“What is the source of the influence of fascism over the masses?
Fascism is able to attract the masses because it demagogically appeals
to their most urgent needs and demands. Fascism not only inflames
prejudices that are deeply ingrained in the masses, but also plays on
the better sentiments of the masses, on their sense of justice, and
sometimes even on their revolutionary traditions.”
For the past eighteen months, the world capitalist economy has been in crisis. Within the USA, this crisis has had several distinctive features.
The most striking fact of life in the USA in this period has been the naked give-away by the federal government of at least a few trillion dollars to the criminal Wall Street gang of finance capitalists, the dominant section of the U.S. ruling class, whose frenzied greed was most responsible for the current crisis. Most of this rescue money was provided to Wall Street in two multi-billion dollar bailouts. Both bailouts had the blessings of both the Republican and the Democratic Party. The first was provided under the Bush Regime and the second under the Obama Regime.
At the same time, the U.S. working class as a whole has experienced massive layoffs – eight million new unemployed and more millions chronically underemployed. As in the past, the monopoly capitalists today use the vast “army of the unemployed” as a club with which to beat down the workers still lucky enough to have jobs, to lower their wages, speed up their work, etc.
The oppressed nationality workers are the hardest hit. The Afro-American workers are still the last hired and first fired, and the epidemic of Black youth unemployment is a major source of the devastation being visited upon the Afro-American communities throughout the USA. As the situation of the rest of the working class is becoming increasingly desperate, the ability of the U.S. monopoly capitalist ruling class to mobilize significant numbers to support open attacks on Latino and other immigrant workers is also increasing. And this can only result in the weakening of the position of the working class vis-à-vis capital in each part and as a whole.
On top of all this, many working class families, as well as middle class families, are losing their homes in the epidemic of home foreclosures. And with the drastic reduction in home values and the stock market shocks, manipulation and decline that have accompanied this crisis, many more working class and middle class people have seen their main sources of old age security disappear. This is forcing more elderly workers to remain in jobs and further aggravating youth unemployment and the already parasitic youth culture. Finally, there is an epidemic of small business failures, aggravated by the unwillingness of the big banks that received the Bush and Obama billion dollar bailouts to grant loans to the hard pressed middle class business people. For the U.S. middle class, spoiled by decades of U.S. imperialist hegemony in the capitalist world economy, this calamitous state of affairs has traumatized them.
The Rise of the Tea Party Movement
In this setting, over the past year, a reactionary, right wing, mainly white middle class movement has emerged on the U.S. political scene. The Tea Party Movement has arisen in fits and starts, in one guise or another, under the leadership of one Republican Party politician or right wing media talk show personality and then another. Sometimes, it has functioned in close cooperation with the Republican Party; at others, it has taken on an anti-Democratic and anti-Republican Party, decidedly anti-government, tone. Initially appearing in local protests around the country against the federal government on April 15th, 2009, the day that federal taxes were due, many wore Revolutionary War costumes with a Boston Tea Party theme. They were protesting the stimulus packages and especially the bank bailouts, which had happened under the George W. Bush Regime first and then under new President Obama.
Former Republican House majority leader, Dick Armey, is the leader of FreedomWorks, one of the three national-level conservative groups that gave “guidance” to this “bottom-up, grass roots” protest “against Washington.” Ironically, Armey had been a bag man for now imprisoned super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the ultimate Washington insider, and had been driven out of Washington in disgrace. Likewise, Tim Phillips, the President of Americans For Prosperity (AFP), another of these leading groups, was a longtime Republican campaign director and Washington lobbyist for corporate interests, and also connected to Jack Abramoff! AFP is the political tool of the billionaire Koch brothers who are the enemies of public health care and public funding for anything other than war production and pharmaceuticals.
As Hightower Lowdown recently pointed out, “No one professes more hatred for the two-party business-as-usual political system in Washington than those angry Americans who’re caught up in the tea-bag rallies. Yet unbeknownst to most of the mad-as-hellers who have showed up, it was AFP’s Republican-tied lobbyists and political functionaries who cynically financed, organized, and orchestrated the very first tea-bag protest.” (February 2010)
Following the tax protest, the tea party folks next appeared en masse in August 2009 at the Town Hall Meetings on the Health Care Debate. There they weighed in on the side of the medical-industrial complex. (The Koch brothers, Phillips and AFP, for example, through a group they call Patients United Now, sponsored a “Hands Off My Health Care” bus tour.) Their fiery and angry presence in these meetings helped stifle any rational discussion of the virtues of “single-payer,” “socialized medicine,” supported by tremendous numbers of health care professionals, doctors, nurses, etc. as well as by millions of U.S. citizens. Such a plan, if implemented, would eliminate health insurance company private profits and threaten all private profit in the health care arena.
Likewise, the tea partyers, guided by their medical-industrial complex patrons, vociferously condemned any “public option” that could compete against the private insurance companies, pressuring them to improve their health coverage and diminish their corporate profits. Cleverly playing on the tea party folks’ widespread fear of socialism and communism in the USA, the medical-industrial complex, with most Democratic Party politicians as well as the Republicans bought off, was able to totally dominate the health care debate. This occurred despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens had been in favor of single payer or at least a public option at the outset of the debate and that universal public health care is in the interests of the vast majority of tea party folks as well as the vast majority of the people of the USA.*
* Rather than supporting the just demand for Medicare for All, some tea party folks at town hall meetings selfishly and ignorantly declared that the government should keep its hands off their Medicare, a government program!
The corporate domination of the Town Hall debates, and the health care debate in the whole country, fueled the momentum of the tea party movement. On September 12, 2009, arguably the most dramatic political action yet pulled off by the tea party movement occurred. Tens of thousands marched on Washington, D.C. (The right wing press reported a million people!) Remarkably, no single issue brought the crowd. Their banners, slogans and demands were many and diverse. But the most common thread was white supremacist hatred for President Obama. Having a man of color at the helm of state seemed to underscore for these upset and increasingly impoverished white middle class folks, that the anti-people policies of the “Republicrat” government was taking their country away from them. For Obama’s policies and proposals were quite consistent with the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush. And the Bush Regime had never come close to inflaming the tea party folks enough to draw them to Washington, D.C.
The next big tea party development took place in January 2010 and involved the startling Scott Brown Republican victory in the Senate race to fill the unexpired term of the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy. Brown won the election with 52 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Martha Coakley. It was startling because Kennedy, one of the most liberal democrats in the U.S. Senate, had held the seat for forty-seven years and because the Massachusetts congressional delegation was 100% composed of Democratic Party members. Furthermore, the Democratic candidate, state attorney general Coakley, had trounced her Democratic rivals in the primary. She was so confident that she would win that she famously dismissed the suggestion that she should stand outside Fenway Park to shake hands with voters, as Brown had done.
At the outset of the campaign, the national Republican Party had all but conceded the seat to the Democrats. It was tea party movement folks from around the country that gave state senator Brown the momentum to seriously challenge the powerful Massachusetts Democratic Party apparatus.
In contrast to the passionate participation of the tea party movement in Brown’s Republican campaign, there was little incentive for the Democratic Party leadership in Congress to fight to retain this Senate seat for the Democrats. For the Senate makes its own rules and a simple Democratic majority in the Senate could theoretically pass whatever bills that it wants. In actual fact, even with Kennedy and the sixty votes, the Democrats have passed almost no progressive legislation and much negative legislation. In this light, the sixtieth vote, had they held onto the Kennedy seat, would only have served to continue to expose the fact that the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party serves the interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalist ruling class. For, in the absence of really mass and militant mobilization, the Democrats will continue to “betray” the working class, including organized labor, and the oppressed nationalities, including the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who provide so much of the labor that keeps this country going.*
* Recognizing this Democratic Party “betrayal,” 49% of union families in Massachusetts supported Republican Brown compared to 46% who supported Democratic candidate Coakley. (Hart Research Associates Poll on behalf of the AFL-CIO as reported in the 1/22/10 Wall Street Journal)
It is also noteworthy that Brown had voted for health care reform while in the Massachusetts Legislature. Nevertheless, his most important campaign promise was that he would deprive the Democrats of the sixtieth vote for “ObamaCare.” To further add to the political confusion, Brown’s most important exposure of Coakley leading up to the election was the infusion of money for her campaign from the medical-industrial complex!
Finally, the anger and frustration of the U.S. population is reflected in the following: “Exit poll data following the special election showed that 42% of voters reported casting their ballots to help stop Obama’s health plan from passing. But Brown’s winning margin came not from opponents of reform – but from voters who felt that Obama was not going far enough. ... 18% of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 supported Scott Brown in the Senate race. Of that group an overwhelming majority – 82 percent – favored a public option health plan while just 14 percent oppose it.” (Massachusetts Green Rainbow Party Press Release, 1/21/10)
On February 4, 2010, “The Tea Party Nation” began its first national convention in Nashville, Tennessee. About 600 people paid $549 for a ticket to attend the full three day convention, while others paid $349 just to attend the lobster-steak banquet to hear Sarah Palin’s keynote speech. The enormous cost led some tea party activists to criticize the convention as running counter to the coalition’s populist premise.
The opening night speaker was former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado. Tancredo claimed that Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.” With this formulation, Tancredo was calling for a return to the days of legal segregation in the U.S. South when Afro-American people were systematically denied the right to vote on the basis of so-called “literacy tests.”
Tancredo also attacked the United States “cult of multiculturalism,” in keeping with his anti-immigrant rhetoric. On this basis he thanked god that Republican John McCain had lost the 2008 election for president. Tancredo was thankful that a “socialist ideologue” like Obama was elected, he said, because, for years, like the proverbial frog, the people of the USA had been boiling unawares by slow degrees. Obama turned up the heat so much that voters have awakened and jumped out of the boiling water.
Tancredo’s bottom line message to the tea party folks, overwhelmingly old, white and able to afford the several hundred dollars to register for the convention, is: “This is our country. Take it back!”
The keynote address to the Tea Party Nation convention was delivered by 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. She too directed her rhetoric against Obama. But she also told the tea party folks that, “You’ve got both party machines running scared.” She also suggested that the tea party remain leaderless at least for now. Her fee was $100 thousand dollars for her appearance at the for profit event. Some tea partyers, including a rival Nashville group, criticized Judson Phillips, the convention organizer and Nashville attorney, for profiting from the event. Both Phillips and Palin vaguely promised that they would put their “convention earnings” back to “the cause.” But beyond the petty corruption of these “outsider-insiders,” the convention was, to some extent, an effort to link the tea party movement with the Republican Party.
A week after the Tea Party Nation convention, the South Carolina GOP agreed to create a “Tea Party Republicans” group to coordinate the two group’s activities in Greenville and Spartanburg. Less than a week later that arrangement had already fallen apart because some tea party groups refused to join up with the Republicans.
A few days later, Karl Rove, the main political strategist of former Republican President George W. Bush, advised both the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party to remain separate from each other. Rove understands that the Tea Party movement is a gateway to all the forces of right wing reaction in the USA today. Rove understands that to tie the movement too closely with the currently unpopular Republican Party will limit the movement’s ability to continue to draw millions of new, sometimes previously apolitical people, into right wing political activism.
At the same time, Rove recognizes that, “The GOP cannot possibly hope to control the dynamics of the highly decentralized galaxy of groups that make up the tea party movement. There will be troubling excesses and these will hurt Republicans if the party is formally associated with tea party groups.” (“Where the Tea Parties Should Go From Here,” Wall Street Journal, 2-17-10)
The fact that Rove, the chief of staff of arguably the most excessive and repressive U.S. President of the past hundred years, admits that there “will be troubling excesses” within the ranks of the tea party movement is important to note. Last month, David Barstow of the New York Times observed, “a significant undercurrent within the Tea Party movement … has less in common with the Republican Party than with the Patriot Movement ... It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny.” (“Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right”) Already a resurgent militia movement, the John Birch Society, openly fascist followers of Lyndon LaRouche, and Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project have all become “legitimate” voices within the Tea Party movement.
The problem with this Tea Party/Patriot Movement motion is two-fold. First and foremost, its answers to the threat of tyranny are to become the shock troops for the tyranny of the very system and ruling class that its ranks have been mobilized to oppose. This provides the general explanation for why such folks who have recently lost jobs or health coverage are calling for the elimination of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, secondly, its “narrative of impending tyranny” is largely true!* This means that the Tea Party/Patriot Movement motion has the potential to grow more powerful as the economic crisis of U.S. capitalism continues to worsen.
* For example, Barstow points out: “Patriot ideology … holds that governments and economies are controlled by networks who wield power through exclusive entities like the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.”
Obama and the Federal Government Preside Over the U.S. Empire in Decline
Barack Obama is well suited for the difficult task of presiding over an orderly march of the U.S. population to impoverishment in the desperate effort of the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class to save itself and its hegemonic position in the world capitalist system. Meanwhile, much of the “left,” along with the Afro-American, Latino and organized labor members of the U.S. working class, were seduced by petty bourgeois democratic illusions about the “power” and the “promise” of “voting for the Democrats.” Then they were seduced by the rhetoric of the Obama-Biden Democratic Administration (whose campaign had actually been largely funded by Wall Street) into accepting the government’s second give away (following the Bush give away) to the most greedy and powerful bankers and financiers on Wall Street.*
* The Bush and Obama multi-billion dollar bailouts of Wall Street are a dramatic confirmation of the observation by Simon Johnson, who had been the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2007 and 2008. Johnson wrote that the “financial oligarchy” had “captured” the U.S. government. He added that it will lead to a new Great Depression if not resisted and stopped! (“The Quiet Coup,” May 2009 Atlantic Magazine)
During the eight years of the George W. Bush Regime, the Afro-American people became the most unwilling basic sector of the U.S. population to enlist, re-enlist, or participate in the war machine to keep the U.S. Empire afloat. With the advent of the Barack Obama Administration, the situation has been reversed. Even more striking, the Afro-American people have been among the hardest hit by sub-prime mortgages and by the home foreclosure crisis; they have experienced the highest levels of youth unemployment and lay-offs. (This is the infamous “last hired and first fired” syndrome.) Nevertheless, despite the devastating impact of the economic crisis of the past twenty months or so on their communities, with Obama in the White House, it is the Afro-American people who, surveys still show, remain, at least for now, the most optimistic about their future and most loyal to the Obama Regime!
Among the millions of mostly Latino immigrant workers, there is also optimism about the Obama-Democratic Party government carrying out immigration “reform” that will ease the terrible repression that they have experienced. And this hope still persists, in spite of the fact that, in Obama’s first year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration raids have continued to grow and the general U.S. population is increasingly being urged to scapegoat the immigrants in our midst.
Finally, although virtually none of the campaign promises to the AFL-CIO, to the organized section of the U.S. working class have been kept, the leaders of the trade union movement, while raising some protest, have tried to keep their members in line behind Obama and the democrats.
This march to impoverishment, however, is still only in its
beginning stages. And the challenge to the U.S. monopoly capitalist and
imperialist ruling class and President Obama to lead the masses of
working people and oppressed nationalities in the USA to poverty
without us opting to revolt, without us turning to socialist revolution
for the way out of our difficulties, will only get more difficult.
In December 2009, the National Organization of Women (NOW) warned that “a stealth move is under way in Washington, D.C. to recover the billions spent on bailing out the banks and Wall Street by cutting benefits under the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. A special commission would address the federal deficit by considering cuts to entitlements programs and would fast track recommendations by an up or down vote in Congress … a reverse Robin Hood …”
In the November-December 2009 issue of the important ruling class journal, Foreign Affairs, no less an authority than C. Fred Bergsten, Assistant for International Economic Affairs to the National Security Council under Republican President Richard Nixon and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs under Democratic President Jimmy Carter, as well as a major architect of the Rockefeller-led Tri-Lateral Commission, had a major article entitled, “The Dollar and the Deficits.”*
* NOW points out that, “The fear-mongering over the national debt has been promoted mostly by billionaire Peter G. Peterson who made his fortune doing takeover deals on Wall Street …” In fact, in the early 1970’s Peterson had been Secretary of Commerce under President Nixon and then was Chairman of Wall Street giant, Lehman Brothers, for many years. Peterson now runs Foreign Affairs magazine as “chairman.” Foreign Affairs magazine is the organ of the Council on Foreign Relations which the Patriot Movement is rightly warning about. Bergsten’s current job is as the Director of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economic Affairs. He is a Peterson employee writing in a Peterson-led magazine.
Bergsten is concerned about the mounting debt of the USA to the rest of the world and the potential for the USA to become subordinated to countries to which it is in debt. Bergsten calls for “budget rectitude.”
Bergsten proposes a few procedural reforms, including: 1. “The implementation of ‘pay-as-you-go’ rules – requiring that “all increases in spending or tax cuts be financed by savings elsewhere in the budget.” 2. Statutory creation of a ‘fiscal future commission’ – a federal body whose recommendations are subject to an up-or-down vote in Congress.
It is important to note that President Obama is now implementing the Bergsten-Peterson plan! He has insistently applied the pay-as-you-go rule to his (and the Democrats’) health care reform plan! On February 18th, after Congress refused to create a fiscal future commission, President Obama issued an Executive Order creating his own commission. Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is being led by Erskine Bowles, formerly chief of staff of Democratic President Bill Clinton and by former Republican Senator Alan Simpson. The recommendations of Obama’s Commission won’t be able to compel the Congress to vote up or down on such key social safety net issues as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare; but it will have bipartisan clout with which to pressure Congress to enact such regressive anti-people laws.
To bolster the U.S. economy Bergsten calls for three immediate reforms:
1. “Containing long-term medical costs.” The medical-industrial complex has successfully blocked positive healthcare reform so the impending healthcare bill, with budget rectitude, will mean worse healthcare for the people of the USA.
2. “Comprehensive Social Security reform.” Raising the retirement age and shrinking the benefit.
3. “Raising taxes on consumption.” Such taxes are always regressive, targeting the working class and the poor, for they spend a bigger share of their money (consume) to survive than the richer and more privileged classes.
Bergsten’s naked imperialist proposals also include “increasing productivity,” i.e. the intensification of the exploitation of the U.S. working class; and “cutting corporate tax rates” so as to “create incentives for both U.S. and foreign firms to locate their production in the United States.”
Obama’s presidential campaign and election were largely seen as a repudiation of the George W. Bush Regime. Nevertheless, as a loyal representative of the U.S. monopoly capitalist and imperialist ruling class, the Obama-Biden Administration has carried out policies in defense of the U.S. Empire remarkably consistent with, though more nuanced and clever than, those of the Bush Regime which it replaced.
On the economic front: the Obama Regime, as soon as it was installed in the White House, pushed through a second edition $700 billion dollars plus stimulus package, featuring massive bailouts to the Wall Street rich. It was virtually a replication of the Bush-Paulson (and Pelosi) $700 billion dollar stimulus package, supported by both Obama and McCain, in the run-up to the 2008 election. Neither bailout loosened up loan opportunities to help stop the massive numbers of home and small business foreclosures. The two bailouts did prop up the criminal Wall Street finance capitalists and their predatory system that had brought the country and the world into acute economic crisis.
With regard to health care reform, the Obama Administration took single-payer and universal health care coverage off the table before the debate had even begun. Democratic Party Congressional and Presidential leadership, thoroughly compromised by the same pharmaceutical companies, hospital corporations and insurance companies as the Republican Party, have helped create a situation where the current “reform” proposal will, if passed, provide relief for few working people but provide a new boondoggle for the private businesses that profit from our medical misfortune.
On the education front: Within the past few weeks, at a “failing school” in Rhode Island, all the teachers and administrators were fired. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama gave their blessing, much to the shock and chagrin of the two teachers unions and the AFL-CIO. In response to the Rhode Island firings, TV political humorist Bill Maher asked Obama/Duncan, where are the “good” teachers going to come from to replace these “bad” teachers? Maher then pointed out that there are poor teachers to be found everywhere, that Harvard University has some bad teachers and that studies have shown that the key predictor of academic success is not a good teacher, but a supportive home environment, parents, books in the living room, etc.
The Obama/Duncan reaction should not have surprised anyone. Prior to Duncan’s elevation to Education Secretary by Obama, he had previously been the superintendent of the Chicago public schools. In that capacity Duncan had been a strong proponent of three right wing Bush Regime directives: No Child Left Behind (NCLB), charter schools and merit pay for “high performing” teachers. In poor city schools, like Collins High in Chicago’s Lawndale District, many students were drawn from homeless shelters in economically devastated neighborhoods. When the students did poorly on test scores, every teacher was fired. The replacement teachers were fired when test scores didn’t rise. Then Duncan turned the failing schools over to the Army, Navy and Marines to run as charter schools. They continued to receive public funding but functioned as private schools not bound by District policy on union collective-bargaining agreements or curriculum. They are able to function as recruiting grounds for cannon fodder for the U.S. imperialist military machine.On the political front: Early on, the new Obama Justice Department, in collaboration with Bush Administration colleagues, went into court to support the granting of immunity from prosecution to the monopoly telephone companies that had eavesdropped on the conversations of millions of their customers in the name of “national security” in violation of what had been existing U.S. law.* ICE raids and deportations of immigrants have sharply increased under the Democratic Obama Administration. Recently, a Justice Department official overruled his investigators who had found Bush Justice Department officials guilty of sanctioning torture. So the Obama Regime has held no senior or mid-level Bush Regime official responsible for the illegal torture carried out by the USA. Finally, just a few weeks ago, in late February 2010, the U.S. Congress, with the Obama Administration’s blessing, renewed the repressive USA PATRIOT Act.
* “During the campaign season, Senator Obama not only voted for the new FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), providing unprecedented surveillance powers over its citizens to the federal government, but even supported amnesty for the monopoly telephone companies which had already provided FISA type information on the people of the USA to the Bush Regime, while it was still clearly illegal to do so.” (Ray O’ Light Newsletter #51, December 2008)
On the question of war and peace: The Obama Regime has continued the U.S. imperialist occupation of Iraq; it has expanded the U.S. military aggression in Afghanistan, largely supplanting its own NATO subordinate forces; and it has openly invaded Pakistan. In Latin America, as a culmination of its successful five month-long coup d’etat in Honduras, the Obama Regime formalized its agreement with the U.S. puppet Uribe government in Colombia to have seven new U.S. bases in Colombia, a massive new military launching pad against the leftward political trend that has improved the lives of millions of Latin American people over the past decade and has threatened the very existence of the oligarchies that have ruled Latin America jointly with U.S. imperialism for the past century and more. And it has introduced a large U.S. military presence in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, supplanting its United Nations surrogate armed force there.
After more than eight years of unending “war on terror” and “homeland security” which has continued seamlessly from Bush-Cheney to Obama-Biden, unending war is leaving its military stamp on every aspect of U.S. society. There is now a real question about whether the finance capitalists have a military or civilian government running the U.S.
In response to President-elect Obama’s selection of retired four-star Marine General James Jones to be his National Security Adviser and the apparent choice of retired Navy Admiral Dennis Blair to be his Director of Intelligence, Thomas Schweich who had served the Bush Regime in several high-level jobs, including deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs, wrote an article in the Washington Post expressing alarm at the “silent military coup d’etat” that he had witnessed firsthand in several senior capacities at the Bush State Department over the previous four years.
With remarkable candor, Schweich’s opening paragraph is as follows: “We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a life-long Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is at risk.” (“The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere,” Washington Post, 12-21-08)
Among other things, Schweich points out that the Pentagon had already drawn up plans “to deploy 20,000 U.S. soldiers inside our borders.”
The Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement
and the Wisdom of the Communist International
In light of the Obama Administration’s record thus far in the face of the continuing economic crisis, it is no wonder that “politics as usual” is being cast aside by the increasingly impoverished and demoralized masses of the U.S. population. Tragically, the anger and indignation, justly felt by the masses, is being provided no vehicle for political expression by the communist left or any left wing tendency.
In a recent editorial entitled, “Tea Party Hypocrisy,” The Nation reports that forty-one percent of respondents to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had a positive opinion of the tea party movement as compared to only 35% for the Democratic Party. Significantly, an even fewer 28% were favorable to the Republican Party. The editorial aptly observes that, while it is “a right wing reactionary movement,” “because the details of the tea party’s world view remain obscure, it’s startlingly popular with the broader public.” (The Nation, 3-1-10)
In August 1935, almost seventy-five years ago, the world’s leading anti-fascist fighter, Bulgarian Communist leader Georgi Dimitroff, hero of the Reichstag Fire Trial in Nazi Germany, presented his General Secretary’s political report to the Seventh Congress of the Communist International (Comintern). This famous report, with its appeal for the Communists to lead the working class and peoples of the world in a united front against fascism, became the political basis for the Comintern and Soviet Union-led Allied victory over the Fascist Axis Powers of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan in World War II.
Dimitroff’s deep understanding of fascism, reflected in the 75 year old quote which opens this Newsletter, remarkably characterizes the current, still amorphous and chameleon-like “tea party movement” that is emerging in the USA in 2009-2010 under the pressures of the economic crisis of the world capitalist system and the impending collapse of the U.S. Empire.
1. The Tea Party movement plays on the better sentiments of the masses, on their sense of justice, and sometimes even on their revolutionary traditions. The name “Tea Party” is itself a prime example of this. It is drawn directly from the 1770’s “American” Revolution against British colonialism and refers to the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773 that protested oppressive taxation by Britain’s King George. The Boston Tea Party significantly accelerated the revolutionary process that culminated in the independence of the colonies from England and the formation of the United States of America.
Last April 15th, the day that government taxes were due, small but spirited local demonstrations sprouted up all over the country. The mostly white and middle class demonstrators were indignant about the government bailout of the banks and financial institutions that had been responsible for the economic crisis, while the tens of thousands facing home foreclosures and rising small business bankruptcies received minimal relief. The corporate government tyranny they were protesting was indeed real and deserving of being outraged about and fought against.
The Patriot Movement, the Minutemen, the new Oath Keepers, and militia movements generally, as well as Friends of Liberty, a coalition encompassing forces in Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, the John Birch Society and the militia movement all experiencing new growth from the exploding ranks of the tea party movement, likewise all draw on the revolutionary traditions of the USA.
2. The Tea Party Movement demagogically appeals to urgent needs and demands. – Even Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, admits that “the bank bailout in the fall of 2008 may have lit the fuse …,” i.e., when Bush was still President. In a time when white middle class people in the USA were losing their homes, small businesses and retirement savings, a time of great uncertainty and growing desperation, the tea party movement stood for keeping (middle class) folks’ money in their own individual possession in opposition to any public spending. So, the tea partyers were further enraged at the second Wall Street bail-out, this time under Obama. And, following its bailout of Wall Street, even though it was not the same give-away that marked the federal government rescue of the Wall Street financiers, they were outraged once again at the government bail-out of General Motors and Chrysler, two U.S. auto companies with a heavily unionized work force that include a large percentage of Afro-American workers. And the monopoly capitalist rulers made sure to fan their resentment and hostility toward unions, union workers and Black people.
Tragically, it is the right wing, led, ironically, by some of the nastiest and most corrupt former Washington insiders – former House Republican majority leader Dick Armey, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), and Patrick Pizzella of the Conservative Action Project – all former collaborators with now imprisoned super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who have provided a political vehicle for the indignation and outrage that so many U.S. people justifiably feel against the Washington, D.C. federal government.
As Rove describes it, “the movement’s activity reached a fever pitch in August with raucous town hall meetings where senators and congressmen felt the burning-hot opposition of tea partyers to ObamaCare.” It was during this August 2009 Congressional summer recess, that the tea party movement, funded by the medical-industrial complex of big Pharma, hospital corporations and the insurance giants, provided these corporate behemoths with the “ground troops” with which to dominate the health care “reform” “debate.”
Of course, the Obama Administration had already made an agreement with big Pharma (through chief of staff Rahm Emanuel) not to disturb the obscene profits of the pharmaceutical industry with any “reform.” And the Democratic Administration took single-payer health care off the table before engaging in the “debate.” Thus, there was not much left with which to attract and mobilize the workers and oppressed of the USA for positive health care reform. And, in fact, there was no concrete ObamaCare proposal at all to defend!
So, falling prey to the demagogic appeal of the medical-industrial complex, tea party folks, scared witless by their sudden loss in standard of living and threatened by an unknown health care “reform,” became unwitting participants in the destruction of their own healthcare safety net. (“Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”)
3. The Tea Party Movement inflames prejudices deeply ingrained in the masses. – White Supremacy, anti-immigrant “nativism,” and anti-socialism/anti-communism have all been ideological cornerstones of U.S. imperialism since it emerged more than a century ago. All three were key ingredients in the healthcare debate debacle that served as a major launching pad for the tea party movement and the right wing resurgence in the USA today.
Equating healthcare reform with “ObamaCare” gave this cause a Black face, an attractive target for those afflicted with the disease of white supremacy. As we pointed out at the time, “…the use of white supremacy to defend medical-industrial complex mega-profits is especially insidious. The insurance companies and Big Pharma have identified health care reform with President Obama, taking advantage of the fact that the President is a man of color and tapping into the deep-seated white supremacy of the vast majority of U.S. citizens to galvanize opposition to any real reform of health care. The mobilization of irrational and hysterical white supremacist mobs to the town-hall meetings has been key to the success of the big lie in the health care debate. These mobs also represent a new source of recruits for the mounting drive toward fascism in the United States.” (“The Current U.S. Health-Care Debate and the Fight for Workers Power,” Ray O’ Light Newsletter Number #56, September-October 2009)
One of the biggest arguments against the “ObamaCare” straw man has been that so-called “illegal immigrants” would benefit from universal healthcare. The growing number of ICE raids and deportations and the call to take back “our” country by prominent right wing politicians like Tom Tancredo, so full of chauvinist poison toward Latino documented and undocumented workers, is a reflection of the importance of anti-immigrant politics to the build-up of the tea party movement.
Finally, the unprecedented and virtually unchallenged anti-communism in the USA was used by the medical-industrial complex in the healthcare debate to suppress and drown out the massive popular cry for a single-payer plan, which is, in fact, a form of “socialized medicine.” Despite the fact that millions of U.S. citizens and health care professionals were strongly in favor of it, other than the principled Ohio Congressman Kucinich, almost no Democrat dared even defend single payer. This anti-communist hysteria worked so well for the insurance companies that, incredibly, they were able to characterize Obama and ObamaCare as “socialist” and wipe out any public option at all!
2008 Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, had inanely declared that this time of capitalist economic crisis and collapse is “no time to experiment with socialism.” And, while the financial system and the auto industry were being bailed out by the government, there had been no strong rejoinder: “What better time to experiment with socialism!” Today, while most tea party movement folks are skeptical of Republican as well as Democratic Party politicians, Palin, armed with her anti-socialism, anti-communism rhetoric, remains the most popular politician among their ranks.
The anti-socialism/anti-communism prejudice runs so deep in the USA that Glenn Beck, in his televised keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the end of February, attacked the concept of “community” as a “cancer.” To wild applause, he labeled this alleged tumor of “community” as the evil “progressivism” and told his followers to “eradicate it” from the country!
With Beck, we now have the face and voice of the militia movement brought into the mainstream life of U.S. society!
The Right Opportunist Sins of the U.S. Left and the Suicide Attack on the IRS
“If you’re not outraged, than you’re not paying attention.”
On February 18, 2010, Joseph Andrew Stack deliberately flew the airplane he was piloting into an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and one IRS employee in the process. The monopoly capitalist dominated mainstream mass media has portrayed Stack as a right wing lunatic. The right wing media as well as new right wing Republican political stars such as newly elected Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown helped perpetrate this fraud by claiming “sympathy” with Stack. The reality, as reflected in Stack’s Suicide Letter is that, after years of bitter experience, he had finally concluded that the capitalist system has outlived its usefulness. Moreover, at least in the conclusion to his suicide note, he sounds a clearly pro-communist clarion call!*
* “The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.” – Joe Stack’s Suicide Letter, 2-18-10
Thus, Stack took a clear political stance in opposition to that of both the government and the “anti-government” tea party movement! For both the Obama government and the tea party movement are striving to defend the survival of the capitalist system as their top priority; and they are both anti-socialist and anti-communist to the core.
The Obama-Biden Regime has the onerous responsibility of making sure that the U.S. monopoly capitalist ruling class, and especially the U.S. financial oligarchy, continues to make mega-profits while, at the same time, keeping the masses of the U.S. population loyal to the monopoly capitalist system and passive and accepting of their lot, all in the face of the collapse of the U.S. capitalist economy. Obama’s biggest challenge is to preside over the substantial decline in the living standards of the people of the USA, after decades of living high at the expense of the international working class and the oppressed peoples, without the working people of the USA revolting against the literally bankrupt capitalist system.
Despite its strident and white supremacist-fueled criticism of the Obama Regime, the tea party “movement” represents, politically, merely a variety of different panaceas, bromides, hosannas, incantations and other metaphysical and mystical paths all of which are aimed at redirecting the anger and frustrations of the increasingly impoverished middle class away from the Wall Street financiers and their U.S. government stooges and toward the international working class, including organized labor and the massive immigrant worker population in the USA, and “foreigners,” especially non-whites, in general. In this way the tea party movement (with its mostly Republican Party-connected operatives) shares a common platform with Obama and the Democratic Party-controlled Congress in defense of the tottering U.S. imperialist Empire, in defense of maintaining its survival.
This is the motivation behind such tea party proposals as blocking and destroying any public health care – Medicare for none instead of Medicare for all, destroying “big unions,” eliminating Social Security. In the name of individual freedom, the tea party forces have been largely silent on the recent shocking Supreme Court decision to “free” corporations (as “individuals”) to spend as much money as they want in elections – opposing any limitations on corporate tyranny. What the tea party principle is reduced to is “the every man for himself” message of right wing media celebrity, Glenn Beck, attacking even the very notion of “community.”
What, then, do Glenn Beck and the Tea Party Movement have in common with Joe Stack?* Anger and Outrage. Glenn Beck’s hate-filled keynote speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, full of anger and outrage, strikes the same emotional tone as Joe Stack.
* In fact, Beck now poses as a libertarian against “big government” after previously pushing the big-government USA PATRIOT Act or the even-bigger-government bank bailout.
Meanwhile, practically the entire U.S. left, with its fatal embrace of the Democratic Party, the party now in power, has only tactical differences with U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism. It has no indignation, no outrage about anything at all. The revisionist Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) is the ultimate example of this right opportunist “weakness.” For at least the past fifty years, the CPUSA has supported the Democratic Party and its political candidates and representatives against everyone else. In a recent article on the tea party movement, for example, CPUSA leader Jarvis Tyner calls on the people to rally around the bloody Obama Regime. In the name of opposing the tea party’s backward march (“the ultra right”), Tyner and the CPUSA defend the U.S. imperialist state, the imperialist status quo. Tyner has not one criticism of Obama, the helmsman of the chief imperialist country in the world, the main bulwark of world capitalism!
No wonder, Joe Stack, when he finally saw the light, felt so politically isolated that he carried out the desperate and counter-productive individual terrorist act of a suicide airplane attack on the IRS building in Austin, Texas.
The Struggle to Resist the Drive toward Fascism in the USA
“The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie — bourgeois democracy — by another form — open terrorist dictatorship. ... [B]efore the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, bourgeois governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.”
–Georgi Dimitroff (Political Report of General Secretary to the
Seventh Congress of the Communist International, August 1935)
From 1917 until about 1950, the Lenin and Stalin-led Soviet Union and the Communist International were the decisive force in the unprecedented successes of the world-wide movement against international capitalism and for socialism. The construction of socialism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the establishment of an effective Communist International, the utter defeat of world fascism, the establishment and growth of a socialist camp that was comparable in size and strength to the capitalist camp, and the victory of the Chinese Communist Party-led national democratic revolution in China in 1949 were the remarkable products of this communist movement.
This hard won wisdom of the Communist movement on the struggle against fascism is alien to most of the U.S. left today. For it is anti-Soviet and anti-Communist International to its core. Indeed, most of this left retains tactical political cooperation with the Democratic Party, the political party that is at the helm of the main bulwark of world capitalism. It is a left that is the product of sixty years of U.S. imperialist hegemony in the world capitalist system and more than forty years of the domination of the international communist movement by right revisionism, characterized by rapprochement with and bourgeois democratic illusions about U.S. imperialism. Its affiliation with the Democratic Party and connections to U.S. imperialism render this left incapable of seeing the tea party movement as anything other than a Republican Party vehicle which threatens the Democrats. This applies not only to the CPUSA but to The Nation and almost all other left organizations and magazines in the USA today.
Alexander Cockburn, writing in The Nation this week in opposition to the editors of The Nation as well as most of the rest of the U.S. left, has it right when he says, “Under the leadership of Obama – cheered into office by 99.9 percent of the left – and a Democratic Congress, we have a whole new war and no antiwar movement of any heft; a bailout for Wall Street; an awful health bill connived at by both parties; the prospect of loan guarantees for new nuclear energy plants; a huge hike in defense spending, … an impending onslaught on Social Security. Constitutional abuses endorsed or instigated by the White House continue in a straight sequence from the Bush years. Response from the left? No twitch in the morgue.” (The Nation, 3-22-10)
This left has failed to fight passionately and fight hard and among the masses in the struggle against capital, against the tyrannical Obama-Biden Regime in the USA today – against the bank bailouts, the health care sellout, the ongoing imperialist wars, the special oppression of the Afro-American people and the immigrant workers, the accelerating loss of civil liberties under the USA PATRIOT Act, the Homeland Security Department, etc., the increasingly difficult position of women and youth, the fight for jobs. As a result, this anti-Soviet and anti-Communist International “left” has aided and abetted the Tea Party movement and the Patriot movement in their mobilization of the fascist shock troops of today and tomorrow. Unchallenged, this left will continue to help the Tea Party movement pave the way for a “Fortress America.”
For the USA is already the biggest debtor country in the world and its creditors in China and elsewhere want to get paid or at least have the potential to get paid at some point. In conjunction with this tremendous pressure, the current acute economic crisis in the USA is continuing to inflict powerful blows on the tottering U.S. Empire. And U.S. imperialism is constantly shifting the burden of this worsening situation onto the shoulders of the masses of the U.S. population, onto the oppressed nationalities and the working class in the first place. But the imperialist burden is also evidenced in the rapidly deteriorating position of the vast U.S. white middle class. This crisis has made it clear that the dictatorship of U.S. finance capital can no longer rule in the old way. It is continually providing more fuel to the fire of fascism.
Fascism in power was described by the Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International as “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”
Whether, fascism comes to power as a militarized defense of the constitutional government against the fascist mass movement that is currently being gathered together around the Tea Party/Patriot movements in particular, or, it comes to power by the overthrow of the government by the fascist mass movement in the name of defending the constitutional liberties of the people from the corporate tyranny of the Executive, Legislative and/or Supreme Court branches of the U.S. government, it will represent the last desperate stand of U.S. finance capital. And the working class and the peoples of the USA and the world as well as its creditors, its finance capitalist rivals, had better watch out.
To defeat this fascist drive in the USA, a revitalized international communist movement, capable of uniting the international working class on the basis of consistent proletarian internationalism, is needed.
Let comrade Dimitroff and the Communist International who successfully fought and smashed fascism have the last word here: “Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.”
“For the proletariat needs the truth
and there is nothing so harmful to
its cause as plausible, respectable
Selected Works, Vol. X, p. 41
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