From the Belly of the Beast
by Ray O. Light
In late January, U.S. President Bush delivered his first State of the Union address and shocked the world, if not his fellow U.S. citizens, by targeting three countries – Iran, Iraq, and North Korea – as an "axis of evil", i.e. as new "fair game" for the US imperialist-led global terrorist war. The Bush Administration had already given its word that whatever it says about any particular country may or not be what it is really doing in relation to that country. In other words, you can't believe a word Bush says!
As if to prove this point, at almost the very moment when Bush raised the "axis of evil," U.S. combat troops were landing not in any of these three countries but in two other important countries, totally unmentioned by Bush! 650 U.S. combat troops, including about 150 Special Forces troops, were landing in the Philippines initially to help the Philippine puppet troops to defeat the allegedly terrorist Abu Sayyaf. And additional U.S. combat troops were going to Colombia, now clearly not just to fight a so-called "drug war". For more than a generation in both the Philippines and Colombia popular democratic revolutionary forces have been waging a liberation war for the independence of their countries from foreign and specifically U.S. imperialist domination. There will be no quick strike victory in these two countries for US imperialism. In the weeks that followed, U.S. troops were also projected to be sent to (former Soviet) Georgia and Yemen. And it became clear that the U.S. led war in Afghanistan was continuing as well.
Yet despite this seeming global madness on the part of the Supreme Court-appointed U.S. "President", the tragic truth is that at present a substantial majority of the people of the USA, even including workers, Afro-Americans, and other sectors of the oppressed and exploited, continue to support the Bush-led terrorist war against the peoples of the world just as they have done ever since the vicious attack on Afghanistan was launched on October 7th. As Ray Stevenson, veteran Canadian communist leader and founding editor of Northstar Compass has rightly pointed out, "Without full cooperation and acceptance by the working class of particularly the "militarized" and "Westernized" countries... first and foremost of the USA, 'terror-bombing' would be quickly ended." (His emphasis, Northstar Compass, February 2002)
It is the political-social-economic phenomenon of "imperialism" so well described by Vladimir Lenin more than 85 years ago that provides the material reasons for this "popular" support. In his brief but profound work, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, Lenin observed that "...[colonial] monopoly yields superprofits, i.e., a surplus of profits over and above the capitalist profits that are normal and customary all over the world. The capitalists can devote a part (and not a small one, at that!) of these superprofits to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance... between the workers of the given nation and their capitalists against the other countries."
It is this fact of life that explains why many of the oppressed and exploited in the USA today have acquiesced in or even endorsed Bush's open-ended, multi-decade, declared, undeclared war on any and every country or people he and his wealthy patrons deem "terrorists". This support for Bush and his global war has withstood the open plundering of the U.S. Treasury to provide multi-billion dollar bailouts for the biggest companies in the land in the midst of the wholesale layoffs of millions of working people. Indeed, the support of "commander in chief" Bush has withstood the Enron scandal, in which Bush's main financial backer and the main supplier of top cabinet secretaries and staff for the Bush Administration, has been caught pillaging the funds of its own employees.
Yet despite the short-term support of "their own" imperialists, Lenin did not despair about the long-term capacity of the workers even in the imperialist countries to ultimately take the revolutionary path to socialism. This is due to the fact that the imperialist bribery of the mass of the workers in these countries is temporary, while the opportunist leadership of the trade unions, the oppressed nationality associations, the liberal-left politicians and media folk, etc. have been permanently bought off. Lenin observed: "...economically, the desertion of a stratum of the labor aristocracy to the bourgeoisie has matured and become an accomplished fact; and this economic fact, this shift in class relations, will find political form, in one shape or another, without any particular 'difficulty'".
Thus it is not surprising that the support for Bush has also withstood and even been strengthened by the half-hearted efforts of the Democratic Party and its key links to the masses of workers (the AFL-CIO union leadership) and to the Afro-American people (the NAACP) to wage its loyal opposition struggle against Bush and the Republican Party on the basis of these domestic economic scandals without touching upon, or only lightly touching upon, the far more serious international political-military scandal and war crime that is the US imperialist led global terrorist war against the peoples of the world. This is the same Democratic Party which humorist Michael Moore reminds us "couldn't even put their candidate in the White House after he had already won the election."
Indeed, the central point of Imperialism and the Split in Socialism is to expose the fact that in the imperialist era a permanent petty bourgeois trend has emerged within the international working class movement and that this trend must be politically struggled against and defeated, if a socialist world free from predatory imperialist wars is to be achieved. By examining the role of the social props of Bush-led U.S. imperialism in this period of the war crisis we can see a way forward to stopping the Bush and US imperialist-led global war against the international working class and the oppressed peoples and advancing the cause of socialism in the USA and in the West.
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon it is remarkable how quickly, quietly, and unanimously the Democratic Party politicians in Washington, DC got in line behind Bush. Only Afro-American Congresswoman Barbara Lee from California dared to vote against giving Bush sweeping dictatorial powers that virtually surrendered all government power into the hands of the Executive Branch.
Even more noteworthy was the conduct of the leaders of the U.S. labor movement, from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to the National Union Presidents (almost all Democrats), who took their cue from the Democratic Party. They promoted great nation chauvinism in the name of patriotism in each of their unions. The day after the September 11th attacks, Sweeney stated, "I have called President Bush to express the AFL-CIO's full support for him in this time of crisis and offer any and all assistance from the labor movement." Sweeney continued, "America is a democratic and open society built upon universal values of freedom and human dignity. No act of terror will undermine those values. No sacrifice is too great for Americans to defend those values. American workers and citizens are united in our eternal support for American democracy." (Our emphasis, ROL)
On November 8th, with the criminal US led war against the people of Afghanistan well underway, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, representing the top leadership of all the major labor unions in the USA, stated: "We support the president in his decision to use military force... even as we recognize this struggle may well be long and difficult.... We will support the United States government in its efforts to defend America and its people, through the just use of military force... We will support the American and allied troops who are now engaged overseas in the military response to the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11..." While also paying lip service to building "a new, more just world", with one great nation chauvinist voice, they declared their loyalty to Bush and U.S. imperialism in the war against the foreign foe.
Once they had put their prestige behind Bush it was impossible for these leaders to defend on the domestic front even the most immediate and partial interests of their own members against the Bush-led corporate pirates with their "economic stimulus" packages of tax breaks for the rich, massive corporate layoffs, the Bush energy policy sponsored by Enron, the fast track vote on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), etc.
In the Afro-American community, there are many more working people who are opposed to both Bush and the terrorist war he is waging than in the white community. Many Afro-Americans are likewise opposed to the hysterical "racial profiling" against Muslim and Arab men in the USA. Yet, until now, very few Afro-American leaders have been willing to take these issues on publicly so as to help mobilize mass, anti-imperialist resistance. Most have taken the same right wing social-democratic path as the liberal-left-progressive labor leadership---willing to "challenge" Bush on the domestic economic issues while touching lightly or not at all Bush's terrorist war against the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world.
Here, too, taking its cue from the Democratic Party, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the country's oldest and largest civil rights organization, gave a special recognition "President's Award" (from NAACP President Kwasi Mfume) to Bush's National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice at the 33rd NAACP Image Awards in late February. This provided a much needed "blessing" for the Bush Administration's foreign policy among the Afro-American people.
Not surprisingly, generated by the growing and spreading Bush global war directed against peoples of color in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there is growing white supremacist violence of all kinds (police brutality, driving while Black, etc.) directed against the Afro-American people throughout the USA. And, like the AFL-CIO among the working class, the NAACP and other right social-democrats in the Black community, having endorsed Bush's war policy, are helpless to defend their own constituents even on these immediate and partial issues.
With regard to such openly social-chauvinist forces as the AFL-CIO Executive Council and the NAACP top leadership, Lenin warned: "...unless determined and relentless struggle is waged all along the line against these parties, groups, trends, etc., it is all the same---there can be no question of a struggle against imperialism, or of Marxism, or of a socialist labor movement."
Thus, Lenin's advice for proletarian revolutionaries in our situation is not just to put forth the positive exposure of the corrupt and bloodthirsty Bush Regime, the Bush-Enron connection, the Bush and bin Laden families' business connections, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Big Oil connection, the stolen US presidential election, the Democratic and Republican Party duopoly, the CIA web that connects so much of this, etc. etc. No--at the same time we must expose the social props such as the AFL-CIO Executive Council and the NAACP top leadership which provide support among the exploited and oppressed masses for this corrupt and dictatorial regime.
Among those who identify themselves as the revolutionary left in the USA, failure to expose these social props, excuses for them, silence on their counterrevolutionary actions, efforts at uncritical unity with them, etc. is tantamount to the international trend of Kautskyism in Lenin's time which Lenin characterized as providing a "masked defense of the social-chauvinists".
April 20th National March on Washington Against War & Racism
Even in the USA, there have been some positive initiatives against the Bush war drive. Most significant, thus far, has been the staunch stand taken in September by New York Labor Against the War (LAW). Over the past five months, about 800 individual trade unionists (half from New York City) have signed this statement. And N.Y. LAW is taking an active part in the mass demonstration called for April 20th in Washington DC with another demonstration scheduled to be held in San Francisco. Concerning this demonstration, it is also positive that among the forces leading the international A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) coalition there was sufficient political maturity and seriousness to reject sectarianism. They chose to abandon their original April 27th date and combine with the April 20th Coalition so as to avoid a split into two national marches on Washington DC, a week apart, as actually happened during the US-Iraq War eleven years ago.
Finally, it is important that U.S. proletarian revolutionaries and anti-imperialists who participate in the march and rally, make sure that the key international question of Bush's global terrorist war is the focal point of our political demands, our political education, our message to the masses of the people both inside and outside the demonstration. Any effort to bury this cutting edge question under a "barrage of details" about domestic economic injustice and corruption, to make the domestic economic question primary, will be an effort to cut the U.S. working class and the Afro-American people off from our best friends, the rest of the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world.
Among the slogans for the march that will help give it a sharp anti-imperialist and proletarian internationalist character are the following:
Infuse the Anti-Globalization Movement With Anti-War Content!
No to Us-Led Imperialist Globalization!
No to Us-Led Imperialist War!
No to the #1 Exploiter of the World's People
No to the World's #1 Terrorist!
"USA – Hands Off Afghanistan!!
"USA – Hands Off Colombia!!
"USA – Hands Off the Philippines!!
"USA – Hands Off Palestine!!"
"Stop Bush's Terrorist War Against the Peoples of the World!"
--Ray O. Light
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