All posts by Ajamu Baraka

Build Back Better Legislation: New Keynesianism or Neoliberal Public Relations Stunt? 

For more than a week the country has been caught up in the ongoing melodrama of the “Build Back Better” (BBB) legislation, the Democrat Party’s “social investment” bill now languishing in the House because of the inability of the Democrats to come to an agreement. The fight is characterized by the corporate media as an intra-party struggle between the emerging “progressive/left” pole of the Party and the “center,” represented by the recalcitrant neoliberal corporate Democrats in the persons of Senators Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

But the media’s tendency to reduce this struggle to a battle of personalities distorts, in a fundamental way, the real interests at play in this fight. The intra-party struggle of Democrats is a crystallization of the complex and contradictory reality of the intra-class struggle within the dominant wing of the capitalist class on the correct strategies for dealing with the ongoing and deepening capitalist crisis.

The real terms of the struggle are between the class faction that sees the need to preempt potential radical working-class rebellion by making non-threatening reforms meant to bring some psychological relief and minor material benefits to the laboring classes as some of the provisions in the BBB legislation would bring.

Another faction of the ruling class, however, is concerned with the legislation’s cost, the threat it poses to their economic interests, and a potentially dangerous shift of influence, if not power, to the laboring classes. They see expanded social-welfare spending as inflationary and providing leverage to the working class. Being militantly committed to the logic of the neoliberal project, this faction wants to hold the line on government spending, impose austerity at every level of government and is opposed to state interventions into the economy that would reduce the precarity of workers by undermining the carefully constructed labor management policy goals that have been faithfully carried over the last forty years of discipling U.S. labor and driving down its costs in the U.S.

It is imperative that the left, particularly left forces representing Black and nationally oppressed peoples, employ a materialist, class analysis as the lens and framework to inform their critique of the BBB legislation. If we fail to engage this legislation in this way, we run the risk of inadvertently helping to obfuscate the political and ideological agenda of capital, whose objective is to dissipate and manage the class struggle

Was Build Back Better Really Intended to Be Passed in Its Entirety? 

It is clear that the main focus of Joe Biden’s legislative priority was getting the infrastructure bill passed. It received bipartisan support and was able to pass in the Senate, and is being supported by a majority in the House because it represents the consensus across all elements of the capitalist class.

That consensus, however, does not exist for the BBB. Yet, there is a reason that Joe Biden, the consensus choice of the neoliberal ruling class, embraced a number of reforms during his campaign and after assuming office that cannot be understood as just the result of “pressure” from the left-pole of his party.

The fact that Biden was comfortable enough to at least pretend to be committed to a number of “liberal” policies like expanding Medicaid and investing in pre-K and child-care was precisely because an important faction of the capitalist class has arrived at the position that, if not correctly managed, the more blunt-edge elements of domestic neoliberalism were posing dangerous and potentially irreversible legitimation challenges to the entire system.

From advocating for a 70% marginal tax rate and 3% tax on every dollar over one billion in wealth to support a basic income for every “American,” and redefining the role of corporations to entities committed to serving “all of the people,”  the Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and capitalists like Warren Buffet and the CEO of BlackRock represent the tendency among the U.S.-based but transnationally-oriented capitalist class that sees redistributionist state policies and some kind of brake on the obscene economic inequality as vital to preempt serious social upheavals from workers and members of a shrinking middle-class.

The editors at the Wall Street Journal, the flagship paper of the U.S. ruling class, also argued that adjustments to what has been called neoliberalism had to be made.

But the editors of the Financial Times, the paper of choice for the international bourgeoisie, made what was a startling claim on April 4, 2020 that the era of neoliberalism was basically over:

Radical reforms – reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades – will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities and look for ways to make labor markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.

Biden got the message and shared his thinking on how to advance a public relations approach that would offer some marginal and temporary relief without changing anything when he told his Wall Street funders:

When you have income inequality as large as we have in the United States today, it brews and ferments political discord and basic revolution. It allows demagogues to step in and blame ‘the other’ . . . You all know in your gut what has to be done. We can disagree in the margins. But the truth of the matter is, it is all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living would change. Nothing would fundamentally change.

Just a few months ago, what was once unthinkable, ideas that were rejected as extreme and a threat, are now subject of serious discussion, not because capitalists have suddenly experienced a scrooge-like transformation but because they are recognizing that even the absence of a militant movement putting pressure on them, they have to have stop-gap measures to address the now glaring contradiction of neoliberal capitalism that the economic crisis in 2008 and the 2020 pandemic exposed. Therefore, there is no “radical” departure here. The consummate servant of capital, Biden, is simply carrying out the new program.

However, what is also becoming clear is that the BBB was not meant to be passed in whole. It was pure political theater meant to placate the Party’s “left-pole.” The real target is/was the infrastructure bill. The Party bosses’ plan was to draw the progressives into a deal in which they would support the infrastructure bill, accept a “framework” for the BBB that would then get whittled down and backlogged with delayed spending that would then get reduced even more when the Republicans came back into office.

The clashing of interests within the ruling class, even among some of those same elements who supported some minor ameliorative reforms and the delay in passing the BBB as a result of the progressives holding firm, suggest that the above scenario is not that far fetched.

Welcome the Change, But Recognize the Ruling Class’s Fears and Build for More Independent Power

The New York Times is correct: “The Build Back Better Act is centrism taken seriously.” It is “an effort to fix American democracy through economic support rather than structural political change.”

So, while the left could welcome this so-called stimulus bill if it is passed in whole, we must not have any illusions. The capitalist class is clear. They are supportive of this partial Keynesianism as long as the policies do not threaten their fundamental interests or require real sacrifices for their class.

For workers, and especially Black and other colonized workers and the poor, the provision for universal pre-K and support for child-care, paid parental leave, expanded Medicaid and Medicare, free community college, new funding for public housing support, elder-care, and possibilities of new job creation as a result of public investments in green-oriented industries, are important.

However, it is equally important that we do not become cheerleaders for what the rulers understand, perhaps better than some of us, that these social reforms are meant to address some of the more glaring social contradictions produced by four decades of neoliberal policies, but with the objective to strengthen capitalism and preempt radicalism.

Biden’s mission is to restore U.S. capitalism’s profitability, ability to compete with China and to preempt domestic radicalization. By advancing reforms that blunt some of the sharpest contradictions of the system, it is believed that it will stabilize the neoliberal order while not substantially reversing the logic of labor discipline that four decades of neoliberal policies have created.

Yet, it is truly an “impossible mission.” The competing and conflicting interests among capitalist factions will continue to make it impossible for their class to support a relative “disciplining” of their fractional interests for the longer-term interests of the system. Once the “progressives” did not cave and insisted on both bills being passed together, not only did the Pelosi/Schumer/Biden plan fail, but the delay of the vote also exposed the irreconcilable interests among the ruling class.

Powerful capitalist associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and Business Roundtable, as well as energy company interest groups like the American Petroleum Institute (API) are vigorously challenging the climate elements in the bill. Democratic Party representatives are also getting enormous pressure from the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

And the corporate media is constructing a narrative that is shifting the blame for a deal not being done unto the “progressives” as opposed to the two front persons for the neoliberal agenda, which, of course, exposes the con that those two individuals were the real holdouts.

Therefore, Biden and Democrats’ “Keynesianism” is strategic. It is designed to draw the millions of workers back to the Democratic Party that voted for Obama but went over to Trump and reversed the dangerous legitimation crisis generated by the capitalist crisis that began in 2008 and deepened with COVID in 2020 and exposed the precarious nature of the economic rebound that Trump was claiming for himself up to that moment.

The expansion of welfare state spending will do little to mitigate the profound social inequalities of the U.S. Expanded social programs cannot reverse the structural contradictions caused by stagnant wages, escalating housing costs, tendencies toward continued and deepening unemployment with automation, AI, continued offshoring, unaffordable and inadequate access to healthcare, a class-based discriminatory education funding, and a crumbling public transportation system.

The people are starting to understand that radical change is necessary. The question is what kind of change. Those of us on the left who are committed to socialism know that as long as the means of production is in the hands of a few, the wealth that is generated in the production process will continue to produce obscene levels of wealth inequality in capitalist societies that translates into the power to dominate, dehumanize, and degrade the rest of us.

So, we should accept these reforms but fight for more. Workers, in particular women workers, will benefit materially if those provisions that address child poverty, childcare, the grotesque levels of maternal and infant mortality among Black and Brown working class women. And, therefore, cannot be casually dismissed as unimportant.

But we will not give unearned praise to our class enemies. We must fight even more furiously knowing that they fear us, and that victory is ours to claim.

The post Build Back Better Legislation: New Keynesianism or Neoliberal Public Relations Stunt?  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

U.S. Congressional Support for More War spending and AUKUS Anti-China Pact Exposes Cynicism of Biden’s UN Speech Calling for More Diplomacy

In the same week that Biden delivered a speech at the United Nations where he argued that force had to be “our tool of last resort, not our first,” and that “many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms,” the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), that represented another record-breaking increase in Pentagon spending, was passed in the House of Representatives. The message, following that of the racist Theodore Roosevelt, is that if there is going to be dialog the U.S. is still going to “speak softly and carry a big stick” to keep the natives in line.

The authorization to spend 780 billion dollars on the military, which included an increase of twenty-four billion dollars more than the Biden White House requested, came just a few days after Biden announced to the world that the U.S., United Kingdom and Australian governments (AUKUS) would collaborate to provide nuclear powered submarines for Australia. Without mentioning the real target of that dangerous escalation, the Chinese and the world understood that this was a message intended for them.

So, no one listening to President Biden in that General Assembly gathering took the U.S. administration seriously. And certainly, those of who have been the victims of U.S. violence should not either. We know through painful experience that white supremacist, colonial hubris imprisons U.S. policy makers rendering them unable to change course away from their disastrous commitment to global full spectrum dominance.

U.S. policy makers from both parties are gripped by the pathological belief that they can prevent further erosion of U.S. power and exercise global hegemony through military means. But continued reliance on military power to advance U.S. global hegemony creates a contradictory relationship with the public that makes militarism extremely vulnerable – potentially. Because, in order to allow the plunder of the people’s resources by corporations whose business is war, the consent, or at least acquiesce of the people is required.

There is a complete disconnect between the Congress that continues to be able to muster up bipartisan support for war and the public that has increasingly grown weary of these adventures and their costs in terms of lives, resources, and U.S. prestige.

The obvious commitment to military spending and military pacts like AUKUS and NATO is increasingly being questioned by the public. While Congress is on board to support these agreements and militarization as policies meant to intimidate China and Russia (as well as military interventions into the global South), a majority of the people from both parties are actually in opposition to continued war and militarization. Moreover, the failure to provide protections for the human needs of the people of the U.S., with the debate over a social infrastructure bill stalled in Congress, is only deepening the legitimation crisis.

The sharpening contradictions between a public still reeling from consequences of covid and a Congress that, in its need to support the positions of its rich benefactors, will allow critical support for the working class like the eviction moratorium and emergency unemployment benefits to end, is creating a potentially explosive situation politically.

War is, and has always been, a class issue. The poverty-conscripted U.S. army and the increasingly insecure and suffering civilian working classes are finding it almost impossible to embrace policies that have resulted in a staggering $8 trillion dollar rip-off of the people’s resources, thousands of U.S. lives lost and over a million lives of the targets of U.S. aggression during the twenty year-long phony war on terror.

What does this mean for Black and poor people? The racist spectacle on the Texas border with cowboys whipping Black people primarily from Haiti and the systematic violation of Haitians’ right to seek asylum with the swift deportation of thousands was a metaphor for the real value of Black lives in the U.S. and globally.

It also means more war on African and colonized peoples in the U.S.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) highlighted the connections between the Pentagon’s massive budget, surplus weaponry, and widespread police violence in the U.S., as she argued for an amendment to the NDAA that would have ended the Department of Defense 1033 program, the program that transfers military-grade weapons from the Pentagon to federal, state, and local Law Enforcement Agencies across the country:

“With police departments nationwide set to receive a massive influx of military equipment under the 1033 program following the Afghanistan war,” Pressley told The Intercept, “Congress must take decisive action before further lives are lost and more trauma is inflicted on our communities.”

Her appeal was ignored.

Contained in the 2022 NDAA that the House of Representatives approved on September 24th are resources to continue the 1033 program. The NDAA also contained resources to fund the vast global military command structures like AFRICOM on the African continent and the over eight hundred military bases across the planet.

War, militarism, and subversion is central to the U.S. imperial project. It is not just against Black people. The U.S. is actively engaged in subversion of democracy in Nicaragua, continues the assault on Venezuela and the illegal embargo on Cuba, while imposing economic sanctions on over thirty nations.

The diplomats in that great hall at the UN knew that Biden was lying about  U.S. diplomacy. And, like them, those of us at the receiving end of U.S. criminality have always understood that Biden had to lie because state violence is at the core of the settler and imperial projects like the U.S, and even more so when the colonial project becomes an empire. That is the reality we in the U.S. and the world face no matter who sits in the white peoples’ house and no matter what pretty words are read out at the United Nations General Assembly meetings.

The post U.S. Congressional Support for More War spending and AUKUS Anti-China Pact Exposes Cynicism of Biden’s UN Speech Calling for More Diplomacy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Defend the Cuba Revolution and Struggle for More Socialism, Not Less!

Hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths, an economic crisis, broken supply chains, killer cops, mass incarceration, government surveillance, nuclear weapons, irrational anti-social mass shootings, normalized racism, homelessness, crumbling schools, depression, fear, suicides, and obscene disparities in incomes and wealth—all the features of a moribund, brutal, anti-human global colonial-capitalist system in the United States—and we are supposed to be defensive about socialism! Give me a break.

Yet, the propagandists of death never sleep. Even as their system is being exposed as the generator of global warming (climate change), nuclear madness, cultural degeneration, and strange, violent societies and people, the ideological dirty workers are busy diverting attention away from the failures of their system to the internal contradictions found within the few examples of societies struggling to remake themselves in ways that center the needs and aspirations of the people.

If the social and economic conditions in Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela are supposed to be the result of the inherent flaws of socialism, why the sanctions, subversions, and outright attacks on those projects? If socialism is such an inherently unproductive and unnatural system, just let them implode based on their own supposed internal contradictions.

But this is where the joke comes in. The propagandists will say these societies would indeed implode if it was not for some dictator or repressive system that keeps the population in check. This is where the trope of the brutal dictator and the suffering fearful people is deployed ready for liberal—and even radical—white saviorism. The social gains under an emerging socialist project like the reduction of poverty, literacy, and inequality, as well as the provision of free healthcare, education, and free or affordable housing are not mentioned or are dismissed as irrelevant because these policies supposedly come at the cost of freedom!

But people in the United States who are still able to think for themselves and have experienced the structural violence of capitalism have gained a new clarity. Sharpened by the revelations of the COVID-19 pandemic—which ripped away the carefully cultivated veneer of social mobility and civilization that hid the ugly inner workings of capitalism—they have discovered their individual experiences of exploitation and fear are shared by millions of people confined by capitalism to a life of toil, stunted humanity, and early death. That is why so many today have turned away from the illusions and corruption of capitalism toward the possibility of organizing a society informed by the values of cooperation, equality, community, peace, and life.

And that is the fear of the denizens of death. Joe Biden can caution Cuba not to “crack down” on protesters with a straight face. The same Joe Biden whose failure to defend democracy in Haiti created the crisis in that country. The same Joe Biden who claimed it was permissible for the Israelis to lob artillery shells into residential neighborhoods in Gaza because the Israeli colonialists had a right to defend themselves against the colonized Palestinians they were oppressing. And the same Joe Biden who has been silent on the over 70 deaths during the recent national strike at the hands of Colombian security forces, who have been armed and trained by the United States.

The Cuban revolution has survived 62 years of consistent subversion and outright attacks from the United States and its white-supremacist colonial allies. The revolution has nothing to be ashamed of. It has been a beacon of hope and a model for millions around the world. That Cuba needs to defend itself against capitalism and against the billions of people around the world living in abject poverty is absurd.

It is capitalism that degrades and destroys Mother Earth. It is capitalism that transforms water into a commodity, food into a luxury, education into an impossibility and basic healthcare into a distant dream. The colonial-capitalist system is responsible for millions dying in genocidal wars. It created race and perpetuates white supremacy. It is U.S. and European state policies in the form of sanctions that deny peoples and nations medicines in the midst of a pandemic. It is the rapacious greed of capitalists and the warmongering states they control that have imposed inhumane conditions on poor states, which has made it impossible to pay back the odious loans they often had been forced to assume. This situation creates devastating consequences for their people. Resources cannot be devoted to providing healthcare, education, housing, a clean environment, food, and a means to a living because the people’s resources must be used to pay bankers in the West.

This is not theoretical, but a fact. This is the reality of a capitalist world.

But across this capitalist world, the people are fighting back. They are taking their histories into their own hands. That is the threat of nations like Venezuela and Cuba. That is why Western capitalist nations slander China and attempt to mobilize their populations for the possibility of war. China has exposed what can be accomplished with central planning and a rational allocation of the people’s resources to address human needs.

To confuse the populations and mobilize them against their own interests, the capitalists deploy not only their traditional liberal and conservative ideologues. They let loose the social-imperialist intelligentsia—who are fundamentally anti-communist and Bernsteinian social democratic, at best—to provide a left cover to imperialist intrigue. This intrigue is framed as being in opposition to “authoritarianism,” a term and idea that bourgeois propagandists discovered through focus groups can be used to undermine left projects by mobilizing the sensibilities of the soft, materially corrupted and NGOed latte-left in the United States and Western Europe.

However, among millions of people in the global South and among the colonized and exploited working classes in global North countries, Cuba and its project will be defended and the call and struggle for socialism will continue. We see the choice. It has always been between the barbarism of the colonial-capitalist North and human freedom and transformation emerging from the South.

For nationally oppressed and exploited African peoples in the United States, we stand with the people of the South, where revolution is emerging. We will defend Cuba, support Venezuela, demand that North Korea’s sovereignty be respected, struggle against global militarization, and oppose U.S. and Western imperialism without equivocation, apology, or hesitation. We are clear on the enemy because we have seen it up close and personal since 1492.

The post Defend the Cuba Revolution and Struggle for More Socialism, Not Less! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Murder of Daunte Wright Ruined Derek Chauvin Show Trial

The fix was in. The U.S. state was determined to demonstrate to the world that its system was able to render “justice” to its captive African/Black population.

So, unlike in the handful of cases where charges were brought against police officers for killing a Black or Brown person, the prosecutors this time did not pretend to follow the demands of the ill-informed public to bring charges of first degree or second-degree murder that would set a bar for conviction so high, it could not be met. That is a favorite strategy of prosecutors when conviction is not what they are looking for.

The prosecutors in the Derek Chauvin case did the opposite. They stacked the charges in a way that would make it impossible to escape a conviction. And everyone fell in line because the stakes were so high. Could the Shining City on the Hill, whose leadership was now associated with the “decent” Democrats, render justice for the killer of George Floyd? The answer to that question was going to be an emphatic yes. The press committed to gavel-to-gavel coverage and everything was ready for one the greatest show trials of U.S. history.

But the intractable, racist nature of the relationship between Black people and the U.S. settler-colonial state reared its ugly head again and everything went off script right in the middle of the international production. That is because another young Black male was gunned down, ironically in the same metropolitan area where Floyd’s life was snatched from him.

Everything was now confused again. What would justice mean for Floyd and any other Black individual murdered or assaulted by agents of the state even if Chauvin is convicted? Would the call for “justice” now just mean a demand for a trial since it is clear cases of Black murder will continue, as they have since the inception of this nation? Is that not what made the U.S. “exceptional” as the first republic ever established on the basis of race in human history?

The ruling class response to Covid-19 demonstrated how cheap life is in the United States, but the lives of Black people are even lower on the scale of human value. Yet, the charade continues. U.S. authorities gun down Black people in the United States, while its armies kill Black and other colonized peoples and nations around the world in the name of advancing democracy.

Everyone knows, really, that the murder of George Floyd was no more an aberration in U.S. society than the election of Donald Trump in 2016 was. Extreme, systematic, murderous violence has always been at the heart of the white supremacist settler project. The Chauvin show trial was just supposed to help us to forget that for a moment.

It did not matter that no one was held accountable for the murder of Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, or the now countless murders where local prosecutors failed to bring charges and the government under the Obama and Trump administrations made political decisions not to launch federal investigations.

This case was different. It could not be ignored or explained away. The world had seen the gruesome snuff film of George Floyd that evoked global revulsion. An inflection point had been reached in which the U.S. brand was potentially damaged beyond repair—so a sacrifice was required.

With the killing of Daunte Wright, a mistrial may not be the result and Chauvin will probably be convicted. That conviction, however, will not have the effect that the plan had originally imagined. Out of the confusion around what is to be demanded when the killings continue, is the slow awakening to the unavoidable reality that unless African/Black people are able to self-govern and exercise authentic collective self-determination, the degradation and dehumanization that is built into the white supremacist DNA of settler-colonialism will continue to produce Breonna Taylors, Eric Garners, mass incarceration, and crimes against our collective humanity.

And how do we shift that power? Malcolm X gave us a direction from the radical Black human rights tradition. He said you must be ready to pay the price required to experience full dignity as a person and as members of a self-determinant people.

And what is that price?

The price to make others respect your human rights is death. You have to be ready to die… it’s time for you and me now to let the world know how peaceful we are, how well-meaning we are, how law-abiding we wish to be. But at the same time, we have to let the same world know we’ll blow their world sky-high if we’re not respected and recognized and treated the same as other human beings are treated.

That outcome cannot be scripted by Hollywood or the state propagandists.

The post Murder of Daunte Wright Ruined Derek Chauvin Show Trial first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will This Be the Radicalization of Black Lives Matter?

On Monday a group of local Black Lives Matter chapters issued a statement to the public calling for more transparency and accountability from the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN), the umbrella structure for the Black Lives Matter structures.

In what appears to be an ongoing internal discussion, the chapters claimed that BLMGN not only did not collaborate on political visioning and collective analysis with the chapters but shockingly, with the millions reported in the media that was raised from foundations and corporations, “most chapters have received little to no financial support since the launch in 2013.”

The lack of accountability and questions regarding the use of funds were almost inevitable because it was designed that way. Counterinsurgency efforts in the U.S. and elsewhere discovered that these methods are effective and adopted them as part of the playbook for corrupting and redirecting potential oppositional groups.

This does not mean that everyone participating in this effort were opportunists — quite the contrary. There were thousands of Black activists across the country who sincerely supported and participated in what has become the Black Lives Movement.

These activists for the most part had no idea that questions emerged from the very beginnings of this “movement,” which only intensified in relationship to the George Floyd demonstrations, especially when it appeared that the state had successfully placed BLM at the head of something it had not organized.

Most of the activists who hit the streets just wanted to do the work and didn’t know that questions about whether this movement was more valuable as an instrument of the ideological re-legitimization of the system than it was as an instrument for advancing the oppositional, anti-capitalist radical Black movement, especially as it seemed to align itself with right-wing neoliberal democrats from Obama, Clinton, Warren and now to Biden.

So, with the field being flooded with cash from the enemy to keep the focus on easily incorporated themes of “racial justice” and “criminal justice reform,” issues of both financial and political accountability were always beneath the surface. Now those issues have found the light of day and accountability is being called for.

I hope that this effort will result in a serious discussion around the politics of BLM more so than the money issue, even though both are intertwined by the source of the money and the reasons why resources were generated to support this effort.

The situation that faces African workers and the colonized peoples of this settler colony are dire. There is no capitalist solution to the crisis of capital at this stage of its’ development. No Keynesianism, no “new deals,” no appeals to U.S. exceptionalism or “making America great” will reverse its rot. The material contradictions of the capitalist order have accelerated social-economic forces toward either a unique period of a “new” national expression of U.S. fascism (colonialist fascism was the base upon which racialized capitalism was erected), or of a revolutionary situation in which socialist revolution is presented by left forces as a viable option.

This dual trajectory is understood by the rulers and is the basis for why they have consciously moved to pre-empt the radicalization of the present moment by propping up what has now become a diversionary movement meant to de-politicize, even in the midst of dramatic mobilizations across the country, in reaction to the lynching of George Floyd.

Throughout the first few months of Covid pandemic in April and into May, stories started to surface that revealed how environmental racism, neoliberal privatization that devastated the public health system, poverty, Black and Brown workers concentrated in the lowest rungs of the employment ladder – the “essential” workers – had created the conditions that made the virus a  plague for us.

But those stories just about disappeared for several months, beginning at the end of May. And what happened? George Floyd.

The streets were filled with righteous indignation demanding “justice” for Floyd and correctly linking the other cases of police violence such as the execution of Breonna Taylor. Yet, while the marches demanded that we say the names of Floyd and Taylor and remember Rice and Sandra Blaine — out of sight in run-down nursing homes, overcrowded hospitals, and alone in apartments — our folks were dying in silence. The movement would not claim them; would not say their names or it seemed – fight for them.

And even as the lines for food extended for miles, the unemployment check stopped coming and people were driven into the streets by landlords released from moratoriums against evictions. Somehow these crimes of capital did not fit the definition of an assault on our people. It was as if this was neither a “racial justice” issue nor a crime of racialized capitalism.

It is clear to me that the chapters raising questions about BLM from the frontlines are doing so not out of a desire to destroy but to strengthen the movement by generating this discussion. Will it be a tough conversation? Yes. Because partially obscured by the liberal appropriation of intersectionality is the issue of class that the largely petit-bourgeois classed-based leadership of the movement will not even acknowledge, let alone struggle with.

But that may soon change.

The post Will This Be the Radicalization of Black Lives Matter? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Confronting Bipartisan Repression and the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination Beyond Election Day

Chaos, violence, legal challenges, voter suppression and party suppression all culminated in the pathetic display of democratic degeneration on Election Day. After two decades of losing wars, plus the economic collapse of 2008, the response to COVID-19, and now the election debacle, if there were any doubts the U.S. is a morally exhausted empire in irreversible decline, they would have been erased with yesterday’s anti-democratic spectacle.

Democratic Party propagandists and “frightened” leftists are desperate. They tell their supporters and the public that the republic will not survive another term of Donald Trump. They point to his despicable, racist descriptions of undocumented migrant workers from Mexico; his characterization of some global South nations; his misogyny; his crude and obvious white supremacy; his authoritarian proclivities; and his pathological dishonesty—among his many character flaws—as reasons why he must be stopped.

However, for those of us who have been historically subjected to the colonial fascism that is the U.S. settler project, the liberal-left argument that the Trump regime represents some fundamental departure from previous administrations that were equally committed to white power and that he is an existential threat (to whom, we are not clear) remains unpersuasive.

As the Biden and Trump drama plays out, we ask from our experiences some simple questions on what might happen when a victor emerges:

  • Will either candidate really have the ability to restore the millions of jobs lost during the current economic crisis?
  • Will the illegal subversion of Venezuela and Nicaragua stop, and the blockade of Cuba end?
  • Will the prison-industrial complex that is housing ten of thousands of the Black and Brown economically redundant be closed?
  • Will the charges be dropped against Edward Snowden and the extradition demand for Julian Assange end?
  • Will Gaza continue to be the largest open-air prison on the planet?
  • Will the U.S. reverse its decision to deploy new intermediate-range missiles that will be equipped with nuclear warheads targeting Russia in Europe and China in the Asia-Pacific?
  • Will the Saudi and Obama-originated war on Yemen end?
  • Will the U.S. settler-colonial state really defund the police and the military?

What is this “new fascism” the latte-left talks about? What is this “existential threat”? For most of us, the threat has always been existential. When colonial Nazism that was inspired by the U.S. Jim Crow South was applied in Europe—with its violence and racism—it was only then that it took on a different moral and political characterization.

The racist French government launches a domestic terror campaign against Muslims in the country, while they are not bombing Africans in Africa and overthrowing their governments. The European Union gives a human rights award to a political opposition in Venezuela that burns Black people alive because those Black people are seen as Maduro supporters. Meanwhile, NATO, the military wing of U.S. and European white supremacy, expands into South America to support the Monroe Doctrine that morally justifies U.S. regional domination. But fascism is coming to the U.S., they cry!

For those of us who reside in the colonized spaces of empire, leading with uncritical emotionalism as we confront and attempt to deal with the Trump phenomenon, is a self-indulgent diversion we cannot afford. That is because, for us, the consequences truly are life threatening.

In occupied Palestine, Venezuela, Yemen, the South-side of Chicago, Haiti, the concentration camps for Indigenous peoples called “reservations,” as well as “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana, our survival depends on seeing this violent, barbarian behemoth for what it is. We must have no sentimental delusions about the difference between the governance of either of the two ruling class-dominated parties.

For us, both parties are ongoing criminal enterprises that are committed to one thing and one thing only: Ultimately serving the interests of the capitalist ruling class—by any means necessary!

It is in that commitment that we, the colonized, the excluded, the killable, who experience the murderous sanctions that deny us food and life preserving medicines, the killer cops who slowly snuff out our lives with their knee on our necks, the deadly military attacks on our nations, destroy our ancient nations and turn us into refugees, the subversion of our political systems, the theft of our precious resources, and the literal draining of the value of our lives through the super-exploitation of our labor.

For us, we ask, what will be the difference if Biden wins? Wasn’t Biden part of the administration that conspired with the Department of Homeland Security and Democratic mayors to repress the Occupy movement once it became clear the movement could not be co-opted?

Didn’t Obama place Assata Shakur as the first woman on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list and increase the bounty on her head? A recent release of FBI documents revealed it was during the Obama-Biden years that the “Black Identity Extremist” label was created.

The illegal subversion of Venezuela began with Bush, but intensified under Obama. The sanctions slapped on that country—that were expanded under Trump—have resulted in tens of thousands of innocent people dying from lack of medicines. It was the Obama-Biden administration that decided to devote over $1 trillion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade.

Democratic and Republican strategists support the white supremacist NATO structure, the “Pivot to Asia,” and the insane theory being advanced by military strategists, who are wargaming a nuclear “first-strike” strategy against Russia and China that they believe can be successful in destroying those countries’ intercontinental ballistic missiles while the missiles are still in their launchers. That is why the Trump administration pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and has so far failed to renew the START nuclear treaty with Russia, scheduled to end in February 2021.

Not being confused by the liberal framework that advances a cartoonish understanding of fascism that Trump’s bombastic theatrics evokes in the public imagination, it is clear the threat of increased authoritarianism, the use of military force, repression, subversion, illegal sanctions, theft, and rogue state gangsterism is on the agenda of both capitalist parties in the U.S. and the Western European colonizer states.

No matter who sits in the white peoples’ house after the election, we will have to continue to fight for social justice, democracy, and People(s)-Centered Human Rights.

It is important to re-state that last sentence because the left in the U.S. is experiencing extreme anxiety with the events around the election. They want and need to have order, stability and good feelings about their nation again. But for those of us from the colonized zones of non-being, anything that creates psychological chaos, disorder, delegitimization, disruption of the settler-colonial state and demoralization of its supporters is of no concern for us.

Unlike the house slave who will fight harder than the Massa to put out the flames in the plantation house, we call to the ancestors to send a strong breeze.

The post Confronting Bipartisan Repression and the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination Beyond Election Day first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

The Trump Anti-War Feign

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected.

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as Anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president.

After Trump’s surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response.

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption.

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government.

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China, resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019.

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for February 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press.

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But rhat was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested.

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group.

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia.

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop.

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and, if possible, to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

The post Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World?

The “left” rationalization for collaborating with the neoliberal wing of the democrat party is premised on the argument that a win for the national Democrat candidate translates into better possible policy outcomes for the “people” and nation. More importantly though, they assert, Trump’s defeat will alter the rightist trajectory of U.S. politics away from what they refer to as Trump’s neofascist inclinations.

I will not attempt to address this argument here. I have dealt with this cartoonish and idealistic conception of fascism in other places. I have also raised questions with my friends in the left regarding the basis of their confidence that Biden and the neoliberal class forces he represents are in possession of any ideas or policies that will address the irreconcilable contradictions of the late stage of monopoly capitalism known as neoliberalism.

Of course, on this last question, the response from my materialist friends is sentimental gibberish about holding someone’s feet to the fire.

Here I just want to briefly focus on the very simple question that many in the global South are raising in connection with the upcoming U.S. elections. And that is, if Biden wins, what might the people of the global South expect from a Biden Administration? To examine that question, I believe that the Afghanistan situation and the process for arriving at the current peace talks between the Taliban, the Afghanistan government and the United States offers some useful indicators for how that question might be answered.

The Trump Anti-War Feign

Defying the popular conception of Republicans as the party of war, and to the surprise of an incredulous Democratic Party and liberal media, candidate Trump told his supporters and the world that pulling the U.S. out of “endless wars” would be a major priority for his administration if elected.

This claim was mocked by the Clinton campaign partly because it upset the carefully constructed narrative prepared by her campaign to paint Trump as a dangerous pro-war threat because of his inexperience and unstable character. Not that the Clinton campaign was projecting itself as Anti-war, especially with the powerful pro-war economic interests that were coalescing around her campaign. Objectively, there was a ruling class consensus that increased spending on the military and militarism was going to be a central component of U.S. global policies going forward. Trump’s rhetoric was seen as a threat, even if he was not serious about following through once he became president.

After Trump’s surprising win and before he could focus on addressing Afghanistan and the reinvasion of Iraq that occurred during Obama’s second term, a manufactured crisis with Syria was presented to him that politically required a military response.

The box in which his generals and the intelligence agencies placed him on Syria would characterize the contentious and contradictory relationship between Trump and those elements of the state throughout his presidency, even after he signaled his support for militarism with the submission of record increases in military spending.

From North Korea and NATO to withdrawing U.S. personnel from Syria, the Democrats and some members of his own party conspired to oppose any changes that might threaten the deeply entrenched agenda of the military-industrial-intelligence complex.

However, the efforts to undermine any progress toward extricating the U.S. from the 19-year quagmire of Afghanistan on the part of Democrats represented a new low in cynicism and moral corruption.

The Normalized Quagmire of Afghanistan

Shortly after the Trump Administration began, it broke with longstanding policy of not talking directly to Taliban. Administration representatives engaged in a series of covert, but direct talks, without the knowledge and participation of their supposed ally, the Afghan government.

By early 2019, the Administration’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, initiated a series of overt direct talks with the Taliban in Doha. The government of India and many elements within the foreign policy establishment were either opposed to direct talks with Taliban or were reticent.

In those talks, Khalilzad had to address the Taliban’s demand for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops and the U.S. demand that the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

Other important issues that had to be included in a framework for discussion and eventual agreement included the issue of a ceasefire, prisoner exchanges and the sensitive issue of inter-Afghan talks, because the Taliban did not recognize the legitimacy of what they saw as a U.S. puppet government.

The talks with the Taliban, and an important meeting in Moscow in April 2019 between the U.S., Russia and China, resulted in an “agreement in principle” announced at the end of August 2019.

It was agreed in principle that the issues of a U.S. withdrawal, a ceasefire, and the knotty issue of inter-Afghan negotiations would be discussed in a follow-up meeting to be scheduled for February 2020. A significant diplomatic victory that was largely ignored in the U.S. press.

The February 2020 meeting in Doha resulted in a signed agreement to engage in a peace process.

The agreement reflected the various steps that the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan sides were expected to address during the negotiations: The U.S. demand that the Taliban are to prevent their territory from hosting groups or individuals who might threaten the U.S. and their allies; the Taliban demand for a timeline for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces; and the commencement of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces at the conclusion of U.S. military withdrawal and the establishment of a comprehensive cease-fire.

On March 10, the UN Security Council gave the U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting the deal their unanimous blessing. But rhat was not the end of the story. Unfortunately, for Democrats, peace and a diplomatic victory for Trump had to be contested.

Powerful forces in the state and foreign policy community opposed the February agreement. Publicly, they couched their concerns in security terms related to terrorism. They argued that it is only through increase military pressure that the Taliban would denounce al-Qaeda and agree to verifiably sever links with the group.

But the terrorism concern was only a subterfuge. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, along with his close Indian allies, did not want to see any U.S. military withdrawal. Other elements in the U.S. state were focused on the estimated one trillion dollars in precious metals that are currently unexploited in that country. And there was the Chinese issue and their Belt and Road initiative (BRI). Maintaining U.S. forces in the region would not only potentially make those precious resources available to U.S. companies but would also serve as a block to the BRI path through Central Asia.

Those elements and President Ghani were in a panic. National reconciliation and peace represented a real threat to their interests. The solution? Another domestic psyop.

Democrats sacrifice Peace for Politics

By the end of June, a disinformation campaign was launched by New York Times and was quickly followed up by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that focused on lurid but unsubstantiated reports of the Russians paying bounties to Taliban soldiers to kill U.S. personnel.

In typical fashion, “anonymous sources” were quoted. The reasons why the Russians would engage in this activity and why the Taliban who had essentially defeated the U.S. needed further incentives to fight the U.S. were marginal to the story. It was the headlines that were needed in order to evoke the emotional and psychological response that good propaganda has as its objective. Reason is a casualty when the objective is short-term confusion.

In this case, the objective was to evoke an outcry from the public, to be followed with legislation undermining Trump’s ability to withdraw U.S. personnel from the country and, if possible, to scuttle the process until after the election, if at all.

On cue, Democrat Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

And when Trump refused to take the bait and undermine his own peace process, Joe Biden accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” and “continuing his embarrassing campaign of deference and debasing himself before Vladimir Putin.”

Afghan Deception is not only Harbinger of Things to Come Under Biden

On September 12th, despite the machinations of the Democrats and other state forces, the Taliban and Afghan government representatives met in Doha to enter the difficult discussions on how to finally bring a resolution to the U.S. war and occupation of their country.

Neoliberals accuse Trump of cynically calculating every decision based on his own needs while neoliberals only operate from a pristine moral position. According to CNN, the peace agreement “was signed in February — at all costs with the goal of helping Trump fulfill his long-stated campaign promise of removing American troops from Afghanistan.”

If Trump was only concerned about his reelection, and there is no doubt that was a major consideration for most of his decisions, how do we characterize the moves made by the corporate press in collusion with the Democrats and Biden campaign — an objective concern for the security of the U.S.?

Two months after the Russia bounty story, the Clinton News Network (CNN) floated another bounty story. This time it was the Iranians! And almost four months after the original bounty story, NBC news reported that no one has been able to verify the story.

But one story that can be reasonably argued is that for the people of the world subjected to U.S. state criminality, the reoccupation of the Executive Branch by the democrats will not bring any change in U.S. behavior. Both parties support the imperatives of U.S. imperialism reflected in Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy that centers an adversarial relationship with Russia and China and committed to maintaining U.S. global hegemony. Both parties supported the obscene increases in military spending, with Biden promising that he will spend even more!

The rightist character of the Democratic Party is such that at their national convention the alignment of right-wing neocons and neoliberals is not even being hidden.

So, while the fear is supposed to be around a further growth of “fascist” forces represented by Trump domestically, for the people of the world the real fascism of anti-democratic, brutal regimes supported by the U.S., murderous sanctions, starvation in Yemen, and right-wing coups in support of fascist forces in Honduras, Brazil and Venezuela will continue unabated.

This is precisely why from the perspective of oppressed nations and peoples’ in the global South, it should not be surprising that some might see progressive and radical support for either colonial/capitalist party as an immoral and counterrevolutionary position.

The post Will a Biden Foreign Policy Make a Difference for the World? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Responsibility to Protect? Bipartisan Crimes Against Humanity in the U.S.

Hundreds of people are unnecessarily dying every day with African Americans representing a disproportionate number of those deaths. 80 million people are now without health coverage, millions are unemployed, over the next two months evictions will resume with an expected explosion of homelessness. And what is the response from the state that is tasked with the responsibility to promote and protect the fundamental human rights of its population?

While trillions of dollars were transferred to the corporate sector though the CARES Act meant to support the economy through the crisis, the state continues to ignore the existential crisis faced by millions of workers.

The zeal to save the economy at the cost of the systematic violation of every idea of a social contract to safeguard the rights of the people, along with the deliberate decisions not to marshal the resources of the state to ensure that everyone had access to the full range of medical care available, constitutes crimes against humanity by the U.S. state.

The right to health is a human right. However, in blatant disregard for that right, the Trump Administration, with the full cooperation of the corporate sector, advocated opening the economy amid rising cases of COVID-19. Trump even used the power of the state to force workers to report to work at meat processing plants that were inundated with COVID-19 infections. These policies not only represented a cruel and inhumane disregard for the health and lives of workers but are international crimes.

Yet, one of the most egregious examples of the heartless contempt for the humanity and the human rights of the people since world-war two was occurring right before our eyes with impunity, until the people went to the streets sparked by the gruesome murder of George Floyd.

But with the focus on George Floyd and the series of murders by the police, the demand raised for something called justice, and by extension some kind of police reform process, obscured the gravity of the human rights violations and crimes against humanity that were occurring. This focus had the effect of shifting attention away from the systemic violence of capitalist oppression that created the underlying conditions and comorbidity in which COVID-19 overwhelmed the Black community with death.

The shift in focus was largely accidental. The people erupted in righteous anger in a wave of opposition that caught the authorities by surprise by its scope and intensity. Communities, large and small, expressed their outrage at the injustice with acts of solidarity.

Ironically, however, these beautiful acts of solidarity and struggle not only helped to almost disappear the issue of COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the Black community, the focus on “racial justice” and police reform allowed the state to subtly turn the discourse into a system-affirming discourse of potential change and a “we are the world” moment of national solidarity. Everyone from the head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to the most reactionary corporate CEOs voiced their support for “Black Lives Matter.”

Public relations stunts like cops kneeling with protestors or even joining the demos were crude but surprisingly effective attempts to colonize the opposition in some areas and control the narrative. Those attempts were to be expected. However, the ease in which the narrative was refocused toward dead-end policy issues and an anti-Trumpism by the liberal corporate press was troubling.

Return to Human Rights Frame

There would be calls for international prosecutions and even a change in government if any other state outside of the U.S. so egregiously violated its responsibility to protect the human rights of its population. We should demand one standard for all states and embrace the human rights frame.

More than two weeks ago the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) called for United Nations scrutiny related to the ongoing and deepening human rights crisis in the U.S. There were three factors that compelled that call:

— The failure of the U.S. state to protect the human rights of African Americans, who were disproportionately dying from COVID-19.

— The decision to drive workers back to work despite inadequate protections and a gross disregard for their lives in industries like meat processing, which were experiencing high levels of COVID-19 infections among the largely African American migrant work force.

— And statements made by the President of the United States that indicated he was prepared to use disproportionate force against protestors demonstrating against the murder of George Floyd.

The BAP call was quickly followed up with a communication from groups and individuals from around the world to the UN Human Rights Council making a similar call but with the focus being primarily on the issue of police killings and impunity.

The 54 nation African Group of the United Nations submitted a resolution to the Human Rights Council calling for an urgent debate and an independent international commission of inquiry. The focus of the inquiry would be to investigate systemic racism, systemic violence against African Americans, impunity, and the disproportionate use of police force against Africans and People of African Descent in the United States and other parts of the world.

The U.S. responded aggressively to the challenge and pressured members of the Council to reject the idea of an international commission of inquiry which would have been historic for the United Nations. The result that was not unexpected was that the Council issued a strong statement and called for an investigation from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The lesson here and the space that still exists on this issue is that the focus by civil society groups, and even the African Group, on the issue of police killings allowed the U.S. to argue that this issue did not raise to the level that required an international inquiry, which has been reserved for more egregious human rights crimes.

For example, while the letter initiated by the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN) and the ACLU, and supported by a number of the families of victims of police killings to the UN Human Rights Commission, correctly stated that the police killings in the U.S. were “diverting the gaze of the global community” away from the over 100,000 people who died from coronavirus, the letter’s emphasis on disproportionate responses by police authorities and ongoing police killings with impunity, highlighted those legitimate concerns over the unnecessary death of thousands as a result of government policies.

The U.S. argument that this issue did not raise to level of a special inquiry, especially when compared to government crack downs and police violence in places like Brazil and even France, was embraced by a number of European states and others who subsequently rejected the idea of a special commission.

Had the lead been the decisions by the U.S. state to sacrifice the human rights of its citizens and residents by not providing adequate protections of their rights and consciously making decisions that were obvious would result in sickness and death for vulnerable sectors of the U.S. population, with the issue of police killings and impunity as part of a pattern of racist human rights abuses over time that was fully documented by various human rights treaty monitoring bodies, it might have been much more difficult for the U.S. and their European allies to argue against a commission.

Transcending Legalistic State-Centric Human Rights:

The decision by the Human Rights Council should not eliminate the idea of an international commission of inquiry, or the framing of the situation in the U.S. as crimes against humanity and for human rights.

Operating from the Black radical human rights tradition that we have labelled the People(s)-Centered Human Rights framework (PCHR), we do not rely on state-centered international bodies to define, legitimize, or protect human rights.

People(s)-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are defined as “those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle.”

Therefore, we the people can construct an international commission of inquiry that examines the ongoing crimes against humanity occurring at every level of government in the U.S. with the full assistance of the corporate sector.

But while correctly reframing and exposing the situation in the U.S. is important in the ideological fight, the PCHR approach proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations are located in the relationships of oppression.

The PCHRs’ recognizes that the oppressed can petition, expose, get resolutions passed or establish commissions of inquiry, but ultimately the realization of human rights can only be achieved when there is a fundamental alteration of the relations of power and the people rule.

That is, when there is a social revolution.

Trump wins! Completing Obama’s Pivot to Asia and the Confrontation with China

Even before becoming the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump had one consistent foreign enemy – China. Partly fueled by his intrinsic white supremacy and his antipathy for the liberal elite “globalists” who evoked his personal inferiority complex, Trump has never waivered from his fierce opposition to what he saw as the “yellow peril” from China.

So when the Obama Administration announced in 2011 that the US would make “a strategic pivot” in its foreign policy to focus its military and political attention on the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia, which meant China, it was one time that Trump supported Obama’s position – but for very different reasons.

For Trump, the problem was the cozy relationship between finance capital and the transnational corporations they funded during the neoliberal period of rapid and deepening globalization of production. The result of that relationship was that much of the industrial base of the U.S. economy was transferred first to Mexico and then mainland China. Altering that relationship and bringing those jobs “back home” as part of his “America first” position became a campaign issue and his intended first order of business once he assumed the presidency.  Shifting trade relations in favor of his capitalist base in the U.S. was a primary objective with Chinese containment being a necessary but almost secondary objective.

Trump’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the “gold standard of trade deals” according to Hilary Clinton before she pretended to oppose the treaty during her 2016 campaign, was seen by the elite as the signature deal that would provide the leverage to contain China’s ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, while also ensuring the continuity of economic relationships for U.S. transnational capital to utilize China as a profitable zone for the production of goods and services for the U.S. and European markets.

Trump’s opposition to the TPP and his comments regarding the entire architecture of the global neoliberal project of the last forty years was seen as reckless and made him a threat. The financial and corporate transnational elite moved swiftly operating though the state and media to destabilize his administration, even before he took office. That fraction couldn’t care less about his rhetoric on race, Muslims and immigration; in fact, his theatrics became a very valuable distraction while they completed the strengthening of the national security state under Bush and Obama and plotted to either get rid of Trump or impose the discipline of their agenda on his administration.

As Trump saw it, completing the pivot to Asia required one strategic angle – reducing tensions with Russia with the intent to bring them into the fold of “Europe” in order for the U.S. and Europe to combine forces to discipline China. What Trump hadn’t anticipated and was clearly unprepared for, was the ferocity of the efforts to make it impossible for him to govern. Russiagate became the issue that would block his plan to reconcile with Russia and bring the full force of the state against China.

But, today, after having survived the unprecedented efforts by unelected power to undermine his presidency perhaps in the history of the U.S. nation/state short of actual assassination, Trump has the support of a growing coalition of forces across the ruling class spectrum that represent a new and growing consensus that China is out of control and is a real threat to U.S. global hegemony.

What changed?

Limiting China to a specific role in the international division of labor was always part of the plan even when China received “most favored Nations status” in the 90s and membership in the World trade Organization.

The relationship between U.S. transnational capital and the Chinese state was seen as a win-win. China served as platform to produce goods and services for U.S. markets providing jobs for Chinese labor and revenue for the state while providing price competitive products for U.S. consumers. In the process it was assumed that China’s integration and participation in the global capitalist order would result in the “liberalization” of their economy and political system and open up an enormous new market for U.S. capital.

The problem, of course, was that the Chinese had their own plans.

The new bipartisan, ruling class consensus that more aggressive measures were needed to contain China was captured in the now infamous “pivot to Asia” announced by Barack Obama in 2011.

Today the growing ruling class consensus that has given new life to Trump’s anti-China campaign is reflected in the positions that say economic integration with China did not result in any transformation of China into a “regular” capitalist nation. And with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) introduced by Chinese president Xi Jinping, China is an existential threat that can only be countered by military means.

War Against China, COVID-19, and Black Working-Class Position

“Not One Drop of Blood from the Working Class and Poor to Defend the Interests of the Capitalist Dictatorship” (Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) Slogan)

The psychopathology of white supremacy blinds U.S. policymakers to the political, economic, and geopolitical reality that the U.S. is in irreversible decline as a global power.  The deep structural contradictions of the U.S. economy and state was exposed by the weak and confused response to COVID-19 and the inability of the state to provide minimum protections for its citizens and residents. But even in decline, the U.S. has a vast military structure that it can use to threaten and cause massive death and destruction.

This makes the U.S. a threat to the planet and collective humanity because U.S policy-makers appear to be in the grip of a death-wish in which they are prepared to destroy the world before voluntarily relinquishing power, especially to a non-European power like China.

For example, when Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo declared in public that the United States and its Western European allies must put China in “its proper place,” this represents a white supremacist mindset that inevitably will lead to monumental errors of judgment.

This white supremacist, colonialist mentality is unable to accept the full and equal humanity of non-Europeans and, therefore, are driven to an irrational obsession with preventing what is now inevitable – global hegemony passing to China.

To prevent this objective eventuality, U.S. policymakers are openly advocating war with China. Not only war, but a war that some of them argue must take place before 2025!

And this is not some wild construction from the Trump Administration.

More than a decade ago military strategists war-gamed on how to defeat the Chinese concentrating on fuel supplies and trade routes. The RAND Corporation described during the Obama Administration how the U.S. could defeat China in a conventional war and in 2011, the Council of Foreign Relations began to urge the U.S. to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF )Treaty which it did in 2019 in order to redeploy intermediate range missiles off the coast of China.

COVID-19, that the Trump Administration constantly refers to as the Chinese virus, and the blame game being played, is preparing the public to support conflict with China.

However, The Chinese are aware of the dangerous turn of events with COVID-19 and are preparing accordingly. And here is the real danger.  Forces within the Chinese Communist Party and military are warning that the nation must prepare itself for all contingencies, including armed conflict.

For African Americans we must resist all efforts to draw us into a conflict that has nothing to do with us. We must be clear that we are not going to allow our sons and daughters to be sacrificed in yet another war of aggression on behalf of white capitalist/colonial power.

We must reject anti-China propaganda being directed at our communities using lurid stories of Chinese anti-black racism in China and the alleged attempts by the Chinese to “colonize” Africa, a position that is both absurd and insulting in how it trivializes the brutal reality of European colonization that the continent has yet to recovery from.

Trump is winning the propaganda war on the Chinese issue because at its core the U.S. is susceptible to appeals to cross-class white racial solidarity against the uncivilized hordes. Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations did not just resonate with right-wing audiences but was an acceptable commentary on the challenges of Western modernity.

However, we must remain clear about who our enemy is. It is not the Chinese who are beating us down in the streets for not social distancing, who have denied us medical care, imprisoned us, killed us, poisoned our water, and forced us to face death on a job just to survive.  We got a historical beef, but it ain’t with China, Russia, or any of the enemies of the U.S.