”

What does Zimbabwe’s state media say?

They quote a statement by the Zanu-PF’s Youth Executive League saying that “we will not sit idly and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against the legitimate and popularly elected leader…Robert Gabriel Mugabe.” They add that “we are, however, totally against the bulk of the press statement issued by General Chiwenga yesterday” and believe that this is not a view held by the whole military. They end by saying that “it is our country and future at stake and we will not let any individual military man interfere with the leader of the party and legitimately voted President of this country Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe…We, therefore, call upon all the youth of Zimbabwe regardless of their political affiliation, race, gender or creed to stand up and be counted when the time comes.” A report seemingly indicate that there is “business as usual” in Haare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Other articles showed that the electoral act in the country will soon be amended, that some support (like the war vets) the military’s position while opposing the views of the Zanu-PF’s Youth Executive League. Then they  reprint a speech by the Zimbabwean military on national tv, the one often quoted by bourgeois media. It should be quoted in full here (bolding is my emphasis with two links added in the beginning):

Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level. Firstly, we wish to assure the nation that His Excellency, The President, of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R.G. Mugabe and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice. As soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect that the situation will return to normalcy. To the civil servants, as you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging which is place in the political sphere to the civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that. To the judiciary, the measures underway are intended to ensure that, as an independent arm of the State, you are able to exercise your independent authority without fear of being obstructed as has been the case with this group of individuals. To our Members of Parliament, your legislative role is of paramount importance for peace and stability in this country and it is our desire that a dispensation is created that allows you to serve your respective political constituencies according to democratic tenets. To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual. Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice. To political parties, we urge you to discourage your members from engaging in violent behaviour. To the youths, we call upon you to realise that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the ethos and values of this great nation. To all Churches and religious organisations in Zimbabwe, we call upon you and your congregations to pray for our country and preach the gospel of love, peace, unity and development. To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of Government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict. We call upon all the war veterans to play a positive role in ensuring peace, stability and unity in the country. To members of the Defence Forces, all leave is cancelled and you are all to return to your barracks with immediate effect. To our respected traditional leaders, you are the custodians of our culture, customs, traditions and heritage and we request you to provide leadership and direction to your communities for the sake of unity and development in our country. To the other Security Services, we urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response. To the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly. Thank you.

So other than not calling this a military coup, they seem to be calling for allies across Zimbabwean society, including those in the defense forces, and trying to “restore order” by removing the “bad people” from the government, then threatening anyone that challenges their attempt for order. This should make anyone wary, but it seems to sound like an intra-party struggle which is why the “opposition” is not happy.

Then there’s a reprinted speech by General Chiwenga. It is as follows with bolding as needed on certain aspects:

Let us begin by quoting the Constitution of this Country particularly the preamble which speaks of “Exalting and extolling the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles and honouring our forebears and compatriots who toiled for the progress of our country”. It is with humility and a heavy heart that we come before you to pronounce the indisputable reality that there is instability in Zanu-PF today and as a result anxiety in the country at large. Zimbabwe’s history is hinged on the ideals of the revolution dating back to the First Chimurenga where thousands of people perished. Zanu-PF is the political Party that waged the Second Chimurenga for our independence; the struggle that caused the loss of over 50 thousand lives of our people; the struggle in which many Zimbabweans, in one way or the other, sacrificed and contributed immensely for our liberation. Many of these gallant fighters still live-on with the spirited hope of seeing a prosperous Zimbabwe but also the hope of leaving behind inheritance and legacy for posterity. It is pertinent to restate that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces remain the major stockholder in respect to the gains of the liberation struggle and when these are threatened we are obliged to take corrective measures. Clearly, Zanu-PF having mainly been the only Party that has ruled this country since Independence, it had become a household name to most Zimbabweans across political divide. Therefore, it is common cause that any instability within the Party naturally impacts on their social, political and economic lives, accordingly, there is distress, trepidation and despondence within the nation. Our peace-loving people who have stood by their Government and endured some of the most trying social and economic conditions ever experienced are extremely disturbed by what is happening within the ranks of the national revolutionary Party. What is obtaining in the revolutionary Party is a direct result of the machinations of counter revolutionaries who have infiltrated the Party and whose agenda is to destroy it from within. It is saddening to see our revolution being hijacked by agents of our erstwhile enemies who are now at the brink of returning our country to foreign domination against which so many of our people perished. The famous slogan espoused by His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe: “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again” is being seriously challenged by counter revolutionary infiltrators who are now effectively influencing the direction of the Party. It is our strong and deeply considered position that if drastic action is not taken immediately, our beloved country Zimbabwe is definitely headed to becoming a neo-colony again. The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu-PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern to us in the Defence Forces. As a result of squabbling within the ranks of Zanu-PF, there has been no meaningful development in the country for the past 5 years. The resultant economic impasse has ushered-in more challenges to the Zimbabwean populace such as cash shortages and rising commodities prices. Our revolutionary path is replete with conduct and rebellion by people who have attempted to destroy the revolution from within. The formation of FROLIZI, the attempt to remove the late Cde Chitepo from his position of Chairman at the Mumbwa bogus Congress in 1973, the Nhari-Badza rebellion, Ndabaningi Sithole rebellion soon after the death of Cde Chitepo, the Vashandi 1 and 2 as well as the rebellion that led to the death of the late ZIPRA Commander, Cde Alfred Nikita Mangena, among others are cases in point. Therefore, the current shenanigans by people who do not share the same liberation history of Zanu-PF Party are not a surprise to us. But, what is significant to us and the generality of Zimbabweans is to remember that all these rebellions were defused by the military, but at no point did the military usurp power. We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting out revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in. ZANU PF’s standing political virtues are a product of faithful adherence to the founding values, decorum, discipline and revolutionary protocol in the ruling Party. Party orders were strictly adhered to and whatever differences existed, they were resolved amicably and in the ruling Party’s closet. Unfortunately since the turn of 2015, Zanu-PF’s traditional protocol and procedures have been changed with a lot of gossiping, backbiting and public chastisement being the order of the day. Indeed the Party is undoing its legacy built over the years. While our people may be persuaded to take what is going on in Zanu-PF as internal political matters in that Party, the truth remains that Zanu-PF’s conduct and behaviour as a ruling Party has a direct impact on the lives of every citizen; hence all of us regardless of political affiliation are affected by the Party’s manner of doing business. From a security point of view we cannot ignore the experiences of countries such as Somalia, DRC, Central Africa Republic and many others in our region where minor political differences degenerated into serious conflict that had decimated the social, political and economic security of ordinary people. Section 212 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe mandates the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold this Constitution. Among other security threats that are coming out of what is obtaining in Zanu-PF are there reckless utterances by politicians denigrating the military which are causing despondency within the rank and file. Further, we not with concern the attempts by some politicians to drive a wedge between the security services for their own selfish interests. This is unacceptable. We take great exception to this behaviour. There is only one Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency The President, Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde R. G. Mugabe. The military in an institution whose roles cut across the wider spectrum of Government support functions in the form of Military Aid to Civil Power and Military Aid to Civil Ministries, which are roles derived from Defence Instruments. Therefore we want to state here and now that the history of our revolution cannot be rewritten by those who have not been part of it. Having said that we strongly urge the Party: To stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling Party denigrating the military which is causing alarm and despondency within the rank and file. The current purging of which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background must stop forthwith. The known counter revolutionary elements who have fermented the current instability in the Party must be exposed and fished out. As the Party goes for the Extra-Ordinary Congress, must go with equal opportunity to exercise their democratic rights. Comrades and friends, ladies and gentlemen, we remain committed to protecting our legacy and those bent on high-jacking the revolution will not be allowed to do so. Further, we must understand that the freedoms that we enjoy today were as a result of supreme sacrifice by some of our country men and women and this must not be taken for granted. Let us remove this air of uncertainty and allow Zimbabweans to enjoy their freedoms and rights as enshrined in the national Constitution.

Along with the attacks on Zanu-PF policies for the past few years, what he is saying again seems to indicate this is an intra-party struggle, specifically to rid “traitorous” elements from the Zanu-PF. Does that mean they oppose Mugabe sacking Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa? Even Liberation News of the Party of Socialism and Liberation is scratching their heads about what is happening (although their article on this is a great read). After all, he has, along with other political players “positioning themselves for the day Mugabe either steps down or dies,” with the former reportedly envisioning

“cooperating with Tsvangirai to lead a transitional government for five years with the tacit backing of some of Zimbabwe’s military and Britain. This unity government would pursue a new relationship with thousands of white farmers who were chased off in violent seizures of land approved by Mugabe in the early 2000s. The farmers would be compensated and reintegrated…Tsvangirai, a 65-year-old former union leader who enjoys broad popular support, told Reuters in an interview in June he would not rule out a coalition with political opponents, such as Mnangagwa…According to the intelligence reports, Mugabe got wind of Mnangagwa’s ideas about white farmers earlier this year…The intelligence reports say that some of Mugabe’s army generals are starting to swallow their disdain for Tsvangirai, who, as a former union leader rather than liberation veteran, has never commanded the respect of the military…The tipping point came in 2000 when Mugabe approved radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4,000 white-owned commercial farms…The tipping point came in 2000 when Mugabe approved radical land reforms that encouraged veterans from the fight for liberation to occupy some 4,000 white-owned commercial farms…According to the intelligence files, Mnangagwa’s overtures to Tsvangirai and white farmers became apparent in early 2015 amid bitter strife within the ZANU-PF party…According to the intelligence reports, Mutsvangwa is a middleman between various parties involved in a possible coalition government…Senior figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF…have acknowledged…that white farmers should be compensated for their losses two decades ago, although talks with farmers have yet to produce any major breakthrough” [9]

How all this matters to

I’ve written before on this blog about how Zimbabwe is under attack, meaning that it is a duty of comrades to engage in international solidarity with these states and any others that stand “against the existing social and political order of things.” I also wrote about how “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,” and in the process he did not go to “the US asking for help to fight the white colonists.” I also noted how The Herald honored 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,” that Zimbabwe was one of the countries at the conference on Palestine in Tehran with Jacob Francis Mudenda, the current Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly, condemning “Zionist Israel for construction of illegal settlements, [and] praised the role of Iran in the region, and reaffirmed Zimbabwe’s support for Palestine until it turned “into a full-fledged and established country.”” With Trump’s administration, he acts as a “bully for Western capitalists to gain new markets,” with Zimbabwe remaining “under imperialist assault,” continuing what happened under Obama’s administration. This isn’t a surprise since “enemies” of empire with a leader who described Fidel Castro’s death as the lose of a “farewell revolutionary [saying]…We shall always remember you as our own in the same way as Cubans will do so and that is the spirit that brings me and my delegation here” and allowing Mengistu to flee into exile there. Finally, in my imagined scenario for Cuba, I noted how NED described Zimbabwe (along with Burma, DPRK, and Cuba) as a “harsh dictatorship” which is laughable.

But there is more to this story. Already we know that every day the bourgeois media in the West “concocts another story” about the “faults” of Mugabe with human rights imperialist orgs joining in, with the “revolutionary state of Zimbabwe is rocked by political turmoil because the neoliberal opposition leads to polarization, not due to the policies of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party.” Back in February I further noted that Zimbabwe’s history dates back to years before “the first White imperialist would be out of their womb” and that various societies “constituted a developed (and advanced) Zimbabwean culture lasted a total of a thousand years” while by 1889,

the British South African Company came to Zimbabwe, later naming it “Rhodesia” after British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Not only did this name override the indigenous name of Zimbabwe…but it showed that the age of imperialist exploitation was at hand…This exploitation went beyond the erasure of culture. In the economy of Southern Africa and Rhodesia under British colonialism, Africans were treated as cheap labor…In the years that followed, the British South African Company continued to control the British colony of Rhodesia…[by 1923] with the settlers with official power, the British monarch in the colony itself [was]…represented by the governor and there were “British errand boys” who lived as White settlers…the “rich and fertile land” was occupied by White settlers and the “sandy, semi-dry land” given to Black Africans…[by] 1957, a chapter of African National Congress (ANC) organized in the country, led by Joshua Nkomo, with the chapter joining the ANC in South Africa…In the 1960s, the anti-colonial struggle in Zimbabwe heated up…[a] conflict between Zapu and Zanu erupted. At times it became violent. While some may be included to do so, it is wrong to discount the Zanu group wholesale…Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola, supported the guerillas with training areas and pitched camps…As a result of Chinese support, Zanu was transformed from a splinter organization into a full-fledged participant of the liberation struggle…With financial interests in White-ruled Africa, Africans continued to be oppressed by about two hundred British firms in companies led by a small “White group of capitalists””

In the next article of the series I noted how during the revolutionary struggle in Zimbabwe, “Zapu and the ANC were close to the Soviet Union, Zanu was supported by Beijing, allowing the revolutionary group to prosecute a war of liberation, with Chinese aid as a contributing factor to victory.” By 1974, Sithole was pushed out of the leadership, “with Mugabe put in his place, and fully taking control of Zanu after the death of Herbert Chitepo in 1975.” The rest is history:

…Mugabe, unlike Nkomo, was a radical nationalist and he opposed settlement with the White settler government and that he remained suspicious of numerous commanders of the armed military wing, ZANLA…In 1979, the liberation war, militarily at least, seemed to be coming to an end…Mugabe was very open to the changes to come in the future….In 1979, when military victory seemed in view, two new African leaders betrayed the Zimbabwean liberation struggle. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Samora Machel of Mozambique…demanded that Mugabe’s Zanu’s guerrillas forces…could not use their countries as bases to launch attacks on the UDI government. This forced Mugabe to the negotiating table. If these liberation forces had been allowed to win militarily, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe would have been a different country…the Lancaster Agreement…signed on December 17, 1979…include[d a] phased British withdrawal, but the nation was reverted to colonial status before it was declared independent in April 1980…In April 1980, in elections allowed under the Lancaster Agreement, Mugabe became the Prime Minister of the free nation, the Republic of Zimbabwe…Surviving two assassination attempts by White Zimbabweans during the campaign, since he seemed “terrifying” due to his comments during the war and Marxist outlook, he took more a conciliatory approach once in office…In Zimbabwe, such neocolonialism was put in place in a manner which hurt the well-being of the populace. During Mugabe’s time as prime minister of Zimbabwe, he lived in highly fortified residences, and Zimbabwe received Western aid in hopes of pacifying it…Mugabe and the Zanu-PF did not do this willingly. For one, as 100,000 White settlers remained in the country, they commanded the “commerce, finance, industry, mining, and large-scale agriculture” industries, Mugabe tried to create a socially democratic state, rather than a socialist one, helping the Chinese gain markets for their companies…there was a “real threat of a right-wing military coup by the White minority still in Zimbabwe”…This cozying up to the West…led to military material from Europeans going to the new independent government…by the 1990s, the situation in Zimbabwe was changing…As a government that was short on cash, the Zanu-PF government began an IMF Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP)…leading to a program of austerity which hurt the populace for years to come, while also weakening the government…This IMF prescribed program, lasting from 1991 to 1995, resulted in scarce foreign exchange, destruction of domestic industry, many consumer goods became unobtainable, and thousands of civil servants fired, but Mugabe was arguably forced into this position

In the next article in my series on Zimbabwe, I commented on how starting in 1966 the “neo-colonial chains, of the post-independence period, began to be broken” wth the Zanu-PF government moving away from ESAP. By 1997 the

chains holding Zimbabwe to Britain were completely snapped. The government began to seize land owned by a “handful of white farmers”…After failing to undertake the IMF’s “reforms” as quickly as they wanted, the assurances the British government made in 1979…were rejected by the New Labour government controlled by Tony Blair…In 1998, Zimbabwe snubbed the Western capitalists yet again. With his land program, resistance to IMF programs by adopting Black nationalist economic measures hostile to the West, and support for the new government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)…the West was steaming…By 1999, opposition formed from angry White farmers whose land was expropriated and redistributed justly to Black families. This included the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC…The boldness of the Zimbabwean government led to anger from Western capitalist governments and the capitalist class for years to come…While Mugabe is clearly an African nationalist not a doctrinaire Marxist and the policies of Zanu-PF are socially democratic, the Western capitalists would not relent in their assault…The redistribution of White farms to the Zimbabwean populace, even as every White farmer was allowed to control individual, single farms…was begun in a way that shocked Western capitalists…The White farmers who used their money and wealth to try and stop the Zanu-PF in the ownership of natural resources by the Zimbabwean populace, and reclaiming White land for indigenous Black farmers, were not alone…[in the mid-2000s] the Zimbabwean parliament passed a law to move the fast-track land redistribution effort forward. The law, which nationalized land that had been redistributed…was a victory for Black nationalism…[in 2009 with power-sharing with the MDC,] Mugabe still refused Western demands he “step aside,” knowing that it would let neo-colonialism back into the country…six years later [in 2016], Zimbabwe got past this hurdle and the government nationalized the mines…even a Chinese company challenged [this], showing that the country is not a “colony” of China

In my final article in my series on Zimbabwe I noted how in 2013 there was an election where the “chains of neo-colonialism were broken” with Black nationalism again victorious with proposals including one that “prevented legal challenges to the land redistribution program” approved by a wide margin, along with a new Constitution for the Republic of Zimbabwe which is not only

socially democratic, but it calls for good governance, national unity, fostering (and respecting) fundamental rights, fair and “Pan-African” foreign policy. Additionally, it calls for rapid and equitable development, empowerment, food security, “gender balance,” and fair regional representation…It declares the country will help children, youth, elderly, and people with disabilities, favoring vets of the liberation struggle, and have reasonable work and labor policies. The Constitution also says there will be promotion of free and gender equal education, provision of social welfare, legal aid, and so on. It…says that every person has a right to life, meaning that there are limits on the death penalty, and right of personal liberty. The document also outlines rights of arrested persons, the right to dignity, the right to personal security, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association, and freedom of conscience. Additionally, it talks about the expanse of labor rights, certain property rights, environmental rights, right to pension benefits, and a right to education. Importantly, to protect it from imperialist subversion, it says that there will limits on rights, especially during a public emergency. One can say Zimbabwe is a “dictatorship” all they want, but this Constitution shows that such claims are baloney since this document is many times more progressive than the guarantees of [the US Constitution]

I also wrote about a Zanu-PF manifesto that argued in favor of “land reform programme and other empowerment policies,” along with “party promises to deepen unity, security, independence, and respect for liberation,”  saying they will not be “stopped by foreign imperialists,” that the state should be used as a “”revolutionary instrument” to reclaim land from White settlers and redistribute it to the Black populace,” and that the “Zanu-PF, representing the interests of the country’s national bourgeoisie, including Black farmers and wealthy Black investors, continued to look to China.” I added that

Mugabe said that he wanted to expand his “indigenization” policy, while China remained a major international supporter of the country…there was even a specific effort to warn South Africa to not emulate Zimbabwe’s form of land reform…Grace [Mugabe, Robert Mugabe’s wife] has a prominent place in the ZanuPF, which is good to fight off such pathetic assertions by the Western media and shows that she is not sitting on the sidelines…Ewan Mawaire’s “ThisFlag” movement…is clearly Western-backed and another form of imperial destablization…the two countries [China and Zimbabwe] still have very friendly relations…2017, has already been eventful for Zimbabwe. For one, the IMF declared that more reforms were needed and Tsvangirai…claimed to look “beyond Mugabe,” whatever that means…there was a push for a more united Zanu-PF…Zanu-PF is focusing on the 2018 elections…it should concern people little if Mugabe has a person to continue strong black nationalism and anti-imperialism after he passes from this world, or not…Let us look…to see the road ahead to the 2018 elections as what lies in store for Zimbabwe under the Trump Administration not known

Now it has been nine months since I wrote that article. I won’t venture to summarize what has happened in the nine months since I wrote my last piece. However, I will say that it seems that a power struggle is going on in Zimbabwe without a doubt. It does not seem to be a coup at this time. I don’t say that because I believe in the coup plotters and I definitely do not believe the narrative pushed by the bourgeois media. I stand by what I wrote in the past on this subject and what I wrote on reddit last month, with links removed:

“I know that Zimbabwe has a black bourgeoisie and that the Zanu-PF is not a communist party. However, Mugabe (and the Zanu-PF) has served as a powerful force to resist Western imperialism, especially with his land redistribution program which assisted the black masses in Zimbabwe. Lest us not forget that the Chinese strongly support Zimbabwe due to their history of supporting the Zanu-PF (as did the Cubans) during the revolt against the British colonial oppressors, while the Zapu-PF were supported by the Soviets. By the later 1990s, the neo-colonial chains in Zimbabwe were finally broken which the government had felt forced to keep, and/or went along with, in the aftermath of independence. At this current time, I think supporting the Zanu-PF is the best course of action even as the country is only socially democratic and not socialist.”

Adding to that, I do not think that the black bourgeoisie are souring on Mugabe as some seem to indicate. I think Mugabe even with his age is wise and a master politician to put it lightly. He is not a socialist or a Marxist anymore. However, without him or the Zanu-PF then Western capitalists would be smiling with glee. We can be critical of Zimbabwe as it is socially democratic but we should not abandon our solidarity with the Zimbabwean people or in this case the Zimbabwean government which is standing against Western imperialism and is duly elected by the populace. In coming days, I plan to, at some point, write an update of this article after it is clear if a coup took place or if it is an intra-party struggle within the Zanu-PF which seems more likely than not.

 

Notes

[1] Others wrote that “the main opposition within the country…isnt super involved in this…this seems to be more an internal power struggle within the ZANU-PF. The army has said before that they wouldn’t allow anyone who didn’t take part in the revolution war itself to lead the country next…I am more curious about if the accusations against the VP hold water…Whatever disagreements exist, its clear that the overwhelming majority of the people in Zimbabwe love their revolution.”

[2] Al Jazeera, “Zimbabwe: What’s happening?,” accessed Nov 15, 2017.

[3] Al Jazeera, “Zimbabwe army takes control but denies coup,” Nov 15, 2017.

[4] BBC News, “Zimbabwe crisis: Army takes over, says Mugabe is safe,” Nov 15, 2017.

[5] In Zimbabwe, an anxious wait to see if Mugabe will return after military takeover,” Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2017.

The Latest: Zimbabwe youth leader apologizes to army leaders,” Nov 15, 2017.

[7] Ed Cropley and Cris Chinaka, “Eyes on the ‘Crocodile’ as Zimbabwe Military Sweeps to Power,” Reuters (reprinted in US News & World Report), Nov 15, 2017; CBS News/AP, “U.S. monitoring “fluid” situation in Zimbabwe,” Nov 15, 2017; Washington Post Editorial Board, “What happens in Zimbabwe without Mugabe in power?,” Washington Post, Nov 15, 2017; Godwin Mangudya, “Zimbabwe grapples with new reality after military sidelines longtime President Robert Mugabe,” USA Today, Nov 15, 2017; Edyer Peralta,”Robert Mugabe: A Legacy Of Tyrannical Rule, Economic Ruin And International Isolation,” NPR, Nov 15, 2017; Robyn Dixon, “Zimbabwe military warns it will act against those who do not cooperate,” LA Times, Nov 15, 2017.

[8] Eli Lake, “A Half-Hearted Coup, Extending Zimbabwe’s Reign of Terror,” Bloomberg View, Nov 15, 2017; Leonid Bershidsky, “Zimbabwe’s Coup Is Nothing to Celebrate,” Bloomberg View, Nov 15, 2017; Mxolisi Ncube and Ryan Lenora Brown, “Amid apparent coup, Zimbabwe ponders a future without Mugabe,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov 15, 2017; Geoffrey York, “The Globe in Zimbabwe: End of Mugabe’s 37-year rule opens door to freedom,” The Globe and Mail, Nov 15, 2017; “Zimbabwe: Here’s what’s going on between President Robert Mugabe and the military,” ABC News, Nov 15, 2017; Todd Moss and Jeffrey Smith, “Robert Mugabe’s Inner Circle Implodes,” The Atlantic, Nov 15, 2017; Alastair Jamieson, “Zimbabwe army has Robert Mugabe in custody and seizes state TV,” NBC News, Nov 15, 2017; Jason Burke, “Zimbabwe army has Robert Mugabe in custody and seizes state TV,” The Guardian, Nov 15, 2017; Explosions, military tanks and soldiers on streets of Zimbabwe put Mugabe’s rule in doubt,” Washington Times, Nov 14, 2017; Tara John, “Rumors of a Coup Are Circling Around Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Here’s What We Know,” Time, Nov 14, 2017. The CBS/AP report quoted the US State Department as saying that “the United States does not take sides in matters of internal Zimbabwean politics and does not condone military intervention in political processes,” which is utter BS as anyone knows.

[9] Joe Brock and Ed Cropley, “Behind the scenes, Zimbabwe politicians plot post-Mugabe reforms,” Reuters, Sept 5, 2017.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Russians and Chinese

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

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

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

There is more to say than this short section, but this is meant as a starting point on this topic since the Russian and Chinese governments are both not socialist. The capitalist roaders, as Mao Zedong described them, have taken power and hold of the Communist Party of China, basically “bourgeoisie inside the party” as some describe it, meaning that there should be struggle inside and outside the Communist Party of China as it currently stands. Russia, unlike China, has no Communist Party leading it, but rather a nationalist party that is opposed to US imperialism since they cannot enter into the club of imperialists as the Western capitalist centers of power would find it utterly odious. As one article put it recently, US policy toward Russia has remained unchanged because US imperial policy is “driven by Wall Street’s drive for profits, not the good or bad wishes of individual politicians.”

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

Steps forward and concluding thoughts

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

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

The existence of the DPRK is a breath of fresh air. It shows that a “greater collective human spirit” and more satisfaction can come from socialism than capitalism, that they are becoming a “powerful socialist nation” which is steadfast in their “independent spirit.” [34] They do not want war. While bourgeois experts bemoan the travel ban of US citizens to the DPRK, as it will be harder to subvert socialist society there, perhaps this can be taken as an opportunity for more self-development as Trumpian racism and “economic nationalism” embodies the murderous empire. [35] Why not counter the demonization, begun with an illegal war in 1950 (and even earlier since the DPRK’s formation in 1948) which destroyed much of the country, with continued strengthening of universal and state-funded education, a strong healthcare system, and expanding alliances internationally from a few African countries to the whole continent? Those decisions are ultimately up to the people of the DPRK and their elected leadership.

I end with a quote from self-declared Black nationalist Robert F. Williams before his escape from the spotlight after returning to the U.S. in 1971, from exile. Many of the words of his 1964 speech, reprinted in his publication, The Crusader, still ring true today. The DPRK has developed, as they describe it, a hydrogen bomb which should be seen as a necessity under current conditions, celebrated as an achievement by an oppressed people, by people of color. Williams said, in part, words which are optimistic but are worth recalling:

“…We, the captive people of the free world of racist America, support the right of all oppressed people to meet violence with violence. We resolutely support the right of all people to self determination…the U.S. Government has sunken to the level of devil of the world…the anti-racist, anti-imperialist forces of the socialist camp are growing more powerful everyday…We believe in the right of armed struggle. We believe in the people’s right to defend themselves…We proudly hail the nuclear achievements of the staunch defenders of the oppressed, our Chinese brothers, in developing weapons for self-defense against nuclear intimidation by the racist USA. Our people, who have for many generations been defenseless victims of monopolized white supremacy terror, consider the Chinese bomb, a people’s bomb, a freedom bomb of the oppressed.”

Notes

[1] Robin Wright, “Donald Trump’s War Doctrine Débuts, at the U.N.,” The New Yorker, Sept. 19, 2017; Margaret Talev and Nick Wadhams, “Trump Bluntly Threatens to Wipe Out North Korea in UN Debut,” Bloomberg News, Sept. 19, 2017; David Rothkopf, “Trump’s first speech to the United Nations was a disastrous, nationalistic flop,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta, “Trump Soft-Soaps the U.N. Of Course, It Was Only Day 1. . .,” New York Times, Sept. 18, 2017; David Ignatius, “The most surprising thing about Trump’s U.N. speech,” Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2017; AAP, “’Shameless and ignorant’: World stunned after Trump’s fiery speech,” SBS, Sept. 19, 2017; Jeffrey Rodack, “Conservatives Welcome Trump’s ‘Blunt’ Speech to the UN,” Newsmax, Sept. 19, 2017; Abbie Bennett, “Franklin Graham says Trump’s speech was ‘one of the best ever’ at the UN,” The News & Observer, Sept. 19, 2017; Joseph D. Lyons, “Ivanka Praises Trump’s UNGA Speech Despite Criticism From Everyone Else,” Bustle, Sept. 19, 2017. Some, like George Eaton of The New Statesman, even argued that “Trump’s words merely provide further justification for its nuclear weapons programme,” while they predictably followed the bourgeois media in condemning the country’s government, a point which has validity. Recently, a British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, quoted a reported “defector” from the DPRK, Hee Yeon Lim, to tell a wild story of executions, sex slavery, luxury, bribery, privilege, and torture, which undoubtedly a total lie, appended with the call for nuclear weapons to be brought back to south Korea!

[2] Jet Magazine, “Dennis Rodman’s dad had 27 kids and runs bar in the Philippines,” Sept. 23, 1996; Kurt Hean, “Just for the record, Rodman only has 28 siblings,” NBC Sports, Aug. 15, 2011; AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012.

[3] AP, “NBA Hall of famer Dennis Rodman finally meets his father after 42 years,” CBS News, Jul. 19, 2012; Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013.

[4] Bruce Newman, “Black, White—and Gray,” Sports Illustrated, May 2, 1988; NBA profile, “Dennis Rodman,” accessed Sept. 14, 2017; Mike Puma, “Rodman, King or Queen of Rebounds?,” ESPN.com, Feb. 21, 2006.

[5] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; Dave Hannigan, “The top 10 Dennis Rodman moments,” The Times, Jan. 8, 2006; Espn.com, “Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin into Hall,” Apr. 5, 2011; Jeanette Settembre, “Former NBA star Dennis Rodman to launch his own Bad Boy vodka brand,” New York Daily News, Jul. 12, 2013; Megan Masters and Aly Weisman, “Dennis Rodman Rebounds Back to Rehab,” E! News, May 3, 2009; Steve Forrest, “Dennis Rodman checks into alcohol rehab after N. Korea trip,” CNN, Jan. 19, 2014; Stephen Smith, “Dennis Rodman in debt, faces possible jail time,” CBS News, Mar. 28, 2012; TMZ, “Boozy Dennis Rodman Booted from Restaurant,” Jan. 10, 2010; CBS News/AP, “Rodman pleads guilty to DUI,” CBS News, Jul. 28, 2000; Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman arrested in L.A.,” Reuters, May 1, 2008; AP, “Police arrest Rodman after report of dispute at hotel,” May 1, 2008; People Staff, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest in domestic assault,” People magazine, Jun 25, 2008; AP, “Dennis Rodman pleads no contest to DUI,” USA Today, Apr. 21, 2004; James Queally, “Dennis Rodman facing criminal charges in July hit-and run, prosecutors say,” LA Times, Nov. 21, 2016

[6] Shaun Powell, “A long way from home,” Sports on Earth, Mar. 22, 2013; WEMM, “Rodman to strip for PETA,” Contactmusic.com, Dec. 22, 2004; Pay Owen, “Dennis Rodman at the Vatican: ‘I want to be anywhere in the world I’m needed,’” The Guardian, Mar. 13, 2013; Sophie Tatum, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” CNN, Jul. 24, 2015; Adam B. Lerner, “Dennis Rodman endorses Trump for President,” July 24, 2015.

[7] Michael Parenti, God and His Demons (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2010), 60-62, 77, 95, 131-132, 135, 139, 143, 147.

[8] Kranz Lidz, “Dennis Rodman,” Sports Illustrated, Jul. 8, 2013.

[9] David K. Li, “Dennis Rodman’s ranting saved me from North Korean gulag,” NY Post, May 2, 2016. Bae later claimed that Rodman’s drunken ranting had brought international attention to his plight, leading to his release back into the world of Western capitalism.

[10] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; Alan Dulz, “Dennis Rodman to North Korea: ‘I come in peace,’” CNN, Feb. 27, 2013; Johee Cho, “Rodman worms his way into Kim Jong Un meeting,” ABC News, Feb. 28, 2013; Justin Rocket Silverman, “Vice finale tracks Rodman’s strange days in North Korea,” New York Daily News, May 21, 2013.

[11] Politico, “Donald Trump praises ‘smart’ Dennis Rodman North Korea trip,” Mar. 4, 2013.

[12] Lynn Zinser, “Tensions Rising with North Korea, but Dennis Rodman is there,” NY Times, Feb. 26, 2013; IBT staff report, “Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un chat courtside at Pyongyang Basketball Game,” International Business Times, Feb. 28, 2013; ROK Drop, “Ric Flair Describes How Muhammad Ali Told Off North Korean Officials,” Jun 8, 2016; Austin Ramzy, “Muhammad Ali in Pyongyang: A Little Less Love than Rodman,” Time magazine, Mar. 3, 2013; Ronald Kirk, “Muhammad Ali At N. Korea Sports Festival — Unlike Rodman, He Spurned Regime,” Forbes, Jun 4, 2016.

[13] Josh Lewis, “North Korea: Reality vs. the world according to Dennis Rodman,” CNN, Sept. 10, 2013; James Pearson and Megha Rajagopolan, “Rodman returns to Pyongyang but says won’t bring back jailed American,” Reuters, Sept. 2, 2013; Caitlin McDewitt, “Rodman; Kim Jong Un is ‘a good dad,’” Politico, Sept. 9, 2013; Evan McMurry, “Dennis Rodman to train North Korean Olympic Basketball Team,” Medialite, Sept. 9, 2013; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017.

[14] AFP, “Rodman heading back to N Korea to Train Basketball Team,” Newsmax, Dec. 4, 2013; RTE, “Dennis Rodman Departs for North Korea for basketball exhibitions,” Jan. 6, 2014; Kurt Helin, “Dennis Rodman still planning exhibition game in North Korea with former NBA players,” NBC Sports, Nov. 22, 2013; News Desk 2, “Dennis Rodman announces basketball diplomacy for upcoming games in North Korea,” the Florida News Journal, Jan. 6, 2014; AP, “Dennis Rodman: ‘I had been been drinking,’” ESPN, Jan. 9, 2014; “Today FM’s Matt Cooper is in North Korea with Dennis Rodman,” thejournal.ie, Jan. 6, 2014.

[15] Fox News, “Feds reportedly investigating Rodman for violating sanctions against N. Korea,” Jan. 25, 2014; Hugh Armitage, “Kim Jong-Un, Dennis Rodman film planned by Ride Alans director Tim Story,” Digital Spy, Feb. 24, 2014; Tatlana Siegel, “Dennis Rodman North Korea Mission to Become Fox Movie (Exclusive),” The Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 23, 2014.

[16] Matt Rivers, Will Ripley, and Joshua Berlinger, “Dennis Rodman hopes to ‘something pretty positive’ in North Korea,” CNN, Jun. 13, 2017; Anna Fifield, “Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. Was he sent by Trump?,” Washington Post, Jun 13, 2017.

[17] AFP and staff writers, “Dennis Rodman gives North Korean minister a copy of Donald Trump’s the Art of the Deal,” news.com.au, Jun 10, 2017.

[18] Tony Schwartz, “I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past,” Washington Post, May 16, 2017; Jeremy Greenfield, “10 Things You Learn Reading Donald Trump’s ‘The Art of the Deal,’” The Street, Sept. 16, 2015; Josh Barra, “10 things I learned about Donald Trump in ‘The Art of the Deal,’” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2015; Richard Feloni, “Donald Trump’s core business philosophy from his best-selling 1987 book ‘The Art of the Deal,’” Business Insider, Jun 6, 2015.

[19] Catherine Thorbecke, “Dennis Rodman speaks out about his visit to North Korea,” ABC News, Jun 23, 2017.

[20] New York Daily News, “Dennis Rodman praises Kim Jong Un for modernizing North Korea,” Aug. 30, 2017.

[21] DuJour magazine, “Candid moments with Dennis Rodman,” Fall 2017 edition, p. 58. He also says that citizens kind and live lives through Kim Jong-Un; Eric Wilson, “Us Weekly, for a Lot Fewer of Us,” New York Times, Aug. 8, 2012; Jane L. Levere, “Two Luxury Names Expand Collaboration,” New York Times, Aug. 11, 2014; Katja Presnal, “Lifestyle: New Luxury Lifestyle Magazine DuJour,” Skimbaco, Sept. 9, 2012; Robert Channick, “DuJour magazine on the menu for those with the most money in Chicago, U.S.,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 10, 2012.

[22] Reuters Staff, “Dennis Rodman talks of skiing friendship with Kim Jong Un,” Reuters, Sept. 6, 2017.

[23] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[24] Michael Ellemean, “North Korea’s Hwasong-12 Launch: A Disturbing Development,” 38 North, Aug. 30, 2017; “DPRK Nuclear Weapons Institute on Successful test of H-Bomb for ICBM,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept. 4, 2017; David F. Sanger and Cahoe Sang-Hun, “U.S. Urges Fuel Cutoff for North Korea, Saying It’s ‘Begging For War,’” NY Times, Sept. 4, 2017; BBC News, “North Korea crisis: US seeks Kim Jong-Un asset freeze,” Sept. 7, 2017; Al Jazeera, “US: N Korea to be ‘destroyed’ if behaviour continues,” Sept. 18, 2017; Jon Schwartz, “North Korea says it might negotiate on nuclear weapons. But the Washington Post isn’t reporting that,” The Intercept, Sept. 25, 2017; “U.S. dismisses immediate talks with N. Korea,” Yonhap News, Sept. 6, 2017; David Tweed, “Trump’s olive branch to North Korean opens slim path to talks,” Bloomberg Politics, Aug. 23, 2017.

[25] Tom Shorrock, “How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogan, and the CIA secretly planned to force regime change in North Korea,” Alternet, Sept. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “North Korea conducts most powerful nuclear test yet,” Sept. 3, 2017; NNSA, “B61-12 continues to meet qualification test schedule,” Aug. 2017; RT, “US holds 2nd test of B61-12 gravity nuclear bombs,” Aug. 29, 2017; Binoy Kampmark, “Unnerving the Donald: North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test,” Sept. 4, 2017; AP, “The latest: Haley: US to push for more North Korea sanctions,” Washington Post, Sept. 4, 2017; Moon of Alabama, “Why North Korea Needs Nukes – And How to End That,” Apr. 14, 2017; Robert Ramptor and David Brunnstram, “Trump says tougher steps needed on North Korea after new U.N. sanctions,” Reuters, Sept. 11, 2017.

[26] “China rejects possibility of military intervention in North Korea,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; “Russian envoy warns any slip-up on Korean peninsula may lead to military outbreak,” TASS, Sept. 4, 2017; Zachary Cohen and Richard Roth, “US passes fresh sanctions on North Korea,” CNN, Sept. 12, 2017.

[27] Anne Gearar, “Trump’s zigzagging approach to North Korea veers toward military options,” Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2017; “Sanctions Against North Korea a Dangerous Dead-End,” The Real News, Sept. 6, 2017.

[28] Satya Vatti, “U.S. government a friend to the far right around the world,” Liberation News, Aug. 29, 2017.

[29] Workers World Party, “WWP congratulates DPRK for its courage,” Workers World, Sept 12, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Rochester, N.Y., anti-war groups say no to U.S. threats and sanctions against DPRK,” Workers World, Sept. 11, 2017; David Card, “New war threats against North Korea,” Workers World, Aug. 31, 2017.

[30] The article says the following: “The Moranbong Band, the State Merited Chorus and the Wangjaesan Art Troupe Music and dance performances gave a music and dance performance in Wonsan City from September 13 to 21. The numbers of the performance included male solo and chorus “Song Dedicated to the Motherly Party”, light music “Pyongyang Is Best”, orchestra and male chorus “We’ll Travel One Road Forever”, dance “Dash toward Future” and tap dance “Young Days”. The performers sang high praises of the dynamic spirit of socialist Korea dashing ahead like the wind toward the final victory at the speed of Mallima despite all sorts of difficulties and trials of history, rallied close around respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. The artistes of the Moranbong Band in light music and serial songs “Oh Party, It’s Thanks to Your Care,” female solo “We Call You Father,” female chorus “Fatherland and I,” etc. impressively represented the profound trust and gratitude of the army and people to the Workers’ Party of Korea which made a history of great changes under the banner of independence, Songun and socialism, winning great victories. Those of the State Merited Chorus in male solo and chorus “Korea, Forward under the Line of Simultaneously Developing the Two Fronts” and male trio and chorus “Only along the Road of Socialism,” strikingly showed the rock-firm faith and will of the Korean army and people to dynamically advance along the road of simultaneous development of the two fronts under the leadership of the great Party and attain the final victory of socialism. The Wangjaesan Art Troupe presented lively dynamic dances showing the stirring reality of the DPRK where the people are working great innovations in building a socialist power while resolutely foiling the U.S. imperialists and their vassal forces’ unprecedented sanctions and pressure. The performance deeply impressed the audiences.”

[31] Lorraine Bussaneault, “The view from Pyongyang: An Exclusive Look at the World’s Most Secretive Nation,” Smithsonian magazine, Sept. 6, 2017.

[32] Pepe Escobar, “North Korea: Fire, Fury and Fear,” Global Research, Aug. 10, 2017; Tania Branigan, “Hope, Pride, Fear: How North Koreans feel about their homeland,” The Guardian, Aug. 10, 2017; The Moscow Times, “North Korea Receiving Russian Supplies Despite Sanctions—Reports,” Sept. 12, 2017.

[33] Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Editor, “Self defense and the DPRK,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017; Ri Hak Nam, “DPRK is certain to win Thanks to Peerlessly Great Man,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 12, 2017.

[34] Kang Choi Su, “No Force on Earth Can Block Advance of DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 22, 2017; Jo Hak Chai, “WPK’s Line of Simultaneously Developing Two Fronts Is Eternal Banner of Peace and Prosperity,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug. 19, 2017; Deridre Griswold, “Why the DPRK Needs a nuclear deterrent,” Workers World, Aug. 14, 2017.

[35] Robert Rennebohm, “Understanding North Korea,” Global Research, Aug. 21, 2017; Christopher Black, “North Korea: The Grand Deception Revealed,” New Eastern Outlook, Mar. 13, 2017; Samuel Romani, “North Korea’s African Allies,” The Diplomat, July. 4, 2016; Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “North Korea: Their Health System Sucks, Do They Have Schools and Hospitals…In America We’ve Got Medicare…,” Global Research, Aug. 16, 2017; Brian Wilson, “Korea and the ‘Axis of Evil,’” Global Research, Apr 27, 2002; Doug Palmer, Megan Cassella, and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump mulling withdrawal from Korea trade deal,” Politico, Sept. 2, 2017; Yonhap, “Trump says to weigh withdrawal from S. Korea trade deal,” The Korean Herald, Sept. 3, 2017; Andray Abrahamian, “Commentary: The downside of banning Americans from North Korea,” Reuters, Aug. 31, 2017; Felicity Arbuthnot, “North Korea an Aggressor? A Reality Check,” Dissident Voice, Aug. 24, 2017.

The orange menace, bigotry, and the murderous empire

Quotes from Trump’s recent speeches spewing racism and/or jingoism time and time again.

While much of Texas (and now Louisiana) reels from a “capitalist crime scene” which was made clear nationwide across the US with the “unprecedented” flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, another storm is brewing: racism in the White House, the “President’s House” was built on the backs of enslaved and wage laborers.

Trump is undoubtedly a racist and bigot as proven during his campaign. Most recently this was manifested in his pardon of Sheriff Joseph Michael Arpaio or “Sheriff Joe” of Maricopa County, Arizona. Defending the action, he claimed that Arpaio did “great” for the Arizonan people and was “loved” there. He further spewed out that his pardon was justified by previous pardons of Marc Rich, Susan Rosenberg, and Carlos Vignali by Bill Clinton, and famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning and noble Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera. He hates them all. Manning, who sadly fell in line with supporting Apple’s fake “privacy” battle with the US government, played a major part in interrupting “imperial scheming,” often called diplomacy, of the murderous empire, revealed, for example, that there were “the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and [showed] that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.” The same is the case for Rivera, who is also a brave, and arguably heroic figure. As I wrote back in January, which I still stand by

In the days before Trump’s inauguration…Obama made some “last minute” actions, some of which were symbolic. Due to public pressure and likely to give himself a “good” legacy…he pardoned transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning  and Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera, along with a number of nonviolent drug offenders…many political prisoners are still locked behind bars and his action was symbolic…It worth saying however that if Manning’s sentence had not been reduced, Trump likely would have extended the sentence and left her in prison for life

Yet, he thinks that Arpaio “is a patriot [who]…loves our country…protected our borders” and the Obama administration “unfairly” treated him. Lest us forget that Arpaio is well-established believer in the theory that Obama’s birth certificate was faked (which Trump ran on in an unsuccessful campaign for the 2012 Presidential election) and Maricopa County had to pay millions for his racial profiling to Chican@ people who were profiled as he continued his illegal immigration patrols. Only more recently he was cited as “guilty of criminal contempt of court” since he did not follow a “federal judge’s order that halted his signature immigration round-ups,” which Trump could not stand, so he pardoned the bigot. To summarize what Arpaio did, he enforced hardline racist anti-immigration policies which were dictated on the federal level, with sweeps that zeroed in on immigrant neighborhoods, with many of “those taken into custody were not accused of violating a state crime but only of living in the country illegally.” [1]

Trump brought his racism to another level, beyond the pardon. He threatened to shut down the federal government over border wall funding (which he did not pull back even he had the opportunity to do so). In his jingoism, he declared that “Mexico is going to pay for the wall….one way or the other,” slammed NAFTA as “one of the worst trade deals ever signed at any time, anywhere in the world” (which isn’t wrong, but what he would replace it with is a bunch of bilateral-NAFTA-like agreements), and said that the US needs “the wall very badly” since it will “stop a lot of things” including “drugs” which he bellows is “pouring in at levels like nobody has ever seen,” which sounds like clear and simple fearmongering. There is no doubt about this since he wants to be “very, very tough on the southern border,” in his own words, to protect the supposed “prosperity” he will bring White people in the US, which isn’t going to materialize. Recently, he praised the mobilization of the Homeland Security Search Capacity Force, in response to Hurricane Harvey, declaring that with law enforcement we have to “make sure that we’re overcoming and anticipating any security needs that we have.” This is consistent with his moves to give the police even more weaponry, which was partially limited by the Obama administration because of public pressure, so they can further terrorize communities of color.

Before putting the orange menace in his appropriate context, it is worth discussing his comments on the anti-racist protests in Charlottesville. On August 12 he declared that “we” (by which he meant the US government) condemn “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides” and said that “it’s been going on for a long time in our country,” nothing new. In his mind, what was needed was “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives,” and coming together as a nation to “heal the wounds of our country.” While this may seem more measured than chasing people down who are of a certain color of the skin, it still has a white supremacist tone to it, especially when he talks about the “healing procedure” which, when coming from him, sounds like David Duke. Considering that the police and capitalist state in the US are of a white supremacist character, calling for “restoration” of “order” means that his “moderation” is nothing of the sort, when he does not categorically condemn bigotry, saying that it happened on “many sides” but not the side of the white supremacists. As Sam Marcy of the Workers World Party wrote in 1982, which is still relevant today,

“…in the eyes of the liberal bourgeoisie a militant struggle against the Klan…violates the sacred norms of imperialist democracy…Unless one sees the Klan and other fascist organizations in the general context of the developing struggle of the workers and oppressed, one runs the danger of completely abdicating…using the free speech amendment as a cover for…the use of violence and mass repression is a congenital tendency of the capitalist state. Even in the so-called best of times the capitalist government not only tolerates terrorist organizations like the Klan…It is the ever-expanding growth of the police and military forces at home which makes repression and violent outbursts an inevitable outgrowth of the deepening class antagonisms…This is how consistent liberalism can be in a crisis – they go over to the other side…it is most important to discard the liberal straitjacket that only leads to defeat and frustration and arm the mass movement of the working class and oppressed with a revolutionary perspective.”

Two days later, on August 14, after controversy and anger over his “many sides” comment, he read from a teleprompter, declaring that the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence” in Charlottesville has “no place in America,” going onto say that “racism is evil…those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.” He went onto say that their beliefs are “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and adding that “those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.” His solution was the idea of “bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans” which has echoes of the bygone era when the murderous empire was “fighting” those it called “subversives” and “communists,” a fight against those who stand for justice and a better world which continues to this day. While he condemned hatred, he did not condemn those who engage in bigotry in ways that are not outwardly violent like police killing Black men (and women) on the streets of the US, the symbols of the Confederacy that still stand in thousands of locations across the country, mostly in the US South but some in the North as well. This was to be expected. After all, from his definition, HE should be “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” and his words of hate strike at “the very core of America.”

Trump’s definitions are contorted, since bigots of any type manifest basic US values of White America from redlining, de facto re-segregation in urban areas, and dirty environmental projects placed in poor Black and Brown communities (called environmental racism for short) that cannot readily fight off the challenge as much as affluent White communities. These values, the conception of a safe White neighborhood with white picket fences, barking dogs, and areas removed from the perceived (and sometimes real) “problems” of the city, which does not, in general, include people of color. There are some exceptions, but there areas are broadly created for White people. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968, there is “no more dangerous development in our nation than the constant building up of predominantly negro central cities ringed by white suburbs” saying this will “invite social disaster.” Yet, nothing was done.

To give more historical context, the US Constitution, which is still used as a “blueprint” by the Supreme Court and is a “highly regarded” document, was formed by 55 men who were well-off white property owners, slaveowners, speculators, and other elements of the “new” capitalist class of the burgeoning nation. Anti-Black provisions were written into state laws, proven by the Supreme Court in decision after decision (i.e. Dred Scott v. Sandford, Civil Rights Cases, and Plessy v. Ferguson), and became part of the legal code of the United States at large. Racism is NOT “repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans” because it is part of the DNA of the murderous empire itself from transatlantic slavery to indigenous genocide and immigrant expulsion. Sure, it should have “no place in America,” but Trump himself stoked the flames of the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence,” in places such as Charlottesville, Boston, and San Francisco, to name a few, which was becoming “re-energized” by the united hatred of the US’s first “Black president” (he was actually mixed race, half White, half Black) Barack Obama, who, as noted before, put a happy face on the murderous empire. If racism” is “evil” as he says, and those who cause “violence in its name are criminals and thugs,” which strikes “the very core of America” (either indicating his dwindling core of supporters or the Midwest of the US), then Trump himself is “evil” and so is the murderous empire, since HE and the empire cause violence in the name of racism,  in terms of inherently racist imperialism.

One day after he, in scripted remarks, condemned in a PR statement, the hatred spewed in Charlottesville, he doubled back on his August 12th comments. This showed that inherently he still believed that both the anti-racists and bigots committed acts of violence. Apart from defending a racist, hate-filled man named Steve Bannon who was, not many days later, fired as his chief strategist (after which he returned as editor of the conspiratorial bigoted site called Breitbart) as a “friend of mine…he’s a good man…not a racist…a good person” who gets “very unfair press in that regard,” he charged that the “alt-left” (which doesn’t exist) was guilty of violence, “charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs” at the bigots. Basically he defended the bigots as those with a protest permit and the anti-racists as those without a permit (whether that is true or not), declaring that not all of the people protesting “the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee” (which he claimed was “very, very important”) were white supremacists. Furthermore he portrayed the bigots (“bad people”) as “violently” attacked by anti-racists, claiming that there were “very fine people, on both sides.” In his shouting match with reporters of the bourgeois press he said, in his white supremacist language, that those who want Confederate monuments to come down, since they honor a failed nation which explicitly defended and promoted Black slavery, are “changing history…[and] culture” (why is this bad?). [2] He further said that those who are neo-confederate were “treated them absolutely unfairly” by the same press and saying that there were “troublemakers…with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats.” Those people are what is commonly called the Black Bloc. While further comment on the would require more analysis of their tactics and history over time, there should be no debate that those who are facing bigots should be able to use any tools at their disposal to defend themselves.

It was then that Trump said that the taking down of the Confederate monuments was only the beginning, like a first domino of a series of dominos falling:

…this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down…is it George Washington next week?…Thomas Jefferson the week after?…you…have to ask yourself, where does it stop?…George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his statues?….are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?…Are we going to take down the statue? Because he [Thomas Jefferson] was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

When Trump feels under attack he predictably spews garbage like this. This just gives pure ammunition to the forces of bigotry within the United States, at least, giving them an easy counter-argument. The fact is that such forces are, as it stands now, on the losing side, on the defensive. The fact that governments (and universities) across the country are taking down Confederate statues shows the power of the anti-racist forces, forces for justice, forces for a better world. To think that people would support taking down the statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson within the murderous empire is a joke. Founding myths, as progressive historian Ray Raphael calls them, about such Founding Patriarchs are inherent to the national consciousness. They are drilled in inhabitants of the United States from an early age, through schooling, and used by politicians, whether Democratic or Republican to make “patriotic” arguments. Reading the writings of progressive historians like Howard Zinn, Ray Raphael, William Hogeland, and Christina Synder, who are not always radical in their writing, can help to counter this worship of the Founding Patriarchs.

In the same press conference, Trump boasted that he owned “a house in Charlottesville…one of the largest wineries in the United States,” flaunting his capitalistic wealth once again. On the ground, people are resisting at the Charlottesville City Council against the pathetic white moderates who let the calamity unfold, even as it is a “watershed” in the anti-fascist struggle, and people worked together to topple a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina, an effort rightly applauded by the local chapter of the socialist (and Marxist) Workers World Party.

MLK, mentioned earlier, a self-defined democratic socialist who seemed to incorporate Black nationalism more into his beliefs between 1965 and his death in 1968, once said that “the bombs in Vietnam explode at home. They destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” [3] The same is the case today, with the violence in the streets of Charlottesville, on the streets of decaying urban metropolis after metropolis by the hands of cops, connecting to the imperial war in Afghanistan. Trump already thinks that everyone who puts on a uniform “makes our nation proud” with a shared purpose, wanting the US to be like the military with “love and loyalty to one another – and to our nation – as we seek to heal divisions from within,” speaking out against “the voices that try to sow hatred and division” (which includes Trump himself), treating fellow citizens “with love and affection” while honoring “our heroes” with supposed “sacred bonds of loyalty that unite us together as one.” This talk of loyalty not only harkens back to Cold War era loyalty oaths but it inherently fascist as he doesn’t want any sort of dissent, a nation of “yes men” and “yes women.” Furthermore, he doesn’t like transgender people in the US military, allowing those who currently are within the ranks to stay, but not allowing others to join, an uneasy compromise for the bigot-in-chief. This could provide an opportunity to organize against military recruitment in the transgender community instead of joining the jingoistic forces that want a bigger recruiting pool for imperialist footsoldiers. That topic is for another article, but should be written about and discussed.

In short, Trump wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan which was begun by George W. Bush, continued by Obama (who had a “withdrawal” plan that wasn’t about withdrawing) and revved up by the Trumpster. The latter likely believes it is part of some Christian crusade as he is almost evangelical in his religious beliefs, asking “God for his wisdom and strength,” declaring that “we will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before.” In his much hyped speech, by the bourgeois media in the US, he declared that there is a “special class of heroes” in the US, of “American patriots from every generation” (undoubtedly including, in his mind, the Confederate States of America), saying that the county is at “war with itself at home” and falsely claiming that the US is a “force for peace in the world,” with imperialism only possible in his conception if everyone falls in line and doesn’t question him. His “policy” is not really a declarations that there must be “an honorable and enduring outcome” in Afghanistan (reminiscent of Nixon’s idea of an “honorable end to the war in Vietnam” or “Peace with Honor” which was actually ramped up imperialism), no “rapid exit…[or] hasty withdrawal” from Afghanistan, “immense” threats to US security apparently from the region, and facing the “reality of the world as it exists right now.” In his simplistic conception, terrorists who “slaughter innocent people” (like him with his drone killings or the US military killing innocent civilians) are “losers” while those in the US are apparently “winners.” He further showed that the military really controls the policy on Afghanistan by firstly saying that “conditions on the ground…will guide our strategy from now on” with secret plans to attack without public notice, ” integration of all instruments of American power…toward a successful outcome,” not engaging in nation-building or constructing “democracies in faraway lands,” but allowing the military to do what they please without restrictions with expansion of authority “for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.” He basically wants to give more power to the military that lied about its number of troops in the country (admitting that 2,600 more troops were there than they said publicly), killed 15 Afghanis in an airstrike, “accidentally” killed Yemeni families, killing 10 Somalis (with the help of the US-backed Somali army)

He seemed to eerily echo Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Speech:

Again, toward the end of the speech, he called for those in the US to “unite” to defend the country “from its enemies abroad” by restoring “the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home” and achieving an “honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.” The latter is not possible at this point and the former just reflects his obsession with loyalty and no dissent, his inherent mindset. Anyone who challenges him, even liberals and progressives of a bourgeois character are disloyal, especially those who point out the contours of his brand, working to poke holes in this super-brand as Naomi Klein, a progressive of the bourgeois variety who is part of what some call the “Celebrity Left,” writes who is clearly a brand herself, just like many other “exalted” figures on the “Left” like Noam Chomsky.

Trump racism and outright bigotry is only one manifestation of the foulness of the murderous empire. He has embodied the empire as its head, so to speak, with a changing strategy in Syria, threats against the DPRK (and more recently Venezuela), along with horrendous sanctions, reinforcing the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia, bombing Syria in what seems to be a one-time event to send a message to Moscow and Damascus to name a few aspects. While Bannon is gone, the bigotry continues. He will remain, an informal adviser to Trump, in his position at the head of a hateful propaganda network. After all, the Muslim ban was greenlighted by the Supreme Court as only a partial ban, showing their role in reinforcing racist legalism once again. Trump’s advisers, like H.R. McMaster, have more pull with Bannon gone, but perhaps that was part of the plan. It is hard to discern. To put it simply, in the grand scheme of things, Trump is only one cog of the machine. Bigotry of all types, runs rampant in the murderous empire from gentrification in the “fixed up” urban areas to more dirty energy pipelines forced through the land of indigenous nations. The capitalist monster can only be stopped in its tracks with determination, solidarity, knowledge of past history, and a well-developed analysis, to name a few elements.

 

Notes

[1] He also boasted that “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

[2] Bringing down Confederate monuments should be applauded but it only the start and should not be done to replace necessary racial justice not of the kind proposed by Ta-Nehisi Coates but that which is written about by Cornel West or those over at the always well-spoken Black Agenda Report.

[3] While his belief in non-violence and “loving your enemy” doesn’t really have a place in today’s society, he did truly care about the Black people of America, and the disenfranchised of all races.

Naomi Klein “resists” Trump by embracing bourgeois progressive politics

Sampled from her Twitter on August 4, 2017.

Recently, I read Naomi Klein’s No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. It is a relatively quick read, only 273 pages long, much shorter than her This Changes Everything book a few years back. Even so, it has thirteen chapters, a conclusion, a postscript, and an introduction.

In the introduction to the book sets the theme: that Trump is applying “shock politics” to the US, trying to pull off a “domestic shock doctrine” against public institutions and “public interest.” She goes on to describe Trump’s reactionary advisers like Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner while claiming there is a “corporate takeover” in DC (there is actually a long trend of corporate control in America, so it’s not something new), with Trump forming a brand in and of himself. She, of course, stops short of calling Trump fascist, only describing him as anti-“democratic” (relying on the idea of bourgeois democracy) and drawing parallels to policies in Greece, after Hurricane Katrina, in Baghdad after 2003, and in Britain, which resemble “Trumpism.” As she states clearly, her book’s argument is that Trump is a culmination of the “worst trends” of the 20th century that have “used race as a weapon to advance brutal economic policies,” pioneered by Milton Friedman, and other “market fundamentalists.” She also seems optimistic, calling for “change so fundamental that today’s corporate takeover will be relegated to a historical footnote,” although the “change” she later explicates is not even close to being “fundamental,” challenging the Trump superbrand, as she puts it.

After a lackluster introduction with broad vagueness, Klein has a chapter that focuses on Trump the brand, noting that Trump won because of the electoral college, not the popular vote, with his victory as a “shock.” She adds that there is a “surge of authoritarian, xenophobic, far-right politics” in France, India, the Philippines, UK, and Turkey, implying that the morally corrupt socially democratic politics in the West is a “solution.” Also her usage of useless words like “authoritarian” which is often used to shame countries deemed as “communist” or “socialist,” regardless of whether they are or not, means that she is legitimizing this word as speech that’s fine, showing her lack of comprehension in this realm, to say the least. She goes on to talk about Trump’s “cabinet of billionaires and multibillionaires” like it something new (it’s not), and acts like Bernie Sanders was a savior who made Wall Street shake, celebrates “concessions” to Black Lives Matter and the “climate movement” by political elites. She further adds that Trump’s election is part of a backlash against social movements, with a supposed “takeover” benefiting capitalists and removing environmental protections, for example. Apart from this claptrap which shows that she does not have understanding for how the capitalist state functions, and had changed over time, is a part about branding. She writes that starting in the 1980s companies like Nike and Apple, among many others, believes their fortunes were in branding with the concept that an idea or brand surrounding a company can connect with consumers, tying to a “profound human desire to be part of…a circle of belonging.” As a result, the product became (and was part of) the brand, meaning that this brand could be projected into “seemingly unconnected physical commodities.” Hence, products were produced at low price by subcontractors and contractors, with horrid work conditions in sweatshops. As a result, capitalist combines everywhere engaged in a brutal “race to the bottom” with complex supply chains involving contractors. As for Trump, after he had been a real estate developer for years he branded “high-end real estate” which could be a “single global luxury brand,” which was boosted by his show, The Apprentice, gaining revenue from “Trump-branded properties” with leasing his name, pulling in the dollars. When anyone noted horrible conditions his products were created in, the Trump Organization shrugged them off, defending a brand that “stands for wealth” itself, making this part of the reason scandals don’t stick to him: he plays by the “rules of branding” as Klein writes.

Based off a Mr. Robot quote by Angela Moss, but also applying to horrid Trump of course.

The second chapter promises to find ways to pierce “Trump’s brand bubble.” After noting how Trump’s presidency made the Trump “family of brands more valuable,” including those of Ivanka and Melania, she notes that cities and companies pay millions to “lease the Trump brand.” It is at this point she says that Bill and Killary spent decades blurring ethical lines” at the Clinton Foundation even as she basically says that Trump is worse. It is not beyond belief to think this about Bill & Killary Clinton, and Trump have destructive and exploitative brands. But Klein will not consider this possibility, shrugging it off by omission. The chapter is ended by her saying that Trump embodies Reagan (a former actor), briefly says that “the system is corrupt,” noting the rules of Democrats such as Bill Clinton and Obama, and then moving onto Trump’s “personal brand,” claiming that making Trump look “like a puppet” “jams” “The Trump Show.” So using the fake, deceptive, and worthless “Russia connection,” first concocted during the campaign by Killary Clinton’s camp, to call Trump “Putin’s Puppet” weakens his brand? This doesn’t even make sense in the slightest. Additionally, she is sidelining the reality: that Obama set the foundation for Trump. With over 2 million deported, continuing mass incarceration, and drone strikes, among other horrid elements of his “legacy,” the fascism of Trump had a comfortable breeding ground when he was inaugurated on January 21, 2017.

The following chapter is similarly about Trump’s branding. It talks about the structure of a show like The Apprentice, how it applies to “income inequality,” connects to his books, and notes that he brought “reality TV expertise to electoral politics,” which means that the “Trump show is now broadcasting live from the Oval Office.” With that, Trump made promises on the campaign trail (like every politician these days) which he won’t fulfill and edits “reality to fit his narrative.” Klein briefly talks about “progressive messaging” by Justin Trudeau in Canada which dazzled people, and “carefully crafted symbols” by the Obama administration to move the conversation away from discussion about the destruction he caused. Once again, she engages in another oversight. As the Wrong Kind of Green folks have notes, Obama is/was a brand, and so is Trudeau. She seems to forget what she wrote in 2009: that a “superfan culture…brought Obama to power” saying that we are “all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding.” Add to this that as even Noam Chomsky pointed out, Obama is a brand, who won the “highest advertising campaign accolade and attracted unprecedented sums of money” as also noted by John Pilger.

“Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products…we are being duped”- Chris Hedges in a May 2009 article

To close out the chapter, she notes that Trump is pushing for more war (which is continuing the warmongering that Obama engages in, expanding upon the foundation left by Bush, Clinton, and predecessors going back years), making it a “spectacle,” just like the Gulf War in 1990 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Deirdre Griswold remarked recently in Worker’s World, “imperialist diplomacy has the same objective as imperialist war. If negotiations are to take place, either openly or secretly, the DPRK will have to weigh every word very carefully before agreeing to anything with the treacherous and arrogant bunch of marauders who run the U.S. government.”  She ends by saying that Trump’s rise to victory in the election last year was fueled by a “decline of communal institutions and the expansion of corporate brands” in US culture as a whole.

“From its origins in the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution, fossil capital has developed into a monstrous complex generating multiple biospheric crises, including climate change. To head off a catastrophic warming of the atmosphere, it will be necessary to de-fossilize the global economy over the next several decades. The growth of fossil fuel use must stop now, followed by absolute reductions of carbon emissions to near zero levels by sometime later in the twenty-first century. Nothing less is acceptable if we want a livable planet for the majority of humanity and other species. Such a transition has been shown to be, physically speaking, quite feasible…Unfortunately, under mature capitalism things are not done according to human needs, environmental sustainability, or common sense. Both economically and politically, this system is dominated by monopoly-finance capital (MFC) and its state functionaries. Two basic facts must be noted here. First, MFC’s ideology and policy program are both constituted by neoliberalism (deregulation, privatization, and anti-union policies—in short, market fundamentalism—combined with militarism and imperialism). Second, MFC is inextricably tied to the fossil-capital complex. It follows from these two facts that at this point in history, de-fossilizing the economy means overthrowing MFC power and moving toward a worker-community controlled economy, socialism.”- Paul Burkett

The fourth chapter changes focus to the climate. After giving a personal story about her child and the Great Barrier Reef, along with her work for The Guardian, she notes how Rex Tillerson led ExxonMobil through increased drilling as CEO. She, however, also notes that one crisis is not more important than the other but that climate change is a current emergency, with Killary having a “web of corporate entanglements” that needs to be questioned while Trump seems to deny climate change as he supports more fossil fuel extraction. In framing Trump, she makes Trump out as the destructor rather than recognizing he is not doing this from scratch but on a basis formed by Obama’s faux environmentalism with a “Clean Power Plan” and supposedly “stopping” Keystone XL and a pipeline going through Standing Rock, when he was actually just appeasing social movements, engaging in “good-natured” deception. This was able have so much influence that if Obama approved the Keystone XL pipeline, the “letdown from the high expectation levels built on the many protests would be devastating to the morale and energy of the movement.” Additionally, he was able to strongarm Gang Green to be silent on climate change, the same groups that framed his issuing of “production permits were issued to oil and gas corporations for drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, both onshore and offshore” as responsible, especially the Sierra Club, and NRDC, meaning that they were cheering “Obama…eagerly bringing the total destruction of our planet’s climate and ecosystems.” Avoiding this discussion, Klein notes that many across the world are demanding “real action on climate change” (whatever that means), that Trump is pushing through varied cuts to the EPA which she says serves people of color (she seems to forget the arguments by Robert Ballard and others that the EPA has engaged in environmental racism), that prices determine which areas are drilled for fossil fuels, and that people don’t understand what neoliberalism [1] is. She then gives a tepid endorsement of “socialism” (which doesn’t mean anything radical to her), and calls for public sector investments on a large scale, which she says is more than just “tweak[ing] the existing system.” She says this despite the fact that her approaches are clearly just another “tweak” of the capitalist system.

Her next chapter notes how she is a “Berniecrat,” saying that Bernie was “the only candidate…serious about battling income inequality and taking on the banks.” [2] She also says that many establishment Democrats haven’t learned their lesson (only worried about Russian hacking now), that Trump spoke to the “economic panic” some whites faced with the idea that the election was a backlash pushed by some sexism toward Killary, with sexual abuse by “the men who surround Trump.” She says that the many voted for Trump were not among the Black and Latino populations most effected by “neoliberal policies” but were white men are losing their economic security and privilege. This doesn’t explain, however, why white women voted more for Trump than Clinton, but it cold be explains due to male dominated households, and/or that they also felt their privilege as white people was slipping. Klein continues her chapter by purposely framing social services as “entitlements” (why concede this to the right-wing?) in order to argue in favor of them, saying that “the stupid economics of neoliberalism” lost Clinton the election, again ignoring Clinton’s brand by only pointing out “Clinton’s brand of identity politics,” and talking about the “tweak[ing of] the system” to lead people of color, other genders, and sexual orientations to “the top,” with justice “to trickle down to everyone else,” which doesn’t work. G. William Domhoff noted this some time ago, but she seems to not even note his work, yet another oversight on her part. Even so, she remarks that it was “important that a generation of kids grew up seeing Obama in the most powerful office of the world.” I do not understand why, realistically this is important, with Black entertainers and politicians already, as his Black face seems just be an invitation to internalize neoliberal values with a happy face. [3] She also adds that we have to recognize how “forms of oppression intersect” (the idea of intersectionality that no progressives actually follow) as manifested in “racial capitalism” as noted by Cedric Robinson, citing another bourgeois progressive scholar named Michelle Alexander, a prison reformer, and talking about Reagan’s role in stirring up White resentment against people of color, with Trump having a role of this by calling for the return of the death penalty to execute the Central Park Five. The chapter ends by saying that white supremacy and fascism has a good breeding ground because of economic stresses, that Trump’s election should not be watered down to one or two causes since Trump (and associated forces) attack on many fronts.

The chapter after that focuses on varying topics. The first aspect is union leaders who embraced Trump who planned for more energy extraction and his bluff he will negotiate “better” deals, which will actually be “better” for him and “his corporate empire,” the capitalist class, with a “race to the bottom” for such trade deals. Even, reportedly, in a renegotiation of NAFTA will be the incorporation of horrible elements of the TPP. She did note that some union members stood up to Trump in an area he spoke, and that much of the “political battleground has been ceded by liberals to the Right.” After giving her personal experience as involved in social movements, she noted that while the movement was standing to win, the September 2001 attacks led to “shock” with the movement’s participants under attack, with those who remained active engaging in “thin and tactical” demands rather than more expansive ones. Adding to this are the facts that these demands may remove the necessary focus on the right-wing, fueling the “growth of far-right parties around the world,” with a supposed “progressive anti-free trade coalition” which is, as she won’t admit, bourgeois in character and “populist,” including those like socially democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders. In the last part of the chapter, she notes how the “super rich” like Oprah, Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, can’t save us (despite what Ralph Nader argued), with “elite liberals” looking to a sector of the capitalist class, which she calls the “billionaire class” or the “Davos class.” It is this class which is “horrified by the Trump presidency” even though those in this group share many ideas with Trump as she places hope in “progressives” to speak about the “grotesque levels of inequality,” and that we have to “save ourselves.”

In a recent statement against torture, Sanders accepted imperial precepts, basically saying that the US is “great” and worrying about helping our “enemies.” Hence, his argument against torture is not progressive but is actually an imperialist one.

In the next chapter she again professes her support (or “love”?) of Bernie Sanders. While she says she doesn’t like candidate endorsements, she thought that Bernie “had a shot at beating Hillary Clinton” (no he didn’t), calling him a person with “genuine warmth and without personal malice,” what she claims is a “transformative option on the ballot,” although Bernie is farm from it. To be frank, she is being a cheerleader of Bernie, supporting HIS brand, now channeled through “Our Revolution” groups and his persona as inflated in bourgeois progressive media. Of course she doesn’t say she is supporting the brand, only praising him by saying that he showed that “populist” leftist positions were popular, “understanding” why people of color, women, and other marginalized people didn’t support him, citing Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander as “evidence.” She ends the chapter by saying that Trump won because of the “absence of a progressive alternative” (was Bernie this at all?) and that there needs to be a “radical political and economic change” whatever she means by that. It is interesting that Klein keeps changing the stated reasons why Trump won, as noted in previous paragraphs, making one wonder if she believes all of them are causes or only some of them.

Chapter 8 returns the focus to Trump. After talking about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of the Iraq invasion (Paul Bremmer, Dick Cheney, the Green Zone, and all), she notes that “shock tactics” follow a pattern in which a crisis is fomented (or waited or) with a moment when “extraordinary measures” are declared, some “democratic norms” are suspended, and a “corporate wishlist” is rammed through very quickly. She notes that this happened in Chile, Russia, Detroit, Flint, and many other places since the early 1970s. She notes that most neoliberal policies are unpopular apart from cutting “red tape” in theory and tax cuts (for the “middle class” or lower), which is done fast, with cover for “neoliberal political transformations” because of “radical political transitions” (which really aren’t radical), with crises exploited. Trump, as Klein puts it, embraces “shock doctrine logic” (referring to her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine), with his philosophy of being a winner, extracting from those who suffer like a vampire. The idea of what she calls “disaster capitalism” is embodied in his cabinet in every possibly way, with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as a blueprint, the idea of what “we” can expect from Trump apparently. It is in this context she calls Muammar Gaddafi a “despised dictator,” without elaborating. While criticism of Gaddafi is warranted, especially when it comes to his relations with the West, calling him a dictator shows she doesn’t understand international solidarity and has internalized imperialistic logic. As Commie Dad writes,

“Qaddafi was ousted after a set of imperialist-backed rebels launched a racist campaign to topple a revolutionary government in North Africa, which succeeded precisely because of NATO’s assistance. He died beaten, broken, sodomized, tortured, and executed in a muddy sewage pipe without trial…The DPRK did not suffer the same fate as Libya precisely because it did not disarm [which some say opened up to invasion]”

Her next chapter follows a similar format. It starts by focusing on those who profited off Hurricane Katrina, cites Omidyar’s plaything, The Intercept, uncritically, says that having a “state of emergency” after a disaster, like Trump would want, is not unprecedented: the Conservative government of the UK did this after attacks in March 2017 and the French government of social democratic Francois Hollande did this in 2015. She goes on to note Trump’s closeness to Eric Prince of Blackwater and its mercenaries, how Trump’s policies help ISIS (is that purposeful?), and that countries like Syria and the DPRK are targets. Again she doesn’t even try to reject imperialistic propaganda about the two countries, implying that Syria committed chemical attacks (inadvertently playing into propaganda of the White Helmets) and that the DPRK, which she calls “North Korea,” is somehow menacing. She shows this in the rest of the chapter, talking about Exxon, citing a person she even defines as a “right-wing, Ukrainian-born British [oil] businessman,” Alexander Temerko uncritically, calling Vladimir Putin a “strongman” and basically an imperialist. She also doesn’t even try to defend Venezuela, which she only briefly describes as an oil-dependent country. It is much more than that, it is a place that exercises popular democracy, a beacon for those who want a better world as Commie Dad argued, just like Cuban socialism. Even so, Klein does not that antiwar action should be paired with “averting climate chaos,” notes how removing Obama’s tepid economic reforms, specifically Dodd-Frank, will lead to disaster, with varied descriptions of “shocks” and Trump’s reactions, with people in luxury building shelters to protect themselves or “Green Zones” while the rest of the world are unprotected and vulnerable or “Red Zones.” In the last part of the chapter she treats the “Syrian uprising” in 2011 as legitimate (although it wasn’t), talks about where drone strikes have occurred, along with a “dramatic rise in right-wing nationalism anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” adding that we have it “in our power to change ourselves,” engage in “shock resistance.”

Her next chapter focuses on the failure of the “shock doctrine” as she calls it. She talks about the Trump administration strategy to “overwhelm their adversaries” with a multipronged attack, how Argentina said no to neoliberalism even though political changes were “far from utopian,” how Spain did the same during the Iraq war, and the fact that “past traumatic events” in US history were broadly misunderstood. From here, she focuses on resistance to Trump from groups across various movements and lauds the Women’s March not critiquing its neoliberal elements as Feminist Current did at the time, especially its pro-prostitution position, with a lot of hype. She further says there is a “spirit of unity” among anti-Trump forces, specifically against his Muslim ban (and in favor of “sanctuary cities” which are not all they claim to be), supporting science (and new activists among students of all types), donors to Planned Parenthood, and other protests across the world against neoliberalism. She floats the thought that many activist relationships made now will be strong enough during a state of emergency (we’ll see about that). It is clear that she seems to laud the “Indivisible Guide” despite the fact it is defensive in nature and basically copies Tea Party tactics, and praises the March for Science despite the fact it was mostly dominated by bourgeois science. Again, her argument clearly lacking in Marxist theory and analysis, showing she is not thinking critically in a holistic manner and is totally embracing bourgeois progressivism.

The chapter following this focuses on resistance to “shock” tactics and how Obama supposedly did good (really?) but abandoned many opportunities as a time for change. She admits that in 2009, “too many of us were waiting for change to be delivered on high” with the “us” undoubtedly including herself. In 2008 she called for Obama to denounce Islamophobia, but also took Obama at his word that he would “purge Washington of the scourge of Friedmanism,” although she said he had “ideological housecleaning of his own to do,” and seemed to support Obama’s idea of a “promise of change” warily. She quickly summarizes US history of destruction, exploitation, and genocide, lauding progressive “public policy,” not remembering that Social Security was crafted by corporate moderates. She seems to recognize that radicals and social movements in the past and that the New Deal was used by Roosevelt to “save capitalism” in order to “prevent full-scale revolution,” with the saving of capitalism almost seeming as a necessity to her. Revolution of the type they had in mind seems foreign to her, even as she recognizes that many programs were used to blunt popular movements. The chapter is ended by talking about the struggle against neoliberalism and how social movements should be about “yes” instead of just “no” (why so reductionist?).

Another screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf.”

Her next to last chapter focuses on Standing Rock. While she completely describes the struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline, a perspective that fully understands indigenous history, connecting with genocidal policies against them is lacking, only briefly mentioned. The chapter is instead just a recounting of the resistance at Standing Rock, relating it to other struggles as she uses racist words like “tribe” instead of group or nation. She ends the chapter by almost casting Obama’s administration as heroes for rejecting the pipeline through Standing Rock, although his administration just declared that “things are on hold at Lake Oahe until the powers that be think it through some more” giving people the “illusion of victory” as Kelly Hayes argued. In contrast she casts Trump as a villain for allowing the pipeline to go through Standing Rock. This is inaccurate as the reality is that Trump AND Obama were villains, each in their own way.

Her last chapter declares that a major “transformative change” needs to happen (which is just empty rhetoric). She cites a story of political discussions in Canada, how Black and Brown people being killed is connected to climate change, how those who “use and abuse” women’s bodies” is connected with the notion that humans can “do the same thing to the earth,” what she calls a “dominance-based logic.” She could have taken this to the next step, calling for an end to speciesism, endorsement of some level of animal rights or such, but she didn’t do so, of course. Klein adds that there needs to be more than modesty, a “people’s shock,” with a “grand economic and political transition” with the description of what went into creating their magical Leap Manifesto. This is the same document that is part of the “marketed and branded opposition to capitalism” with opposition limited to certain forms of capitalism like “Crony capitalism” , “corporate capitalism” and “the excesses of capitalism” which were used by “Avi Lewis for Klein’s NGO campaign, “The Leap Manifesto”” with anti-capitalist expression become “hallowed” out, to say the least. She also says that an “economy built on destruction” should be replaced “with an economy built on love.” So, we should have “loving” capitalism then? How will that be any better? After going on about how the manifesto was made, specifics not worth noting here, she says that people can “save themselves” and remains optimistic about social movements, mainly to county Trump and his policies. She even notes that the “center-left” New Democratic Party in Canada passed a resolution to “endorse the spirit of the Leap Manifesto,” making it clear it is bourgeois and milquetoast, regardless of what Klein says about it.

Screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf”

Finally there is her conclusion. She says that Trump should be a shock at all, with more horror at Trump than shock, seeing his presidency as a “dystopian fiction come to life,” implying that she still doesn’t fully grasp the reality, and saying that Trump is the “logical culmination of the current neoliberal system.” Her solution? Say no and fiercely protect “some space to dream and plan for a better world.” That sounds pretty worthless to me, especially the dreaming part. She also says we should kill out “inner Trump” with which we see “ourselves as brands in the marketplace…as rival products competing for market share,” joining those who “shame and attack those who disagreement with us. She ends by saying that centrist parties aren’t the solution but apparently bourgeois progressives are (they aren’t), that the “spell of neoliberalism has been broken,” pushing for a “plank in a true people’s platform,” and resisting what she claims is a “corporate coup.”

Ending her book is a postscript titled “The Leap Manifesto.” The document calls for respecting inherent rights of indigenous communities, “fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” the idea that there should be “energy democracy,” and that indigenous peoples should receive “public support for clean energy projects” as should communities dealing with health impacts from “polluting industrial activity.” This manifesto also calls for building of energy-efficient homes, retrofitting existing housing (starting with the poor), training for workers in carbon-intensive jobs for a “clean energy economy,” renewable-powered high-speed rail, “affordable public transit,” investing in decaying public infrastructure, and moving to a “more localized and ecologically based agricultural system.” Other demands include ending corporate-friendly trade deals, ensuring immigration status, and protection for workers, expanding low-carbon sectors of the economy, having a national childcare program, and universal basic income. The last parts of the manifesto reject austerity as a concept, push for end to fossil fuel subsidies, vow support for any policy based on the “polluter pays” principle, calling for town hall meetings across the country, and moving to a system where all votes county while “corporate money is removed from political campaigns.” While this may be more than those on Canada’s political scene are offering (I hope there is something more radical), it is very constrained. It could be said to be “bold” but it is definitely NOT revolutionary as it is abstracted from social movements, revolutionary struggle or international solidarity.

There are a few words I have to say before closing out this article, Klein makes a good point about Trump as a brand but misses many other points because of her bourgeois progressivism. The major point she misses is obvious: she IS a brand. She is among the “heat vampire” including celebrated bourgeois progressives, like Rebecca Solnit and Chris Hayes, that Tarzie wrote about. As Luke Orsbourne wrote in December 2015, she had an “enormous following…best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence,” condemning climate change marchers outside COP 21 that year, just like 350.org and others. Others added that her book slogan, for This Changes Everything, was “used to advance capital” which was pushed by the Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and that she is part of a brand called 350.org/1Sky, which used the Obama brand in their anti-KXL campaign logo, allowing there to be a “pro-Obama, pro-Democrat veneer” to their logo, with their campaign reinforcing the illusion that “change” is still in front of us, reinforcing the thirst in society for “lies that enable the populace to continue to ignore reality…[and] disregard our collective role in it.”

The book itself, with the title “No Is Not Enough” on an orange background, with the letters in white except the word Not (in red) with praises from Arundhai Roy, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Yanis Varovfakis, Michael Stripe, Keeanga Yamatitta Taylor, Danny Glover, and Eve Ensler. Could there not be a bigger panoply of (mostly) bourgeois progressives, some of whom have their own brands consisting of themselves? [4] Hence, Klein herself is a brand “in the marketplace” as was alluded to earlier in this article, and is part of a bigger brand: Haymarket Books. Sure, they sell book of “radical” and progressive authors, but they engaging in branding, just like Verso Books. As was noted in a recent article,

“Today, brands, ideologies, and even invasions of sovereign states, achieve authenticity through association. Thus, celebrity has become as vital a tool for empire as the NGO itself. Together they are akin to nuclear fusion…Today’s 21st century powerhouse NGOs have proven successfully that hate can be neutralized, and even be turned into adoration, as demonstrated by Avaaz co-founder, MoveOn.org. In a world of make-believe where lies are preferred over truth, charismatic warmongers of the past (Barack Obama) are embraced while vulgar warmongers in the present (Donald Trump) are crucified among the allegedly “unbiased left”. Branding supersedes reality straight across the board”

Furthermore, the organization she is part of, 350.org, is branding to the max, which is interesting considering it is not mentioned AT ALL in this book, apart from the dust jacket. The book itself is a product, a commodity to put in more evident terms. How can Klein not recognize she is a brand? The same goes for Matt Taibbi, Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges, to name a few. These members of the “celebrity left,” as some have called it, are not the only brands. Bourgeois progressive media like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and non-profits like Public Citizen are all brands. This lack of understanding shows that while Klein is knowledgeable, she is lacking radicalism, and is, for all her rhetoric, fine with regulated capitalism, while she does not engage in international solidarity. Hence, she falls into the category of those who “brand ourselves as moral citizens standing in unity with Indigenous nations” while maintaining capitalism, the same people who are willfully blind “to the Bakken frack oil,” and are not aware of how “Obama’s move into WWF headquarters…could be an acceleration of the implementation of payments for ecosystems services…by the world’s most powerful institutions and states.” This is a book she in which she only mentions Marx in passing and never uses any of his idea or that of Marxists to form her understanding of ANYTHING. In the end, we can read Klein’s claptrap if we want to (I don’t recommend it) but we should always remember she is a brand, a commodity, and a “heat vampire.”

 

Notes

[1] She defines neoliberalism as an “extreme form of capitalism…shorthand for an economic project that vilifies the public sphere and anything that’s not…the workings of the market or the decisions of individual consumers…the primary tools of this project are…privatization…deregulation…cuts to public services…[and] corporate-friendly trade deals.”

[2] She claims that “if the Right specializes in turning backward, the Left specializes in turning inward and firing at each other in a circular hail of blame.” So there aren’t internal conflicts on the Right? This is a very pessimistic view to say the least, even if she is right ultimately.

[3] As Ajamu Baraka wrote in 2015, “…the lack of moral outrage and opposition to the reactionary policies of Barack Obama is changing and will change even more rapidly as the new generation of black activists shift the center of oppositional politics back to the radical black tradition.”

[4] The Michelle Alexander Brand, the Bill McKibben Brand, the Eve Ensler Brand, and the Noam Chomsky Brand for example.

“Something which most other developing countries would envy”: The DPRK’s healthcare system

Medical workers brainstorm at the South Hamgyong Provincial People’s Hospital. Courtesy of The Pyongyang Times.

Since June 19, the bourgeois media has been brimming with reports of the death of 22-year-old White college student from Cincinnati, Ohio, Otto Frederick Warmbier. While the family was happy to hear that their son was released from the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), they were the ones that fueled the media firestorm. Warmbier’s father claimed that the DPRK had “murdered” their son, who had died in a coma possibly from an infection or blood clot, leading to anger in subsequent days from unhinged Trump and “reserved” Tillerson, leading to a new “wedge” between the US and the DPRK. [1] As some media reported, the DPRK may have released him in hopes of making a deal with Trump. Of course, the orange menace, the fascist in a suit, didn’t want to make a deal, only knowing his “negotiation” tactics from his days as a ruthless real estate magnate and his overrated “Celebrity Apprentice” show on NBC. As the days went out, the bourgeois media, in another rash of imperial propaganda, cited varied “experts” who said they were “baffled” with the DPRK’s behavior, with John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Mike Turner following suit, and the anti-DPRK columnists coming out of the ground like moles, claiming that the DPRK “murdered” Warmbier, even though he seems to have sought regime change in the country. [2] Even the Republic of Korea (ROK), often called “South Korea” in the West, joined in the criticism. Furthermore, any future tours to the DPRK by Young Pioneer Tours has ended, with a possible ban of US tourism to the country floated. The former should be no big loss because the company seems very Orientalist while the latter is just meant to reinforce the empire’s perceptions on the US populace. [3]

On Otto Warmbier

The murderous empire won’t rest, from its proposed hideous sanctions to condemning the DPRK’s government as brutal and “oppressive.” Tillerson said that much in his remarks on June 19 on Warmbier: “we hold North Korea accountable for Otto Warmbier’s unjust imprisonment, and demand the release of three other Americans who have been illegally detained.” Later in this article, I’ll get the subject of whether his imprisonment is “unjust” which I do not think it is. There are three US citizens imprisoned in the DPRK. One of them, a businessperson named Kim Dong Chul admitted to CNN that he spied on behalf of “South Korean conservative elements” in 2015, saying that they “asked me to help destroy the (North Korean) system and spread propaganda against the government,” starting his spy work in April 2013, including bribing residents who would gather “important materials,” which he smuggled south or into China. [4] The other two were an academic named Kim Sang-duk or Tony Kim who committed “hostile criminal acts with an aim to subvert the country” which was not related to his teaching, and Kim Hak-song, “a man who was doing business in relation to the operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.” As for Warmbier, a student of Virginia University, he was encouraged to rip down a patriotic banner in a restricted area of the hotel by a member of Friendship United Methodist Church, a secretive university organization, and even the CIA, which some scowled at as only an “accusation.” Truthfully, on January 26, DPRK’s government arrested him for perpetrating a hostile act against the country “after entering it under the guise of tourist for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.” [5] He further admitted this about less than months later. He told, to the Supreme Court of the DPRK, the nature of his crime and asked for forgiveness (across the bourgeois media are video clips of him crying):

On December 29, 2015, I entered the DPRK as a tourist. On January 1, 2016, I committed severe crimes against the DPRK. The task was given to me by the Friendship United Methodist Church. At the encouragement of the Z Society and the connivance of the United States Administration, I came to commit this task. The aim of my task was to harm the motivation and work ethic of the Korean people.This was a very foolish aim…Sharon Webb…deaconess in the Friendship United Methodist Church…said that communist nations rally around political slogans. She asked me to take an important political slogan from North Korea to be hung in her church as a “trophy”. She continued to say that by taking this slogan, we would harm the unity and motivation of the North Korean people and show this country an insult from the West…She offered me a used car worth $10,000 if I was successful. And she said if I was detained and not returned, her church would pay $200,000 to my mother in a way of charitable donations. Since my family is suffering from very severe financial difficulties, I started to consider this as my only golden opportunity to earn money…He said my plan of action would certainly help the Z Society’s goal of spreading “freedom” and eliminating “tyranny”. He said if I was successful, he promised me that he would help me become a member in the Z Society. [6]

The same day, the state media of the DPRK reported that those attending the trial were citizens from “different walks of life” and after his “written indictment confirming his crimes was submitted” the “court sentenced him to fifteen years of hard labor” for violating article 60 of the DPRK’s criminal code. After looking at varied sources (here, here, and here) one English translation of the criminal code, [7] stated the following about article 60, which concerns terrorism:

A person who kills, abducts or injures cadres or people with anti-state purposes shall be punished by reform through labour for more than five years. In cases where the person commits a grave offence, he or she shall be punished by life-term reform through labour or the death penalty, and confiscation of property.

In this case, it was a “grave offence.”

Fast forward to the aftermath of Warmbier’s death. The US doctors have belayed propaganda claims, saying that Warmbier was NOT tortured or abused (as his family falsely claims), but that “beyond minor skin blemishes consistent with medical care they found no evidence of fractures or trauma to his body” with the DPRK sending medical records back with him! [8] If they really had tortured him, which they didn’t, they wouldn’t even send any records. Another article says that there is no evidence Warmbier was injured with the MRI scan showing brain damage and that “the medical team at Cincinnati got some medical records from the North Koreans and they said the records show Warmbier has been in this condition since April of last year” but that there is no evidence “of broken bones or other physical abuse, and scans of his head and neck looked normal, except for the damage to his brain.” [9]

Of course, the DPRK released him “according to a humanitarian judgment of the DPRK’s Central Court” on June 13, 2017. [10] In days that followed, with the propaganda about his condition, the DPRK showed they were in the right. The Foreign Ministry said that the US administration is engaging in an ” anti-DPRK smear campaign by abusing the humanitarian measure taken by the DPRK” and said that “Warmbier is clearly a criminal sentenced to reform through labor in accordance with the DPRK law” and that he confessed on February 29, 2016 “in tears that he had committed hostile act against the DPRK,” with the US making “every frantic effort to disparage the prestige of the dignified DPRK and stifle it while imposing heinous sanctions.” [11] They also noted that US doctors argued that Warmbier was provided with medical treatment in the DPRK, with his death a mystery, questioning why the Obama administration never “made an official request for the release of Warmbier on humanitarian basis.” This is worth noting since they “had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state” but provided him necessary medical care anyway. [12]

With Warmbier’s family interestingly declining an autopsy of their son, which will allow rumors to continue, those at least partially (or more fully) sympathetic to the DPRK have not been united. One site, called “Young DRPK watchers” has two opinions on this subject. [13] One says that “Otto Warmbier’s situation arose from neglect and medical incompetence, [rather] than abuse” with American prisoners not “physically harmed at all and are also fed well” and that the DPRK’s medical system is divided into levels for the privileged and everyone else (internalizing imperial propaganda by saying this), concluding that Warmbier “may have fell into the coma as a consequence of an unknown medical condition” with neglect by the DPRK. The other, by the same author, admitting that Warmbier is a victim but is also “an inflated symbol of American privilege.” Both of these opinions are better than that in the bourgeois, they fall into the category of concessions which Vngiapaganda warned about in a post almost a year ago. The same is the case in an article on Stop Imperialism on Warmbier’s death. It accepts ths possibility that the DPRK murdered him, which is giving in too much to the bourgeois media narrative. All in all, these opinions are better than the seething Chinese netizens which seem be in up in arms about the DPRK, which is unfortunate to say the least.

DRPK’s healthcare and medical system

Korean doctor in Pyongyang talking about new medical system in 2013.

With the death of Warmbier,the bourgeois media, capitalists, and their lackeys, along with those not adequately informed by the subject (the US public in general) is acting like the DPRK has a medical system that resembles people conducting voodoo (or their perception of people doing this) to “cure people” or wish them “ill.” I’m specifically thinking of those curses conducted by voodoo practitioner, Minerva, in the Hollyweird box office “bomb” titled Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, based on the book of the same name. It seemed to be the best example of this mentality which could come to mind, with people acting like the DPRK are in the “dark ages” of medicine and have some archaic medical system.

The propaganda about the DPRK’s health system is nothing new. The Daily NK (an anti-DPRK outlet),  the Los Angeles Times, BBC News, The Week, The Telegraph, NY Daily News have declared that the DPRK doesn’t care about healthcare and has a shotty (or “horrifying”) system, which some even thought was on the “brink of collapse.” [14] Much of this imperial propaganda, only some of the publications named above, with some within medical journals as well, was fed by an Amnesty report in 2010 titled “North Korea: The crumbling state of health care in North Korea.” As the report admitted, they conducted interviews “with North Koreans who have settled abroad” since the DPRK (rightly) has not let these humanitarian imperialists into their country, making the report pure propaganda. [15] Luckily, some on the international level know the report is BS. As the bourgeois media reported, the World Health Organization said that Amnesty’s report was based on a small sample of people of those who left the country, with WHO spokesperson Paul Garwood saying “all the facts are from people who aren’t in the country. There’s no science in the research,” not mentioning recent improvements to healthcare in the country, even as he made the concession that Amnesty’s accounts could be “credible” (they aren’t by definition) while saying that Amnesty is not “taking into account some of the things that are happening today” in terms of healthcare in the DPRK. [16]

Numerous anti-DPRK accounts even admit the advantages of the DPRK’s system. In words criticizing the medical system in the country, one student doctor, had to “grudgingly” admit that the country has well-trained dentists and has a stress on exercise, among other aspects. [17] Even the Library of Congress in their broadly “anti-communist” report on the DPRK, written in 2008, had to admit this. He said that medical care is provided free of charge, that physical exercise is a major focus, and that there are nationwide medical check ups, especially at routine places like schools, factories, offices, and farms. Furthermore, they added that people receive a lifetime health card, the government has been aggressive attacking of diseases that cause epidemics (they say with spraying of DDT and other chemicals), and a high number of physicians and hospitals per capita, one of the highest in the world. [18] They add that more than 75% in the medical profession are women, with most hospitals as general hospitals, many clustered around Pyongyang, and no smoking in hospitals. Even with the supposed drawbacks, like shortages in medicines (because of sanctions), claims of variation in medical care, and economic problems weakened medical system [19], among others, the pages note that there has been a dramatic improvement in life longevity in the country ravaged by famine caused by Western imperial sanctions. Perhaps such “criticisms” shouldn’t be a surprise since most of chapter, which this information is within in, based on declassified CIA report. Even so, it is impressive that the CIA is even admitting the success of socialism in the DPRK and benefiting the Korean people.

Commie Dad’s writing on this topic, within an article about the DPRK’s centrally-planned economy, is worth noting. He notes how UN sanctions prevented a pharmaceutical company “from importing the chemicals it needed for a healthcare project in the DPRK countryside” and that the DPRK “still guarantees universal healthcare to its people,” which the US hasn’t done, a fact even acknowledged by anti-DPRK author Barbara Demick and a CIA report which acknowledges DPRK’s achievements in “free health care, and preventive medicine; and infant mortality and life expectancy rates comparable to the most advanced countries until the recent famine.” [20] He adds that the remarkable public healthcare system of the DPRK, providing ” unconditional universal coverage for citizens”continues to perform well, citing the words of Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s Director-General, calling the country’s healthcare system “something which most other developing countries would envy,” pointing out that the “DPRK has no lack of doctors and nurses,” further praising their system for its “very elaborate health infrastructure, starting from the central to the provincial to the district level.” This quote about envy is used in the title of this article, which also notes the country’s comprehensive healthcare, saying that authorities recognize malnutrition is a problem but it is less of an issue than in the past, and the quality of their healthcare system. [21] Of course, the reactionaries are seething at this pronouncement. A Heritage Foundation fellow claimed WHO was “defend[ing] the North Korean government,” citing the horrid Amnesty report and US State Department, along with varied bourgeois media, while American Thinker was shocked at her “praise” of what they called a “totalitarian and rogue nuclear-armed police state.” [22] The only country that falls into that category is the United States (and its client states in the Mideast, along with Western European capitalist states), not the DPRK. These reactionaries would find friends in the US State Department, which warns US citizens to not go into DPRK hospitals…because then they will learn that the system is excellent? [23]

While, in the murderous empire, the GOP fights to pass a healthcare bill that would “increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million” by 2026 and the Dems fight to keep their insurance-friendly “Obamacare,” the DPRK already has universal healthcare. As I noted in my previous post about the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and democracy within the DPRK, this unicameral legislative body has enacted laws putting in place “perfect and universal free medical care.” [24] The DPRK not only provides rights and duties of citizens “based on the collectivist principle,” but they have the right to “right to education and free medical care and freedom of scientific, literary and artistic pursuits” along with equal rights for men and women. Furthermore, in January 1947, the DPRK enforced “free medical care for workers, office workers and their dependents” with universal free medical care enforced since January 1953, and complete  “universal free medical care” since February 1960, meaning that the state totally bears “the expenses of medical checkups and treatment, bed and board in hospitals, medicines, and even travel costs to and from sanatoria.” This commitment is manifested not only by the type of care the citizens receive but through the establishment of Pyongyang Medical University, the top medical school in the country which was founded in 1948 “when the Department of Medical Science at Kim Il Sung University became an independent university.” [26]

The achievements of this Korean healthcare system are widely acknowledged. While one Cornell medical student (who talked with “the chair of Pyongyang Medical College’s Department of Neurosurgery for 90 minutes”) grumbled that the free medical system comes with “many costs of personal freedom” (his Western bourgeois concept of freedom) with government permission required, and physicians not more highly paid than others, if we are to believe him on that aspect, did admit the following:

“[The medical students] smiled and very proudly told me that the government sends students to college for free – and that is consistent with the medical system, that it’s also free. Even intensive surgeries do not cost a penny…Everything I saw was very unique. Exploring the city [Pyongyang] was unreal. All buildings were beautiful and big – often with posters of the two great leaders in front, which gave off a little eerie feeling. American media give the idea that North Korea is constantly brewing with missiles, focusing on the unreasonable rulers…but the everyday life of North Koreans, at least in the capital, nearly mirrors ours. It was an incredible privilege to meet North Koreans and hear their sentiments, to physically see the land – and in that I realized that they were my fellow people, that we speak the same language, love our families and are all humans. Understanding is the first key to any peace and compromise.”

The WHO notes that the country has a life expectancy of 67 years, or over 70 years if you are relying on the CIA World Factbook, which is impressive. Other data shows that while 3.7% of population drinks, mostly among men over 15 and not women, 78.9% abstain from drinking, with recorded alcohol consumption is steady over time, not increasing since the 1960s significantly. [27] Furthermore, while tobacco usage is strong among males, with almost half of males, smoking, smoke-free legislation affecting hospitals, non-university educational facilities, and public transit. There is also strong tobacco cessation support, partial funding of tobacco cessation, warning on tobacco packages, no tobacco vending machines.

An event takes place at the People’s Palace of Culture on World No Tobacco Day. Photograph is courtesy of the Pyongyang Times.

This is manifested by the fact that late last month, at the People’s Palace of Culture, the country honored World No Tobacco Day. During that day, as the Pyongyang Times reported, officials of the country’s Public Health Ministry, resident diplomatic missions, and international health organizations, talked about how tobacco is a threat to development.The Vice-Director of the Public Health Ministry, Choe Suk Hyon, was quoted as saying that they made achievements in tobacco control the previous year, saying the following:

“What is important in tobacco control is to conduct large scale educational campaigns to publicize the negative impact of smoking on the health and socio-economic life. And we should strengthen scientific research on smoking cessation products which help quit smoking.”

Others, like the representative of the WHO to the DPRK, praised the Korean females in the country for being at the “vanguard of no-smoking campaign” but still wanted them to help their “fathers, husbands, boyfriends and sons to quit smoking if they are smokers” and noted that there is a “newly-revised tobacco control law of the DPRK” with no-smoking “information activities were conducted at the central and provincial hygienic information halls and medical institutions across the country.” While the US has developed strong anti-smoking measures as well, there is still a formidable tobacco industry in the United States, something the DPRK doesn’t have.

Apart from strong tobacco control, low alcohol consumption, and general healthcare in the country, there are a number of other accomplishments. For one, infant mortality declined from 1990s to present (same with people with tuberculosis), there has been a relatively steady amount in people with HIV/ AIDS (the country is likely an “AIDS free zone” by now), and immunization for DTP3 among children under 1 almost 100%. Furthermore, maternal death rate has also dramatically declined, less stunting of children than on the past, strong antenatal care, 100% of births attended by skilled health personnel, and broad measles immunization. If that isn’t enough, there almost complete treatment for tuberculosis, obesity is not a major cause for death (like in the US) but rather it is raised blood pressure among those in their twenties, and much of the population is using improved water and sanitation, to name a few. [28] Other WHO reports show that the population receives Vitamin A supplements to counter some deficiencies, and that the under five mortality rate has been dropping rapidly.

In one medical article apart from the others, there is some praise of the DPRK. In an article that is broadly against the country, the medical researchers must admit that “the burden of mortality due to communicable diseases and malnutrition in North Korea is relatively low in terms of both quantity, expressed in the death rate, and quality,” that tuberculosis’s “mortality rates have declined continuously in the past 15 years.” In one article of a “country study” of the DPRK, it is noted that back in 1938-40 life expectancy was only 38 years old, while it was “70.9 years for males and 77.3 years for females” by 1986, with infant mortality declining, a ” substantial increase in the number of hospitals and clinics, hospital beds, physicians, and other health-care personnel since the 1950s,” growing from 285 in 1955 to 2,401 in 1986, with specialized hospitals, “including those devoted to treating tuberculosis, hepatitis, and mental illness, are generally found in large cities,” and preventive medicine a major focus. Adding to this, a public health law was passed in April 1980 saying that the “State regards it as a main duty in its activity to take measures to prevent the people from being afflicted by disease and directs efforts first and foremost to prophylaxis in public health work” while medical examinations are “required twice a year, and complete records are kept at local hospitals” with a high value afforded on “traditional herbal medicine” and physical education an important part of public health with people “encouraged to take part in recreational sports activities such as running, gymnastics, volleyball, ice skating, and traditional Korean games” along with “group gymnastic exercises.”

There are further aspects worth noting. For one, even with the “development of informal health-care practices” in the country since the 1990s, this sector has actually contributed to the “formal socialist health-care system.” In 2007, the DPRK spent 3.02% of its GDP on health expenditures. In 2013, the DPRK spent 38.8% of their budget that year on “health, education, sport, music, art and culture” with an increase of 2.2% for healthcare spending.It is also worth noting that even the World Food Programme must admit that most households aren’t food insecure (see page 33 of this PDF), belaying claims of “famine” in the country.

Recent developments

Kim Jong Un inspects dental care supplies factory. Photograph is courtesy of the Pyongyang Times.

There have been numerous developments of the DPRK’s socialist healthcare system in recent years. In 2010, with the help of WHO, the country launched a “medical video conference network Tuesday aimed at giving smaller, rural hospitals access to specialists in the capital Pyongyang.” [29] Three years later, the DPRK developed a  “clinical medicine information service system” which contained “details on 12,000 pharmaceuticals and 154,000 kinds of medicines from more than 50 countries” as Voice of Korea, a state media outlet, noted.

There are other aspects worth noting. While the DPRK has requested medical aid from the UN (since they are under harsh sanctions), they have still made strides. [30] Last year, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology noted that it was testing a 3D printer for use in medical settings, with likely some progress made. This month The Pyongyang Times reported that a two-storey new people’s hospital opened in Tongsinhung-ri with “over  10 rooms for special treatment and sophisticated homemade medical and experimental apparatuses” and is part of “the telemedicine system whereby it is connected to such central hospitals…[and] linked online to provincial, city and county hospitals.” [31] It was also noted that using this system, the “latest medical science and technology are disseminated and training courses are given by medical workers at central hospitals,” with increased abilities, with telemedicine,”in raising their abilities as well as in treating patients.” Less than a week ago, Kim Jung Un, the chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, inspected the newly built Dental Care Supplies Factory, which has a floor space of 12,720 square metres, with the factory able to “turn out annually tens of millions of tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash and a variety of dental care supplies.” [32] In that visit he noted that “the Party [WPK] and government are taking full responsibility for the people’s lives and health and that such socialist healthcare is one and only in the world,” adding that factories like this are “needed to ensure the people lead a worthwhile life enjoying themselves the benefits of socialist healthcare.”

Like Cuba, which sends doctors abroad, the DPRK also sends doctors abroad for humanitarian reasons. Even those with anti-DPRK beliefs have to admit this. In July of last year, the DPRK’s ambassador, Jang Myong Ho, visited the al-Assad University Hospital in Damascus, affirming the country’s readiness to support and aid Syria’s health sector, hailing the medical services provided by the hospital, saying that Syrian government had a “just health policy and commitment to provide free treatment to all citizens despite the difficult economic conditions under the current crisis.” He also added that this anniversary of 50 years diplomatic and friendly bilateral relations between the DPRK and Syria is “historical and exemplary,” noting that these relations have been “developed and enhanced” over the years.

With all of this, perhaps it is no surprise that the proposed sanctions would have targeted the healthcare system of the DPRK and their socialist economy also, of course. As I noted in my post on these sanctions,

[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…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

Concluding words

At the Korean Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disability. Courtesy of Imgur, assembled in an album and posted on /r/communism by yours truly.

The healthcare system of the DPRK should be celebrated as an achievement of socialism, not something to ridicule. While the bourgeois media focus on the country’s “problems” there is no doubt that they don’t want people to know of these successes. With the ROK having one of the “world’s highest suicide rates, having overtaken that of Japan” and the leading “cause of death is cancer, followed by cerebrovascular and heart disease” even with their “universal health insurance system that is compulsory and covers employees and their relatives (National Health Insurance, NHI),” there are high doctor consulting fees, and “long waiting lines for treatment and high costs.” The DPRK doesn’t have those issues and doesn’t work with the US to streamline their system to help the Western capitalist class. There are many other resources I could have consulted to finish up this article. [33] As good comrades, we should stand in solidarity with the DPRK against the clear imperialist aggressors. Anyone who doesn’t do so is not only not a real comrade, but they also are not a communist in name or action.

The life within the DPRK and the country’s policies are not what the West says it is. The country has stood by those fighting for national liberation, has a developed socialistic democracy, and has celebrated the International Day of Persons With Disabilities in 2015, and in years afterward (and before). The country has worked with the UNDP to increase its food security and food production.

Some say that the country became “revisionist” after 1972. Those issues will be addressed in another post when I look at all countries which are called “revisionist.” Here is not the place for that. Rather, it is better to let people make up their own minds about the DPRK. This can come through reading a number of books, or looking at other resources. [34] If a war with the DPRK occurs, started by the unhinged fascist, Trump, who can be easily swayed, we should be prepared to support it even if all many of those in our host country (especially if you live in the West) support the war with a fervor. Not standing by the DPRK and against war would show the weakness of “the Left” and prove the capitalists had “won,” something that none of us want.

Notes

[1] Samuel Smith, “22-Y-O American Otto Warmbier Dies After Spending 17 Months in North Korean Prison,” Christian Post, June 19, 2017; Stacey Leasca, “Otto Warmbier: A timeline of the American student’s capture and release in North Korea,” Mic.com, June 19, 2017; Shreesha Gosh, “Donald Trump Says Otto Warmbier Death Caused By North Korea’s ‘Brutal Regime’,” International Business Times, June 20, 2017; Josh Lederman and Matthew Pennington, “Efforts of one U.S. official bring Otto Warmbier home,” AP, June 18, 2017; David Choi, “‘No words were spoken’ — Otto Warmbier’s roommate in North Korea describes the day Warmbier was arrested,” Business Insider, June 19, 2017; Andy Sharp, “Student’s Death Puts Trump Back to Square One on North Korea,” Bloomberg News, June 20, 2017; Maggie Fox, “What Killed Otto Warmbier? Maybe an Infection or Blood Clot,” NBC News, June 20, 2017; Patrick Grafton Green, “Who is Otto Warmbier? Why did North Korea imprison him? How did he die? All we know on late American student,” Evening Standard, June 20, 2017; Otto Warmbier dies days after release from North Korean detention,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017; Choe Sang-Hun, “Otto Warmbier’s Death a New Wedge Between U.S. and North Korea,” New York Times, June 20, 2017. Months of diplomacy for this release seemed to fade into the background.

[2] Fuster Kung, “Death of American detained in North Korea baffles experts,” AP, June 20, 2017, reprinted in the Washington Post; CNN Wire, “John McCain: North Korea ‘murdered’ former detainee Otto Warmbier,” NBC 4, June 20, 2017; Fred Haitt, “Remind me again why we ignore the thousands languishing in North Korea’s concentration camps?,” National Post, June 19, 2017, reprinted from the Washington Post; Christian Caryl, “The North Koreans treated Otto Warmbier like one of their own,” Washington Post, June 19, 2017; Gordon D. Chang, “State-Sanctioned Murder: North Korea Killed Otto Warmbier,” The Daily Beast, June 19, 2017; Danika Fears, “North Korea kills American student,” New York Post, June 19, 2017; Cortney O’Brien, “Rubio Minces No Words: Warmbier Was ‘Murdered’,” TownHall, June 19, 2017; Patrick Maguire, “Otto Warmbier’s death reminds us of North Korea’s brutality,” New Statesman,  June 2017; Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea Claims Otto Warmbier Sought Regime Change,” Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2017; Jack Torry and Jessica Wehrman, “Otto Warmbier’s death after release from North Korean detention brings sympathy, anger,” Dayton Daily News, June 19, 2017; CBS News, “S. Korean leader says N. Korea bears “heavy responsibility” for Otto Warmbier’s death,” June 23, 2017.

[3] Bill Chappell, “Tour Company Used By Otto Warmbier Will Stop Taking Americans To North Korea,” NPR News, June 20, 2017; Andreas Litmer, “Warmbier death: Will people still travel to North Korea?,” BBC News, June 20, 2017; Charlie Chappell, “Otto Warmbier’s Death May Spell the End of American Tourism to North Korea. Sadly, That’s About It,” Time.com, June 22, 2017; Neil Connor, “Otto Warmbier’s travel agency stops taking American tourists to North Korea after ‘risk became too high’,” The Telegraph, June 20, 2017; Adly Choi, “Inside the Sketchy Travel Company That Took Otto Warmbier to North Korea,” Nextshark, June 23, 2017. The father of Warmbier did make an honest perception of the horridness of this company even though it has anti-DPRK diatribes within it: “This Chinese company has slick ads on the internet, claiming no American ever gets detained…They lure Americans. And that’s what happened to my son. He was trying to leave the country and he was taken hostage. They advertise it as the safest tour ever. But they provide fodder for the North Koreans. They took him hostage. And the outcome is self-evident.”

[4] Tim Schwarz, Will Ripley, and James Griffiths, “Exclusive: North Korea reveals alleged U.S. prisoner to CNN in Pyongyang,” CNN, Jan. 11, 2016; Taehoon Lee, “North Korea detains fourth US citizen,” CNN, May 8, 2017; BBC News, “North Korean university names detained US citizen,” Apr. 24, 2017; Tom Cleary, “Tony Kim aka Kim Sang-Duk: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, May 1, 2017; Anna Fifield, “North Korea detains American at airport,” Washington Post, Apr. 23, 2017; KCNA, “Relevant Institution of DPRK Detains American Citizen Jin Xue Song,” May 7, 2017; James Pearson, “North Korea detains third U.S. citizen,” Reuters, Apr. 23, 2017. On May 7th, KCNA said “a relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Jin Xue Song [Kim Hak-song] on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspicion of his hostile acts against it. He had worked for operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. A relevant institution is now conducting detailed investigation into his crime.” Currently there are FOUR detained foreign nationals in DPRK, if Wikipedia is right.

[5] Kathy L. Gilbert, “North Korea releases comatose Otto Warmbier,” United Methodist News Service, June 15, 2017; Pyongyang Times, “American Arrested for His Hostile Act against DPRK,” Jan. 23, 2016.

[6] Pyongyang Times, “American Arrestee Interviewed,” Pyongyang Times, March 1, 2016; Pyongyang Times, “American Student Sentenced to 15 Years of Hard Labor in DPRK,” Pyongyang Times, Mar. 16, 2016.

[7] This English translation is very close to another I found from WIPO records.

[8] Jason Hanna, Joshua Berlinger, and Emanuella Grinberg, “Doctors: Ex-North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has severe brain injury,” CNN, June 16, 2017.

[9] Maggie Fox, “Otto Warmbier Has Extensive Brain Damage, Doctors Say,” NBC News, June 16, 2017.

[10] “American citizen released,” Pyongyang Times, June 16, 2017.

[11] KCNA, “DPRK FM Spokesman Accuses U.S. of Slandering Humanitarian Measure,” June 23, 2017.

[12] KCNA, “DPRK bashing by the US and s. Korea prompts firestorm of protest,” Pyongyang Times, June 25, 2017.

[13] Jonathan Allen, “Otto Warmbier’s family declines autopsy for US student released by North Korea,” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 21, 2017; Young DPRK Watchers, “An objective assessment of Warmbier’s fate: Challenging U.S mythologies,” June 20, 2017; Young DPRK Watchers, “Otto Warmbier as a symbol of American Privilege,” June 18, 2017.

[14] Daily NK, “The dire reality of “universal health care” in North Korea,” June 2, 2015; Barbara Demick, “North Korea’s healthcare is a horror, report says,” Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2010; Caroline Gluck, “N Korea healthcare ‘near collapse’,” BBC News, Nov. 20, 2001; The Week Staff, “North Korea’s ‘horrifying’ health care system,” The Week, July 19, 2010; The Telegraph, “North Korea’s health system ‘on its knees’,” July 15, 2010; Laura Oneale, “North Korea’s Health Dilemma,” June 22, 2013; Freekorea.us, “A guerrilla health care system for North Korea’s poor,” Sept. 28, 2015; Radio Free Asia, “North Korean Health Care ‘Fails’,” July 20, 2010; Sean Alfano, “North Korea’s health care horror, doctors sometimes perform amputations without anesthesia: report,” NY Daily News, July 15, 2010.

[15] I’m not even going to link this horrible report, just the title page if those who are skeptical want to “prove” that I’m right, which would be utterly obnoxious. If you want to read hideous, digusting, orientalist propaganda and fill your mind with lies, go right ahead, but you’ll be no comrade of him.

[16] BBC News, “Aid agencies row over North Korea health care system,” July 16, 2010.

[17] Josiah Cha, “‘Every patient had malnutrition’ – on a medical mission in North Korea,” The Guardian, Oct. 8, 2015. I think this is the same medical mission.

[18] See pages 126, 127, 128, 129, 130.

[19] As CNN (“Red Cross: North Korea medical system near collapse,” Nov. 6, 1997) and hateful “North Korea watchers” (Liberty in North Korea, “SONGBUN | Social Class in a Socialist Paradise,” June 25, 2012) admit, if you read between the lines, capitalism almost caused the DPRK’s healthcare system to collapse in the 1990s.

[20] The report also acknowledges the achievement in “compassionate care for children in general and war orphans in particular; ‘radical change’ in the position of women; [and] genuinely free housing.”

[21] Jonathan Lynn, “North Korea has plenty of doctors: WHO,” Reuters, Apr. 30, 2010.

[22] Brett Schaefer, “United Nations Defends North Korean Health Care System,” The Daily Signal, July 22, 2010; Sierra Rayne, “WHO’s Delusions on North Korea’s Health Care System,” American Thinker, July 24, 2013.

[23] In their travel guidelines for the DPRK, it almost sounds Orientalist, implying that US hospitals are wonderful, shining, and happy compared to those in the DPRK: “Medical facilities in the DPRK lack resources and electricity. Medical personnel have inadequate or outdated skills. Hospitals in Pyongyang can perform basic examinations and lifesaving measures, but functioning x-ray facilities are not generally available. Avoid surgery. If you have an accident outside Pyongyang, transport back to the capital can be lengthy and without medical assistance.”

[25] They have also “adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK, and a law enacting “universal free education and the 11-year compulsory education.””

[26] The ROK claims that chemical weapons were developed here, but it undoubtedly a total lie.

[27] 95% of those who drink, drink spirits. There is also strong alcohol consumption by males, more than among females.

[28] This information also says that stroke leading cause of death, with probability of dying highest among men over 70, low in all other categories. It also says that people under age 5 mostly die of prematurity and other causes, that over 60% of population in urban areas, and that life expectancy varies depending on age. It is also worth noting that 16.3% of parliament is composed of women.

[29] Sangwoon Won, “North Korea launches medical videoconference network with help of WHO,” Associated Press, 2010. Reprinted on http://www.wellness.com/.

[30] Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea requests medical aid from U.N. agencies,” UPI, July 6, 2015. There are also claims they were trying to learn from China about AIDs.

[31] Han Ryo Gyong, “Rural hospital benefits from telemedicine,” Pyongyang Times, June 24, 2017.

[32] Pyongyang Times, “Kim Jong Un inspects dental care supplies factory,” June 20, 2017; Rodong Sinmun, “Kim Jong Un Inspects New Dental Sanitary Goods Factory,” June 20, 2017.

[33] See data here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (likely on archive.org), and this book.

[34] See here for the following books: “Revolution and Socialist Construction in Korea: Selected Writings of Kim Il Sung“; “Modern Korea: The Socialist North, Revolutionary Perspectives in the South, and Unification“; “The Historical Experience of the Agrarian Reform in Our Country“; “North Korean Journey: The Revolution Against Colonialism“; “Modern History of Korea.” Bruce Cummings is no help here. Neither is this article. As for “Jaka Parker” I haven’t watched any videos to have a viewpoint one way or the other.