Archive | March 2016

Elections, Presidents And the Ruling Oligarchy

  Contrary to the belief of some among the left, elections do really take place in capitalist countries and are not all fake and just for show or distraction; although, they serve that purpose, too. They’re real and are used to pick a president, just not for the working class. The capitalists do use elections to decide who will represent them, help plan their course going forward, reach consensus among the class, sell their plans to people and facilitate their successful execution and overall defend their class interests for the next four years. The ruling class needs to pick the president that will be best for them for the given conditions, since they’re variable and in constant flux. Sometimes, they may go for a liberal and other times for a conservative. It all depends on the balance of forces, the level of people’s awareness and activism and existing opportunities and constraints.

Some also argue that policies and plans are made decades in advance and therefore can’t be changed by a new president, who wins the elections. That’s certainly true about the overall objectives and strategy of the ruling class, such as the push for world domination and expanding the reach and influence of multinational corporations and their empire. But, tactics and methods cannot be fixed years in advance, due to constantly changing circumstances. 

It’s also not true that the president has no power. Because of the changing conditions, there is need for decision making at any given time and for given set of facts on the ground at any given time. That decision making requires hierarchy, organization and obviously decision making authority. Without it, there would be chaos and decisions couldn’t be made or executed. Imagine members of the ruling class each calling and ordering the president to do what each thinks should be done: bomb, don’t bomb, invade now, invade later, don’t invade at all, make peace, start a war, etc. There is need for a central authority to prevent such chaos and paralysis. Again, keep in mind that such decisions depend on current conditions and facts and therefore aren’t written in stone. And that being the case, decision making is therefore required and consequently a decision making authority must be bestowed to a “general manager”, who is trusted for a period of time to help with the planning and implementation of conditions that would maximize the profits and wealth of the class as a whole and minimize resistance by the working class.

Although it’s all for the benefit of the ruling class, someone has to be hired and given that authority and power, while also being held responsible and accountable to the class. This is no different from the process of managing any institution or organization, including corporations. The president, in fact, acts as a general manager or the CEO. Just as a company CEO is given the decision making power and tasked with maximizing profits for the company, the president is tasked with protecting the interests of the class and the corporations as a whole, while in office. And just as the CEO can be dumped and replaced by the shareholders of the company, if he doesn’t perform, the class has tools and ways at its disposal to unseat, or at the very least make ineffective, an incompetent or uncooperative head of state. But, until then, he or she must be given the required authority and trusted to manage the decision making process due to changing circumstances.

Although the logic of changing circumstances and the process of decision making requires authority and power, this doesn’t mean the president is free to do whatever he wants. The system does have its ways to stop him or her. Just as it’s given, power can also be taken away. In fact, one of the functions of the military is just that: to act as a watchdog and stand guard so the administration doesn’t go rogue and threaten the system. Note that the military is not elected, but is ultimately created and paid by the ruling capitalist class and answers to the class. The military, just as the police and intelligence and spy agencies, are hired guns of the ruling class. Same goes for the courts and obviously the media, which are directly owned by the class. On the surface of it, the military appears to respect and comply with the wishes of the elected civilian leadership, but that goes only so far. But, the fact that it may take a military intervention to remove a president, itself, is testament to the power the administration is given; otherwise, it wouldn’t have to be taken back by force.

Finally, I must say that the idea that everything is decided beforehand and will be implemented no matter what we do and that there is nothing people can do to change the course that’s been set decades ago is very counterproductive because it discourages activism and encourages apathy, which only benefits the ruling class.

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and the “lesser evil”

  

I don’t think just because the ruling capitalist class adopts a certain position on something, we on the left must automatically take its opposite, but it should, at least, make us think twice and reexamine our own position, if it’s not the opposite of theirs, given our contradictory interests. What’s clear is that they don’t want a Donald Trump presidency, even though they helped create this Frankenstein, themselves. 

What’s also clear is that many and probably even most of the capitalist class prefers Hillary over either Trump or Cruz, just as most of them preferred Obama over either McCain or Romney, except that this time, by all indications, they prefer Hillary even more than they did Obama. And that’s due to what the Republicans have to offer in this cycle, which obviously isn’t much and falls decidedly short, compared to the Democrats. And there is reason for that. Both Trump and Cruz are too divisive, too extreme in certain policy areas, will antagonize minorities and the poor and will probably stir unrest, which the ruling class doesn’t need and could do without. 

So, it must at least give liberals pause and when they decide that Hillary is the “lesser evil”, it should at least make them wonder how come the ruling class, which has interests diametrically and irreconcilably opposite of the working class’, disagrees and believes rather that Clinton is not the “lesser evil”, but very much “more evil”. Who’s right?

If you think Obama was good for working people, then so will Hillary since she’s made it clear that she wants to continue his policies, except that when it comes to wars, she wants more of them, not less. The ruling class wants someone who can have good rapport with minorities and the poor, while performing his or her duties as the top defender of big capitalists’ interests. And that’s what Clinton, as opposed to either Trump or Cruz, offers: she can make the rich richer without evoking unrest. That’s why they prefer Clinton. And, I think they’re right. Clinton will indeed be better for the billionaires and multimillionaire. 

Now, I’m not saying that we should therefore vote for Trump or Cruz. But, we should at least not be under any illusion that Hillary is the “lesser evil” – not by a long shot. She’s no “less” by any stretch of the imagination, when it comes to being evil. Just ask the Libyans and Hondurans and even her colleagues in the Obama Administration, who had to tell her to calm down when she was excitedly and impatiently pushing Obama to bomb Syria.

What Now For Bernie’s Supporters?

 
Now that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Democratic Party nomination seems all but certain, Bernie supporters must be wondering: now what? Now that their hope to have a liberal Senator make the reforms they want from inside the White House has been dashed, they may be thinking wether they should vote for Hillary in November, as much as they hate to do that or should they sit it out. How is it, they may be wondering, that they keep finding themselves in this trap and keep spinning their wheels? Is there a way to break out of the cycle of voting for a “lesser evil” Democrat in order to avoid the scary Republicans, only to end up with the same shit?

I don’t need to tell Bernie’s supporters about Hillary and her politics. Most of them already know. They know about her links to Wall Street banks and the arms manufacturers, and her support for multinational corporations from the pharmaceuticals to oil companies and others. They know about her views on neoliberal trade policy, her penchant for war and military interventions, her support for CIA coups around the world, her unconditional support for Israel’s genocide against Palestinians, her views on death penalty and criminal justice system, her support for “war on terror” and the domestic surveillance program and more. 

But I don’t know if they realize that voting for the “lesser evil”, though it may seem like a harmless thing to do, does have a damaging impact on the collective psyche and mind of the voting population. I’m not against voting as a matter of principle or in all cases and I won’t tell anyone not to vote, but we must understand and be clear on what we are voting for because we just may be voting for more of what we wish to change, in which case we’re consenting to not have the change that we need and want at all. It just may be that we are led to consent to the opposite of what we believe in, through some clever political manipulation and trickery, using fear. Fear is a strong emotion that trumps the courage for achieving change and kills the burning desire in us for progress and justice. Simply put, when we vote for “the lesser evil”, we’re voting against change and against all that we stand for and believe in; it means we accept defeat, surrender and go home, to feel disillusioned and angry, without having a constructive channel for turning that anger into something constructive and positive and into change. So, how do we end up doing the opposite of what we intended to do in the first place?Why is it that we give up our desire for change and vote against our own beliefs and interests?

It happens because we’re offered only the two corporate parties, one of which specializes in catching the more conscious individuals and herding them back into the slaughterhouse. Voting for someone with whom you have big fundamental differences first of all is a betrayal of yourself and your beliefs. When you do that just to prevent her opponent from winning, you’re not voting your conscience or what you believe in; rather, you’re voting based on nothing but fear. Secondly, what voting for the “lesser evil” does is divert your energy, passion, anger and enthusiasm for change into an exercise that’s designed and bound to not affect the status quo. Thirdly, one must ask if there is enough difference between the candidates to make trading our conscience and beliefs for slightly “lesser evil” worth it. When you advocate voting for someone you consider wrong for the majority, you’d then be a hypocrite to continue to oppose and expose her, anymore. You give up the credibility of your criticism, in that case. You can’t consistently and truly oppose and expose a candidate and at the same time advocate her by voting for her. But, realistically, how much worse can Donald Trump, for example, be compared to Hillary to make it worthwhile to vote against one’s principles? Actually, I’d argue that Hillary would be worse because people are much more likely to adopt direct action and take things into their own hands, which is the only way to bring about real change, under Trump presidency than under Clinton.

So is there life after Bernie? Is there any option left that can work to bring about the reforms that we hoped Bernie would make, if he were to be elected and if he were willing and able to materialize them? Yes, actually, there are 3 options that always deliver when a liberal reformer can’t or won’t: protest, boycott and strike (PBS). A movement of persistent, protracted and national protests can bring businesses to a halt and hit the ruling class economically, while putting pressure on political leaders. Boycott of consumer goods to the extent possible can also be effective. Although we’re limited in how much we can refrain from consuming goods and services, we can minimize our consumption and that too would be a blow to the ruling class. And, finally striking at workplace in a unified and coordinated way with other workers is always an extremely potent way. too. But, I hold no illusions that all three of these are very hard to do. They’re hard because they’re effective. We may choose the method of achieving change that’s easy, but bears no fruit, or we can embark on a method that we know works, but is hard. As they say, the choice is ours. 

Donald Trump and His Racist Base: What Is To Be Done?

  Political pundits on TV found a new subject to fill the airwaves with, after all the endless stupid “debates”. So, they’re now explaining to us the “political science” behind the violence committed by white supremacist thugs at Trump rallies. You don’t need a PH.D. to understand racism. The fact is that the candidacy of a shameless bigot like Trump, who shows his prejudice and hatred for minorities and immigrants openly and unapologetically, has given an opportunity to white supremacists, Nazis and Klansmen to come out and join the party of hatred and bigotry, without the inconvenience of “political correctness”. 

Trump’s problem with President Obama and his whole motto of “making America great again” and “taking our country back” has to do with one thing and one thing alone and that is that to people like Trump and his supporters having a black president is unacceptable. That’s why Trump kept complaining that Obama wasn’t qualified to be president because, according to him and other “birthers”, he was born in Kenya. And the anger that these white supremacist men and women feel and want to express is just about that: that a black person should not be the president of the United Stated. A majority of those voting for Trump still believe Obama wasn’t born in the US and therefore he shouldn’t have been president. Actually, the excuse doesn’t matter. The reason that’s given is just to justify their racist position; the bottom line is that they cannot accept to have a black president. In fact, one of every five Trump supporters believes slavery should not have been abolished – one of every five! 

The white supremacists saw in Trump with his brash and bold demeanor and open and unapologetic racism the opportunity to express their own racism. And Trump, in turn, is using that to win elections and so keeps inflaming even more hatred and even violence. That’s what his supporters love about him. His policy positions are secondary and even irrelevant to them. That’s why he can say he can shoot someone on 5th Avenue and people would still vote for him.

What should be done about it? People must get organized and resist. Racism can’t be reasoned away. Nazis cannot be convinced with logic and reason to not hate or to refrain from acting on their hatred. They must be stopped, pushed back and defeated. And that can’t be done by individuals acting alone. People’s power comes from their unity and organization and organized resistance. What that means simply is to join an organization with like minded people, where people with similar views and goals can get together, brainstorm, discuss, strategize, plan actions, divide the required tasks and work towards their common goals. Actions must be towards meeting specific objectives. Shutting down Trump rallies full of white supremacists being stirred up by their racist leader is a good example. It accomplishes several things: it stops the momentum of and pushes back the emboldened racists, who have found an opening and the gall to come out and show their bigotry, thereby disempowering them, while empowering and encouraging resistance against them. Such organized resistance can also serve to raise awareness about the problem of institutional racism and police brutality that especially affects minorities and be the vehicle for fighting back.

Trump is an opportunist and a demagogue. He’s using the racism of many whites to achieve his political goals and ambitions, fanning the flames of hatred and encouraging violence against minorities in the process. Such attacks will increase in frequency and intensity, if not fought back and stopped. What’s more, the struggle against bigotry itself can be the beginning of a larger movement against widespread and institutional racism that is still gripping the nation.

Hillary Clinton: The Epitome of  a Corrupt Washington Politician

  During her debates with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton kept praising Obama and portrayed herself as a big fan of his policies. That’s because she knows that a large majority of blacks still support Obama. What she failed to mention though is her differences with Obama, which in every instance was from the right. Not only has she supported neoliberal trade policies and specifically the TPP, until recently when she changed her position on it, but also in regards to wars. 

While the Secretary of State, she kept pushing Obama for new wars. It got so bad that according to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, who wrote in an article for the April 2016 issue, published March 10, 2016, Obama told his cabinet that he would only take such proposals from the Defense Secretary, She tried everything to get the US to go to war against Syria, including shaming Obama. “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice”, she told the President, according to Goldberg. Obama chose instead to arm, train and fund Islamist terrorists, including ISIS, to do the regime change, but that wasn’t good enough for the Secretary of State turned “War Secretary”.

Obama did go to war against Libya, which resulted in Qaddafi’s torture and murder when US planes bombed his convoy and virtually destroyed the country, after killing thousands of people, and Clinton had much to do with that. “Obama did not want to join the fight”, writes Goldberg, who interviewed Obama; “he was counseled by Joe Biden and his first-term secretary of defense Robert Gates, among others, to steer clear. But a strong faction within the national-security team—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, who was then the ambassador to the United Nations, along with Samantha Power” (so much for the idea that women are not war mongers) and others to begin bombing. 

Obama admitted in that interview that overthrowing Qaddafi was a mistake. “It didn’t work”, he said; “Libya is a mess.” He even called the situation in Libya a “shit show” (thanks to Obama himself and his virtual War Secretary). But, you won’t hear that from Clinton, who seems determined to turn the whole Middle East and North Africa into a “shit show”, and, who knows, Venezuela could be next, if she becomes the president. In fact, there has not been a war that Hillary has not supported. And there has not been a mention of a possible next war that she didn’t jump up and say “yes, it’s a good idea”. She’s made her wish for war on Iran, too, known on more than one occasion. It’s no wonder she has won praise from the likes of Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney. 

She’ll never mention this when campaigning for the votes of Obama supporters. With an amazing twist, she even turns Sanders’ advocacy for universal single payer health insurance, which is the only real solution to people’s healthcare needs, into a liability for Sanders by presenting it as an attack on Obamacare, which bears Obama’s name, and hence an opposition to him just to win black votes. You have to be incredibly conniving, sly and dishonest to campaign like this. And it takes an incredibly corrupt Democratic Party to support such a “natural politician”.

Only in an evil empire, ruled by greedy oligarchy of capitalists and a population that’s completely bamboozled can you find such a dishonest and conniving politician, who can lie her way into winning the nomination of a major political party. Only the leaders of such an empire can casually speak of destroying entire countries that they dragged through blood and mud and then say “it didn’t work”, without paying any price for it. Only in such an empire ruled by bankers who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to a politician like Clinton, can a former Secretary of State who pushed for such devastating wars run as a “progressive” and win the votes of the minorities and liberals. Just the fact that such a corrupt war criminal and a representative of bankers and big corporations can possibly become the president is testament to how low this society has sunk.

Hillary Clinton: A “Natural Politician”

  Hillary Clinton said tonight during her debate with Bernie Sandsrs in Miami: “I’m not a natural politician”. Does she not realize how disingenuous and laughable that sounds, especially when the impression people have of her is a typical lying politician of the worst kind? Obviously, she knows that – that people know about her dishonesty and untrustworthiness; her advisors surely tell her that and that’s exactly why she says such a thing: to erase that impression. So, when she says that, it just reinforces the impression that she really is a lying scum.
I don’t support Bernie either because he and his brand of so-called “democratic socialism”, which is more common in Europe than here, is a typical pro-imperialist, pro-Zionist and pro-capitalist one and there is nothing “socialist” about it, just as there is nothing “revolutionary” about his campaign. Indeed, his is a brand that supports many of imperialist wars, supports the genocide by Israel and tries to alleviate and reduce capitalist excesses to make it last longer, through cosmetic reformss within the capitalist system, which in its imperialist stags is responsible for millions of deaths and devastation of entire nations. 
But, at least, he didn’t apologize or back down from his defense of Fidel Castro or opposition to US intervention for the sake of regime change. Although he did unfairly criticize the Cuban leadership as being “authoritative and undemocratic”, he did say that the US should not attack and overthrow governments, which should be common sense, but it’s hard to expect common sense from a brainwashed population. Although Sanders’ defense of Cuba was extremely weak and insufficient and although he didn’t mention how imperialism and its intervention leaves Cuba with no choice, but to be diligent about defending its socialist (real “socialist”) revolution, which such defensive diligence is routinely attacked by imperialism as “undemocratic”, and although he didn’t mention the Cuban people’s impressive achievements in eliminating illiteracy, hunger, infant mortality, homelessness and income and wealth gap, among others, at least, he did defend Cuba for its accomplishments in healthcare and education and refused to attack Castro when pressed. 
That doesn’t by any means mean he’s anti-capitalist, or a revolutionary – revolution can never be won by running in bourgeois elections to become the head of a bloody corporate empire responsible for war crimes, massacres and tyranny worldwide – and while he shamelessly supports Israel, at least, he does raise some issues that haven’t been heard, much less debated, by Americans, and wittingly or not, is raising the level of the conversation, much the same way the Occupy Wall Street movement raised the awareness about the 1%, or the Black Lives Matter movement raised the consciousness about police brutality. 
I’m not suggesting Bernie’s influence is as big as that of those grassroots movements, but if there is a silver lining in these rigged and fraudulent elections, it is that the issue of the corruption and the oligarchy of the billionaires and corporations is being raised, along with corruption of politicians like Clinton. That may not be much, but for a population so thoroughly brainwashed by corporate media, it is something.
Hillary Clinton is exactly what she tries to deny. She really is a typical dishonest scumbag of a corporate politician, who easily and readily sells herself to the highest bidder (or to whomever is willing to pay) on Wall Street or on any other street, and would not hesitate to start even more wars than Obama and Bush for her billionaire buyers – in the real sense of the word “buyers”. 
Although I don’t support any of the candidates of the two major corporate parties, I believe Sanders is at the very least a liberal and perhaps even progressive in some respects – that is if support for a genocide and voting to fund imperialist wars can be called “liberal” and “progressive”. At least compared to Clinton, who is a corrupt and “natural politician”, he’s a liberal. Today, there is nothing liberal or progressive about the Democratic Party or Democrats like Clinton. And whatever small difference you might find between Clinton and the other candidates from the Republican Party, that difference is more than made up for by her corrupt and disingenuous personality. With Republicans, at least you know what you’re getting. They openly say they’re not liberal or progressive and that they’re on the side of big business and against the working class and the minorities. With Hillary, not only she could be just as bad if not worse than any Republican, she presents herself as “progressive” and defender of workers and minorities. Not only she is a “natural politician”, she’s a politician of the worst kind.

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Donald Trump And the American Fascists

  It would be a grave mistake and negligent oversight on the part of the left to ignore and dismiss the Donald Trump campaign for president and his rowdy racist supporters who flock to his rallies nationwide as insignificant circus of fake and rigged bourgeois elections. He and his “movement” is real, is here and is now, and deserves an accurate understanding by the left, which is and has been historically, logically and by necessity, the only serious challenge and antidote to fascism, which is a constant presence in capitalist societies, due to the very nature and contradictions of capitalism. 

I will say at the outset that contrary to what you may hear from MSNBC pundits like Rachel Maddow, the liberals and the Democratic Party are just as culpable for the current pseudo-fascist conditions as are conservatives and the Republican Party. Decades of aggressive neoliberal policies by both corporate parties have created a winner-takes-all casino type cutthroat economy that keeps pushing the working class into poverty and desperation. Feeling disempowered, disenfranchised and abandoned by the system, many white blue collar workers, especially in the South and rural areas, have been a ticking time bomb, waiting for a racist, anti-immigrant, misogynist and authoritarian nationalist to appear and empower them and enable them to take their long awaited revenge on the minorities, immigrants, Muslims and other “outsiders” who, in their minds, threaten their world, their way of life and their identity and are responsible for their stagnation and frustration. 

However, the claim by some on the left that the ruling class or the state is gearing up for or moving towards fascism is not accurate; although, they can’t always control things and a racist opportunist like Trump could awaken and incite fascists into violence against minorities on a large scale. Already, there have been several incidents of violence against African Americans by white supremacists during his campaign rallies. He not only doesn’t try to discourage it, but actually eggs them on. At one point, he told his supporters, during one of his rallies, about a protester: “don’t hurt him”, but “if you do, I’ll defend you. Don’t worry about it.” This is not what the ruling class needs, right now. They’d rather not bring out their tanks into the streets, which carry with it significant political risks for them. They will, of course, not hesitate to do that when and if they feel they have to, to protect their interests, but they’d much rather not. The capitalist class wants the maximum possible profits with the minimum risk, cost and turmoil.

During the latest Republican presidential debate, Fox News moderators asked the candidates if they would pledge to support the Republican nominee, no matter who it ends up to be. Loyalty to the Republican Party may be the biggest issue for Fox News producers and moderators, but, it’s the last thing on the minds of the ruling capitalist class or even the Party leadership, which is more in tune with the needs and demands of the class than are Fox News moderators. In fact, about 30 leading Republicans have openly disavowed Donald Trump and some even Ted Cruz. There is talk of having a new Republican candidate enter the race. Some have even hinted at supporting Hillary Clinton, should Trump win the nomination. This is despite the fact that Trump is invigorating and energizing the Republican base and bringing new supporters and followers into his campaign, increasing Republicans’ chance of beating the Democrats in November. Voter turnout among Republicans has increased across the nation (with the exception of Vermont) significantly, thanks in large part to Trump and his racist followers.

There are also reports that the Party establishment is looking for ways to deny Trump the nomination, even if he wins the largest number of delegates. This is not unprecedented. During the Democratic National Convention in 1968, in Chicago, Eugene McCarthy had the largest number of delegates from primaries, but the Democratic Party leadership chose Lyndon Johnson’s pro-war Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, against the will of their own base who had voted overwhelmingly for anti Vietnam war McCarthy, after another anti-war candidate, Robert Kennedy, was assassinated. A revolt broke out at the Convention and the police came in, in military gear, and beat and hauled many delegates to prison. People wanted the war ended, but the ruling class and therefore party establishment weren’t done with the war yet, which goes to show the relationship between the ruling class and the two major parties. It also shows that class interests always trump democracy (pun not intended).

This time, it’s happening on the Republicans’ side. The base is voting for a pseudo-fascist, which is causing nervousness at the top. The reason for their trepidation, however, isn’t just Republicans’ concern that Trump and his open and unabashed bigotry could ruin their party’s reputation and future electability. That is a worry for the Party, but not necessarily for the ruling class, which the Party is ultimately answerable to and competes with Democrats for the chance and privilege to represent. The ruling class couldn’t care less which political party its representatives and servants come from. They could even be from a party that calls itself “socialist”, as is the case in many European countries where capitalists have perfected the art of mass deception. The reason the ruling class is getting worried at the prospect of a Trump presidency is what his presidency could do to their profits – it’s always about profits – not because he wouldn’t be their ally or wouldn’t want to serve their class, but because of what he represents, who he may activate politically and what his “movement” may spawn. Fascism is never off the table for capitalist rulers, but it’s not their first choice. In fact, it’s their last resort. Having said that, they can’t always control someone like Trump who provides an outlet for the misplaced, but understandable anger of the racist and nationalistic blue collar workers, who blame immigrants and minorities for their misfortune. Their economic stagnation adds fuel to their bigotry and sense of diminishing power and relevance and increasing alienation. They see in Trump, with his crude, racist and don’t care attitude, the strongman who would empower them and give them a sense of pride and glory at the expense of “others”. The white supremacists are getting emboldened and coming out of the woodwork to attack minorities. We’re headed for more violence.