Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Capitalism in Crisis: McCain the Defense of Last Resort

Yes, the one on the left is their best anti-Trump weapon.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

A not insignificant number of my friends have asked me why on earth the political establishment can’t get rid of Trump. It’s a fair question. Believe me, with a few exceptions, the dominant and more sober sections of the US ruling class wants to be rid of Trump. He is a liability, an embarrassment. He is destabilizing the global system of plunder they love so much. The big question for his class colleagues though, is how to be rid of him.

A major problem is that there is no genuine political opposition in the US and certainly no working class party. The Democrats and the Republicans are both political organizations of the US capitalist class and its imperialist aims which drives the assault on US workers at home. The capitalist class, of which Trump is a member albeit a rather crude and reckless one, funds and controls both political parties.

So it might seem like madness that despite Trump being a serial sexual predator, liar, racist, viciously anti-worker, anti-immigrant and a supporter of Nazi’s and the KKK, the best the Democrats can come up with in terms of offense is that he might have violated some campaign finance laws during his during his bid for the presidency in 2016. Isn't that's what's on every worker's mind, that Trump may have cheated the campaign finance laws?

But what can they do? Mobilize the working class and call on the trade unions to organize mass demonstrations and strikes? They are with Trump on that one and above all they have to defend the legitimacy of the system and its institutions.

So it’s not Trump they are defending; it is the institutions of capitalism itself. This is why there was a collective gasp from every wing of the ruling class in this country when Trump threatened during his debate with Hillary Clinton, that he might not abide by the election results if he were to lose. He can be a pimp, a racist, a sexual deviant but to reject the results of a democratic election in a bourgeois democracy is traitorous. It is sacrilege even to suggest such a thing. It undermines the legitimacy of their political system and their propaganda that elections are fair and free and Trump is doing that already. If Trump can trash the state and its institutions in this way, even ignore their hypocritical diplomatic relations and rules, so can we all.

Myself and other contributors to this blog have maintained that US capitalism is in an acute political, economic and social crisis. Millions of workers have abandoned the two capitalist parties and a political process they have no faith in at all.  Both its parties are in turmoil and it cannot be ruled out that both will split at some point in the not so distant  future with the possibility of new formations rising in the period ahead.  We have discussed the possibility of numerous candidates arising in the 2020 elections here on this blog.

The big bourgeois is desperately trying to find a way out of this. The thought of a Trump presidency so terrified them that many of them backed the dreaded Hilary Clinton in 2016. But conceding the right of universal suffrage has its downside; sometimes the voters don’t elect the candidates the ruling class wants.

McCain to the Rescue.
The situation is so dire that both left and right wings of US capitalism’s mass media and members of both parties are focusing attention on a dying member of the old guard; the old Reagan conservative Republican, John McCain. McCain has been ridiculed and humiliated by many in his own party despite being touted as a war hero due to the five years he spent as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese after his plane was shot down (a rare occasion for US pilots in colonial wars of aggression like Vietnam and Korea). We don’t refer to World War Two German or Japanese pilots as war hero’s for obvious reasons and by all accounts McCain isn’t one either as part of a force that, without provocation, waged a massive assault on a former colony of the French. 

One would think that McCain might be grateful to the North Vietnamese for not ripping him limb from limb when he hit the ground, after all, he was part of an aerial bombardment that dropped more than 7 million tons of bombs on Vietnam Laos and Cambodia including chemical weapons and napalm. The US war machine even poured this stuff on their own troops. The people of South East Asia are still suffering from this savage assault today as their children are often born deformed due to the chemical war and unexploded bombs that are still around. As the New York Times reported,
America dropped three times more ordnance over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia than all sides did during World War II. Estimates are that at least 350,000 tons of live bombs and mines remain in Vietnam, and that it will take 300 years to clear them from the Vietnamese landscape at the current rate.” NYT 3-20-18.

While McCain is not the degenerate that Trump is, he was part of a war waged against a poor colonial nation.  The Vietnam War was not a just war but a war to maintain corporate profits and it cost some three million Vietnamese their lives as well as almost 70,000 Americans, mostly workers. In these wars workers are cannon fodder and our youth that are sent to fight in them are different than the people who send them. McCain was fighting for his class (being a pilot is a lot different to fighting on the ground), he is from an established bourgeois military family. He was not in Vietnam by force or because he had no other options.

Using McCain’s dying moments to portray someone they consider a bit of a fool as a symbol of America’s greatness shows how desperate they are. Politicians, warmongers all of them, are praising him and speaking about the recent disparaging comment from a White House staffer on McCain’s looming death. Bernie Sanders claims he cannot fathom why the White House hasn’t apologized, “It is beyond my comprehension. It is one thing in the White House for somebody to say something crude and stupid and disrespectful about an American hero. It is another thing for them not to apologize,”

Apart from glorifying an individual member of a family in the upper echelons of the military brass as a hero, why would Sanders be so surprised at the White House?  Didn’t he get a hint when the Predator in Chief mocked a disabled person? Is he not aware that Trump has aligned himself with Nazis and the KKK?

After losing to Obama in 2008 McCain said of US history in his concession speech that, “America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.”

The election of Obama for many was historical, having a black figure at the helm and a cultured, educated black family in the White House as a counter to the usual racist images of the mass media. McCain went on to say that he, “…always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it.”  But this is the same old nonsense that if you have the “industry” in other words, make the right choices, work hard, obey the law etc. you will prosper.  There are no class differences. Racism sexism, other forms of discrimination are no obstacle; it’s all down to your personal choices—we are in control of our own destiny.  If you fail it’s your own doing. What nationalist rubbish.

Last weekend’s long essay in the Wall Street Journal titled, Putin is an Evil Man is adapted from McCain’s deathbed book, The Restless Wave, and McCain comes to the rescue on this one. Putin wants to “defeat the west” “We must fight him as determinedly as he fights us” writes McCain.  The “Inhumanity of the Russian assault on Chechnya was stunning”, he says as if the US war machine isn’t the most destructive force on earth responsible for mass slaughter and the destruction of entire nation states.

The vast majority of the people on this planet with a breath of life in them give this no credibility at all, but it doesn’t matter here at home. The true believers, those that know nothing of history or have benefited significantly from it will feel proud of this hero. Those American families that suffered and lost loved ones from US capitalism's assault on Vietnam need to direct their anger at the US ruling class and people like McCain. We have to tell our children the truth about wars and why they’re fought.

McCain assails Putin for making a deal with what he calls the Oligarchs” (Russian capitalists) but goes on to praise one of those that crossed Putin, Mikhail Khordokovsky the former head of the oil giant Yukos and the most prominent and richest of them according to our hero.  Khordokovsky is a “well-regarded Russian businessman” says McCain.  Putin, Khordokovsky and most all the Russian capitalists are a bunch of former KGB thugs.  These former Stalinists were handed the wealth of the Russian people after Gorbachev handed over Russian state assets to them after the collapse of their murderous regime in 1989. McCain, like all of them, Russian or US, has no principles other than to defend imperialism and global plunder. They traipsed him out at Pat Tillman’s funeral where he lied about this heroic figure, honest and brave enough to speak his mind when the truth hit him in the face.

Using McCain’s dying moments to bolster a decaying empire and lift spirits at home as workers living standards continue to decline won’t help. We are in a new era. I see that North Carolina teachers took a day off to march on the state capital protesting pay and funding. Some one million students are affected according to the Wall Street Journal.
This all began with West Virginia teachers conducting an illegal strike, overcoming the narrow conservative straitjacket of their own leaders and winning a 5% pay raise for all state workers. Teachers and other sectors of the US working class are fighting an heroic battle against austerity in Puerto Rico as well.

In a sense, as Gideon Levy pointed out in this speech about the Israel/Palestine situation, the degenerate Trump has done us all a favor whipping people in to shape a bit. He has forced many who had hoped they could go on doing nothing, saying nothing, keeping their heads in the sand or nose to the grindstone, to get up and act. The many social networking pundits who wallow in their own quagmire of depression and disillusionment will point to all the mistakes and imperfect aspects common to a new movement filled with fresh layers----the Democrats are on the podium, celebrities are leading it. Some four million people turned out nationally during the women’s marches. They weren’t all celebrities and Oprah’s friends.

As expected, the Democratic Party and the union hierarchy will offer lame support for these movements in order to undermine their militancy and render them safe and secure within the confines of accepted protest. They may well succeed, but it will be a temporary victory for them. They may slow forward motion for a while but there’s no going back. The door has been opened; once solid taboos like the belief that we cannot violate the law have been broken, the dam has been breached.

Many Trump supporters see the hypocrisy of the opposition. They’re all liars. They are all thieving, preaching modesty as they use their public office for personal gain and the chance to get some sex on the side. At least Trump is brazen about it.

Yes, Trump in one sense might have opened the door to making America great again as we return to methods that worked; the direct action of the civil rights movement, the mass workplace and factory occupations of the 1930’s and the rise of the CIO. The heroic struggles of workers and all oppressed peoples that comprise true US history in the struggle against the most ruthless of the world’s ruling classes.

The pathetic opposition to Trump playing out in the glorifying of McCain, Palin’s running mate, is a reflection of the crisis US capitalism finds itself in. Despite their billions, it shows their weakness and our strength.

More reading on the teachers struggles:

Check the labels: Education, Teachers, Team Concept for more.

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