Driving down the freeway listening to a tape on Argumentation –the Basis for Rhetoric and Dialectics. The radio is almost impossible with every story bent to the right. And music can only take me so far. So I am listening to tapes. The entire first tape is devoted to definitions. All three words—argumentation, rhetoric, and dialectics—have been corrupted in 20th century dialogue. With spin and outright distortion, the words have become pejoratives instead of a description of an intellectual discipline. With 2500 years of history, these words sport a glorious history corrupted by 20th century culture.
The highway for Americans became a symbol of freedom. From Walt Whitman to Easy Rider, the road symbolizes freedom. Whether it is the picture of the lone biker or the trucker or even the family sedan, the highway always represented the essence of freedom. Instead of individual freedom as promised at the beginning of the 20th century, the highway has become the opposite. It now represents traffic jams, interminable commutes, pollution, environmental decay, oil impoverishment, the destruction of farmland, urban sprawl with the corruption of inner cities, maximum profit at the expense of sustainability and imperialistic madness.
Now Americans are on another road, sinister and ominous. It is Bush’s road to fascism. Having now stolen two elections, the Bush cabal is determined to consolidate their power at every level and branch of government. This movement occurs not simply because George W. Bush is an unpardonable criminal. He certainly is that. He is a war criminal, a thief, a liar, and a murderer. His crimes are vast, but just beginning. However the more alarming aspect of this movement is that their construction of this highway towards fascism is as inevitable as the concentration of wealth is inevitable under capitalism. For over 70 years, all commentators allowed to speak have always contended the abuses and crimes of capitalism can be reformed out of existence. That simply is not true. In fact, as the concentration of wealth under capitalism increases, the tendency towards fascism becomes first a slow moving movement and then an inevitable domination of the political system.
Seymour M. Hersh’s book, Chain of Command, The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, describes the use of torture by American forces. This war crime is both the result of Bush’s policy and an intentional desire to prepare the American public for such crimes. In the New York Time Book Review, page 13, Michael Ignatieff said the following:
“At the end of the book, Hersh confesses that he still hasn’t for the whole story. “There is so much about this presidency that we don’t know, and may never learn,” he writes. “How did they do it? How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that what was in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange longstanding American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?”
Yes, our democracy is that fragile. Checks and balances in the American constitutional system are functioning poorly. With come creditable exceptions – Senators Byrd, Kennedy, Biden come too mind – Congress did not subject the case for war to critical scrutiny. The courts deferred for too long to presidential authority, and only now with the recent Supreme Court decision, on the rights of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, that “a state of war is not a blank check for the president,” have they begun to claw back some of their prerogatives of judicial review. Nor, in the lead-up to war, did the press, Hersh included, subject the administration case on weapons of mass destruction to the critical scrutiny it cried out for. They were taken for a ride, and so were we”.
Significantly, the Bush cabal intends to change the Supreme Court so that more crimes can go unchecked. Anytime the multinational corporations control the state as in our current situation, the social motion is necessarily toward total control.
Extreme statements? I think not. Anger. That is the political emotion of the day. Whether liberals, neoconservatives, reactionaries, or conservatives, instead of political analysis we hear invective, betrayal, attack rhetoric. What we do not hear is an honest attempt to seek the truth or achieve solutions. But that is exactly what we need. Whether old fashion or not, the search for truth and problem solving are the necessary intellectual disciplines of today. This discipline is required of all leftists from right wing Democrats to socialists. In fact, the strategy of the right wing is constantly to reduce the discussion to the lowest common denominator in order to impede or prevent such analyses. Of course, we must fight resolutely against the viciousness of the right wing cabal represented by Bush II. But we must fight with an analysis and program that both destroys the premises of the right wing and establishes a vision for the future. As George Orwell said: “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”*
*Irony for George Orwell was an effective weapon. Little did he know that capitalism at the stage of fascism and imperialism would be the totalitarian system that destroyed all freedoms.
IRAQ, CAPITALISM, GLOBALIZATION
Objective facts require an international left response to globalization. Any thinking person feels outrage about what has happened in Iraq. Since the turn of the 20th century, the history of Iraq is one of colonization, war, murder, chaos, exploitation, poverty, and social disintegration, all revolving around immense wealth created by gigantic oil reserves.
With the theft of the presidency by the right wing Bush cabal in 2000, Iraq’s problems and now the world’s problems were magnified a 1000 fold. All the evidence establishes that the Bush cabal intended to establish chaos and thereby justify a continuous war against terror. While consolidating the basis for becoming a war president, the Bush strategy has also created a huge progressive constituency. The Bush cabal and especially Karl Rove have created a number of wedge issues. These are basically hate issues. Whether it is Gay marriage, abortion, or affirmative action, and the subtle and not so subtle hatred of all Muslims, these issues are designed to consolidate the base of the Republican Party by generating the energy of hate. The strategy is to focus on the most vulnerable, generate hate, and then generalize from that group. In the 2004 campaign, it was homophobia. But the tactic has a long and nepharius history. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Negro community was the focus of hatred and the right wing could then bring in hatred for Jews and Catholics. It is a tried and worn tactic. And it is always disgusting and racist in content.
The program of the Bush cabal, however, generates its own counter force. The anger, outrage and disgust at the war crimes, the racism, the male supremacy, the homophobia, the thievery, the arrogance, the lies of this administration has and will create a tremendous, disciplined constituency. The media has and will ignore the degree of the opposition to this administration but it will grow nevertheless. The hijacking of American democracy by this cabal for crass commercial interests will create a constituency with a long memory and great discipline.
The antiwar movement will grow as the correctness of their position is proven everyday in Iraq. African-Americans continue to oppose the Bush cabal at approximately 90%. The women’s movement will soon climb up to that percentage as the Bush cabal implements one anti-woman program after another. With the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor, Bush II will strike the cruelest blow of all to the women’s movement with an appointment to the Supreme Court that will be mean and embittering.
Meanwhile soldiers and Iraqis continue to die while Bush II rewards the richest of the rich. The responsibility of the left is to explain how we got to such a miserable state of affairs and most importantly to expose the source of this suffering—capitalism at the stage of imperialism.
In community after community, globalization has failed. In the name of maximum profit, it destroys communities and leaves, it makes sustenance and sustainability impossible, concentrates wealth in the hands of the smallest possible number and leaves the rest impoverished. Finally, and probably most importantly, it leads inevitably to fascism in the dominant imperialistic power, in this case the United States.
A broad discussion of history is necessary in order to explain the inevitability of fascism under the economic system of capitalism/globalization. A broad brush with history is necessary. While lacking in detail, this discussion is possible because most of the analysis is not subject to much disagreement. We now have over 150 years since the Communist Manifesto was written. With the destruction of all but the most innocuous remnants of monarchy, land is no longer the basic source of wealth or the focus of power.
With the consolidation of industrial power at the beginning of the 20th century, the competition for markets by European powers led to the most destructive and murderous war in history at that time. WWI was a success by capitalist standards. By destroying the means of production, new sources of wealth could be created. That millions and millions of workers lost their lives was of little consequence to the capitalists. The creation of the Soviet Union was the only source of concern. Even though capitalist imperialism had worldwide control, it had no political means of producing a structure that could or would lead to peaceful development, and especially no method of mediating differences between economic powers.
Germany, Italy, and Japan were economic powers that were not allowed any openings and were barred from markets controlled by other economic powers. As a result, these countries turned to fascism as a method of mobilizing their working classes in order to open up new markets.
Moussolini was the first fascist leader to give a theoretical structure to fascist political philosophy. As he explained, fascism is corporate control of government. The government then reflects the structure of corporate power. Capitalist historians conveniently ignore this definition of fascism even though it accurately describes all fascist states. Instead, these historians turned to the term totalitarianism and rarely if ever discuss the corporation as the basis for total control. As an economic unit, the corporation is totally antidemocratic in concept and application. And that explains the totalitarian nature of fascism.
Both capitalist historians and capitalist economists speak only of the efficiency of the corporation. They are efficient because they externalize all costs placing the burden of sustainability on the government for which they refuse to pay. In addition, corporations are no longer private. They are instead publicly created institutions that were originally designed to be subservient to the government, something that has now been turned upside down.
Corporations destroy competition and capture markets. Opposition is crushed by any means necessary. Internally, corporations prohibit all democratic protections. In “the Devil’s Dictionary”, Ambrose Bierce famously defined a corporation as “an ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility”. Kate Jennings in the article quoting Bierce describes the internal structure and for that matter the political perspective of the modern corporation:
“I make these observations as someone who worked for much of the 1990’s as a speechwriter at two major Wall Street financial service corporations. Until then I’d had no experience of closed societies and rigid hierarchies; perforce, to survive I had to turn myself into something of an anthropologist.
“One paradox was hard to miss: When I crossed the thresholds of those downtown skyscrapers, I went from one person, one-vote democracy—messy, noisy, infuriating, but democratic—to a netherworld where fear was the primary management tool and dossiers, censorship, misinformation and various forms of surveillance were standard practice. To me, corporations seemed not merely autocratic but totalitarian; the engines of America’s fabled society are anything but [democratic].” New York Times, July 14, 2002, page 15.
Corporations destroy competition; democracy must nurture loyal opposition. Opposition both within and without the corporation must be destroyed, stamped out, eliminated, anything but nurtured. In democracy, there must be a loyal opposition to ensure the competition of ideas and the development of all people and most importantly the protection of the minority. Historians who ignore this aspect of fascism are at best short sighted. Economists who praise efficiency but refuse to calculate the cost to society are at best disingenuous and harsher words are appropriate.
Fascism in Germany and Italy was a response to the destruction of WWI. It was deemed necessary to the absence of markets, and overproduction for a working class in those countries that had little or no resources to buy anything. Japan also faced a crisis of overproduction and a need and desire to open new markets. The corporations of those countries turned to a political system that allowed total control: of the legislature or parliament, of the courts and of course of the executive branch. They then added a very important element—control of the media.
Fascism, once in control, manifests certain elements:
1) Aggressive war: The establishment of a war economy; the mobilization of the populace for war.
2) Deficit spending to justify the restriction of social benefits.
3) Anti-union activity. Actually, fascism attacks all working class organizations that are independent in any way.
4) The elimination of democracy. In Germany and Italy, it was accomplished quickly after taking power. In Japan, democracy was not an established tradition. In Spain, the entire purpose was to eliminate any democratic structure.
5) Systematic violation of human rights. In fact, as Mussolini said fascism rejects the concept of human rights. Alberto Gonzalez in saying the Geneva Conventions are “quaint” uses Mussolini’s contemptuous disdain for human rights.
6) Racism as a means of population control. Of course, the holocaust was the most dramatic element of fascism. In Japan, similar actions were carried out against Koreans, Chinese, and in the Philipines. It is important to remember that the vicious anti-democratic, warmongering, murderous aspects of fascism are integral to the entire political structure. These are not simply aberrations of human behavior.
While these are the most salient aspects of fascism, they are not exclusive. For instance, control of the media and all information control are essential to the political structure. The incredible destruction of WWII, the loss of life, the holocaust completely discredited fascism as a viable political movement. Even today, no credible party would adopt the nomenclature or symbols of fascism. But the process of justifying corporate control of society began immediately in the United States. Capitalist apologists began to separate fascism from the concept of corporate control. Instead fascism was identified as totalitarianism. The holocaust became the identifying aspects of fascism, even though neither totalitarism nor the holocaust would have been possible without corporate control.
However, fascism is the inevitable result of capitalism. Capitalism concentrates wealth in the hands of the fewest possible number. Capitalism rewards the most aggressively greedy, the most control minded, the most corrupt, the most selfish people and institutions in society. Money is the repository for value and therefore power. Once money becomes concentrated in the hands of the most aggressively corrupt elements of society, it is inevitable that those individuals and institutions will use that money to gain political power. When accomplished, they will then necessarily adopt the same anti-democratic, war mongering, racist institutional structure that brought them to power in the first place.
By any other name the Bush cabal are fascists. They tout corporate control. More importantly, they implement it. They ignore and attack democratic principles. They attack every institution that might benefit the working class. The best example is Bush’s attack on social security. And they are completely unconcerned whether the majority of people oppose their policies. They will steal any election they cannot win. Under democratic principles, in 2000, when the Bush cabal had no mandate, their responsibility was to represent all people and make no major changes. Instead, they immediately implemented the most radical attack on working people that we have seen in 135 years.
In both 2000 and 2004, the Bush cabal ran overtly racist campaigns. Sending Republican goon squads into minority communities to attack the votes, on more then one occasion the Republican campaign machine openly admitted that the strategy was to suppress the Black vote. The media, of course, never took them to task for the racist strategy. That is because the media is owned by the same corporate structure that supports the Republican party.
The face of fascism as represented by the Bush cabal changed from that of German fascism and not simply because Bush does not have a mustache and Hitler did. Racist policies are implemented but racist ideology is denied. Aggressive war to secure natural resources is implemented but the reason is masked by lies. The Bush cabal pretends to be pro-life while bombing innocent men, women, and children.
The face of Bush’s fascism is new with Condelezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Alberto P. Gonzalez. With each revolutionary upsurge by the working class, the ruling class learns new methods of control. By establishing an ideological litmus test, the Bush cabal can colorize their fascist perspective, but uses different faces to accomplish their agendas.
The New York Time headlines for June 29, 2005 include: “Bush Declares Sacrifice in Iraq To Be “Worth It”; and “Former Chief of Health South [Richard M. Scrushy] Acquitted in $2.7 Billion Fraud”.
After eight years in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address on January 17, 1961. The former general warned of “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” He added that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
One way or another, a military-industrial complex now extends too much of corporate media. In the process, firms with military ties routinely advertise in news outlets. Often, media magnates and people on the boards of large media-related corporations enjoy close links—financial and social—with the military industry and Washington’s foreign-policy establishment. Extra, p.21 7/8 of 2005
It is now appropriately termed the military-industrial-media-prison complex. That is, the corporations control every aspect of our life and when we disagree or are the wrong color, we go to jail.
Given the extent of shared sensibilities and financial synergies within what amounts to a huge military-industrial-media complex, it shouldn’t be surprising that—whether in the prelude to the Gulf War of 1991 or the Iraq invasion of 2003—the U.S.’s biggest media institutions did little to illuminate how Washington and business interests had combined to strengthen and arm Saddam Hussein during many of his worst crimes. Extra, supra.
CHAOS, CORRUPTION, COMPETITION, CAPITALISM
All of these actions from corporate fraud to war crimes are but a part of an integrated system now called globalization. Chaos, corruption, competition and capitalism – – these words describe but do not encompass the political/economic system of globalization. Other words are applicable but do not contain the sweet alliteration. Other words, however, are descriptively helpful. Fraud, both corporate and electoral, war crimes, murder, torture, rampant racism, religious extremism, intolerance but most importantly control. These descriptions attached to our political reality but are not generally applied to globalization. The reason globalization is only seen as an economic system to describe the distribution of products is that of media control. Everything form war to religious fanaticism is controlled by multinational corporations.
It is hard even to remember that on the eve of World War II, our regular army was a mere 186,000 men. Now, the 1,400,000-strong “peacetime” military services, funded by a defense budget larger than most national budgets, are made up of both men and women living in a closed-off, self-contained base world that connects outposts from Greenland to Australia. The Pentagon has deployed a quarter of a million troops against Iraq while at the same time several thousand soldiers are engaged in daily skirmishes in Afghanistan, countless Navy crews are manning ships in the waters off North Korea, a few thousand Marines are in the southern Philippines assisting local forces in fighting an Islamic separatist movement with roots a century old, and several hundred “adviser” are involved in what might someday become a Vietnam-like insurgency in Colombia (and possibly elsewhere in the Andean region). We have a military presence in 120 of the 189 member countries of the United Nations, including large-scale deployments in twenty-five of them. We have military treaties or binding security arrangements with at least thirty-six countries.
* * * *
This is the future. When war becomes the most profitable course of action, we can certainly expect more of it.
Chalmers Johnson, The War Business Harper’s Magazine 11/03 (p.58)
In this report, Chalmers Johnson takes the position that the dominance of the military industrial complex hears no “relationship to private enterprise” but, in fact, it is the inevitable result of private enterprise. We see the results of globalization and all parts of the world producing chaos, corruption, competition but we never connect the results of the political economic system which produces it – – capitalism at the stage of imperialism. Any discussion of these world problems as caused, dependent upon, or arising out of globalization is either crushed or marginalized.
The current doctrine is that globalization distributes goods in a fair and equitable manner. War, poverty, corporate and electoral fraud, corruption with rampant racism, religious extremism, and torture are all attributed to government or to the inherent weaknesses of human beings. The soldiers are punished, the poor suffer famine, and the crooked executive officers and government leaders continue to lead disgustingly comfortable lives.
Ronald Reagan said that the problem with government is government. That is a pithy and accurate summary of their philosophy. We now have 25 years to experience and to assess this system. What we now see is chaos, corruption, competition and capitalism.
THE FAILURE OF GLOBALIZATION
All eyes are on the United States. The disasters created by the Bush cabal are gigantic and undeniable. The ideological foundation for their actions is clear: globalization works, the market works and people must be punished, controlled or killed if they disagree. We cannot pretend that these are simply bad people because this system will produce another group of greedy war criminals such as the Bush cabal that now controls our government and the world. We must look at the system itself. The list of catastrophes is amazingly large and diverse:
Iraq, Dhar Fur, Palestine, Colombia, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Argentina, Haiti, Chechnia, Bosnia, El Salvador, Bolivia.
In fact, there is nowhere in the world where privatization has worked. There is nowhere in the world where working people benefit as a result of globalization. Even in the United States, working people are now marginalized and their incomes are depressingly decreasing.
Because these are such complex issues, the media is able to bend, twist and propagandize to conceal the cause of these disasters. The best example of globalization’s ability to hide its failures is a human loss of life during the tsunami. The human catastrophe was the outcome of faulty business and economics.
“The magnitude of the disaster was only exacerbated by neoliberal economic policies that pushed economic growth at the expense of human life. It was the outcome of an insane economic system—led by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)-that believes in usurping the environment, nature and human lives for the sake of unsustainable economic growth for a few.” Devinder Sharma, Tsunami, mangroves and market economy, Third World Resurgence issue # 173-174, January/February 2005, p.2.
The only reason this sounds strange or extreme or unfamiliar is because we live in a controlled environment where facts are buried or denied. But Devinder Sharma succinctly explains the basis for his conclusion.
‘Rape and run’
Since the 1980’s the Asian seacoast region has been plundered by large industrialized shrimp farms that brought environmentally unfriendly aquaculture to its sea shores. Shrimp cultivation, rising to over eight billion tons a year in the year 2000, played havoc with the fragile ecosystem. The ‘rape-and-run’ industry, as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations once termed it, was largely funded by the World Bank. Nearly 72% of shrimp farming is confined to Asia.
The expansion of shrimp farming was at the cost of tropical mangroves – amongst the world’s most important ecosystems. Each acre of mangrove forest destroyed results in an estimated 676-pound loss in marine harvest. Mangrove swamps have been nature’s protection for the costal regions from large waves, weathering the impact of cyclones, and serving as a nursery for three-fourths of the commercial fish species that spend part of their life cycle in the mangrove swamps. Mangroves were already one of the world’s most threatened habitats but instead of replanting the mangrove swamps, faulty economic policies only hastened their disappearance. Despite warnings by ecologists and environmentalists, the World Bank turned deaf ear. Sharma, supra.
The shrimp farming [Rape and Run] is just one aspect of this disaster. Capitalism always necessarily and inevitably concentrates wealth in the hands of the most greedy, selfish, petty-minded and short-sighted.
Five-star hotels, golf courses, industries and mansions sprung up all along, the concern expressed by environmentalists disregarded. These two ministries worked overtime to dilute the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, thereby allowing the hotels to even take over the 500-metre buffer that was supposed to be maintained along the beach. In an era of the market economy, which was reflected through the misplaced ‘Shinning India’ slogan, the bureaucrats are in league with the industrialists and big business interests. Much of the responsibility for the huge death toll therefore rests with the government and the free-marker apologists. Sharma, supra.
The example of the Tsunami is illustrative because globalization reaps maximum profit and then requires people to pay the price in life and money. People, humanely touched by the devastation reached into their pockets to give while the multinational corporations, the primary cause of the devastation, use the disaster as a way to take more. The solution is never discussed.
Myanmar and the Maldives suffered very much less from the killing spree of the tsunami because the tourism industry had so far not spread its tentacles to the virgin mangroves and coral reefs surrounding the coastline. The large coral reefs surrounding the islands of the Maldives absorbed much of the tidal fury, thereby restricting the human loss to a little over 100 dead. Coral reefs absorb the sea’s fury by breaking the waves. The tragedy however is that more than 70% of the world’s coral reefs have already been destroyed.
The island chain of Surin off the west coast of Thailand similarly escaped heavy destruction. The ring of coral reef that surrounds the islands did receive some punching from the furious waves but kept firm and thereby helped break the lethal power of the tsunami. Mangroves help to protect offshore coral reefs by filtering out the silt flowing seawards from the land. Tourism growth, whether in the name of eco-tourism of leisure tourism, decimated the mangroves and destroyed the coral reefs.
This is an extremely helpful example because it is a natural event and therefore the effects of globalization would not be expected. It also shows how maximum profit always sacrifices long term sustainability for immediate gain. Finally, it introduces the reality that globalization escapes culpability because of the complexity of the issues and the irresponsibility of the media.
If only the mangroves were intact, the damage from the tsunami would have been greatly minimized. Ecologist tell us that mangroves provide double protection – the first layer of red mangroves with their flexible branches and tangled roots hanging in the coastal waters absorbs the first shockwaves. The second layer of tall black mangroves then operates like a wall withstanding much of the sea’s fury. Mangroves in addition absorb more carbon dioxide per unit area than ocean phytoplankton, a critical factor in global warming. Sharma, supra p.3
The same process is occurring in Africa where the multinational corporations take natural resources of gold, oil, diamonds, etc and then disingenuously “forgive” the debt of Africa. The debt is not Africa’s. The debt is the multinational corporations who have raped and exploited African for the last three hundred years. Yet the media portrays it as an act of philanthropy.
This long dissertation is required because everyone especially in this country believes there is no solution. People then look to individual methods of survival rather than demanding a change in the system. People in the United States decide not to tackle economic issues and many political issues because of a sense of futility and impotence. They believe that they have absolutely no ability to change or even affect the global march of capitalism. Of course, the media, the educational system and all politicians promote that view. The alternative and more optimistic view is not only that we can affect the system but it will inevitably collapse and be destroyed.
The first step that we must take is to expose the utter bankruptcy of the current political system. The problem is that the global system has convinced almost everyone that there is no solution, that there is no way to overcome the massive global juggernaut.
Whenever there is any discussion of economic issues, most people’s eyes glass over. That is not because they don’t or can’t understand. It is because they believe to the very depths of their souls that there is absolutely nothing they can do to change the system. They are therefore trained emotionally, psychologically and intellectually to avoid the subject.
People turn to the spiritual because that is something over which the individual has control. That also serves the purposes of the capitalists, and that is why they always support organized religion. Individuals believe they have no choice, that they cannot change the political/economic system so they turn to the spiritual for support and relief from their suffering.
The political and economic oppression, however never lets up and that is the general source of fanatical right wing ideology. It is not simply that Bush the First supported, nurtured and developed Osama Bin Laden as a political force now known as Al Queda. It is not simply that Reagan and Bush sent deadly weapons to organizations that coalesced into the Taliban. It is that capitalism in the globalized form, that is, at the stage of imperialism, necessarily promotes the most extreme forms of religion.
There is another aspect to this. Capitalism relies on and promotes racism. As the concentration of wealth becomes more extreme, the racism becomes more extreme and then turns to fascism as a means of control. In doing that, it creates a necessary response. In The Nation Aug/Sep 29, Naomi Cline describes the historical aspect of this.
Hussain Osman, one of the men alleged to have participated in London’s failed bombings on July 21, recently told Italian investigators that they prepared for the attacks by watching “films on the war in Iraq,” La Repubblica reported. “Especially those where women and children were being killed and exterminated by British and Americans soldiers…of widows, mothers and daughters that cry.”
“It has become an article of faith that Britain was vulnerable to terror because of its politically correct antiracism. Yet Osman’s comments suggest that what propelled at least some of the bombers was rage at what they saw as extreme racism. And what else can we call the belief—so prevalent we barely notice it—that American and European lives are worth more than the lives of Arabs and Muslims, so much more that their deaths in Iraq are not even counted?”
It’s not the first time that this kind of raw inequality had bred extremism. Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian writer generally viewed as the intellectual architect of radical political Islam, had his ideological epiphany while studying in the United States. The puritanical scholar was shocked by Colorado’s licentious women, it’s true, but more significant was Qutb’s encounter with what he later described as America’s “evil and fanatic racial discrimination.”
The spiritual and for that matter the religious impulse always embodies compassion, altruism, love and kindness. It often even includes tolerance. The spiritual exigency is based upon a vision of transformation taking the individual beyond the material to generalized sensitivity.
But under capitalism and globalization, the fanatical is the only impulse which is nurtured, supported, and ultimately exploited. It serves the purpose of the capitalists in both instances. In the United States, fanatical religion convinces working class adherents to ignore their economic self-interest and throughout the world it creates terrorists who sacrifice their youth without even discussing the economic system which oppress their people.
The initial impetus for this paper began over one year ago. Heavy scheduling and limited time resources added to a sense of isolation and delayed final publishing of this paper. Only two weeks ago, the final touches were being added. However objective forces both natural and political have overtaken this paper.
Katrina has exposed to the world the utter bankruptcy of globalization. Some have said Americans have to see it to believe it. The absolute desolation wrought by Katrina, the failure of the Bush cabal to prepare for and to respond to the devastation proves the unsustainablity of conservative philosophy and of capitalism at the stage of globalization.
The Bush cabal blocked repairs of the levees for three reasons: 1) ideological—conservatives oppose investment and infrastructure because it requires taxes on the wealthiest; 2) the rich and privileged care nothing for those who work everyday to survive; 3) the warmongering of the conservatives leave no resources for infrastructure—in fact, many conservative philosophers openly express the position that government only has one purpose and that is to make war.
Under the current system of capitalism/globalization, corporations are not satisfied to make huge profits. They are not satisfied to make gigantic profits. There demand is to make maximum profit no matter how much destruction flows in its wake. More importantly, the demand is to make immediate maximum profit. No investment that requires long term planning and protection of the environment and protection of the community is tolerated.
THE PROGRESSIVE RESPONSE
The first step in the building a movement of resistance to the fascist government which has now captured the U.S. government is to name it and expose it. We cannot back away from this challenge; it is the moral imperative of the 21st century. We cannot reform, dress it up, make it more human. We must name it, expose it, reject it and destroy it.
The second step is the recognition that it is weak and it is vulnerable. The very strength of globalized capitalism is its weakness. The core of fascist control is racism. Racism is an ideological perspective but more importantly it is the power relationship. Ideology is used to maintain that power relationship. But it also directs and focuses any factual inquiry.
“Ideology- the body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, class or culture.”
In this case, the class that the ideology protects is the capitalist class. What ideology does not represent is search for truth unless that is a premise of the ideological structure. Certainly, that is not the premise of gloablized capitalism.
Just as capitalists had to invent the pseudoscience of the Social Darwinism to provide an ideological justification for the concentration of wealth, fascism has created virulent racism as a method of political control.
Because racism has no rational or scientific foundation and because it relies on blind hatred to produce political energy, it is extremely flexible. The focus of racism changes, the rationale for blind hatred changes but the need for virulent racism under fascism does not change. Because the United States is an imperialistic power, the entire world focuses on the political motion of the United States. People all over the world know more about our political strengths and weaknesses than do our own people. That is one explanation as to why styles and culture changes in the black community have worldwide impact.
It is the global reach of American imperialism that is both its strength and its weakness because any action within the United States has a global impact. The black community’s opposition to the economic and political machinations of the Bush cabal becomes a key to changing the world economic system.
Racism is a core ideology of the United States. It was the ideological justification of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Today, the Republican Party is founded on the southern strategy.
The Southern strategy meant much, much more that some members of the G.O.P. simply giving up on African-American votes. Put into play by Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon in the mid-to late 1960’s, it fed like a starving beast on the resentment of whites who were scornful of blacks and furious about the demise of segregation and other civil rights advances. The idea was to snatch the white racist vote away from the Democratic Party, which had committed such unpardonable sins as enacting the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and enforcing desegregation statutes.
The important thing to keep in mind was how deliberate and pernicious the strategy was. Last month a jury in Philadelphia, Miss., convicted an 80-year-old man, Edgar Ray Killen, of manslaughter in the slaying of three civil rights workers—Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney—in the summer of 1964. It was a crime that made much of the nation tremble, and revolted anyone with a true sense of justice.
So what did Ronald Reagan do in his first run for the presidency, 16 years after the murder, in the summer of 1980? He chose the site of the murders, Philadelphia, Miss., as the perfect place to send an important symbolic message. Mr. Reagan kicked off his general election campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, an annual gathering that was famous for its diatribes by segregationist politicians. His message: “I believe in states’ rights.”
Mr. Reagan’s running mate was George H.W. Bush, who, in his own run for president in 1988, thought it was a good idea to exploit racial fears with the notorious Willie Horton ads about a black prisoner who raped a white woman. Mr. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, said at the time that the Horton case was a “values issue, particularly in the South—and if we hammer at these over and over, we are going to win.” Bob Herbert, NYT 7/18/05, p.A23
The Bush fascists have seized power by consolidating a racist base to their Republican Party. As is always true of fascist machinations, they will now attack the Democratic Party and marginalize its activity. The progressive movement therefore will be able to function by taking over the marginalized Democratic Party.
The Black community is not only the core of the working class but also the base of the Democratic Party. The battle therefore within the Democratic Party will be to force it to take an antiracist position that addresses the needs and positions of its base. Fifty Million people voted against the Republican Party. Nevertheless, it continues to move to the right, now trying to steal money from the social security trust fund.
It is important to remember the revolution is not a process of the poor and dispossessed rising against the rich and powerful. The revolutionary process is one where every institution turns on itself, where every contradiction exist within every movement. That is occurring in the United States. Obviously, powerful interests in this country do not support fascism.
The constituency of the progressive movement continues to grow and the question is whether the progressive movement can provide the leadership to oppose fascism in this country and take over the Democratic Party at its base. The programmatic demands are clear. The question is whether the progressive leadership can muster the skill and diplomacy to take over the Democratic Party.
What does it meant to “take over the Democratic Party?” At the present time, the leadership of the Democratic Party is divorced politically from its base. While the overwhelming majority of the base of the Democratic Party is outraged by Bush’s response to Katrina, Clinton joins with Bush’s father to raise private funds. Why should already impoverished working people dig deep into their pockets (and they will) when the rich cronies of the Bush cabal have already stolen trillions of dollars from the American treasury. An immediate emergency tax on the richest people in this country is appropriate but not even being discussed by the Democratic Party.
When the overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party base favors immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the Democratic Party leadership does not even call for a date to be set for withdrawal. The theme of this paper initially seemed extreme and now seems tame. Katrina exposes every contradiction of race and class in this country.
The Democratic organization is founded on a precinct delegate structure which is far far more progressive than the Washington leadership. That is why the Democratic Party relies on advertising, rather than party organization. That is also why progressives have a tremendous opportunity to seize power within the Democratic Party. Katrina has layed bare the race and class contradictions not only that exist in this country but also that exist inside the Democratic Party. Taking over the Democratic Party first and foremost involves programmatic development. That obviously is an organic process where every individual and every organization makes a contribution. The formulation of a program must always be a point of discussion. In doing that, we can politicize the base of the Democratic Party and ultimately the entire working class. More importantly, we can prove that the demands of African Americans, of the Spanish speaking population, the working poor help all people, even the rich.
As a beginning, an outline for programmatic development is suggested.
We must immediately demand a surcharge tax of 7% on the wealthiest in this country and on the wealth stored in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens throughout the world. This money should be used to rebuild the Gulf Coast region in an environmentally friendly anner. We must call for an immediate suspension of municipal bond payments and possible elimination of debt in the devastated area.
Moreover, we must insure that the past racist employment practices are prohibited in that rebuilding and that contracts be socially friendly. That is, they are not to be directed towards maximum profit but for maximum benefit for the community. The corporations that have impoverished state and local governments and now control the federal government should pay an immediate tax of 10%, again to rebuild the poorest sections of this country. There will be a huge refugee problem. Because of race and class contradictions in this country, people gravitate to the inner cities and that is where resources should be allocated.
There must be an immediate elimination of all student debts. These loans now owed by students must not be simply suspended but eliminated. In that way, the youth of our country can participate in rebuilding the destruction that has been wrought by the neglect of the corporations of this country particularly for the last 25 years.
There must be an immediate repeal of Taft Hartley laws to allow the trade union movement to participate in the rebuilding of our country. There must be a rewriting of corporate laws. These are public institutions created by the state. These corporations therefore must be publicly responsible. The continuous blackmailing of cities and states by multinational corporations must cease.
We must have a national health plan controlled by the government not insurance ompanies. The thousands of people devastated by Katrina must have health care. The drug companies should pay a 20% surcharge tax to set up the system.
The laws of this country must insure sustainable economics. The unrelenting destruction of farmland and of the environment must end. The cities must be made livable and sustainable based upon a fundamental anti-racist program.
Significantly, Katrina has exposed in broad relief the failure not only of the capitalist highway system, but of capitalism itself. The role of the progressives is to give voice to the outrage and to give programmatic direction to the movement.
Yours in Struggle,
Ronald D. Glotta
220 Bagley, Suite 808
Detroit MI 48226-1409
(313) 963-1320 – (313) 963-1325/Fax