Sharpening the Contradictions

At a number of rallies Donald Trump supporters have been caught on tape harassing and occasionally attacking opposition protestors. Given his vicious rhetoric against women and minority groups there is an increasing tendency among liberals to draw parallels with the European fascists movements of the 1930’s. Though I have written on this topic before I thought it important enough an issue to readdress. Mostly because I believe the parallels and comparisons being drawn are erroneous.

The Fascist movements of the 1930’s were the product of a number of complex social forces. A deep economic depression was wreaking havoc across the planet. In the decades prior to the onset of the depression a world war was the second act in a three act play of revolutionary working class uprisings. Ruling classes around the world were rocked and found themselves caught in fierce struggles with working class peoples for the future of their respective countries and the future of the capitalist system itself. From 1905 to 1923 there were revolutionary waves of mass action against the government in countries like Russia, China, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Croatia, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Bavaria, Ireland, Turkey, Persia, India, Portugal, Mexico, Malta and Egypt. Not to mention other examples of mass action and protest around the world that failed to achieve the levels of success seen in many of the aforementioned nations.

In the wake of these revolutionary upsurges ruling classes around the world took immediate and repressive action. The Red Scare in the United States is the most well known such example. Therefore the evolution of fascist movements in Europe must be considered within this context. Fascism was a byproduct of this struggle, an alliance between the capitalist ruling classes of a particular European nation and the middle class of that same nation. These two groups made a natural alliance given their shared fear of the working class. But it was the existence of a powerful and politically active working class that drove the need for this alliance. In 21st Century America there is no corresponding working class to give credence to the claims of so many liberal thinkers who are trying to draw comparisons between Donald Trump and his campaign with Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini.

Also, the ruling class in America seems quite divided on the candidacy of Donald Trump. While it is my assumption that should Trump win the Republican Party nomination the Republican donor class will fall in line and support him in opposition to the Democratic Part’s nominee I do not see the kind of ruling class unity that existed in Europe in the 1930’s. There just is not a sufficient threat from the Left to unify the ruling class and the middle class in a genuine fascist movement. Trump’s reactionary rhetoric and the violence carried out at his rallies is not all that different from what this country has witnessed in the past as right wing candidates attempt to win the support of the reactionary elements of American political life. The radically reactionary character of the conservative movement in this country has always found violent expression in electoral campaigns, attacking minorities, and even in the recent past killing them. A quick study of the Civil Rights Movement belies this claim.

This is not to say that were I a Muslim American I would not be worried. I most certainly would be. The rhetoric that Trump, and most other conservatives, use on a daily basis gives license to dangerous people to carry out violent acts. Whether it is harassing women entering abortion clinics, or threatening the staff employed there, or mobs appearing outside mosques to threaten worshippers. Nevertheless when we analyze the social forces that have given rise to Donald Trump’s popularity we must categorize it appropriately. In the years building up to the fascist seizure of power in Germany political murder was a daily occurrence. Left-wing politicians, labor leaders, intellectuals, and religious leaders, among others, were the targets of fascist militias. Any person or institution that might stand in the way of fascist domination in Germany was eliminated. Some four hundred political murders were carried out and went unsolved during this period. Fascism is not alive and well in America. Fascism is distinct from conservatism. And to be honest this is nothing more than American conservatism.

However, we must not ignore what is unique about this modern incarnation of conservatism. The donor class of the Republican Party has spent the last forty years building a political and media infrastructure to rewire the brains of millions of Americans. They have created a network of media and political organizations to craft and coordinate right wing ideology. Countenancing the zeal of the base of the Republican Party and turning it into votes they have created a powerful political bloc that has the ability to determine the course of the American political system. The Republican Party has relied for so long on the support of this bloc in their attempts to acquire power that they cannot win without it. But now the tail is wagging the dog. Frankenstein’s monster has escaped the basement and is running through the streets. And they are demanding their prescription for America be filled.

Incredibly, what the base of the Republican Party does not realize is that for the last forty odd years conservatism has reigned supreme in America. Their policies of low taxes, small government and big military have dominated politics. Bill Clinton made allies in Congress with Newt Gingrich to immiserate welfare, balance the budget, de-regulate Wall Street and the telecommunications industry, among other right wing pet projects. They expanded the police state, introduced discrimination against gays into federal law, and so on. Barack Obama has governed as an Eisenhower Republican. Yet, all the while, each time a Democrat is elected to the White House the Republican Party sets out to destroy their administration from inauguration day. This contradiction is necessary because the only way to ensure that their rabid base turns out to vote is to deceive them into believing America is one election away from a socialist dystopia. A world where African Americans have the audacity to look down their noses at white people instead of the other way around. Heaven forbid!

Conservatism is an ideology that advances privilege, inequality, and hierarchy. Therefore, the only way for the elite of the conservative movement to engender the kind of consistent outrage they need to maintain power is to inculcate their followers with the feeling that their privilege is under assault. Like a cult the conservative base of the Republican Party lives in a bubble, ignorant, anti-intellectual, prejudiced, and full with the certainty that they know some kind of divine truth. This is precisely why whenever some bigot opens his mouth to argue against “political correctness” or in favor of some other reactionary fabrication they believe they are breaking a heretofore un-violated taboo.

This belief that they represent a persecuted minority has become so deeply ingrained that they no longer even care about public policy or actual governing. They feel so deeply under threat that the only form their ideology can take now is purely attitudinal. Which perfectly explains Donald Trump’s popularity. Trump has offered very little in the way of consistent policy. From one day to another he could be advocating opposing ideas. And just like in a cult, the people who follow him, the most reactionary element of the Republican Party, such hypocrisy goes unnoticed. They do not remember what was said yesterday. All that matters is what is said today. They just want someone who is going to bully the people they hate. This is entirely about impulse. He is the political manifestation of the Republican Id.

Mass media and social media have allowed American conservatism to evolve in new ways. Only through the use of such technology could the followers of Trump find this kind of satisfaction of their impulses. Every time he goes on live television in front of millions of people and threatens a minority group his followers feel an explosion of endorphins in the brain. This also explains the impulsive behavior seen at his rallies. As the likelihood of Trump becoming the nominee increases, his followers, in a state of wild euphoria, are losing the capacity to control themselves and are beginning to lash out.

Even though I do not categorize this movement as fascist it does not mean that it should not be opposed. What Trump’s candidacy does offer is it sharpens the contradictions between the Republican and Democratic parties. AS long as the Republican Party exists it will be nearly impossible to create a genuine labor or leftwing party in America. The two party system is too ingrained in American political life to be abandoned. As long as the Republican Party exists there will be a means for the Democratic Party to beat its radical base into submission. Fearing the damage done to the country’s vulnerable populations under Republican rule much of the working class is going to remain unconvinced about the necessity for a militant labor or leftwing party. Hopefully this election, with the dominance of a candidate like Trump, is the beginning of the end of the Republican Party.

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Left Wing Attacks on Bernie Sanders

Numerous attacks on the economic program offered by Bernie Sanders have be launched in the last few weeks. A letter was written to the Sanders campaign from several past chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). In the letter the economists claim that Sanders’ domestic economic agenda is nothing more than a bunch of hooey.

“We have worked to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy. When Republicans have proposed large tax cuts for the wealthy and asserted that those tax cuts would pay for themselves, for example, we have shown that the economic facts do not support these fantastical claims. We have applied the same rigor to proposals by Democrats, and worked to ensure that forecasts of the effects of proposed economic policies…are grounded in economic evidence… We are concerned to see the Sanders campaign citing extreme claims by Gerald Friedman about the effect of Senator Sanders’s economic plan—claims that cannot be supported by the economic evidence. Friedman asserts that your plan will have huge beneficial impacts on growth rates, income and employment that exceed even the most grandiose predictions by Republicans about the impact of their tax cut proposals.

As much as we wish it were so, no credible economic research supports economic impacts of these magnitudes. Making such promises runs against our party’s best traditions of evidence-based policy making and undermines our reputation as the party of responsible arithmetic. These claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.”

But like so much of what liberals argue about any given issue they are once again right, but for the wrong reasons. Nobel prize winning economist, and bourgeois butt-face (I’m sorry; I just couldn’t help myself), Paul Krugman linked to this letter on his blog. His input was limited to arguing that the Senator, who has worked at the Capitol for more than two decades, is “not ready for prime time” while also being unwilling to “face up to the reality that the kind of drastic changes he’s proposing, no matter how desirable, would produce a lot of losers as well as winners”.

Krugman also added that anyone who responds to this letter with a critique that believes it is most certainly relevant which kind of institutional, economic and political, interests those economists represent, then you are part of the problem. Of course Krugman admits to his true allegiance right in his own blogpost when he writes about the Sanders plan producing a lot of losers. He is speaking here, of course, of Capital. Capital loses when policies benefiting Labor are implemented. Though I guess I am just part of the problem for quoting Krugman back to himself.

All this is quite ironic coming from a political commentator who is filled with righteous fury each and every time some blockhead pundit espouses false equivalence between the Democrats and the Republicans. I suppose if one is going to offer a critique of Sanders’ plan from the Left that is not a classic case of red-baiting then one may just as well call Sanders’ a deluded amateur. Sure, he did it politely, so I suppose he gets points for that, but let us not blind ourselves to exactly what is happening here. This is a fight within the left-wing coalition, a fight between the liberal and radical factions. Given where my allegiance lies, therefore, one would be pretty shocked to discover that I agree with the analysis offered by Krugman and the former CEA economists; well, sort of.

It is often the case that a liberal is right about a particular issue, or even a multitude of issues. They just happen to be right for the wrong reasons. One wonders just how well bourgeois economists like Krugman and those formerly of the CEA really understand capitalism or economics, especially since the plan offered by Sanders is not that radically different from the kinds of plans offered by Keynesian economists such as Krugman over the last six or seven years. This is an argument over degrees, not actual policy.

These institutionalist liberal economists believe that the Sanders plan goes too far in redistributing the wealth that has been expropriated from Labor by Capital over the last several decades. Krugman and his ilk will go one television and rail against inequality, unemployment, the destruction of the social safety net and the welfare state. But when a genuine attempt is made by a candidate running for President to push down on the scales in favor of Labor they holds their hands in the air, shouting “Stop,stop,stop! Whoa, buddy, just where do you think you’re goin’ so fast?”.

Theses are economists who advocate the consumption theory of capitalism, that it is the consumer who is the real driving force of the system. Give the consumer more money and you will produce economic growth. For Keynesians, extra spending is produced by money creation, which leads to increased employment, then increases in income and economic growth and finally increases in profits. In reality, however, the capitalist economy works in exactly the opposite direction. Only when profits are high enough do capitalists have the incentive to invest, which produces higher employment, higher incomes, and increased consumption.

Therefore, using the political system to shift the balance of power back to Labor, as Sanders would do, would weaken capitalism, drive down profitability, lead to a strike of investment, layoffs, declining incomes and consumption and ultimately a recession or depression. As we Marxists argue there is no solution to the crises of capitalism within capitalism itself because it is the very crises, recessions and depressions, that are the means for the system to restore profitability. The capitalist class is not going to stand by and do nothing while it is under attack, hence the conflict between the liberals and the radicals within the Democratic Party.

Regardless, we Marxists support any attempt by the political left to implement policies beneficial to Labor. However, both the liberal and the radical factions of the Democratic Party are wrong about the ultimate solution to this crisis. The long term solution is not a moderate or even a radical challenge to capitalism in a period of low profitability. Rather, the capitalist system of production for profit has to be replaced by a system of planned investment under common ownership.

To Be A Marxist and Vote for Democrats in America

We on the Left often issue warnings about forthcoming attempts by elite liberals, both inside and outside the Democratic Party, to cajole us into uncritically supporting the Democratic nominee. Now that the 2016 election is underway we can expect this behavior to play out again. Fear-mongering about the reactionary character of the Republican Party and the conservative movement will build to a crescendo as the election approaches. We will be asked, as we always are, to ignore our concerns and criticisms of Democratic Party policy and instead focus all our energy, and fire all our ammunition, at the conservatives. And we will likely do as we have always done and ignore this.

To be a Marxist means to have a very specific perspective. Marxists recognize the limits and intentions of liberal democracy; limits that are deliberate in nature, drafted for specific purposes, with the ultimate intention being to act as the mechanism for ruling class domination. We do not believe, as the Liberals do, that the best path forward for human progress is through the electoral and legal systems of the liberal democratic state. The state is the focal point of the hegemon’s power. We believe in popular struggle as the means to self-emancipation. Never in human history have the oppressed been liberated from above. Power concedes nothing without a demand, and we have much to demand.

Nevertheless, when November rolls around, and the country goes out to vote, there is no doubt in my mind that, even as a Marxist, I will be casting a ballot for whomever the Democratic Party nominates. The justification for this decision lies in having both short term and long term goals. In the short term we are trying to keep as many people alive and subsisting in the most reasonable of living conditions as we can muster, while in the long term we are trying to replace capitalism with socialism. Therefore we need a two-pronged approach. One that acts as the basis for short term reform, saving lives by expanding access to health care, releasing people from prison, reforming and rolling back the domestic and international police state, locating funding for putting people to work, re-building the country’s infrastructure, making it easier for individuals to vote, making it easier for women to access abortion and other reproductive and general health care, and so on. The other approach should focus on building revolutionary mass movements centered around militant political and economic organizations. We have to radicalize people both at work and at home.

One of the major faults of the Left over the last several decades has been a tendency to splinter off into sectarian quagmires. Some of us focus on criminal justice reform, others focus on housing, others on poverty, others on climate change, others on minority rights and identity politics, etc. We are each trying to put a puzzle together using only our own individual pieces. We need to maintain both a systemic and a fractional perspective, recognizing our own individual concerns as connected within a broader system of oppression. Liberal capitalism is a system defined by exclusion. But because it is also a dynamic system, capable of revolutionizing itself, it can adapt to changing circumstances and redraw the lines of exclusion. Political rights have slowly, through the popular struggle of the excluded, been forced to expand from including only white men with property to all white men, to all white people, both man and woman, to everyone. Further political, social, and economic rights have been won over the last century. Each time the pressure on the system to change has become too great just enough of the demand’s of the masses have been met to provide the ruling class with room to maneuver and redraw the lines of exclusion.

Not only that, but in the last two or three decades further economic lines have been drawn as the welfare state, a creation of popular struggle during the Great Depression, is now being slowly rolled back across the western world. Apparently the liberal democratic state is willing to grant all the political rights any minority group could want just as so long as the mass of the people is equally poor. They are happy to incorporate any nationality, any ethnicity, any religion, any skin color, any sexual orientation, or any gender as newly minted ruling class representatives of their minority group, just so long as the line that delineates class difference gets stronger and stronger, more and more distinct. They are willing to compromise on any other distinction because they know that integrating minority representatives is an excellent tool for subverting a unified front against their interests. Especially because Americans recognize every distinction except class and will live vicariously through their representatives who scratched and clawed and fought their way into the club.

Despite knowing all of this to be true we must recognize yet another important reality. The two political parties America has on offer, the Democrats and the Republicans, are not equivalent. Having the Democrats in power means the difference for working class people having, or not having, access to the social safety net. We will not deny the role that the Democratic Party has had in rolling back or expanding any number of policies we on the Left wholeheartedly disagree with. But the fact remains that the Republican Party and the conservative movement would rather burn the country to the ground than ever work with us on taking direct action in the short term to decrease the suffering so many in this country, and this world, endure. Therefore another of our long term goals should be the complete and utter destruction of the Republican Party. They represent the most extreme elements of the capitalist class, elements who wish to eliminate any and all remnants of the commons, the public good, and the collective. The capitalist system has reached such a self-destructive point that these elements of the ruling class are suicidal hostage takers that must, for the sake of every living person on this planet, be deprived of any further opportunities to wreak havoc.

It has taken me some time to come to this conclusion. In the past I might have very well been on of those on the Left howling about the attempts by elite liberals to manage popular struggle and direct its energy into electoral politics. We must recognize the nature of the beast. It has become highly self-contradictory, fractured, and in some ways finding itself at a place of internal opposition. I will be the first to admit that the Democratic Party is desperately incompetent and pusillanimous. Over the two terms of President Barack Obama they have lost control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, as well as countless state legislatures and governorships. On a national level the Republican Party is no more than a regional political entity. However, given the federalist nature of our governing system they do not need a tremendous amount of national power to cause radical damage. On a national level the Democratic Party appears much stronger than the Republican Party, but when one examines the situation more closely one discovers that their power is shallow and desultory. So much of the power of the national government in America trickles down into the state governments and the state governments are increasingly coming under Republican control. It will be difficult for Americans to recognize Democratic Party policy that benefits them should it be distorted by Republican interference upon arrival.

There is too much at stake in the present moment and in the future for the Left in America to remain as rhetorically imperious and practically ineffectual as it has over the last several decades. Climate change is an issue that could make any other consideration insignificant by comparison if even the most conservative estimates of its impact on human life comes to pass. I tend to sense the danger we are in every time I examine just how uninvolved so much of the public is in the political process. Confronted by such unimaginable forces many Americans seem to have repressed their awareness of said forces. Instead they weather the storm constantly, and quietly, pondering to themselves, just where all this water that is slowly drowning them came from.

 

Crisis of Capitalism: Emergence of Donald Trump and the Nature of Fascism

The rise of Donald Trump in American politics is not much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. He is the perfect political representation of American capitalism in crisis. His base of support is largely made up of rural, suburban, white members of the middle class who have grown tired of the establishment Republican Party and the hold “reasonable” right wing capitalists have had on the GOP. In their eyes these establishment types are preventing them from taking the extreme measures we have seen during the Obama era to their logical conclusion, with Tea Party Republicans ready and willing to drive the country and the economy off a cliff by shutting down and threatening the very credit of the U.S. government; something no capitalist, highly dependent on the largesse of the state, wants to see occur. Then there are the attacks on immigrants, another incredible important asset to capitalism in terms of cheap labor. Instead of a unified capitalist class putting all its energy behind two middle of the road corporatists in each political party we have a series of spectacularly wealthy individual billionaires distorting the traditional influence over the managed capitalist democracy of America, providing ample resources through dark money sources to candidates like Trump, Cruz, Carson, etc.

The most reactionary segments of the capitalist class are pouring enormous sums of money into the campaigns of candidates like Trump all across the country in a desperate attempt to restore profitability through austerity, eliminating the welfare states, unions, environmental, health and financial regulations, lowering taxes on the rich, driving down wages, expanding private access to public funds and so on. There is no middle road with these people. The only solution to capitalism in crisis is the total destruction of the 20th Century welfare state. Other factions of the capitalist class are more “reasonable” wanting to only “reform” the welfare state, not eliminate it outright. The reactionary segments of the middle class in America, largely confined to the states in the south, see in Trump an anti-establishment, ant-politician, anti-intellectual, everyman, all in spite of his family name, multi-million dollar inheritance, and the numerous times his companies have filed for bankruptcy. In Trump they see someone who has stuck it to the system and survived. Over the last four decades economic insecurity has crept closer and closer to the middle classes, slowly swallowing one family here, one family there, down into the abyss, and there has been no substantial leftist opposition to the appeals of right wing movements.

In America, class and race are greatly intertwined. As long as there are minority communities that the racist sections of the middle class can see being super-exploited then they are willing to take their licks and keep quiet. However, as the demographic trends of this country overtake this community they are going to lash out in increasingly outlandish and radical ways. The fact that the capitalist establishment is just as willing to exploit white people, as it is brown and black people has come as quite a shock. The lack of a mass mobilization of the working class by the Left in America has forced the middle class to look elsewhere for targets of their rage. Rather than target the capitalist class they cling to more tangible communities: gays, blacks, immigrants, Muslims, etc.  In many ways the period through which we are living is very similar to the inter-war period of the 1930’s. Right wing political parties have emerged across Europe as viable electoral entities. Given the nature of American democracy, a bicameral, non-parliamentarian government, there is very little chance that a third party could develop that could challenge the two major parties. Instead, the Republican Party has built its electoral success through integrating some of the vilest sections of the ideological descendants of the southern confederacy.

Now it has become fashionable on the Left to just come out and label Trump and the Republican base fascist. Even I have resorted to this lazy kind of analysis. While there are many elements of fascist ideology in the modern Republican Party, such as the radical support of extremist capitalist ruling class economic policy, and the nativist, nationalist, xenophobia of the regressive factions of the middle classes, there is very little evidence of any real attempt to seize political power outside legal, electoral, means. Of course, even the Nazis were elected to the parliament before seizing power. But in the preceding years there were hundreds of political murders. Labor leaders, progressive politicians, artists, intellectuals, scientists, anyone with sufficient popular support to challenge fascism were eliminated. This is not to argue that fascism cannot take hold in America. It surely can. Were it to seize power it would do so hiding behind a love of the constitution and waving the American flag.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the American working class is so utterly depoliticized that there is no need for a true fascist movement in America. The German capitalist class turned to the fascists because they were terrified of a communist revolution. Millions of German citizens had joined the Social Democratic and Communist parties in the aftermath of World War One. Revolution was sweeping across Europe, toppling governments and threatening to overthrow capitalism itself. While there are many elements that are reminiscent of the inter-war period there are also a great many significant differences. Americans have been propagandized for more than a half century that to organize collectively to change the world is something inherently dangerous. The kind of psychological repression unleashed on the populace during the Cold War to imbue a sense of unbreakable patriotic fervor that translates into a love of, in particular, the militarist capitalist state, with the anti-collective, individualism of the post Cold War period wherein everyone is supposed to screw or be screwed, has turned politics into something antithetical to being an American.

Include in that the fact that working people are desperate not for a living wage but to simply keep the jobs they already have it is no surprise that Americans have little time for politics. As far as many of them know politics has only ever harmed them. Americans turn inward, blaming themselves and look for personal solutions, moving from one city to another, going back to school to earn a new degree, etc. Politics as the solution to this crisis is dirty. This level of apathy cannot even be considered within the realm of Marx’s concept of false consciousness. Talking to the average person one gets the sense that they share a general recognition that something is wrong beyond themselves as an individual, but it is such an abstraction, an incomprehensible, almost platonic ideal, that it might as well not even exist at all. Is it any wonder that recent years have seen the upsurge in popularity of zombie movies and television shows? The Walking Dead is so popular it almost acts as a kind of sublimation of the social, economic, and political impotence of the American working class.

There does not seem to be a working class movement on the horizon. The Left is so mired in identity politics and electoral reformism that there seems very little chance a genuine revolutionary movement could take shape without running out of steam as the Occupy Movement did, or being snuffed out by the Democratic Party. Black Lives Matter is the most recent incarnation of liberalism’s frustration with the status quo. They appear to be more sophisticated than Occupy, though that should come as no surprise. The African American community in America has historically been among the most progressive, radical, well organized, and focused political communities. Unlike Occupy they have specific demands, a variety of tactics and strategies for attaining the realization of their demands, have targeted specific, vulnerable, members of the police state, and have seized on modern communications technology to spark popular outrage. However, they have no class analysis or structural framework for explaining the origins of oppression, exploitation, and white supremacy. Without this kind of analysis this movement will not offer any solutions beyond the electoral, beyond electing “better” politicians.

Ultimately our goal should be to build a working class, militant, socialist party where there is none. Splintering off into factions whereby we fight for our narrow interests has been a tremendous failure. The rejection of class politics by the Left in the post-war period has accomplished nothing other than constantly giving ground to our enemies. While they have been on the offensives for decades we have been back on our heels for decades. Instead of building a genuine revolutionary movement we subsume ourselves into political parties. While there is nothing wrong with attempting to reform the most obscene aspects of capitalism we should not relegate ourselves to merely that. Until the Left has a legitimate political program for how to build a class based socialist party in America, out of American traditions that can appeal to working class Americans we are going to accomplish nothing more than applying the breaks on a system catapulting itself toward self-destruction.

Robert Dear and What We Value

Robert Dear’s attack on a Planned Parenthood is illustrative of a number of systemic facts about modern American life. Dear had a history of violent behavior, having been arrested in 1992 for sexually assaulting a woman in South Carolina. There is no record that he served jail time for this offense so in all likelihood the case against him was dismissed. After killing three and injuring nine, Dear was taken into police custody, and in the aftermath of the attacks the major media has taken every journalistic precaution in their attempts to present this case to the public. All this is evidence of something very wrong with American society.

It is evidence of our criminal justice system’s refusal to protect the victims of sexual violence. It is evidence of our institutional protection of white men, their motivations for sexual violence, their motivations for murder, their motivations for terrorism. Were Robert Dean a 17 year old black kid walking the streets, or playing in the park, there is no reason to suspect that he would have come out of his encounter with the police alive. And were Robert Dean an Arab or a Muslim there is no reason to suspect that the press would be treating this situation as delicately as they have thus far, refusing to speculate on the possible motivations of the killer. This episode is clear evidence of just how little value is placed on the lives of women and minorities in our society.

Each and every day across this country the rights of these, their very agency, is under attack, compromised, their very lives being undermined by their next door neighbors, their bosses, their family and friends. So ingrained in our culture is the systemic destruction of women and minorities that it barely gets noticed, even by many fair minded people. People who sit on the fence and deny the very fact of the struggle faced by so many of their fellow Americans, fellow human beings. They play semantic political games in which they blame a generalized “Washington politics”, or a “broken Congress”, or “both political parties”. It is akin to a  parent who refuses to recognize the violent tendencies of their child, allowing a sickness to fester until it reaches a peak and begins to snuff out human lives. Only once confronted with the brutalized corpses of their child’s victims are they able to admit to some part of the truth.

Unfortunately, such a moment of realization may never come for us as a society. Despite the clear fact that the center cannot hold the corporate media, the establishment of the Democratic Party, and the general public, all devote countless time and resources to stitching it together out of some silly sense of pragmatism, moderation, and compromise. All the while lives are being lost. This same fundamental contradiction applies to each and every problem our society faces. The very system we support, the very institutions we rely on, the very social structure we have spent hundreds of years developing, is burning all we hold dear to the ground. Soon there will come a moment when we will no longer have a choice as to what we value, and therefore what we are going to save. The system is going to decide it for us. And it will not be pretty.

ISIS, the Attacks in Paris, and the Left

The attacks in Paris have justifiably shocked the world. Now, as a product of this extreme violence we are about to see further military escalation in Western Asia by the world’s imperialist powers. A few weeks prior there were attacks on a peace demonstration in Turkey, after that an attack in Beirut, after that a Russian airliner was destroyed, and within the last couple of days a bomb scare in Germany. Russian, French, American, German, UK, take your pick of which imperial power will be commencing, expanding, and/or intensifying their military action against ISIS. For the average citizen of any given nation such action will undoubtedly be seen as legitimate, even necessary, to prevent further bloodshed domestically. However, so much of the historical context of this conflict is absent from the general discussion that just how terrible a mistake this escalation is, and will certainly be, is invisible.

In order to comprehend the reality of the situation we must examine the post World War Two history of Western Asia and the subsequent  interventionism of the imperial powers. During the Cold War governments were established in countries such as Iraq and Syria that were essentially vassal states of European imperialism, England and France respectively. These secular, totalitarian, military dictatorships violently suppressed all internal opposition and created the circumstances for vast appropriation of wealth by the internal regime and the external imperialism, whichever form it specifically took. The national ruling class fought amongst themselves for control over the social surplus that was not to be exported to the international ruling class and used every mechanism available to them to snuff out any potential internal dissent or dissident activity. The constant pressure brought to bear on the working classes of these countries can not be overstated.

As a result of this international interventionism propping up governments based on international ideology the only place left for opposition forces to turn was Islam, the religious organizations. These organizations were also bitterly suppressed, but they still provided an framework for solidarity and resistance that was native to the region and native to the specific nation. Not only that but they also provided much in the way of social and economic programs that were recognized by the populace to improve the lives of the people living therein. Western political ideology and institutions were seen as either failed experiments or blatant tools of oppression. Taking these facts at face value it is not too difficult to understand exactly why an organization such as ISIS has emerged. In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks the government of Iraq was demolished and replaced on an ad hoc basis, its institutions dominated by Shia Muslims, it Sunni Muslim and Kurdish Muslim populations denied any substantial role in the management of their own society.

This pattern only worsened once American military forces pulled out of the country as a result of a 2008 Status of Forces Agreement signed under President George W. Bush. Sunni’s took to the streets in protest of their disenfranchisement only to be met by bullets and bombs. With nowhere else to turn the old Baathist officer corp. aligned itself with ISIS. The Arab Spring provided the spark to this conflict as a great variety of opposition groups, some democratic, others Salafi/Wahhabi militias forming in Syria after the development of the Arab Spring commenced an insurgent campaign against the Shia dominated Iraqi government, a government that is also quite clearly a proxy state for another Shia dominated Muslim country, Iran. The entire region has become the perfect illustration for the irrational imperatives of 21st capitalist imperialism, unstable, highly contradictory, and spreading uncontrollably.

Cult of Conservatism Part III

The aftermath of the Republican debate on CNBC has provided further proof of just how insular and cult-like are the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Members of the cult so rarely come into contact with individuals outside the bubble that it comes as an enormous surprise when the un-initiated confront them, even when confronted in the most innocuous manner possible. CNBC, for example, is a creature of Wall Street. Surely their interests align quite well with those of the donor base of the Republican Party, not to mention the numerous multi-millionaire presidential candidates who graced the stage with their wealthy presence. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and whom columnist Charlie Pierce refers to as “obvious anagram Reince Priebus, issued a statement announcing the suspension of the February debate to be held on NBC News because of the “gotcha questions” on offer in a debate that the chairman claims was held in bad faith.

This statement was released mostly because immediately following the debate a number of the candidates initiated an attack strategy on the network. Clearly the goal here is to work the refs. For Christ’s sake the candidate who was leading in the polls for the majority of the campaign season thus far, Donald Trump, accused Fox News of treating him unfairly. One wonders just how much further NBC, and other mainstream outlets, can capitulate to the demands of the Republican Party and the conservative movement if even Fox News cannot adequately appease them. The only apt comparison for the conservative movement at this point is the Church of Scientology. They have spent decades creating their own infrastructure for distributing their message to their supporters, poking and prodding them with race hatred, religious hatred, sex hated, economic hatred in order to direct the unthinking horde to the polls on election day to pull the lever for whatever Republican party candidate the political elite anointed to run.

Now, the horde, believing all that they have been told low these many years, have taken control of the entire process. The Republican Party has created an unstoppable feedback loop from which they cannot disentangle themselves otherwise they will enable their own destruction. The most amazing aspect about this entire affair is that the mainstream press is forced to ignore it. As a result when the Republican National Committee chairman begins screaming about his presidential candidates being burned at the stake because they were asked to participate in a debate where they were asked to perform tasks such as basic arithmetic and justifying their own policy proposals, they are forced by their very own cowardice and complicity to pretend that what they did was untoward and promise that it will never happen again.

One wonders if they are too afraid to leave because the conservative movement will hunt them down and kill them saying all the time, “If I can’t have you no one will!” Recently, on the MSNBC show Morning Joe, the host of the weekly political talk show Meet The Press, Chuck Todd, was asked to comment on the falsehoods spoken by the candidates in the recent debate, and Todd responded with “I don’t know what your definition of lying is”. One has to wonder if these people could be made to admit the lunacy and cultic nature of the conservative movement under any circumstances or if they have persisted in this state of avoidance and denial for so long that there is not even room enough in the unconscious for this reality to exist. It is as though there is a secret fifth column in the United States dedicated to destroying the country. Only it is not just kept secret from the rest of us, but from the fifth columnists themselves.