Thursday, January 4, 2018

Wolff's Book, Lobbyists and the Idiots in the White House. US Capitalism in Crisis.

Bye Bye Bannon Will he start a new party?
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Well if the excerpts from Richard Wolff’s new book--- Fire and Fury----about the goings on in the Trump White House are anything to go by, it is safe to say the US ruling class and it’s institutions have a problem on their hands.

Reading the excerpt yesterday even I was astonished at the level of insanity and incompetence among the Executive Branch of the world’ s most powerful and influential political body. Mind you, the US Congress is not much better, a mixture of crooks, shyster lawyers, speculators, Wall Street criminals and other members of the so-called “vibrant and efficient” business community. Their two parties through which they have  governed and  aided their domestic and global plunder for over 100 years are in disarray and subject to splits and fractures in the period ahead.

The Republican Party has been taken over by what can only be described as the American Taliban, a right wing bunch of religious zealots whose foreign (and domestic) policy is based on biblical texts written two thousand years ago, Christian Zionists. Their earthly views are steeped in racism, patriarchy and a love for capitalism and the market.

The crisis will eventually bring this element in to a more open conflict with the more serious sections of the US bourgeois who care only about money, profits and the god of capital accumulation. They are realists, Jesus and religion to them is merely a tactic.

This does not mean they are not mad; indeed they are. Even the more astute of them that are drawing the conclusion that the Predator in Chief is bad for business, cannot resist getting their snouts in the trough at the same time. They are driven by the laws of the system to do what they do, they cannot help it but this present situation is worrying the more far sighted of them deeply.

This political activity takes place without our (workers) input of course except in the most rudimentary fashion through the ballot box, getting to vote for one of their candidates at election time. Before people point to the Predator’s electoral victory itself let me remind the reader that he wasn’t “elected”. And even if we leave aside the Electoral College, there were millions of people who have abandoned the bourgeois electoral process completely, and it’s not because they don’t care.

Having the Keystone Cops in the White House has its problems but there is some good.  The representatives of major corporations descended on the fools like flies on cow dung not missing an opportunity amid the mayhem to introduce their views on tax reform.  General Electric lobbyists (bribers) stopped by to change the provision in the bill that restricted it and other corporations’ ability to deduct losses of their plants overseas. From what I understand they were successful.

As the Wall Street Journal put it last month, “…scores of companies…..have  been working feverishly to influence the final form of the tax bill…” The list is a long one, “Casinos, cement manufacturers, bankers, Dell Technologies Inc.” and many other company lobbyists turned up, especially “debt reliant” ones to ensure to get less restrictions on their ability to deduct interest payments on their debt. We should remember that many major corporations borrow money for acquisitions and other ventures even when they have plenty of cash available because money for them is so cheap.

And it makes me laugh when workers fall prey to the propaganda of the right that talks of big labor and all the power and influence it has. While much of the attraction to this propaganda is driven by the hatred, not so much for the unions as organizations, but the leadership at the top whose views and in many cases lifestyles are in line with the bosses and who refuse to counter the present capitalist offensive on workers’ lives.

Business organizations hung around this tax deal and the band of idiots salivating at the thought of having such a rare influence in public policy as this. The Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the National Grocers Association are a few. There can be no doubt that the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Round Table, the US Chamber of Commerce and other organized gangs representing capital were busy as well. And of course, Wall Street and the Tech industry were there tech not being so popular with predator Trump with one or two exceptions.

This is termed democracy. It is a democracy of course but it is a bourgeois or capitalist democracy. Ancient Greece and Athenian Democracy is lauded in the history books of western culture but Greece was a slaveowners democracy, the workers of that time, slaves, could not vote.

In this bourgeois democracy which is, as we have repeatedly pointed out on this blog, in an historic political, economic and soon to be much more severe social crisis, the working class has no serious electoral input. Yes we won universal franchise without necessarily being men of property whether land, capital or slaves, generally all three, first white men, then men in general then women, I think the Native Americans were the last to win the right to vote for a capitalist representative who we hope will make capitalism a little easier for us, restrain it’s aggressive and destructive tendencies. That’s a bit ironic isn’t it, the first here the last to vote.

If anything these events teach us it is that building a party of the working class is crucial if we are to halt what is becoming an increasingly catastrophic offensive of capital on our living standards and eventually the future of life as we know it on this planet. Liberalism is a failed philosophy, capitalism cannot be made human friendly, it has to be overthrown and replaced with a global federation of democratic socialist states where production and allocation of the resources of society is a collective effort based on needs not profits for a few whose ownership of these resources has to end. We do not deny the Warren Buffet’s, Bill Gates’ or Carlos Slim’s of this world the right to productive labor and a decent life which is what they deny millions of us through their policies and support of this system of production; we just oppose their ownership and control of society’s resources.

It’s most likely a political party of working people in the US will not be built outside of a generalized movement against the capitalist offensive and helping to build this movement is what the people connected to this blog want to do. Such a movement will inevitably throw up political candidates.

We want to place this blog at the service of the working class in our struggle for a better world. It is inevitable that as this movement develops it will focus on reforming capitalism, not replacing it and political expression and a genuine workers party will initially, perhaps for as very short period of time in this epoch, be reformist as its natural for workers to want to improve our lives. But it is through the struggle for reforms that we learn, that we draw conclusions that the system has to be changed. That’s why it is important to fight for them even alongside liberals as long as we make our differences clear; liberals fight for reforms because they think they can make capitalism better, socialists fight for reforms, yes to make people lives better, but in order to help workers draw the obvious conclusion that it cannot be reformed and has to be replaced, any improvements cannot last.  As we help build the movement and we are talking here of a movement of millions of workers lets be honest, we strive to build, in a non-sectarian way a genuine revolutionary socialist current within it because only a democratic socialist society can provide a secure decent life for all.

Lastly, I want to stress again that one of the primary factors in Trump’s rise and why many workers voted for him (leaving aside the ideologically driven Nazi’s KKK, White Nationalist types) is the failure of the heads of organized labor to offer an alternative. Not only do they not offer an organizational alternative, they do not wage an ideological one against capitalism and the so-called free market. They abandon the struggle for the consciousness of the working class, something many socialists do as well. But with a huge infrastructure and 14 million members the role of the labor officialdom is significant and we must not allow them to hide this fact.

Building Trades leaders cozy up to Trump
In Macomb County Michigan, a mostly white enclave where most of them voted for Trump, they had previously voted for Obama. No doubt some were drawn to Trump for backward reasons, blaming immigration, racism etc.  But many of them are probably auto workers who have had their living standards savaged over the past period with the help of the UAW hierarchy. The Financial Times interviewed some of these Trump supporters last week, one comment is worth noting: Trump is “…a flawed human being, a narcissist, an egomaniac, he exaggerates, embellishes, but we true Trump supporters don’t care, we just don’t care, because...they are all liars and perverts and sex maniacs, Congress is full of them”.

He’s certainly right about the US Congress in the main. Right now perhaps his 401K is up, his retirement might be, who knows. Supporting Trump is a mistake and this guy will have to face the not very pleasant consequences of his mistake, but it is not far fetched to think that had the labor hierarchy offered an alternative he may well have taken it.
One thing we can say with certainty is that in no other major industrialized economy is the political crisis so acute as here in the US. The era of the two capitalist party rule that has dominated the US for over 100 years is over. If you are interested in joining our weekly conference calls where we talk about these issues send an e mail to: and we can talk about it.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Thank you Richard. Your article is vastly superior, in a different world, to the goings on, to the yammerings, of the capitalist mass media and the 'learned' commentators and academics who try to understand things while keeping within the boundaries and alternatives of capitalism. I agree with your article very much. The two capitalist party monopoly of US politics is coming to an end. This ending is so messy and will be so messy because as you say the leaders of the 14 million strong trade union movement will not lead and build a workers party. Not only will they not lead but they are terrified with what is going on, with the capitalist class and system stumbling into crisis. They are terrified they might lose their perks and goodies that they get for keeping the union membership and the working class in general from opposing capitalism. In fact the perks and goodies they get for keeping the working class supporting capitalism. But all these elements, the capitalist class, all sections from the moron Trump to the more astute elements and also the trade union bureaucracy who base themselves on capitalism and propping up capitalism are getting their comeuppance. The old days when US imperialism ruled the world, could afford to finance its imperialist slaughters invasions occupations abroad and allow the majority of its working class at home to have enough to eat are over. A new era has begun. Oh and not to forget. The myriad of left groups that claim to be socialist must not be let off the hook. They, whenever they have happened to have had any influence, by their combination of sectarianism, ultra leftism, opportunism, have also played their part in damaging the struggle of the working class. For an alliance/united front of all the forces opposing the capitalist offensive against the working class, against the environment, against women and minorities, organize the unorganized using the methods that built the unions in the 1930's, mass occupations, mass strikes, taking on the anti union forces of the state and the anti union thugs on the streets, build a mass workers party out of these struggles, and within all these struggles and fronts build a revolutionary socialist current with a healthy democratic culture. Sean O'Torain.